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Ken Luce
"Artifacts of the Voyage:
1985 - 1995"

West Gallery

September 12 - November 3, 2020

Opening Reception

Saturday, September 12, 2020
6pm to 9pm
"Pintail", wood construction, 26”x 39”x 15"

"As a general rule, I don’t do artist statements. I don’t recall Picasso or Rothko doing artist statements.  Over our lifetime each artist discusses his work with family, other artists, collectors, art dealers and curators. Many of those conversations are written down or recorded on video. Those are artist statements. My sense is not to try and use words to communicate what my art is about, because if I could explain my work with words, I’d write it down and then I’d be a writer. The art IS the message and, when seen by others, completes the communication.


Words & Phrases of others about my work:

muscular, intuitive, sure, often irreverent, eclectic, constructed, beauty of the natural world, powerful, abstract, playing fast and lose with historical references. New DADA. Informed by Juan Torres Garcia, primitivism & early 20th. Century art and molded by the 1950’s and 60’s."

- Ken Luce

"One of the first works Sharon and I collected years ago was a heart sculpture pierced by a phallic figure. The piece still resonates today."
- Gus Kopriva, Redbud Gallery Owner, August 2020


"Ken Luce develops his work on a highly individualistic trajectory. Discarded, weathered, materials, abandoned as detritus, are reimagined, combined, and mediated into three dimensional assemblages that quite often blur the original application, if any can be discerned, of the various components. The whole of the composition radically changes the context of each element that is hiding within plain sight. The discovery of an object, close to unrecognizably camouflaged (and sometimes the complete opposite is true), having been assimilated into the realm of other unlikely objects and materials, can easily become a visual preoccupation in itself. Appearing as spontaneously random, each work is meticulously thought through by the artist, referential, visual nuances are not accidental. Sly implications to early twentieth century modernism and other references, as commonplace as a child’s pull toy, are simultaneously at odds with one another, while asserting an unlikely, but visually cohesive, unity. It’s an impossible edge that Luce is able to achieve effortlessly. Luce’s work breaks down preconceived, barriers with wit and humor, sometimes subtle, sometimes not. It’s a strategy that enables him to take his work beyond judgmental, predefined boundaries, engaging with the viewer, while sharing the importance of enjoyment he derives in making each object unmistakably his own."

- Eugene Binder, Curator, Marfa, Texas, August 2020



  • 1960 - I was ten. Met my first art teacher Helen Coffey, at Palm Center, who had a small gallery and large studio on S. Main, not far from Pucho’s Purple Onion, a beat joint. My mother took me to lessons twice a week in the evening for three hours. She waited out front and knitted. Later Helen had one of the first galleries in Houston on La Branch, showing Pebworth, Herb Mears, Barry Tinkler, etc.

  • Met Ben Russell who worked at the paint store across the street

  • 1961 - Mother started taking me to the original Alley Theater on S. Main. It was set back way off the street almost in an alley

  • 1962 - Saw a piece of Louise Nevelson’s donated by Sue Pittman that really inspired me to do my first constructions. Won a National merit award with one.

  • 1963 - Met Dorothy Hood who I knew as Mrs. Maidana, because she was married to a Bolivian conductor. She lived next door to Helen. We became life-long friends. She wrote me an amazing letter after the fire in Chicago at Zola Lieberman gallery.

  • First place in oil painting for a shrimp boat I painted in Seabrook, at the Texas State Fair in Dallas. Met my first critic behind us, when the family went up to see the work. She said, “the people that judge the art were the same ones that judged the pickles”.

  • I saw a show of Robert Rauschenberg & Tingly (sp.) in original Contemporary Art Museum in a frame warehouse on the East side of downtown. (It could have been two different shows).

  • 1967 - Met Julian Schnabel while surfing in S. Padre Island. We became life-long friends

  • 1968 - Started U of H on a scholarship. I was accepted at Pratt, but my parents didn’t like the idea. Met Dick Wray, Jack Boynton, Richard Stout, others.  Met Jim Love, David McManaway, Roy Fridge, and other artists from Dallas.

  • 1971 - Began showing work at DuBose Gallery. Saw work by Juan Torres Garcia

  • 1976 - First one-person show at DuBose. Picked up by Charles Schorre, David Findley Gallery, Madison & 5th Ave. NY. 

  • 1984 - Ship channel studio. First trip to New York as an adult. Saw Primitivism and the 20th. Century at the Modern. On my return I switched from painting to sculpture full time making “masks” and other constructions.

  • 1985 - joined Gene Binder Gallery in Dallas and had studio visit by Lisa Dennison, a curator at the Guggenheim Museum. Later that year, Gene negotiated with Davis/McClain for me to show work in Houston.

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