In June, Jack Morris and son Charles opened the 2,500-square-foot Third Coast Gallery in Galveston’s downtown with the objective of introducing new artists to the island and vice-versa.
Their concept was to design a fine art gallery that’s both upscale and inviting. They achieved that. The art is well spaced on the interior brick walls of the 1874 Hanretta Building in The Strand Historic District of Galveston. The ceiling is high, the lighting is done right, and Jack Morris’ work easel in the corner overlooking the courtyard offers some insight into his technique.
Jack Morris calls himself a painter — not an artist. But don’t be fooled. This self-taught, 72-year-old former architect from Bryan is a bona fide artist with a straight-ahead style people can understand. His colors are bold, yet show dimension through a layering technique he carried over from his early days with watercolors. In 1984, he began moving away from watercolors toward oil on canvas or linen. He is also a credible graphite artist.
He paints fast and, like many artists, doesn’t like to paint hands. Another secret is his almost total avoidance of pure black. Black dominates a piece, he said. Instead, he uses a blend of grays and blues. The only time he uses black is when painting a clarinet. Clarinets often show up in his paintings of Allan Jaffe’s world famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans.
He is especially fond of painting brothers Willie Humphrey (clarinet) and Percy Humphrey (trumpet). Left-handed banjo player Narvin Kimball is another popular subject for Morris. His New Orleans paintings commemorate a bygone era. That’s the beauty of Morris’ art; it offers a narrative.
If Morris had to name a signature piece, it likely would be a huge painting of his beloved Olympia Brass Band that hangs in a private collection at a Lakeshore Drive condo in Chicago. Another impressive work is the “Hendley Building East Elevation,” depicting the 1859 Hendley Building on the corner of Strand and 20th streets in Galveston. This award-winning piece was exhibited in 1994 at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.
In addition to Morris’ own work, he currently represents 22 other artists. Of particular note is Devin Nelson, a 19 year-old prodigy who works in all media and exploits light on the canvas. Abstract artist Daniel Elliott also works in all media. Watercolorist Richard Kelver is Morris’ close friend of 26 years who lives in Seabrook.
Third Coast Gallery
2413 Mechanic St., Galveston
Artists represented at Third Coast Gallery:
Shirley Scarpetta Skidmore
Jimmy and Sheryl McDonald