Swiss art hits Houston

An accomplished group of artists showcased their talent in Beyond the Alps: 8 Swiss Artists in Texas at the ArtScan Gallery on Saturday.

Varied in medium and theme, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, paper cutting, photographs and graphic design projects were on display.

Painters Anne-Joelle Galley and Barbara Tennant draw inspiration from their surroundings.

A native of Mexico, Galley’s use of vibrant color and fluidity in her "Oaxaca" series is reminiscent of a Mexican sunset illuminating the bustling mercados and quaint pueblos. The rich colors and muted contrasts attempt to meld tradition and modernity ever-present in Mexican culture.

Similarly, Tennant said she relies on her career as an architect to explore the conflict between nature and development. Her series, "Encroachment," combines aerial maps and blueprints with unbroken landscapes, wild vegetation and grazing livestock.

Sculptor Willy Gunther is wellversed in metal and woodcarving, but said, "My favorite media to work in is stone." His sculptures have enjoyed success around the world and earned him a second place trophy at the Texas Sculpture Challenge in 2006. The sculptures range in media, size and subject matter, but all of them are equally magnificent.

Catherine Winkler Rayroud’s ceramics and paper cuttings have also received recognition. Rayroud’s work blends the age-old art of paper cutting and the manipulation of clay. Her pottery is decorated with paper-cut decals, which are later glazed in black and white. Her intricate paper cuttings are done in black paper and matted against a white background. Paper cutting is extremely time-consuming, as it requires precision cutting with small nail scissors and typically portrays themes of work and community.

Photographer John Bernhard’s said, "I am fascinated by transformation," which acts as the theme for his collection of nude photographs. Bernhard fused the female form with earth, wind, water, wood, fire and stone. In a mult-istep process, he layered and altered old and new images to yield the desired effect. The photographs are innovative and aesthetically pleasing because they break away from tradition and offer something cutting-edge in its place.

Graphic designer Rolf Laub also looks to push the envelope with his witty cartoons and quirky posters. Laub has worked closely with the Moores Opera Center for the last five years, creating posters for Ghost of Versailles, The Love for Three Oranges and The Turk in Italy. His portfolio also includes work for Ars Lyrica, a baroque music ensemble and Context, another music ensemble. Laub said he tries to give all of his clients a unique look and style even though each shares characteristics inherent in all of his work. He also produces political cartoons which can be found on his blog,

Beyond the Alps proved to be an eye-catching exhibit with a variety of artwork and an emphasis on nature, technique and a passion for the arts.

The exhibit runs through Feb. 22. For more information, visit

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