the warmth of Passion at the Ice House south of the
Trinity, north to SMU's cold Intellectualism
+ Photos by JR Compton
wood blocks, chalk - 12 x 8 x 8 inches
recently attended a more passionate
art show at The Ice House, Dallas' already established
Latino Culture Center, south of the Trinity.
There I found Cindy Santos Bravo's Subsist & Persist neatly filling their
big room with successful and almost successful installation art
about a culture caught between languages.
The visual metaphor was a
school room, with little desks, blackboards, blocks and signs,
some of which
was too obvious and a little smarmy — a sad eyed child superimposed
on a blackboard filled with "I will not speak Spanish. I
will not speak Spanish...," but the best of it was not didactic.
I especially liked the simple directness
of what appeared to be charred toy blocks overwritten with chalked
letter/sounds North American English doesn't have — like ñ,
é and others. As if they were damaged Norteño toys
recycled for immigrant use.
Except, of course, that the
immigrants have been here longer than "we" have.
We (Estados Unidos now and Tejas before that), in fact and
in history, stole Tejas from Mexico.
While at the Ice House, I
got to speak with Jesus
Alvarado, an admitted "former thug," who'd done
the mural out front (above) that I'd mentioned here before. He said
eager to bring an El Paso mural style to Dallas, and I still
learn what that is.
I felt obligated to explain that I always
want Dallas public art to be about Dallas, not somebody famous
from somewhere else, as much as I admired America (all two continets)'s
most talented art couple. I recognize the guy on the right from
Steve Cruz' long series of masked marvels, but I still
don't know who's the blue man on the left.
Frankly, I was more interested
in talking with Jesus than looking at the art, although there
interesting visual puns in the school like space — including
a chair propped up on a short pedestal and stuck in the corner.
Alvarado said he'd put it there, and
it was not part of the show. Although there it was.
On my way north to
visit the SMU faculty show's last day, a girl on KNTU Jazz
pronounced a famous
album title "brew joe."
I knew I was heading north into North
Dallas, a part of a much bigger and very different world.
media - 18 x 75 x 22 inches
in the recent SMU faculty show
Flying Leap was the first object I saw, through the temporarily
closed gate of the university gallery.
There was lots else to like in this serenely
I knew only vaguely of David Dryer,
but I liked his work instantly. Almost as immediatly, I realized
how far I'd gone from the Ice House to this rosy tower.
I'd journeyed from passionate human expression
-- by both the show's artist and the muralist, to the cold, almost
sterile sphere of academia.
From human art about life and passion
to academic art about art.
From warm blooded, gut inspired passion,
to cool, intellectual expressions of mathematical concepts and
Quite a ride with a bumpy highway transition,
jazz and all.