Austin’s record-loving Xochi Solis tunes in this month at Lawndale. They don’t call it pop art for nothing!
Born and raised in Austin, 32-year-old Xochi Solis is a blossoming Texas artist whose colorful site-specific exhibit Rivers of Our Vision opened at the end of January with an iridescent bang at Houston’s Lawndale Art Center (4912 Main St., 713.528.5858), one of five shows up concurrently through March 2. Just as music runs through the streets of Solis’ hometown, the self-proclaimed Live Music Capital of the World, her flowerlike abstractions have rhythm and melody. For titles, Solis even uses lyrics from pop and rock legends such as David Bowie and Lou Reed.
“As soon as I learned to operate a record player, I was playing records, mostly my father’s,” says the modish, dark-haired Mexican-American, whose first name is Aztec for flower. “Music takes people to a shared psychic space. I almost can’t create without music in the background.”
Part painting, part collage, Solis’ brilliant, blobby, wall-hanging pieces are crafted from colored paper, layered paints and materials including vinyl and acetate (substances that happen to be crucial for making records), as well as found objects. The splashy work combines irregular ovals and painted ellipses stacked at odd angles, like gummy bull’s-eyes, with Solis’ bright palette magnifying their whimsy.
“I want to evoke a sort of aura,” she muses on her art. “I enter the studio in a state of mind, pick or mix the colors I want to play with that day, and then cut and stack the layers into a harmonious whole.”
For Lawndale, Solis increased the typical size of her pieces from a few square inches to several square feet. “It’s an explosion of color and form,” says Lawndale Director Christine West, who has led the contemporary art organization since 2006.
Meanwhile, music will be taking center stage at noon Saturday on Feb. 16, when, as part of Solis’ solo show, Lawndale hosts a public record swap, listening party and lyric reading. The gathering will provide Solis a chance to geek out with fellow music heads, and offer collectors the option to barter for rare vinyl and explore each other’s collections. On her website, xochisolis.com, Solis posts her own deep-track play lists, ranging from oldies such as the Beatles and Donovan to the buzzed-about Texas electronic artist Matthew Dear.
Solis, who also works fulltime doing event planning and outreach for UT’s Visual Arts Center, first appeared on the local arts radar in 2008 when selected as a “new artist to watch” by the Austin Chronicle. That led to her inclusion in a traveling Austin Museum of Art show hosted by DiverseWorks in Montrose. She earlier attended school at UT, as well, with stints studying abroad in Tuscany and Mexico City. She has since designed pieces for several young Texas collectors.
When not at work or in her Austin studio, Solis spends time with boyfriend George Pasterk, who perhaps unsurprisingly is a musician.