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'Failure is key': Richard Samuel celebrates art and perseverance with his new solo show

Richard Samuel with his works at Inspired Minds
Michael Lee
Richard Samuel with two of his works at Inspired Minds

Before fully embarking on a career as an artist, Richard Samuel spent some time playing professional football in Europe. Art and football have both been longtime passions for Samuel, so when he got the opportunity take part in a painting competition earlier this year, it was an ideal blending of his passion for art and his competitive spirit.

“So the story is, Inspired Minds Art Center had an art brawl… earlier this year,” Samuel says. “They had eight artists; it was two rounds and then a championship round. But the key was, it was only 20 minutes. So they provided a, I want to say 16x20 board for everybody, and then the paints. You couldn’t bring anything, you couldn’t pre-do anything. They had music, live music, they had a crowd, and it was 20 minutes, go! You had to do a picture.”

At the end of the brawl, Samuel emerged victorious and earned a solo show at Inspired Minds, which is open now at the Buda gallery. “I had never, ever tried to do a piece live in 20 minutes until that competition, and it was thrilling. Absolutely thrilling. It was like I was born for competitions like that. That was literally like me just putting on my football helmet and pads and just performing,” Samuel says with a laugh. “It was awesome.”

The show at inspired minds – titled ‘Til Death Give Us Art – is Samuel’s first solo show in the US, which is a little surprising considering that he owns an art gallery himself (Riches Art in East Austin). Why hasn’t he just put on his own solo show at Riches Art? “Honestly, I’ve never thought about it!” he says. “I’m constantly always thinking about what else I can do for other artists or the community. You know, trying to activate people. I don’t know – it feels selfish, almost.”

The show at Inspired Minds has let Samuel display some of his newer works for the first time. “This was an awesome opportunity for me to actually put a lot of the series that I’ve been working on for the past year up together,” he says. “I am obsessed with mixed media right now, and combining all different kinds of mediums. And so I brought as much mixed media and just different mediums, different feels all the way from floral to women to abstract. I wanted it to completely encompass art in my opinion. And that’s why I called it Til Death Give Us Art.”

Samuel says he’s displaying work from four different series in the new show – he’s got a series of florals, three paintings from a series he calls ‘The Goddess Series,’ several from his long-running ‘Idols Series,’ and some new multimedia works that he’s particularly proud of.

“I actually just finished these this week. They’re ideas that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time… and of course like most of my art, it always deals with some type of emotional jump or something that I conquered in life. So this is my favorite one, this blue one right here,” Samuel says, gesturing to a large mixed media work with the words ‘failure is key’ prominently painted across the top. “It’s Life After Death. And it’s kind of like, you know, the football career stopped and you gotta go in a different direction. And I picked art, and it’s flourishing right now. And I failed so many times. I failed at football, I failed at art. And doors were shut in my face. And I think that’s the key to being successful, is having those failures and to still keep going. So that’s a really... that’s one of my favorite pieces right now.”

''Til Death Give Us Art' is on display through August 13 at Inspired Minds Art Center in Buda.

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces and hosts This Is My Thing and Arts Eclectic, and also produces Get Involved and the Sonic ID project. When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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