Hodges estate sale offers chance to own painting by significant SETX artist

Justin Varner, left, and Yancey Head sort through paintings ahead of the Steve Hodges Estate show which opens at The Art Studio, July 2. Photo by Andy Coughlan

When artist Steve Hodges died in 2010, he left behind a large body of work. For a dozen years, his work has been in storage while family and friends have pondered what to do with the collection.

Fortunately for Southeast Texas art lovers, they have decided to release a large portion of Hodges’ estate for sale, beginning July 2, at The Art Studio, Inc.

When Yancey Head, Hodges’ stepdaughter, visited the storage facility that housed his work to pull some pieces for her house, she thought it was time to get the work out into the world and The Studio would be a good place to host a sale of the work.

“I think Steve always wanted to have the work on people’s walls,” Head said. “I think that I understood that sentiment after he passed away. Now, my family is more involved in The Art Studio — my daughter is doing art here, and I play in a band. So, my band plays here. I just feel like it was a really great place to get the work out to the public.”

Painting by Steve Hodges

Head said the work will be priced to be affordable to people who may not have been able to own a piece before.

“To me, a lot of the work is just invaluable because, of course, the sentimental value of it,” she said. “But I think that (we) definitely wanted to make it at a price that’s accessible for anybody that maybe was a student of his or just someone who followed his work when he was alive. I think that really an important thing is to be able to get it out to the public but at a price that is accessible.”

Hodges, who lived in Port Arthur, was a long-time professor of art at Lamar University, and was one the original “apprentices” at The Studio, assistant director Stephanie Orta said.

“Yancey is not only a tenant now, but she is considered one of the original TASI kids,” Orta said. “They came to us and let us know that they were ready to start sharing his estate. And although usually we are closed in July, we’ve decided to be open for this very special exhibition this year.”

Jakob Christmas shows off the painting that will greet visitors to the Steve Hodges Estate show which opens at The Art Studio, July 2. Photo by Andy Coughlan

Justin Varner, Hodges’ friend and former student, said Hodges is an important Southeast Texas artist.

“The main point (is) for people from here to know that there was a person that decided to stay here, they decided to stay in Port Arthur, when it was falling apart,” Varner said. “He lived in an area that was crime infested a little bit. So, he stuck —he’saPortArthur,SoutheastTexas artist — and I think that’s important for people to know and to learn from and to value.”

Hodges’ work is clearly recognizable to Southeast Texans, with his brightly colored imagery that is cerebral, philosophical and also whimsical. Artist and former student Jakob Christmas said Hodges put his brain, his soul, his thoughts, his feelings, his ideas about the nature of life or the universe, and, especially, humanity into the work.

“It’s him trying to understand himself — I think he wanted to be understood,” Christmas said. “And he wanted to share that with other people. He thought the paintings were alive when they were interacting with another person, with the viewer.”

Still life by Steve Hodges

Christmas said he, Head and Varner tried to select a series of works that represent different aspects of Hodges art.

“I think for a viewer coming in, hopefully, there’s something for most people,” he said. “You might be more drawn to a very beautiful, academicallystrongstilllifeoraskull, or you might be drawn to a very flat, bright, cartoonish, philosophical, meandering kind of painting or you might be drawn to the playing cards, or you might be drawn to the Platonic ideals. I think the breadth of the work is inclusive to a lot of tastes. Also, each sliver is kind of a slice of the artists (himself), you know?”

The Steve Hodges Estate Sale is not only a chance to pick up a painting by a significant Southeast Texas artist, but also a chance to celebrate a life. After all, all the while the art is seen and enjoyed, the artist lives on.

The sale opens with a free reception, 7 to 10 p.m., July 2 and is on display through July 31. The Art Studio is located at 720 Franklin in downtown Beaumont. For more information, visit http://www.artstudio.org, or the Facebook page.

This story first ran in the July 1, 2022 Art of Living section of the Beaumont Enterprise.

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