Barry A. Conner
Barry A. Conner
An American artist, born in East Texas, Barry Conner’s work has always attracted attention. A childhood naturalist, and an avid natural artist, drawing, painting, and sculpting from earliest childhood, he went on to study Fine Arts with an academic emphasis in Studio Art, in Sculpture. He is a professional Fine Artist and an art instructor. Barry is experienced in virtually all Fine Art media, with a long-time and ongoing emphasis in large-canvas paintings. He is a professional jewelry designer and bench jeweler, a faceter of precious gemstones, and a jewelry stonecutter. His background also includes public theatre stage paintings and wall mural art for homes and businesses.
Barry is serious about Fine Art, and is driven by an artistic balance between perfectionism and expressive spontaneity. Although his work and subjects are surprisingly varied, that same striving for aesthetic excellence is pervasive through it all.
From the time that he was walking and talking, Barry was also doing artwork. From early on, he excelled in art shows and contests. His parents recognized his ability and interest. They helped him with art materials, took him to exhibits and museums, and were supportive through each endeavor and opportunity. By the age of twelve, Barry had participated in an adult exhibit of wildlife art with The Audubon Society and had sold acrylic paintings at the downtown arts and crafts fair. He even was the subject of a feature magazine in the local newspaper. Much of Barry’s earliest art tended toward natural realism — often drawn or painted — with occasional forays into sculpture, cartoonist abstraction, and other creative explorations.
By his late teens, his love of such aesthetic explorations as surrealism and minimalism were finding their way into his work. Through the years, Barry embraced every opportunity to pursue his artwork both in school and on his own time, eventually going on to major in Fine Arts at Sam Houston State University, with a Studio Art emphasis in Sculpture. He studied under such notable artists as sculptor Charles Pebworth, printmaker Stanley E. Lea, and painters Gaddis Geeslin and Harry J. Ahysen.
From his teenage years and into adulthood, Barry spent countless hours professionally, as a working artist, developing his skills in the broad range of Fine Art genre and art media: nature, landscape, and wildlife scenes; realistic illustrations; avant-garde, symbolic, and surrealist works; expressionism and abstract expressionism; minimalism; plein air; still life; and both traditional portraiture and the representations of cherished pets; Fine Art murals and trompe l’oeil illusions for both private and commercial locations; drawings in pen-and-ink, graphite, charcoal, pastel, conté, and other pigments; sculptures; jewelry design, fabrication, and lost-wax castings; lapidary and faceting of gemstones; ceramics; glasswork; zinc-plate etching, stone lithography, inked woodcut, screened images, digitally-created prints, and other forms of printmaking; even computer graphics, drafting, photography, sign painting, and the stone knapping of both ornamental pieces and functional arrowheads. He also shared his experience with others as a private art instructor.
A transformative conversion experience at age twenty established Barry’s Christian faith, and he was soon bringing hope and emergency supplies to survivors of the great Mexico City earthquake of 1985, as part of the international YWAM organization. Barry’s confidence in the faithfulness of God and in the power and authority of Jesus Christ has had a dramatic and enduring impact on his life and art ever since. “Hope Endures”, 2015, and “Unto you is born this day a Savior”, 2000, exemplify such influences.
In his mid thirties, through his services as a muralist/painter, subcontracted for custom homes and commercial properties, Barry found new expressive freedom in painting broadly and quickly on the much larger “canvas” provided in a mural wall. From that time forward, his personal stylistic inspiration has leaned toward an emphasis on large acrylic paintings developed in a manner some ways reminiscent of the Impressionist School, but with the energy and spontaneity Barry had loved about his past mural paintings. “Surrealist Sunrise”, 2014, and “Mammoth Rock Seascape”, 2015, exemplify this approach.
In March of 2015, Barry was asked for by the set-design manager at Texas Repertory Theatre — in The Champions, Texas — to serve as an emergency fill-in artist in place of their regular scenic artist. Barry’s services on the project led to his being offered, and accepting the position of Resident Scenic Artist there, where he served for over a year. He continued pursuing his own artwork, mostly between productions. Creating very large-scale art for the theatre stage was reminiscent of the mural painting he had enjoyed from years earlier. His work in the theatre environment served to broaden his experience in The Arts, provided an introduction to many wonderful people, and gave him additional professional exposure in the Greater-Houston Area.
December of 2016 marked another transition, when Barry and his wife relocated to the Texas Hill Country, where they founded the popular and successful Floral Vistas Garden Boutique & Gallery. The shop combined their respective areas of interest and expertise. In addition to serving as his home gallery, the venue also featured a broad range of both practical and decorative items for home and patio decor, gifts, live plants, and provided full-service floral design and delivery to the region. Barry took an active role in all aspects of the business, including artistic floral design — taking a sculptor’s approach to designing each arrangement of flowers, and also drawing inspiration for artwork through his burgeoning expertise in decorative floral varieties.
Barry became an active member of the Canyon Lake Art Guild. In 2018, he became Newsletter Editor for the organization, and in 2021, served on the Board of Directors for the Guild.
He frequently teaches classes in the creation of artwork for both beginning and advanced students, as well as children, and has seen great success in the quality of work produced by his students.
The development of large, expressive acrylic canvases has been a primary emphasis in Barry’s artwork since 2013. This work accords well both with his experience as a muralist, and with over a year spent at the theatre. But this stylistic shift actually grew out of his enjoyment for large-scale, free-movement spontaneity and expression in his paintings. Many of these have an impressionistic quality. These dramatic pieces are also better suited to the spacious wall areas of large homes and commercial installations.
An appreciation for minimalist and abstract aesthetics also continues to influence his work. He has also revisited his early interest as a sculptor. Additionally, there has been an ongoing undercurrent of occasionally edgy, conceptual, didactic, or symbolic paintings. These have provided an outlet for creative, cathartic, and ideological expression, but have yet to be shown publicly. Conceptually, philosophical and religious aspects can be seen in much of Barry’s art.
Very recent aesthetic and thematic developments include Barry’s new interpretations of his native Texas, and by his recent pursuits into floral design. His appreciation for the beauty intrinsic in the natural world will, of course, be reflected in his new paintings.
Along with Barry’s inborn, lifelong impetus for creative art, his professional artistic background, training and education, life experiences, spiritual faith, practical skills and ingenuity, versatility with artistic styles and methods, and his creative vision provide him a unique basis for his artwork. The creation of innovative, meaningful, and impactful Fine Art is for Barry both a passion and a joy.
Whatever your interest, whether one of Barry Conner’s original works as seen online or exhibited at a show or gallery location; or whether you would like to discuss unique commissioned works of art as imagined and created by the artist especially for you, please don’t hesitate to contact Gold Leaf Gallery.