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The AiM Show: Missing the Target

Sedrick Huckaby - Surviving Chaos - oil on canvas

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Charlotte Smith - Boom, 2003
acrylic on board


I was excited to attend the opening festivities for the 21st annual Art in the Metroplex show at TCU on September 6.

Kathy was in last year's, and I'm in this one. Kathy told us about last year's juror talking about each piece she'd selected in that same auditorium, so I was really looking forward to this year's Juror's Lecture.

Instead, Diane Karp, who is the director of the Santa Fe Art Motel, talked about herself and her job — never once mentioning the art in this show, until well into the final, awards phase of the public lecture, when she accidentally mumbled five words about one of the pieces that won money, as the winner walked down to pick up her check.

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To introduce her comments, Karp told of viewing the 600 slides entries to this competition.

She condescendingly explained to the audience, of artists whose slides were good enough to get us into the show — and our families and friends, that before artists enter slides, they should show them to three disinterested parties, to determine whether the slides showed the art well.


Deborah Herring - Amish Knot - fiber

Perhaps Karp should have showed the slides in her own presentation to three, even more disinterested parties. We might have been spared her remarkably poor projected images. All but the first few of which were out of focus, blurred, seriously over or under exposed or badly composed.

My favorite was an over-exposed shot of "the beautiful garden" at the front entrance to the residents' rooms. The gorgeous Santa Fe sky was rendered a washed-out white, and the garden was invisible save for a few bright splotches of green in the soaking sunlight.

The Juror's Lecture had little to do with jurying this show, the art or artists shown here. Karp's talk was all about Karp.

Kathy was apalled at her "arrogant and narcissistic" lecture and is writing a public letter to Templeton, TCU and the artists in the show. I just thought Karp was a self-absorbed bozo.

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Jane A Baker - Breathing Room
acrylic on canvas


Karp vaingloriously proclaimed to us all — I counted more than 120 people in the auditorium: One Black man, no apparent Chicanos, and 119 White People — hardly representative, in any meaningful way, of this art community — that her first show after she'd arrived in Santa Fe, from New York City by way of Philadelphia, was a 9/11 tribute by carefully selected Manhattan artists.

She named them, carefully described their work and showed slides images of work so small nobody could see it.


Nancy Lamb - My Summer Vacation
2002, oil on canvas


Later in her self-promo, Karp said Fort Worth was unexpectedly beautiful and that she had expected horses, and cows in the street. A guy somewhere behind us quietly stated what I was thinking, "We have those, too."

This from a woman who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico — well west of "Where The West Begins," although she noted that 'nobody had ever heard' of that, what she called "terra beige," New Mexican city till she did, in the early 1990s...

Kathy and I listened as politely as we could manage for as long as we could sit, exchanging whispered exasperations. At our last straw, we stood up and walked out.

Back in the gallery, we saw it quickly fill up again, after we'd had it to ourselves for a few minutes. (Later, we stood at the back of the auditorium to catch names of the winners.)

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This AiM show is bloated, with about twice too many pieces. Last — and previous — years' shows have been spare jewels floating in a luxury of negative space. The 2002 show had 45 pieces; this one has 71.

I like salon style hanging, but not in an exhibition like this, that usually shows the best area work in the past few seasons.


Susan Mollet - 35 Days: Journal Stones - stoneware


Because the juror couldn't eliminate slides any better than she could edit her own words, we were stuck with too much work crammed together in too small a space. Sometimes it's hard to appreciate — or even see art that crowded.

Several similar pieces, including Sandra Chia-Ying Shen's elegantly simple (and prize-winning), white on white streaked Dual-identity and Self-Portrait — that we both liked well enough but, as Kathy said, they weren't stellar — were crammed so close, it was hard to see if they were one or two pieces.

See our preview of this year's sho for additional images.


Carol Benson - Images on Gray
oil on encaustic on canvas


Top prize winning painter Carol Benson's Red Bowl on cavas and Images on Green and Gray on wood (above) were spatially and chromatically similar, but with differing styles and composition techniques. Still, they were separted by bare inches on a busy wall.

We had no serious objection to the prize winners. Though we'd both glossed past Ian O'Brien's miniature, clear plastic boxed, black-mounted, matchbox and matchbook paintings, which we'd only registered as thermostats or something, stuck off to the side of an already crowded gallery.

They won no prizes, but Kathy and I both especially liked Margaret Ratelle's silhouetted duo of spit bite etchings. We also prized Leighton McWilliams' superb Dragonflies photo sculpture, which earned a mention, and Colby Parsons-O'Keefe's deceptively simple — and quick — Ball turns Green video. Though his eponymous stoneware was less fascinating.

Unfortunately, we were in too much a hurry to find my parents out at DFW on a stopover, to scrounge a list of winners, although Billy Hassell showed us his as we walked down the sidewalk toward the parking lot.

Kathy and I both liked the best of this show. It was the rest that bothered us.


Additional images — of Leighton McWilliams' Dragonflies; Billy Hassell's Purple Finch, San Miquel, Mexico; Susan Cheal's I Just Can't Control My Appetite (whose batteries had worn out by the midle of the opening, so it no longer spoke); John Hartley's Army Man With Rifle; Damon Ryder Richards' explosive Reliquary; Aron Johnston's  Post Exodus #10; Margaret Rattelle's Deck III, Kyle Wadsworth's Great One With Fish and a slight discussion of the influence of The War on the imagery in this show are in DARts' AiM Show Preview.


All contents Copyright 2003 by JR Compton
No Reproduction in any analog or digital form
Without explicit, written permission
from DARts Editor/Publisher JR Compton.