The Deep End

A refreshing, loving look at summer culture from photographer Will van Overbeek and watercolorist Melissa Grimes

<i>Splash</i>, by Will van Overbeek
Splash, by Will van Overbeek

'The Deep End'

Davis Gallery

Through Aug. 30

Images provided by Rachel Koper

The pursuit of happiness this time of year in Texas frequently involves immersing yourself in water. We are blessed with many options for swimming, from Barton Springs to Galveston.

"The Deep End," the current exhibition at Davis Gallery, is a refreshing and loving look at summer culture. The two featured artists, watercolorist Melissa Grimes and photographer Will van Overbeek, both take water settings as their muse and create rippling tableaus of people swimming, wading, tanning, and boating. I was struck with a blissful feeling looking at the smiling kids jumping waves in bright light. Sun hats, floaties, noodles, and people holding hands are everywhere in these watery environments. It made me think all parents should come see this show and check themselves: Do your kids look like this? Because they should. The enjoyment of water recreation is a universal value that these artists are able to embody.

<i>Brother and Sister Galveston</i>, by Melissa Grimes
Brother and Sister Galveston, by Melissa Grimes

Grimes has created 53 watercolors, all the size of large postcards. The medium of watercolor allows for great transitions from light to dark. Due to its transparency, the paint can be made to appear fresh, light, and airy, like a sea breeze. Grimes is a consistent draftsman, and thus this series of boats and swimmers looks spontaneous, even easily achieved. The reality is that the artist probably made hundreds of pieces just to cull out this strong group. Watercolor is also a temperamental medium. The artist who uses it well has to be working with it every day to achieve this appearance of simplicity. Having a strong work process and an ability to edit is key to both artists' practices.

Van Overbeek shoots photographs of Barton Springs, and he's obviously spent countless hours on the grassy hillsides shooting with his camera. It's his ability to capture an overall tone of vitality with his works that interests me the most. The series he chooses to present is very active with lots of movement. Divers bending, swimmers underwater, and plain old splashers are all on view. The Texas heat can bring on a certain lethargy, and yet his subjects appear to have boundless energy; they have beaten the effects of the sun. I recommend this inspirational show; it made me want to get out of the air-conditioned world and take a dip. I've read that if you're feeling hot, just thinking about and looking at pictures of snow and ice can make you feel colder. I think this theory is cool. Both of these artists beautifully remind us of the rituals and pleasures of summertime.

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The Deep End, Melissa Grimes, Will van Overbeek, Davis Gallery

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