When art collectors buy works they love, eventually unifying themes emerge.

In the case of Denise and Chris Stewart’s collection, this includes personal connections and creative processes. A

MATERIAL MATTERS s both come from visual arts backgrounds, there is a natural interest in how art is created.

Chris graduated from Southern Methodist University as a studio art major, subsequently earning MBA and Master of Fine Arts degrees.

Denise studied interior design, a program within the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas. Their shared enjoyment of art has been a constant in their relationship.

Denise describes one of their first Christmases together, when they each coincidentally purchased a work for the other from a Lance Letscher exhibition at Conduit Gallery.

The couple believes in supporting the local art community. Chris asks,

 MATERIAL MATTERS “You strive to live in a city that has cultural activities going on. How do you support it so it continues?”

For them, this means getting to know local artists and gallerists, making studio visits, and learning as much as they can. Their connection to Conduit’s artists remains strong.

For example, their personal relationship to Roberto Munguia adds special meaning to his work in their collection.

While a student at Cistercian Preparatory School, Chris studied art under Munguia. He credits his mentor’s recommendation for his admission to SMU’s art program.

And Billy Hassell’s Gorge, of the Taos Gorge, reminds Chris of when he painted in that area. “Everything is there,” he marvels of Hassell’s colorful landscapes.

Denise’s UNT connections are also well represented, including work by Jeff Elrod, with whom she went to school,

and Vernon Fisher, then on faculty at UNT. An interest in unusual materials clearly presents itself throughout their home.

Of Stephen Lapthisophon’s work, Chris says, “We love the use of non-traditional material: coffee grounds, leaves, egg, all sorts of crazy stuff.”

And while Lapthisophon’s work is a conscious oleo, Kirk Hayes’s work appears to be mixed media, but is stunningly trompe l’oeil.

Objects appearing to be splintered wood, textured cardboard, or torn paper are typical of Hayes’s extraordinary handling of oil paint.

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