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Russell Collection Fine Art Gallery Announces the Arrival of “Emma,” Ash Almonte’s New Body of Work on Exhibit Feb 2-27, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas – Ash Almonte’s art seems to spill, twist and splatter with an uncommon sensibility that she describes as “raw” and “real,” two words that serve as a splendid introduction to both her emotional intelligence and her predilection for unleashing her feelings on canvas in the form of graphite and enamel, oil and acrylic paint. Thus, it’s hardly surprising that Almonte’s upcoming exhibition is hotly anticipated by Austin residents as well as a burgeoning group of national collectors.

Comprising of approximately 20 new works, Almonte’s mixed media show, on view February 2 – 27, is dubbed “Emma” and pays homage to the recent birth of her daughter. The newest works emerging from Almonte’s studio are dense with vibrant color and visual luxuriance, and the artist’s signature boldness is in evidence. Thus, plenty of her work will please die-hard fans; however, the experience of motherhood fueled her artistic trajectory and viewers will discover that her more recent pieces flare with increasingly abstract leanings and demonstrate an energetic new aspect of her formidable talent. In fact, those who have followed Almonte’s career know that she presents a strident world of spectacle that combines emotional resonance with a sense of purpose. Fond of quoting the former infant terrible of the art world, Jean Michael Basquiat, Almonte’s mantra is: “I don’t think about art while I’m working. I try to think about life.” And, in this case, “Emma” is certainly about life, vitality and new horizons.

Almonte, among dozens of other things, is also finely attuned to the difficulties felt by foster children and manages to merge her consummate artistic flair with compassionate work in the form of her altruistic passion, “Hopefully Sow.” The latter is an organization she founded to aid children during their transition into foster care, and proceeds from her work help ensure that foster children enjoy art classes, field trips and a welcome gift when they arrive at their new home. Add to this the seismic-sized talent that enables Almonte to produce fiery canvases exploring visual imagery with uncommon nuance and power and you have the most rare of hybrids — virtuosic artistic gifts and consummate generosity. Almonte has been making art since she graduated from McMurry University in Abilene, Texas and her work is featured in an impressive array of private and corporate collections throughout the Southwest.

Artist’s Reception: Ash Almonte will be present at Russell Collection Fine Art on Saturday, February 6, from 6 - 8 p.m. The event is open to the public and an RSVP is requested. 512-478-4440. Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

New York Artist Promises to Shimmer and Surprise “Hunt Slonem” at Russell Collection Fine Art Gallery March 1-31, 2016 Ambitiously Vivid Art with Bravura for Days

AUSTIN, Texas – Internationally recognized artist, Hunt Slonem, will have an eponymous exhibition on view at the Russell Collection from March 1 – 31, and it’s likely to be approximately as subtle as the sheen of Indian gemstones. In fact, the artist can be described in countless ways, but “minimalist” is not one of them. His studio occupies a staggering 30,000 square feet of space in Brooklyn and enjoys equally staggering views of the Manhattan skyline. Slonem is fond of describing his work as “exotica” and the term is apt; it features, among innumerable other things, “bunnies, birds and butterflies.” The artist claims he was first inclined to paint rabbits when he was dining in a Chinese restaurant and discovered via a fortune cookie that he “was born under the sign of the rabbit, 1951.” The aforementioned sign must also signal vast success because Slonem has been a prominent — not to mention lucrative — fixture on the world’s art scene for four decades and his Austin show promises to build on his already enviable reputation.

While Slonem’s paintings exude a fascination with the smallest of creatures exhibiting lush colors, his works are often huge in scale. He claims to begin each morning with small “gestural” images of bunnies and, perhaps surprisingly, he never finds the daily act of repetition dull. Instead, he describes creating ongoing versions of images to be a kind of reverential devotion, a “mantra” of sorts. Thus, his work is infused with a prayerful attitude that resonates with patrons of every age and background. Plus, to say he was precocious is an understatement. He knew he would become a painter “at age two.”

While Slonem’s work can hold its own in any venue, the man himself is equally mesmerizing. He avidly collects 19th-century tables, gothic furniture, top hats, harps and more. Said items fuel his creativity and, in fact, he uses them to furnish both his Brooklyn studio and three expansive homes. Two are legendary sprawling mansions in Louisiana requiring lavish renovation while yet another residence is located in upstate New York. According to lore, the former palatial structures come with ghostly occupants with whom Slonem communicates via clairvoyants. Put simply, he’s a fascinating character with an eye for anything outré — or gorgeous. The famous sapphire, “Star of India,” is yet another source of inspiration for Slonem; everything becomes fair game under his aegis, including flora, fauna, minerals, shells — and the visage of Abraham Lincoln.

Slonem’s world in kaleidoscopic and his fascination with materials, including wallpaper, rugs and textiles is beguiling. Anyone who has seen his work knows he’s constantly evolving and operates as a high-speed, creative powerhouse. He seemingly channels widely diverse material from sources that are nearly inexhaustible. While no one finds his skills as a raconteur disappointing — his show, aptly named “Hunt Slonem,” is likely to be this season’s visual extravaganza.

Artist’s Reception: Hunt Slonem will be available to meet guests at Russell Collection Fine Art on Saturday, March 5, from 6 - 8 p.m. The event is open to the public and an RSVP is requested. 512-478-4440.