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North Dallas Artists Studio Tour
Story + Photographs
by J R Compton
Tour conversation with Anna Palmer
indented green mini reviews by J R
The Tour The Prize The Suggestions The Best Of Gladys Gostin Birds
After our success on the Art in the Hood tour last winter, we were up for a North Dallas Tour, that being another area we rarely visit. Read my sendup of the publicity for more specific details or just rush headlong into this long, slow downloading page just like we rushed into the tour.
We took the same little tape recorder we took through The Hood and actually recorded comments at almost every stop. We did, in fact, visit every stop on the North Dallas Artists Studio Tour map except one, though we don't discuss them all.
Comments in quotation marks are from our tape. The rest was added. I drove. Anna navigated, often juggling map and Mapsco.
We both enjoyed the day.
Artisan's Studio Naomi Brotherton, Pat Kochan and Jo Taylor - painting [#1]
We started at the top left of the map in Way Far North Dallas in the afternoon of April 30, 2005 and slowly worked our way westward and south toward Central Expressway.
It took us awhile to find this teaching studio/shop/meeting space, nearly hidden in a shopping center along Valley View Lane. We thought the art was Very Middle of the Road. Nice, but nothing innovative — except the ice-cream pastries and chocolate doodles.
Artisan's teaches classes and holds demonstrations. Our one lasting visual impression was of the mirror suspended from the ceiling, obviously for demos. While we were there, Anna signed up for the door prize, and when we got back from the tour, a phone message told her she'd won.
Anna's prize is a loose, class demo watercolor of the painting New Orleans Flower Market. Very loose. A quickie for the class — perhaps to show how to layout, structure and scale a scene.
Kochan obviously spent more time on the buildings than on the blood splatter flowers below. That abstraction is a distraction, but at least she didn't schmaltz them up like she did on her too neatly colored full version. The scale of the buildings, sidewalk and street is also more credible in this funkier demo.
I like the rolled orange awning on the Hallmark store (How apropriate is that?) and the lilacs and pastel blues of architecture shadows that come off so natural I had to peer in close to see them as anything but neutral.
The oversimplified street lamp sticks out, but it's gone in the other painting, and those little details add up. I miss the signs, balconies and gratings in her other version, and I especially enjoy the human presence of Indigo Man greeting his Deep Green Friend on the sidewalk in Anna's prize painting.
I much prefer this demo. It's looser, yes, of course. And this quickie loses it in the St. Valentine's Massacre of flowers. But at least they're not cutesied to Post Impressionistic Technicolor Death.
New Orleans is a painter's or photographer's paradise, and I'd much rather be in the scene in Anna's painted prize than in the one Kochan wants to sell you for a thousand dollars.
You can see Pat Kochan's full, commercial version of this painting on the Artisan's website.
Elizabeth Padgett painting/collage [#10]
Elizabeth paints kimono shapes in browns and reds and glittery gold built out from the canvas with very thick paint or medium. Her front room looked like a gallery, but her office had obvious signs of studio-ness — paint spills on her desk and a buncha brushes lined up on a nearby cabinet.
Anna was impressed with the squooshy, comfortable carpet, and we both liked that she had Milano mint cookies.
Reed Hoover sculpture/jewelry  - “Wouldn't it be funny if Hoover sucked? (It didn't.) dam!”
Fierce but wiry warrior guarding the pale blue ocean top table, overlooking the wide, beautiful garden. Those antlers, spears almost redundant. Torso a shield, and the arrowhead he stands on, more ammunition, against the silent hoards.
By our third stop, we'd learned to hate the map, because it showed all the big, well-known streets up there but neglected the streets the artists actually live or studio on. For that, we were stuck with tracking down Mapsco quadrants.
Maddeningly strange tour map, but many of the stops had bright yellow signs pointing the way, and that helped. Sometimes the signs started at major crossroads and streets.
We watched incredulously as people walked right by a bunch of those signs pointing at the gate into Reed Hoover's back yard, then back-tracking to go in, where we found a beautiful, expansive garden, spotted with pieces of found-object sculpture and a table criss-crossed with cruciform jewelry.
There was also a wonderful dragonfly (real, electric blue, with nearly invisible wings, hovering slow, who let us both photograph it on the warm garden rocks). And a really nice rock garden.
We assumed those was Reed's informal found object sculptures scattered around the back yard. Great presentation. Some of it was interesting, but a lot was just almost.
“God, there's crosses everywhere! Killer crosses. Spoon crosses. Knife and forks crosses.” And a wonderful little, dark studio shed off in the corner. Where somebody actually works, the first actual, working studio we encountered on this Artists Studio Tour.
Not some temp space turned into a gallery, just left what it was, a working studio with tools and metal bits destined for the third dimension everywhere, even hanging from the ceiling.
And a wonderful striped dining area, that had not much art in it, but stripes everywhere in the sunlight, of which there was an abundance of on that glorious, sunshiny cool spring day.
Reed said she was very grateful that we were there, glad “that they sent somebody out.”
No food or drink. “That's just wrong.” Well, there was lemonade, but no cups. And we saw some cookies under saran wrap but they didn't look inviting.
Marilyn Eitzen Jones painting (multimedia) [#7]
Good punch. Twisty cookies were nice. Very ritzy neighborhood, not swank, but... way swanker than either of ours, and marbleized everything. But a fabulous wide, green, shady expanse of a back yard with a fake parrot in a big black bird cage.
The art — sigh.
“Lots of times there'd be stuff going on on the sides, swirling, but a big empty space in the middle, and I kept thinking, well, that's not finished yet, but it was framed and behind glass, so I guess it was.
It all looked the same, so you could tell it was the same artist, but it was nothing different, nothing unique — strictly Sunday Painter territory.
Or it was all oozy images collaged. I especially remember Ronnie Reagan staring out from several layers of morass. And a husband selling, hawking, gathering, razzle-dazzing the crowd — a carney, absolutely a carney. Step right in! Gitcher art right here!”
Driving to the next stop, we engaged in an aural jam with the both of us oo-ooing and squeaking along with weird jazz live on KNTU FM’s coverage of the Denton Jazz Festival.
Wish you could hear us. We were amazing. If I only had the tech to put it online. Scary funny weird, it may have been the high point of our tour, us audio fill jazzing with the radio.
Adriana Cobol-Frenkel sculpture [#2]
What we remember from this stop are “Gob-head birds. And a really nice guy with genuine personality, unlike the huckster husband at the last stop.
He was genial and happy to talk about process — what studio tours are supposed to be about — what the stone looked like and how it came out of the quarry, then after he had worked with it for a little bit, and when he was waiting for it to speak to him.”
As we would surmise, a conversation with a stone is going to be long conversation, with lots of silences.
Again, not terribly innovative an artist, but you could tell, individualized. He didn't go to a class someplace and start splashing stuff together. He's into it. He's... Of course stone takes a lot longer than paint. Yeah."
Ken Miduch wasn't listed on the map, and Ms Frenkel, who was listed, wasn't there. No Adriana in sight. Not much a studio, either, though we saw some tools in the opened garage.
“We both liked the birds. Really liked the funky birds — more than the stones. The stones looked ordinary. A flame motif to nearly everything. As if a lot of these stones said the same thing to him ...
Which is to say, it may be a one-sided conversation.”
If anything, this stone is more dazzling, more flamelike, more exciting and fierier than the sculpture it makes, lost in the dazzle of the hybrid, sliced citrus stone.
Bill Kysor ceramics [#8]
“That's not the Bill Kysor I thought it was gonna be. Ceramics person. Nothing special, except the whirligigs what weren't whirling. Just gigs, My fave part. Nice raku colors.”
So we're standing there looking at art — or craft, at least — when this kid drummer starts drumming. That was Anna's favorite part.
“Bang! bang! bang! really really loud — and of course Anna loved it. LOVED IT! and I hated it. What an awful thing to do — launch your son's drum carreer on an art tour. That's pathetic.”
Anna liked the surprise of it. Something totally unexpected. J R felt the same about the following pieces whose artist is unknown to us.
Star Whirly Ungigging at Bill Kysor's drumming studio. Two whirlies not winding in the wind. Need maybe a stiff gale to get them going, there was at least a breeze. Maybe worth standing out there in a storm. This one red and white and cyan stars.
The other Flashing Flashes of lighting from blue clouds. Both high up, lifted into the winds. Poled bright, nearly blazing, stars on a field of green, a gentle sky brought closer to earth, and flashes trapped in unspinning circles, safe from kinetic electric skies.
Sue Gordon & Ellen Niewyk jewelry and
Anne Norvell prints & glass [#9]
We almost drove off without recording anything, which says a lot.
“Basically it's a jewelry sale with art in the back. Obviously, there's no jurying to get into this tour. There's no studio visits. That wasn't a studio, just a jewelry garage sale with an art excuse.”
Anna liked some prints of Taos. But we were both becoming disappointed with the quality of art on this tour.
“And hardly any food, though the nuts were nice.”
Annie Davis sculpture [#4]
"Halleluja! We finally found an actual artist in an actual studio."
J R's known Annie for years, though he'd never seen this studio before — with lovely art all over. And all over her garden. It's not just standing out there for the tour, it lives out there — “and there's nobody huckstering it. It's just there.
It was just so lovely to visit a real artist in a real studio.”
This Wistful Young Lady repeatedly appears in Annie's sculpture, like an old friend, or a former self. Soft and feminine, even in ceramic sculpture. Not so many times removed that she's not real anymore.
Her face tells her story. Gestures important, how she sits, knees tucked under. Hands not quite clasped. Eyes closed. Not so wistful as contemplative, maybe, or enjoying a private moment hidden from us. So much more information than in a formal portrait. Lovely.
Note the small kiln behind her — and art and family photographs, personal things in a personal space, all so telling.
I love the placement of this baby. As if this big, wired, glossy machine of a kiln just gave birth to it, plopped it out onto the concrete floor, all albino in a multicolored world. So soft in a hard world it'll grow color into.
Annie's Woman Bathing at the Sea Shore (my title, not hers. Don't know hers.) is a work in progress. Just before I shot this photo, Annie sprayed her with water, like a sudden wave, to keep her cool, wet.
Not sure if it's that same wistful lady, but she's close enough. The well worn board she's on looks a lot like sand. She's at ease. Her left foot toying with her right. Arms folded, informal structural integrity, strength even in a suit on the beach. And the wet fits right in.
Jeanne Sanders jewelry & antique mirrors and
Deborah Shannon painting & collage [#12]
Funky little cartoonish watercolor drawing, uneven but soulful, with large areas without and small areas full of scratchy little details that make it real, without getting all shaded and shadowed. Nothing rounded about it, yet plenty dimensional. Impromptu, a jangly, gentle, little made-up in the moment tune, a folkish song.
J R liked the sense of space in the pastelly paintings in the art-lined studio — it even had works in progress.
Ann Cushing Gantz painting & prints, and Barbara Park, painting [#3] and
Studio One Nineteen - Jane Bayne, Martha Box, Anne Fairchild, Ann Gavin, Karen Gilboux, Joanne Murdock and Jane Stephenson
Slavishly following the damned map, we didn't notice that we'd somehow missed or misplaced #3, but we knew we'd made it to #13. We were counting stops and thought we had one more after this.
It wasn't till after we'd thoroughly toured the galleries and studios in that glass building with the great spiral staircase out in the lobby and were sitting back in the car wondering where the next stop would be, that we realized that this had been our last stop.
Not knowing that it was two separate entities, it all ran together in our minds. Still does. On the map, they aren't even on the same page. We never put them together till it was too late to figure out which was which. We liked it/them for their variety and nosh.
Great candy. We each got a pocket full of chocolate. And it was an (they were) actual studo(s), where a lot of people paint similar. But graduate school does that, too. So, it's not all bad.
“Oh, that was Cushing Gantz, Park, Bayne, Box and. Uh? There was rooms 117 and 119. So I guess that’s everybody on the tour.”
The face and body is sorta ordinary, a little harsh, the crackle wall on the left uninspiring as the face and torso. But those wings! This a theme the artist's been working awhile. We saw other samples scattered through the studio.
Those wings are extraordinary. Those wings could flash a few beats and rise into the sky. Glitzy iridescent and so scribbly unreal they're totally bellivable. Unusual a rendition of wings and feathers and just beautiful, looks like she could just dazzle them and ascend into the heavens, if only she could pull her stare away.
Another wistful lady. This softer, smoother, more polished, less funky and less credible. She's got her back to us. A lot of artists can't do faces, so they turn them away.
But the rest of this is real, so it's more like thoughtful, too bright a world out for sad, but blue in the bright. Still, just right in the shadowy depths, the chair arm lit from faint light on this side.
Staring off into a space shaped with trees in a rain hued sky. Reminds me of a much earlier, more angular, more vividly colored, turn of a previous century lady in a much bigger painting I saw in the big museum in St. Louis.
This worthy of notice, and on a brochure nearby, so it's probably won some prizes. I can see why. Not perfect. Too smooth. Over glossed, and I still wonder about her face, itself smoothed over, posterized in splotched paint, lost in that look. And the lady's oddly ruffled blouse where it goes all Impressionistic.
But lovely, lilting colors and delicious reflective polished floor, sweetly framed in subtle green-blues with splashes of contrasting reds and brown. And that glass of wine, just barely there, stolen in the light.
“You mean we don't have to go to any more? Phooof! That was a lot of art and artists. That was it? Hooray! I can eat my chocolate in peace. Whoo! Yum! I'm gonna eat one more piece of chocolate, then either bliss out or go into a sugar-induced coma.”
Be sure to read the feedback from this story on DallasArtsRevue's Feedback page.
- More attention to quality.
- Jury the art and “artists.”
- More studios, fewer garage sales.
- If it's gonna be jewelry, show the jewelry studio.
- Put the actual streets on the map, using consecutive numbers.
- A website with photographs, descriptions and a real map
- I.D the photos on the map/brochure so we can decide which to visit.
- More door prizes
“Annie Davis, for sure. Absolutely. Uh... Well, you know. That's funny ... Cobo-Frenkel, that guy (who wasn't listed). That guy. Ken whatever his name was. Yeah, he was good. That's two. Uh...”
The dragonfly, Rosser Road and the park that lopes along it, aural jamming to weird jazz, Gladys Gostin's birds and Bill Kysor's whirligigs (JR) or his kid drumming (Anna).
Nice houses. Gorgeous cool spring weather day. Lots of trees in North Dallas. Even some art.
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since July 22 2005