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Art that almost wasn't
Riding High - Joseph Daun aboard the Cross Kart
Cross Kart - Joseph Daun at Kirk Hopper, performance promptly at 6:30 Saturday, September 17, on display in the sculpture garden out back through September 24
Potentially the most interesting event of the evening of openings Saturday might have been Texas A&M University at Commerce Art Department Chair Joseph Daun's performance art aboard his Cross Kart at Kirk Hopper Fine Arts in Deep Elm. But to have accomplished that never-simple objective in this always-elusive art form, the various portions of his two trips around the block in the literal tall saddle of his Glorified neon go-kart would have had to have been a little more cohesive.
Crossing onto Commerce Street
Or interesting or exciting or more than this visually startling. As it was, he pull-started the little engine, got help climbing into the saddle, put 'er into gear and drove around the block. Then he came back, broke the front wheel forcing it up onto the sidewalk at an angle, briefly spoke about the vehicle, the performance, then got back in the saddle with the wheel tenuously attached and drove around again.
Joseph Daun explains
The neon cross glowed throughout both trips, but what that potent symbol had to do with anything except offering a little local color, was neither explained nor exploited. The saddle, Daun said, was comfortable. The stirrups seemed to offer swinging balance as he rounded corners. But no deeper meanings or connections obtained. It wasn't much, but it was enough, I suppose, for performance art. But you'd think a guy who chairs an art department would present a little more intellectual baggage in his big-city art.
Parked Cross Kart
Daun looked both ways before crossing onto Commerce Street, but he didn't wear leather, pads, a helmet, boots or attach himself via any sort of safety harness. He said the kart would go up to 60 miles per hour, but I suspect it would not pass even the most rudimentary safety inspection, and it bore no plates. Normally, I don't worry about such things, but he drove it down the street even after the wheel came almost completely off — the metal severed, and it could have doubled under, flinging him onto the pavement. Not a pretty concept, but about the most interesting tension associated with the event.
Daun Drags His Steed into Position
He might have gone around one more time, but someone in the crowd sighted a police car hovering up the street, so Daun rounded the other end of the block, drove around and into the alley, to the gallery's back lot, where he and helpers lugged the wounded craft and parked it, with its front wheel leaning precariously under the load.
Limping In with a Broke-off Wheel
Performance Art is always an iffy form. Compared to the yams one intrepid national performance artist stuffed up her anus here, the semi-mythical Jerry Hunt's suitcases that he banged on like an aboriginal tribesman, or the deep thought and elegant visions other performance artists have presented in deep distant Dallas art history, the Cross Kart didn't really rate. No plot, no character development, no real story.
Put up with a Broken Foot
The action might
have rendered religious or historical context to bounce around in the minds of
its viewers. The notion of a horse, of course, could have been played with.
The Traveler and other themes might have been bandied about, but just driving
that sucker around the block twice beggared comprehension.
We saw another
big owl at The MAC, but this one, under the extensive overpassing Central Expressway
near the downtownish dog park in the actual Gateway to Deep Elm, takes the big
owl cake and is one of the best big colorful chunks of public art in a neighborhood
rife with the stuff. Painted by Tyson Summers, we like.
Transition, Extension, Progress & Projection
What we have here is a subtext of artists' progress. Watching artists grow, their work change and sometimes even get better and more interesting, is easier when they are among the area's best, and they show often enough in very public spaces for us to follow along.
The End of Things - Celia Eberle, Project Room - Michael Mazurek at Plush, opening 6-9 pm Saturday, September 10, through October 8
Michael Maxurek Rack with Straps garment
rack, tie down
straps, champs, rope, chain 60 x 72 x 16 inches $3,000
We started at Plush, because it was at our end of Dragon Street, but it is always a great space to begin looking at what's going on in Dallas art. Bloggist June Mattingly recently identified this funky office-front space as the project room, but then she called the current Plush gallery "new" — where the gallery moved after its director's summer in Santa Fe, neatly chopping off its nearly full year of history on early Dragon since last October. It does often feel new, and the work shown is usually way ahead of everybody else's.
It may help that Plush owner doesn't entirely rely on profits from the gallery to entirely support his wade through life, if there's even enough of that to pay rent for the front space of the drafting company where Plush is now. As of the end of August, Randall Garrett is the new Gallery Coordinator at El Centro College downtown.
Featured this time out was the latest from amorphist Celia Eberle, whose work has grown incredibly from toy furry animals missing noses, faces or other important parts to still-soft and almost furry monuments, that still startle and amaze.
Celia Eberle The Furies 2011 alabaster, agatized coral, found objects 6.5 x 9 x 3.5 inches $1,800
Luckily, in these over-managed economic and political times, these avenging deities still torment criminals, so will always have plenty to keep themselves busy.
Celia Eberle Hovel (detail)
driftwood, wire, concrete
filter, speaker, audio loop by Meredith Eberle 6 x 5 x5.5 inches $2,000
Pronto trails from the top of this peculiar, hard monument to something hard and indefinable.
Celia Eberle Mine sand, coral, gemstones, dimensions variable $8,000
The gem-diggers mountain was fun. Stick your hand into the soft, cool structure to pull out tiny gemstones. Randall Garrett later reported that it was "demolished by the crowd."
The I That Sees Me - Heather Gorham, Blue Skies - Jay Maggio, Radiant Standing - Arturo Mallman at Craighead Green, opening 5-8 Saturday, September 10, through October 8
Heather Gorham Rabbit Sighting and Bird Sighting acrylic and tape on panel 12 x 12 inches $1,100 each
Heather Gorham showed her usual cast of cartoonish psycho selves, but I'm used to those and didn't get into the new batch, which are pretty much the old batch. But these guys are quaint and curious on painterly monochromatic grounds and much more cartoonish than Gorhams' usual psycho crowd yet still not as fascinating as the the bear, in its own new, realist world of actual landscape.
But while we're still up here, let's peruse the furry, flop-eared bunny and fierce little crow with bright circled eyes and red-and-white delineated bulls eyes. The bird's target even has a bull head, and note the purple wooden foot the unlucky rabbit wears. And is that yarn or something bleeding in the crow's beak?
Heather Gorham The Memory of Bees acrylic and tape on panel 40 x 60 inches $5,200
I like this guy with his honey bees buzzing and adding such a pleasant distraction and food source reference for our major circus escapee, though nobody seems to be chasing after. Gorham often includes hats on fire — like flaming intellects, intense emotions or the Holy Ghost — and little campfires, so there's continuity here.
But there's different, too. Like the fully clouded sky, the balanced, way too realist for her usual dreamscapes, forest and circus on the near horizon like not-so distant choices, either of which bears might inhabit. This may be its point of decision. It stares at us. Can we help?
Denise Brown Tree of Life hand-carved tarpaper and wood 87 x 80 inches $14,000
Yet another exquisite, dense, wood brown world map by Dallas artist Denise Brown. These dark and complex things must take months. Not sure what's going on, but plenty. So such remarkable depth involved, there's a filmstrip around the edges if you miss any details.
Noted - Sandow Birk and Simeen Farhat, Cross Kart - Joseph Daun at Kirk Hopper, opening 6:30-8:30 Saturday, September 10, performance by Joseph Daun, 6:30 Saturday, September 17, through September 24
David Aylsworth Englishmen 2009 oil on canvas 12 x 14 inches
At Kirk Hopper, we'd hoped to be in time for the 6:30 performance we assumed would involve the wheeled and saddled device bearing a glowing neon cross in the sculpture garden out back, but when I asked Kirk Hopper, all comfy looking in jeans and loose shoes, he said the performer "wasn't there yet." Much later, we learned the performance wasn't till a week later, so we may yet catch a circling neon cross get saddled up and rode around.
Aylsworth's pink, painterly cruciforms sucked me in then backed me off with my own mixed allusions to Robin Hood's Richard Lionheart and his fruitless Crusades to fight the Muslim hoard neatly sterilized on ragtag canvas.
Motorized Cross Cart in Sculpture Garden
The most annoying presence in the sculpture garden was that rounded little off-white VW ragtop in an otherwise angular gray world. The funky ultra-light mechanistic cross could almost have VTO-ed with some wild cowpoke in the saddle like Rip Torn from the penultimate moments of Dr. Strangelove, in reverse.
Motorized Cross Kart Saddle detail
We waited, but nothing ever happened, but we'll be back. The blond boy knew all about the wheeled object and was more than willing to explain to anyone who'd listen what it was all about. Anna listened briefly, I avoided the narration. I like my performance art un-cross-referenced and enigmatic.
Boys Playing at
Texas Hot Chilly - Christine Bisetto, Courtney Brown, Matt Clark, Laura Doughtie, Michael Francis, Nate Glaspie, Timothy Harding, Scott Hilton, Clayton Hurt, Nick Hutchings, Joel Kiser, Diane McGurren, Bruce Monroe, Leslie Murrell, Kerry Pacillio, Elaine Pawlowicz, Jonathan Snow, Tiffany Wolf at 500X, opening 7-10 Saturday, September 10, through October 2
Excited to see Timothy Harding latest permutation. Immediately recognizable, yet new and different and still superb. Quite a trick, and a treat. Much later we saw Charlotte Smith's latest, mostly bi-dimensional, no squirts or protrusions, more like too many others' spotted color work. Ya win some; ya lose others.
Elaine Pawlowicz either Dad's House or Possum 2011 acrylic on canvas 24 x 36 inches $1,400
I like wandering the back hall at 500X — very near where once was what the first residents called "The No-Tell Motel" room furnished soley with mattresses, out the door of which I found another entry in the ironic juxtaposition school of urban landscapery: two dark objects on a a gold and verdant landscape with clouded blues sky, placed squarely across from the back stairways, never a star placement in the big coop gallery's hanging scheme, but a lilting location for changing partners.
I keep hoping 500X will respond with identification information for this intriguing piece.
And I don't know what this is about, but it surprised and impressed me with its complex grayscale simplicity. Helps that it involves projections, and freed me to bemuse a history of projected images on cave walls wondering which was real and which thrice removed.
Our evening's last visit was to Centraltraks' strident, retro Black Power paintings that reminded too much of radical panthers, politics and protest from last century's 70s. No thanks.
New Texas Talent
New Texas Talent XVIII - Terry E. Adams, Sarah Halferty, Nathan Madrid, Joshua Banks, Ed Hall, Abigail McLaurin, Awadh Baryoum, Steph Hargrove, William Messimer, Grant Billingsley, Marshall Harris, Julie Michel, Rachel Black, Stuart Hausmann, Ellen Rhodes Moore, Bernard Bortnick, Ben Herrera, David E. Morris, Emily Brown, Amy Herzel, Aaron Munoz, Kelly Rae Burns, Erin Hinz, Nicole Norton, Andrew K. Currey, Duke M. Horn, Ellen Orseck, Christopher DeGasperi, Deborah Houston, Pavlina Panova, Caleb Dulock, Ellie Ivanova, Nicholas Parker, Jessica Dupuis, Jennifer Jones, Michelle Rahbar, Johnny Espinosa, Daniel Kanu, Daniel Rivera, Max Fields, Merri Ellen Kase, Sarah Sage, Arthur Fields, John William Keedy, Jerry Skibell, Natalie Galyon, Lucy Kirkman, Stacy Smith, Lori Geisler, MaryEllen Lacy, Lori Robertson Snyder, Nicolas Gonzalez, Natalie Lambert, Jennye Stubblefield, Tommy Gregory, Alisa Levy, Paige White, Whitney Hack, Sara Lovas, Douglas E. Winters III at Craighead Green, opening 5-8 Saturday, August 13, through September 3 2911
Christopher De Gasperi Man
On Ladder 2011 oil
on canvas 30 x 38 $3,800
Well, I've seen the 2011 New Texas Talent show and Craighead Green, and though I was eager to view it, especially because I only knew one name on its extensive list — and Pavlina Panova is a Supporting Member of this site, I was not thrilled or excited or turned inside out by the show while I was still there watching it. It's there, I kept thinking, with fascinating pieces and bad pieces and too many ordinary pieces, but as a show, it just wasn't that exciting.
Still, I spent time with every piece — from a few seconds to whole minutes — so I could safely ignore most of it and concentrate on the best work. After dutifully shooting 23 pieces (!) for the usual reasons — I loved them on sight, they baffled me, or they pissed me off enough I needed to find out why — I went off and did other things through the afternoon, then worked up the images and began adjusting my thinking about the show several hours later.
Ignoring the really bad and the mediocre, it is a remarkable show, and I'm pleased I afforded myself the opportunity to see it with almost no one else in the gallery, before the crowded, noisy mayhem of reception. I took my time and my pictures, then let it settle.
Christopher De Gasperi's Man On Ladder felt thematic. Of artists in wide places with lots of sky and weather — like Texas. Engaging in the muralist's task, his ladder punched into a cloud, his brush catching the sweeping sky, streaking white up into it, the paint's moisture forming clouds, with a sliver moon and stars shining through.
David Morris Beacon Saggar-fired stoneware 27 x 19 inches $1,000
David Morris' three-legged Beacon snuck up on me. I was struck by its simplicity, color and ungainly shape and mass. Like a big gentle cow or pig. It still startles and amazes, and I wonder what it's up to and what it's good for, besides being looked at. Is it a vessel? Does it hold water? I want to see more by the artist, but this one may be enough.
I circled it slowly till I knew they'd got the front right, and I still wonder about that shard down the middle. Did it break? Or did the whole of it have to be fired in pieces, so it wouldn't explode? Couldn't he have smoothed the slat over so it wouldn't show? And what's with the elaborate, connecting crown, scepter or whatever on the right?
Bernard Bortnick The Tragedy of the acrylic on wood panel 32 x 24 inches each $3,000 each
David Morris' pot, if I can simplify it too much calling it that, still baffles and startles, but I like the disconcertment of looking at it.
Bernard Bortnick's unnamed tragedy remains a serene yet elegant enigma. His exaggerated sense of space adds to our sensation of the ease then the ill-at of what we see as an art guard defeated by her own image. I wasn't so much moved by this set of paintings as in awe of its paradoxical mystery made visual.
John William Keedy Protean Frame XVII archival pigment print 12 x 18 inches $400
Like what's happening in Keedy's tense photograph. We see a story playing out in their eyes and faces, look and look away, but we don't need details. We know and feel the strain, and we can make up our own meanings, or just watch.
Raw slabs of red meat may be over-represented in this New Texas Talent, and I'm wondering why. Stacy Smith's Menil Fiesta painting tops the bright louvers of the Houston institution with a dark red sky of it, and I'm not showing it here, because I don't want to look at it.
William Messimer Crawdad Hole acrylic 48 x 36 inches $1,200
Are artists missing their steaks, so affordable in economic times gone by? Or does this mean something deeper? I like the kid — the staple boy adventurer in Messimer's paintings — and his crawdad hole — but the curdled meat, fat and bone gets to me.
The white Bart mask on the gray boy centers our attentions, and the gray and white crayfish exiting its extruded mud home contrasts mood, shape and color with the raw red striations, so it is more lurid, memorable and confusing. But what's with all the meat?
Sarah Sage Aquatics I ink, watercolor and Gouache on paper 33 x 23 inches $1,350
More live flesh. I saw the octopus on the ceiling and loved this contrasty painting for it. I wondered what was in the shadow underneath, even worried about that long, hornish object. But the shadow was full dark without detail. This small, the elephant is obvious. Why it is in a painting called Aquatics is another question, but I appreciate its negative presence.
Sage had another piece farther back (shown on the gallery site linked below, in much less contrast that the piece), but I liked this one so much better, I passed the other over. Now I wonder if it might have offered clues about her work. I don't even remember its subject, just that unrelenting black gouache.
Merri Ellen Kase Dr. Duck acrylic on canvas 30 x 40 inches $2,000
So I guess now's the time for the toy duck. I must have missed The Great Transition when toys became top models for painters and photographers, but we got 'em in spades now, though it's already been overly hip for decades. In the best of times, they do capture our imaginations. Plus artists must like that they don't move around much, and their expressions stay plastered in place forever. Something else to not understand. I'd like this one well enough, but I passed my cute toy limit some months back.
Steph Hargrove Bird in Flight mixed media 36 x 36 inches $2,000
And this is way past too cute for contentment. Not so much flying as In flight — as in getting away. On its magic suitcase ride. Have to wonder what it did to need to flee. Looks like it might have eaten a cat. The congruity of its component planar complexity — feathers, beak, face and eyes — combine to a three-dimensional whole that keeps reminding me of the late Dallas sculptor Gladys Gostin's metal birds. Gladys got away with her subtler cuteness by attention to colors and verisimilitude. This neotenized² cutie may be leaning into the wind, but it isn't going anywhere.
Marshall Harris Cape's Divide graphite on Mylar 84 x 54 $3,000
Neither is this traveler we'll just acknowledge as contemporary realism, and accept for what it is, whatever that might be. I've seen lots of big, lovely drawings of naked women. I guess it's time for one of a klutzy male, though the meanings here again escape me. All I know is that I identify. I still use an old suitcase my best friend in college found at his job on a trash truck in the 60s, and every time I use it, somebody buys me a new one. I also have to wear a wrist brace or two sometimes, but I don't look this good in them.
There were plenty other images I'd like to have had on this page, but too many — like Nicholas Parker's over-bondaged and under-enigmatic Hope, ink and enamel on polyester; Andrew Currey's Icarus drawing of a dead bird targeted with feathers; Jerry Skibell's The King of Something collaged drawing; Ben Herrar's Unarmed graphite and ink wash; and Caleb Dulock's Resting Place giclee print, showed annoying reflections in their facing glass to present here. Not that there's none of those in these. Although I guess it could be an anti-copying technique.
Ellen Rhodes Moore God's Grace oil on linen 20 x 16 inches $9,000
I could go on. I have more images. But I'm ending this romp through an old and familiar, yet always different annual competition with an odd duck of a portrait that's unlike anything else in this show as far back as I can remember, yet right where it belongs, even if the frame is absurd.
There's more to see, and
it's a more interesting show than any art writer has right to ask
for, to feed his need to write. And yeah, I'll probably attend the
mass hysteria of a Craighead Green opening Saturday night to see friends and
talk, including about this oddly affecting show. But I've already had my time
with it, and it's a good thing I brought my camera, or my mind might have missed
All the work in the show, with no sense of scale
and usually without frames are available on CG's site.
2 = See My
Fetal Pony: Neoteny in Girls' Toys and the PDF,
A Biological Homage to Mickey Mouse by Stephen Jay Gould.
of previous New Texas Talent shows: 2001 2003 2003 2005 2005 2006 2010
The MAC is getting better at throwing parties, and worse at drawing quality work from its members. This latest one with actual food, and nasty vodka drinks, as if they were trying to sell us something. If their member shows had more and better art — which probably needs more better themes — or none, they might be dangerous. But there's little likelihood of that. Meanwhile, the atmosphere was up, with lots of people and lots of food — thick sandwiches and thick creamy ice cream — going down.
It feels like each succeeding summer member extravaganza is partier while the quality rolls downhill, and it is hard to imagine it rolling much longer — but maybe it always has, and next year I could bemoan the good old days of 2011. I found a couple good ones my first round through the big galleries, and more each time after. Probably if I went back tomorrow, I'd find more to like, but it's too hot.
Joe Ing Scissors print
"If he'd had scissors, he would have cut this day out of his life."
My favorite piece in two galleries full is this, which unfortunately, the more I look at it, the more it reminds me of Larry in The Three Stooges — probably not what the artist wants me to think about, but now I'm not sure how I could not.
This year's theme, which I reminded several artists I thought should show there, remembering how good these sometimes are — was Meltdown. A theme I still consider brain-damaged, if not all the way to brain-dead, as I called last year's theme, now forgotten.
It's not the image I like about this but the sentiment, neatly lettered at the bottom. Meanwhile, I can identify. Probably a lot of us can. Especially lately.
Margaret Rattelle Head etching, Spitbite drypoint smaller than this
Not when I chose these images as what I consider good about this show, nor any of the times I considered the nine images I shot — one of a terrible excess I didn't think I'd use and ultimately did not — did I notice the remarkable similarities of these first two pieces. I must be enjoying life too much. This and the next downtrodden guy down the list don't need captions — which is the part I like best about Scissors, even though it's got one that makes the piece.
These last two are of the Unkempt Guy Face Syndrome, which guys generally assume represents us all, and women tend to use, because, well, you know, we probably are and do. Rattelle's (Her name was misspelled on the I.D tag and probably the price list, but then so are many others.) image is definitely male. Ing's only probably so. Both faces are emboldened yet obscured by graphic print textures and technique. Amorphous to half-tony photo-realistic, still held back by invisible wires.
The scrawl and splatter of spitbite (also misspelled, because probably nobody there'd ever heard of it, even though Rattelle has shown her small and superbly human prints there before.), and the halftone dots gone wild in the next one up, offer us semblances of reality from differing printmakers' modus operandi and viewpoints. Wikipedia says printers almost never use actual spit to drip, splatter or paint on the metal surface to transfer ink in such interesting and human textures, but it's nice to imagine that human element.
T J Griffin Hollow Avenger oil on canvas
Another bearded face, this time neatly shaven and kempt, but shoulders slumped and an overall sense of defeat shouting from his eyes, drooped jowl and shoulders, concaved chest, the bland green mask and everything else we see and think of as a wrestler of the losing kind. It's human, nearly naked, so even more vulnerable, yet masked, without the trace of a chance of victory.
Mary Bruns Absolute oil
I feel the photographic quality of this image, and its parallel swirl of deeply saturated color. Oil only makes it deeper, although I wonder why paint when it's already so much a photograph, except it makes the image keener and more personal. Technical wizardry brushwork to get a photo to seem so photographic while still being paint involves too many in-joke subversions. No face, yet we all know that feeling. An accomplishment. Subtle and real.
Julia McLain Meltdown acrylic
I didn't like McLain's style far too long. Now I'm finally catching up, it's probably outdistancing me as I watch. Melt drips down in flat pastels pointing whichever way down might be in the bearing-free ungravity of the cartoon universe of lovable creatures striving for mealdom. Sometimes even slim meaning goes plenty far. Everybody looks cute and happy, but the wolf knows they're all gonna be dinner.
Terry Hays And Then There was an Explosion acrylic on Sintra
Sonia Semone Bad Friends acrylic on acrylic mounted to wood stretcher
This one took me by surprise. I hadn't kept up with Semone's work, but this is wise with details and subtle in color, and I can see things in it that probably aren't there, but find my own blue meanings looping and coiling like snakes and lizards in the night.
Steve Prachyl If You Like Richard Serra, I Like
brushed and lacquered aluminum
This was the first piece I liked in this show, and even though
I've seen Prachyl's ultimately flat, polished abrasions before, I was still caught
in its spell, wanted to touch, which means it's sculpture, even if it isn't.
Wish my photo could capture the brilliant gleam of this turning of shapes
I had posted here a collection of light and dark color images called Light in the Basement, but since the art was mine, not somebody else's, and I couldn't talk about how good it was or wasn't and just plopped it here, briefly, I put it back where it started. Editors can't always tell where things go, till they're where they oughtn't.
Demolicious 7-10 pm, July 30, 2011: "A one-night amalgam of the colorful and kitsch vs the foreboding and apocalyptic, set in a house slated for demolition at 7030 Fisher Road. Playful kittens will be dressed in drag, plastic toys melted and transformed, all under the auspices of the Mckinney Avenue Contemporary. It’s a Crash Collective production, featuring contributions from Mary Benedicto, Courtney Brown, Ashley Bryan, Paul Bryan, Chandra Bun , Dwayne Carter, Val Curry, Sam England, Jason Flowers, Eric de Llamas, Jeff Parrott, and Josh Poole.
The Demolicious House - a slight nod to art before the wrecking ball
I cringed when I heard about Demolicious. I figured, oh, groan … a bunch of amateurs concept copying Modern Ruin [in Art Here Lately #8], the outstanding Dallas exhibition of 2010 — although Sustenance [Art Here Lately #10] gave it a run for the glory seven months later. Ruin was a yet-unused bank building about to be razed into the growing economic disaster. Its only glory an art show by top Dallas artists. Sustenance was in a broke-down building already well into ruin.
This gutted home pales in both comparisons, but some interesting work was among too much drek — way past kitsch. We'll explore both, but even the word, Demolicious is overused. Google it and see how many responses you get.
Jeff Parrott title unknown J R called it spew
But first, some cringe-worthy dreck. Not all of it, but if you start at the floor, you won't get far. That this endeavor is directly associated with The MAC should at least be worrisome. I hope next time they try something like this, they choose better or don't let just anybody who happens by help the decoration. Or they choose one somebody to be in charge. It didn't look like anybody actually organized it, and that may be a cue. Lots of paint slopped with little intention, intelligence or forethought. I watched the owners stare in disbelief. Me, too. There's art, and there's slop.
Turns out Mary Benedicto was [not] here.
It's a legit
walker. Child's identity obscurred by parental request.
Must be Benedicto's work [It wasn't; I was wrong.], and nice to see, although the child seems overwhelmed — where to start? Probably one or two would have done it. I wonder if she expected an actual child to try it out? Maybe not up to the unified standard of the Phallus Shurzz at the 2009 MAC XV Member Show and hanging there straight since — even though the artist intended it angled as shown there. Glad she's still at it. More contrasty, less sexual innuendo, but similarly protruding. Like doodles made solid in vivid color. Congruous. Sensible if a bit overboard, but that may be her oeuvre.
Val Curry Learning 2008-11 children's
toys, computer parts,
polyurethane foam, polyester resin, wood and fasteners life size
Speaking of. This object of trash, and I'm not being unkind calling this — one of the better realized rooms, with matching walls and just this one big lump — trash. When we walked through the inconspicuous front door, someone handed me a piece list with no prices, and I shoved it into my back pocket, and hadn't seen it since. Anna's dropped to the floor of The Slider, or I wouldn't have even that much chance of IDing anything but those few who signed or posted their name by their pieces (usually a good idea with iffy management). Not identifying was rampant. Some, I could see why. This, I want to know.
Yeah, this looks like a pile of crap, and probably is, but it's got shape and texture and is floating fully enclosed in that vivid, calm — other than the color, of course — matching room. Either somebody put some work into this, or they work at the dump and pulled it out of the sludge, but recognized it as a potential art form. Hard to tell. My first look was affront, but it's got class. Someone thought this one through. I love that it floats. Its shadows helpful.
Sam England Creation acrylic on canvas on plywood $500
Less than perfect fill in the blank: Lighting, placement, aesthetics all through. I don't care much for the faces and bodies behind this tongue-waving screamer, but Fidel, The Screamer was worth software sucking it back from the darkness. And this particular artist, has a website (one of several with that name, one very loud) named Crash Collective. With a phone number starting in the 903 area code but no email link. Coincidentally, Crash Collective is who supposedly organized this … event, although England does not include it on the site.
One of the more subtle viewpoints
String Subtleties in blues and green. A visual relief. Looking up into this angular bit of architectural detail, I can begin to understand why somebody would want to knock down the house and start all over again. Not that I'd want unplanned, un-thought paint-drippers slobbering through it before the wrecking ball, but pleasant to look up into a skylight and see supple and hard lines contrasting.
I'd hoped to match this number with one on the map but they don't tally. A little rough around the literal edges, but enough quality to seriously reconsider its placement in this madhouse, although the color scheme fits right in. The near eye beams may place it in the same realm as the pink moth somewhere below.
Ashley Bryan installation 2011
Guess I'll settle for anyone who wants to suggest titles or artists' names for these. Here, just around some corners and through a doorway from that melange of splatter visions and insipid excesses is a gently balanced room of quiet shapes and unobtrusive color. Might even mean something but I was happy enough being there measuring the balance, if briefly.
Thor Johnson What To Do When The Bad Man Comes
As if making your mark in an art show was a necessary thing, or there was space for more. As if more wretched excess is better than less. As if somebody somewhere had thought through the notion, the placement or the worthiness. Still, adequate drawing of the fanged one, which was painted there before the Make Your Mark sign was posted (by whom?). That the Make-Your sign was itself later painted over, seems fair. There's a sense of cross purposes here that someone being in charge may have helped eliminate. There were also skirmishes between artists, and sloveness delivered upon other artists purpetrated.
Jeff Parrot Splatter Room
Ditto about the excess. Need to fill some space with mitigated dreck? We got your crew, and they promise not to plan ahead or make sense. As texture, however, it may have redeeming artistic value. That little white — is that a frog? — is not nearly enough subject for all that ground. But I've got to admit, it's growing on me. I like it better everytime I see it.
Rachel Lee Stephens pixelated Blue Jesus painting
Or maybe that's just some other guy wearing a crown of thorns. My favorite part is the hat, although the matching step ladder is nice enough. In my house that rug would be an improvement, but the hat. The hat, and a transparent effort to show process.
Eric De Llamas paintings
The brightest space … Is empty. Woulda been a booger to get into that bright space over the closet, but with that much more light drawing us in, like negative space screaming to be filled, melty smiley faces or not. I know I've seen that guy in the hat before. Wonder whose?
Dwayne Carter untitled comix mural
If he'd given it three or four more hours, this coulda been a contender. It has dynamics, contrast, some control, legs and an impossibly bent and de-foreshortened body falling or being hurled — probably should have hurled somebody, so he'd know what that really looks like — subtle tones, and it fits right into that odd roofish space perfect for a comic splay.
I know Dwayne, used to while hours away posing for his much earlier work, admire his comix-publishing fortitude and wonder how he got hornswoggled into doing two pieces in one room in this one-night show. Hubris or time-management? The other is much less finished or formed. He likes gestures and odd body formations, and here they are in a comix-framed explosion of it.
Lilly Pad room with color projections
You can't see them, but also there were "Sound Scapes," what the guy who was making them called them, doodling through the background electronically. All by itself, that white staircase could have made the room. The owners probably thought so, too, a long time ago. Empty the shelves to reinforce the shadows and shapes. Mary Benedicto or not; surely she could have put those googaws somewhere else.
But the lilly pad islands and Benedictos growing out of them and on them and in between and the disassociated scribbles all around, and that implausibly stupid bird. Oh, no. The wobbly green shurzz are growing on me. Maybe the red chair with the stairs and shelves, and okay, why not, the bird. The Shurzz probably go with the bird, native to that part of the country, no doubt. But the color projections on top of Benedicto blobs is too much on too much. Less, as almost everywhere else in this house — would have been more.
Jeff Parrott bat-mouthed moth
Like this, in the laundry room? Eye projections lilting through the evening light. The room on the map I thought this might be this one, doesn't have a number, so there's no art there. Right? Next time, I'll studiously cross link art and artists, rooms and colors or however that's accomplished. Please somebody who knows. And Crash Collective doesn't have an email? I'd really like to put artists' names, titles, mediums and even sizes together under each of these images of art. Wonder how likely that is? The MAC replied to my entreating email by handing me off to Val Curry, who identified several pieces. If I miss anyone, track me down and tell me artist name, title, medium, size and date if possible..
Robert David Reedy So It Goes
I remember the space, and I think I looked beyond but couldn't figure how to photo the whole thing although I pulled a pano later that evening, so I just forgot the round-the-corner scene. No idea where it was in the house. I didn't then, but since I've put these words, only part of the puzzle, together in ways, most of which make no sense. Which fits perfectly.
Sam England painting installation
Here's the treat I promised, if you'd stick with it this far. The purple goat on the right is hanging from the ceiling. As is the face and odd blue curlied instrument blob near the center, with all its extensions. A lot of the other shapes are painted on the far wall, but the tiny toy baby heads protrude from the netting. The wall is less than as painting, while it has its merits as deconstructive backdrop. My favorite part is the head about to blow on the blugle and the snarling tiger snake mouth extending out of it.
You really can't see it from the outside
There's a density of forestation out front to keep anyone driving down Fisher Road toward the lake from actually seeing the address, then the driveway up into the upper middle class carport at the top of today's lesson, then this big front room with nearly opaqued windows blinding its eyes out onto the woods. As in Licious. In this unhappy case, Demo. More I look at this mess, the more I like it. I may have increased the contrast it Photoshop. It needed it.
Val Curry later told me, "While I did, loosely put this show together, I probably would not use the term organize and definitely not the term curate. I basically was given two and a half weeks to do something as a send-off for this home, and decided to have fun with it and provide an environment for these artists to show … what they could do. We all know that can be a risky proposition, but I definitely feel successful with my goal of having fun and letting the artists have fun — something we don't always get to see in the Dallas art world."
Special thanks to Ambrea Nicoile Dean for identifying most of what's been identified so far. If you can i.d more, send to Contact link at the top of this page and identify the piece by my caption so far.
Hate to admit it, but plunking art in a gallery sometimes seems to help. Help see it, where it starts, where it ends, not getting it lost in the ground, but there's a charm or quality or blessed confusion in not always knowing those things.
The Object of my Construction - Alan Siggers at Oliver Francis, 209 South Peak Street, opening 6-9 Saturday, July 30, through August 13
Our next show that night carried the construction/deconstruction motif forward, by already having been deconstructed, parts found, then being somewhere in the medias in res of reconstruction in an otherwise neutral, narrow, shotgun gallery, on a busy one-way street with cars humping a big bump then flying by and nearly no sign.
Artist Alan Siggers and UTA instructor Marilyn Jolly discuss.
We drove right by it repeatedly. I'd not found this place once before, figured they were hiding from something or somebody. Its small sign, subtle in tones on similar tones, thin gray, nearly no word space on tan, in a bricked-over window on a bricked-over building (behind the blank wall above).
Eventually, we figured it out and walked into this impossibly narrow, far-back, shotgun space, the front room of which was packed with a small, but room-filling mob of young people not paying anybody else much attention. Students I'm guessing. And a couple teachers up front with the artist asking questions. Did we interrupt a class?
Alan Siggers The Door, The Will
and The Way 2011
mixed media 215 x 108 inches composite image
Like they were posing for an invisible photographer. Student explains work to teacher, the class in a clatch behind blithely ignores. Art on the front wall of their classroom. Teachers in unheard dialog. Seemed pat. Odd. In place out of place.
from the other end of the ramp
Kids were playing on it, I figured that ramp to nowhere had to be safe. Maybe, but too bouncy on the far end. Probably not really for climbing or exploring. Thought there might be a visual payoff in the small, mostly empty room off, and down, from the bouncing end of the bridge. But there wasn't.
I don't know most of the people in
this photograph or whose kids accompanied Anna and me to the end of the ramp,
where I think they also found the bounce too scary. But the man on the
left, watching them is my newest — since
his talk at the Oak Cliff Culture Center weekend before last — art hero
Sedrick Huckaby, whose quilts he lately makes from wood scraps not nearly enough
Terry & Kathy Talk Art
Artists Enter. Terry opens the door for a friend, Kathy framed in the doorway
I didn't plan this story. Terry Hays and Kathy Robinson Hays are my friends, and she's a Supporting Member of DallasArtsRevue, and I'm working on a project with him. I wanted to see and hear what they had to say about their art. Partly to support them as artists and friends of course, but mostly out of curiosity. I'd brought the right tools, just in case. A quiet camera with a wide, bright, non-birding lens and a recorder that looks enough like nearly nothing, that people say what they would have said anyway.
Terry Hays spoke first — and last.
I didn't realize I'd probably publish something about it till it was nearly over. I'd already photographed some art I liked, but when I saw Terry and Kathy and friends walking up the street, I stood from the only sit-down op in the ersatz gallery nee boutique, and clicked at them coming in the door.
Kathy Robinson Hays ponders a question.
It's an odd space, even for the space-hopping RO2 that's currently showing Dallas artists (and others) in two very different spaces, one compressed into the the first floor of a big building in impossible-to-find parking downtown — I drove while Anna looked, then she did while I went inside. A wearing way to watch art.
And now here in Near North Dallas — that has a more prosaic name I never remember — where the real estate agent probably prohibits even semi-permanent signage big enough to announce whose art this or that is, although some identifying consistency would help. Part of the gallery game is to sell names, not just chunk art where people can see it.
I counted 29 people attending, with maybe three more after the swirling lectures began. I'd arrived early enough to snag one of a half-dozen on-street slots in front, but the gallery was on Texas Time, so we got to talk some and meet new people. Ro had clear booze I avoided but tasted one small candy cookie at the end. Mostly kept my hands full of camera.
Bow tie and Video
On a far wall a short video by Ludwig Schwartz projected looping Laughing Gulls over a Galveston beach until Jordan ROth introduced the artists, and Terry started. Mixed crowd, though not so much socio-economically. Interesting and interesting-looking people. Some I knew and a lot I didn't. Nice blend of comfy posh threads. Cozy community feel in lots of space.
Listening intently and smiling
I photographed us while the artists talked. I didn't have even this much in mind and feel lucky I got decent shots of both Hayses. Visually, I am fascinated by the way we fit together in random wandering spaces as we followed piece to piece, rearranging our mass to accommodate what was discussed. Not blocking others' views, at up close and respectful distance. A formal, interdependent informality. Great for photographic depth. People close and far, like sculptures moving around the room.
Watching and thinking
I am sometimes self-conscious aiming cameras at perfect strangers, but in meandering masses it can be liberating. I considered attending the Mavericks Championship brouhaha downtown just to photo all those people. But here was cool and pleasant and gently informative — and my getaway car near. Plus, these are the right people. I listened, asked a few questions and gloried at photographing sans subterfuge.
Terry on riser
I know these people by name and recognized others and met and talked with more. I didn't know most of them there.
And I wasn't the only photog. The talks were continuously interesting as well as entertaining. This space is big but with odd angled ramps to a riser I watched several people trip over on one side of the front door, flanked with matching built-in sit-downs — the only relax places in the space. A short desk in the image below, by the riser, and a long one down the middle here. When you're begging real estate, you take what you can get, and this was a find.
Watching the video in slow mo darkness
This is slow-mo color, not what was there unless, like a camera, you can see in the dark. More like blurs even if they hold still for the looping vid Ro2 turned on after the talks and dousing the lights. Apparently to clear the darkened salon, which after a loop or two of birds flapping, emptied quickly without complaint.
Parting conversation in the dark
A few words exchanged near the door …
And only slatted shadows near the ceiling left.
Cheap Lights dot com on Stemmons Expressway
First saw this coming back from the near west in the early night light. Sparklers on top flashing, bottom video crawl spectruming jumps and splats past the windows. Plenty info, quick along the verbose, billboard strewn highway, blatant in the lights-just-on-traffic. I haven't linked to the site, kinda afraid to. Like it for just what it is, and the feeling that, like so many galleries opening that noisy Saturday night, all that art was flashing and crashing and not getting anywhere near this directly communicative.
Kerry Pacillio Untitled 2009 tulle, urethane rubber, latex 12 x 8 x 8 $400
First time I saw this, that I still think of as Hand-wrapped Rooster Nipples was at 500X two years ago. I'm surprised it didn't sell then. Probably was cheaper by half. I appreciated it as well, in its posher new digs at Cohn Drennan Contemporary, where the price still seemed absurdist low. I don't remember the blue one that blue, but remember its sneaky afterimage color surprised me last time, too.
The ironic juxtaposition self-contradictions of cock's combs on top, and nubblet, baby nipple feet interchanging with the mystery of what tall form is hand-wrist wrapped in ostensive white floating in either gallery is almost too much to contemplate. Nice to see old friends in new spaces.
Kerry Pacilllio site
Giovanni Valderas Untitled 1 2011
mixed media on canvas 48 x 60 inches $2400
Also at Cohn Drennan, where I'd gone to investigate Bonny Leibowitz' work but found hers not even as interesting as it looks on our calendar page (although Anna liked it), was UNT MFA student Giovanni Valderas' post post-modern multimeed collage of a child, being who it is with its whole history of every thought and moment, spewed floating along with it, holding my attention.
Briefly walked into Craighead Green — even though it wasn't on my short list — simply because it was right there when I was wandering around the parking lot street wondering where I'd parked The Slider after Conan The Dread at six o'clock before Dragon Street clogged totally up. But all I could see was too many people not even looking at the art to see the art, so I turned and wandered out into the turgid slow-mo traffic waiting for forever. CG is better on a Tuesday.
Kathleen Wilke Fall digital photograph mounted on wood 24 x 36 inches $1500
Speaking of juxtaposing ironies, I wandered across the street to the Creative Art Center's juried Member Show at Mary Tomas Gallery, which for a change did not have any of her own work filling the walls, and where was only this that took me anywhere. And it floated me gently down into a slowly unfurling, near zero-gravity descent for a pleasing inexactitude of time, then left me warm and a little wet in wonderment.
I assume, since hers often are, it was shot underwater, obvious only in the glisten scatter of highlights at what I perceive to be the top right. Wilke flops and flips and turns her images to alter our expectations, so you never know. That and the submarine blue are the few tip offs we're watching through ink-black hydro.
I hope I've got the colors right. This superb piece was chunked in the melee that was the food end of the gallery and that whole splatter was ad hoc illumined in several forms of too-casual lumination (My first rendering showed the wall pink), but at least the AC had been on so it was cool in there. I've never seen a CAC show with so few winners.
CAC is always a mixed bag of craft and deco barely edging into fine art, although the school's politics are usually apparent. Whose work rises past the dreck depends on who's taking classes that semester. My own juxtaposing irony is that I have a peppered history with the institution and have been formally banned from its campus, so I look for exterior opportunities to see what's passing through, though I still harbor fond memories of great teachers and solid citizen artists there.
Debora Hunter Past, Present, Future Perfect Tense 2007
archival pigment print, 1 of 2 24 x 51 inches $2500
Not surprising this writer, also a photog, was drawn to these images on a night of many mediums at too many galleries (at least seven) to contemplate. I recognized my friend Debora from across the spacious gallery full of people at Kirk Hopper. She's the good little Catholic girl whose shawl-covered head grafts out of the gone father's shadow in the third frame, his tie hovering still, but her gaze off in another direction.
The clarity of black and white ringing through the years tells a complicated tale of family gone asunder, but still smiling, except little Debora. Dad's authority-figure suit and tie still in place, the shoulder of Mom's pretty two-tone dress emblazoned with a corsage the shapes of a small alien poodle, reminding boomers and Xers of our 40s and 50s moms.
Good, too, to see a crowded Kirk Hopper. Their first few shows were sparsely attended. Of course we listed them, but the others didn't trust untried new spaces. Seemed inept, but now, even at the wrong end of Commerce, they're filling up, and I hope selling, local work.
Keri Oldham Red Hands 2011 watercolor on paper 30 x 23 inches
A faceless crimson androdg models what must be a costume but for what stage? Looking at its sexless body, I'd thought the show's titillating yet witless title — Sex/Twist — would draw some overtly sexual something. But I didn't see even a hint. Plenty relationships and interaction and colorful whatever this is one of, but no sex or sexy. Pity.
Sharon Englestein Triplet 2002 fabric and forced air 10 x 10 x 10 feet $15000
Sculpture-mover behind the outdoor gallery artist anonymous
Ah but this startling composition in Rust & Rubber in Box World stationed farther back, scintillated. Although maybe you just had to be there.
Has Someone on the Internet Stolen Your Work?
Richard Ray Eating Paint - copyright 2008 by J R Compton and Richard Ray
This image, stolen from The Richard Show, a series of very quick performance art collaborations by Richard Ray and this writer, J R Compton, over the last several years, was illegally downloaded and used for their own purposes without regard for copyright by several bloggers, all of whom I have stopped in their tracks by using Google online forms detailed in our linked story.
I have also learned it was used — before I added the copyright notice as shown above — as a front-door poster by Dandelion Gallery in Waukegan, Illinois. You'd think an art gallery would know better than to use an image stolen from the Internet. I'm told the person who copied it and pasted it there "liked it and wanted to meet Richard and [me]," although neither he nor the gallery bothered to credit nor contact either of us.
The gallery was informed who was in the photograph, who created the photograph and even who used to own the X-marked tube of red paint. Yet now their lawyer claims I have no right to recompense for the image they say was glued on the front of their building by "a vandal," who spent time talking with a variety of artist members of that gallery.
Apparently, in Waukegan, it is not uncommon for a vandal to have long, philosophical discussions with a bunch of artists at a gallery he has just vandalized. To my knowledge, there have been no charges against this rather indiscreet vandal.
Perhaps I should remind us all that merely by posting an image on the internet, it is automatically legally and officially copyrighted. Learn to stop the image thieves; read our story and get the details about what to do when — not if — your images are stolen, too.
Haven't attended an art opening with intention to cover it here for awhile. Still have not. Anna's doing the Calendar now, so I pay even less attention to it than I did when I was doing it. So, happily, I worry less about what's going on in art in Dallas. There's a blessed relief in not knowing and not caring. But even that gets old. I've been thinking that same old thought again.
This wall mural has been there for years and has grown on me and keeps doing that. On the front of what's now the Icehouse Dance Studio. This the left half. Right of the door, the vertical stripes continue to frame a woman dancer also falling backwards but much less convincingly. Of course I wish that fence weren't there. But, standing in the front-in parking area looking up the short stairs, it is easy to imagine the fence away or ignore it entirely.
Mostly photo-realist, it has overt flaws, but I don't care. Several aspects are just wrong. That leaning is precarious, as if they were stepping back to fling themselves forward, but it fails. I worry he'll splash brains on the concrete. Are those dark blue ties pulling him down or being flung? The deer head perspective is out of whack too, but I like looking at they guy. Love the dense, rich colors. The stripes are wonderful, remind me of images in Mexican architecture books I tried to copy in my home.
Calla Lilies across the street have gathered surprisingly little graffiti.
I still need to find one chunk of art I feel strongly about, and write it. Found a couple pieces today that very nearly qualify. Made me stop and stare and wonder why awhile, so it's a start but I'm not there yet. In fact we were at the Start gallery. At first, we couldn't find the place, even though we had the address. It was where the old Ice House is. Across from these lillies in the shady right-angle street that goes around the extended ice house property. I photographed these when the Ice House Cultural Center was new — although the ice house itself was already pretty old. That was well before it stopped being the Ice House Gallery and moved into downtown Oak Cliff to became the Oak Cliff Cultural Center in a newer building next to the Texas Theatre.
Wrong Address on X Street
So we drove right by the old Ice House even though I saw some people who looked like gallery-goers walking up to the door. We didn't see a sign, so we drove down the street. To this, where we were pretty sure was not a gallery. So we circled back. Nice neighborhood.
Lauren Hirsch Intersected
Where, behind a tiny, nearly illegible from the street, sign on the door, we found a big, spacious, but very familiar gallery with up and down floors and shallow stairs that took careful walking, where I found these.
I stopped and stared at this for a long time, my art brain slowly restarting, and I came back again later to stare some more. I haven't figured it out. Or why I like it. What it's up to. What's going on in there. But I like tones, the contrast of textures and loose, scribbled-upon, scatter composition. The balance of all those disparate elements is nearly perfect, but I still don't know what there is about it that pulls me so.
It could be head and shoulders. I might see a bandaged mouth and a dark eye. But we humans put faces where they often are not. It is like a map, maybe, that goes somewhere and has been somewhere else. Little scribbles and bigger shapes that fade to nearly black around the edges. Maybe it's the boat we're in, but that's pulling physical reality into something that is another kind of place. A different kind of mapping. Tantalizing play with tones, and dark and light and … much more than that I'd just be making up stories.
There was a more … well, I can't say realistic. Maybe I'll have to settle for narrative piece that I liked, then Anna liked, then I stopped liking sometime later. But one I was so attracted to I had to show Anna. I'd stopped awhile to figure its emotions and composition, and when Anna and I got to it on my second trip around that far end of the gallery, she liked it enough to consider buying it. No doubt part of why we liked it was we're bird people and always pay more attention to that imagery. There's a poignancy there, though not a perfection. Anna stared at it and spoke three words.
"Sad, serene and," she paused, "Hopeful." When we introduced ourselves to the artist, and she joined us back in front of it, and Anna said those words again, Hirsch agreed and led us into her thoughts from when she made it. I hovered near, hoping to photo them, even if I rarely photograph artists in galleries.
Somebody's Back Yard
Me being very social. Comes natural to Anna. I struggle with and against it. But I'm always happiest wandering around disfamiliar places making photographs. Like the buildings around the ice house, art on it, and across from it. Now I think I should have checked out the big murals on inner ice house spaces that I only later remembered. I may have to go back for those. Across the alley is this luxurious building dripping with green, contrasting, affluent red. Couldn't help it, I had to click.
Sandy Stein Sculpture
Took some other pictures, including the one at the top here on the building next door and the Calla Lilies I've always loved across the street. We were about to escape the neighborhood when Anna stopped when we saw this in the shade across the other end of the street. First, it looked a little like an Eliseo Garcia, but up closer it didn't have his bold solidity or robust elegance. This object is off-kilter, crooked and crowded. Amateur, too-quick or from a child's drawing.
By Sandy Stein, whose work I have sometimes admired, but this one steals from other People's cultures, then puts them away awkwardly. Then she pops that off-scale blue chunk cherry on top that doesn't match anything. Probably had it lying around the studio and didn't know what else to do with it. That moon, added too late to be that informal, will eventually escape its symbol jumble and leave the empty at the bottom, emptier. Is that a dog paw at the top of the stone? I hope the City didn't pay for it, although it looks like it was designed by one of their committees.
Fantasy in Pink & Coral
Anna hadn't seen the superb War photography show Dee Mitchell helped curate at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center, so we parked down a ways on that street with plans to visit the pet store on the opposite corner after we'd visit the center. Which wasn't open when we finally got past the amazing store-window culture all down the street.
BEWARE: We only sale here the original. Cheap is imitation is harmful for your health.
I love the always rich, dense color of downtown Oak Cliff, but it's this Engrish sign I got sucked into enough to spend exposures enough to get the light just right, especially in the shadows. Anna later told me of a Facebook page of Engrish signs this would fit in with.
We photographed more window displays on down the street, found the center closed and mostly empty — no photographs, no show, but we had fun with the front of the Texas Theatre looking up.
I walked into that pet shop, then walked right back out and got my breath. It stunk worse than any place I've ever had the olfactory displeasure to experience. I warned Anna, and she didn't even make it all the way through the door. We'd had great fun in another colorful pet shop and thought we were up for the adventure again.
Driving back north to Dallas when we saw that big white bridge floating on the horizon. I hold grudges against it, but the thing itself is getting pretty with all the whiskers finally strung up. On one of our wrong sidewise transitions towards it, I saw this.
A Round Conduit
And this was across the going-nowhere side street from The Hangman and his oddly angled noose. I've long had a thing for big transitions, including round concrete ones, so I had to photograph it. I tried to shade the lens so that splash of sunlight didn't get into the lens to bounce around in there, but now I'm glad I failed, because it's such an insubstantial and perversely photographic entity. It worked hard to gain entry, I should let it stay. One of those belly-buttons potters thumb into wet pots, so their word doesn't aspire too close to perfection and piss off the gods.
Man Against Fence
Anna got us on the right road to the bridge, and I always think we're going south to Dallas instead of north, but that's probably why I wasn't navigating. I liked the sign and that long stretch of corrugated tan filling the horizon with the deep blue sky and no words like vacancy or no and no hotel courts in sight, but had only the wide-angle lens. I didn't see the guy leaning on the fence till long after I shot it. I usually think in telephoto, lately long telephoto, so playing with a wide angle that day was egressive fun, a jog in the brain. Great sign.
It was hard not to see it. Half the time I think of it as a blight on the landscape, but it has its elegance. It's sad they're going to trash the ancient stone but sturdy and funky old bridge we walked halfway across to get these, but Dallas is like that.
Positive & Negative Shadows
I'd tried this view before. Looking almost straight down into what there is of the Trinity River with that elliptical arc and those spokes intersticing under bridge shadows and arched bights, all rippled on smooth. That shot may still be on one of these pages somewhere. But this time is better. More of the bridge in it. More depth and pieces of reality. It just goes on down forever.
Lower THAT Bridge
Once we got going again on That Bridge, it was difficult to stop. So many interesting things going on in and on and under. So many angles that need shooting. It is a beautiful thing, but I like the making of it, and the miniature everything below.
THAT Bridge and Muh Honey
Finally got downtown skyline through the bridge by not paying any attention to what was back there while concentrating on getting as many spokes in as possible and including all of Anna, too. I had to yell across the busy bridge to please smile.
Low Blur — audience from outside
Kettler blocking the way to the building's other tenant's offices
Oak Cliff Visual Speedbump Art Tour
Stairs up to Kenda North, Robert Bittle and Todd Hedrick's space
Speed Bump 2011: The Oak Cliff Studio Tour - Mary Benedicto, Robert
Cornelius, Val Curry, C.J. Davis, Vern Evans at The Kessler Theater,
Heather Ezell, Jeff Gibbons, Gretchen Goetz, Todd Hedrick, Olivette Hubler, Stuart
Kraft, Scogin Mayo, Rosemary Meza-DesPlas and Stephanie Koenig at Mighty Fine
Arts, Charley Mitcherson, Kenda North, Kevin Obregon at The Cube Creative Studios,
Oak Cliff Cultural Center, Oil and Cotton, Tom Roach, Brian Scott and Brian Jones,
Start Gallery, Erik Tostin and Scott Winterrowd, Noon-7
Saturday, May 14, Video art presentation 7-9 at 502 Clinton. Tour maps
available at all venues.
Thought I was still on vacation from writing about art — although I still think about the stuff way too much — but when Anna suggested the Oak Cliff Visual Speedbump Art Tour 2011 — noon-7 Saturday May 14, it sounded like fun. Brought my camera, Anna and Susan met me here, and I drove. Anna navigated and I never thought to look at the map myself, but apparently we did not attend every stop. If I hadn't been brain dead, we might have added a few more.
I did notice new paint on one building along our circuitous route, but only much later noticed there was a listing for the 7th Street Mural Project, which I've enjoyed before and may yet revisit. We also talked about Charles Dee Mitchell and Cynthia Mulcahy's XXI: Conflicts in a New Century at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center, but by the time we might have gone, we'd forgot. Ours was a very informal enactment of this tour that we had so thoroughly enjoyed in Oak Cliff tours past. I still remember when it was called a Drive-by tour, and that name lingers.
Greeting us as we entered the front door
We started at the tour's farthest point, Ray-Mel Cornelius' home almost as south as the map got, then wound our meandering way into to inner Oak Cliff. Oddly, I felt too comfortable to take photos at Ray-Mel and Becky's. Pleasant place, friendly people gathered, plenty of art to view, and his tiny but bright studio welcoming. I noticed an absence of the mechanico streamlined look (now on top of his DallasArtsRevue Member Page) I'd expected. There were plenty roosters and some cows, but no streamliners. I asked.
Ray-Mel, who told me he sells most of what he paints, said he'd planned to show the new style in his show at Norwood-Flynn, but they wanted cows, so he gave them cows. I'd got excited about the distinctive newer style but was only mildly disappointed. I'd been avoiding the occasion of art, and it felt good to be in an active art space again. I sat in a comfortable place in the TV room and talked with a fellow photographer till Anna, Susan and I probably should have left already.
Erik Tosten carved spoons
Next stop was Eric Tosten and Val Curry, where we anticipated his usual startlingly superb and often offbeat art. Instead, we got spoons. Carved wood spoons in a garage workspace with no hint of other art. Erik was talkative but distracted. I wasn't sure what to make of the spoons, so I wandered around outside and somehow missed Val Curry art altogether. But I found a pleasant garden around the corner, a very friendly place that, when I drew Erik to it, he spoke animatedly about, mentioning the strips of bricks that just fit between the plants and his double 55-gallon drums prototype rain collector he planned to produce several more of.
On Chuck & George's Front Porch
Then was the usual Chuck and George onslaught. Just a little funky outside, with a pleasant flower garden by the sidewalk and lots of green and growy and natural color, some quirky items on the porch, and much more aggressive stuff inside, but by the time I was on the back porch, it was calm again. It has always seemed that Brian K. Jones and Brian K Scott, who call themselves Chuck & George, go too far out of their way to make outrageous art.
I suspect it began as — and I have seen flashes and inspired examples of it along the way — a true expression of whom they are, which is as much as we can expect from artists. But at some point, they apparently decided it was too much fun being outré, and gradually they settled into that oeuvre instead of pushing themselves and their perceptions. Throughout their home, I found little realms of reality not even pretending to pertain to art, but all the art I perceived — though I tended to gloss over a lot of it, and there was a lot of it densely stacked and piled and filling whole walls — gave me the bad deja voos. I knew I'd seen something awfully like it, generally by Chuck & George, before.
a reality vignette from Chuck & George's back porch
The first few visits to their place were intriguing, visually exciting. This, I think, third trip, got old quick. Still a little timid, I sought refuge on the back porch, then quickly made my way through a lot of people inside — carefully visiting all the rooms, hoping I'd see something real and inspired, then I was past the crowd and back out the front door to settle onto the porch swing, where I eventually got up to photograph the grotesquely colored silver guy at the top of this visit, Mr. Emblematic. Then I got back on the swing and swung gently till the ladies showed back up and we were off again.
Gretschen Goetz & Scott Winterrowd, it says here on the map/brochure, but though I wandered all through that house, I found nothing I wanted to show you or save in a photograph till I got back out on the front porch and another porch swing, which I again reluctantly left long enough to photograph this object, then went back to slowly rocking.
Kenda North's Letterer
I'm a big fan of Kenda North's work. I adored her wisping clothing on glistening people floating in swimming pools and have written extensively about those and her newer series of public shop window clothing and disjointed manikins. Her photographs offer a subtly surprising sense of space and color that's sensitive, gentle and quietly awesome.
I have sometimes wondered how she managed such neat lettering on what I thought were her less inspired underwater images — the only ones with words superimposed. These translucent sheets may be what she used to filter projected images through to make words on those images. I liked this representation of them for its multi-layered, enigmatic cross-purpose messages.
Kenda North & Robert Bittle Pet Portraits
She and fellow photographer Robert Bittle have a studio pet portrait project where pet owners can get a decent — from the looks of it — 16x20 pet portrait for a bargain $150. Although I kept seeing that same big-brown-eyed pooch on the right. I was so in awe actually being in the space where Kenda North makes art, I barely noticed the large, spacious studio upstairs from a storefront in Oak Cliff had another occupant. Star struck.
Robert Bittle Photographs
From the evidence hanging on walls, Bittle's work is quite good. Strong compositions, great use of darks, often a flying or leaping person at the center of compositional framing, though I did briefly concern myself with the repetitive use of those same shapes in some shots.
View Out the Window
I liked the colorful view of downtownish Oak Cliff that seemed to infinitely extend the spacious feeling inside the upstairs digs overlooking the busy intersection of Jefferson and Tyler. Keep Oak Cliff Colorful.
Something about wandering freely in that spacious studio inspired me to take more pix than I'd shot at any other place on the tour. I only avoided photographing more of North's work because they were glossy, behind glass or otherwise reflective, but I liked this kitchenette setting with one of her pieces floating over. I recognize the underwater blue and flesh tones, but can't make out much else details or overall image. I see a torso, an arm and a wispy water level. I like that I don't know what this is a photograph of. Always nice to see new work by a treasured artist.
Kenda North showing Anna, Susan and me her work
When we took notice of books of her photographs on that central desk and perused them slowly and carefully, Kenda came over and engaged us in conversation and showed us samples of her work for Craighead Green gallery — the thumbnail images on the sheets above. Notice the preponderance of aquas, reds and black.
Back Down the Stairs to Downtown Oak Cliff
Eventually, we shredded ourselves away, stepped carefully back down the stairs and were off to the next stop, neatly missing the nearby Texas Theatre's short videos and the new Oak Cliff Cultural Center's superb XXI, Conflicts in a New Century photography show, which I had wanted to show Anna and Susan.
Kissy Fishy in the front window of an Aquarium Supply on Tyler Street
Missy Kissy Fishy here was in the otherwise blank front window of another of the storefront spaces along South Tyler in the complex that Anna called "The Cluster." I'll spare you my word-association trip with that term as I almost let off my passengers in the middle of the downhill racetrack straightaway that is South Tyler just before the light at West Davis. The neighborhood that has grown around MFA gallery is a gaudily colorful place of small, fast up and down businesses and easy art spaces, with lots of bright colors on many walls.
I like the idea of a blank, dark window in the middle of a nearly abstract bit of official public graffiti.
More Local Color
And that floating bicycle has long intrigued me, but this is the first time I've successfully photographed this bit of surreal sanity in that largely over-decorated semi-commercial neighborhood across from Mighty Fine Arts, Incense & Peppermints and The Cube Creative. Every time I look at this shot, I want to suck that bike, its shadow, awning, and that lovely pastel blue wall out into its own photo, although the vivid and increasingly angry Popsicles lining up into the darkening alley are their own story.
Kevin Obregon American Coots $400
We didn't go to MFA, although it's one of our favorite art spaces in Dallas, because we'd seen the show there already and were getting hungry. We did stop at The Cube Creative to wander and talk. Kevin Obregon, who probably painted these, said he thought of me when and my bird journal when he brought these guys out. I like the way they are rendered with too-bright beaks and too-dark eyes, simplified, like most of my photos of them usually turn out.
502 North Clinton
The last stop on our personalized version of the Speed Bump Tour was to this partially gutted, then recently semi-rehabilitated little building whose straight-edged construction seems a miniature match to the towering two-tone red Kessler Theater across the grassy ersatz sculpture garden to the left — where I think I've seen barbecue picnics for the Kessler crowd sometimes on a summer evening.
Perhaps a Mary Benedicto installation
Inside the front door at 502, which was probably a temporarily rented space, was this installation that may have been by Mary Benedicto, who has not risen above her spectacular Phallus Shurzz debut in the McKinney Avenue Contemporary's XV, Fifteenth Anniversary Member Exhibition, where it still is, variously hanging, straight, from the ceiling. Last I saw it was in the red room just inside The MAC's entry. But these colors, shapes and composition don't measure up to that kind of impromptu inspiration and cohesion.
artist and title unknown
Like too much else of art in that red-brick building, it feels forced, vapid, a vague copy of something we've seen too long ago. But the effort was a lively way to start us through a temporary art space / gallery showing a variety of artists' largely derivative work, most of which was about as successful as Benedicto's splay of color and shape, if it's even hers. If I could have found any identifying material for this truncated skater, I would have photographed it and told you who, what and when if not entirely why. There was also a lit bulb lying on the bare floor at the end of a long but frayed cord that I liked.
C J Davis cubes
I recognized this immediately. I'd seen Davis' new, soft-colored, solid three-dimensional work at Plush recently, and we saw him limping out the front door on a crutch when we came in here. I asked if he'd broken it playing ping pong at Plush, and he laughed and said yes. I think. His subtly colored, round-edged, almost pastel, squat candle-sized objects at Plush are beautiful and beg to be hefted. I can almost feel their visual suede texture in my hand as I write about them, although I dared not touch them. Transparent ice chunks here seem a tad much on top of those birthday-cake piled mats, but those too will probably turn up later in other artists' work. Trends seem to follow around in Davis' tracks.
This chunk of ripped-out concrete that was probably never intended as art was my favorite piece of sculpture on the tour — although that bicycle, Tosten's spoons and Missy Kissy Fishy all rank high. Intention does not always rule the art worthiness of an object, so I quickly dismissed any notions of it being more of art than accident. Nearby sculptures constructed from the parts of wood pallets seemed right at home with this thick, solid, multi-textured and subtly colored chunk.
Hungry and tired, we sat in bouncy metal lawn chairs lined in the thin shade of the rented art space watching the furniture sculptures and the large, unrelenting duo-tone red, brick-textured back of the Kessler Theater, which we also never got around to visiting, and enjoyed the cool breeze, warm sun and sense of space punctuated by the simple but elaborately accessorized furniture.
Then there's no more photographs, so we must have gone to eat and eventually back north to Dallas and our respective homes.
J R and Anna attended the Press Opening for the downtown Dallas Art Fair in the morning, then attended the public preview of the alternative, Suite Art Fair in Oak Cliff that evening at the Belmont Hotel, and photos of what J R found at are now on their own page.
Silvia Thornton Anomaly of Orange & Green 2011 found metal, glass, oil paint and charcoal 48 x 48 inches
Haley-Henrman had nice big melty wax paintings (See the calendar for more info.) and this chunk of metal(s) I've been watching for months during supervised visits at Silvia Thornton's home studio (a White Rock Lake Artists Studio Tour dinner and writer's reading. It got better each time I saw it, it got better, cleaner, more interesting. I don't remember anything but a delicious series of graphite drawings with more mood than detail, then I wandered around the neighborhood because of the light, the light, the light as evening fell.
I've been inside one of those buildings that's still artists' studios when it was a couple different couples making art together and apart. Long before that it was a speak-easy with a tall balcony upstairs and more stairs that looked out over the bridge from Dallas, so they could see cops coming for a raid and had time to clean up first.
Colorful light industrial neighborhood with custom car places and mechanics and little parking lots full of big trucks. So there's color and light. And at that time of day the light is beautiful, so I wandered around trying to capture its soul.
Alison Starr birds in Conduit's project room
Conduit had Neo Geo out front playing the angles and panels game from all those IQ tests, Big Wiggly photos about classic painting inside, and I couldn't tell what was going on in the project room there were so many people crowded in, so we'll go back later and maybe figure it out.
We didn't go to Craighead Green, because they had seven hundred artists showing tonight, and we knew it would be mobbed. Maybe next week, we'll sneak in and see if Marty Ray's work shines even better there than when I shot her newest pieces last week for her member's page. Probably it will.
Upstairs at the X — That Light
The project room at 500X was too little too late. The pit caged young adults playing roofball. Upstairs was more of the same except Patricia Hernandez' three paintings and a table of goofy collectibles. The paintings were enough. I'm calling them paintings, because they looked like paintings. But the medium, well you can read for yourself:
Patricia Hernandez Leap Through
A Void 2011 inkjet print on canvas highlighted
with Ralph Lauren gold paint 24 x 30 inches without frame $450 at 500X
And not just any paintings but paintings we've all seen a thousand times. Probably the old line galleries up and down Dragon Street still have them. I bet Banks has several, but probably without the stripey clown, which is a pity. Because with the clown, they are laugh out loud funny. And without him, simply pathetic.
I keep being reminded of the classic, French I think, black & white photograph of a man who has jumped off a building or something and is falling, head-first, I think, directly for the concrete. There does not seem to be anywhere else for him to go, nothing he can do. Cross that with all the schlock paintings in the world of evening crowds and public streets in perfect glowing light, with this star-spangled clown.
Patricia Hernandez Days Gone By 2011 (detail)
inkjet print on canvas highlighted with Ralph Lauren gold paint
18 x 24 inches without frame $350
We giggled then laughed. I didn't check prices till too later, but I'm already struggling to hang all my paintings, though I've long dreamed about buying a neighbor's (and I know which one)'s house and just filling it with art like David Gibson's. Hernandez' would fit right in any serious collection.
Out front at Centraltrak was one of each of the failed states of sculpture from the last few decades, including this luscious layering of soft threads in a Plex box I'm sure everybody remembers instances of from as long ago as we can remember.
And a short strung spectrum from Gabriel Dawe, that maybe shoulda been bigger, but was lovely there, then. Down the back hall was bad advertising posters that might actually have had a point, but we didn't give it time to figure itself out.
Black & Blue Is The New You
Outside, a lively corner was booming. "No, you can't take your beer out the door," with everybody dressed in blue and black for awhile.
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cumulative index count
#11 - count since 10 pm April 3 2011 - 295 / 152 before speedbump / 694 b4 Cheap Lights / 724 b4 reDeconstruction. 862 a week later when The MAC got sucked here. 1042 before New Texas Talent
1432 @ #9 w ro2 & Levee 174 when bunnies up ; 260 b4 cantu; 595 b4 corazon; bout 640 after tsa; 928 at FX; 1102 b4 pat forrest; 1259 b4 hood art; 1322 b4 botany; 1369 b4 Fort Worth, and with numbers like this, I'm on vacation. 29465 b4 projection 29561 b4 Daun's ride