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

Real, Not Real

About twice a year, I get a call from Dallas sculptor A.M. Hudson, whose work I have both long admired and tried to write about. I've expected to do a couple of pages on Andy's work in the last several issues. But this is as close as I've got.

This early summer call was not promoting his own work or a recent show, but about Linnea Glatt and husband Jim Cinquemani's superb collaborative installation for the Dallas Morning News downtown. Andy was concerned about the piece and had taken a bunch of excellent pictures of it. We'll get to that later.

First, a remix of my jagged notes from his summer 1990 show at the Bill Campbell gallery in Fort Worth. Then back to the visit.

Of course, all art is about the real and the not-real. And art journalism is words covering art. Andy Hudson visually short-circuits this equation when he literally covers his constructed forms with pages of grayed text on ivory pages ripped from old encyclopedias.

Boxes and pieces of furniture variously wrapped in yellowing paper or veiled with gauze were stood on the floor or hung on the wall of the gallery. Part of the puzzle of it was matching words and underlying concepts-even if they weren't intended by the artist.

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Shrouds of Knowledge screened off color objects like Rauschenberg does-flimsy scrims separating fact and fiction. Facts, in fact and in form, are everywhere. Informing and/or dis-informational, Hudson's pieces mask familiar shapes. His meanings elude.

Junk Mail Untitled States of Being is a postal edifice of maps, a bin of rolled up magazines, a phone, a small globe intersticed with arrows-all wrapped.

"Most of our so-called reasoning," another piece whispers, "consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do," while nearby sugar packets define "success, business and optimism." Wrapped objects and worded representations of objects are labeled "real" or "unreal." Apples wrapped in primary colors proclaim their true colors while colorless apples claim otherwise. Three unsynchronized clocks tick on another piece.

Is this art about what the text says it is? Is the text only a dramatic, cloaking texture. Are the words integral to the art? Or does it even matter, as long as we keep thinking about the innumerable possibilities?

When I visited Andy's Oak Cliff studio to pick up his photos of Linnea's Morning News piece, we talked well past midnight about art, artists and art institutions. In the middle of all that talk, he gave me a tour and showed me his current works-in-progress.

Equally distributed along two adjacent gallery-white walls in his massive studio hung a series of newly finished box-like constructions. Andy said they had each once been a drawer in someone we all know's house. Since then, Andy had carefully cleaned, sanded then cut them into graceful arcs and rectilinear chunks.

Before they went on the wall for further study, he had rebuilt them into right-angular and rounded reconstructions that multi-shadowed in the high overhead lights. None had yet been papered over with tiny encyclopedia verbiage. Instead, their once-hidden major parts were the pristine brown of old wood, sparely accented with the light stripes of the white paint that their previously-exposed portions had once been painted.

Dallas Arts Revue #34,
June 1992 
  

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