Meridian Star

April 14, 2013

From Mississippi to Louisiana ...

MMA showcases art by Mississippians Gary and Jacob Walters, Louisiana native Aaron Reichert

By Ida Brown /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Meridian Museum of Art's latest offerings features the artwork of noted Mississippi watercolorist Gary Walters and his son Jacob Walters, who is quickly developing his own recognizable style in the art medium, and the distinctive black and white acrylic art of New Orleans native Aaron Reichert.

    The invitational exhibit will run at the downtown museum through June 1.

Gary & Jacob Walters

    The Walters' love of art spans three generations. Gary Walters' father, George, was a gifted drawer. Although he never made a living from art, George Walters did inspire his son to take up the profession and become a well-known watercolor artist.

    With roots in the Mississippi Delta, Gary has painted thousands of watercolors since he was a small boy. While the Delta is the inspiration for many of his works, the real subject of his paintings is color and shape. Gary paints what he describes as "designed realism," of realistic scenes designed the way he sees them.

    In addition to being a professional artist, Gary has spent more than three decades teaching art on all levels – from kindergarten to college to professional workshops. A Christian artist and a native of Jackson, he attended Hinds Community

College, where he won honors as the school's most outstanding art student. While attending Mississippi College, Gary received the Bellaman Award for the most creative art student. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Mississippi College. Over the past 35 years, Walters has had numerous one-man shows. In 1993, he was honored as Art Alumnus of the Year for Mississippi College.

    The third element of the Walters' art trilogy is Jacob Walters.

    When Jacob decided to leave his job and become a professional artist, he was encouraged by his father – who was proud of the artwork his youngest son has already produced – to pursue his dream.

    Jacob describes his abstract art as "imaginary expression," or the product of the expressions inside him. His use of bold color and distinct mark making harmonize to create images that are bright and inviting. His powerful and direct compositions are supported by his assured sense of design.

    Jacob developed his style by studying art in the United States and in Europe. Counted among the artists he most admires are Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, Gauguin and Matisse. In a short time, he has cultivated a loyal following of collectors all across the United States.  

    “The beauty of nature is observed and recreated to portray an independent perspective which is art,” the young artist said.

    He has painted close to 100 paintings over the years, and plans to paint many more, now that he can devote all his time to his craft.

    The father and son's current exhibits at Meridian Museum of Art marks a return for the elder Walters –  who had a show at MMA in the late '70s – and a first for the younger one.

    “Several years ago, I passed by Gary Walters' first book and the brilliant colors caught my eye," said Sylvia Follis, MMA's exhibition chair. "Then I realized his paintings were scenes of the flat Delta of Mississippi. His exaggerated colors give the feeling of being surrounded by the sunrise or sunset. After having seen many of his dad's paintings, I was interested in seeing what Jacob Walters would do in his work. It was interesting to see similar landscapes, but abstracted."

    Gary has works in many public and private collections in the United States and several countries around the world. His work has won many awards, including The Bellamon award for creativity, a Mississippi Legislative Award for bringing honor to the state of Mississippi and an induction into the Felton F. Waggoner Hall of Honor. Gary's first book was a Limited Edition publication titled "Delta Dream: The Mississippi Delta Paintings" and his second book is titled "Delta Dreamin'." Both books feature works of his beloved Mississippi Delta.  

    Gary and Jacob have done seven shows together at the Jackson Municipal Art Gallery, Eudora Welty Library and other venues around Jackson. They were also invited to give a lecture and demonstration at the 20th Anniversary Mississippi and the Arts Celebration in 2002.


Aaron Reichert

     Aaron Reichert returns to Meridian Museum of Art after being featured in MMA's 2011 international exhibit, The Energy Spectrum. His current exhibit at the Meridian museum is titled "Women."

    The New Orleans painter was initially a sculptor. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Loyola University, Chicago, then spent several years as a theatrical actor before returning fully to fine art.     Reichert's works focus on faces – famous and non famous – but expressive in black and white. His drawing/painting style is described as giving an expressiveness that draws one into the portrait; the longer one looks at them, the more one sees.

    “I paint human beings and I expect that will not change," Reichert says in his Artist's Statement. "My interest has always been individuals. Extinguishing color, I sheer away vanity to present humanity that is alive while in decay. Just as we are. These works are done in acrylic. Textural effects are achieved within a series of layers. Loose washes inform the lines that move thru the piece. There is an inch-by-inch plotting of detail. Some themes: The mystery of living and dying. A need for permanence within a reality without permanence. Conflict, empathy.”      

    Aaron’s most recent solo show, "Faces in the Hallway," opened in 2011 at Steve Martin Fine Art.  Jupiter Art Projects and Steve Martin Fine Art housed solo exhibitions in 2010, respectively, "An American Consciousness" and "Faces." In 2012, he was featured in “Nola Now: The Human Figure” at New Orleans' Contemporary Arts Center. In late 2010, he participated in "Emerge," a cross-section of New Orleans artists presented at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art (later compiled and published as “The Saratoga Collection"). His work was seen in 2010 at The Affordable Art Fair in New York City and at 2011's Fountain in Miami.

    Following his show at Meridian Museum of Art, Reichert will present "Certain Humanity," another collection of figures and portraiture, in Los Angeles with Untitled Art Projects.

     According to MMA Director Kate Cherry, Reichert was paired with The Walters because their works complement each other.

    " The vibrant color of Gary’s watercolors, the dynamics of Jacob’s designs, and the extinguishing color in Aaron’s work will be great contrasts," Cherry said. "The viewer will see three different approaches to painting. Each artist has a unique style and the viewer will be able to see works by three extraordinary artists which are exciting."

    Cherry added that each of the artists are exemplary in their mediums.

    "Gary paints with watercolors, Jacob paints with oils, and Aaron paints with acrylics," she said. "Their works should appeal to all art enthusiasts, but especially to those who like a strong element of realism, while letting creativity and imagination dictate the final outcome of the work.”