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Art Here Lately #8
Henderson Art Project installed March 20
Laura Walters Abrams Sugar Magnolia 1828
After a friend excitedly told us about the Henderson Art Project (HAP), I thought I should photograph the sculpture that dots nearly the full length of Henderson Avenue, from Ross Avenue to Central Expressway. I used to live near there and have long considered Henderson to be one of the ugliest streets in Dallas, dotted, as was and is still, with a mishmash of middle-size and small stores of so many sorts, with and without decor and lots of trashy houses in between — although some of it has lately become gentrified. It's a nearly taste-free zone that looks and feels like a zoning free zone.
It has long needed something to take attention off all that ugliness. I wasn't sure art could do it, but if anything could, that might. I drove over there, watched the sidelines very carefully and found all the major contenders in HAP's public voting contest — and then one.
The day was deeply overcast. Later, it snowed. I knew that
kind of low-contrast light would be near perfect for photographing colorful
three dimensional objects, although it was so cold my fingers sometimes
didn't work. Camera didn't seem to mind, but I did, although I couldn't
pass up that amazing quality of light where color jumps out and
grab ya — and
the opportunity to juxtapose art with the clutter of real life down an
ugly, cross-cultural and cross economical status street.
Andrea Reich Fender Heaven's Door 1800
First sculpture I came across was this red "door" in a grocery store parking lot very close to Ross Avenue. Compared to everything else art I saw today, it looked flimsy and insubstantial. Closed, it might not even qualify as very far into the third dimension. Not an outdoor piece by most stretches of imagination.
In big, bold, blue capital letters on the back it says, "I am the door," just in case you missed the other visual hints, although it obviously does not allow passage through it with that ugly painting of clouds in the way.
Andrea Reich Fender Heaven's Door
This is the most vulnerable setting for a piece in this street-long showing. The object itself looks flimsy, and I worry it might get backed — or fronted into — unprotected in that parking lot. Later, using the HAP site to keep my identifications honest, I am noticing that the image for this door there in two-dimensional space is different from the object itself in 3-D space.
Used as a ballot for public voting, it's definitely non-representative
of the actual piece. The site shot shows a
photograph of clouds. This is a much less realistic painting, and for
that matter, a much less realistic door. I wonder if I could even get
through such a skinny aperture, if the cloud painting weren't blocking
the way to wherever.
Laura Walters Abrams Sugar Magnolia (detail)
The second piece I found was by Laura Abrams, one of my favorite 3-D artists in Dallas. I've photographed her work many times, and it's always a challenge that's always rewarding. It, too, was in a less-than-wonderful place to park a sculpture, next to an adequate place to park a car, but her big magnolia was much more interesting than the cars just a few feet away.
Even in that day's low-key lighting her brilliant, pure white is difficult to look at. Once my eyes got used to it, the cars and clutter and ugly real estate all around quietly disappeared, and I was left alone with the essence of Magnolia. Couldn't quite smell it, though.
Lattanzio The Yellow Rose 2026 Henderson
Traveling west toward Central Expressway, this was the next piece I spied along the side of that busy street. I know this guy's work, too. He's a Supporting Member of DallasArtsRevue, and if you click the link above you'll see more of his oddly linear, yet three-dimensional drawings we'd have to call sculpture.
This is another site
crammed right up against a small parking lot. I chose to shoot it looking
out at the street — I waited a minute or so for no cars — and shops
across the street instead of through it at a large black pickup truck, even
though I had to lean back onto that truck to get the whole piece in the
This piece apparently is not in the official People's Choice Vote for best pieces (you can vote for up to three pieces) in the HAP project. It may have been there awhile. signed 'TRENT 08," I think it's by HAP-organizer Scott Trent. It was straight-forward abstract, dynamic and of course, adjacent to a parking lot, perhaps the largest and busiest lot of the bunch. Nice piece, simple, of I-beams, not terribly larger than a tall human and eminently visible from the street in blazing outdoor sculpture red.
Still, it's here, it's sculpture and it needed me photographing
it, and I needed the practice. I think I got it pretty good. I didn't
plan ahead for the bus, but when I saw it, I knew it was right for Henderson
George Tobolowsky Outside the Circle - back
This is the best piece
I've seen by George Tobolowsky, who's got a lot of publicity out of this
showing. I also shot it from in front, but I like this shot better — especially
because we can see Michelle O'Michael's red and
yellow piece across the street through it and in colorful contrast to
these dark, extruded shapes.
George Tobolowsky Outside the Circle - front
Interesting that the best two pieces on the street are black
(this one) and white (Laura Abrams'). His blatant. Hers subtle in some
ways, both involving circles and protrusions from the centers. Hers delicate.
His bold. His seems to occupy a more photogenic site. A short brick wall,
the start of some bushes behind it. Hers is parked in a small grassy
area just in front of a parking lot line of cars, bright metal competing
for our vision with bright metal.
Michelle O'Michael Prairie Fire 2430
This red is bright and different enough from the building that could have engulfed the piece, but the yellow is perhaps too subtle to be seen from the street, and together, I missed them entirely. I saw Tobolowsky's black piece while I was driving and intently looking, but I only spied this one once I'd begun photographing the bolder black one.
This view shows the strut that, though necessary to hold that
long, winding swoop of transitional yellows and reds, is mostly useless
to the piece's aesthetics. It arcs a little but, except from this view,
is nearly invisible. Sculpture, by its form, is supposed to be viewable
from any side, although most of these pieces are abutted against either
buildings or parking lots, making 360-degree viewing unlikely.
Eric Ober Red Dancer in the window
Another bright red sculpture,
Eric Obers' Red Dancer only really dances reflected in the dual layers
of curved glass in the front window of the store behind it. When I moved
my body or my eyes, the reflected piece rewarded multiple wiggling, making
this perhaps the most interesting site for a sculpture in the whole long
Eric Ober Red Dancer 2729 Henderson
I like this one best close up and looking down the street in the other direction (below), but Ober's piece is lovely, full of round and rounded red shapes, and parked on the far edge of the parking lot right next to the curb, is simple, elegant and highly visible.
Eric Ober Red Dancer 2729 Henderson
But this is my favorite shot of it — a little knot of
red winding steel in the big middle of a slow, curving sculptured dancer
spinning on a busy street.
Stephen Lapthisophon bench 2740
Henderson Audio Installation
Nice enough bench, I thought as I circled it taking photos — nice color (here recreated, because my new camera entirely missed its reds and caught only blue). But still, nice enough purple bench, but so what?
Reading the quick run-down of each piece, I noticed that the bench, which I did not take the time to sit on or thought it was art so maybe I shouldn't have, is an "Audio Installation." I had my own audio going with mp3s of cajun music blasting in my brain, so if there was anything more subtle than an 18-wheeler blasting down the street blowing its air horn, I would have missed it. I did not sit on it, perhaps tripping its mechanism to soothe me with gentle — what?
Ugly as that street is, I still find
myself on it sometimes, and after the weather warms, I hope to
stop there, sit and listen to whatever happens when I do.
Juanluis Gonzalez Opus 1 5100 Henderson
at Central Expressway
This is the most traditional modern sculpture on the tour, and probably getting the most attention, since it occupies a garden area in front of another parking lot, within yards of Central Expressway, so a lot of people pass it every day, though many of those are probably too busy navigating turns and being careful of traffic and traffic lights to see it. Those who do see this, probably register as I did. Oh, modern art.
It is post-modern of course. We all are, but it's
the most classic dark chunk of the bunch. Well proportioned and all that,
but the one least interesting to this long-time admirer of three-dimensional
art. I quickly tired of looking at its contrasting shapes and thin and
thick arcs. And, except that by reaching up with my camera I was able
to center the circle holding these two metal clunks together
on the ball painted on the front of the store behind this garden-ish
area this thing is planted on, it was of no interest to me.
Juanluis Gonzalez Opus 1 5100 Henderson
at Central Expressway
Other than that, this shot has no redeeming social value except to show how dreadful it looks from the street with a parking lot full of bright and bright-colored more contemporary shapes in metal and glass.
7th Annual Hecho en Dallas Latino Culture Center through April 24
Story + Photographs by J
Jack Brockette Through a Glass Darkly 2008 fiber
Oddly unbalanced exhibition that, given its traditional smaller size and just-so placement, stuck off in the back gallery, would be outstanding, and the stuff back there nearly all is. But looks like the jurors' selections expanded well beyond the top quality work submitted — to fill both the large boring front space and the angular contemporary, up, down, wrap-around spaces in the Skylight gallery back of the Latino Culture Center.
It seems who hung the show hung two, maybe and a half. One up front that's only minimally interesting in a minimally interesting space more useful for dance or a class or crafts run wild with little kids, with a couple nice pieces lost in the miasmas. Surrounded by drek and jetsam.
Then a lovely spread of fine art in the back room with art I loved and art I didn't love, but there an attitude of fine art prevailed. The half or less fractions are the pieces scattered in between the disparate spaces, lost in nowhere land.
Jack Brockette's lush fabric Through a Glass Darkly hung free, rustling slightly in what little breeze finds its way into the back room, illuminated only by afternoon light beaming in windows and down the bright clerestory, a gentle layering of sheer and gridded squares and rectangles, delicate in alternating columns of silvers and golden browns.
I had to touch, so touched with fingers and eyes. Beautiful
work in a medium too seldom seen in these competitive community exhibitions.
Jeff Parrott Into the Night 2009 acrylic
Work in the large, front gallery, where often when H O in Dallas shows, there's an educational show with work by four-year-olds or something, it almost seems that there still was, though a spare few that nobody figured out quite what to do with sparkled.
Either jurors were told to fill every space in the building or they didn't know where to stop and just did, and there's plenty of filler out there in the big front space I very nearly just walked past to go out the front door, not realizing till almost too late this show was bigger.
Almost wish I had just walked on by, but I might
have missed Jeff Parrott's Into the Night acrylic, suffering though
it was from splotchily indifferent lighting that makes it a challenge to photograph,
that while I was not totally enamored of it, startled and surprised me enough
for second and third takes into its densely colorful comic sensibility desperate
to fill every square inch.
Michael Mahler Ondeo 2010 acrylic
Or Michael Mahler's set of acrylics on canvas that looked at first and kept on looking like intricate tile wave abstracts tsunaming toward another ancient shore, full of depth and shape and perfect color.
Chris McHenry's photo realist downtown scene, sidewalk level up into the riot of buildings along Commerce Street, 2009 oil on linen catching an indelible corner of bright blue sunlight while mostly illuminated with brown tungsten gallery spots, permanently screwing my photo of it. It looked good, but maybe a tad too photographic.
I always admire painters who paint Dallas. His foreshortened
line-up of massive stonework facades down one side of Commerce are amazing,
florid stand-outs against acres of planar brick across the busy street, and
I've done with such gems there are in the front room.
John David Tisdale Buckle 08 2009 sterling
silver, copper, brass
A pair of belt buckles just inside the back gallery, neatly
inconspicuous, horizontal on a riser, shining metals in subtle inlaid shapes,
florid in low light, yet lush and abstract, looking entirely unlike belt-buckles
encased in soft black shadowlessness. Another stunning little example of art
in the unexpected form of craft.
Probably a Jesus Moroles in the LCC Courtyard
Any time I'm in LCC with daylight streaming in, I am enraptured by the strong shadows and vivid Mesoamerican colors and shapes in the patios just outside large glass windows and doors off exhibition spaces. It becomes part of whatever show is interior. That stuff may all be fake adobe, but it colors the landscape like Santa Fe, and the sun and sky oblige that little fakery of Southwestern light with metal striped shadows and broad pure hues.
Daniel Rivera Reliquary for Memories 2009 wood,
bone and porcupine quills
Looking down on Daniel Rivera's Reliquary for Memories to get a decent shot of it cluding out the brilliant daylight blaring in the adjacent window, really captured the little happenstance sculpture's not-quite-random pick-up of sticks form I had to wonder if anybody had messed with since the artist put them there. Intricate, criss-crossy, busy simple contrasting striped lines and dark receiving bowl shaped valley. Oh, gosh do you suppse they're glued on?
Michael Starr Going to Heaven 2009 collage
on found object
Another rapture with bodies suspended, not looking
all that rapturous, put me more in mind of one of Dante's falling circles of
hell, the colors right for that. More like bodies falling than floating into
ecstasy, despite the title. More alarmist than joy. Somehow a little discontinuous
Blake thrown in for measure. Too much joy missing in this melange to take its
ocean baptismal and fishers serious, but I still like looking at its multiple,
minute tragedies, not at all smoothed together in classic collage.
Humberto DeGarrio Sentry 2009 forged
and two charcoal on paper drawings by Kim Cadmus Owens
Couldn't adequately photograph Kim Cadmus Owens' dark, lush new charcoal drawings of Alamo Plaza Courts up close, the left of two large drawings flanking this crowned obelisk, both luscious and highly reflectant behind glass, but I got them mostly flection-free behind this ultimate balance, old-school simple Humberto DeGarrio sculpture, stark against the business of shapes on walls, flawed only by the i.d sticker stuck to the floor. Otherwise woulda been a hunt to find it in that big meandering space.
Barnard Spoon-fed Lies 2008 mixed media
Another convoluted political piece from Rita Barnard, rich in rust and copper, metal on metal tied with metal. Hardly even have to read the too-many tags to enjoy this involved sculpture of rounds and rectangles. I couldn't there in the dark back gallery, but probably could now string its meanings back together in my photos, but think maybe if she intended them all to be read, she'd have made them legible. I feel anger and protest in it, but it's lost in unknown symbols and all-cap demands I don't want to mess with. Intricate and of a lushness many pieces back there share.
Oh. It's a beehive. I thought those were flies and some sort of honey pot...
Denton artist Cat Snapp's Saints, Heroes & Understanding lithographed and silkscreened print nearby shared tones, colors and an intricacy of symbols and proscenium shapes while being altogether different, flat, framed and behind fully reflecting glass, me in there among bright white mats and frames, all dark and beautiful in rectangular glory, or I'd show it to you. Nice.
A friend had reported nothing much worth seeing here, so I
knew there'd be wonder, then was startled at the many bests in this large show's
back room, and of course dismayed at all the boring losers, lined up out front.
ADriana Martinez Mendoza Celebración
en blanco 2008 paper/cardboard
This second-last piece I'll mention, a fall of clumped white tissues hanging from the ceiling, kept stealing my attention from whatever else in that lush back room, and I tried several times to capture it, into a doorway of sunlight and other distractions, would have laid on the floor photographing up but wasn't sure I could get me back up, so I just held my hands down, angled the camera up and clicked. Hard to tell what it is or why, but knowing that it is and about "celebration in white" seems right.
Bernardo Cantu The Zapotlicos Machine 2010 mixed media
Bernardo Cantu's heavy-metal copper dominated texture clash machine, odd in every possible way, except it's just right, perfect in balance, hue and vividity. Zapotlicos were the polytheistic pre-Columbian Zapotec people, who believed themselves coming from the clouds, historically occupying the isthmus of Tehuantepec south of Oaxaca.
Another double- and triple-take worthy piece that defies its own parts to a whole never imagined and difficult to accept, beautious as it was. A startlement of harmony and texture, probably missing its mate, strung in extreme leotard colors and shapes out in one of the discontinous hallways. This eliciting a quiet, awestruck wow.
Sarah Williams Cameron 2010 oil
on board 18 x 30 inches
Thoroughly impressed by Sarah Williams glowing
Outskirts at 500X by way of Marty Walker Gallery. I forget everything else
there that night except a cardboard bicycle chain spelling gang, yuk-yuk,
but these knocked us out. This small they might almost look like actual photographs,
and I suspect there were those in their heritage, but haunting nice.
Sarah Williams Constellations 2009 oil
on board 18 x 18 inches
out from the dark dimensional with detailed niceties. Soft subtleties of
dark and light. Dare I use the C word (chiaroscuro). Lovely. Probably shouldn't
say it, but reminded me of Kim Cadmus Owens, and that's a compliment. I'd
just been shooting night scenes downtown and around, but nothing like this
fine collection. Odd to see it at 500, but there it was.
Depravities of War
Sandow Birk Humiliation 2007 woodcut
print on sekishu paper
Abu Ghraib comes to Dallas: Much less impressed by the show by New York and California artists at The MAC that same night. Their director actually had the temerity to tell me she couldn't find any more Dallas artists to show. Besides, I'm sure traveling shows are much cheaper till they can tag another Dallas commercial gallery to show one of theirs there. Pity. Strong Goya-esque work, though.
When we started DARE,
(the nonprofit status The MAC still uses) we had something else in mind.
Very specifically to not show Big Time Art Guys from out of Town there. For
awhile there, I thought maybe we had one community Dallas art center left.
Roy J. Cirigliana Corazon de Chimayo digital
infrared photograph with forged steel easel
Didn't visit this year's Corazon show till way late in its run. Had planned not to attend, but we were outside the Bath House and oh, hell, why not. Reason I hadn't is because I almost always do, and it'd be nice sometimes to do some other show instead. So I probably won't say much this time. Except this is so strange, it needs something writ about it.
I see a heart and reliquary of what I suppose drops drops of petrified blood. The crown or chain of thorns or barbed-wire seems fairly obvious. Love hurts. The rest must be feathers as in an angel's wings. Not sure about the curlicue cabriolet strips — film? Liked that part better when I didn't know what it was. But overall, I could dance to it.
Reagan Boatman Final Judgment stoneware
with mixed media
The end of the world as we know it. Boatman's
figures keep changing, which is always a bonus in the progression of someone's
work. Not sure about the balance and what's being balanced, but the beam'
little similar shaped torso and head's a nice touch. I keep seeing this
yellow and wondering if the Bath House will ever repaint that back room.
Kate Schatz Conflicted wood,
Outstanding frame, that same goofy wall paint this piece could really do without, heart physics pulling two halves together or apart. Nice to see a frame for something besides framing. Delicious wood flavors.
Modern Ruin next to Top Dollar Pawn on Greenville
Ave. Now you see it; soon you won't.
Ruin with work by Frances Bagley, Tim Best, Michael Corris, Thomas
Feulmer, Annette Lawrence, M, Margaret Meehan, Tom Orr, Richard Patterson,
Cam Schoepp, Noah Simblist, Christoph Trendel, Terri Thornton, Kevin Todora
and Jeff Zilm lasted two and a half days, February 20, 21 and 22, 2010
above: Annette Lawrence Legacy Line:
Modern Ruin 2010 graphite and China marker starting
at the front door (above right) moving clockwise around the interior space
below: Terri Thornton push comes to shove vinyl letters on door handles as you exit February 2010
The mob scene opening flushed hundreds of gallery-goers through
the repurposed space in a short few hours. Policemen directed traffic around
the drive-through branch office and to the nearby parking lot. Temporarily
handicapped with a broken foot, we parked immediately on-site and I wheelchaired
through the event / show / happening photographing with my pocket camera.
I was not able to go back and watch the art dismantled, and
I was in some awe that it was done at all, though the public portion was gala
and rejoicful. It made sense in several layers but through it all ran a deep
vein of skepticism and fun.
Cameron Schoepp Fountain February
water, plastic sheeting, metal buckets, ambient sound, recorded sound throughout the space
That was the art of it. Temporary as it was. The building
had been erected to be a Washington Mutual branch bank, but WAMU, like so
many others so far in this recession and so many more that will follow, went
under before this space could be used for its intended purpose.
I want this to be: Tim Best Deserves
got nothing to do with it 2010 inkjet prints
But it might be: Jeff Zilm Untitled 2010 inkjet prints
One of the mouth cards says "Alex Hay in 1966 is a motherfucker. Buy it."
That art was the only purpose the one-million-dollar branch
office ever had — except as a blip in the upward plans of a downward
diving corporation seems fair. At least some good use was made of
it, and like most of us, art is only temporary at best. That it was
used for two and a half days seems, if not appropriate, at least appropriated.
this could be: Christoph Trendel Untitled
(Psychohygiene) 2010 electric pump, hand sanitizer, tree
Some work were suitable. Others inscrutable. There was a
map with which many spent long minutes figuring out where every thing was
with and what it was. All the whiles the whys may have escaped
us all. I thought I knew better than to try to tranlate the flat map to stereoscopical
space, although I followed the permutations of this piece way too
Unknown Projection in there somewhere; this may be the
I was drawn by the aqua aquarium and odd machinations of
pumps, plugs, wires and an ongoing slide show showing parts of plants. Someone
said the pump was pumping water out of the bank. I thought of terms like afloat,
underwater, sunk, branch, flowering, down the tubes, but I didn't put it all
Tom Orr - Scratch 2010 deconstructed
This was the first piece I photographed. The one I knew immediately
who had made. I've been in his
massive studio and seen objects like these repurposed and reorganized
bank cabinets, and I watched this one not move an inch for many minutes,
catching it only this once without another human being between me
and it. Few other works moved me — or stilled me — like this one
did. I didn't need to know what it meant. It meant space, segmented, an elegant
whole, so obviously sculpture, so perfect for its space. Yet subtle.
You could probably trip over it.
Cameron Schoepp Fountain February
water, plastic sheeting, metal buckets, ambient sound, recorded sound throughout the space
Cam Schoepp's Fountain put the ground floor of the
former future now defunct bank under water, as it dripped from sagging plastic
bags cached in the ceiling, cascading down into buckets, and splashing onto
the carpeted floor in its own intricate timings, accompanied by a dripping
symphony of ambient and recorded sounds. I looked up at this, one time and
Thomas Feulmer The Future 2010 performance-distribution
of 195 stamped dollars
Frances told me the drive-through in back was giving away
money, but it would run out soon. I was busy photographing and not
figuring out where it was coming out, while Anna went straight up to it and
got this dollar bill that's since been lost.
WAMU Sign out front
According to the official exhibition hype, "at the height
of a frenzied economic bubble, Washington Mutual began building a
new 1 million dollar branch at 5030 Greenville Avenue, just south of
Lovers Lane. Just after its completion, the government seized WaMu, and JPMorgan
Chase decided not to occupy the building. The building was never opened, never
used, and has sat as an empty shell for more than a year."
Studying Maps — that maybe Christina Rees in red.
Might it be her cojuror behind?
It's not illogical to believe that a tagger got the sign,
but neither is it likely that it's other than official art of the show, of
the place. Hardly matters. It's not on the map, but neither are the covered-over
signs on the front and sides of the building itself, neutralizing its identify
as bank, advertising its temporary duty as art space. We almost drove by,
but by the crowd inside I knew it was exhibition.
Margaret Meehan Unbearable 2010 aluminum
blinds and grommets
More hype: "Seeking to take advantage
of the space-its social and cultural connotations, its materials, and its
presence as direct and immediate evidence of the current economic condition-15
artists will create work inspired by and in dialogue with the building. Some
artists will alter the building's materials and corporate interior, while
others will stage actions and interventions within, and still others will
use the background of the space as context for their work."
Frances Bagley Teller Ring (detail) 2010 mixed
reminds me of the Idol of Baal in the Palace of Babylon
It was set for destruction so the space could be sold to
another business. I'm sure it seemed an interesting idea to make art of commerce
gone bad, and here we have it. Modern Ruin, a 2.5-day exhibition organized
by Christina Rees and Thomas Feulmer.
Thomas Feulmer The Future 2010 Performance
Distribution of 195 Stamped Dollars
She's in some of the pictures. I don't
know him, but he's probably in there, too. Maybe driving in from outer space.
M Super Powers 2007-2010 neon
and ceiling tiles
As long as we spent there in wonder and wonderment, I managed
to miss several pieces. Or I didn't think they were worth photographing. I'm
sure some people videoed it.
From here this story will probably move to Art
Here Lately but ya never know.
As usual here, if I've mis-identified anybody or anything, please let me know now.
More info from Public Radio
DallasArtFair February 2 - 7 2010
Fairmount Hotel Window in the Fog
Last time I was in that building it was for f.i.g's idiot Art Slam last year, which left bad enough a taste I wasn't excited about this trip until intelligent, creative artist friends told me how excited they were to see the Art Fair. Like it was something unique and wonderful. So I went.
It didn't help that I could barely walk and had to use a wheelchair, because I'd fractured my foot in a fall. Or maybe it did help. Except for friends, who wanted to know what happened, most people left me — suddenly several heads shorter than them — alone to commune and photograph the art, though the badge marking me as media probably helped, too.
So this is me — ably assisted by Anna, who'd been volunteering at EASL's table in Art in the District, a satellite show across the street from the fair in the Fairmount Hotel that was organized up by Ross-Akard Gallery's Bryan Embry and Jordon Roth and Susan Roth Romans, who invited EASL.
As always, my apologies to any artists whose work here is not in the correct colors. Many spaces, especially in the hHotel, were very poorly lighted.
Nick, Nora and Asta?
Has to be Nick and Nora and Asta. The several of us standing there admiring it agreed. I didn't see an I.D, but who else? 30s fashion. Detective lighting. That squirrely little mustache and the Wire-haired Terror. Dark shadows behind. It's gotta be.
Shred A Book
I've been watching the trend of re-presented pages, words, covers, bindings, scraps as well as wholes and fractions of books, magazines and newspapers. As if our faith in those objects has failed and instead of being objects of honor and faith and knowledge, they have become the matter of art, usually without a trace of irony or sly wit.
This may be one of the more interesting objects in this ongoing trend, or maybe not, but I cannot imagine that it is original when so many artists are doing essentially the same. As a trend it makes sense, but I still wonder who started it and what their motives were. Maybe what art fairs are for is to spread trends.
Books may be nearing the end of their long cycle, but I'm sure the fad will continue another decade before everybody who thinks of themselves as an artist will have done at least one. I participated in a book show three decades ago, where books as objects were revered, and in none of its presentation were they destroyed.
Brad Ford Smith Desk Top Drawings #200 each
I photographed this collection of drawings on a dark wall in the hotel, mostly because I think I used to know the artist, although he was doing intricate and involved audial sculpture then. I think of this as as an example of a series. I didn't see any red dots except in the drawings.
When I worked Resolution Trust during the S&L debacle, high in the Republic National Bank building (rocket ship) downtown, I used to do Sunday Brunch at the Fairmount since a boss was buying. I later photographed Mel Torme and other jazz greats in the club downstairs for Texas Jazz, but I hadn't been inside for decades. I was especially taken with their spider web windows in the afternoon's foggy rain.
Another not exactly original idea. I remember similarly absurd cyclew in Downtown, Deep Elm and Haute Cliffe Art Parades, presented by real estate promoters . This was oddly informal, details lost in the over-busy carpets. Not a wonderful place to see or show art, but at least there by the big web window, there was light.
A phase change and the Fairmount became the Dallas Art Fair began in my photos. That's a Billy Hassell woodpecker in the enclosed space far left. Bat Man and Robin on the right.
Sam Hernandez Thoner Strut 3009
Madrone, Thornet Chairs, Ebony
85 x 30 x 30 inches $19,500
Shot this primarily because it reminded me richly of Dallas sculptor Sherry Owens' pegged wood sculptures. I like the soaring arcs here, though I'm not at all sure what the butcher-board undercarriage is holding up or down. I was very careful at the 30th Anniversary DallasArtsRevue Member Show never to place I.D tags on any sculpture, because it's considered crass and ignorant.
Painted Votive Stone Pre-Incas Culture Highlands
700 - 1400 AD slate and mineral pigments 16.5 x 11.5 x 1.25 inches
William Siegal Gallery
Perhaps because I've worked at a tribal gallery over the last six years, I've developed a taste for tribal art, and like many of those, this conversely reminds me of Picasso, Braque and those guys 'inventing Cubism' and repopularizing natural pigment.
Mace Head Chavin Culture Highlands
of Peru 900-200 BC stone $3,800
Drinker Colima Culture Mexico 300 BC - 300 AD terra-cotta 15.5 x 9 x 8 inches $9000
Portrait Maya Culture Mesoamerica 800-900 AD Sea Shell 6 x 5 inches $14,000
Film by Allison Schulnik
So many contemporary videos have neither story, progression nor humor and seem vague excuses to wave a vidcam around in the pretense of art, but we were both struck and delighted by this rollicking clay-mation featuring the music of Grizzly Bear. It probably had a title but all I caught were the end credits, though I watched it all the way through twice.
Of all the art videos I've seen in recent years, it is one of only two that were entertaining. If the art world were truly being overtaken by video, wouldn't there have been more at DAF? Thankfully not, although an Ann Huey might have brightened that outlook.
Sherié Franssen Heath 2010 oil on canvas 71 x 77 inches $26,000
No idea which gallery this was in, but I lined my wheeled chair up dead center at this wild abstraction for several minutes. It reminded me of Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC, where I'd already stood in a mostly empty room staring at for a several minutes, when a gallery person brought me a chair, so I could watch it for ten or fifteen more.
Didn't like this as much as I loved being in the presence of the Renoir, but I was wowed by it, and was further thrilled to find how new it was. I'm still staring at its torrid, fresh vision.
Art Needing an -ISM
Perhaps the best reason to attend DAF was to get a grip on pervasive trends.
I've been thinking about art like this for awhile. It needs an -ism attached, so we can write intelligently about it and all know what we're talking about. Neo Funk probably neither comes close nor is specific enough.
These things usually feature a short spectrum of muted colors, are thick with a cartoon heritage and primitivist vernacular type. There's a lot of fun being made of something — art, serious art, intellectuality. Who knows? Like most trends, I suspect each new artist who adopts it believes they are being very original.
When they were grad students at SMU, my late friend Georgia Stafford and Lisa Lacy came up with a term that gets at a lot of what's going on in this already aging art trend. They called their movement "Left Right Neo-Obsessivism." The Left Right of it serves mostly as obfuscation, so maybe Neo-Obsessivism covers it. It's certainly more of the moment for the last dozen or so years and on-target without actually hitting anything than post Muddern anything.
Since the predominant medium of paint has long since been eclipsed by mixed media, it might be silly to call any new decade's ism after the application of it, like the archaic Impressionism or Abstract Expressionism, but we do got plenty preoccupations, so why not Neo-Obsessivism?
Like recognizing an old friend. I have been photographing Dalton Maroney's geometric outriggers in complimentary, contrasting, muted and unmuted colors, textures shapes for decades, though it may have been a whole one of those since I last saw his work. Nice to instantly recognize this at Bill Campbell Contemporary. Always pleasing to see artists who ignore trends and entertain their own obsessions.
Jeff Muerlier Congregate (Vegans) 2010
Jeff Muerlier Congregate (USA) 2010
acrylic on canvas 12 x 12 inches each
Semi-abstract graphic art Neo Obsessivism.
James Castle untitled (cigarette
book) 8 pps, n.d.
found paper, soot, string $12,500
I visited this space, because I'd lived in Boise, Idaho when I was a kid and had nearly no memories of it. When I returned more than a dozen years ago, it seemed a boring little town with pleasant little mountains further up, but it had a university, in whose halls were drawers of multicolored dead, stuffed birds, which eventually helped ignite my interest in the immense color shape and variety of those.
Post-Primitive Neo Obsessive.
Tony Bones hangers
The second one's a Tony Bones. Somebody else I hadn't seen in years, met through his best friend since they were kids, son of a friend, we attended his first opening and the friend's birthday, I think. He spoke then of usually eluding cops to put his art where it needed to be, which was not hanging on spiffy hangars along a bright white gallery wall. Although these won't land him in jail. I hope he still gets to tag spaces needing art, which is where his art belongs.
With so much commercial crap everywhere else on walls and poles and mechanical devices competing for our attentions, it was always a special joy to see something he'd put in front of his real audience on the street, a bridge or pole.
Squeak Carnwath Beginner detail 2008
oil and alkyd on canvas over panel 70 x 70 inches
I was as drawn to what Squeak says about the medium, as I am interested in what I was told in junior high that taking someone's photo steals their soul, which I know to be true. Not that collecting souls is evil or harms the subject much, though sometimes we think so. I was much less enthused about the rest of the painting, which preserved neither.
Wayne Thiebaud Chocolate Pieces 2009 oil on canvas 12 x 16 inches
I'd seen an unmistakable drawing of a Thiebaud cityscape earlier in my roll through the Fair, but chose not to photograph it or a much-less-than Matisse. But I sidled up to this one and stayed close while my eyes fondled the rich brush strokes and lilting colors in this luscious little painting, awed to be in its company.
Big James Surls
Former Dallas artist, sculptor, SMU professor and eloquent dreamer James Surls' style is unmistakable in light ...
Small James Surls
... as in dark wood sylphs' souls inter-connected with steel.
Sebastião Salgado The Dinkas South Sudan 2006
One gorgeous photograph. I didn't catch the I.D, so I emailed the jpeg to Ben Breard, owner of The Afterimage, Texas' first all-photography gallery, and one of the first anywhere. He wrote back immediately, "I see you, too, visited Peter Fetterman's booth! That's an image by the famous South American documentary photographer Sebastião Salgado." I knew Ben would know, and share easily.
It was surrounded by classic Henri Cartier Bresson prints, so I wasn't sure whose this was, although it has not the simplicity of Bresson. Not so much a "decisive moment" (a phrase used to describe the quality many see in Bresson's work) as a decisive place to stand and take a photograph of so much going on in one frame, although Sebastião's timing is superb.
All those repeating pattern horns and cows, and silhouette human shapes, screened into the horizon with dust and smoke. An amazing vision I watched intently for several minutes. "It's luck that matters," Bresson told me from an YouTube video when I mistakenly tried to track this image from him, "You have to be receptive, that's all."
Special thanks to Jeanne Sturdevant for full caption information for the Sebastião Salgado photo and for finding the incongruities in what I had captioned the photo below with.
Philip John Evett Eccentric Clock 2009 maple 16 x 18.5 inches
I was struck by this small sculpture, then I was un struck, then struck again. I've gone back and forth about it a dozen times since. I am not always that appreciative, but anything that spins me like this is worth coming back to for re-reconsideration. Then I found out its title, and it seemed appropriate.
Somewhere in the middle of my vacillation, this reminded me of Sam Rykles' much larger sculpture I put on the cover of Dallas Arts Revue on-paper several decades ago. He called his an angel, and there is that in this well-balancing figure, also, though her wings are folded.
Gallery Pass-by Shot
Some booths have elegant interior designs. Some seem more like they were thrown together without thought. Some gorgeous, some ugly. Hardly matters. Great art could be in any of them, crowded together or airily separate set against gobs of negative space. Then suddenly we were finished. Seen everything needing seeing, and off to more art elsewhere.
From Across the Street
I was so busy getting myself across the street in my wheelchair when we arrived, I didn't think about photographing it, and when we left it was really too dark.
F for Fairmount Hotel
Back at the Fairmount to devalet Anna's car.
Figures in the Lobby
I was slowly rolling over all those gaudy flower rugs and remembered I'd promised myself to shoot this stand of figures in the lobby.
Riding east through downtown I saw the park The City was pouring concrete into while laying off workers and closing its community galleries "to save money."
Light Kiosks on this side, and a blinking PARK sign on the other
Almost like sculpture.
Anna wanted to see the show at the Xs. I wouldn't have minded, but it is not wheelchair accessible, so after a brief struggle, I returned to the car and shot the side of the building. We parked, as I love to do, directly on the tracks. That used to be dangerous there — I remember hanging out that roll-up door at the bottom middle above, screaming in a party of people all screaming as a freight train crashed down those tracks, probably sometimes in the mid-80s.
The Tracks on Exposition Avenue
The only place where the tracks still run is encased in concrete across Exposition Avenue. Called Exposition, for the State Fair grounds that begin at the southeast end of the street, off to the left of this view northeast. Downtown is to the right.
LA in Dallas
Fuselage Illuminated by Klieg Lights Outside
When we got to 161 Glass, for the Grand Opening of the New Contemp, the street was lined both sides with cars parked solid. Anna pulled me up, so I could get the wheelchair out and propel myself up the ramp, when a valet asked if we had a handicap permit. No, I said, it's just temporary. But I wasn't up to walking very far. He helped us get the chair out and directed us to park right there in the all but empty handicap parking area. Whoo hoo!
We'd seen Warnings & Instructions earlier in its production — See Art Talk at the soon-to-open new Dallas Contemporary on top of Art Here Lately #7. Looking around at what that, then skeletal beginnings of Warnings & Instructions, I began to understand why Los Angeles artist James Gilbert told us during his talk about the work he was about half way through back then, that he did not like showing unfinished work.
I liked the piece better then, and would not have been able to extrapolate from those elemental beginnings, to the cutesy final piece we saw splayed across that hangar-like building on the big opening night.
What had been an intriguing mesh of concepts and the essential beginnings of shape and direction, had become a pink, glossed over execution whose purposes seemed lost in all the repetitions. The elaborate visual puns had got lost in the extravaganza of scale and the admiring art mob.
Trying to Decipher the Message
Gilbert had explained the intricacies of his plan, how the videos would provide point and counterpoint for the supposedly crashed airplane — I never saw anything that made it look crashed, except that it was in pieces, so that part of the joke, if there was one, was lost on me. I liked the un skinned aircraft parts far better than the final versions all stretched with pink plastic so much better.
Down the Hall
The building inside the building comprising the offices, which will be lighted, heated and/or air-conditioned and have it's own ceiling seems to stretch on forever but actually forms a very specific interior space. Hardly anyone was in there, but ever-noisy and inquisitive we wandered around in there to see what we could see.
We liked the warning orange office chairs contrasting the darkly stained floors.
And wondered about the clunky macquette
We were intrigued by preliminary hieroglyphic drawings that had to do with the front profiles structures of various airplane and lifeboat forms. Gilbert's interelated concepts of peril and humor seemed intelligent when we heard him talk about them, when the forms were mere skeletons, but all fleshed out on opening night, we didn't get it anymore.
Most intriguing of all were the color schemes. I believe upper left is a very preliminary yet color-coordinated drawing of one of the lifeboats before the water slides.
And these are diagrams of the structures of the shapes.
The piece — it's difficult to call something that scatters across such a gaping area "piece," although it certainly comprises pieces — was supposed to trade deeply in the irony of juxtaposition. Of the definitely not funny attitude of an airplane full of people ditching in the ocean against the concept of having a water slide [See below.] on a lifeboat.
What I found profoundly visually amusing was that parents semi-automatically tended to park their young in this nose portion where they could gather in a darkened alcove to watch looping loopy deadpan demonstrations on the video machine. Just before I finally got the exposure right on this one, there were three more children in there looking lost or forsaken.
I hung out in the hangar awhile, then got hungry and could feel my blood sugar was precipitously down, so I scouted out the big cake, went through the gathered crowd like only a guy in a wheelchair could and parked myself directly in front of it in and waited. I wasn't expecting ceremony, just cake. But when it started, I was right there.
Contemp director Joan Davidow and Board Member
prepare to cut the big yellow cake.
We've caught the Contemp crew matching outfits or coordinated colors before, like green for St. Pat's. It's a them thing. Joan probably thinks its cute. Don't know why yellow this time or why Joan only wore just the hat and some wore dresses. Someone who understands Fashion better than I (most of you) could probably make some incisive remarks about it, but I agree with Joan. It's cute.
The first piece of cake — NONFLAM GAS
After they'd got pieces cut, they looked a little lost, like brides and grooms sometimes do, so I suggested they feed each other. I didn't say it very loud, but someone repeated it, and then someone else. The pair seemed flummoxed, hesitated, then each ate their own half of the first, corner piece of the new space's yellow grand opening cake.
I got the fourth piece. It was light, moist, sweet and yellow.
See the continuing ThEdblog for oddly illustrated notes on my progress through this website and the rest of my life.
Continued on Art Here Lately #9
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