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Small Sculpture in Texas ©1993, 2000 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.   

The Vessel Shows

Organized by former potter, now sculptor Frances Bagley and painter Cindy Hurt, last summer's The Vessel show was billed as "an artist organized exhibition exploring the use of the vessel as a metaphor." It included their family, friends and neighbors-all of whom happen to be among Dallas' finest artists. It was a superb and spirited show. But its importance lies more in documentation and legend than quality.

Despite florid PR, The Vessel show was the most written-about local exhibition in years. The press seemed to think artist-organized exhibitions were something new. The publicity was a boon, of course-for the show as well as the community. But documentation was inherent in the concept. To succeed, it needed something of quality to outlast the sweaty, hot exhibition at Hickory Street.

It worked. The catalog was excellent with short essays by respected experts and a color plate by each of the dozen artists. In the back was an extensive list of contributors-making it clear this was a community effort. It was also an expensive endeavor. And so successful in the minds and hearts of its community that it netted a me-too show with a near duplicate catalog by potters who believed a vessel show had to have vessels.

The original was a conceptual show about an ideal. The Clay Vessel was an art show crafted around an idea. It had brighter colors and more fun. The Þrst was more cerebral and represented more media. And it is the one that most of us will probably remember better-although many of us will always be confused.

Dallas Arts Revue #32/33,
summer 1991 

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