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2008 Oak Cliff Visual Speed Bump Tour
Our first stop was on West Commerce Street well north of central Oak Cliff, where most of the tour continued. Out front of Zonarosa Studio we saw a large hot dog signaling okay, and scattered around the lot were several polychromed pegasi and one albino. More white flying horses were inside.
Most are left over from Dallas' 2001-2002 "Dallas Soars" program involving 200 of the beasts "decorated" by artists and sponsored by commercial and other entities in the public/private partnership to "raise money for the arts." After March 2002, many of the arted pegasi were auctioned to benefit Dallas' Adopt-A-Monument and ArtsPartners programs.
There were some quality redesigns of the immortal fiberglas beasts, but because of the amateur quality of decoration on most, this writer usually misspelled that program "Dallas Sores." Pegasi were created in two formats, with and without the swirling clouds beneath their haunches. When I saw several pristine white blanks in Ken Robison's space, I told him they were the best-looking ones I ever saw. Also showing were large symbols of other sorts and some paintings.
Ken apparently still fabricates the mythical creatures, although we didn't ask about price. Early this century, $6,000 got you a blank one, and $2,000 more netted an artist-decorated one. When I mentioned the Pegasus as a familiar Greek myth, he told us Pegasus originated in early Jewish tradition from the Middle Bronze Age (15th-10th Century BC).
Ken Robison - legs
Usually, I can tell art from not-art by who takes credit for it. Nobody seemed to identify with this super-sized bowl of haunches, although it was an early favorite before we got to Zonarosa Studio next door.
Randall Garrett At Work
There we found Randall Garrett, who had brought along his recent Shroud of Turin-like piece to work on. It is further detailed on our recent studio visit with him for the Fierce show. Also present were refugees from another stop that cancelled due to illness, so Harnony Padgett, Erik Tosten and Veronica Tosten joined Zonarosa late. Their number also included invited guests not on the tour map brochure, Randall Garrett, Shelby Cunningham and Ken Robinson.
Polly Perez Talks About Her Art
Her Carrot Pin is by Veronica Tosten
I did not recognize her style in the vividly-colored installation of animal people against the wall at first, but when Randall mentioned the name, Polly Perez, I immediately wanted to know who at the studio she was. He pointed, and I quickly insinuated myself into her and Anna's conversation in front of her piece, where I introduced myself to one of my Dallas art heroes. Turns out I had written about the first piece she'd done for 500X last year (and again and again more recently).
Polly Perez' installation at Zonarosa Studio was the same piece she showed last year, curated by Randall Garrett, in Chicago. Involving multicultural bears and bunnies in a Green piece all of whose components were recycled or free, either found objects or items given to the artist. Except for shipping it to the Windy City, she said, "It didn't cost a penny."
Polly Perez - Soft High Way (detail) - newspaper bears
Her creatures are made out of newspapers from around the world, with each stuffed with newsprint from that country, so all of each is literally from that place. Polly told us her work is progressing through her use of irony and dichotomy. Some pieces are marked with different countries' symbols on top of other countries' symbols to symbolize conflict. I like their simplicity and Polly's use of stripes of differing bright colors and patterns in their environments.
Polly Perez - Soft High Way (detail)
Especially in this lilting bunny, who is clothed in Asian garb and made of Asian materials, all taped together with paper backing, so it would be thick enough to sew together, Polly said. "You can actually sew on masking tape, but you have to stop and clean the needle often."
Polly Signing Bunny's Left Foot
Getting up from sitting on the floor at bunny level to photo that image, I grabbed what I thought was the solid riser holding the tier of stuffed animals. It shuddered, and the top right bunny tipped forward and fell lightly to the concrete floor. Anna told me Polly had just decided to give that one to us, but I was embarrassed for knocking the colorful critter off.
When I told Randall, he seemed startled. Later, another artist said, "But I thought…" and I agreed, concluding it depends whether the writer believes in objectivity. I don't and don't worry about it, except that I want readers to know, and I've said it often on these pages (Ten instances linked here). I like what I like whosever it is. Some artists I don't like's work thrills me. Others I care about I hardly notice. It is what it is, whoever's it might be. Gifts are different from bribes. Meanwhile…
Anna's and My Bunny by Polly Perez
I was shocked trembling as we discussed joint custody of the taped and sewn paper and paper-stuffed bunny. Not often does an artist so appreciate my writing about their work. Nice. I was blown away by the gesture. I often wonder if I'm spinning my wheels writing about art, when I could be off chasing birds, an endeavor that seems to draw more readers — till I go back through old pages looking to link them to stories like this and am amazed at those hit counts though they gather so slowly.
Lawn Mower Girls - photo by J R Compton
This is the first of several transitional images of Oak Cliff, expanding on the implied automobile-centric theme of the 2008 Visual Speed Bump Art Tour. An earlier iteration of an Oak Cliff art tour in 2000 and 2001 involved some of the same artists, and was called "Drive By." So these images are short-term themes within a much longer-term, ongoing theme. And no, we didn't pose them. They saw my camera out our window driving by, and posed semi-automatically.
Textual Dynamite - Simeen Ishaque in MFA's project room
Oh, wow. Another former 500X art star rocking deeper into her long-practiced craft. A quick this-site Google search for Simeen or Ishaque yields her work atop two very popular DARts pages. Fascinating to watch someone this good grow and strengthen their chops over months and years. Dangling down into MFA's project room here are what appears as calligraphic characters, black with multiplying gray shadows, writ across the space and echoing in the shadows.
All these amazing Dallas artists, many recent graduates from 500X is why this tour was a must-see and write-about. Fascinating so many have settled into Haute Cliffe.
"The skeleton is a vintage Tom Sale piece.
The mirror is
a tin Mexican folk gift" says MFA owner Steve Cruz
See Pretty Little Things at Gray Matters for a couple more oddly juxtaposed found art objects by Tom Sale, whom we haven't heard much about lately. This skeleton was in MFA's white bright bathroom, one of the best local art bathrooms. It's generally worth walking back to check out. Dragon Street galleries have good art in theirs, too, but MFA's is funky beautiful.
Rosemary Meza DesPlas - Unsuffer Me - $550
You'd probably have to know those involved to have as vague a notion of the deep-down irony in this piece as I think I do, although it speaks plainly if not plaintively on the surface. It looks personal. But I couldn't leave without photographing this darkly wry work whose title's from a Lucinda Williams song.
I'm likely mostly wrong about the connections I'm making, but for so few square inches (This image may be larger than life size.), this packs a wallop similar to the visually differing but thematically similar subject matter of Meza's earlier work. Guess I'll always remember her painting on the wall upstairs at 500X (circa that last link) of Our Lady of Guadalupe standing on a pile of penises. Amazing how 500X grads are taking over the world. Well, the Dallas art world.
Eddy Rawlinson - The Devils Arcade (4000+5Y), 2008 - $1100
MFA (Mighty Fine Art) Gallery continues to wow with bold visions and iconic art that's just uncomfortable enough to make us think. But with meaningless pretty stuff, too. Here El Centro College's gallery director mixes Mr. 666 himself with skulls, Batman shooting past us and earth burning in some idiot war.
Deborah Roberts - Monkey Chants @19 - $3500
The multiples theme continues in Deborah Roberts' work nearby. Somewhere I have a big, red-covered coffee-table paperback of strident Red Chinese propaganda paintings from the middle of the last century. Zig Heil — Hail to Victory, with thousands of stocky male and female comrades marching, oh, somewhere, probably Viet Nam back then. Beautiful, state-sponsored art for the glory of The People. And a lots of red stars.
MFA Locks & Switches
This is the second transitional image from one art space to another. Unfortunately, it does not include any auto or speed-bump related imagery (unless you count the nearly abstracted car outside the window on the left). The space MFA now inhabits, is very familiar to us, because that's where we had our part of Big As Art, Too last October.
Here's the space before we moved in and moved out that weekend in October 2007, before Steve Cruz moved MFA down the street. So I noticed the complexity of conduits on this side and the new handle on the other. They reminded me of conduited art by … uh … years ago at Gray Matters.
Kim Cadmus Owens Work in Yard
Big, still impressive (See the bottom several scrolls here.) art by Kim Cadmus Owens outside, reflecting too much sunlight to photograph individually (or here) but providing the most impressive outdoor sight on the tour. Except maybe the ARTRUCK.
This shot is its own transition, complete with white car matching
the next shot's white truck in the background..
Brennen Bechtol's Studio
Next stop was Brennen Bechtol's smallish but meticulously organized backyard studio filled with fascinating little objects.
Brennen Bechtol's studio's toy in the window
I don't know if this is something he just likes looking at, something he made or bought to decorate his window sill, but I like its goofalufus aesthetic and attitude. It can't be more than several inches high.
Brennen Bechtol with ARTRUCK
Much bigger was Bechtol's ARTRUCK which needs always be spelled in all capital letters or it reads art ruck. More clean lines vivid in bright red-lettered daylight and matching wheels with a short set of red-lined bright white stairs up from Brennen's studio porch.
And cool art inside.
Brennen Bechtol - Progress Structure - pencil on Maple
Especially this pencil drawing-windowed utterly simple house in plain grained wood. I haven't called the phone number. Maybe if I did, I could identify the piece. As usual, if you have I.Ds or corrections for DallasArtsRevue stories, email us at our latest email address on the Contact Us page.
Brennen Bechtol - bull ride
I assume this is art, although again I didn't see any attribution. It stands immediately outside Brennen's studio, so it's probably his. Utter simplicity again. Looks like polished carved wood with handlebar, foot bar, a big spring and mounting plate. Beautiful object. Might actually work; I didn't try it, but I was tempted.
Still a little high from introducing myself to Polly Perez earlier, I introduced myself to Brennen Bechtol, whose work I'd often admired at 500X. He said, "Yeah, I know who you are" in an dry, piercing way that curdled my procedural break. I musta wrote something bad about his work. I can't imagine. Although I have taken a few swipes at the X. Still, he posed for this, which turned out spectacularly, and is so sharp in all the right places it would look great large, and nearly redunds the next, official transitional image.
Silver Roadster on Sign - photo by J R Compton
This is the third and final transitional, auto-related image, on this page. It was taken out the window as we sped through Oak Cliff. Click-click-click, with the roadster head-on, slight angle, another, then this. We hoped to complete the tour in under two hours. We also saw a fat cow and a crow on poles, but they didn't pertain thematically.
Tina Medina - title unknown
Delicate, textured hankies by Tina Medina continue her longish tradition. Wordly and sardonic with a heavy commercial graphic arts influence early on, more recently soft, light on dark textures without text. Light and red — not terribly far from this. For other Tina Medina (I like saying her name.) work that's considerable distant from delicate hankies, see Kept Sensuousness, 2007 on Deep Art 3 and her brutal little face paintings below that. The rest of the room had big, clunky, ugly paintings of dicks. "Hankies and dicks," I summed.
Placard Says: We Are All Immigrants
These tiny pieces splayed across the DVD shelf show a miniature cast of Oak Cliff neighbors.
Sarah Maxwell English
What can I say? I love the graphic arts sensibility, the layered mix of textures and the shape dance that tricks eyes to follow them into the sympathetic colors and gentle cacophony of rhythms, rhymes and exuberance. It's a lovely little rhapsody.
And a busy little horizontal skyline of text windowed tall buildings bedecked with bright colors and repeating patterns and who might be an historic face. Thomas Jefferson? See Deep Art 3 for earlier Diane Sikes work on these pages.
Six Sarah Maxwell Englishes
I had to look thrice to be certain the top middle painting was not the same as the larger image above Diane Sikes' sidewise skyscrapers. These have a comforting similarity, not unlike the best of fabric design. I've known artists whose work did not achieve fine arts success do very well in that realm. Though perhaps art is more open now to cross-germination. I like the sense of synesthesea I get from these paintings and wonder what music she played while painting them.
Jim Burton's Assassin Outside
We meant to hit every stop on this smallish tour but somehow we got turned around and skipped one stop and several artists, including some I'd really liked to have caught up with. Hope they do this one again. For high-quality art averaging, this is perhaps the best tour we've done.
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