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t's September, and it's time again for DADA. Last year's Dallas Gallery Walk was seemingly numbed by the events of 9/11. The show went on, but subdued. The DADADo was restrained, almost like its own memorial service for DVAC.
This year there is no DADADo, another reminder of the DVAC loss, but there is a definite rebound of artist's spirit in their work. Edgy wit and keen cynicism are everywhere. The work we saw is almost never frivolous, and it's very satisfying.
We started our afternoon at Gray Matters. Tom Sale's little gems line the white walls. His titles are as good as his art. Vince Wingate, one of GM's owners, told us that sometimes Tom brings in his work untitled. and they stay up all night thinking up names.
And then sometime Tom begins a work with a phrase that he can't get out of his head, such as the work that evolved from Pink Rumba Panties Always Cheat Death.
I keep picturing his wife, Dottie Love, in her red fringed and sequined cocktail dress at the opening of her show last February.
After viewing T. Stone's mostly hanging wall sculptures made out of concrete saw blades, a much used art supply these days (See Pamela Joseph at The MAC) at The Boyd, we went on to James Michael Starr's studio.
Once you see the saws and get the elaborate visual puns, which need their explanations, we see work that's colorful and inventive, even witty -- I liked Big Flamin' Taco (left).
But See Saw is supposed to be about "what's abuzz in T.Stone's life." However, the work is more themed to show in a gallery than to reveal much about this artist's life. It's just not very personal, and especially compared to her full scale work, like her big, soaring piece in Ablene, that truly does, this work doesn't fly.
Meanwhile, JR's still a major fan of James Michael Starr, which he admires for his spiritual content, illuminated qualities and inventive juxtapositions, even if the messaage often seems religious.
One wall of James Michael's studio/gallery was hung with ten collages and a display for less expensive iris print versions. I vaguely remembered JMS telling me that his early work was collage. Oh JMS, don't go back!
The other walls were lined with his assemblages. My favorites were The Conversion of St. Paul with its nasty halo of coppery nails and What We Want To See with its discretely sectioned nude male body.
No Deep Ellum gallery tour would be complete without a visit to The Contemporary on Swiss Avenue, not to be confused with the real Contemporary on McKinney Avenue.
Joan Davidow is showing a retrospective of Legend Award Winner, ArtLies editor and UTA gallery director Benito Huerta's paintings. I thought Picasso painted them first and not on velvet.
It occurred to me the next day that Huerta's paintings are supposed to be witty send ups of art on velvet, but a sense of humor out of context, in this case with no biographical info or artist's statement about Benito Huerta, is just a big Picasso knock off.
JR is a much better artist/magazine editor.
We also viewed the 9/11 show on the back hall wall. Margaret Ratelle did a gut wrenching portrait of a screaming man on a 9/11 missing persons newspaper page.
I must add here that the screaming man is bald, as is the man with high eyebrows in a portrait by the third featured artist at the DCCA, Xinpeng Chen. Also see Julie Speed's bald man in the painting Trick Dogs at Pillsbury Peters.
On to Arlington next, but on our way out of town we stopped at Plush. Or rather we tried to stop at Plush. Unlike the sparse crowds we had encountered for the first few hours, the streets around Randall Garrett's gallery were bumper to bumper with parked cars. Was Randall offering Art Wrestling again? Turned out to be what Randall called "a very popular Soul Sister party" across the street.
Randall's gallery remains as always a repository of unlimited bad taste, but check out the big sand painting on the floor. It's amazing. It's sand because the show theme is The Beach, but this work is more like Tibetan/Navaho sand painting.
James Whitmire - untitled, 2002, sand prints
I wanted to see the two shows at the Arlington Museum of Art, and JR wanted to see Celia Munoz's retrospective at UTA.
At the AMA, Ken Gray's Catalog pieces and the Earmuffs are my favorites downstairs, and Scott Barber's three glowing bubble floor lights literally and figuratively outshone the rest of the work upstairs.
The Celia Munoz show at UTA was dry. Maybe we were expecting too much? Her photos are technically superb, of course, and I smiled at two of the family anecdotes, one about going outside to play after her bath with no underwear and the rather dark disclosure that she insisted on taking another bath afterward, and the other story about chickens laying/lying eggs.
But mostly all I could think of while viewing and trying to read the endless family stories was that saying about parents and children, "My children are beautiful, talented, and brilliant, but other people's children are boring," and other people's family stories are often boring.
Back to Dallas through the Level Orange ozone haze to Pillsbury Peters.
Julie Speed's copious witty works enveloped us as we entered. They were much more than I could absorb in this one visit. I want the catalog of her work. Hint, hint, JR...
Celia Munoz' elegant and very personal work and stories continue to grow in JR's memory, and he wishes UTA weren't so far.
I just didn't 'get' Julie Speed, although most of the artists we encountered Walk Day raved about it. But I truly appreciated Andrea Rosenberg -- as much for her luscious, delicate textures and giant scale, as the fact that it was 20 degrees cooler in the deep, darkish back gallery at Pillsbury & Peters.
In the back rooms we found the true jewels of this whole DADA event. Andrea Rosenberg's drawings and paintings are gorgeous. The three huge Untitled # 15, 16 and 29 in one room took everyone's breath away. But then when I turned back to my right I beheld #17. Because it was under glass, JR could not photograph it so you will have to trust me that it is exquisite in it's imperfection.
A big, muscular man, who looked like he would be more comfortable watching pro football because he played it himself, was sitting in front of #15 gazing at it enthralled. He never moved, and he appeared to be on the verge of tears. Go see this show!
For some strange demented Dallas reason, PP put crappy neon sculpture, yes, the kind you see being hawked on the abandoned gas station street corners, in the corridor outside Andrea Rosenberg's work. The puzzle paintings in the other room are eye candy, just that side of crafty.
We went to the MAC twice, both before and after dinner. Pamela Joseph has produced a show that hits all your senses.
You see the colored lights and the moving carnival games; you
hear the carnival music and the disembodied sideshow voices;
you smell the popcorn; and you delight and/or writhe in her version
of being Female.
Ann's portraits are dead-on, and Anita's works are mostly hits. Rita's wordiness confused me, but this show is not to be missed.
Be prepared to laugh while feeling avenged for every cliche that ever irritated you.
See Ann Huey's He Was Quiet and Kept to Himself at the top of this page.
Usually, JR's down on The MAC for showing art from anybody anywhere -- as long as they don't have to show it from artists who are still in Dallas, which was why DARE, which sold out to The MAC's individual, non nonprofit owner, was founded in the first place.
Joseph's Sideshow of the Absurd is too wonderfully witty, sneakily
subversive and downright fun, to put down in any way. It's a must
Then Anita, Ann and Rita's Cliché show at the Bath House, extends the fun, in a quieter, gentler -- and occasionally subtly sensuous way, like Anita Horton's exquisite Cold Shoulder -- or eerie, like Ann Huey's dark painting below.
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