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17 artists:

Shimeen Ishaque - Daiva (circle) - detail

Simeen Ishaque - Daiva (circle), 2005 (detail)
hand-dyed fabric and pins. See full view and discussion below.

The 2005 Dallas Center for Contemporary Art
Membership Show and Critic's Choice Awards

Story + Photographs by J R Compton

Mark A Collop - Art for Um - acrylic, Art Forum, red oak (detail)
See full view and discussion below.

The Summer Show & Critic's Choice - Dallas Center for Contemporary Art’s annual anything-goes member shows with jurying component by invited critic former DMA Contemporary Curator now director of ArtHouse/Austin Sue Graze, who awarded exhibitions of work in the center's halls. The show included work by Paul Abbott, Edwin Ackermann, Ivone Acro, Amie Adelaman, Ali Akbar, Marie Van Arsdale, Karen Kelly Ashmore, Melissa Farrar Auberty, Clayton Lee Bailey, Jake Baker, Bill Barnett, Bill Bartee, Bill Barter, Benjamin Bascombe, Betsy Daves Bass, Anne Turner Beletic, D'Arcy Bellamy, Carol Benson, Marilyn Biles, Jon Breazeale, Lloyd Brown, Nancy Brown, Leslie Ann Burns, Alice Campbell, Andrea Canalito, Victoria Chaney, Filberto Chapa, Jill Chapin, Stefan Chinov, Michael Christopher, Christian Clark, Matt Clark, Glo Coalson, Alan Cobb, Sue Cobb, Shirley Collins, Tony Collins, Mark Collup, S. Braley Cook, Steven Cook, Donnie Copeland, Dorothy Chabay-Dempsey, Larry Denning, Celia Diaz, David Dillard, M. Gipson Durbin, Jane Eifler, David Elizondo, Tosca Englisch, Jorge Estrada, Beverly Field, Cecelia Feld, Joe Field, Tom Field, Paige Finan, Sigrid Garnier, Dorothy Gilstrap, Molly Goodall, Bryan Gooding, Ellna Goodrum, Heather Gorham, Jeff Gottesman, Paul Greco, Pamel Griffin, Geoff Hager, Jeanet Dreskin-Haig, Freeda Delorise Hampton, Kana Harada, Jim Hastings, Sarah Hauser, Van Hayes, Deborah Herring, Michael Owen Hill, Scott Hilton, Mira Hnatyskyn, John Hobbie, Carol Holden, Kelli Houlihan, Danny Hurley, Simeen Ishaque, Robert Paul Jackson, Jackye Jewett, Judy Justice, Rania K, Suza Kawn, Mark Kiselis, Debbie Klein, B.R. Kline, Crystal Kreitzer, Tatjana Krikov, Laetitia Lavie, Jeffrey Lee, Arienne Lepretre, Thom Loafman, Leslie Lopez, Frank Lopez, Eli Lorenz, Chris Lyons, Nan Martin, Evan McCaffrey, Jennifer McClanahan, Jean McComas, Marc McCurdy, Jeane McIntosh, Sherry Mick, Cathey Miller, Jon Mimahan, Ruben Miranda, Brenice Menzies, Brian Moore, Norman Mucha, Carol Charlat Nace, Perry Brooks Nichols, Amber O'Dell, Fred Owens, Cap Pannell, Aaron Pepkin, Radomir Petrovich, Marilyn Parrish, Polly Perez, Robert Polluck, Therese Power, Ann Prather, Teresa Rafidi, Octaviano Rangel, Randy Reagan, Lynn Salo Richardson, Kathy Robinson-Hayes, Rachel Rogerson, Marco Rubino, Aditi Samarth, Elisabeth Schalij, Vin Scheihagen, Dee Ann Schultz, Amy Scott, Charlotte Davis Seifert, Sarah Jane Semrad, Steve Tate (Sheba), Derrick Sledge, Brad Ford Smith, Charlotte Smith, Jane Cornish Smith, Michael Smith, Kitty Alice Snead, Brenda Spencer, Melissa Spenser, Nelson Spencer, Priscilla Spencer, Todd Steincamp, Ahmet Tuz, Karl Umlauf, Tiana Wages, Montana Walsh, Kathy Webster, Julianne Werner, Susan Whitmer, David Wilburn, David Witherspoon, Dahlia Woods, Donna Sue Bales Works and Morris Yanger, through Saturday August 20, 2005

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I took my own sweet time visiting this show too near the end — you'd think I worked for the Dallas Morning News or something ...

It's a little disingenuous to call this membership show (you pay, you're in) a Critic's Choice (those used to be you entered, and if your work was especially good, and somebody else sorta important agreed, you got in), but we seem to be stuck with that name, ricocheting back from D-Art and DVAC's glory days.

And, to be fair, an actual critic — well, maybe some long-lost art professional, curator or some such who might have, at some time or another, set pen to paper about art, is involved, though hardly in curating in or out all comers, who are already welcome in this annual exhibition.

As above, what follows are my initial, mad-rushed — I finished it in about 20 minutes, already weary and ready to crash — fulminations in bold green, followed by further considerations in black.

These are the 17 artists who caught my eye in this large annual show. Who, out of all those present, grabbed my attention as I charged clock-wise three times around the walls at the Contemp.

Hang on for the ride.
  

Carol Benson - Wrapped House, Two Houses

Carol Benson - Wrapped House, Two Houses, 2005
 

From Carol Benson's exquisite oil on steel (!) string ball drawing, the likes of which rightfully took top prize at Art in the Metroplex a couple years ago; ...

Luscious and loose, yet craftfully controlled — scribbly balls of grayscale energy simultaneously compressed and expanding, like self-motivated Slinkys out to rule the world.

 

Dahlia Woods - Tsunami

Dahlia Woods - Tsunami, December 26, 2004
Panel #1, Earthquake Under the Sea, 2005
oil on masonite and colored pencil on paper
 

to the surprising riot of color and stormy paint in Dahlia Woods' very contemporary Earthquake Under the Sea; ...

A passionately abstracted, impressionistic depiction from an artist who claims to be a Fauvist, a school of painting nearly a century in the past. Here, however, and perhaps in the other five panels of this wild, raw, scenaria she breaks loose, lets her emotions rip in a tumultuous conflagration of fire and water, earth and sky.

It's hardly a coincidence that such subtle (above) and overt (this) expressions of action and passions, constrained and/or exploding, top this story. There's something magical and powerful about work that either let's go in a explosion of energy and excitement of expression — or so carefully controls them.

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Mark A Collop - Art for Um

Mark A Collop - Art for Um, 2004
acrylic, Art Forum, red oak
 

the LOL hilarity of Mark A Collop's beer can basket Art for Um magazine cover; ...

Now this is fun, a perennial college and high school class assignment — redesign a well-known magazine's cover. We did Print at East Texas State U, when it was still called that, and I went for obvious with a slap transfer of handed paint with their usual logo.

Here Collop realistically and deliciously renders a partially obscured basket of Buds on the cover of the October 2004 edition of ArtForum, most of which is whited out.

   

Deborah Herring - Shreds

Deborah Herring - Shreds, 2005 - mixed media
 

the intricately sewn and spindled, mostly monochromatic white Shreds by Deborah Herring; ...

In the rest of the population, obsessive compulsive is a disorder. Among artists, it's an essential ingredient. How else would we follow our deep seated needfulness to do one thing so carefully, specifically and aesthetically correct, keeping authentic to our wild desires to each end of our compelled renderings of them to you.

 

Charlotte Smith - Spindleys

Charlote Smith - Spindley, 2004 - acrylic on board (detail)
 

the painted pinhead Spindleys of Charlote Smith; ...

Speaking of which...

 

Heather Gorham - From These Prison Walls I'll Fly

Heather Gorham
From These Prison Walls I'll Fly, 2005
bronze and mixed media

Heather Gorham's stark, metal-thorn crowned, and wheeled From These Prison Walls I'll Fly; ...

Ya gotta wonder how Heather took that initial spark of knowing, visual connection, that ineffable link to wordless, emotional understanding, through her imagination, out her own steady OCD manipulation to this delicate, vulnerable, long-legged bird with a fantastic fantail shadow standing on what could be a spiked land mine on tiny wheels, mobile in its madness and firm in its conviction.

This is a delicate balance between deep vulnerabilities and a potential moment of terror, which may well describe the best of Heather's work. Or just as easily, it could be something entirely else.

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Jorge Estrada - A Million Ways to Have Fun, 2005
acrylic on paper with collage
 

Jorge Estrada's jarring A Million Ways to Have Fun mixing war birds and anti-war doves with vividly colorful consumerism — Is that Dubbya having such fun on the From Here to Eternity beachhead?; ...

M.C. Escher meets capturing The Moments of Our Lives and deaths on some god-forsaken patch of sand where the skies fill with peace birds traveling leftward and warships down, down, down, in a swirling torrent of red.

Kana Harada - Morning Light

Kana Harada - Morning Light, 2005 - foam sheet

the dainty white on white, foam-sheet merry-go-round merriment of Kana Harada's Morning Light would not be complete without their mirrored splashes of shadow dancing all around; ...

I'm liking this less, here, far from the white walls and multiple spotlights and their echoing intricate shadows dancing in the slight wind of people passing and errant AC drafts. But there, floating in imperceptible wafts, This Morning Light was almost alive, decorative paddles steering its long escape pod stairway far down into the real world below.

 

Molly Goodall - Tijuana #1

Molly Goodall - Tijuana #1, 2005
watercolor and gouache on paper
 

the vivid hued reality of Molly Goodall's Tijuana #1 genre painting of a jewelry sale street scene; ...

I relate this with a marvelous, bright, morning light Fry Street painting at Craighead-Green's recent New Texas Talent competition [JSB Hawkins - Hickory & Fry (Denton), acrylic on canvas], and hope they're part of a trend toward detailed, emotionally abstractioned light and color plays against sterile historic painterly super realism.

These are suspended moments in everyday time when something's about to happen, or could happen, or might just pass on by. A fleeting moment of character captured. A tiny, tensioned, largely inconsequential gap about to be sparked between two very different sorts of people.

Make up your own story. I like it set on a Saturday morning in clear, district small-town America. An Indian Market around the town square in long-shadow late afternoon, the sky a fading hue and everything is rendered so clear and sharp and... and...

As easily, it could be a border town bourse. Where hardly matters or why. It's one moment sliced sharp from the continuance but rendered with depth and reality.

I even like that the piece is nonchalantly bent into the frame, its telling shadow buckling under the overhead light, like it's that moment that's' important here, not so much the precision presentation of it.

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Simeen Ishaque - Daiva

Simeen Ishaque - Daiva (circle), 2005
hand-dyed fabric and pins (detail above)
 

the sheer, shimmering, just-barely-there shreds of color and quidity in Simeen Ishaque's Daiva (circle); ...

Circle has more allusions than just geometric or mathematic, especially when it's of people, swirling and fluttering in slight medium and wistful shadows. It's a subtle and sensual dance, of course, anything laden in the wind is, stirred by souls, stealing motion from the wind.

 

Joe Field - Boobs

Joe Field - Boobs, 2005 - acrylic on wood
 

to Joe Field's comix treatise of the shapes of Boobs, it's a clean, varied show, expertly placed, though oft-inelegantly paced. ...

Gotta wonder about Monica's threesome, but this chunk of wood painted plastic paint ain't nuthin' but what it is, awed, odd and unsubtly funny — and memorable. Comic strip trip on a strip of nature.

A fitting enough end to one of those anything goes summer shows. I didn't go earlier, because I go every year and now and then it's nice not to. But I woulda missed a fine situation.

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Face & Legs Wall (detail) — Left to right: Karen Kelly Ashmore - She's Got Legs, 2005, acrylic; Jill Chapin - Meredith, 2005, black acrylic paint on watercolor paper; Tiana Wages - Just For You, 2005, oil on canvas; Dorothy Gilstrap - Tom Field, 2005, oil on canvas; and Bill Barnett - Honest Tea, Assam, Brewed at Home, 200

Overall, it's a well-behaved, varied polyrhythmic exhibition, kinda spare in compare with the madhouse tea party full boogie lilting tilts of the past, a thinning transition into the future unknown.

I liked the groupings, especially the face and legs wall, although the too-long opposite wall of incurable abstractionists seemed passionless and uninspired.

I can't help it. My favorite wall is still the blue one than angles off the far back corner, painted cyan on the far side, room inside, surrounded by white walls the occasional sunlight that falls in there these days, subtly bounces blue into the neighboring whites. It's been there a long time. I hope it stays.

I didn't pay much attention to who won prizes of getting to show in the back hallway next fall, but I was surprised to find so many of my own winners in a show that's often been a major loser, and I'm kinda sorry I couldn't steer more artists and interesteds over to the big Post Modern Swiss Avenue Contemporary in the leeward shadow of downtown Dallas.

If only I could depend on next year's being as good, again fighting the biennial reappearance of banality in this long-running exhibition, although mayhaps this less than subtle gathering storm reintroduction of the Critic word into our equation will pull off just that amazement.

I stupidly joined last year and think I shoulda waited till this. It woulda been such nice company to show in. -JRC

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