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Continued on Visiting the Continental
Gin Building pages 1 and 2

Visiting the Shamrock Hotel

Story + Photographs by J R Compton

Peter Ligon - 7-11 Parking Lot

Peter Ligon - 7-11 Parking lot

On the sunny spring afternoon of April 16, 2005 we visited the Shamrock Hotel studios for the second time. The first was a year ago. We noted some progress in both of the exhibiting artists, Peter Ligon, who also manages the former hotel, now artists’ studios and residences, Lily Hanson and Sunny Sliger.

Lily Hanson - collage

Sunny Sliger collage - with splotch of sunlight

Essentially, Peter draws and paints, Lily sculpts and Sunny collages. More artists showed last year, I think, but this was a marvelous opportunity to explore these three artists’ work in depth — and see how they work.

the shower scene at the Shamrock Hotel

I've known Peter well enough to say hi at openings since the early 80s, so I've been interested in his progress as an artist. But I've been watching much more closely since he showed a landscape in the DCCA show a couple years ago.

 

Peter Ligon - Egg Roll Hut

Peter Ligon - Egg Roll Hut

His painted colors seemed dull, but his sense of space kept me watching. This new series of watercolor drawings maintain his delicate spatial integrity but add depth and vibrancy.

 

Peter Ligon - Ken's Shocks and Jack in the Box

Peter Ligon - Ken's Shocks

That he chooses Dallas-area, often close to the Shamrock's near-Deep Elm urban neighborhood, scenes further endears his work, and imply a gentle humor. But his developing painted drawing style really shines in his busy dowtown images, which, like the 7-11 Parking Lot at the top of this page, don't confuse viewers with all those poles and wires and other non-archetectural shapes, but instead form an intricate interplay of urban lines and spaces.

 

Lily Hanson - Mount In Blue

Lily Hanson - Mount In Blue

Talk about humor in art, Lily Hanson’s work is rich with it. “Mount In Blue,” a wall full of wall-mount, metal doohickies, painted cyan on top, with black like shadows below, work retinally to confuse our sense of depth and space and shape. Even close up, they're dimensionally enigmatic, drawing our attention without yielding too many answers. A whole wall of these shapes is a hoot.

 

Lily Hanson - wall shapes

shapes on Lily Hanson’s studio wall

Her interest in spatial relationships extends to a variety of media. Even the random pieces of gonna-be art on her studio wall hold interest. What will these become? Aren't they art already?

 

Lily Hanson - Cushions at top of stairs

Lily Hanson - cushions

The idea behind Open Studios is to show off artists’ work in an informal setting. Yes, of course. But also to show us how they work, and in many ways, how they think and what they do intermediately with those thoughts — before the ideas and materials gel into pieces of art.

 

wall of Peter Ligon paintings

wall of urban paintings and drawings by Peter Ligon

It's an insight we don't often get from galleries’ sterile line-ups. There’s a real but difficult to describe joy in wandering around in artists’ studios, where they work their alchemy. Getting to see everything they're working on, including what might be failed attempts, only deepens our understandings of their work processes and challenges. What fun!

broken glass outside the Shamrock Hotel

broken glass outside - photo by Anna Palmer

Then there's the building itself. Almost next to the infamous It'll Do club on deepest Elm, there's a funky airiness upstairs in the Shamrock, with windows onto the street and a door onto one of Dallas’ better art porches.

We didn't go up the spiral stairway to the roof but spent springtime moments on the porch, watching the ASS sign in the courtyard below and enjoying the views in several other directions. On our way out, Anna found this pile of broken glass that looked to us, just like more art.

 

Continued on Visiting the Continental
Gin Building pages 1 and 2

 

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