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June Mattingly's Texas Artists eBooks another
Dallas artists Celia Eberle's Wonders at
Sculptural Rectangles at Mary Tomas TSA's 30th at Cohn Drennan Romping Through Craighead Green Collage & Sculpture in Deep Elm
Little Injusticies at the LCC
Yet Engaging Art
at The Shamrock Hotel Studios
Sunny Sliger and Marianne Newsom The Color Condition: Street Stream 2013 life size plastic, ribbon, rope
Once one gets into the It'll Do Club [bottom middle above] neighborhood, it was easy to find The Shamrock Hotel Studios during its annual Open House show, even if the nearly unmarked front door is closed, because this huge and vivid tricolor fabric collage billowed and fringed all the way across the street.
Tom Lauerman glazed brick
Inside the door, up the ancient stairway, and we are in a strange place of odd and disconcerting but thought-worthy art by studio renters Lily Hanson, Eric Harvey, Peter Ligon, Margaret Meehan, Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger and invited guests C.J. Davis, Jonathan Faber, Vince Jones, David Kearns, Kirsten Macy and Kevin Todora — altogether a stellar selection of Dallas artists.
Once in, one is in a place where art is so common, it is sometimes difficult to discern from everything else in the environment. I've always liked the Shamrock for that and its odd mix of art, artists and art forms. This brick fits, enhances the surrounding colors, scrapes and mars. It is a perfect introduction to this space, although many might step right over it.
Margaret Meehan Postcards on the Easter Pink Front Table
I didn't remember the style when I saw these in the first room I visited upstairs, but now the content and technique seems more familiar. [See below.]
Peter Ligon's studio door Tools Where They're Handy
Tools where they're handy.
The White rock Lake Artists Studio Tour pushes their artists to show process, but at the Shamrock, it is everywhere in this aging upstairs hotel suite of studios — including one of the finest funky urban porches around. It's even hanging from the walls …
Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger The Color Condition: Skylight Stream 2013 plastic cloth and grid
… and the ceiling. I don't remember the music, but boy do I remember the art.
Sunny Sliger with The Grand Finale silver leaf, paper and yarn
Sunny had proposed an event like the one illustrated in this piece for the Cura! Cura! Cura! show at the Bath House Cultural Center, where she envisioned a ski team racing across White Rock Lake behind the Bath House. Unfortunately, there were many City rules in the way, but she and collaborator Marianne Newsom are now in charge of costume design for Fort Worth's Metroplex Mavericks show ski team, where similar actions often occur.
Fobs and Other Sunny Sliger Projects
Clockwise from the glittering gold lozenge at the top, I recognize the glitter ball at 3 o'clock and the mostly lumpy white one at 6:30 or 7 from the Cura show, but there is always a lot going on in Sliger's studio.
Sunny Sliger and Vince Jones Gingerbread Characters: Boxer, Prisoner, Rabbi die-cut paper and collage
I can easily imagine her activating a crowd of child artists. Took me awhile to find a short set of her die-cut construction Gingerbread paper multiples that stood out among the wild populations of so many of them all around her studio, color everywhere.
Sunny Sliger Coliseum with collaged fabric drawing, a.k.a., mixed media
All a sort of wonderful
fun, and with Sliger's drive and contagious energy, she could make these improbable
occurrences happen. I
wasn't wearing a wire, so I don't remember all that we talked about, but I enjoyed
being around so much colorful energy.
Eric Harvey tent interior photograph
Some studios had names on the door or on an inside
wall. In some I never knew whose work I was viewing or photographing. This was
a photograph on a wall in one of those places. An enclosed yet opened space defined
by triangular sets of parallel black and white lines. I could feel my way in
and probably out, but my eyes might trick me.
Eric Harvey — at least in his space
I love exploring
little personal places, altars almost, although they can be pure vertical, where
artists put pieces that matter to them, post postcards, invitations, objects.
This small alcove borders on the classical traditionalist, but it is obviously
The Front Bathroom
The light changes year to year, but I take this picture every time I go to a Shamrock Open Studios show. The utilitarian shapes have become familiar, but I like capturing that bright glow in both sets of curtains.
Sunny Sliger and Russ Buchanan band iron, wood, twine
This object, just inside
that window in another room, surprised me with its simplicity and its complexity.
Thematically similar in important spatial ways with Lily Hanson's work below,
its mix of mediums were wholly unexpected. I am simultaneously surprised it's
by Sunny Sliger, though now I think about it, it does look a little like one
of the dress forms Sliger employed for the Cura show. But I'm not amazed by its
multiple contrasts of curves and angles.
fits right into this surprising show, and I still enjoy looking at it.
Lilly Hanson title unknown 2013 Peeps and wire on board
This looked too much like
a tray of party favor candies, and I think I remember a couple people gingerly
putting some into their mouths, being especially careful with those protruding
wires. But though sweet to imagine and precious to see, this diabetic dared not
Lily Hanson title unknown 2013 paint, paper
This positive negative sandwich held my attention longer than anything else in the building except maybe Peter Ligon's flip box of drawings, which I've lusted after for years, and now, of course, his work is beyond my budget, but I have shown and written about his work, even curated him into a show a few years ago, so I've had plenty opportunities and knew all along I should have got one of those early grayscale wash drawings of the It'll Do or other low places in Dallas' cultural geography before he ramped up his self assurance, wider popularity and higher prices.
This piece gave me pause enough to consider, then deeply reconsider its space, time and the art continuum. Its interweaving dark, light, ground and figure possibilities have lingered long in my mind after standing there staring for minutes at it. I wasn't so much shocked to find work this interesting in this space, as to find work this startling and reconsider-worthy, anywhere.
The cutout charcoal sheet shows through with those outlined shapes that continue, shadowless beyond the dark plane's reach. I've struggled lately with work that's pretty but lacks depth or meaning, but this deceptively simple duplex assures me its dimensional, thematic, color and shape shares spatial meanings without hitting us over the head with significance, implication or message.
Lily Hanson titles unknown
These were fun and aback-taking amid more than a little confounding. I liked the simpler hanging of the indigo, white, black and cyan piece better, but I enjoyed this whole room of usually unique but busier shapes.
Lily Hanson title unknown looks like paint, wood, fabric and rope
This one's not really my favorite, but in that specific place, the splattered floor contrasts this odd piece's compound simplicities. I suspect this tethered pendant of flat, bare and simply outlined and painted wood — and whatever those black and flesh-colored dimensional extensions might be — are doing more than just hanging around. I especially like the doubled fat knots above and the rope extension that loops and splays uncomplicated on that busy floor.
This looks like a lilting pillow case that's almost a flag tying together frills, rope, pink and flesh. The rope wad, like a brain cantilevering a big, gray question mark floats over the quilted rectangles, terminating in pink frill and darker flesh fabric.
Little Injustices at the 2013 H O Revival
Marian de Lefeld Pequeñas Injusticacios (Small Injustices) 2010 oil on fabric 12 x 12 inches
The 2013 H.O Show is a small exhibit of old work. Some of it is very good, even superb, but we've seen it all before, and there wasn't very much of it, and I dreadfully miss the surprising-new-art aspect this once gutsy little annual show has brought these last nine years. Apparently, the new version — hence my new H O moniker for it, partially based on how the Spanish word hecho is pronounced — is work previously shown in the annual competitive exhibition.
I briefly spoke to LCC general manager Benjamin Espino at the opening. He was angry with me for leaving a questioning phone message when the tempest in a teapot about who was and was not going to be in this show was at its peak a a week before the May 3 2013 opening reception. The confusion turned out to be largely extrapolated from erroneous information none of which came from the LCC.
I wanted to know how the show was organized, Espino told me at the reception, then said this was not the time to discuss anything further, and that I should make an appointment. But that's all I wanted to know. I'd learned or figured out many other salient facts by then. If you own or run a gallery, you get to decide what art goes into it. Like A. J. Liebling's often-quoted statement that "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one," that's how it is. I don't always like it, but I accept.
But he had not responded to my phone message, angrily accusing me of leaving my wrong number. Yeah, right. That was at about the peak of the controversy about which artists would be in the down-dated version of the venerable Hecho en Dallas (Spanish for "Made in Dallas") exhibition. But Espino did say that they (undefined) selected the artists in this one. I probably should have picked up a show catalog to learn who actually juried the already once juried pieces, but I didn't want to touch it.
I'm also calling this show H.O after the model railroad scale, because of its small (3.5mm = 1 foot) relationship to all those outstanding competitive Hecho en Dallas exhibitions of new and innovative work over the past decade — except this Best Of rerun. This show looks good and seemed interesting until it dawned that this was work we'd already seen. What was it doing in Hecho?
Hecho is the only North-Central Texas-specific competition left. Art in the Metroplex at TCU had what appears to have been its last showing a couple years ago. I hate to have these lilting little juror-driven shows of the best local art disappear. Though this one is a stellar but small exhibition, turning what has been an open competition into a Oldies But Goldies show renders its spirit ordinary, when so often before it has soared. That's hardly the fault of the artists chosen for it.
Like the early Hecho shows, this one has with tons of space between the pieces. One piece got a whole wall.
I can't speak for all of the artists who felt excluded by this show's sudden change of direction, or thought they were going to be in it, because of an erroneous link on Facebook, but this was probably not what they were hoping for, except that the word on Facebook and in a flurry of personal emails indicated all the artists who'd been in the previous exhibitions would be eligible for this one (obviously not true). Artists want their work shown, and we generally go along with selections by curators whether they know what they are doing or not.
The confusions and distribution of untruths about this show was caused in part by the a link posted on Facebook that instead of linking to this show's info, linked to a two-year-old description of the show in D Magazine Online listing artists in the 2010 show, many of whom who were not in this one — and too many of whom linked there, saw our names and freaked out. We found our names and wondered how it could possibly be. It certainly sounded like the right story, because it was presented as news. (Very old news, it turned out.)
Like many controversies, this one was also fueled by ignorance and bad info. A short statement on the LCC website describing the intent of this, the only ever non-competitive, Hecho en Dallas show, might have helped. Or they might have bothered to answer questions.
But rumors spread that artists were excluded because The LCC was unable to contact them (not true), and that if you contacted LCC you might get in (tested, but also not true). I called the LCC and left a message to get a clarification, because several people contacted me, because my name was on the D list. Usually, it's best to talk with whomever is doing whatever is upsetting people, to calm everybody down with facts. I assumed the LCC would help (also not true).
Finding anything at LCC online has long been a challenge. Until I posted a notice on top of my startlingly popular 2003 DallasArtsRevue LCC story that my page of photographs was not the official online home of the LCC many search engines assumed it was, many people contacted me arguing about business with the center.
It's sad to put the only comment specifically about the work in this greatest hits show all the way down at the bottom of this story.
I photographed Marian de Lefeld's painting before I figured out what the show was about. I liked her dark little painting soon as I saw it, I believe for the first time, but I haven't seen all the Hechos.
There's something going on in this few-colored collage of a painting that drew my attention. I still don't know what that is, exactly but it was the first piece that I was instantly enthusiastic about. It seemed a visually interesting and expressive way to say something with paint. I like the paint, the colors and especially the texture, the direct application; and the visual impression there are many little injustices there.
It grabbed my attention.
I stared at it for awhile, and I dutifully photographed its I.D
without reading the words, only checking that it was in focus. When
I read its title after I'd begun writing this story, I knew it belonged right
where it was.
Other DallasArtsRevue stories about previous Hecho shows in 2007 2009 and 2010
Sculpture at Barry,
Liliana, Kirk, Mokah & the Trak
Kevin Todora Studio 2013 light jet print mounted on Plexiglas 24 x 36 inches
My plan was to visit Barry Whistler Gallery's Collage: Now Then & Again, then go home. There were plenty name artists there, and I expected there'd be a preponderance of good to great art, so I wouldn't need to go anywhere else. So went my theory. But Whistler had a stack of promo flyers for the Deep Elm Gallery Walk, of which it was a part, on the front table, and by the end of my extended visit , I only wanted more art and didn't mind walking down the street on such a beautiful spring day to discover it.
I assumed I'd like the unconventional collages at Barry's better than the more traditional cut-and-pasted ones — and though some of my preconceptions held, once into that serene space, I didn't think deep enough to differentiate, although I do remember being inordinately pleased with Kevin Todora's line-em-up-and-stack-em photo of disparate objects.
I've been a photographer most of
my life, but I don't always go for the photos. Or at least I tell myself that.
Todora's uncollaged collage of oddly unlike and wholly separate objects
photographed together seemed to stiff-arm the notion of subtle joining, and did
that in a clear, sharp and color-contrasting way. I even liked how he
subtled-back brand names while emphasizing flat textures and hues.
Margaret Meehan The Haymakers 201
vintage glitter glass, latex paint and gouache on cabinet card 6.25 inches high
I know I'd seen at least part of this short collection
before, even photographed it, but I felt compelled to shoot
them again. And it turns out I had not published them previously. More photographs,
but altered in several, mostly decorative directions, with just a little color.
I always want to know who those people in the photographs are — or
were, but at least I know how they came into their predicament.
Margaret Meehan The Haymakers 201
vintage glitter glass, latex paint and gouache on cabinet card 6.25 inches high
Now I'm noticing the person on the left in this detail shot is brown, but she's blue above. Didn't notice that before — an odd surprise, another dimension. Daylight sneaking in? This wigged-over picture was subtler than I thought, just picking pieces worth photographing to think about later. Would like to have explored that more, but I didn't see it till now.
What makes these essentially brown & white & toned & textured images better or more word-worthy than the rest? It has to be the combinations and corruptions. All these 19th Century photos float in the starry starry sky, reminding us of our place in the universe, while comprising an easy, almost neutral field to pattern the anomalous disconnects against.
The women — always women here — are masked, painted or blobbed into grotesquery to gently introduce the almost horrific space of guilty pleasure staring at human medical conditions, then realize it's not that bad, just almost could have been.
I looked up Haymaker,
but the closest those definitions came to Meehan's incongruity continuum was "Panaeolina
species of common mushroom."
Dana Harper untitled 2011 collage 9
x 9 inches $1,800
First time I noticed Harper's work I was irked by the white paper edges showing. I know collagists who wear themselves thin subterfuging contrasting edges. But by the third, most intense take, I was enjoying the subtle and overt lines in her dark, almost traditionally created collages of barely recognizable shapess interrupted by a circle that becomes a sphere when I stare into it. Deeper in the darkness I discover a head on striped shirt, while a dynamic dark and white triangle rockets through the darkness.
This untitled piece's salvation and glory
is getting us to peer into the darkness.
Ellen Frances Tuchman Mallasa (detail)
mixed media on translucent mylar film 66 x 24 inches $9,500
Always fun to discover another of Tuchman's big, abstracted compositions comprising so many tiny little joyous colored shapes, meticulously wound and twisted bits of color. If I'd backed up and photographed the whole thing, we'd never get to see all the tiny trappings curling, spiraling and wiggling into those self-enclosed spaces. The juice is in the detail.
I used to always track down her latest work,
but I haven't heard about it it much lately. I miss her colored bits of
candy and other manufactured goods' wrappings that so many other artists have
since adopted. I assume there's artists out there who fervently believe they
are being original while copying her every move.
John Wilcox Feedbag Blood 2001 paper,
dye, glue and string 22 x 3.5 inches
I thought these might be flattened rolls of paper
caps like I used to wind through a metal toy gun playing army or cowboys or whoever
I was shooting at when I was six. This still looks like caps sneared
togethr, but with a little distance it refocuses into a bag of blood, like I've
too often trailed down a busy hospital corridor trying to prove I was healthy
enough to rejoin humanity — to be emancipated. Nice to have such an abstract
squint back into time.
Doug MacWithey The Bird Drawings
17 1999 mixed media on paper
11.8 x 8.8 inches $2,200
I photographed these as much because the images were birds as for my aesthetic appreciation, thought better of that less-than reason and was about to delete them when I noticed they were by Doug MacWithey, whom I always thought was a wonderful person and intriguing artist, even if I rarely had any real notion of what he was up to with his work with all those obsessive markings and captions.
There was a great photo of his smiling cherubic face behind fat fingers poked through the leg holes and high kick-dancing a cut-out paper finger-puppet on a table in his back yard in DallasArtsRevue on paper sometime the last century. We had more in common than I'm willing to admit here, but my work is rather obvious, and his was anything but.
It's always nice
to see a little more of the late artist's work, but he was so obsessively prolific
I often wonder if there's a shedfull of it somewhere …
John Pomara Digital Disfunction 2013 oil
enamel on aluminum
and unique ink jet print on transparency film 60 x 42.3 x 1.2 inches
There's a few shadow wrinkles and reflections in this glossy piece flatter than it seems — a window leaking daylight into the otherwise lightbulbed space, mixes tungsten reds and outside blues, so the colors here may not be quite true. Seems more analog than Pomara's usual, as if I knew what that was.
I first met this artist at East Texas State University back when it was still called that in the mid 1970s. I was mostly in the Journalism and Photography Department and he in the Art.
I realize I'm odd man out as critic of his work, which I've never understood and/or much appreciated, but I cottoned to this immediately without knowing who did it, although my first guess was it might be Tom Orr off into a new tangent, and except for the yellow lines, that visual guess might not be that far off.
My little camera's electronic viewfinder went
moiré crazy looking at it, filling the screen with visually annoying and
nearly vibrating interference that's been visible in every instance of
this image since, though I'm not seeing it now — except
some red concentric arcs overlaying themselves into the bottom of the vertical
inset on the right. But you might.
Ryan Sarah Murphy Plans 2012 cardboard
on Bristol paper 12 x 9 inches
Thanks to gallerist Liliana Bloch for identifications of these two pieces.
Next stop, Ryan Sarah Murphy - Parameters in the new Liliana Bloch Gallery in an unlighted space adjacent to her partner gallery, The Public Trust, both of which are across Commerce and maybe a block toward downtown from her most recent employer Kirk Hopper, which we'll hop through after a few paragraphs here.
site states,"Liliana Bloch Gallery represents
emerging and mid-career, regional, national and international artists working
in a variety of media.
The Gallery works with institutional and private curators establishing simultaneous
involvement between collectors, for-profit, educational art venues and the general
public," quite a bounce from nominally directing The MAC a couple
years ago and Kirk Hopper until a couple months ago.
Ryan Sarah Murphy First Shift 2012 cardboard
on Bristol paper 12.3 x 9.5 inches
New York Artist Murphy's
work seems a
slightly slicker take on much of the raw new informal mediums often involving
cardboard I've been watching at Plush for the last decade or more. I liked their
architectural dimensionalisms too, but photographing was a challenge in the unilluminated
space. I think the red's a little overdone in this photograph, but maybe it needs
Roger Winter Working Man 2006 collage,
painter paper 17 x 9.5 unframed $2,000
Another block east was Kirk Hopper Fine Art, showing Roger Winter Collages 1968 - 2012 and Portraits 2013 and Eduardo Portillo: An Allegory of Humor that I noticed and something else I didn't, so I happily walked there in the brilliant cool sunshine.
Brettell called Roger Winter "The most
important landscape painter of the post-1945 period in Texas. I couldn't pretend
to rank him in that strangely disconnected stratta, but I've often been mesmerized
by his eloquent landscapes, and I'm only too happy to brag about a photo by
the late photographer and my friend Andy Hanson of me moo-ing at a show of
Winter's cow paintings behind me that was published in the back of the Novemeber
I was inspired.
Roger Winter Self-Portrait 2013 oil
and linen 38 x 32 inches $12,000
After talking with old friend and DallasArtsRevue Supporting Member Paul Rogers Harris, whose member page we've been working on intently, I was happy to once again be introduced to the longtime (1963-1989) SMU Professor of Art, who was already gathering a queue of admirers, an activity I've often observed at KH, almost as if it were the new Delahunty.
See also Roger Winter's vitae.
But I had miles to go and art to think, so I made
excuses and split to the back porch …
Eduardo Portillo Rogo The Mute 2012 hypoallergenic
polyester fiber fill and fabric $7,000
Where I was enchanted by Eduardo Portillo's way-bigger-and-more-colorful-than-life
trio of soft, sock sculptures. The contrasting patterns seemed
much more noticeable and outré in real life, if that's what this was,
than in my photographs.
Eduardo Portillo Rogo The Mute's
I circled the trio splayed across the driveway, stepped slowly through their legs and dangling other graphic parts and closely investigated each of the three floppy figures' odd-formed and flattened hands resting on the spotted driveway
Then I walked back to Barry's lot that by then
had many more cars and drove off to Mokah and CentralTrak.
Sarah Francis Winds of Transportation 2013 cotton,
abaca, sabai, flax, pigment, steel, ink and soil
At Francis' Formations at Mokah, this was my fave, although the title could have been a little less clunky. I wondered whether "Winds" was a typo for wings, but maybe that's not what they are. I see a big, gossamer albino moth in shades buzzing toward the light, but I couldn't have made up anything near as storied for the several other, wall-filling and much more amorphous sculptures there.
This exhibition is presented in partial fulfillment of the Master of Fine Arts in Art at the University of Dallas in 2013. Aha, a fellow alumni. I graduated from there in 1966. So there might be a little kinship hereby.
I hadn't been in years and wanted to attend, but I ended up skipping Continental Lofts, because I couldn't find a parking space after circling the blocks twice. Construction was occupying all the across-the-street spaces. I'd already seen 500X' latest; and feel I thoroughly did the Continental Gin just a few months ago. Just wasn't up for it again on today's Art Walk Lite.
T J Donovan untitled 2013 oil and craft foam on panel 8 x 6 inches
Last stop: Central Trak — Failing Flat: Sculptural Tendencies in Painting curated by Nathan Green, where I found this and a couple other smallish and densely colored abstracts by T. J. Donovan that would brighten any space. On the Trak's site, this description:
Failing Flat, a group exhibition of paintings, featuring the work of Ivin Ballen, T.J. Donovan, Faith Gay, and Shane Tolbert curated by former resident Nathan Green. The artists included in Failing Flat expand and explode painting into three dimensions while staying firmly grounded to a traditional support. By depicting graphic images with sculptural form, these artists create works that exist in a dual state, vacillating between objecthood and the pictorial. Though the works are in dialogue with tropes of the past, these works fail to conform to their flat ancestry. They are a testament to painting's ability to restore, reframe and reinvent itself.
Which beats me having to go on about most of the work, which was otherwise short on meaning and dimension while remaining parked well within the parameters of the trend, with only a few better-thans briefly holding my attention. I assume the quoted paragraph is by Curator Nathan Green [video], who used to live in the CentralTrak dorm, and is now in Austin.
But like the creators of the work shown there, he is not identified. Nor was there any obvious attempt to get the colors, tones or exposures right. I notice because I work at it. is the show art shown. I think it has to do with honoroing the artists.
I had no trouble, however, calling this one T
J Donovan piece sculpture even
if it hangs small on a wall.
Ivin Ballen untitled 2011 clay,
subduction deposits acrylic and gouache on fiberglass 16
x 18 inches
While processing this image I kept seeing it as crooked, although centered in gallery white, it didn't. I like that disconcertion that renders that little extra oomph into the next dimension. The lumpy dark charcoal ground separates the islands of disparate color and forms, so once we get our bearings and know up from sideways, we sense a balance of two wildly different subject areas floating — one essentially flat but painterly textured with Xs and checks on different colored fields, and the other, T-shaped, precisely indented and tiled into a more organized, visual third dimension.
It knows what it is and plays with its organizing principles.
Organized or not, the sorts of thick, lumpy, cum bumpy and colorful paintings in this show may yet comprise a rage I hope accrues more actual and figurative depth, quality and dare I mention, meaning, before the bandwagon marches past. Or, failing all that, fun. Despite this one's more visual textures than 3D dimension, it's a painting, with not near enough dimension to be named sculpture. But it's still impressive.
Romping Through Craighead Green
Isaac Bull Dog carved
wood and paint 28 x 13 inches $5,000
Sometimes, when I've written about one gallery way too many times already, I avoid it for awhile. To make that easier, I just don't go, even though I know the shows I miss are at least as good as the last one I wrote about. That's my long-time relationship with Craighead Green in a nutshell. They don't mind me wandering around taking photographs of the work, and they're always friendly.
A lot of my friends show there. Because some of them are attached to CG, I know I can usually find something there, even if they're not having a show. This time the show was a group show. On the postcard, which I didn't really read, just found out the more salient facts from, the list of artists names went on and on. I imagined every inch of wall space taken up, but it wasn't. I guess they doubled back and reran names, so it would look like that.
I hadn't been in awhile, so I went again. I'm always glad when that can happen.
Kary Song for Troy mixed
media 17 x 12 inches $1,200
Norman Kary and I became friends after we argued
and nearly fought about early D-Art, back when they'd show anything without respect
to taste or sense. And actually, it may have been better then that what it has
become, but I won't get into that. I watched Houston's Contemporary Art Museum
in its earliest years, and the two institutions are so significantly different
I don't want to think about the differences and the sames.
Kary Object 2013
mixed media 8 x 4 inches $400
Maybe I like Craighead Green because it's a for-profit gallery that shows a lot of local Dallas-area artists but still shows anybody else they think they can sell. I admire that in them. It's not as luxurious a space as the old Gerald Peters Gallery before those fools felt the crazed idiotic need to join all the other galleries on Dragon Street and thereby lost all their money, their minds and that fancy, swank, beautiful Upper Oak Lawn mansion of a space.
But CG is plenty nice. Nicer by far that what
GP had on Dragon Street for the little while their fortunes circled their sinking
ship and pulled everyone down with them. Glug-glug.
James Zwadlo Pedestrians 209 mixed
media on canvas 72 x 46 inches $6,500
Something there is to love and admire about success, especially when they show and take Dallas artists along for the ride. I really liked this painting till I checked Zwadlo out on the internet and saw that he's probably done 208 almost identical ones before this one. I wonder how many galleries he's floating along with.
Kudos to him to helping float CG's boat, so I
always have a pleasant, well-lighted space to hide from the rain and cool from
the sun in. I hope they sell bunches.
Abhidnya Ghuge Currents mixed
media 38 x 50 inches $3,600
Then I saw this piece and thought they are really
the same. The same colors, same thrusting three-dimensionality, the same multitude
of shadows. Just this one does not reference human forms. Probably of a place
that does not find it necessary to reproduce images of human beings. Gotta appreciate
the diversity of that. What is the number? The three million names of God?
Brown Tulip Study-Belief carved
tar paper 17 x 17 inches $1,200
And, of course, this is not all that different from that last one. Flowers, I love them and always see them in color even when it's subdued. I love a beautiful drawing of them — hardly matters what medium — especially among so much color. I've known Brown for decades and have watched her slow but steady progress through myriad ideas and presentations. Amazing the troubles she'll go through to express her visions.
Another area artist whose work I admired at CG is Paul Abbott. His HB#220.127.116.11 was gorgeous and subtle and dreamy, but when I photographed it all I saw was me and the other people smart enough to come to a massive Dragon Street extravaganza early, and all the other work facing his lovely photographs in the glass over them.
Painters show their work without glass. Why do most photographers shine up their work with that hardly transparent stuff? Same with Abbott's TC#13.3.5.A4
Same-same with Carolyn Brown's latest sacred place, off beyond churches for a big change. Those all run together in my mind after awhile. Here, she shows a sanctified space that's not on the other side of the world. Her Early Morning Fog Caddo Lake exquisite photograph 72 x 21 inches captures her usual rich density of subtle and overt tones and glorious colors without a man-made structure in sight. Then slabs it over with glass that reflects everything in the room. Oh, well.
Kevin Box Temple Mandala aluminum 81
x 50 inches $20,000
I always go in CG's bathrooms and open doors to art storage spaces just in case there's something in there I haven't already seen. I was enchanted by this construction it was so dark in that office I wasn't sure if this were a painting or a what. I liked the little towers lower left, too. The name on that one is Harry Gold but I can't read the smaller print on the I.D card.
And it was much darker in there than it appears
here. I always like to see what art gallerists live and work with. There was
a do-not-enter sign on the door into this space, but it was open, so I felt welcome.
I'm always more careful when I do that. Both CG bathrooms are treasure troves
of assorted art stuff, but my favorite there is the storage closet where there's
always some Isaac Smith work, maybe a Norman Kary or two and some Heather Gorhams.
I've probably spent more time in there than all the other places in CG's extensive
Connie Connally Looking Out - Looking
In oil on canvas 17 x 20 inches $2,000
I remember a whole wall gridded with equal-sized
Connie Connally portraits. Might even have been some people I knew or knew of
there. These look familiar enough but not enough to place. Except. Maybe. That
top left guy sure looks like somebody I know or knew or should know. Maybe too
much like some TV Star…
Devorah Sperber After Grant Wood
(American Gothic) 3 mixed media 107 x 90 inches
Okay, we'll round out this gallery rap with a
big bit of optical dillusion. I'd just put it all together on my second close-up
and look-far visit to the two large-scale presentations in the massive front
room when I woman asked me to explain it. It seemed obvious at first that the
pieces on the wall were the same pieces as presented in tiny gridded form in
the spherical eyeball on a pole in front of each big piece.
Devorah Sperber After Grant Wood
(American Gothic) 3 mixed media 107 x 90 inches $25,000
But that was assumption, and what Sperber does is confound visual assumptions. Look into the ball then remember rounded glass lenses render images upside-down, then we can match splotches of color and tone seen upright in the ball with those on the wall behind it. They're all the same piece, the optical glass ball only presents an upright view of the sharp image upside down on the wall behind it. An optical puzzle worth the time it takes, then come back to it to put all the pieces together and wonder who has the space to put this all up in their upstairs bedroom.
Texas Sculpture Association 30th Anniversary Exhibition
Nan Martin Reinvention wire 60
x 20 inches $2,500
Such a relief to finally find a decent show by the once-venerable Texas Sculpture Association after two really tawdry annual shows at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center. I wondered how long that could keep going. Couldn't the management at the OCCC tell how dreadful that drek was?
A change of venue and entries and heart. Maybe the stalwarts of the TSA finally had cause to submit their best work in this show at Cohn Drennan Contemporary. Thanks the gods and goddesses for the reprieve.
Best in show was Nan Martin's middle torso drawing
in black trailing wire, like rhythmic scribbled charcoal on disappearing white
paper. An interplay of shape and form, shadows and black on white. I have a shot
of the buttocks alone that makes me think in a simple complexity of two and three
dimensions intermingled in space, like what sculpture's all about.
Fancy Tanner Gotham 2012 lids 12
x 12 inches
As usual, a lot of flat work pretending to extend into the third dimension at this TSA show that was substantially better than others I'd seen over the last couple years. This piece actually has that needful third dimension into sculpture, just either the artist forgot or the typist did. Hard to say or whom to blame, but here's a piece with more daring-do than most members of the TSA in awhile.
Simple objects we all have around the house as
Groucho might have mentioned in his long-ago TV quiz show. I think I remember
another piece not quite as good as this by the same artist in one of those awful
OCCC shows, but this has taste and dimension and humor and, well, you know, three-dimensional
Jim Mace 1890s Steam-powered Naval
Interceptor metal 25 x 11 x 11 inches $2,800
First couple times I beheld this one I laughed it off as Just Too Goofy, but when I stood directly in front of it, and let its little brass fans blow on my face, I began to sense something I almost appreciated. Still a few niggling details I think are just too cheap, like the plate on the base where the power plug plugs in that could have been so much subtler up through the middle out of sight, but subtle is something this quasi Steam Punk object has just too little of.
It's a start, but it's not as ornate as it could
and probably should have been, but then it would have had to be bigger,
more massive. I think Goldilocks would have passed it by, but I kept coming back.
Brass & black is back, and the couple of semi-official TSAers who insisted
on promoting this piece to me while I wandered around the space hoping for — and
found, as we shall see — something
Jerry Dodd Blades steel 48
x 12 x 8 inches $2,000
Now here's a wholly successful piece about which everything is just right. Or a piece of it, I've cropped the bottom forty cylindrical inches of it, so we can concentrate on all those blades blazing red on top of this deceptively simple presentation. Big, long, basic black stand fists into a globe, slats black and green diagonal stripes, then rectangles a screen of scissors, drill bits, shears, slicers and slashers in deep bleeding red. Such a fun piece.
Art Fairchild Whimsical Spherical steel 57 x 48 x 45 inches $36,000
And it spins on that slanted steel fulcrum, blurring all those sheared, sphere-subtending rust-colored sticks stacked into a positive and negative ball of steel like an undelicate dandelion. I liked it spinning and still. A solidly successful piece.
Tom Ortega Last One Standing wood,
paint sculpture 35 x 14.5 x 14.5 inches $3,200
I hadn't really planned to attend Mary Tomas Gallery so soon after that last successful show, but it was right there, and though by then, Dragon Street had filled past capacity with cars in every slot, I'd parked close and walked across the street without inviting mayhem and up the stairs and kept finding more work I liked, which was why I usually avoided that place — because for a long time I didn't, but now I'll have to think about it every time my vicinity coincides.
I'm a sucker for splattered paint on wood-tone
wood boxes in various stages of dis- and integration, and this creation almost
into the light from the big front window held my attention for many minutes while
I circumambulated to find its perfect front and settle, at last, for a photo
of it. Maybe just a hair too skinny tall to stand upright with assurance, I was
taken with its slatty splatter of rough color and bare wood and wondered what
might be inside.
Tom Ortega City Boy wood,
paint sculpture 9 x 4 x 4 inches $400
Others of Ortega's I liked but not nearly as well
were City Boy, a simpler, significantly smaller and more affordable,
skyline of bare-wood topped skyscrapers held safely in by a thin-sided box on
top of a box on dainty block legs, and Pidge, a tight, cubed gather
of uneven slats and sticks of differing natural and unnatural painted splatters
of wood. Unorthodox enough to have felt right at home down the street at the
TSA anniversary show.
Celia Eberle Wonders at Chris Worley
Celia Eberle Fetus 2012 alabaster and marble 3 x 12 x 8 inches $8000
This was the best of the art I saw at April 6th's multiple openings, most along Dragon Street two blocks away from Slocum where Cris Worley's still-new space at the far end of a narrow, one-way parking lot still glows in my memory. Celia Eberle's exquisite carving puts me in mind of the plight of elephants murdered by the thousands all over the world for their tusks. Greedy, evil people cutting ivory off them with chainsaws, leaving bleeding corpses and unborn fetuses.
Yet this smoothed-over organic sculpture is so tender I almost expect it to give slightly were I to touch it, glimmering hope, despite being rent from its mother. The bright white on its haunch is a coloration of alabaster, not light from above, and the dark marble bed is a perfect tonal counter to that organic buff blush of flesh.
Eberle is one of those "thought leaders of the creative sector" City administrators say they want to attract and retain [See the next story down.] except she and the handful of other superb, truly contemporary artists are already here and have been busy creating amazing new art for decades.
I first saw her work years ago at the late Cynthia Mulcahy Gallery just off Bishop Street in Haute Cliff. Those were big soft furry animalish toys with missing parts that made us reconsider and think, well before everybody else jumped on that furry toy bandwagon that's probably still bouncing around, drawing new me-too artists this many years later.
Now she's into the harder
stuff, as you see here, though her gentleness is manifest.
Celia Eberle Wither 2013
copper, brass and barite crystals 8.5 x 36 x 2.5 $2,800
Barite crystals from red-dirt Oklahoma
form roses in this gentle hanging display of natural forms.
Celia Eberle Comb 2012 turtle
shell 8.5 x 6.5 x 3 inches $2,000
The sun-bleached turtle shells seems obvious enough
then, halfway down suddenly morphs into a speeding science-fiction shape, and
I can't get stingrays out of my thoughts as I perceive it and try to understand.
Celia Eberle Basket 2012 found
object, concrete filter, bovine and human teeth 10 x 5 x 2 inches $1,800
And one more gentle mind bend among many. Teeth in a tall, thin, red basket.
Pizzicato Porno Performance at Ro2 Downtown
Artist/Dancer Danielle Georgiou and Actor
Musician Justin Locklear
people packed into the space in and around the elastic performance area at Ro2
Downtown Sunday night April 7 for the one-night-only Dallas redux of Pizzicato
Porno by Danielle Georgiou and Justin Locklear. Quoting from the Ro2 press
to critical acclaim at the Rogue Performance Festival in Fresno, California in
March 2013, Pizzicato Porno digs at the meat of intimate human interaction."
The PR speaks of "The fragility of honeymoon hormones," and
what it calls
"weather balloons, which the performers use to insulate
themselves from one another."
Communications and its visualized impediments
Sunday night's often elegent but sometimes raw
and very physical performance was both much more abstract and real. What and
why is that sound? What are they doing and why, I often wondered. I got there
early and grabbed what I thought might be the best seat in the house, but I couldn't'
always tell what was being said, either by the voices or the actors/dancers.
Georgiou and the Video Projections
And what exactly are
those video projections all about? My camera usually focuses better than I do,
and I could pick more nits, but it would be a waste of both our time. The story
became obvious, and it was well acted and moved, using most of the space the
audience wasn't. Nice thing about not having a stage is that everywhere was. Sooner
or later the performers were almost everywhere the audience was, so everybody
got a front-row view.
Helping Her Up
I kept thinking I'd heard pieces of that soundtrack before, and some of it was repetitive, but the whole of it told its story and made its points. It provided the requisite sense of time and place, agitated the mood when the mood needed agitating and soothed it later. The publicity calls this performance a "non-linear romance," but aren't they all? I saw it happen, and unhappen and happen again, like real ones do, in time and space and mood and motion. Not much we do isn't.
I do agree, however, that "The relationship
is seen as a dance, a construction, and a soft failure — the inherent qualities
of any human interaction." I don't read long descriptive text before I visit
art in any guise. It's always more rewarding to figure it out.
He wants to envelope her; She doesn't wish to
Elements of dance, acting with timing and motion, recorded music, recorded and spoken voices, and plenty visual cues — AV projections, lights, darks and balloons floating combine to tell a story of love and its difficulties, sometimes impossibilities. We know it. We've been there, done that, lost, learned and gone and done it again. Or we will.
Was it Performance Art? Yes, and it was compelling. The audience paid attention. Only a dozen and a half of them showed up on time — expecting, no doubt — the performance to start on Texas Time, so most arrived late, and the squealing door announced each new batch's arrival all through the hour-long piece.
But Danielle Georgiou started fifteen minutes
early. Sitting in a chair stage left, facing a wall, away from the audience.
Slowly she began moving as if waked from stasis. Coming alive. She had my attention
and kept it. I had seen an earlier
Georgiou performance, and I
knew she'd be worth seeing again, and again. Justin Locklear showed much
later in a blaze of light. They were alternately outrageous enough and
good at what they were doing, I couldn't take my eyes off.
Pulling her by the nose and attempting to devour
It was also physically interactive and engaging, which, together with compelling are my watchwords for performance art. The area between what this was, play acting and bad performance art may be narrow but it runs deep. And I haven't come up with the defining Performance Art terms that adequately describe or define those differences. Which is probably to the benefit of all.
To paraphrase almost every artist who knows what they are up to — performance or otherwise — if you could put it into words, you wouldn't need to do it. I'm glad I got to see this instance of it, and I had a blast photographing it. Except for that one video projections shot, all these images are in strict chronological order.
Still, it was more play-acting that enigma. More scripted than spontaneous, and unlike Georiou's CentralTrak performance, it was much more active than interactive, more spectacle than participatory. The players were actor and/or dancer, not artists, so despite the extensive audio and video participation of multiple mediums, it was overall less art enigma than traditional stagecraft. As universal was its appeal, it was less artists raising questions and seeking answers or their considerations than reminding us about the vicissitudes of romance. It was in an art place but it did not engage our art selves.
Dallas Arts — Yet another panel discussion
T-shirt illustration from the Late 20th Century British Humor magazine Viz
I wonder whether artists and organizers will ever tire of asking the same old questions via yet another panel discussion, this time hosted by Mayor Mike Rawlings, who probably thinks our glorified downtown Arts District, where no art is made except performance, is the center of creative activity in Dallas.
It asks, "What does Dallas need to do to attract and retain artists and creative thinkers? Is the next generation of artists looking at Dallas as the place to launch and build their careers? Can we sustain a vibrant and lively arts sector without making Dallas a destination for artists and creative thinkers?"
And other silly and high-falutin' questions. The PR email lists Rawlings and "thought leaders" of the creative sector. My response: Oh, Lard! More pig belly fat clarified for cooking, but it'll still be disgusting.
It's remotely possible this panel will be interesting to Dallas visual artists, even though all the others like it mostly leave a bad taste in our collective mouths, but it's unlikely. This panel about art and artists includes DMA director Max Anderson, Oliver Francis Gallery owner — and individual artist Kevin Jacobs, Kirtland Records exec John Kirtland, Dallas Theater Director Kevin Moriarty and Aviation Cinema's Eric Steele.
My money's on Kevin Jacobs, but I can't imagine he'll get many words in edgewise in that overly diverse crowd.
We flock to these things, because we imagine that each new one will offer us hope. When that fails, we try the next, and the one after that. We are addicts. This one is bannered, "WANTED Artists + Creative Thinkers." It's free, but you have to RSVP Dallas Arts: A Creative Conversation 5:30-7 pm, Wednesday April 10 at the Dallas City Performance Hall, 2520 Flora Street, 214 671-1450.
Cook down that lard and keep hope alive.
Dallas' Texas eBooks Stumble
screen save from The State of the Art: Contemporary Artists in Texas by June Mattingly
I've been in email, more or less communication with former Mattingly-Baker Gallery Director June Mattingly, who wants me to buy both of her $19.99 eBooks. When I see her at openings, it's a quick hello, then right into selling her eBooks: "You should buy one of my e-books." Not much else. I thought I was brusque.
In the first email she said, "I am sending you the Press Release along with the covers of the first and second editions of my e-books titled "The State of the Art Contemporary Artists in Texas" recently published on Amazon reviewing over 120 history-in-the-making Texas-based artists. … Contemporary Texas art should be of great interest to you and to those who enthusiastically follow you on the subject," she said.
"I'd be very appreciative as would the artists I included — the 92 in the first edition and the 37 in the second edition. A third edition is planned for this Fall along with new work by some of the artists in the first two editions — the advantage of an e-book — besides their environmental friendliness. More information about the e-books can be found at www.texascontemporaryart.com and on the facebook page "The State of the Art Contemporary Artists in Texas."
I emailed back, "Okay. But I really can't tell much from a press release. I'd usually add the info to our calendar, but we've stopped doing that. If I had one of the kindle version ebooks, I could evaluate it and tell my readers, but I frankly don't know what to do with a press release."
I asked her if PDFs were how she usually distributed her ebooks, explaining that I've had trouble with PDFs on my [grayscale] Keyboard Kindle, because I cannot easily enlarge the type to read it with my old eyes.
Mattingly replied, "No, my books are for purchase on Kindle. You would enjoy both of my e-books — you know most of the artists. I need people like you to buy my e-books — this is such a new and unfamiliar medium — my support from artists and the galleries who represent them is terribly disappointing — I was planning on writing new editions w/ new artists every six months but I am giving up since I don't get readers. Yes, the books are basically visuals of the art, not text."
I thought I'd probably seen most of the art, if it was shown around here, but I was wrong on both counts. I also wondered about the quality of her photographs, but I needn't have. They're very good, though small. I suspect they were provided by the galleries, although few are credited. If the Amazon preview is accurate, there's much more space devoted to text than to pictures. And I didn't know most of the artists, because they're from Texas, not Dallas.
I wrote back explaining, "I don't buy books I've never heard about or seen reviewed." That's when I realized I probably needed to review one of her eBooks. After another week and she still hadn't sent anything, I checked it out on Amazon, where no one had reviewed it. But I saw the visual preview via Amazon's Click to LOOK INSIDE feature, so I looked, and I've carefully preserved her punctuation — or lack thereof — in the quotes in this review.
The first page cites the "History-in-the-making artists chosen and reviewed by June Mattingly known for her unswerving taste, dependable "eye" and four decades in Texas in the roles of a recognized gallerist, collector, curator, writer, critic and advisor."
Past the intro, her first line is followed by an amateurish exclamation, "Texas is a hotbed of contemporary art!" Some artist names are bold, most are not, making the text difficult to follow.
Under the subhed "New Artists in the Second Edition" all names are run-on with no space or punctuation between them: "Isabelle du Toit Christian Eckart Joey Fauereso." You can probably separate one from another but a few commas would have helped.
Mattingly puts common terms like stars, established, emerging and mid-career in quotations, further stumbling her staccato prose. Some of her picture captions are in the same typeface and size as the text, so it's difficult to determine which is which. Others are smaller. Pictures are centered but captions usually are not. There is often neither indication of the size of works nor standardization of style. She seems not to know the difference between a hyphen - and a dash —, and she clearly has not thought-through either the type or design of this book.
She includes discussion of at least two artists per paragraph, jumping willy-nilly between them. Only a few artists have an image, and those are not necessarily representative of her descriptions. Sentences both run-on and just peter out. She clearly has not written much for publication, and she probably should learn how to spell eBook.
Under the subhed, "What's a contemporary artist?" She answers: "Contemporary Art falls under the blanket term "Modern Art." Divergent views about the historical positioning of modernism exist: when it supposedly was initiated and whether it has run its course. Modern in the twentieth century has become a "catch-all" term, especially in reference to what was considered inventive and progressive."
Mattingly needs an editor who understands punctuation, style and quote attribution to guide her and a publication designer to create a visually appealing and unified book. After plodding through these few haphazard paragraphs, I don't want to read more.
Besides, she's writing about Texas, not Dallas artists.
Contents of this site are Copyright 2012 or before by publisher
J R Compton.
All art shown on these pages are copyrighted by the originating artists. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are copyrighted by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.
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