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Partially Belated Exceptions to a Rule

Judy Gelfert - High Noon, Fort Worth
oil on canvas

Esteemed DallasArtsRevue writer Michael Helsem recently reviewed The Artists' Showplace gallery in Far North somewhere. With Michael's review in hand, I drove way the hell out there and fought with one of the owners, who'd never heard of DallasArtsRevue for permission (already granted by the gallery-sitter) to take pictures to illustrate that and this story.

While there, but before the verbal skirmish, I looked around the jammed walls of the extraordinarily busy space.

I had planned to photograph their featured big-eyes show that Michael mentioned, for the DARts Calendar, but that dark room of mean spirited paintings unnerved and angered me. I fled into the rest of the gallery.

Where I found some few pieces that I liked, almost liked and wondered whether I really liked at all. In all three of those categories was Judy Gelfert's contemporary impressionistic scenes of downtown Fort Worth.


Stan Allen painting

Stan [Allen? — hand-written title card indecipherable]
Disturbing [Influence ... Inflammable..?]
mixed media on canvas

That's surprising, because it is she who took Michael and this publication to task for our mistaken classifications, ignorance of her art heroes and ... Well, read her remarks, Michael's responses and mine on the Feedback page.

Michael's understandings, especially, are elucidating. I knew there was something about contemporary landscapery I did not trust nor appreciate, but I hadn't been able to express it adequately.

Michael said it eloquently.

Unusually, I admired most of the work Michael liked there. One of the many reasons I have Michael writing art reviews on DallasArtsRevue — and have had for nearly 20 years now — is that his and my tastes usually differ.

Exploring the cavernous co-op, I discovered a few treasures I almost wrote about then, then bottled up till now, while I await a cover feature story whose writer (not me or Michael) is busy illustrating as I write this.

That story's not ready yet, and I have space to fill and ideas to spill. Lucky you.


Essentially, there were four artists whose work at the show place I admired — enough to photograph their work (my visual memory).

You've already seen the adamant letter-writer Judy Gelfert's work that I liked, though hers were perhaps overly dependent upon photographs, which they reminded me of.

Evocative photographs with lilting colors and blurring leaves.

I'll call the second artist Stan Allen here, although hand-scrawled identifications throughout the extensive flea market were difficult or impossible to read — this one a little more hurried than most.

I enjoyed his stormy work that looked like a tornado (which I spent years trying to photograph one of, though now I'm glad I never managed) or a fire storm (which I have often shot in my Viet Nam and Great Metropolitan Newspaper days).



Daggi Wallace - Summer

Daggi Wallace - Shades of Summer - pastel


It reminded me of that flurry of visual excitement. Those fleeting moments in time. Panic, fear and the exquisite beauty of fire.

Photographs do that sometimes. Paintings, too. Nice whenever either works. A difficult task. Alchemical magic whenever.

I also photographed work by DallasArtsRevue Supporting Member Robin Walker, who is on the verge of leaving the gallery. Whenever I see DARts Members' work, I shoot it. Never know when a recent photo will help me do some member-supporting.

The penultimate and perhaps best work I found (besides Michael's winenrs) among all that slowcase gunk was by Daggi Wallace, a pile of whose portrait brochures were encased in the busy middle of her brightly lit, peg-board mini wall space.

It's often difficult to know much about work reproduced in brochures, but her clean, shiny portraits looked very nice, far better than the average person and pet portraitist.

Like most of the work in this melange by too many different artists in too few different styles, whenever I got close enough to Daggi's work to appreciate and enjoy it — I like to watch the brushstrokes dance up close, I was standing in my own shadow, with bright lights close enough overhead to singe hair.


I sometimes get fed up with some galleries' too pristine presentations, but at Artists' Showplace (a remarkably unmemorable name that I managed to misspell and misremember five different ways before Ms. Walker finally sorted them all out in Michael's story), I longed for negative space.

Shades of Summer (above) is not altogether original an idea for a landscape, with its drifting, smearing seashore. But I'm showing it to introduce Ms Wallace's palette, which is unnervingly present in all the pieces crowding along her mini-wall of art.


Daggi Wallace

Daggi Wallace - Poplars - pastel


There's a lot about this landscape that I like and a lot else that concerns me, but I'm not very interested in separating them all out. Poplars reminds me of other works I've seen other places — so it fits right into the overall oeuvre at the showcase.

But there's a deliciousness of color and tone and the combo of those rubbed smooth textures and scribbly lines and purple shadows that I appreciate and hope she both grows into and out of.


I've saved the real treasure of Daggi's work for last.


Daggi Wallace - Maui Abstraction

Daggi Wallace - Maui Abstraction - pastel


It's smaller than most of hers but also more serene. Framed above and below in the darker greens and emeralds of ocean and vegetation is a slip of sand and I'm not really sure what that red-edged purple backwater shadow might be, and I care even less.

It's lovely and I strongly suspect real. But it is simultaneously unreal in magical hues and subtle textures. I like the edges of her pastels almost as much as I enjoy strokes in oil or acrylic.

I'd be proud to hang this unframed gem on my wall. It would really shine on my office's pale yellow or the Parrot Green of my living room. It calms me just looking at it here — as it has remembering it in off occasions since my last (!) visit to the show place.

Hardly earth-shaking or magnificent. More minor than a masterpiece, but certainly a standout in the jangly informal-to-a-fault space all around.

It's gently pleasing. Nice. Liltingly memorable.


Cece Borshow

Cecie Borshow


The one last piece that slowed my quick-march around and through every wall, every stairway, every cranny and nook is this architectural rendering by Cecie Borshow that blends into informal abstraction, a much nicer abstraction that all the me-too works all around all around.

I couldn't find its title.

Each individual artist's area has different rules, adding inexorably to the visual unease of these artists' show spaces.

But I liked this painting's disheveling massiveness and what I hope is an abandonment of specific details and realistic shapes in favor of loose areas of dark, oddly chosen colors.


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