Artists collaborate on 'Counterparts' exhibition in UHCL Art Gallery

August 12, 2022 | UHCL Staff

Paula Gron

Paula and Jack Gron, both lifelong artists who happen to be married to each other, work in completely different media. Paula’s art reflects her need to have “busy, busy hands,” using sewn, quilted and assembled textile techniques that are inspired by nature and color. Jack’s work is in metal and wood and is an expression of the full range of his emotions.

Together, they have chosen about 40 pieces and combined them for an exhibition entitled “Counterparts,” to open on Sept. 6 at University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Art Gallery, located in the Bayou Building. 

“We are counterparts. We are part of the same machine,” said Paula. “We complement each other, but our work is not similar. I draw my inspiration from the outside world; from nature and life forms. Jack draws his inspiration from within, so he’s expressing himself emotionally in his sculptures.”

Paula, a former commercial graphic artist, said she has always loved crocheting, weaving and sewing, and her work often depicts seeds released from pods. “I am trying to raise awareness about vanishing flora and fauna in the world,” she said. “I’ve learned from local botanists, the Millennium Seed Bank in Sussex, England and use the IUCN RedList of endangered plants.”

Jack, a retired art professor, said he’d been creating art as well as teaching college students his entire career. “I taught metals—welding, forging, bronze, aluminum, stainless steel,” he said. “My work has taken me all over the world, but when the pandemic hit, I was cloistered in my studio with no place to go. I decided to use up the materials I had in my studio and work intuitively. I let the work dictate to me how it should be.”

He decided to reincorporate wood into his work, combining it with metals. “I find that interesting; the surfaces, textures and reflections,” he said. “I always work with what the piece is telling me. It changes as the work evolves. I allow for spontaneity to occur in the work, so if I see something happening that I didn’t account for in the sketch, I allow for that.”

He said that the highlight of his works in the exhibition was a piece called “Bridges,” a combination of stainless steel, aluminum and wood. “It’s very striking and everything else is built around it,” he said. “I’ve done several pieces called ‘Bridges’ in my career. It’s about connecting one thing to another, or going from one place to another via this structure.”

Paula said that of all the pieces in her part of the exhibition, she hoped people would note the herbarium data sheet triptych. “Scientists very carefully tape gathered, dried plants with seeds in bags onto archival paper along with the data about where that plant was found, including its dimensions and its vulnerability,” she said. “My artistic interpretation is that I wanted to duplicate that on canvas, make the floral part 3D and add a quilting element to it.”

“Counterparts” is Jack’s first exhibition to feature hardwood to add contrast of surface, texture and color. Paula said her work is primarily a commentary on worldwide human and industrial impacts that affect the extinction rates of plant life. 

The exhibition will run through Oct. 21. For more information, go online.