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Essential Space II:
The Review
Story + Photographs by J R Compton

Some shows are so important or so interesting or just plain so intriguing
that one story never quite suffices. Besides, my opinions keep changing.

Prejudicial preview story     Review of show     The artists talk (coming soon)
Last Year's Essential Space story

Essential Space - Frances Bagley, Linnea Glatt and Kaneem Smith and curated by Belo foundation president Judith Garrett Segura, is the second of three Belo Foundation Sculpture shows at The MAC April 25, through June 6, 2003

Kaneem Smith    Linnea Glatt    Frances Bagley

Essential Space II:
The Review

Kaneem Smith

Maximizing geometric minimalism

I didn't have high hopes for Kaneem Smith's work at The MAC, but my lowered expectations were shuffled aside — if not exactly blown away — when I visited the space, early in the opening reception, with only a few art lovers in attendance.

Kaneem's bag room is nice. Those same burlap coffee bags again, but this time she uses them to define space, not refer to clothes or bodies or anything but what they are, a bunch of bags sewn together with linen and hung from the ceiling, forming an inner room, obscured from outside.

hung from the ceiling enclosing light

A fellow viewer said it smelled like her grandfather's hay barn. I hadn't been aware of the warm, pleasant, smell till then. I was too engrossed in feeling the space, watching the crosshatch light filter out the burlap walls, wanting it to be less obvious that the space was empty but caught up experiencing the coarse, soft, brown, irregular, bound space, inside the rough, woven room.

textural detail

Certainly, the concept isn't unique or shocking, although it might bend some minds. Nothing much original or new about enclosing space in textured soft material, no cause for rethinking the rules of sculpture.

But the execution is elegant, textural, and backlit without giving too much away. The interior is concentrically but irregularly rectangular, like the room that contains it. Its open top fills with overhead light, the sides patchworked of warm brown burlap, some with thin red expresso labeling.

Makes for an uncomplicated rendering of the show's title.


Minimalizing geometric maximism

Fluffy gray poodle puffs reflected in a flat mirror shape

Linnea Glatt's work in the far gallery may be on the other side of minimalism. Linnea continues her eccentric progression of spare, geometric shapes of various materials — mirrors on the floor, flat, lumpy and fluffy things of various forms on the walls.

See Linnea's piece at the DCCA's Pairings show, and there's
several Linnea Glatt stories in Small Sculpture in Texas
including: Human-Scale Monuments, A Place to Gather and Harrow

Fluffy Minimalism?

Her work still startles, still causes rethinking, still sets our collective experience on edges, sometimes hard and flat, sometimes soft and furry. This work is not giant leaps forward for her. They are of her oeuvre, not apart from it.

Looking head-on at their patterns, each looks like a giant snowflake laid out in the by now familiar, six-pointed, Recent Glatt Pattern, except the materials change, startlingly, from one to another.

Glatt dots

I like the warm fuzziness of the cotton candy colored fluffy minimalism above, although the gray, poodle puff piece reflected in the similar, floor-mirror work above is somewhat more minimal, and I just don't know what to think about the half-tone dot pattern paramecia.


Gloomy drapes and floating shapes

 looks vicious and mysterious with dark draping,
the sound of raspy growling and a little red light

For pure Shock and Awe value, however, it's Frances Bagley's amazing room that boggled, startled and amazed. From the progression of her work I have watched and admired for years, suddenly and abruptly to these dark and gloomily draped figures and bumps was a shock. Although maybe I missed the transitions, she's been showing these draped things since 2001.

For awhile, I thought her cast monkey, dogs, cow and up-scaled female human shapes were supposed to be funny. "Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar," a fellow gallery goer asked, and I couldn't answer.

Frances Bagley's stilted dog in this room with
Linnea Glatt's flat snowflake on the far wall in the other.

But this stuff is no joke. For my first peek, I was careful not to talk with the artists, although they were right there, and maybe I should have taken the opportunity.

I just wanted to take some photos before the crowds descended, then look at the pictures and think about the show, maybe start writing this story.

But you can bet that I'll attend their artists' talk at 7 May 7 at The MAC. I want to know what goes on in these peculiar sculpture minds, and how this strange brew emerged from those minds, especially Frances'.

draped headless figure and its faithful
cow sit and watch the weather on TV

Frankly, I don't know what to make of these heavily draped shapes in a room so dim I had to crank up the digital film-speed two stops. I only have questions.

See other Frances Bagley stories in DARts, including:
Bigger Toys
in SSiT; The White Rock Lake Water Theater
and probably several others.

Frances says this art weasel is actually a cat

What do crawling, robed and supplicant, large-scale headless human figures have to do with dogs on short stilts or a draped white cast monkey hanging from the ceiling?

What's with the weasel? And how about that cow wrapped around the headless figure cradling a TV showing clouds blowing by? What's this tableau all about? Why the animals, why the draping?

Whose bad dreams are these escapees from?


Notes from an Artists' Talk
Essential Space II at The MAC

The ideas begin to take shape,
aided and abetted by their images...

My Notes     Kaneem Smith     Frances Bagley     Linnea Glatt

On May 7, I — and 59 other interested parties — attended the Artists' Talk for Essential Space II at The MAC, featuring show artists Kaneem Smith, Linnea Glatt and Frances Bagley.

Over the next couple of... days... weeks... whatever... these scrambled notes will grow gradually into a coherrent story.


I usually remember much of what is said from the photographs — and I shot lots of the slides, but I can sometimes only barely read my own writing.

All three artists said many things I wish I could have scribbled into my already copious notes — 27, 5 x 7-inch pages. But it'll be miracle enough if I can suck meaning out of the scribbles I scrambled in the dark already.

This page will transform from a pile of sometimes meaningless words to a fully illustrated story. Watch the progress, if you will.

The story itself is in dark blue ink, as opinions often are, on this site. The notes are in black.

[x] numbers in brackets refer to specific pages of notes.

The story you see will change often, as this eXperiment continues.

I counted 59 people seated in bleachers in The MAC's dark little black box theatre, many of them were well-known and well-established artists and other art professions come to see the best of their peers.

Judith Segura introduced the artists, calling them "three extraordinary women" and later, "sculptors gone really wild." Segura was brief, giving the show's artists maximum time to show and tell their art.

She did explain that Essential Space was a "three-year series involving nine artists. Next year it's Annete Lawrence, Martin Delabano and Jesus Morales."


Frances Bagley

Frances said she was "actually kinda nervous" from the very beginning of her talk. She said she might read her notes, but she didn't.

It was hardly the first time she'd spoken before a group, and her natural teaching abilities seemed to kick in almost as soon as she'd apologized for her nervousness.

Of the three artists, it was Frances Bagley's work about which I had the most unanswered questions. After watching the chronological progression of her forms in her slides, however, many of my questions were answered.

The trajectory from there to here was that obvious. Her early forms, shown chronologically above, now seem almostdestined to become her later forms.

She's always had an obvious interest in the figure, at first as an actual vessel — she was a potter. She spoke of the cognates between those, even earlier forms and her long history with the figure.

"A pot has a belly, a head, a foot." And from almost the beginning of her artistic career, she recognizes that she made "pot-like forms that are figures."

The wood shard pieces above were spacial vessels presented as human-like torsos.

By the second image above, which she called "a positive form" she had added "blue burlap," as a skin for the figure. She liked the woven quality, which was repeated in the fourth piece, and to an extent, in the leafy quality of the third.

has done works on the wall -- she called it low relifef
cast bronze with Harry Geffert

was inpingforms and

As she noted, "I'm not through with these (forms). I'm just somewhere else today."

The love is expexpxxxx

The further progression is almost as obvious. Even before I get around to stringing all my notes together below, if you just scroll down, looking at each form in succession, you'll see how the above became the below and the works in this show.


Flea market mask
The Confession

bundling, waddeing up, pivotal piece

pc I made to amke something from. I looked at it, and thought, I think this is the piece

Wadded up and bundled
first draped piece was 2001

slinky sleazy cloth
flesh colored
The Age of Bronze
I always loved textiles, did munt to scar just wanted to touch it
how it hangs and folds and falls
needed to be knit to hang right
grouped to make stay
interested in actually sealty
mostly draped
interested to see if chiet ca be pd of the floor
one gued pc looks like tension between forms
animals are taxidermy forms
grew up on flarm & have
my sympathy’s really with animals
I’m on their side

Red Dog
juxtaposed with dog forms and female
deer heads withoug antlers
sculting with fuber

Four Dogs

I'm really interested in noses
I ordered the head of a coyote, and it arrived with teeth, mouth soae impalhr
sleazy ridiculous color
it was first bcedining

The Heart

seated animals form with different head. inifual intuthuts cave ida ll up, door bottw to show all turt
people asking question
all i have is quastions
good thing
clive friips called it art invents itself
with little help from some of my friends who talked me through it

Frances said the elements of her presentation Essential Space II is taken from images we all know from Art History.

She listed the references, explaining that she meant for us to have an "experience of deja vu" without fully understanding why the shapes were familiar.

The figure sitting on the box  is from a Matisse painting

"I don’t think you’d know that, I just wanted it to haunt you a little."

The pieces in this show are not individual or independent figures. It's all one piece.

trying all in restatements of each other. they’re not individual figures

Each form is from art history
gatia from boll
the Fallen One
Very Skinny Man
Matisse figure
reloj more androgenous

these are answers
I think about big questions like who are we and what are we about


Linnea Glatt

Compared with Frances Bagley's comparitively warm, emotionly based work, Linnea Glatt's is cooler and much more of an intellectual construct.

I had trouble following each step, but the thrust of her explication was entirely logical... I wanted so badly to write down every carefully crafted sentence of her talk, that I nearly mangled every one of her long, complexly constructed logisms...

Wish I’d gone first

What I lon up to indouw aftist striving to articulare
and meanings in a lite not an extraordinarng lue
articulate a consonated that we are shue
medlding of concious & urconscious
art sorta makes itself
I try to inform the work. In the end, the work informs me
ending on crutiong place
grew up in a rich environment
place to live a life
centuriy a place to be on life a form for meating
something implicid
after i fed any plex got that out of my system
vessels containing or uncordeb
vesel comting the sh windows
beltuns attemun can

3rd drawing
creating a drawing every 24 hours
tcu installation

180 wardrobe drawers with fingertips as knobs
convey 2 very differnt spaces that were connected
implications of drawer
contact with moving video on back side (inside)_ the drawers



Kaneem Smith

My appreciation for Kaneem Smith's art has grown substantially during the weeks since the opening of this exhibition.

adjunct teacher at UNT a& TWU

1st yar at Denton
“It hasn’t been perfect, but life isn’t perfect.”
title of first slide: Waiting for Prophetic Fullfiment
I love being a textile artist
There’s a historical prerspective
2 sides of my self, 1998
felt & wool
woven on floor loom
cuttina & re(hanging)
Means for Impertuaous Recovery
Things we try to make new happen
fiberlas & poly resin
8’ tall


harmful to health but gorgeous

relate to surface as skin
make thhur
light under elevates them to spiritual

Progressive Aggregation
cast aluminum & felt
wood wool yarn buit to nerdund self
beauty of flaws in metal
bring them out
patina seeps into the crevices
African American installation
15’ long
cotton muslin,
Project Row Houses in Houston
the resufacing mortfist of the past is inevitable
it just sucks you and draws you in

inflicts spirit - isd pe.

sing sonngy voice

I try to live by fiberglass resin
It’s so dangerous but it’s so beautiful

fiber with cotton in the bottom from the field across frome her home in South Carolina where her mother used to pick cotton

DVAC that now has a different name

red marks were my holographic focus grids

very Momentary appeal

Reason for only doing bufle



The Inevitability of Paradise
trying to be as elusive as possible
thinking about it more lately
there is adralnty every aspect of hvce
trying to flesh it flush it
wrap my mind around it



from the Bathers from Picasso
initually all animals were covered
cow = couch
remove the corners
a reference to allegorical paintings
grew up on dairy farm. I really love cows.
Linnea, too



Linnea Glatt explained that in her eary work, "color was derived from the materials (craft)." The brighter colors [only] "slowly crept in." And there were "only certain colors I’d allow." Now, she realizes, "I’m very intrigued working with color."

Frances said that "color is such a subjecive element. Bringing in color is pushing buttons," she said, explaining that the figures in this show are draped with gray, because she was purposely "toning it down." She changed what had been "Matisse colors in the newer work," because she felt that "I couldn't use that color" while we were "bombing Iraq."

FB is the first artist I've heard talk in public about how the War on Iraq has affected her art.

Kaneem said, "I do not use a lot of color in my work," because she was afraid it would "throw off the meaning of my piece... I might later on introduce it, but very slowly

human being as vessel
working with vessel symbolized working with humanity

LG duality
great sadness not a huge idea but it captures my attention
duality between pieces not whithin a piece itself
looking down into and looking above
something magical about looking down and into the sky. You could fall up into the sky.

During her part of the talk, Kaneem alluded to the reason many of her pieces include human figures only from the waist down, but she did not explain it, suggesting instead that someone should ask her about it later.

When asked during the Q&A, she said, "I think it has to do with... head in clouds
physically here but actually you’re somewhere else... and that it ties into vessels

A quesion about image:

Linnea told us, "I thought a lot about the power of the image.At some point the image takes over. Hopefully, it’s a lasting image. I'm not sure I have the answer."

Frances said, "I make sculpture more for the feeling than for the image, but I can’t deny that I’m maiking images."

When Frances makes a piece, it's difficult for her to visually understand what she's done. She said, "I can’t see it". She has "to make a photo [of it, then take it home] and look at the photo to see what I’ve made — Oh, that's what I made."

The image comes back to you — it really seeps into your consciousness.

According to Frances, although she and Linnea took long hours to install their work in this show, "Kaneem did it overnight. Kaneem came in, and it was magically there.

Kaneem noted afterward that although she installed the piece in one evening, it took much longer to stitch all those coffee bags together.

Frances continued, saying "Kaneem makes most of her own fabric. I would’t consider it." For Frances, "It's a treasure hunt" as she explored the rows and rows of sleazy fabric stores along Harry Hines Boulevard in northwestern Dallas.

"To get to that gray, I’ve gone through a lot of fabric — I have enough for the rest of my life."

KS: I had no idea the shadows would take you some other place
coffee bags not cleaned

FB: try to abstract the fry by obsuring them

LG: a sense of every or life in trauma

KS red dots



How odd!

Frances Bagley and Linnea Glatt are among the best sculptors in Texas. They are superb artists whose work has continued to amaze and surprise over long careers. They are startlers and bogglers who make us rethink what we think we know about art.

They are mature artists with extended bodies of work and national, even international reputations. I've written about them many times in the 23+ years I've been publishing this rag, and I'm eager to see their latest work.

In Essential Space - Part One (See our much illustraated review), Tom Orr and Camm Schoepp's installations were wonder full -- talk about bogglers and amazers. I spent hours visiting and revisiting that show.

If you read my review, you'll notice, however, that I didn't say much about the third sculptor. George Smith's sculpture passes by me. It seems ordinary, dull, uneventful, unamazing, although I may be a minority with this view.

Now, to have his daughter Kaneem Smith in the upcoming Essential Space exhibition seems wrong-headed and racist, although I can easily imagine others might also question including Frances Bagley, who is married to Tom Orr. But, well, see above.

I liked Kaneem when we both worked briefly at DVAC, and I was startled to see this former employee get a solo show there only a few months later. I wanted to like her work, but her overlarge pieces just seemed vacuous. Her work does, however, have a great reputation.

It's sexist enough to have a three woman show as the second tier after a initial, three man Essential Space, but to continue the pattern of two Whites and a Black is uninspired and uninspiring, especially when Texas has so many fine Chicano and Chicana artists and sculptors.

As ever, I'm eager to be disabused of my predilections and am already excited about seeing this show, the last one was so fine... -JRC



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