Sacred Tablets of Art
by Bruce Webb
THE MAC — March 2001
Story by J R Compton
Sacred Tablets of Art by Bruce Webb was "inspired by Rosicrucian, philosophical and spiritualist books, Webb investigates the relationship between his portraits of obscure authors and personalities and the books that inspired them" at The MAC's New Works Spacethrough April 1, 2001
Because he's an owner of a gallery that shows real folk art and not known for his own artistic abilities, I didn't expect much from Bruce Webb's little show in the MAC's New Works gallery. Before I visited the show, I was turning phrases like Faux Folk around in my mind.
However, standing alone in the smallish, nearly pristine room filled with tall, narrow pieces that look like religious icons — and in a way, actually are — I was blown away by their direct charm and simplicity. I felt an eerie, odd spiritual stirring, like I was in a church whose slightly insane saints made a certain sense.
I was in awe of the zany, yet serious energies zinging around among the blazing colors, cartoony shapes and historically accurate idealisms portrayed in this odd exhibition of semi- famous, yet accurately historical, left-winged philosophers, spiritualists and off-kilter zealots.
The works are painted directly onto large sheets of corrugated, found sheet metal, which are hung sparingly around the walls of the littlest gallery in the big blue building on McKinney. Accompanying them are glass encased volumes of historical references, a gentle nod to the reality of the subject matter.
Are these paintings folk or faux? Good question. I don't have the answer, except to remind that there are no rules in Folk Art. Like any good art, this stuff makes me think and it makes me feel. No problem with that part of it. And Folk artists are not necessarily ignorant, untrained or outsiders. They're just folk. And Bruce is one of them.
Erik Satie, Mother Catherine Seals (detail) and Josephen Peladan (left to right above) were just three of the chapel-like gallery full of modern idealists portrayed in folk gallery owner Bruce Webb's amazing little Sacred Tablets of Art show in The MAC's New Works spacethrough April 1 2001.
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