“Part Mexican lotería card, part Maxfield Parish with a dash of Peter Max” inadequately describes the oil pastel and acrylic work of Austin artist Ernie Gammage. Pulled into his work through its luminous color, implied narratives offer avenues for thoughtful contemplation.
Late in 1970 this fifth-generation Texan moved from Austin to London, England. After the birth of his first son, he and his family moved to live in a small cottage on an estate on Tilehouse Lane in Buckinghamshire where he created some forty pieces of oil pastel work, a medium in which he’d never worked.
Growing up in Houston, Texas—a land of shades of green— he’d never truly experienced spring with its riotous explosion of color. After a long drab first winter and longing for a break in the monotonous gray, these images burst forth, mirroring what was taking place in the English countryside. Some representational, some not, all the pieces adhere to a color sense emerging from the English spring. No doubt the atmosphere of “Swingin’ London” influenced them as well!
Since this body of work’s completion in 1972, he’s never touched oil pastels again. These pieces lay in a folder for almost 45 years before finally seeing the light of day.
In 1996, having long since returned to Austin, he began a series of acrylic pieces that used the same color sense developed in England: bright and commanding. These have been reproduced in the same manner as the oil pastel pieces as Giclée prints on canvas.
Images are available as Giclée on-canvas and metal prints in a variety of sizes.
In a parallel universe, Ernie has been a 50+ year Austin musician, songwriter, producer, bassist and vocalist, who has appeared twice on the PBS program Austin City Limits. In 2016 he was inducted into the Texas Music Legends Hall of Fame by the Texas Songwriters Association. He’s performed in Texas bands such as The Fabulous Chevelles, the Sweetarts, Plum Nelly, The Austin All-Stars, Mother of Pearl, Ernie Sky and the K Tels, and The Lost Austin Band.
IN 2022 Ernie published his first work of speculative fiction, a short-story collection, WHAT AWAITS?