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Texas Retro Merge
Written and photographed by JR Compton
from extensive notes by Kathy DelloStritto

 

J R was deeply disappointed. Kathy wasn't even surprised.

At first, we both thought Come Forward Emerging Texas Artists at the DMA through May 11, 2003 was just mediocre.

If it plugs in the wall or moves, blinks or flashes, curator Suzanne Weaver chose it for this show.

a white plate with a colorful tornado of primary colors - blue, red, yellow and green - spinning

Joey Fauerso - Enter Here, 2002
oil and acrylic on paper

 

60 artists were nominated by art professors and curators from all over Texas. 60 studios were visited. 11 were selected. They are, of course, racially, culturally, ethnically and sexually diverse, almost no matter what else.

Video and flashing colored lights are popular, as are smarmy, neither witty nor subversive, cutesy post Koonsian shapes that kept reminding us conversely (maybe perversely) of Celia Eberle, whose work is both witty and subversive, although she's no longer emerging.

Sadly befitting the City-run museum, the show has no sex, no love, no hostility or conflict of any kind, no tension, no protest, not nearly enough humor, few bright colors, nothing bites or even barks, no in your face, no gloom, no wonder, and darned little joy.

The show does have a distinctive look and feel. Clean, often serene, although a little crammed in some rooms. Overall airy, light, pastelish. Very retro.

We didn't hate everything, but it was several rooms before JR was even touched by anything, though he dutifully recorded something in every room.

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bust portrait of a young man in a black shirt. Unlike most portrait subjects, he's got his thumb in his mouth, pulling his cheek slightly outward in an almost defiant pose.

Joey Fauerso - Neil, 2002
oil and acrylic on paper

 

Kathy's favorites were Brent Steen's OK, OK video of floating, and Joey Fauerso's luscious portraits interspersed with colorful, kinetic, lined whirligigs. It was the mix of the portrait's goofy, nose-picking and cheek-stretching humanity and the vivid little spinners on plates that brought JR back from his photo- documenting daze.
 

close up detail of various patterns of almost braille-looking bumps and squiggles of latex on clear film.

Irene Roderick - Façade Series: Pink, 2002
Latex primer on architectural film (extreme detail)

 

Kathy also liked Irene Roderick's large, lace-like, white on white, latex on film, image, intricate of texture and shape. JR thought the actual, backup and see it from across the room, pictures paled in comparison to Roderick's fascinating, up-close detail.

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detail of an abstract painting on a slightly textured green field. The most noticeable thing about the painting is maybe a couple dozen thick daubs of light brown paint, pallete knifed onto the surface.

Augusto Di Stafano - untitled, 2002
oil, acrylic and molding paste
on canvas (detail)

Kathy dragged JR over to see the exquisite colors and textures of Augusto Di Stefano's paintings. And we both liked Brent Steen's Man Hugging Window drawing, loosely floating in so much neutral space.

JR did not like: Robyn O'Neil's kid-like dinosaur drawings, big or small; Chris Sauter's hghfalutin' titles or bed post corral with dual projected TVs of endless rodeo footage — we've seen all that many times before, Ruckus Rodeo and too often since.

JR also did not much like Adrian Esparza's simplistic, uncalming, acrylic on plywood mandalas — what's the point? Ditto for Robert Pruitt's Black folks still kaint stick together, 3 slightly decorated, Hormel canned hams, or his me and this mic is like yin and yang, dilapidated upright vacuum / mic stand. And those stupid stringy serapes in the first room, arghhh! Gag me with a taco.
 

a fish whose body has been replaced with a crimson flame that turns on and off

Marshall Thompson - Sea Life, 2002
wood, acrylic and electronics

JR especially liked Brad Tucker's serene, supposedly studio-like, installation, dotted with colorful, shaped sound systems, oddly thin and plugged in 3-D objects scattered with flipflops and other bits of his studio and real life; and Juan Miguel Ramos' hand-lettered narrated digital ethnic photocopied portraits with attitude.

JR also liked — but Kathy decidedly did not — Chris Sauter's enigmatic organizational chart, patch sewn vest, spread eagled on the wall outside the TV room; and local artist Marshall Thompson's blinking, flashing and glowing boxes, especially his archetypal hot rod flames, grafted onto hapless fish.

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I'm guessing here. Maybe a 17 or 18-year old Hispanic boy wearing a short sleeved T-shirt with RAMONES in white, all capital letters across the front. There is text handwritten on the painting "behind" and "around" the scraggley beareded kid who stares menacingly at us.

Juan Miguel Rodriguez - Secret City, 1999
photocopies on archival paper (detail)

 

Maybe we shouldn't have gone when we were tired and starving. Perhaps we should have given it more time.

How mediocre was it?

Nothing knocked our sox off or caused us to rethink. No double-takes, shock or amazement. Nothing fascinated or intrigued or boggled. It was just some art show, and if it had been anywhere else, we wouldn't have been so concerned.

Kathy worried that many would be led to believe that, because this stuff is at the City's art museum, and most people won't understand it, it must be great art. Obviously, however, the museum doesn't understand it, either.

JR still thinks the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art (D-Art)'s recent Pairings was a better show to celebrate the Dallas museum's 100th anniversary.
 

Brad Tucker - Two Lefts, 2001
cast foam and plastic
and, in back:
Double Drum Speaker (figure eight), 2001
latex on wood, fabric, speakers,drum leg

 

Afterthoughts

If any work in this often lackluster show turned JR on, it had to be Brad Tucker's simplified amps. Plugged in electric, simple, bright colors. Unique, utilitarian. Surprisingly memorable.

I even liked Brad skate-boarding on the otherwise glitzed-up amateur hour no special effect left untried post-MTV video that disclosed almost no new information about any of the other artists.

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