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Great outdoors on display at Rockport art center

From the realistic paintings of Big Bend by artist Salvador Rodriguez (left) to the more abstract coastal views by June Ainsworth, fall visitors to the Rockport Center for the Arts will feel like they're in the great outdoors. Courtesy photo

View art by two gifted Texas artists at Rockport Center for the Arts and Art Loop

Travel via art the landscapes of Texas, from its western deserts to its damp beaches, at the Rockport Center for the Arts this fall. Two concurrent shows feature incredibly realistic paintings by Texans Salvador Rodriguez and June Ainsworth. Rodriguez's "Senderos del Desierto” depicts West Texas scenes, while Ainsworth's “Texas: On the Waterfront” heads to the Gulf Coast.

Both will be on display Sept. 10 through Oct. 9. A free public reception is 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11. The artwork is part of the Rockport Center Art Loop, also 5-7 p.m. Sept. 11. Ten galleries, museums, and art stores along North Austin Street will offer a full, alfresco, walkable experience of local artisans in a compact area.

The Rockport Center's main gallery will display the works of Rodriguez in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. The inspiration for his paintings come from Big Bend National Park and its deserts as well as northern Mexico. Rodriguez spends months and even years on each painting, depicting majestic panoramic views and tranquil desert life.

“Before creating even a plant, I like to study them and know them, including their ecosystem as well as the history and myths of the place I am trying to capture in my works,” Rodriguez said. “So, beyond trying to reproduce a photographic copy is a composition and recreation of the essence of the place.”

Although Rodriguez primarily works in acrylics, he has also painted with oils and watercolors. His works have been exhibited in east and west Austin studio tours. This is his first solo show at the Rockport Center.

“'Epic' and 'sublime' are the best words to describe Rodriguez’s paintings,” said Elena Rodriguez, curator of exhibitions for the center. “They convey the majesty of the West Texas region in stunning, hyperrealistic detail.”

Ainsworth’s colorful depictions of the Coastal Bend are on display in the center’s Galeria Dos. Her art is painted “plein-air,” the French expression meaning “in the open air” or outdoors. Starting with traditional subjects, Ainsworth brings contemporary abstract into her work.

“I am inspired by painting en plein air,” Ainsworth said. “These paintings begin as abstract shapes and can be taken in many different directions. A painting starts in the artist’s brain as an emotional response to a scene or a moment. It is the artist’s goal to have the viewer of the finished work feel an excitement and an emotion.”

Painting, creating, and thinking have dominated Ainsworth’s life. She has been part of the art communities in Wichita, Kansas, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, as well as Long Island, New York, where she joined the prestigious Guild Hall of East Hampton. Ainsworth is a member of the Wind Way Gallery collective in Rockport, where she displays her works.

For a list of participating Art Loop galleries, visit rockportartcenter.com or call 361-729-5519.

Rockport Center for the Arts is located at 401 S. Austin St. on the first floor of the Baker Law Building. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Go to the RCA website or Facebook or call 361-729-5519 for more information.

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