ABC — MARCH 2005
Rockport’s Larry Felder
Those of us who are drawn to coastal waters are fascinated by everything that swims in it, or floats upon it. Some of my fondest non-fishing memories as a youngster center around my family and I frequenting the shrimp houses that lined either side of the Clear Creek Channel in Seabrook and Kemah. There we’d buy shrimp that had been freshly caught from the bays, as opposed to today’s farm-raised variety. The feasts that followed were equally memorable, but it was the sights around the water that are forever etched in my mind.
Those old wooden hull shrimpers were intriguing as they gently rolled on the water while dragging their nets, or when tied up at the dock. I can still hear the creaking hull, clanging of chains, ropes, pulleys and nets that hung from their rigging, and see their glassy images as mirrored reflections on the water.
About the same time I was frequenting docks on Texas’ upper coast, a young San Antonio boy of similar age was hanging out with his parents and grandparents in Port Aransas. He too was smitten by the coastal bug, as his head filled with memories he would later recall upon canvas.
Rockport-based artist Larry Felder said he discovered a talent for art in the third grade when he was selected by the art teacher to create a school poster. His whole family was supportive of his fledgling talent, particularly his older sister who encouraged him to paint what they had seen — shrimp boats.
“I am a creature of habit and have been painting scenes of the Texas Coast as far back as I can remember,” he said. “And that subject is still what interests me most. Early paintings all went to my family and friends, for I had a good design job and didn’t need to sell my work. As time went on and my work and family duties grew, my paintings were put on hold.
“I spent my teens taking courses in mechanical drawing and architectural design and knew how to mechanically draft shadows, reflections, and perspectives,” Felder continued. “In fact, in addition to my sports letterman’s jacket in high school, I also had a letterman’s jacket with a t-square on it with three bars. After two years of college architecture, California was calling and I went out and played with all those crazy people who called themselves, ‘hippies’. After all, it was the 60’s.
“I returned to the University of Texas to pursue painting,” he continued. “But when I graduated I still had a background in architecture more suitable to graphic design and that’s the career I chose in which to raise my family. My work today reflects that combination of my education in fine art and my career as a creative director in advertising and publishing.”
Look at Felder’s work and you are drawn into the scene. The reflections on the water are captivating, and the detail is realistically mesmerizing while at the same time moody and serene.
“Yes they appear to be realistic, but there are some things missing,” he’s said. “Actually it’s my own reality.”
His coastal images have been described as surreal. They are anything but a moment frozen in time. There are no people, all the boats seem to be the same color, and only occasionally does a bird appear in a well-planned spot. However it is the water that most people notice. It looks so lifelike with each reflection calculated to match the water’s movement. But then again, that is Felder’s “reality.”
“Since water moves, people think it looks one way, but in reality they are not really seeing it,” he said. “Recently I have been teaching some intermediate artists at the Rockport Center for the Arts about painting water.
“It all begins with their perspective of water,” he stated. “Each wave has its own unique structure that casts different reflections. The top reflects something different from the trough, or the backside of a wave. Some will reflect the sky while others may reflect behind the viewer. With our water around Rockport I use some greens to depict its coloration, and further define the whole image with shadows and reflections.”
With most of his adult life in the graphic design business, Felder is just beginning to reach his stride as an artist. “I was around water all the time,” he said. “I would try to ‘freeze frame’ the moving water and reflections, and would look very carefully at what was actually happening visually as the light changed, wind blew, and the water reacted. It is strange how my work progressed through those years in which I stopped painting. It was as if I never stopped at all, but still grew better as time went on.”
Like many baby boomers, Felder left San Antonio and the corporate world in 2003. Along with his wife Linda, they opened their gallery in Rockport TX which has been named one of the 100 Best Small Art Towns in America by author John Villani.
Felder Gallery not only displays his own original works, but also shows works by several other notable artists. In December 2004 he was awarded the People’s Choice Award by the Rockport Center for the Arts at its Annual Members Show.
“Most of my work has been originals,” Felder confessed. “However it’s just a matter of time before I release a limited edition series. Currently I have five pieces I have released as gicleés, and each has been enhanced. The five are “Boat and Fog,” “Morning Light,” “Two Boat,” “Five Boat,” and “Beached Wreck.”
For more information on the work of Larry Felder, visit his web site at www.feldergallery.com, or call (361) 749-2388.
Felder Gallery is now located in Port Aransas at the Tower Center. 1726 HWY 361 Suite F.