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by Robin Barr Sussman
houston artist edgar medina abstract painter.jpg

Known for his work’s expressive energy, contemporary abstract artist Edgar Medina exhibits large-scale canvas paintings at prestigious international art fairs, maintains an active digital footprint, and remains on a quest for new inspiration. Medina boasts an established collector base that includes corporate clients like the Westin Houston Medical Center and Memorial Hermann. As part of his continued artistic exploration, he is pursuing “live painting” for galas and charitable causes. Houston’s Edgar Medina Art Gallery & Studio is located in Sawyer Yards. Visit his website for more info.

When did your passion for art begin?
At a young age I enjoyed playing with watercolors and other art materials. I really took interest in learning about the process and different materials when I moved to the United States and took my first art class in high school.

When did you start selling art and can you describe those first paintings?
I sold my first painting in 2009, and I was shocked that someone would pay for my art. I have always done abstract work, but looking back, my original works were somewhat more muted/earthy colors than my recent work.

When did you become a full-time abstract painter?
I went full-time when I decided to get my own studio in 2010. Before then, I was showing in small places when I could. My new studio allowed me the space and drive to really focus on making it a career.

Where do you get your inspiration before starting a painting?
My inspirations come from all over the place, from a beautiful horizon line to an old brick wall in an alley. My camera is filled with photos of random things I found interesting. When traveling, I’m continually inspired by natural elements.

Do you paint on an easel or on the floor and do you use paper or canvas or both?
Most of my work is done on large scale canvas with acrylics. Lately, I have explored more mixed media elements to add new textures. My process usually has me moving the canvas all around; I'll work on an easel and then flip it around or move it to the ground. It all depends on the technique I am aiming for.

Would you say Houston is a great city for artistic support?
Houston has been amazing for my career. It is big, so you must work to find opportunities. The city’s artistic community has really grown. My studio is in Winter Street Studios, which is part of the Sawyer Yards district with hundreds of artists. I never expected to see such a large community in one region.

You are clearly devoted to volunteerism. How did this evolve?
I have been lucky over the years to find a way to use my passion and talents and give back to some wonderful causes. It started when I explored doing live paintings at the events in 2011 and the experience of creating and auctioning off a painting all in one night really took off.

Tell us about a few of your recent charitable collaborations.
In September I had the privilege of working with Make-A-Wish to grant a special girl her dream of working with an artist to create an art show. We created a beautiful exhibition that raised a great amount of money for Make-A-Wish. My latest project was with Frontera Wines and the Latin Grammys invited me to create a live painting collaborating with the performers. In a few weeks, the painting will be auctioned to support the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation.

What is the most satisfying thing about your career?
Being able to take my passion for creating art and turning it into a career is a dream come true. I am blessed by the amazing places my career has taken me. I have traveled the country for work and met people who have the biggest hearts and give back to making our world a better place.

Anything else you would like to share about what’s on the horizon?
This year has been incredible and definitely reached new heights in my personal achievements. I plan on continuing sharing my work and hopefully taking it to new cities with fairs. I am also working a new series that touches on my Mexican culture. I’m looking forward to sharing something unique from my past works.

by Robin Barr Sussman

Latina trailblazer Rita Garcia has a flair for storytelling, a welcoming wit and an endearing personality. Garcia is back in Houston from Good Day Los Angeles to co-anchor the weekday morning news on ABC-13 replacing Tom Koch who retired after 39 years. She was featured in the Los Angeles Times as the first morning news anchor in LA to broadcast an entire live morning newscast from home during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. We caught up with Garcia to hear about her stellar career.

When did your passion for media begin?
My mom gave me a tape recorder in elementary school and I enjoyed playing it back and critiquing myself to learn how to project my voice. When I was 15, I developed an interest in radio broadcasting and started announcing on our high school radio program at Fresnos High School in the Rio Grande Valley where I grew up.

How did you break into your career as a reporter?
Internships! I interned at a station in Austin where I got first-hand experience by going into the field with reporters. Eventually, I asked if I could do camera work. So, when job searching, my tapes stood out to news directors because I had the live experience. My first job was in the Rio Grande Valley as a reporter for KRGV-Channel 5.

Where was your first anchor job?
I was reporting in South Texas for three years and applied in other markets. Los Angeles’ CBS KCAL (number two in the market) offered me a job as a freelance reporter where I worked for six years. I became a weekend anchor for FOX26 when I moved to Houston. It’s all about timing, patience, talent and having a little luck! I’ve been flexible with moving from city to city to further my career.

What are some of the most memorable news moments you’ve covered?
In Houston, 2017 was a huge year for the Super Bowl, followed by Hurricane Harvey—everybody had a story about the devastating flooding. Also, it was amazing covering all seven games at The World Series, and of course, the Oscars and Emmy red carpet events in LA.

What are striking differences between living in Houston and living in LA?
Both are known for dramatic natural disasters, but there are things that make both cities wonderful. Obviously, the weather is the best thing about living in LA, but the worst is the traffic! In Houston, I can drive multiple places in one day—but not in LA.

What’s a typical workday and how early does your day begin? 
I wake up at 2:15 a.m. and from that moment on, I am watching the news and checking out our news app for major stories. I get to the office at 3:30 a.m. and check all the ABC channels online, study Twitter for top trends, hard news or a fun video occasionally.

Advice you can give journalists trying to break into television reporting? 
Networking, networking, networking! Join local journalism organizations (I belong to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists) and go to journalism conventions to hear speakers. Follow fellow journalists on social media and connect with them.

What do you do in your leisure time?
I’m a newlywed and I married a Houstonian—he proposed to me in Paris. We have a rescue dog named Rocky, who was a part of our wedding (he wore a tux!). We enjoy local dog parks and I also love to travel. We were fortunate to have visited Mexico City, France, and England in 2019 pre-pandemic.

Any Texas food you missed most when living in LA?
Crawfish season and the Houston crawfish boils—they never got it quite right in LA. Also, I couldn’t find any kolaches there!

How would you like to be remembered in your career?
As a trusted voice. Being an anchor is about knowing the story, not just delivering it. I want the community to feel they can rely on me to be honest and present the facts on both sides. I call that quality journalism.

Photo above courtesy of ABC-13/KTRK-TV
Top of page gallery: Crawfish photo by Jj saezdeo, Wikimedia Commons

by Robin Barr Sussman

Beloved local artist dishes on his early passion to paint, creative inspirations, latest exhibitions and a masterpiece chocolate cake.

Ranging from figurative to the abstract, David McGee’s original thought-provoking paintings, drawings, and prints can be found in collections across the nation, including the The Menil Collection, Houston; the Dallas Museum of Art; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin; The Grand Rapids Museum of Art; The Seattle Arts Council and more. Houston-based McGee was born in Louisiana, grew up in Detroit, and moved to Texas to study at Prairie View A&M University. His work draws from his interests in poetry, history painting, class, pop culture, and their connections. We chatted with the fascinating McGee to discover just what makes him tick.

When did you know your passion was art?
Like most creative people, I started early and drew as a child. Growing up in Detroit, I did not go to museums and did not even know about galleries. An avid reader, I discovered the world through the series of Old World books. I moved to Texas in the 80s and started drawing and creating paintings at about 18 years old. After about a year, I knew this was my career.

Some assume your art is about the African American experience. True or false?
This assumption is to a large degree because I am an African American living in America. But my work is populated by all races. My work is about the human experience and navigating through a curious world.

Where are your current shows?
We just finished a few shows recently: Beaumont, Texas; The Grand Rapids Museum of Art, Michigan, and the Barry Whistler Gallery show in Dallas. There is usually a 3 to 4 year gap between my exhibitions because most of my work is concept work and I sit on it for a while.

What is a typical day for you?
I’ve been a steady worker my whole life. I don’t wait for inspiration—I believe in doing, so I work every day and find inspiration. I’m either drawing, planning or painting.

What do you do for hobbies or leisure time?
I like plants, gardening and doing yard stuff. Reading and watching films relaxes me.

Do you have any favorite dishes/foods?
My favorite dessert in the world is my mom’s German chocolate cake. It’s a masterpiece. It is so fantastic; you just want to run down the street in tears. She makes it once a year—for my birthday. I used to share the cake with someone that I like, but now I devour the entire thing by myself. I will starve and only eat this cake until it is all gone!

If you were not an artist, what would your profession to be?
I would want to be a film director because I’m really into movies. But I love baseball and thought I would be a baseball player. Many in my family were baseball players. I’m completely obsessed with the Yankees!

What’s on your playlist?
I’ve been listening to a lot of older Miles Davis, Bach, and local composer Chris Becker.

Your proudest moment?
It was an art moment: When I first saw my painting next to a Picasso at The Menil Collection. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The Menil is beautiful, accessible, intimate and welcoming.