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Sarah Williams
McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, Texas
Recommendation by Donna Tennant

Sarah Williams’ nocturnal paintings are lonely, moody, haunting, eerie, mysterious, desolate, and ominous. They could be anywhere in rural America.


Continuing through April 20, 2013


Sarah Williams’ nocturnal paintings bring out the poet in anyone who writes about them: lonely, moody, haunting, eerie, mysterious, desolate, and ominous are just a few of the words that have been used to describe them. Her point of view seems to be that of someone just passing through, driving the winding country roads that connect small towns that could be in Texas, where Williams currently lives, or Missouri, where she grew up. In fact, they could be anywhere in rural America. 


The paintings capture the view from a car as daylight fades and night takes over. Burger joints, gas stations, liquor stores, car washes, and parking lots are deserted, but modest homes and bungalows are definitely inhabited. Windows become rectangles of warm light, while Christmas decorations cast colored glow on the snow in the yard. Williams’ depiction of light — florescent, incandescent, neon, or the setting sun—is masterful. Whether she paints a sign reflected in a rainy street or tree branches silhouetted against a fading sky, the effect is captivating. 


These paintings may be small, most measuring 12 by 24 inches, but their impact is powerful. Inherent in them is nostalgia for a time before interstate highways and the lure of the city isolated so many of America’s small towns. Of the thirty paintings in the show, twenty-five were completed just this year. Williams is prolific, but neither her vision nor her talent falters. These are evocative and seductive works of art.

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