Visual art news, views & reviews in Dallas, Texas, USA
3. Venues + Artists of The
2005 Texas Biennial
Story + Photographs by J R Compton
with opinions by Anna Palmer
Anna and I awarded Bolm Studios our favorite BiTex venue. And not just because it was the most difficult to find. The map was fine. We kept just driving by, unable to accept that low rent blockhouse was an art gallery.
It had the best, most cohesive work inside, and gobs of funky artist charm outside. I don't know whether the folk at #10 Bolm Studios had much to do with the tableaux above, but we had to go through it to get into the gallery at the far end, and it was fun — and visually stimulating all the way.
After watching the art inside for awhile, we watched the yard, taking lots of photographs of individual pieces and group settings in the big patio area.
The work inside was largely techie, so maybe more a 'body of work' feel than most of the other Texas Bi venues. I've already written about Young-Min Kang's impressive Interstate Junction, and I still need to discuss Barna Kantor's clocks and interactive grating video projection, but the whole milieu was memorable and stimulating.
Perhaps the cleanest, well lightedest* of the Texas Biennial venues was the Eastside Artist Coop on Cesar Chavez street in colorful East Austin. A clean, white house with pebble yard and four black chairs arranged just so out in it.
Inside were spacious rooms, a bunch of space- and other gun art by Daniel Tackett over the mantel; vivid, eye-catching calligraphic Iris prints by Chris Ferebee; eloquent negative space paintings by Lance Jones; and crocheted mounted deer heads by Elaine Bradford, which we liked, then disliked in rapid succession.
Comparing and significantly contrasting with most of the other venues, the Eastside Coop space was gentle, white and spacious.
Gallery Lombardi on the end of 3rd Street in deepest downtown by the tracks where the street just disappears into nothing was the only opening left in a week of nightly openings.
The art and activity in it and on the loading dock outside reminded of the close community feel of the old (before they took up the tracks, so the train didn't screetch and scream by anymore) 500X in Dallas.
A place where a guy who'd been riding around on his bike in the guise of The Invisible Bicyclist — clear plastic shirt and pants over obvious white underwear briefs — all day would fit right in.
Mari Omon's haunting floating tea bag barage; Charlotte Smith and Faith Gay's colorful, dimension-defying spacial extravaganzas; Rosalyn Bodycomb's oddly somber, grayscale photo-like paintings; Jimmy Kuehnle's bike; Jonathan Marshall's giant Mt. Helens explosion drawing that won the grand prize; and Matthew Rodriguez' unconventional Kitty Sees Things painted on the bottoms of six rectangular pans, which is something else I want to give more time to.
More artists coming soon as Gallery Lombardi responds to my E-mail.
The first space we encountered — and the one that opened earliest on Saturday morning was the Dougherty Art Center on Barton Springs Road, not far from where Armadillo World Headquarters used to be many years ago — somewhere I could find almost without checking the map.
There, in one big room with decent lighting, a wide expanse of floor, and doors off to theaters and offices, we found a pleasant place to ponder art. Off to the right just in the big front doors was a temporary walled off space for
A monitor showing we knew not what didn't work but Jerry Chamkis's ambient cosmic notes floated gently in the soft-walled space
Anna loved Annie Simpson's wide, super pixelated cosmic painting. Looking at it reinforces the memory of Young-Min Kang's long strip building blocks for her Interstate Junction sculpture at Bolm and of William Betts' nearby and not entirely dissimilar in formed, functioned and titled, Take my breath away, so I put that image on that page instead of here.
Quite a contrast from there to Camp Fig in the parking-challenged upper down-town area on colorful and crowded East Sixth Street.
I was so eager to get out of the crowded little Fig, I forgot to take photos of it itself, which is sad, because it was the funkiest, clunkiest space of all, small, easily crowded and busy with pushily agressive art like Tara Welch's vividly decorated cake; Celia Eberle's enigmatic appliqué silhouette on found crewell; Richard Martinez's blue, swampy shaped canvas oil; Patricia Donahue's angry-appearing pensive figure in haywire woods; and Heyd Fontenot's two naked men on a Lucky Log. We did not snicker.
footnote: Writers always worry whether anyone gets some of their more obscure references, but there used to be a gallery in Austin called A Clean Well-Lighted Place, operated and owned by the very well-known (now especially) art critic Dave Hickey. My proofreader suggests well-lit, and I know that's more proper but ...
We have a story with Dave Hickey's opinions about graduate art education in America.