The Modern Mix
By Connie Dufner
Images courtesy of Joey Lancaster
While plaster has been around for thousands of years, Joey Lancaster uses it to bring nature to life.
Joey Lancaster’s life was moving along an orderly career path — until the day she realized she had buried a dream. She had a college degree and a corporate job. But the lifelong art lover and amateur painter had not pursued making her passion a career.
“At 18, I actually told a sibling that I wanted to become a professional artist,’’ says the 50-year-old Fort Worth native. “Those days, I spent a lot of time at the Kimbell copying the greats.”
Lancaster started painting again in her mid-20s, selling to galleries in California, where she was then living. Then an opportunity arose for the primarily self-taught artist to paint residential interior murals for her sister, designer Mary Lee Proctor. She returned to Fort Worth.
“I flew into town and I was hooked,” Lancaster says. “Walls, doors, beams and furniture were all blank canvases. I was drawn to — no pun intended — French and Italian styles. The variety of surfaces and influences exposed me to various techniques and materials. I studied pictures of European interiors, and I painted what I saw, often using makeshift tools that I thought would create the effect I was trying to achieve.”
That experience prompted her to explore plaster as a medium for her artwork. “I loved how the material felt and that it allowed me to create smooth or chunky effects — as well as letting me carve out a ballerina’s tutu, for example, by simply turning my trowel on edge.” Lancaster has called herself a working artist for 26 years now and has a portfolio that ranges from the early murals and decorative finishes to today’s textural paintings with her signature plaster effects. Through it all, the city of Fort Worth has nurtured her.
The youngest of five children of Eunice (“alive and working and driving at 91”) and the late Gerald Paul Otte, she’s likely to run into someone who knows her family wherever she goes.
“My dad died when I was 10. He was a very well-known Lutheran minister,” she says. “He touched so many people’s lives. It’s very fun to run into people who remember him.”
Last year, Lancaster pulled together a group of friends for lunch — friends with names that Fort Worth art fans know: Ginger Ray Walker, Allison Castillo, Sarah Murrin and Sarah Gentry — spearheading the first gathering of what she calls “art friends.” “I thought it was silly that this many talented women in such a small radius didn’t know and rely on each other … to talk shop, exchange ideas. At that first lunch, we decided as a group to band together to exhibit.” The lunch initiated the founding of the Fort Worth Women’s Art Circle.
Seven artists now make up the group, the goal of which is to support one another in art and in life, including showing their work together when possible. Walker, currently resident artist at Galleywinter Gallery — owned by Fort Worth artist and musician Pat Green — is the link to Lancaster showing her own work at the Fort Worth gallery through March.
As for subject matter, Lancaster takes her inspirations from the natural world, often painting aspen trees.
“The aspen paintings, as with all of my work, have a modern edge while using an ancient material: plaster. It’s as if two worlds collide on one canvas. This is why I believe my work fits in both modern and traditional interiors,” she says.
Lately she has begun to tackle painting flowers in acrylics on plaster.
“I like to focus on one thing: just the bark of the aspens or just the flowers, no landscape or leaves or stems. The centers of the flowers are the most fun. That’s where the flowers become real. Aspens will never be replaced, but these are sure fun.”