Small Sculpture in Texas ©1993, 2000 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

From J R's Journal

Edward Alexander's vivid color constructions almost glowed with a sophisticated primitivism. Cutout shapes contrasted and comprised dense, drenched textures and hard-edged hue.

More Neiman Marcus colors were playfully polychromed on aery, delicate rods of one-inch forged steel in Art Shirer's independently suspended, cantilevered balancing toy, appropriately titled Accapella Dancer. If you were afraid to touch this sculpture, it was safe. It was only strange colors oddly bent. Touch gently (I always want to nudge a Calder), and it entertains and delights. Past interlocking, the clownish arcs and angles spun in on itself in a clumsily teetering ballet of just-missing parts.

Especially memorable were a roomful of Day of the Dead pots at Eugene Binder and tiny, more-than-precious "feelies," sculptures by Linda Ridgeway Taylor at DW Gallery.
Last year's Women's Caucus for Arts' shows were so bad, I didn't try too hard to catch the spate of associated shows all over town this year (1987). I did visit their show downstairs at LTV Tower, however, on my way upstairs, The Women & Their Work show was gloomy, all the windows covered. J. Renee Tanner, late of 500X, had two found manipulated collages. Lost and Found alternates worked gloves and hand tools. Disassembled, reconstituted cardboard boxes. Both had showed at 500X, but it was like meeting old friends. Again commanding space at this annual women's show was whitewash altars by Mr. Chase Yarbrough.


The best Christmas Group show in Dallas-perhaps the best of the year-was Crafts Guild of Dallas director Paul Harris' curatorial masterpiece, Handmade in Texas, at LTV Tower I saw it thrice, always discovering new wonderments from outstanding craftspeople from all over Texas.

If I had to chose a favorite, it would be Thelma Coles' (New Braunfels) copper, stainless steel and resin sculpture, Fragile Coexistence. A shining saddle-shaped copper band, indented to a flat plane on the top, which was scattered with tiny houses. Twisting metal strands, like the forces of gravity, supported the curved universe securely over its pedestal, then pierce the surface to be strewn back, away from the civilization of the houses like a storm.

Susan Stinsmuehlen's (Austin) Ongoing Dialog of Dots and Dashes glass did delightful things to bright, incident and reflected light. Carlton Cook's (Houston) superbly crafted trio of blond, cherry and dark wood Storage Cabinets were noteworthy for sturdy bowling ball construction.

Door Handle by James Cinquemani (Dallas) was succinctly detailed brass and stainless steel-a beautiful object. Louise Hunt's (Garland) Reservatory of the Earth Spirit releases its magic through popped-open topped concentric copper and copper cast paper pyramids. Jill Bedgood's (Austin) Table is a tour-de-force of fauxing-portfolio piece illustrating a wild variety of colors and styles, yet still fulfilling all the requirements of fine art furniture.

The exquisitely simple elegance of Herb Rogalla's (Dallas) Chess Set belies its PVC heritage. Susan Maye's (Deming, Washington) flamboyant Lamp and clay and wood Flame Chair invited curling up in front of the fire. Albert T. Scherbarth's (Dallas) Little Guys are a wall-full of witty, hand-sized, inch-thick cookie-cutter ceramic devices.

Kenneth Havis' (Denton) Texas Love Letter is a bejeweled and thorned spike assemblage, rising from a drum-like box and fairly dripping with fetishes and fantasy. Tre Arnez's (Austin) Fish Platter is a big, green swirling fish on a big dished platter. And that barely scratches the surface of the superb spectrum of object d'art at this Crafts Guild of Dallas exhibition.

On the afternoon of November fourteenth, I spent about an hour walking along the "L" of 7th Avenue and Bishop Street during the 100th Anniversary of Old Oak Cliff. Amid a burgeoning community of handicraft and stained glass shops, a silly frilly sci-fi art show at a neighborhood gallery and cute, new shops, were a smattering of fine art.

The upstairs of David Didear's shop glowed with a flashing, multicolored floor-full of neon Snakes that'd been seen by few at the Sculpture Symposium in San Antonio. A few doors up Bishop St., photog John Walker's ersatz pool parlor drew the curious in for beer and elegantly scrolling sculpture by J. K. Bennett, and conversation. Across the street, heavy metal cutout coyotes by Stuart Kraft mixed fun and fine art.

I couldn't pass up seeing and hearing Susan Sontag at the DMA. Like so many others, she's concerned about this thing called Post-Modernism. She said it was only okay in architecture. She even mentioned our building with a hole in it.

The Texas Commerce Tower has many architectural anomalies, but its dancing water spout fountain, just below Ross Avenue, facing the bank, is wonderful. The word "playful" is overused in describing water sculpture. This water, however, is playful.

The graceful strands of water hold their tubular, translucent integrity as the computer-choreographed arcs chase each other from circular, green "lily" pad to pad across the shallow pool. It's worth holding a hand out, so the cold, wet splashing proves this is not some holographic projection or clear tubing. By cycling turns, the waters spurt, wiggle and wave.

Dallas Arts Revue #25, December 1987   


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