McCabe’s ‘Works on Paper’ on view at Rice Media Center

Former VADA studio manager’s exhibition brings together selection of paintings and drawings

Randall McCabe retired as Rice’s longtime studio manager and lead preparator in 2019. But after a 22-year career in the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts (VADA), it was tough to stay away for long — especially when McCabe was invited back to show his artwork in VADA’s first exhibition of 2020: “Works on Paper 2009-2019.”

Randall McCabe Spring 2020 exhibition

The exhibition debuted Jan. 16 with an opening reception in the Rice Media Center. Over beers and barbecued brisket, the Rice community turned out to welcome McCabe back to campus.

The exhibition brings together a selection of paintings and drawings from “Drawings from the Equinox,” a 10-year span of work that began in 2009.

“The ‘Equinox’ drawings are abstractions rooted in both a recurring formal paradigm going back many years and my predisposition to see the landscape as animate,” McCabe said.

Indeed, some of the detailed drawings look almost as if topographic maps had colorful personalities of their own.

Randall McCabe Spring 2020 exhibition

“They are an homage to the ink paintings of the great Asian masters, the cave drawings of pre-history and the scribbles of small children,” McCabe said of his work. “More personally, they are a subtle but incessant recollection which has threaded itself through my entire life and are, as such and as concisely as I can make them, a mirror image of everything that I know.”

After a four-year career in the U.S. Navy aboard a submarine, McCabe picked up odd jobs — painting houses, tending bar — before obtaining a fine arts degree from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle in 1983. His first solo show, in 1995, took place after he moved to Houston. McCabe joined Rice two years later as a VADA shop technician, and he’s returned to art full time following his retirement in May 2019.

Up next, McCabe said, is a suite of woodblock prints.

“Works on Paper 2009-2019” will be on view at the Rice Media Center Gallery through Feb. 10. (Photos by Katharine Shilcutt)

Randall McCabe Spring 2020 exhibition

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.