The 2000 Critic's Choice Show
at Dallas Visual Arts Center

Mon Flammas Eructans Macilla ( Volcanic Tit )
by Thedra Cullar-Ledford
60 x 60 x 60" 1999

The 2000 Critic's Choice competitive exhibition is a very feminine show, with a preponderance of soft forms, gentle colors, receptive, rounded shapes and thinly disguised body parts.

Collection by Julia Franklin, stoneware,
5 x 4 x 3" each, 2000


There's a plugged-in ( but not operating when I saw it during the week ) volcanic tit ( artist Thedra Cullar-Ledford's words, not mine ), Ho Kwang Lee's etching of a bronze-gold hook softened nearly to extinction with a nest of ragged, etched textures, Carol Benson's rounded, amorphous, lyrical painting on steel of birds and even Lynn O'Neill's lurid painting of falling Barbie dolls.

Hostile Rock by Leigh Anne Lester
rock, clear plastic vinyl, hostile setting
4 x 3 x 6" 1999


Also prominent are gentle grandfather nostalgia, a subtle spectrum of soft, folded cloth ( pillowcases? ) in a hard metal frame, rounded, upended umbrellas, round mounds, an indentation and Cadillac bumper-like projectiles. The most aggressive form in the show is a "Hostile" Rock wrapped in soft, barbed plastic by Leigh Anne Lester.

Voices by Ann Trask, paper, interfacing fabric,
95 x 4 x 4, 83 x 4 x4 and 75 x 4 x 4" 1999


Also soft in color were Ann Trask's three boxy tubes of crinkling paper and fabric — hung from the ceiling and slowly twirling. The predominantly pastel yellow, purple and orange shapes were created from Have You Seen Me images from Advo circulars. Up close, the message was clear and sharp. But with any distance, the effect of the piece, like that of the whole show, is gentle and lyrical.

James Michael Starr's
The Kingdom of God, assemblage,
45 x 22 x 11" 2000

It's not a knock-your-socks-off, bleeding-edge exhibition, but many of the pieces selected are excellent. Some of my favorites were a trio of wide, exquisite, true-life in India, black and white photographs by Paul Greenberg, James Michael Starr's The Kingdom of God cruciform assemblage ( above ), and Lahib Juddo's vivid acrylic painting, Crown of Hands. All three are gentle reminders of things humane and spiritual.

There were, of course, a few, noticeably mediocre pieces as well. I've mentioned the Barbie painting. And, facing the window, away from the rest of the show at the far end of the gallery, is a stack of lurid pinkish purple smears by Denise Ramos. Called Sustain, the multi-piece construction left me cold and shaking my head. But overall, this, uh... Critic's (none of the jurors are critics) Choice is a good, solid exhibition.

This year's show was, for the first time in its history, juried by an all-woman panel. The resulting show fairly shouts that gentle fact. Certainly, male artists are well and adequately represented in this lilting show. But the fact that nearly two-thirds of the selected artists are women may be at least suspect in this age of political correctness. But it was very heartening to see so many non-Anglo names this year.


The 2000 Critic's Choice show included work by Carol Benson, Christine Bisetto, Nan Standish Blake, John Boles, James Case, John F. Chen, Thedra Cullar-Ledford, Jerry Dodd, Dorothy Duvall, Julia Franklin, Wendell Earl Gosden, Paul Greenburg, Sarah Hoitsma, Lahib Jaddo, Darra Keeton, Beatrice Lebreton, Ho Kwang Lee, Leigh Anne Lester , Adriana Martinez de Audriac, Corinne McManemin, Kevin Mitchell, Lisa Mitchell, Bob Nunn, Lynn O'Neill, Denise Ramos, John Mark Sager, Naomi Schlinke, Margaret Smithers Crump, James Michael Starr, Ann Trask and Molly Wood, and Sounds Whispers Silence, a collaborative installation by Paula Grinnell, Mary Hood, Jessical Ingolia, Louis Ann Mittleman, Melodee Martin Ramirez, Nancy Rebal, Lynn Richardson, Annia Sipiora, Terry Stone and Peggy Wright at Dallas Visual Art Center, 2917 Swiss Avenue. The show was up through August 18, 2000.

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