Two Artists Featured in Retrospective Show at Galveston Art League by Mary Vinnedge
Paintings by the late Galveston County artists Odette Ruben and Virginia “Ginger” Sayles will be exhibited and offered for sale Aug. 2-26 at the Galveston Art League, 2117A Postoffice St. in Galveston. Gallery hours are noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, and until 9 p.m. during ArtWalk on Aug. 25.
Ruben, a Texas City resident, was a well-known watercolorist who won many awards in Galveston Art League juried competitions (three are held annually at league galleries in Texas City and Galveston) and Texas Watercolor Society contests. Many of Ruben’s paintings depict Texas City scenes, and some of these are on display at the city’s Doyle Convention Center. Ruben also painted sites in Galveston, with a pet subject being Victorian houses. After her death, she left a large body of artworks to an inheritor who has given them to the Galveston Art League to sell at their galleries.
Odette Mesinger was born in Houston. She and her family moved to Galveston when she was a senior in high school. Ruben graduated from Ball High School in Galveston and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Washington University in St. Louis.
After college she applied her artistic skills to fashion. She and her brother, Herbert, opened a dress factory where she was the sole designer of Odette Mesinger Junior Dresses, a line that was carried at Nathan’s in Galveston and Foley’s in Houston. She left the dress-design business to marry Steve Ruben.
Odette Ruben died in 2015 at age 89.
Sayles, who spent most of her adult life in Illinois, moved to Galveston in 2016 to be closer to her son and daughter-in-law. Just a month after relocating to the island ― and after gentle prodding from her family ― she submitted work to a Galveston Art League juried competition. She was thrilled to win first place for her acrylic painting on canvas.
Sayles, a native Californian, first dabbled in oils (she struggled with their odor) and watercolors before finding her favorite medium, acrylics. She was mostly self-taught.
Fascinated by clouds, Sayles often made them a focal point of her paintings. Whenever she was outside, she’d comment, “Would you just look at those clouds!” Family members say they learned to stop and look at the beauty of clouds because of her.
Sayles died in July 2017 at age 74. Following her death, her family gave many of her paintings and her extensive collection of art supplies to the Galveston Art League, a nonprofit organization. The Art League donated the art supplies to area teachers who were honored during its 2017 gala. To learn more about the league, this year’s Oct. 6 gala, and its shows and competitions, visit GalvestonArtLeague.com.
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