A well-known figure of the contemporary Fort Worth art scene, Daniel Blagg has worked in the DFW area for over four decades. Blagg creates compositions that are both large-scale and intimate, familiar and unfamiliar, through his realistic style and chosen subject matter. Inspired by the surroundings of his studio warehouse on the outskirts of Fort Worth, his paintings of deteriorating road signs, empty streets, and vacant buildings examine urban decay and the byproducts of American capitalism. Blagg is interested in portraying what society discards; what once was useful is now abandoned and left to rot with no thought of recycling or re-use. According to Blagg, this wastefulness is particularly evident in American culture, where advertising is driven by the constant and even desperate desire to make a profit, without regard for the ramifications of this model of economic enterprise.
By meticulously depicting forgotten road signs and roadside debris, Blagg invites his viewers to re-consider objects that are often ignored or forgotten. He masterfully crafts his paintings to create moody, unsettling compositions that feel desolate and neglected through his detailed depictions. Quick brushstrokes or soft washes of paint form fields of grass, distant mountains, and stretches of roads, while sharp shadows and the lack of figures heighten the feeling of loneliness and seclusion in these landscapes. Blagg’s representations evoke the work of Edward Hopper through a similar use of light and dark contrasts, as well as an emphasis on urban subject matter. However, unlike Hopper, Blagg’s explorations ominously foretell of the effects of the passage of time. These signs and objects act not only as markers of the past, but also as forewarnings for the future. What will we as a contemporary society build and forsake? How will our creations stand the test of time? What will outlive its use in our culture but may ultimately outlast us, the creators? Blagg visually poses these questions to his audiences, hinting that the answers will only be realized with the next generation of creators and builders. Until that time comes, we are responsible for the creations of past generations, whether we preserve, restore, or ignore those objects. We are also accountable for what we leave behind, whether it is art, architecture, or physical waste.
Blagg’s paintings have been exhibited in over sixty prominent shows across the United States, and his work is collected by numerous institutions and companies, such as the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi, the Old Jail House Arts Center, Shell Oil, Fidelity Investments, and the Coca-Cola Company. He has curated multiple exhibitions at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center and was President of the Exhibition Advisory Panel from 2006 to 2008. In 2012 and 2009, he was a finalist for the Hunting Prize, an annual competition in Houston, Texas, that supports Texas artists. He has also received the Cynthia Brants Award twice (2009 and 2005) for compositions featured in the yearly Fort Worth-based exhibition Preservation is the Art of the City.