A friend of mine once said, “The city is where you go to die.” I thought, and perhaps I still think, this was and maybe is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. For “city” is more than just a place: It’s an idea. Like all ideas, city is an imaginative composition that exists both in our minds and in the physical world. Most will say that this is art: The place where the cognitive idea intersects with the physical idea on canvas, in print, on stage, etc. Artist Christopher St. Leger has devoted much of his career to painting the city. His mind’s idea of city and the city that is outside of mind mingle in his brush strokes to show city as “the runway for the flight of ambition and the descent into melancholy, along street pounded by hopes and frustration”.

Hooks-Epstein Gallery is currently exhibiting St. Legers’s collection of watercolored paintings, Directions. Directions came about as St. Legers attempted to clear the confusion of how he understands the city and how the city actually functions. He states, “Until I captured anything in watercolor, the city remained impenetrable”. As he painted, the paradoxes of city revealed themselves: It is an idea of fear and comfort, progression and regression, chaos and order, mirth and gloom. St. Leger discovered that, for him, these contradictions are what the city is. 

You can view St. Leger’s Directions til March 16th at Hooks-Epstein, one of Houston’s oldest art galleries. The galleries regular hours are Tuesday-Friday, 11am-4pm. For individual dates and times that the gallery is open or if you’d like to schedule an appointment, please visit www.hooksepstein.com.