It’s 11am and Mary Lee has just finished hanging up her last piece of art on one of my living room walls.
There’s going to be a SoFar acoustic show in my home later today – a program that organizes secret gigs in living rooms around the world – and with this being one of the first SoFars in Austin I thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase art from some of the city’s esteemed local artists.
Mary Lee takes a step back and looks around the room, glancing at pieces from Sophie Roach, Katy Horan, and Elizabeth Chiles. “Are there going to be any other artists setting up?”
“Yeah, I’m still expecting Landry McMeans later today,” I answer.
Landry specializes in cardboard reliefs.
“$#@!*, that girl always brings it.”
About an hour later I hear a rumble coming from just outside those very living room walls. I peek out the window and see a large white cargo van parked outside my house, and the silhouette of a slim-framed girl behind the wheel. It’s Landry.
I greet her outside, as she swings open the rear double doors of the van – the inside of which is filled to the brim with her art.
Landry specializes in cardboard reliefs. They’re likely the most vibrant and harmoniously-colored reliefs you’ve ever seen – and as we pull out a seven-foot tall frame that contains a depiction of a Saguaro cactus, they’re likely the biggest you’ve ever seen too.
I was expecting Landry to bring by about three to five works. She brought fifteen – including six she “just put together last night.”
$#@!*, Landry always brings it.
Landry was born and raised here in Austin. She’s an artist, a musician, and a nomad – sometimes getting emails with an itinerary and plane tickets attached for her next show.
Despite all the landscapes and locales she’s seen, it’s the colors and forms of the Southwest that inspire her work. Giving particular credit to a color theory class she took at Texas State University, Landry assembles various strips of painted cardboard to create soothing gradients that give a fourth dimension to the inherent shadow and depth of her medium.
…it’s the colors and forms of the Southwest that inspire her work.
It was also at Texas State University where she first experimented with cardboard for the purpose of making art. She loved the imperfections, the accessibility, and the opportunity to transform a material we encounter every day into something unexpected.
Inside her studio, you’ll find painted cardboard strips scattered across tabletops and packed inside storage boxes.
They’re beautiful all by themselves.
For Landry, art is something that just seems to happen… assembling itself from a stack of random thoughts and ideas.
Art is an ambiguous thing. No one quite knows where it comes from, or how to harness whatever it is that causes one to create it. For people like Landry, though, art is something that just seems to happen – effortlessly and prolifically – assembling itself from a stack of random thoughts and ideas.
With an X-acto knife, a pencil, and several precise bends and folds, Landry is able to turn these pieces of cardboard into a wide range of geometric representations such as sunflowers, cattails, or mountains.
In person, these works act as a sort of interactive display; you can’t help but look at them from different angles to discover how the light breaks upon the planes of the cardboard.
From top to bottom, the colors flow into each other so smoothly that you take for granted that each individual strip was painted by hand and that each color was mixed and blended by Landry.
Browsing through her work now, just as I did several months back for the SoFar show, it’s glaringly obvious.
Landry doesn’t just bring it.
She breathes it.
See Landry McMeans during E.A.S.T. at
Stop 53.1s – Pump Project
702 Shady Ln
E.A.S.T. East Austin Studio Tour
Nov 16-17 + Nov 23-24
11:00AM – 6:00PM
This article originally published in The Wander Issue of Citygram Austin Magazine.
Explore the full issue on your desktop here or download the FREE mobile issue designed specifically for your iPhone or iPad in the App Store today.
Photography: Chris Perez