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Ride and Shine

'Fossil Fueled' Gives Brent Houzenga's Some Wheels



Artist Brent Houzenga talks about his found object art, which is soon to be mobile.

 

A few days before Christmas, artist Brent Houzenga got a call from a woman asking if he’d be able to paint a portrait as a gift for her husband. “I didn’t know who she was,” he said. “I didn’t know she was in Austi,n Texas. So I was like, ‘Yeah I could probably do it and have it by Christmas."

 

Later that evening, after opening her email, he realized he was about to paint an image of  Matthew McConaughey on location at his film shot in New Orleans last year, Dallas Buyers Club. He also had to have it done in less than three days to have it arrive in Austin on time.

 

“I had to play a gig that night from 11-2 a.m. She also wanted [something similar to] one of the most unique pieces I have, which is on a found piece of wood. I left the house and was crazy excited. I  stopped by this party, and my friends were like, ‘What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be out looking for this piece of wood?’”

After two crazy days of painting between playing an all night-gig and working his job at Juan’s Flying Burrito, he ended up with a vibrant, life-sized portrait of the celebrity. The picture arrived in Austin on Christmas Eve.

 

 

Despite Houzenga’s recent brush with celebrity and his poppy aesthetic, he doesn’t necessarily derive artistic energy from popular culture. Instead, his most inspirational experience was finding a discarded photo album filled with portraits from the late 1800s.

 

“The people I paint aren’t famous,” he says, speaking of his subjects who aren't Matthew McConaughey. “I don’t even know who they are. So my whole thing is that everyone is meant to shine. That’s you, that’s me, that’s everyone. And finding these photos helped me see that, and really inspired me to go after what I want to do.”

 

 

Luckily for New Orleans, Houzenga’s doing what he wants to do all over the place. Look carefully and you’ll find his style on the streets on stickers, electrical boxes, discarded refrigerator doors, and pavement. He doesn’t pay for the material he paints on, he finds it.

 

“The people I paint were found, and almost all the stuff I paint on is found... I find things," he said.

 

It seems that a large part of Houzenga’s work is about discovering the city and people around him through his art. His love of street art converges with a particular interest and talent in portraiture. Still drawing from the abandoned photo album, which has inspired many commissioned portraits of people’s grandparents and family members, Houzenga deconstructs photographic portraits to their most minimal contours, and then adds the layers that both contradict and define the identity he assigns to his subject.

 

 

 

Although his style is reminiscent of a laser show at Mardi Gras World, he comes off as a level-headed and concentrated artist with an analytical vision of what his work represents.

 

“I think of [the layers] as molecules, or thought patterns," he said. "They might be converging to create that person, or they might be that person’s thoughts, or they might be God’s light.”

 

Since the individual that he paints is often long gone, the deconstruction of their image, and the addition of his own layers, creates an energetic representation that is up to the viewer to feel and interpret.

 

He has pulled in this approach to portraiture with his street art in the past, and now transfers the concept to his painted vehicles in his upcoming show of painted vehicles entitled “Fossil Fueled.”

The show presents a collection of three painted  motorcycles, three mopeds, a Spec Miata race car, a minivan, and a mini bike. Each donated vehicle is meant to be ridden, like his own cars that he’s painted over the last seven years.

 

 

 

The show was inspired by a mutual friend and acquaintance, Dave Quinlan, who initially expressed interest in Houzenga’s painting and wanted him to do his race car. He was so impressed with the result that he helped Houzenga pull together an entire show of painted vehicles, along with the donation of mopeds from the Irish Channel Moped clan named MONO.

 

The show will be a community collaboration, with wine by Joe Briand from Lucky Rooster, food by Shoney Lima and Scott Clements from Slice Pizza, Pop Stars Gourmet Treats by Chef Neal, and the space provided by Juan’s Flying Burrito, called “The Shed,” at 1512 Carondelet Street, on May 25, from 7:00-10:00 PM.

 
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Contributors

Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt


B. E. Mintz


Stephen Babcock

Published Daily