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The Dallas & North Texas Artists in the 2009 Texas Biennial - featuring the Dallas & North Central Texas area artists in TX BI 09
The 2005 Texas Biennial — 7 pages of coverage and commentary
Putting the Bi in the Texas Biennial — the 2007 TX BI
The 09 TX BI Artarama Page - A Brief Preview including which artists from which places got in the 2009 TX BI show.

Every artwork on this site is copyright 2009 or before by the originating artist. No reproduction or approximation of these works may be created in any medium for any commercial or nonprofit use without specific written permission from the originating artist.

TeXas BIennial 2009

Story + Photographs by J R Compton

Mona Marshall - Funnel, 2008  - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mona Marshall   Funnel, 2008   encaustic on prepared paper
53 x 52.25 inches   at the Mexican American Cultural Center

It may not glow here on this page, but Mona Marshall's Funnel, especially its golden top, was luminous at Women & Their Work Art. I've lived most of my life in Tornado Country, and I am fascinated by their power and form.

Like a partially erased, then hurriedly redone basket woven of twisting energy slinging trailers and wind, this drawing tells stories of the mystical beast on a rampage. What blew me away every time I stood before it — and when I remember it still — is the swirling flurry of scribbled and scathed lines and soft empty spaces gyring in this powerful drawing.
 

Pieces

When I got nine separate PDFs from the 2009 Texas Biennial (I'm on their publicity email list again.) as a "peek at the catalog for the Texas Biennial," I was dismayed. Why not send one big document with multiple pages? I complained to myself, not yet understanding that everything about this BI is in pieces scattered all over.

The $10 catalog came in a box with:

The color postcards were printed on semi-slick paper and are sometimes less than ideal representations, which is okay since I made photographs of nearly everything that got my attention. Taking visual notes. Others who may have hoped to remember pieces in a catalog may be disappointed. I was.

What I didn't shoot, Anna did. The cards were helpful guides to present and identify my photographs. I've already lost, then found one of the two postcard rubber bands, but I think I've got everything else but the List of Events handout I think I remember.

Last time's catalog was all in one, although many more of those pieces were not in the show. This year's TX BI was also scattered all over Austin. I used to think that was a fun and funky idea. Now I wonder whether TX BI 2011 should include fewer pieces, all in one big space. Maybe limit the total to 40 artists and have more solo shows not pegged to imaginary directions [below].

The 2007 BI publication (singular) had issues with deadlines. Many of the works in the catalog weren't in the show, because some of them were being created while the book was being printed. Publishing ten pieces of a catalog allows a series of subsequent deadlines but creates management havoc and stress.
 

Kelly Fearing's Owl with the Secret of [something] copyright 2009 by Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved.

Kelly Fearing   Owl with the Secret of the Enneagram, 1968
acrylic on linen with gold and metal leaf   16 x 12 inches
Photo by Anna Palmer

We made a short weekend of our visit, with multiple art openings Friday and Saturday nights and visiting outdoor art scattered — like everything else — across Austin Saturday. We looked but did not find every piece of public art listed, and we visited all half dozen gallery spaces, although it seemed like more.

We saw Kelly Fearing's work at Women & Their Work (W&TW) but did not figure out what the Texas Biennial Tribute Artist show on blue walls there and at The Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) was about, until days later. So we missed it, although Anna got one photograph of one painting. We didn't read signage explaining, and when we asked about the work, someone said it was a separate show. It looked old and extraneous to the nearly all-new Biennial.

It confused me, but there was plenty art that obviously was in the TX BI, so I forgot about it till the next night's opening at the MACC. We left Austin early the next day, so we never had time to contextualize the split solo shows by long-time Austin artist Kelly Fearing, who is also the last living member of the historic Fort Worth Circle that was featured in a show we saw at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth last year.

We were disappointed that a show in Austin organized by Austinites that already comprised three times more artists from Austin than from anywhere else would spring this new solo show concept by tributing an Austin artist, however worthy he is.

Another Fort Worth Circle artist, Cynthia Brants, was featured in our story here, and there's a description of the Fort Worth Circle under the potted plant photo here.
 
 

Morgan Sorne - Soons of the Star, July 2008  -  Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Morgan Sorne   Sons of the Star, July 2008  
acrylic, wood, resin   48 x 23 x 6 inches, each
at Women & Their Work

The ritual magic and dense color of Austin artist Morgan Sorne's mostly two-dimensional diorama thrills me to the core of my magical thinking. I know the figures and the ground are essentially flat, but I let the tones and shadows on these wood cut-outs fool me.

I see the indigo tribe praying, readying sacrifice (The partially obscured figure in the second row is rendering a blood-splattered rabbit.), and preparing for war in full regalia with a space-dark cosmic convergence draped behind.

Morgan Sorne - Sons of the Star, July 2008 - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Morgan Sorne   Sons of the Star, July 2008

The backs of the figures are scrawled with stories, poetry maybe and symbols, colorful, intense but much more hurried or informally than the fronts. Every time I tried to read one, I didn't. The reward less than the mystery — form more intense than meaning.

From Morgan's site (listed on the postcard) I learned each figure has a name, identity, history, position in the society and place in its cosmology. TMI.

The real magic's not in knowing, but in believing.
 

Jayne Lawrence - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Jayne Lawrence   Arduous Lover, 2009  
mixed media   48 x 22 x 60 inches

Jayne Lawrence's solo show at Mass Gallery was the most startling TX BI 09 showing. Her work is about medium, shape, color and material as well as conceptual combinations and juxtapositions — ironic, antithetic and shocking that, once we put the pieces all back together, seem logical, almost obvious, if patently absurd and bizarre.
 

Jayne Lawrence - Gravid Soverign - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Jayne Lawrence   Gravid Sovereign, 2009
mixed media   66 x 35 x 32 inches   with

(behind) Large Composite Color Drawing # 2, 2008
watercolor and colored pencil on Bristol   24 x 18 inches

Her sculptural entities exude an eerie quality that takes getting used to. It's the one BI collection I wished I'd spent more time with. Watching every textured area, crevice and joint, fondling the textures and mix of materials with my mind and eyes and wondering how she came up with that twist or turn.

Especially stark and startling are bright, mixed-scale flesh-colored organic shapes in human-like postures and presentations sprouting floral and fauna-like extensions. What the???

Jayne Lawrence - Large Composite Color Drawing # 1 - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Jayne Lawrence  
Large Composite Color Drawing # 1, 2008
watercolor and colored pencil on Bristol   14 x 12 inches

Interesting to see in a drawing like this one, such odd juxtapositions of physical space and form do not seem outrageous. We know anything can happen in a drawing or painting. In the actual three-dimensional space that surrounds us, however, such startling juxtapositions as Lawrence employs seem implausible, if not impossible.

The only other sculptor whose work boggles my mind so fiercely is Dallas artist Frances Bagley, who had a conceptual, human-hair woven rug, not one of her draped shapes I see in my mind when I think of her and have photographed often. Soon as I saw these I planned to call her a suggest a joint show of both artists' work, and when I got home, I did.

Jayne Lawrence - Huntress - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Jayne Lawrence   Huntress, 2008  
mixed media   56 x 48 x 24 inches

This piece, from way back in 2008 manifests the point of transition in Lawrence's work from the essentially traditional apparel still shown on her website (at this writing) to the fully and inter-dimensional ones here that slice on the cutting edge.

Headless manikins seem normal, natural, its extensions tacked on and stuffed through fancy duds, but it's obvious, once we see this stooping fashion plate where her subsequent works that are so deliciously shocking came from.

Harmony Padgett - One State of Content - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Harmony Padgett   One State of Content
oil on hand-carved wood   48 x 48 inches

I've written about Harmony Padgett's work on DallasArtsRevue previously, and may again. She shows at Mighty Fine Art in Oak Cliff, where there's usually more than just one piece exhibiting her amazing ability in this odd realm of color-soaked, incised wood with multiple patterns of recognition and distraction.

Harmony Padgett - One State of Content (detail)

Harmony Padgett   One State of Content   (detail)

It's the sort of art I am impelled to visit up close. I want to Braille my fingers across these opaque and translucent textures, synesthese her colors and infuse these dense competing shapes into a growing understanding of what this is under my mind's fingers. As if soaking it in might sate my understanding.

Amazing texture tonalities coalesce into discernable shapes as we step back, then disappear again when we see the whole. I don't know what these shapes are telling my unconscious mind, but I want the conversation to continue.
 

Jade Walker   Figure #6

Jade Walker   Figure #6
fabric, crutches, cotton stuffing, cast rubber
52 x 42 x 12 inches

Oddly, my best shot of Jade Walker's Figure #6 includes one of my least favorite pieces, too. It's probably un-PC to put down Chrisa Mares' Emprendendora [one who undertakes a great project] Mujer [woman] flowered cart with a blue umbrella, especially in a place called the Mexican American Cultural Center, but I feel the need. 

Jade Walker - Figure #6 - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Jade Walker   Figure #6 obverse

Upon scrutiny, the two have more in common than both being odd baskets in red and blue by Austin artists. They are strange structures in colors and mediums we don't often see as sculpture, and both initially look like anything but. This one twists our notions of what the medium is and is about, the cart just sits there.

Emprendendora Mujere by Christi Mares - photo scanned from the TX BI 09 catalog

Chrisa Mares   Emprendendora Mujer
ceramic, steel, artificial flowers, crocheted thread, wheels, paint
82 x 42 x 42 inches

Okay, both just stand there. But there are mysteries to solve and wonders, consternation and bafflements to express and explore in Figure #6. The bafflement with Emprendendora is why it is here, one of several questions I'm struggling with.

What separates the sociology of struggle from art? Maybe the answer is that these pieces represent different ends of a many-toed spectrum — emotional representation and spatial exploration, but I was wowed by Figure #6 and let down by the simplistic Emprendendora Mujer.
 

Natalie Kleinecke - As You Are Me - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Natalie Kleinecke   As You Are Me  
marker on acetate   72 x 52 x 24 inches

Multi-layered drawings on transparent strata slightly separated is hardly an original concept, but Natalie Kleinecke's glossy piece passes most such work by its excellence in execution. Two 2-D drawings add to one three-dimensional representation, extending scribbled sketches in space and time, and I don't at all mind that the fiddly bits of its presentation are right there in plain view.
 

Simeen Ishaque - Textual Dynamite - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Simeen Ishaque   Textual Dynamite
painted wood and fabric

I didn't forget Simeen Ishaque's piece at the Mexican American Cultural Center. Not by a long shot. Just that what I've said about  her work on these pages before still stands. I doubt I could add much to it, and although I missed her haunting figures, here in this big hallway her exotic message is stronger than those empty mediums.

The title seems oddly overt, but the piece adamantly occupied a big corner of the Austin Center, and brought back everything I've ever seen in or thought about her calligraphic abstractions. Dark, indecipherable words dancing in the light.
 

Kana Harada - Umbrella - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kana Harada   Umbrella, 2008
foam sheet/ mixed media   30 x 25 x 25

I was excited when I first beheld one of Kana Harada's shapes, I forget where in Dallas, sometime in the last few years. When I look at this photograph, that enthusiasm returns, although in the gallery, the light in the piece was so dark, it was hard to see.

As often with Harada's work, the shadow is almost more interesting than the work itself, here shown at Women & Their Work. It seemed an inspired juxtaposition there between two mandallas. Itself a dark mandalla, intricate of shape and fully three-dimensional in presentation, always nice to have a blank wall for its shadows to project onto.

Harada's work is subtle, needful of its shadows and unique. I've never seen anything quite like it. Several other artists have said of it that its shadows are the most interesting part, but I like its dark skeleton.
 

Charlotte Smith   Yellow Stripe - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Charlotte Smith   Yellow Stripe, 2008
acrylic paint piles and wood panel   36 x 31.5 inches

Another remarkable medium is by a Dallas artist whom you've often seen on these pages. Some time ago, Charlotte Smith discovered a format that presented her minutely three-dimensional concepts in a memorably unusual way.

Since then she's continually extended and finessed that creative leap by finding amazing new ways to use, present and sell it.

My interview with her for the Fierce show is informative about her technique, showing it step-by-step, and there's a brief story about her collaborative show with photographer Paul Abbott at The MAC on the first Art Here Lately page. It's been exhilarating to watch this very popular artist's work grow as her reputation arcs upward, and being in the BI is another step.

Check out another of her Yellow Stripes and note how different this is from one earlier this year.


  All At Once

Christie Blizard   Everything Can't Happen at Once, 2009
Mixed media, wall installation   dimensions variable

I loved this piece like I loved Richie Budd's similarly razzmatazz lights and flashing color piece at the first BI four years ago. I don't even care if it qualifies as Fine Art with capital letters. It's colorful, incites a visual excitement there inside the front door of Women & Their Work, and it's fun.

Sometimes, when art gets too serious we need carnival colors and flashing lights to remind us of stuff we tend to forget or put away. This one sets our chickens free.

Thanks to TX BI's Rachel Koper and Xochi Solis for I.Ding this amazing piece.
 

Jeanne Cassonova - Playing with Fire - photo copyright 2009 by Anna Palmer

Jeanne Cassanova   Playing With Fire   installation

It took a long time to find the postcard for this melange, because the image doesn't look like the piece. Then I processed Anna's photo so the art would look better than it is, stared at that for awhile, and finally had to go back and reproduce it the way I remember it, all sagging and bleeding pinks, hardly conflagrant, I thought — I was surprised when I saw the title.

This piece is grungy messy. I should have photographed it — although this shot is fine — because it annoyed me so at The MACC opening that I cringed from looking every time my eyes came close to its corner of that huge gallery.

When I write about a show, I photo the work that thrills me first, then grudgingly go back and get the stuff that pisses me off. Both are worth exploring my understandings for, though work that angers me sometimes transitions into favorites. I safely ignore the also-rans.

This work crosses categories. I'm almost to the point where I don't mind admitting that I'm beginning to like it and recognize finally that it more — not less — approximates our old friend fire. Art changes even when it's standing still.
 

Ivan Lozano - Paul - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ivan Lozano   Paul (For Peter and Luke)   DVD projection

I left the kid in the photograph for scale and depth, and because he was right there, and the people in that curtained, dark room would assume I was just shooting Paul. It doesn't take long to figure what's going on in Paul.

This time-lapsing re-animation of the late actor emoting, was, I learned from its postcard, "taken from the 1967 film Hombre, [and] heavily processed, time-stretched, pixelated, cropped to a religious icon aspect ration, and recruited  to serve as a screen to project [the artist's] feelings of loss over romantic relationships that ended on sour notes."

It's the overly enriched primary colors that make it a religious icon. Probably the artist had little control over the darkened space, black curtain, wood floor or the child, still for only a moment.
  

Kim Cadmus Owens - National - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kim Cadmus Owens   National   DVD projections

We were excited to learn that Kim Cadmus Owens got in this Biennial, but disappointed that, instead of showing her amazing large-scale paintings that deal so uniquely with space, spatial relationships, balance and color, what we'd see was that video we'd almost seen enough of already.

I'm deeply prejudiced, of course, since Kim is the artist I chose for John Pomara's Critic's Choice Pix2 show at UTD last year. The video, which has been in several venues around Dallas is a motion exploration of the painting by the same name.

The original oil and acrylic on canvas is amazing. The video interesting in its recharacterization of the elements — parts spin in four dimensions, the couple, lower right, walks through the space without going anywhere, and the complex mid-right superstructure dis- and re-integrates as the video loops.

It's not a bad video. Just that the painting — like most of hers — are so much more involving and explorative. Compared with other videos in this BI, however, this is spectacular.

I mean who really needs to watch Paul Newman emote on the wall of a darkened room or watch as curved stacking chairs make it on a tiny screen on a portable video player placed on a pedestal, all of whose claptrap take up more space than the screen that piece plays out on?

Projected small on the wall like Paul or large like National was seriously favorable video treatment.
 

Ryah Christensen - Door, Not Door - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ryah Christensen   Door / Not Door

We hated Bill Davenport's three cheesy giant red-capped toadstools, Giant mushroom Forest, on the lake side of Riverside Drive and its conceptual apologia in the catalog seemed insipid.

We appreciated the colorful two-sided translucence of this glass mosaic Door / Not Door but thought its placement, although theoretically inspired, dead in the water among the busy lakeside park's jangle of activities.

When we saw it, the area was crammed with paddles, paddlers, boats and boatspersons in some raucous collegiate boat race — when the piece might better have been pristinely beautiful in some carefully lighted interior.

Too much visual competition out there in the less than wild. And its artist-supplied image in the great, folding Temporary Outdoor Projects & Exhibition Map was mushily absurd, set in a glowing semi-mythical forest with a young mother leading her child by both hands through the door / not door into tomorrow...

Reality, unfortunately is rarely so prosaic.
 

Ho-ho Homeland Security - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ken Little   Homeland Security

In the fold-out map brochure is an aerial image of this piece you can plainly see as a picket fence map of the United States of America. But no where else can you see the positive space innards or that familiar form. It's just a closed-in, low, but sturdily secure white picket fence on a scrappy flat piece of clumpy grass near a convention center. Without a personal levitational device, nobody's gonna see this map as a map.

There's a 50 or so feet high mound nearby topped with a concrete map of Texas [below], but this structure whose founding notion, though I have read and understood it, escapes me entirely. Do we really need yet another piece of art calling itself Homeland Security?

Buster Graybill - Bait Box - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.
Buster Graybill   Bait Box  
fabricated and painted metals   life-size

We also underappreciated Buster Graybill's giant catfish, which took the longest time to track down in the area along the lake surrounded by densely packed cars that Saturday afternoon. Its stand is genius and might actually keep taggers away, but it's the catfish I object to.

Except that its tail drapes down the far end of the box, and its ventral sags into the top, this catfish is mostly representation, albeit juxtapositional here with that vivid green box. I admire a craftsman's skill and patience in making the fish, but I wonder why.

Like the dot in its eye that makes the dragon fly, it's the box that shocks this giant catfish into the realm of art. The catfish is a catfish, and no matter how much the artist enjoys catching them by hand, merely representing one does not make it art.

Quoting the artist, "This will provide an opportunity for the public to reconnect with the outdoors as they invent their own 'fish stories' and share snapshots of 'the one that got away' with friends and family."

Oh, Lard...
 

Performance - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Unscheduled Performance

We missed the ‘mixed media performance’ that we later found listed on the Temporary Outdoor Projects & Exhibition Map but not on the List of Events someone handed us the day it happened, somewhere we never figured out, because we'd already missed it.

But we enjoyed watching these two black-clad kids hold their positions as long as we watched, many minutes, and we came back later, by a fountain pond not far from the ungated picket fence, three big red mushrooms and a temporary mound we never found.
 

Used Car Lot Flash - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sasha Dela   Variegated Continuum

Used car lot and grocery store grand-opening flash bang sizzle viewed from upstairs at the MACC toward the lake that looks like a river past downtown. This smaller, rippling, splashing and wiggling river merges with that lake and the landscape and the lines of houses. Re-representation as found-object art.
 

Kelli Vance - She Became Frightened and Stopped Listening - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kelli Vance
She Became Frightened And Stopped Listening, 2008
oil on canvas   36 x 96 inches

Kelli Vance's aggressive paintings at what used to be Bolm Studios — now Big Medium — kept reminding me of Cindy Sherman and a fictional artist or photographer, I can't remember which, who in some long-ago movie rendered whom they killed, laid out in Helmet Newton-like poses of submission.

Vance's subjects don't submit, they are conquered. In a large, sprawling pulp magazine way, her big paintings are True Crimes lurid — though with way more contemporary sexuality and near photographic tonalities. She Became Frightened And Stopped Listening is about the the woman on top here and entirely absent in the painting below — the conqueror.

Her victim above stares expressionless. The fight has gone out. If she's aware at all, she'd probably rather be somewhere else, but there's not much she can do about it. Both figures occupy a real place, rural and outside the jurisdiction of authority.

Stuck there, no telling what her the woman on top of her will do. We are meant to wonder and guess what else she knows that we don't.

Kelli Vance - A Cloud - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kelli Vance
A Cloud Moves into her Eyes And They Go Blank, 2008
oil on canvas   90 x 78 inches

A Cloud Moves into her Eyes And They Go Blank is more vividly violent, though still no blood or expression. Dead is dead and so what? We wonder at her careful, matching blue outfit. She's all dolled up with no place to go.
 

Terri Thomas - Surrender - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Terri Thomas   Surrender   oil on canvas   72 x 64 inches

Leda ready for her splendid swan of a Peacock. Eve's apples scattered and ready to eat, complementary rectangles in red red and receding black at center stage — blatant like a giant, naked lady on the wall of a public space. Are we entertaining notions of inter-species miscegenation?
 

Katherine O'Connor - From Here to There - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Katherine O'Conner   From Here to There, 2008  
oil on canvas   57 x 74 inches

So ugly and crude it becomes beautiful. Now I like the competing snapshot colors, patterns, shapes and tilted composition. At first, it was just shocking, as intended. Big and noticeable art about a tiny, tender moment of touching rendered with loving care but nowhere softened for our comfort.
 

Marilyn Waligore - Spotlight - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Marilyn Waligore   Spotlight, 2007
silver gelatin print 1/10   22 x 16 inches

At the show, Marilyn told us this piece was in her recent solo show around the corner from The Winter Show in the Bath House, but I hadn't picked it out from all the too-similar others there, and I don't remember the dense contrast this piece manifests in this incarnation.

She said the juror told her he liked the theatricality of this photograph set in a place at her home that was decorated — in pink curtains — by the previous owner. It is one of darned few photographs in any of the shows.

Paula Cox - Garden Dress, 2008 - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Paula Cox   Garden Dress, 2008
handmade paper, linocut   45 x 45 inches

Odd mediums saying strangely unexpected things exquisitely — Paula Cox's flat wall dresses took us by surprise. Not as darkly colorful as on the postcard, I've been careful to present them as I remember them on the wall at the MACC, gently floating in light and muted and radiant colors.

Paula Cox - Orange Dot Dress - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.
Paula Cox   Orange Dot Dress, 2008  
handmade paper, linocut   63 x 31 inches

Again the catalog postcard is informative, although I'm glad I didn't read it till now, well past falling for these soft shapes of visually translucent colors and textures.

"These paper dresses developed after several weeks of experimenting in the paper studio. Shredded materials were added to the paper pulp as the sheets were being formed. Shapes were made from the dried sheets and combined to create a dress-like form."

"Decorative random patterns were cut into the linoleum plates and printed on the dresses to create a pattern and design," says San Antonio artist Paula Cox of her lilting collages.

 

Winter Rusiloski - Maiden Lane - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Winter Rusiloski   Maiden Lane, 2008
oil and collage on canvas   38 x 85 inches

Winter Rusiloski's wild wide painting reminded me of a Turner seascape, wild with storms of clouds and expressionistic shapes. It helps that I got a good shot of it on the wall at Austin's large Mexican-American Cultural Center's main gallery.

Compressing any art to the comparatively tiny size and resolution of a web page robs it of many visual and kinetic impressions, but we get the gist of some of what's going on in this vividly colorful painting which, once I got over the J.W. Turner comparison, felt more emotional than pictorial.

Small, on this page, it can be seen in a glance. Wide and large on that wall, I had to look left, right and center to take it all in, and in those simple physics was an involvement of it, in it. Its size sucked me in, then in this continent's normal left to right, blew me out through wilder and more emotional paint.

When a painting can do that, it's special, and this is a tour-de-force.
 

Lee Baxter Davis - Sister Dee Bee - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lee Baxter Davis   Sister Dee Bee
ink wash, watercolor and collage on paper
28 x 20 inches

While I greatly admire the father of The Lizard Cult's amazing technical wizardry in lines, color, texture and in-your-face presentation, especially after all these years, using Lee Baxter Davis's pyrotechnic work to represent all of contemporary North Texas art is strange. Probably as are any of the solo show presentations of one artist from whole major compass directions in this giant state.

I've written about his work before (link above) so won't take up more space saying the same things here, but as much as I appreciate the multi-dimensionality of his work, I tire easily of multiples of them. Especially the too-similar cowboy themed ones shown in the Pump Project gallery.

Lee Baxter Davis - Flood - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lee Baxter Davis    Flood, 2007
ink wash and watercolor on paper   26 x 48 inches

Seeing a dozen-and-a-half of them in this gallery left me wanting less, not more. I would rather experience one at a time, like we had to the work from nearly all the other artists in this spread-all-over-town exhibition, although I understand the worthiness of showing a bunch of pieces by some few selected artists in a large show like this, but I would have liked to see more work by many more artists than five.
 

Raychael L. Stine - The Annunciation - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Raychael L. Stine   The Annunciation, 2008
oil and acrylic on canvas   24 x 20 inches

The Annunciation was when the angel Gabriel told the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary) that she would conceive a child who would be born the Son of God.

I'll assume that's what the mouse on the left, standing on the palest blue cut-out is doing for the virgin Dachshund in this tableau of peeled paint swirls and blank canvases. I do not, however, know what its two-tone friend on the right is up to.

Perhaps this is a parable of Art to come, premonitioning the next piece and the one after that. Preparing the world for the next masterpiece. A story staged to prequel something momentous, and what could be more consequential than the Birth of Art, marrying paint and canvas in another story that makes us think, maybe even understand.

Interesting mix of characters, not unlike the Disnification of traditional folklore or Douglas Adams' instruction that the mice are in charge of our delicate, little, but mostly harmless planet. Sweet, cute even, visual simplicity set off, thanks to the title, with a conceptually cosmic back story.
 

John Mulvany - Fall

John Mulvany   Fall  
oil and acrylic on canvas   36 x 36 inches

Spooky. Dark. Kids toting guns. Bleeding red twin tornadoes loose in the neighborhood. Malevolent little devils with mayhem in mind. Color with more than an innuendo of autumn and a fall.
 

Susan Budge - Red Devil - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Susan Budge   Red Devil  
ceramic   70 x 19 x 19 inches

She calls it Red Devil, but I wonder if she's misidentified our favorite shape-shifter. Some of those horns are in the traditional wrong places, in full innocent bystander mode here, not apparently up to any real evil. Electric color and zigzag form are obvious attention getters that got our attention. Briefly. It would look great in my green living room.
 

Will Cannings in OK Mountain - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Will Cannings' Work in OK Mountain

One of art's traditional tricks is to defy expectations, and making light things heavy is a standard — and so much easier than making heavy stuff float away. These water toys and life-savers look real. But if you got them close to water, these massive dense chunks would sink like stones.

I liked them better before I tried to squeeze one, and it didn't rebound. They look good without the gimmick, austere in simple colors. Wouldn't it be so much easier to haul them around if you could just flatten the air out and roll them up.

Jurors might not see the point, however.

William Cannings - Perpendicular - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

William Cannings
Perpendicular: Ode to Brancusi's Endless Column, 2009  
steel and phosphorescent paint   228 x 6 inches

Nope, this is what lit my fire, and the dark sky and grodty fence only amplifies my appreciation, although I darkened everything but the piece later in Photoshop. The title, when I found it out, blew it. Though there's a lingering appreciation, I care too much that it's a copy of a major Brancusi, ode or no.

Sculptor William Cannings - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

William Cannings

For a mildly amusing optical dillusion, center the Ode to Brancusi image slightly above in your screen, then rapidly scroll up and down to watch the image dance...
 

Olga Porter - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Olga Nicolaevna Porter   Traffic
oil on linen   56 x 48 inches

Puts us in the big middle of a freeway, traffic in the big, ever-expanding now, every direction of home on the highway goes on forever. Easy colors. A deep sense of knowing where where we are, what it's about and the coming and going of it in first-person-singular.
 

Juan J. Hernandez - Mictian #1 - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juan J. Herenandez   Mictian #1
oil on canvas   48 x 39 inches

Juan J. Hernandez is another name DallasArtsRevue readers have read here before. I'm a big fan of his work, although I did not think this piece was as strong as others I have seen, photographed in little and big shows around Dallas and the Metroplex. Nonetheless, it exemplifies his work.

It is simple in composition, subtly colorful, conceptually redolent of Latino culture, and graphically strong. There's meaning running deep through the objects we see and how they are juxtaposed.
 

Anilla Quayyum Agha - Are We Tuned In? (detail) - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Anilla Quayyum Agha   Are We Tuned In?   (detail)
mixed media on mulberry paper   36 x 36 inches

This detail of Anilla Agha's piece shown right of the mandallas shows her real quality in muted geometric forms. The text may be just past texture. What's important here are strong patterns and subtly soaked tones.

She is a former DallasArtsRevue member, so I've followed her work, which has grown substantially and got more interesting — usually manifesting her interests in strong pattern shapes and subtle textures. I can see her ethnicity in there, too, but it's more difficult to parse.

Photographers know it's difficult to visually side-step text in art, so maybe I should have read it, but I am more interested in how this object feels and holds together than transcription. I assume it has a message that entirely escapes me, but much more interesting is that her sewn, soaked-in and stuck-on textures and intricately intersecting symbols are fascinating and beautiful and soft.

Oh, yeah, I guess I should mention the jurors. On the big, four-color folding map thingy, it says "Curated by Michael Duncan, a Los Angeles-based independent curator and art critic" and "Temporary Outdoor Projects co-curated by Risa Puleo, Assistant Curator of American and Contemporary Art at the Blanton Museum of Art and an Austin Art in Public Places panel menber."

There's more text about each on the TX BI Jurors page. I don't think I've read anything by her, but there's a bunch of phrase or sentence mentions of each BI artist scattered through the elements of the catalog.

Mary Morse - Up and Down the Beach - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mary Morse   Up and Down the Beach (detail)  
bronze   8 x 39 x 8 inches

The one major sculpture that we somehow missed was Colin McIntyre's hydra-headed Emergence, all 14 x 6 x 6 feet of natural finish forged steel in Butler Park. On his website, it is gorgeous.

Meanwhile, the show(s) was/were so much information to take in there's at least another dozen works I photographed and have opinions about, but I am weak from writing this for two weeks. I'd love to go back and revisit everything without all those people in the way, but I'll settle for 2011, and see what changes that BI brings.
 
 

Places

Mound Round Map of Texas - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mound Map of Texas

This is the large mound that permanently overlooks the temporary outdoor sculpture Homeland Security a few dozen yards southwest, although even from this high, the piece looks like a glob of white pickets, not a map, even of our very recognizable country. Buster Graybill's giant catfish is much farther in the opposite direction, and the toadstools are north across the street.

This map gives us an opportunity to see how Austin might consider itself the center of Texas, even if that point is skewed by 207.1 driving miles to the right (from a ranch outside Placid, Texas in McCulloch County). Hence, how they might misunderstand Texas' directions.

I don't take notes, I make photographs — more than 500 that weekend, but I try to snag a pricelist or show catalog to set me straight later. Remember when I wrote near the top of this story that having a catalog spread over ten individual publications might lead to havoc and stress? Turns out it did.

No map can prepare us to understand how William Cannings of Manchester, England, somewhat east of there, represents West Texas in the directional lottery of TX BI solo shows, except that he teaches at Texas Tech in Lubbock, well west and way north of North Texas.

North is represented by Lizard Cult Father Lee Baxter Davis, who taught many years at what was then called East Texas State University and he lives fifteen miles away in Greenville, Texas, itself a 50-mile drive east of Dallas.

I'd worried here how a San Antonio artist could represent East Texas or a Houston artist South. Then I learned, in a pleasant, post-Midnight letter from TX BI Executive Director Xochi Solis that their black, pictureless, heavy paper bl-fold brochure titled “Exhibition Catalog,” got east and south switched, and that twitched my geo misunderstanding.

The correct info is that the amazing transitioning sculptor Jayne Lawrence of San Antonio signifies the sunny South as she should, and Houston's lady killer painter Kelli Vance reps our state's East. So you might understand why I still say,

Soy muy confusado.

 

& Spaces

Katie Pell - Storm - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Katie Pell   Storm   mixed media
in the stairway in Austin's
Mexican American Cultural Center

The Mexican American Cultural Center had BI art in several exterior spaces and many more in one big interior gallery. When we first saw this stone stairway glowing in the evening sunlight, we wondered whether that swooping blue dangle with spirals dripping from it was art — in the show, but we liked it immediately. Only much later, sorting through the postcards did I recognize the pair of blue eyeballs that followed us as we ascended toward the center's giant upstairs gallery.

The Mayan Temple - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

View of and through Austin's
Mexican American Culture Center

Out one alcove we could see the massive, fake mud, pseudo Mayan pyramid shape that Latino Culture Centers everywhere must, by unwritten law, employ in their culture centers. It looks great, but I have no idea what's inside.   

Justin Boyd - serpent sentinels - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Justin Boyd   Serpent Sentinels

Artist Justin Boyd calls these audio speakers "serpent sentinels" that "stand guard over the entrance to the Texas Biennial. Their hiss," he says, "is conjured from the buzz of nearby power lines and water flow from the lake. Their charge is to challenge anyone wishing to gain entrance to pass through their sound gate."

Walking close between them through their vibrating bass hum, is annoying up close but at any distance blends into the noise of commerce and life and art upstairs at Austin's huge Mexican American Cultural Center.

Women & Their Work - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Women & Their Work on
Lavaca Street, south of campus

Women & Their Work had moved since the last time I was in that large warehouse space further downtown and closer to the lake. Once that confusion cleared, we not only found the space, we got the best parking slot on our tour, right up front.

It was our first Texas Biennial 2009 stop, and we were pleased to see perhaps a disproportionate number of Dallas artists there, and several of our favorite pieces overall.

Okay Moutnain by Anna Palmer

Okay Mountain

Okay Mountain is behind that fence, past a gaudy and grotesquely graffitied wall and partially charred garage-door. Inside, it is clean, serene and contemporary with a residential-sized back yard with chairs and sculpture. The circled, smiley-faced triangle upper center is their logo.

Art Talking at Big Medium

Art Talking outside Big Medium  

Big Medium was Bolm Studios. The studios are still there, as is Bolm Street. There's still inspired piles of trash, ladders to nowhere and tree made of planks of, of course, wood.

Bohm Wood Tree - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big Medium's Big Wood Tree

Traditionally, if two alternating years worth of biennial art action can be called that, it's where the very best, most outrageous, shocking, un-traditional art has hidden during successive Biennials.

Big Medium Arrow - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big Medium Arrow

But not this year. This year, that honor goes to a big blue box by a big blue genie.

Blue Theatre - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Blue Theatre / Mass Gallery

Mass Gallery was tucked into a side (right) space behind a big Goodwill center (at 916 Springdale Road) whose gate and and hubbub we had to sift Anna's car through, behind, we were told, a dumpster (The only of those we saw was small and easily overlooked, although the blue building behind it was not.) and across from ...

Big Blue Genie - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big Blue Genie

... Nobody once mentioned, this huge blue genie atop the front door of the blue building to the left of Blue Theatre. We didn't go there, but it had several semblances of art on its front and especially, its blue side that faces Blue Theater.

Lee Baxter Davis' solo show at Pump Project - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lee Baxter Davis' solo
show at Pump Project

Pump Project, at 702 Shady Lane, was new to this year's BI. Its 1,000+ square foot exhibition space was not quite tight as Big Medium, but the nine times bigger warehouse space also offers "low-cost studio space, gallery facilities, exhibition opportunities and other resources to emerging and established artists."

The Pump at Pump Project - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Pump Project Pump

Our Feedback page is open to anyone, pro or con, and you don't have to sign your name.
 

Other DallasArtsRevue TX BI stories

North Texas Artists in This Year's TX BI
Most of what I wrote about this year's TX BI before I saw it
A letter from the 2009 TX BI's curator on our Our Feedback Page

The 2005 Texas Biennial — coverage and commentary
Putting the Bi in the Texas Biennial
— the 2007 TX BI

All Contents of this site are Copyright 2008 and 2009 or before by publisher J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.