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TenGalleriesinOneNight

Deluxe - Virginia Overton at The Power Station, 3816 Commerce Street, January 14 through March 30 2012   Coincident Disruption - Eric Eley, Transience: Imperfect, Impermanent, Incomplete - Marilyn Jolly, Melba Northum, Susan Sitzes, Graffiti on Aspen Trees: Nature vs. Man - Walter Nelson at The MAC, January 14 through February 18   Winter Palettes - Mark Lesser, Midge Lynn, Carol Nace, Esther Ritz, and Elisabeth Schalij at Haley-Henman, January 14 through January 28   Sir Mix a Lot and the Trope of Dimorphism - Brandon Behning, Celia Eberle, Sam England, Daniel Kurt, Scuba, Sir Mix a Lot and Gordon Young at Plush, January 14 through February 11   Plus or Minus - Joseph Havel at Talley Dunn, January 14 through February 25   Of Thee I Sing - Darryl Lauster at Barry Whistler January 14 through March 3   Kyle Confehr - Breaking Bad and Print Sweet: New Editions - new editions by Bodega Negra, Willie Binnie, Kyle Confehr, Blakely Dadson, Heyd Fontenot, Brian Gibb, Letecia Gomez, Steven Hopwood-Lewis, Tania Kaufmann, Taro-Kun, Lawrence Lee, Magnificent Beard, Mylan Nguyen, Brent Ozaeta, Brendan Polk, Jeremy Smith, Sour Grapes & Billy Zinser at The Public Trust January 14 through February 18   Inscrutable Evidence - Bryan Florentin, Inch by Inch - Du Chau, Objects of Desire - KHFA Community Project with Brookhaven College at Kirk Hopper January 14 through February 11   Another Dog and Pony Show - Clayton Hurt, Kerry Pacillio, Timothy Harding, Diane McGurren, Brought to you by the Letter W – Christine Bisetto and Matthew Clark and The Society for Olfactory Preservation - Chris Tennen and Scott Hilton at 500X January 14 through February 5   The O.T. - CircleWerk at Centraltrak, January 14 through March 3  

Gloss Stripes on the Wall - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Virginia Overton   gloss stripes on the upstairs wall   colorless but for sunlight

Mostly it were fun. Not a great night for art, or even Dallas art, but time to spare for fine friends and talking and leaving early. Total time elapsed: three hours and 32 minutes [That's about 22.1 minutes each including drive time; long slow for some; quick for maybe two stops. We agreed we'd get in, see quick, and get out. But we always had to wait for someone, almost taking turns. I dawdled some, too, but mostly I was last in and first out.

First stop was The Power Station's grand opening — trumped-up high-falutin' installation art called Deluxe with nearly no evidence backing its bona fides. Lights aimed at girders as if the building's construction were installation not architecture; slabs of wood across buckets in front of football on a big TV — watching football on TV as high art; plastic-green cactus around the outside; and lots of kids (Why so many kids? — Maybe because the patrons were family persons unused to art openings or, as it turned out, art.) inside; a mounted tire on the landing up a narrow staircase; a weathered big blue pickup with electric blue tonneau cover parked downstairs visible from the landing; and this on a finished wall on the far side of upstairs, where I just happened to look up as I passed, or I would have seen no serious art in that crowded building.

Not so much a matter of But Is It Art? as the quality, which we all agreed was mostly missing.

Anna the navigator set our schedule to the expedience of opening times not proximity, which is so much less time-efficient, so we crisscrossed all over town, up, down, west, east. I drove The Slider carefully and managed 60.1 mpg all night, although I did thoroughly frighten my passengers a couple time in traffic. But as I assured them, I hadn't hit anything this century, although I did more than my share in that last big one.
 

shredded circus tent - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

shredded circus tent at The MAC

Next stop The MAC, where I keep wondering if they're paying attention or just showing the same old shit over and over again 'cause they don't know any better. Yet another shredded big tent In the big gallery. Hardly a new thing for them, although the first half dozen, decades ago, were more interesting though even then not that new. But this one offered little edutainment or startle-osity, just taking up space.

Old Soul - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Susan Sitzes   Old Soul   2011   found steel strap/reed / stainless
steel / aluminum / steel cable   9 x 3.5 x 12 inches
 

They are, however, showing Dallas artists, and that's always a blessing for this community for which I always appreciate The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, even if they long-ago jettisoned the DARE name like a bad taste in their collective craws. I only wondered about most of the more common objects juxtaposed in the littler, left gallery. Not awful stuff but really not enough new or different or thought-provoking to stand around photographing or seriously thinking through. But Sitzes' Old Soul hanging over our heads seemed simple and unpretentious, with form, allusion and space to extrapolate.
 

Bite-Sized Gotcha! - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Jonathan Stewart   objects from his Let-Go series 

I assumed I'd shot this at the 500 somewhere, but prior-showing remnants on the www indicate it was at Haley-Henman, South across the river, past The Bridge to Nowhere, where only some identifying artist names were on walls. Others decidedly not, making it a chore to find out who did what. Just little, squint-worthy numbers at the lower right. And only two sets of lists anywhere, neither with prices. One in a bin near the front door. The other in Higgley's front pocket.

You had to know whom to ask. Even one of my friendliest and most pleasant friends told me they'd "pulled a J R" by telling Harley Hooglemann himself they hated that stupid system, and kept insisting they were just relating feedback, but he argued back anyway. I figure nobody really needs to know prices except nosey journalists and anybody who'd want to buy something.
 

Carol Hace hands - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Carol Nace   identification information too difficult to find although we tend to believe originating artists,
so if you'd like to fill in our I.D blanks, we'd appreciate it. Follow the Contact Us links atop every DARts page.
 

Holey Hinnermann's quality has dropped since their initial showings of powerhouse Dallas artists, although there's usually something worth thinking about in that very nicely illuminated box, even if learning who did it, when (Year dates probably don't matter much to you, but they're essential to my understanding of artists' progress.) or how much it costs is a challenge at this supposedly commercial space. Some galleries even show sizes, which is very helpful for my captioning purposes.

I probably should note that there is no Haley, and there is no Henmann. They made the name up.
 

Sam England - Hurl Your Thunderbolt Even Unto Death - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sam England   Hurl Your Thunderbolt Even Unto Death   2011
acrylic on canvas   71 x 48 inches   $2,900

We pushed on to Plush on on lower Dragon, where I.D numbers were ball-point-penned to the textured wall, but a stack of price lists were immediately available, so I could fully identify this painting. I've been watching Sam England's idiosyncratic palette of organic coral reef colors, shapes and fanciful, contrasting subjects ever since since his amazing showing at Demolicious last summer.
 

Cards on the Wall - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Joseph Havel   (Nothing Pinned)   2012   woven shirt labels and straight pins

Then Talley Dunn, where was a small framed circle of colored circles by whom Michael Helsem probably calls a "Big Brand" painter; a couple big naked paintings left over from a recent Big-time Artist from Out of Town show there (You suppose they had to buy those to get the show?); and this wall of narrow white, blank shirt labels nearly and neatly filling up most of one tall, white, end wall in that voluminous space.

Susan pointedly asked me why I liked it, but I couldn't come up with much then. Now I've thought it through, I see a commanding field of white note slips with only indirect messages — if you looked very closely, as Anna did, you could see each label had the word "nothing" woven into it — and I liked its distant texture, color and wrinkle of shadows. Maybe not all that new, but sometimes a comforting installation gives our minds space to wander, although I have to wonder who'd buy such a thing.
 

Darryl Lauster - Of Thee I Sing - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Darryl Lauster   Of Thee I Sing   (slight detail)   wood handled tools
 

Barry Whistler in deepish Elm may have been our quickest visit. In, quickly stream space to serene space, talk to a friend or two, and out. Parking was easy the first time, up in the front row, then when we couldn't find a space down-the-street in the Kirk Hopper - Public Trust neighborhood, we drove back and parked on the berm at the edge of Whistler's lot, The Slider tilting sideways about 30-degrees, then we walked up the street.
 

faces and blobs - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kyle Confehr  

A quick stop across Commerce on our way to valet-parking-only Kirk Hopper to visit The Public Trust, which usually shows pretty much the same almost-underground art, although there are often obvious standouts, so we still go in every chance we get, even if they've long-abandoned their great book, magazine and comix store. This my favorite sampling of what's hardly startling but confidently comforting about the almost anti-establishment art institution formerly known as Art Prostitute.

Confehr's short round and Lauster's tall thin work seem to have much in common.
 

condoms at Kirkhopper - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bryan Florentin   back-lighted photo transparencies on the floor

Big vividly pastel photographs of wrinkled and wrapped, but never creamy, condoms by UT Arlington Senior Art Lecturer Bryan Florentin on the walls and floors at Kirk-Hopper. Schlock for shock values. Objects of Desire in the backyard gallery reminded of the cheap multiples in artists' back yards during art tours. We missed the part about "aesthetic conclusions ... unveiled during opening night," although the flea market aesthetics were obvious.
 

 Graff Wall in Deep Elm - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Graffiti Wall in Deeper Elm 

Graffiti along our walking way down Commerce from Hopping Kirk. More variety and color than evident in many of tonight's gallery visits.
 

Tim Harding - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tim Harding   Marge Gunderson   2011   paper, graphite, acrylic, grommets   $650

From the first few seconds I saw one in The Pit downstairs at 500X and this and one other scattered about Texas' oldest co-op gallery, I knew whose work it was — though the form was different, flatter. But the texture, materials and deft sculpting was so familiar, albeit in an un-balled-up format, with the inset colors growing and outlines more square. I read that Harding's odd titles come from William S. Burroughs, but Marge Gunderson was Frances McDormand's iconic character in the movie Fargo. Watching continually innovative artists transverse the necessary transitions is fascinating.
 

Cardboard Wall - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Brought to you by the Letter W   Collaborative works by Christine Bisetto and Matthew Clark
 

Another cardboard wall, this time upstairs at 500X. If we hadn't seen that other, somewhat-similar iteration earlier — and so many others before, we might have seen it as new and exciting. But as innocuously pleasant as it was, however, it wasn't either. But every new crew at the venerable X takes its own sweet time to find their way, and while some of these guys are still wandering in the dark, a few may actually be onto something.

See Frances Bagley's 120 Days installation at Modern Ruin Two, below on this page.

Trouble is, by the time they crash up through surface tension, they'll be so sick of dealing with each other, it'll take another half-dozen years to figure out what they're up to. In too many ways, being a member at 500X is like being imprisoned in graduate school, though maybe a little quicker.

See "Emotionally Abused and Battered Grad Students See Hope!" from a Dave Hickey lecture at UTD.
 

Green Screen Tripe - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Screen Tripe at Centraltrak   photo by Anna Palmer

A low-production-value, live green screen video of "an Old Testament story" — complete with really bad fake beards, shaggy costumes, cheap wigs and actors shouting but never managing to project over the crowd's din, was the center of attention at Centraltrak, surrounded by piles of junk like loose Dead Day altars scattered around the gallery.

And Anna reported tasting juicy chunks of pineapple on the snack porch.

Ron England performance - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Anna and Sam - copyright 2012 by Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved.

Anna and Sam at Plush

Sam England Performance in the corner by the front door at Centraltrak
 
 

For performance, I was more attracted to Sam England's subtle soundtrack from the cubbyhole just inside the Trak's front door. Note his colorfully crafted costume in my earlier tonight's shot of him and Anna, who often finds her way into my images. His costume was far better crafted than the 'actors' in the green-screen video production.

I'd also wanted to attend Kettle's opening, because they listed more artists than anybody else tonight — 54, but it got lost in our scurry to get everywhere else, and there's always an issue about parking near there on Satty night. Eleven galleries might have been pushing it, although once, a long time ago, I did all the DADA gallery openings on the fall tour solo — about 30, then was never inclined to do that again.

 

Another Night of Art in Dallas

Time Machine - Norman Kary at Craighead Green through February 11; Cosmic Carnival at Art Hotel through February 4; Sublimation Simulacrum - Angel Fernandez and Kit Reisch at Cohn Drennan; Nightfall - Sarah Williams and Junk Yard - Barry Anderson at Marty Walker Gallery through February 11; and Studio Visit 1-1 - Trey Egan, Anne Allen, Howard Sherman, Paul Booker, Blayre Stiller at Cris Worley, through February 11

Norman Kary - Time Machine III - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Norman Kary   Time Machine III   (detail) metal, plastic, shoe form, wood   27 x 12 inches   $1,000

I wanted to see Norman Kary's latest turn on his road through art, and what Julia McLain was up to. That simple. I really didn't think much more about it before we left, except I brought my little camera. I was curious about those two artists, but neither of us thought we needed to see anybody else's work this night. So we mapped the trip, thought about where we'd eat between the early-opening gallery and the later one but didn't really decide anything, and we set out.

I've been watching Kary's work for many years — decades even, catching up in dribs and drabs whenever he had a show or I'd wrangle an interview or studio visit. I have written little paragraphs here and there and longish stories about some of his more abrupt turns, which have been fun to watch. I enjoy seeing his art twist and turn, while holding to his major themes and dimensional expressions.

I almost hoped he'd changed significantly, but he hadn't. We rarely do. But there were noticeable adjustments I think of as progress. My trick is to figure out what changed, and what those differences mean. The former is almost obvious if I look carefully. The latter rarely is, but I like to guess.

My first thought was the mundane notion that he was using more wings. He must have found a trove of shiny metal ones. I am used to his clockwork intricacies — appreciate them when they are elegantly woven into the concept, and not so much when it's just thrown in for effect. There's a lot of those metal complexions here, too. Interesting — sometimes fascinating — but not that new. I was after what was new and shiny and bright. Probably a little blindly. Ignoring the big pictures, concentrating on connecting the littler dots. Only now as I write this, am I figuring better how the puzzles all fit together.
 

Norman Kary - For Cy - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Norman Kary   For Cy   collage, encaustic, object   10 x 15 inches   $700
 

What's new — like the odd-shaped, cut-out graph like card his Time Machine (No roman numerals on that one.) is literally based on. He must like that sci-fi concept as much as I do; he's used it at least twice here for titles (Maybe more.) and it's the title of the show. And look at this lush collage of abstract scribbles and watercolor tones that back For Cy.

Once, those might have been vacant photographs only he understood why were there, but here is overt reality once removed, flat as a page instead of gushing in three wet dimensions. A bona fide drawing/collage. There were probably others, but I held myself back from photographing — thus trying to remember — everything in sight. .

I continued the struggle of understanding when I got my images on my monitor. I stared and stared and began to feel pulls in little directions. Photos and transfers still dot his backgrounds and bases, but they're greatly simplified now, mushed with stains and tiny textures, so his central thoughts are freed and/or expanded by them, if we only understood his visual language. Which is a lot more likely when we don't think too much.
 

Norman Kary - Orbital Decay - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Norman Kary   Orbital Decay   mixed media on panel   24 x 24 inches   $2,200
 

There's still a density of notions, like oceans splashing every shore, but his islands of concentration are more distinct. His intricacies less cluttered without losing their deftly interwoven complexities. There's a directness now that's not obfuscated by too many competing textures.

The For Cy faucet splashes water down its faceplate, in textures found and collaged, but could well be Norm scribbling and Xeroxing, hand tinting, carefully cutting out and sewing on. Hard to know for sure. Easier not to worry about. They are right before our eyes, serve subtle functions and work well together, and look almost as good from a distance as up close.

We'd hoped to see Norm at the gallery, but the 'early' we thought we'd be there was an hour after it opened even if hardly anyone else was there, so we wandered back through the rest of the gallery, peeked or walked in all the opened doors to discover colorful littler treasures and followed art back to the kitchen. By Denise Brown's giant brown piece we'd seen on previous visits we found Brown herself, who'd recently joined our merry band of supporting members of this site, and we talked about birds and photographs of them, and her work and our upcoming visit to make photographs for her member page.

Then we wandered back to the front and gave Kary's show another look-see and photographed the work I'd back-burnered briefly and captured souls of some I hadn't noticed before. I made a few more associations, then went out to sit in The Slider and stare off into space until Anna joined me.

We knew other galleries on Dragon Street and near-enough by were opening that night but we didn't care, setting out instead for The Art Hotel on the far side of The Canyon from downtown, on Akard near The Cedars. But it was closed. Locked and dark with no notice of when they'd open. Later, we assumed, and began wandering around downtown, then Deep Elm, looking for dinner opportunities.
 

We'd perpetrated just such a stumble the last time we'd done an art night, when we'd wandered into the All Good Cafe, because it looked good enough and open, for our first visit, quite accidentally on their 'Customer Appreciation Night' of free food and music — which turned out to be Jim Suhler and Monkeybeat, whose names I'd heard but not their music, though I knew it'd be blues and better than most. We didn't know Suhler had recorded and toured (is touring) with George Thorogood, but it didn't take long to realize he was a darned good guitar player, and the band fine.

It was a rocking good time, but the cafe hadn't run their usual menu, and we wanted to try it. This night was quieter — no band, and not many customers at that early hour. Anna loved her BLT, but my Main St. Salad was too tame with too much of the same thing with five pieces of shrimp — I shoulda gone for chicken — and the dressing too spicy for all that bland. I don't remember much of the music lofting from the ceiling, but we'll go back again, maybe on a live band night.

We ate and talked and enjoyed the food and ambience, then wandered off toward the Art Hotel, which still did not appear to be open for business. But the front door was open and the lights on, so we walked into that bright and colorful space wondering whose work was which. Then, when the artists arrived, they gradually began posting simplified I.Ds.
 

Rita Barnard - Jeff Beck's Garden - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Rita Barnard   Jeff Beck's Garden   2002   mixed media and collage   24 x 36 inches   $600

I didn't know the show was called Cosmic Carnival — neatly missing the thin red sign above the sign-in table, but I could see the colors were light and bright, with a few dark exceptions that were still not uncarnival-like — like the triptych of night sky with lilting lights by Karen Weiss. I thought I'd seen all of Rita Barnard's work but there were some she'd done a decade ago or more. I especially liked Jeff Beck's Garden, although the sultry pic of him leaning below seemed too rock fan-ish, but what made the piece were the vivid, three-dimensional flowers blooming from painted greens and a toucan above.
 

ritas chairhouse

Rita Barnard   Best Seat in the House   mixed media
36 x 16 x 4 inches   $800   photo by Anna Palmer
 

Another, more complicated Barnard work sat low on the front table, comprising a miniature building whose glassless windows opened in onto one chair each and a golden stairway on the end. The architecture reminded me of the rows of tall windows in Berlin's bleak Red-light district where semi-naked women sat waiting to be bought, though I doubt Barnard had anything like that in mind. Characteristic of more recent Barnard sculptures are the illegible stamped copper labels top and bottom of each aperture.

Nor does it seem in any stretch of my imagination, to have anything to do with carnival, although I always like seeing lost work by favorite artists.
 

Julia McLain - dumbo - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Julia McLain    Under th' Big Top: Dumbo    2007   
mixed media   18 x 24 inches   $900
 

Perhaps because her visual language is so strange, it takes me longer to understand what I think of McLain's colorful collages, and for a long time that night I just stood and stared blankly at so much color and implied activity in so similar scales, with little wall space between, that I immediately accepted this one while ignoring others that pulled at me to photograph them, too. Now I wish I had. There's at least one explosive yellow pair I knew then and am even more sure now, I should have photographed and put to words, but my quota for understanding what I was seeing was past gone by then.

Luckily, Anna kept her wits more about her, and I thank her for the following image of McLain's work and the scrolly window piece above.

What I do know about McLain's work is that I used to dislike it, then got turned around by a couple pieces — some of which are tucked in upper corners in this show — and I promised myself to think them through more thoroughly [this] next times. Obvious even to me there is something in them that works, but that I clearly do not understand.

I didn't make much progress standing and staring in the Art Hotel that opening night. It helped that there was a bowl of Hershey's Kisses and more food farther back, but I spent most of my time slack-jaw staring and wishing I could make more sense of the fireworks extravaganza exploding all over the walls all around me.
 

two elephants - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Julia McLain   Elephant Woman    acrylic   1972   46 x 36 inches   $10,000
photo by Anna Palmer
 

Intensely as I looked at those walls full of unrelenting color in this Cosmic Carnival of an art exhibition, I never once noticed this piece, and now I wonder, if I had, would I have appreciated its deep though pop-disguised poignancy. I usually avoid learning what artists think they've put into work, settling instead for what I — and anybody else — can plainly see.

But these two mod elephants are her mother and her. McLain may have told Anna more, but I don't know what. Just knowing who these elephants are places a poignancy into the image otherwise obscured by overlapping patterns of evenly spaced polka dots and alternating lines of color changes floating along with shapes of two colorful women occupying the same space under very near the same circumstance and time of this difficult-to-look-at painting that, despite all that optical distraction — or perhaps partially because of it, probably affects me much more deeply than any other snapshot of the two could, because of this interpretation and extrapolation.

It could be argued that all the delusional aspects of the repeating patterns and color changes are not unlike memory, and seeing anything clearly back through time and experience is difficult, so why not portray it that way? Or maybe this professional illustrator who also makes fine art just likes all the intervening colors, shapes and texture.

I don't know whether to hope this is a new piece and thus possibly portending more of similar ilks or one she's been holding back for years. No date, no signature. No clues since I haven't been watching her art that closely till now.

Year dates were not included in the skimpy I.Ds by most art in this show, so we were still seeking artist and title identifications when I posted this story, and I'm not about to change it just because this painting was created forty years ago instead of last year or this, but it is highly unlikely McLain would revert to a style she created that long ago.
 

bright light - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Kit Reisch   Cleansing Light   (slight detail)   2011
 

The night was too young to stop now, so we circled back to Dragon Street and drove along that packed parking lot of a street till we saw a lighted, recessed space that looked like it had to be a gallery. We parked easily enough and walked into Cohn-Drennan Contemporary, which as usual seemed to be trying way too hard, then we settled into a crowd of people to talk with, and art to understand and photograph.

I still don't know what this mechanistic Cleansing Light spinning its projection on the wall in the far alcove was all about, besides light and dark and mechanical spinning, but I liked it enough to go click, and appreciate the minor clichéd irony of someone pointing at it from the dark recesses beyond.

I'd seen Reisch's Dead Me at The Contemporary when it was newer, and it already looked like the manifestation of an ancient art idea then, so seeing it again tonight just worried me. Then as now, I wanted its clothed lower human torso sticking out a hole in a wood shipping crate on a pallet to either be more realistic or dynamic, instead of lying down there on the floor like an already old, bad joke.

The show, I learned much later, was called Sublimation Simulacrum, which sounds about right for that place.
 

Norman Fernandez - Twenty-one gun salute - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Angel Fernandez   Twenty-one gun salute   2011   fabric, wood   1 x 1 x 21   $3,600
 

I wasn't so much wowed by this, as appreciative of the almost empty space in front of it, which I used to gather my thoughts and enjoy the soothing atonal rhythm in tight textured condoms down the wall. I didn't really pay much attention to this horizontal lineup till much later, then I wished I hadn't.

I take what I can get on these art run-throughs, and it ain't always scintillating. Surely by now everybody who's ever wanted to has lined something stretch-covered up equidistant along a long stretch of velvet. Probably years and years ago already. Amazing how some concepts just keep hanging on.

Angel must be a guy, right? Like most of us, raised and repressed by women.
 

Jonathan Millet - Mobility: Old Revolution - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Jonathan Millet   Mobility: Old Revolution   mixed media   20 x 18 x 6 inches   #700
 

We wandered back across the street toward The Slider, when we recognized friend and sculptor Morton Rachofsky coming out of Mary Tomas Gallery. We laughed and joked awhile standing in the street with one of our favorite conversationalists, then he directed us into Tomas' space, where I only found one object I wanted to photograph in a show promoted as Selected Pieces without the bother of listing artists, although there were images by somebody in the PR email.

There were the usual Mary Tomas air- and cloud-scapes — and this — also rhythmic yet soothing, despite its lethal punji spikes — object that I liked immediately. Its comparative immobility — except perhaps in a wide, multi-scribed inner circle — and pierced ribbon strung in knotted multi-color splendor across a backbone of a dozen long, sharp thorns, still holds my attention.

I accept the concept of a vanity gallery, and she obviously doesn't have all that much space left over to show other artists, and it's seldom enough that anything else there is as good as her own work. But it just seems wrong for it to always be hanging there and for her to forget to mention the other artists when she publicizes a show.
 

Sarah Williams - St. Jo Carwash

Copyright 2011 by Sarah Williams   St. Jo Carwash   2011   oil   24 x 36 inches
 

Very clearly in mind and memory, our next stop was Marty Walker Gallery, whose space seemed organized altogether differently, showing the superb and superbly illuminated and vividly colored opened-door buildings and spaces by Sarah Williams, whose nocturnal urban landscapes I immediately recognized as work I'd flipped out for a couple years ago when she was a member of 500X.

These illuminated spaces that look like super-real photographs were painted from places in Missouri, but she's back here now, teaching at Brookhaven College, which seems an amazing coup for the far north Dallas community college. After seeing one of her nocturnal illumination series at 500X, I remember assuming they were photographs and wandering the night time urban landscape thinking how easy it might be to do something similar, but it wasn't. Even with a fair amount of Photoshop expertise, I couldn't get anywhere close.

At the opening, I tagged along with Dallas artist Bert Scherbarth who had questions of his own, but I was still formulating what I thought I was seeing and found it mostly just pleasant listening to her talk about her recent history, not so much about her work, which still seems amazing to me, even though I may have finally accepted that they are paintings, not photographs.

See also this drawing by Williams.
 

Barry Anderson - Junk Yard video - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Barry Anderson   Junk Yard   {detail)   HD video animation   6.25 minutes
 

Seeking relief from the crowd blocking our way to photograph Williams work that presented like glossy mounted photographs sans glass and frames, we settled onto a pristine white couch in what the gallery's calling its Video Room to watch the whole six and a quarter minutes of Barry Anderson's Junk Ark video unfolding in glorious HD.

I know this snap still from somewhere in Anderson's slow pan of objects in space, conveyor-belting before our eyes, focus deftly isolating one or another of the myriad objects more or less randomly, isn't more than a marker that reminds me of all that sequential motion, but Anderson's is probably the first art video I've happily watched all of since the last time I attended The Dallas Video Festival some years ago, and maybe before.

A tableau of odd and colorful objects passing by. Fascinating in several spatial directions and dimensions. Colorful, interesting-enough shapes. I kept thinking how similar the ways he stacked his objects into that left-moving flat screen space, were like Julia McLain's organization of objects in her paintings that so bedazzled me earlier.

At Marty Walker we also talked with artist Kim Alexander, gallerist Karen Erxleben, fellow photographer Philip Lamp and Jim. Kim had been in Haiti. Karen runs the The Library that recently showcased Vincent Falsetta's abstract procedure (which I still hope to write about) and Philip is always a joy to be around.


Our last art stop was Cris Worley Fine Arts, where we talked with fabric artist Sue Benner, husband Craig, and continued a conversation with photo friend Philip Lamb, all of whom were far more entertaining than the little art we could see through that mob scene or at the other gallery around that jutting front wall. On an uncrowded day, you can tell by watching the taste decline, exactly where Cris Worley, not that late anymore of Pan American Art, ends and where that other gallery begins inside that same front door.

Once I tune in, it's like a glorious spring day and the desert (and not a pretty one), and I always wonder what I think I am doing wandering around a desert from Terlingua, but there's usually far less crowded, and getting away from the masses is a boon. Besides, the view of the levee out their back porch is calming and often beautiful even when they're not serving booze back there.

I left early and sat in the car listening to my latest audio book, and when I saw Anna coming down the stairs, I switched to 91.7 FM but left the volume up, and by the time she got in, the Stones She's A Rainbow, was already loud, so when we saw Vincent in a hat, so it was slightly more difficult to identify him, and Martha Falsetta walking down the stairs and towards us, we turned everything down, waved and opened my window to share a few friendly greetings till they walked off toward their car, and we turned up the Stones and drove back towards downtown.
 

We still didn't want it to stop, so we visited the nearly deserted coffee whozit in Lakewood and while leisurely sipping decadent mochas, we decided we needed a moonlight mile around the lake. Trip meter: 31.1 miles of circuitous art observing before Lakewood or the lake.

Some links: Rita Barnard, Julia McLain, Sarah Williams, Norman Kary and Norman Kary, Barry Anderson, Angel Fernandez, Kit Reisch, — Henri Cartier Bresson, Ansel Adams, Jerry Uelsmann, Cris Worley Fine Arts, Marty Walker Gallery, Mary Tomas Gallery, Cohn Drennan Contemporary
 
 

Mod Roo Too: Modern Ruin II: Slow & Clean

Modern Ruin, Quick and Dirty - Frances Bagley, Tim Best, Michael Corris, Thomas Feulmer, M, Shelby Meier, Tom Orr, Kerry Pacillio, Richard Patterson, Chris Powell, Cam Schoepp, Noah Simblist, Terri Thornton, Kevin Todora, Jeff Zilm and co-curated by Thomas Feulmer and Christina Rees, in a century-old bungalow at 3309 West 4th Street, Fort Worth, 8-11 Saturday, November 5 and Noon-5, Sunday, November 6  See Modern Ruin One on Art Here Lately #8.

shapes in the yard - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Shapes in the yard next door

This story begins with views of objects not on the checklist, so probably not really in the exhibition, but certainly in or around the house that was the show. I still think these turned shapes are by Cam Schoepp, who lives across the street and "discovered" this building that may be slated for abrupt alterations for use as Modern Ruin .

Point is, they found a temporary space to install art into that looked and felt ordinary. The front porch swing was a great place to sit and watch the progression of the event called Modern Ruin: Quick and Dirty, although making the art for it likely took the usual time and effort and thinking, and both show and art was more pristine than dirty.

To Foster Goldstrom - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hiding a hole

This is one of my favorites that wasn't on the checklist. Some people, upon climbing the stairs, made noise of stomping on it. Others carefully avoided it. I didn't see anybody ignore it. But something there is that has become popular about ordinary wood with hand-scrawled postal marks. A simpler and less prosaic or colorful slat covered another hole on the other side of the stairway's top. In black it was labeled, "BACK CAB 3."

Porch Chain - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Porch chain

This chain with lock holding it in place hung from the left edge of the front porch ceiling, where standing queues formed opposite the swing, and left their beer bottles on the balustrade. This linked hanging object looked both entirely ordinary and a little like art nobody bothered to claim. I had one like it on my front porch for years after the swing it suspended fell, so I wanted this to be art.

A sign to the right facing the porch called our attention in run-on extra bold orange and red poster words to unseen "exoticbirds,offcourse".

Mailbox - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mailbox

The mailbox on the front porch was one of the more eloquent, useful, yet nearly invisible pieces in the house, and it held the priceless checklist. Many people went into the house, looked around, then came out to get a list. We saw one couple return theirs to the mailbox as they left.

Just calling this black, squared-circles-pattern mailbox art may be enough. We'd watched Thomas Feulmer quickly stuff the pages into it as he entered the house, and we liked it immediately. Before that, we saw it but hardly noticed, another case of art activating the previously unseen.

For too long we dutifully pointed new visitors to the pages. Silly, but we were enjoying the swing and our self-appointed task as greeters, which many took us for anyway. Anna happily answered several questions. I just watched.

Shelby David Meier   What Are You Going To Do With That? - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Shelby David Meier   What Are You Going To Do With That?   2011   wood table and beach ball

This was our view through the front window from the porch swing. The table humping the beach ball was probably the first prepared art people saw once through the front door. Anna and I both wanted the little blind-pull ropes to be art at the edge of the window, but it was just string with the unfulfilled potential of it. Likewise were the silver plastic chain pulls for overhead lights and other spaces throughout the house. This wasn't so much an installation as art placed in a house.

Garden View - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Terri Thornton   Garden View   2011

To the right of the balling table was a window whose artness was more subtle. The top pane was covered in overlapping horizontal stripes of barely translucent blue tape, and the bottom vertical in green. Touching it, I could feel the lined edges of tape, but it was the ball and table and Tom Orr's installation that got most of the attention in there.

Pencil on the Wall - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Terri Thornton   Garden View   2011   (detail)   pencil on white wall

I liked this adjunct to Thornton's taped-over windows and am glad I noticed and photographed it, but I still cannot quite read it. The left column is times and temperatures with more on the right. I suspect it has to do with the garden the blue and green window artfully blocked our view of, that this is a journal of. But no one spoke of it or pointed at it or even, to my knowledge, noticed its existence. I like that about it.

Tom Orr   August 6th 1962 / August 6th 1950   Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tom Orr   August 6th 1962 / August 6th 1950   2011   digital prints and mixed media

Orr's work was in a niche that might have been a bookcase and not so much installed as placed artfully there, and it just fit that smallish alcove. As such, it was more site-specific than anything in that house except wife Frances Bagley's larger installation in the back room. In a meaningful way, the Bagley-Orr pieces bookended this remarkable show.

Usually when I photograph Tom's work, I want it to moiré and it won't. This time it did, but I had hoped it wouldn't, so you could see how its real lines intra-harmonized. I wanted to show it like I saw it, without the visceral optically illusory lines of interference evident here.

Orr's lines and fields fit and were apparent to anyone who moved their eyes near it. On the chair sat a small, freestanding crosshatch of thin dark lines, and on the top left of its back hung a circle of wiggly wire that both added to the interference and gridded ground. Above, three fields of repeating patterns provided calmer forms of both.

Stepladder - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Drop-down ladder leading up to M's unseen but heard
Space (Pretend You Have Super Powers in B Flat), 2011, sound installation

In the kitchen, Kevin Todora cooked gumbo, so that dense aroma would be the first impression most people encountered when they walked into the front door. The resulting stew was robust, with a hint of spicy hot, with more hot sauce handy to fortify it.

We'd arrived early, hoping to photograph place and placements before the house filled with people, although we left before it did that, since the house was open till 11 that night, and again the next day. We hoped to drive home to Dallas before we fell asleep, and we very nearly succeeded. We were the first visitors as well as the first to taste the gumbo, so we ate it before the smell permeated the house, creating one of the show's best, most subtle installations.

In the attic up the ladder a sound installation boomed very low bass reminding me of my neighborhood on any otherwise quiet evening. There's always a low bass somewhere, usually impossible to track. I'd call it ambient noise. Its artist, M, named it Space (Pretend You Have Super Powers in B Flat). Inconstant, it it continued, and after awhile I no longer heard it. Seemed natural, true to a middle-class neighborhood almost anywhere.

Frances Bagley and Shelby David Meier - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Frances Bagley   120 Days   2011   scrap paper notes
Shelby David Meier   Hey Bruce   2011   wood chair and beach ball

Frances Bagley kept personal notes for four months then mounted them on this wall, making it about time and space and color and composition, with nods to depth, personal involvement, and plans, among other themes both real and realizable, thus creating the most successful art installation at Mod Roo Too. The ball stuffed into and bulging out of the chair was like another one stuffed under a table elsewhere in the house. Both these furniture figures, a double one in the next room and one hanging from the ceiling in the front bedroom appeared odd enough to call art.

Chris Powell   Twins   Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Chris Powell   twins   2006-2011   plaster on chair frames

This is the middle bedroom. The chairs, joined back to back, were slightly off. The apparent pattern on the back of this one may have been an accident of light. I don't remember seeing it before. Nor did I see anyone attempt to sit on it/them, so I'm not convinced they are still chairs. Even in this old house what might be art felt sacrosanct. The rich brown wood seemed vibrant in the nearly neutral ground. This photo was taken before the lights were turned on in the bottom of the closet behind, and later a paper piece was mounted on the wall opposite those windows.

Don't know why this show so often spotlighted furniture as art, except it needs so much neutral space around it, and there was oodles available. Mod Roo One was jam-packed. Mod Roo Too was spare, concentrating our attentions on gar fewer and more spaced-out pieces. Mod Roo One set a pace and has been copied from and extended often in the few months since it exploded on the DFW art scene — spawning Sustenance, Demolicious and even Connections [below]. Did we need yet another show in a transitional space? I think probably so.

Thomas Feulmer   Untitled   Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Thomas Feulmer   Untitled   2011   desk lamps, light bulbs, spray paint, string and magazines

This, in the closet behind the double-chair was already interesting before the lights were plugged in. More so after. The lines of the gooseneck lamps contrasted the overlong extension cords.

Outside, along the back-yard fence, Christmas lights dipped along the driveway toward the garage, where Kerry Pacillio's 3-minute video, It only hurts for a little while, looped slowly as that the repeated. While I was in the garage exploring, the video remained off, and I wondered if a sensor did it, so it wouldn't play if it sensed someone, but that was probably just my paranoia. Anna saw the video of a woman lip-synching the classic tune.

Do you suppose the tune was chosen for its aptness to the home's uncertain future?

Ceiling Chair - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Richard Patterson   The Past Is So Hot Right Now   2011   oil on canvas, plus B-35 Marcel Breuer chair

Around in the house flat art pieces behind glass or plastic hung like art hung serenely in artists' homes and galleries. What one would expect in an art show in a house, and thereby almost invisible unless you know the art or artist. There's nothing new about hanging chairs from walls. We've seen dozens in department stores and art shows over the past few years, and we easily turn our minds off then, too. The adjoining fully expected painting held my attention almost as briefly, although I liked its color and swirl.

I kept looking for but not finding enough to make me think. Probably it was too subtle for me. I liked the looking without having to think, although once introduced to the notion, the dense scent of gumbo scintillated. Most of the flat art was just there, hardly opportuning any spatial, pictorial or formal connections. In at least one instance per room, wall-hung flat art decorated otherwise empty walls. A rubbing hung behind the toilet I was told would require careful attention.

Overall, this show seemed neither quick nor dirty.

We enjoyed our stay, visiting this very different show and trying to understand what it was about. We loved eating and later smelling the gumbo, swinging the swing, taking photographs and talking with people we either knew or had never seen before. We took our own sweet time with it and explored its many details, but still left well before closing. We assume the house partied up past 11 that Saturday night and had a somewhat more somber atmosphere on Sunday afternoon.

We never saw this show mobbed like the Dallas Modern Ruin was, nor was so much of this art as blatant, space-filling nor as ex- and/or in-citing. This show employed more restful, neutral ground, and even its most blatant pieces seemed uncrowded and serene. And the gumbo was brilliant at an otherwise bring-your-own-whatever event without wine, cheese or other refreshments.

Little of the work openly toyed with or tested our art expectations, but it was a far more mind-absorbing exhibition than I originally gave it credit for. Its intentions were subtle and sneaky.
 

intense

Andrea Rosenberg Drawings at Barry Whistler, opening 6-8 Saturday, October 29 through November 26 2011

Andrea Rosenberg   Untiltled no. 71 - photo courtesy Barry Whistler Gallery

Andrea Rosenberg   Untilted no. 71   2011
crayon, oil stick, inks, graphite and gesso on paper   30 x 22.25   $4,800
image courtesy Barry Whistler Gallery

First stop for the evening was Barry Whistler Gallery to see whom was once — and likely still is— one of the rare artists' artists, Andrea Rosenberg. I specifically remember one small piece from decades ago, a hand-sized and eloquently folded and stained light blue paper, dense with color and creases. I don't remember the price, but I wanted it, and I still think about it when I hear her name.

Looking into this painting, we see into her dense richness of tone and texture, smudges, stains and drips that project her work into this future, in a direction Rosenberg has been working toward since I've known of her. I liked best her shadow shapes dripping with dark colors. The lighter pieces in happy pastels seem displaced. The dark and dirty ones go deep.

There's gritty artist interaction here, but she still gives her meida the right of way to tell their dense stories with what appears as spirited, impromptu non-intervention. I noticed only a few wrinkles, but the paper hung loosely, like it was important.

Spirts - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The sunset view from Barry Whistler's front porch
 

identity

Narrative Identity - Frank X. Tolbert 2; Curved Amber Rectangles #2 - Paul Booker at Kirk Hopper Fine Art, opening 6:30-8:30 Saturday, October 29 through December 3 2011

Frank X. Tolbert 2 - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Frank X. Tolbert 2   X Flying   2011   oil and graphite   109 x 60 inches

Second stop was Frank X. Tolbert 2 in the main salon at Kirk Hopper, with Paul Booker in the front gallery, and two pieces by Mac Whitney in the sculpture garden out back. I apologize for the gallery lighting of this, large, somewhat idealized, self-nude by former Dallas artist Frank Tolbert. We rarely notice light drop-off in big pieces illuminated by too few lights in galleries, but the camera can't ignore it. I'm guessing it's life-size or larger.

big Tolber drawing - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Frank X. Tolbert 2   Spirit, 513 Railey St.   2011   oilstick and graphite   60 x 44 inches

The gallery was scattered with large, new drawings and paintings in a more subtle and dare I say mature style I don't recognize, so it was a treat to watch these latest incarnations. I assume that's him and Ann in this spooky sleep scene, browned like an aging spectre, although it doesn't appear altogether frightful. There is trepidation in Frank's eyes askance, but more concern than fear. His companion seems oblivious in what must be Frank's own private lush dream of what's coming for him.

Frank X. Tolbert 2 - Reagan St - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Frank X. Tolbert 2   Reagan St.   2010   oil and graphite on paper   30 x 22 inches

And this El Greco-esque woman in black has to be Ann, who has steadily co-starred in his work since I started paying attention when both late DallasArtsRevue (ink on paper then) contributing writers Gerald Burns and Bob Trammell repeatedly wrote and drew about rising young art star apparent Francis X in the early 1980s.

Representations of the couple continue to populate his work, although they are human now, having finally shed her former feline and his late lupine, standing-up-on-hind-legs, doing-what-people-do fauna forms. As we've often joked how, even in the wretched-most bake of Dallas summers, Frank & Ann would show up for openings all in black.

So this fairy-dust festooned, light and dark vortex, bestrewn with calligraphed gestural scribbles, all seem just about right. Frank's grayscale and sepia subtleties outbalance his more overt comix-colored bar scenes, although some of those purer color splashed abstracts, shine.
 

classic

Unidentified Mac Whitney sculpture - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

unidentified sculpture by Mac Whitney

It's still a joy to find old and new treasures by master Dallas sculptor Mac Whitney, even if his name wasn't mentioned in the invitation, or on any i.d. or price list I could find, and this and one other piece were alone in the young gallery's back-yard sculpture garden and private parking lot.
 

pristine

Paul Booker - No. 16 (detail) - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Paul Booker   No. 16   (detail)   ink on Mylar  

I remember Paul Booker's amazing miniature, framed, non-chromatic plastic and simple metal materials pegged with push, specimin and other straight and bent pins, old rusted spray cans, and other close-up wall sculptures at 500X when art like that was strange and exotic. And I've seen his eloquent pristines since at Dunn & Brown Contemporary before it evolved to Tally Dunn. A decade ago, I called his work "bemusing — like elegant, enigmatic, three-dimensional cartoons," and I feel that stirring sensation when I closely inspect his fine craftsmanship and austere presentation still.
 

dark passage

Tally Dunn Gallery - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bright Door in a dark Talley Dunn Gallery

This was the only photograph I made at TDG, and this one only after I left, impatiently awaiting the rest of the gang to follow along. We got remarkably close (non valet) street parking, where everybody else was probably afraid to try — sans No Parking signs.

Saw some David Bates I always enjoy visiting; a big so-so Vernon Fisher; and surprisingly large, naked paintings I've seen in art magazines and history books. But I don't really remember what else, I suppose because they weren't from around here, and I have this predilection for Dallas art and artists.

I like this dark view of the not-at-all-inviting Talley Dunn space outdoors on opening nights — that brilliant open door rectangle of bright, a few subtle bubbles of tinted glow peeking over the top, and gloom all around. Building juts in the back and red trees behind contrast an eerie warehouse parking lot of nothing.
 

under where?

Letitia Eldgrege - Keep Your Man in Boxer Shorts - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Letitia Eldredge   Keep Your Man in Boxer Shorts   $4,000

Last stop that night was Ro2 Uptown, which I had to be reminded where was as we circled the squares up one-way streets to get there, park in almost the same place we always do, then walked through a touchy-feely (cashmere and silk] apparel shop into one of several former store spaces Ro2 seems to be settling into after bouncing through every no-parking-available spot in Dallas. It's nicer, brighter and more gallery-like on every visit.

Letitia Eldredge and I also go way back. I have color photographs of her and two other comely young women kneeling naked in the snow with her large ceramic vessels hiding private parts, in the yard of the duplex I used to live in behind Whittle's Music in venerable Oak Lawn. But I've only seen her a couple times since then. Never knew her as a painter.

And I had no idea this was hers when I fell for it. Her paintings always startle me. This one gorgeous in contrasting greens and reds and the wigwam village settled along the bottom, although I still don't see any underwear.
 

terror

Jason Reynega - Under Fire - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Jason Reynega   Under Fire   $4,500

Very large, in glittering psychedelic sequins, lined with a scaled up arsenal of personal to very impersonal splatter-monocolored weapons, a masked freedom fighter eyes us askance. Do we see fear or ferocity? What do they know about us? And what will they do about it? Artist Jason Reynega leaves it up to us in this commanding view.
 

Bright Brit

Tony Cragg   Congregation

Tony Cragg   Congregation   (detail)   2009  

More recently and less interestingly (It should have been intriguing and exotic, but I was feeling poorly.) was our tour of the Nasher, where we saw work by the elder Tony Cragg. Most of which seemed, like many contemporary 3-D artists tend to — be so desperate to get away from standard notions of sculpture that he'd extrude any vivid plastic color, gravity-defying organic form or ugly mess of striated shapes, and after a few minutes I was eager just to get away, escaping downstairs to find this steel-haired charmer.

Congregation stood me on my this-end-up and insisted upon close attention to the curly bits of bright, eyed metal screwed into the wood hulks of this floating boat and pier entwined.

I'd wanted to put my elbows down into the soft-seeming mass of his nearby 1995 Secretions amalgam of thousands of black dots on white plastic dice, improbably rounded into bulbous floral masses. I needed the bump back to reality as I claim to know it.
 

art halloween

Fire Dancer - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hep Kat-Mama   Fire Dance

All these and more images are from Laura and Brad's Halloween Party, which involved a lot of artists, most of whom were in one costume or another scattered across the Abrams Ranch. The whole caboodle is public on phasebook, but these will do.

Green Laser - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sculptor Jason Lajudice is The Destroyer with robot suit and real, blinding green laser

Michael and Judith - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

painters Julia McLain, Michael Tichansky and Judith Williams Tichansky
He's a zombie and she's "Artist in Hell," and I never figured out who Julia was.

Roy Cirigliana - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dallas Photographer Roy Cirigliana as Devil Biker

 

Me, Too Art in a Me, Too Art Show

Haley Henman presents Connections, a "site specific" art installation celebrating the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, at 301 Singleton Boulevard, Dallas, 10-6 Friday, October 14, Saturday, October 15, Sunday, October 16, Friday, October 21, Saturday, October 22, Sunday, October 23. No artists list available.

Figure with Tree and Windows - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

artist(s) and title unknown  

This figure with tree and pot situated on each's own green plots, especially against the windows wall was my favorite at the show. It's upstairs in the Kidz Art section, so it was supposed to have been created by artists from 5 to 14 years of age, making it all the more alluring. No words to confuse us, a simple sculpture with red, white and yellow leaves. Make your own connections, like art ought to be.

First came Modern Ruin, an important and extremely popular — opening night was literally mobbed — exhibition in contemporary Dallas art history in which some of Dallas' best and most interesting artists had their way with a new, never-inhabited branch bank that would be demolished the next week after the financial debacle of the 21st Century. The presentation was prim, improper, wildly conceptual, and thought-provoking in several aesthetic dimensions.

Sustenance followed a few months later without duplicating hardly anything at all, but including some of the same participating artists and also embodying the rushing sensation that both ad hoc exhibitions were fascinating and exciting and important. Sustenance was truly a site-specific exhibition that could only have been done in the colorful building on Singleton Avenue.

Click these bold links to see our full coverage of those trailblazing exhibitions.

phoenix - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

artist and title unknown  

Phoenix or maybe a dragon, hard to say. The flamboyant metal sculpture needed more light. The scribbled walls around it seemed disconnected and amateurish. Connections maybe, but connected to what?

Those were the originals., Although Demolicious borrowed concepts from both, it presented newer and younger artists working in brazen new styles. At first it just pissed me off, then as I studied my photos of the one-night showing in another space set for demolition — so the upper middle-class family who lived on Fisher Road near White Rock Lake could rebuild, understanding took over. Now, several more of its artists are among my new Dallas favorites.

I'm not convinced that will even be possible with the hapless artists caught up in this brief blaze of City and other self-important promotions that bear no realistic relation to connections that I can see, even though it's called that. Nor, except a bare few exceptions, any reason to call it a site-specific show. Any piece there could easily have been installed almost anywhere else. But doesn't 'site-specific' sound important?

pink wall - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

artist and title unknown

I liked the two-tone pink exterior wall out front in plenty of sunlight. The altar surrounded by squares of wood and shreds of magazines was less intriguing. And the straw circles held my attention for several seconds. Again, connected to what?

Connections has got to be the lamest, inanest show title in years — and overall, the least interesting of the shows listed in this story. Sounds like a committee of governmental agency art know-nothings came up with the title in a bar at lunchtime. Where the other titles were sharp, witty and wise— tongues firmly planted in cheeks, this one is smarmily stupid. Luckily, however, it was largely ignored by the participating artists.

Yeah, the new bridge connects Dallas with Oak Cliff, at one time its own city often cut off by the flooding Trinity River. But so still does the old, solid and beautiful stone bridge right next to it — that the City was going to knock down, but now may be making of it a four-lane highway for Trinity River corridor bicycle commuters who might enjoy a car-free freeway. And of course, there's still several less artsy other bridges we've enjoyed for decades along the Trinity corridor. The connection isn't new, and neither is the concept.

exploding closet - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

artist and title unknown

Art as throw a bunch of unrelated object together, toss in an obvious bulls eye symbol and pretend it all means something. The "Making Connections Team" comprises Esther Ritz, Nancy Ungerman, Bob Little, Emma Lipshy and Sabrina Sokolosky.

Unfortunately, much of the art installed there also lacks originality. This one looks like an escapee from Demolicious, only without the connections, literal or visual implications.

The weekend event was planned to coincide with the grand opening of the new bridge, but the new bridge did not open, and thanks to lax building security at 301 Singleton, the electrical system's copper was stolen from the roof, so when we visited Sunday afternoon, the show was dark, except for light coming in the windows. And except for artists explaining their work to small queues of visitors, it was quiet.

As I write this, the show called Connections' startling unoriginality mostly just pisses me off. Which is not to say this show was without redeeming aesthetic value. Several pieces brightened the show against so much trash art and bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo that it was sometimes difficult to distinguish one from the other. I saw no artists' credits or identifications but there was one first-name only list posted for the Kidz show upstairs.

As always, DallasArtsRevue.com will happily credit artists whose work is shown here. Let us know.

Clyde Barrow will never die - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Deconstruction of Bonnie and Clyde by Pierre Durand, Andreas Sethi,
Anjuli Sethi, Bridgette Gobard, Nick Slowhand and Deborah Luhowy

"Clyde Barrow will never die" it says in blue middle right of this wall-filling extravaganza, even though Clyde and Bonnie died together famously in a hail of lawman bullets near Gibsland, Louisiana. The oddly stylized icons across the top tell the fairytale story of the couple meeting, their first dance together, joining the gang, robbing banks, "fac[ing] the consequences" and Bonnie through a booze land haze, "Too late to change fate?"

Flanked by what may be two of Bonnie's poems are Clyde, Geronimo, Poncho Villa and Fess Parker as TV's Davy Crockett (! ?). Far left are colorful women on hangers. The red one may resemble Bonnie. The car is similar to the one they were ambushed in. Its windows are playing cards depicting JFK in the Dallas motorcade before the assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking somewhere, Bonnie, Clyde and the King of Diamonds.

So many connections, so little sense.

Connections was in a colorful but dilapidated building just on the Oak Cliff side of the Trinity, a stone's throw from the similarly dilapidated and abandoned building where Sustenance shined. Just off the new, still controversial — Big-time artist from out of town designs a fancy new bridge right next to one that continues to serve Dallas well, so City leaders can pretend we're an International City not caught up in the Great Financial Panic, even if they had to find somebody richer than God to pay for it.

Super Fund Cleanup Installation - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Super Fund Cleanup Installation

Aha! Now here's a connection! Of sorts. When I saw typed pages attached to walls, I photographed them. This following screed appeared in the vicinity of this arted room, in, I suppose, somebody official's notion of explanation. As if art weren't its own explanation. As if this pile of bureaucratese makes any sense whatsoever:

Super Fund Cleanup - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Super Fund Cleanup Installation Explanation

According to another sheet attached to the wall, titled "Connections/Making Connections Installation, The Making Connections team focused its work on people from all sections of Dallas, asking how they felt about the new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, what impact it might have on them, their families, their neighborhood and the city as a whole.

Our goal was to talk and document conversations and ideas from people of all walks of life. We tried to get as broad a cross section as possible.

We found divergent opinions about the value, appearance and importance of the bridge. Surprisingly, some had never heard of it. Others were thrilled and hoped it would change West Dallas and truly connect it to the rest of the city. A few had major doubts that it was money well spent.

We hope the photographs, quotations, and video convey the conversation that the bridge has inspired throughout Dallas.

We believe that both literally and figuratively, Making Connections will highlight how people are connecting with each other as result of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge."

Garbage Fence - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

I bet this connects to something, also.

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Art at The Fair

The State Fair of Texas - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The State Fair of Texas — Not exactly a place where our first thought is Art

Okay, that out of the way, now let's look at some art I found on the way to here, and then we'll transition off in the general direction of there, but by the time we get there, it'll be over there.

Spikey Ceramic with Blue Ribbon - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Andrew E Swartzfager's spiky ceramic

I think of this gem as fish, and behind the glass it reminds of many of the sea creatures we saw at the Monterey Aquarium, behind glass so reflecting that it's difficult to photograph anything behind. In one of the little glassed-in areas behind the crowd caught nearly forever in suspended animation watching the butter 'sculpture' not melt, imagining running amok in there with a blowtorch.

A simplified blowfish face with bulging dark eyes and not nearly as many spines as a real Tetraodontida. It was one of our favorite art pieces anywhere we saw art at the fair, which was pretty much everywhere we looked. Beautiful, elegant, simple, direct. Amazing.

Alisa Carlson's Box - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Alisa Carlson   'box'

As usual, I agreed with darned few blue ribbon winners, except the blowfish. Not sure what a white ribbon means, but this is a lovely piece in simple black and white. Not perfect lines, not perfect shape. All wobbly and lumpy and discontinuous. Real, like humans tend to create when they're not pretending to be a machine. This has soul, no doubt.

Knit Textures - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Knit Textures by Jo Ann Henry

Probably my one, absolute favorite-most presentation of any in all those display cases was this. Texture, color, shape. I can almost feel the soft black aggregate of thread. Even the blue ribbon is harsh and too-bright against that soft dark world. Refuge from the silly and stupid and ugly.

Moneygami by Carl Swartz - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Moneygami by Carl Swatz

Here's another visual gem floating in all that, with the ribbons and bows and Dad's Root Beer signs unearthed from the distant past. Intended, at least, as craft, not art. But what it is, I think, is, undoubtedly, art. Again that word, elegant presentation. A dark grid. Shapes we either recognize immediately or almost do. Hardly any pretense. It's what Swatz does, no doubt.

Laura Abrams - top - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Laura Abrams

It was disconcerting to see so many of the same names' art at the State Fair of Texas as we saw there last year. Seems like there should be a great many more artists showing a great many more varieties of art on the grounds of our state fair. After we saw several dreadful other pieces of dreadful quality and form and presentation of art objects, we saw this and were dismayed.

Until we thought about it awhile. Our dismay may have had to do with expectations not being met. We're huge fans of Laura Abrams' work, and really liked that last bunch that we've seen all over the place for the last, oh, decade or so. This isn't like that. It explores differing shapes and planes and in very differing colors and form.

Sculpture by Committee - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sculpture by Committee   Staci Whitten, Gustavo Galvan and Lottie Kate Minick

On its own merits and ignorant of who do it, we might have come to different initial reactions. I don't know. We both didn't like it, then we thought about it, and looked at our perfectly decent photographs of it, and then we liked it more and more. Other photographs of other art there in the green grass along the road past the Swan Pedal boat Ride, did not fare nearly as well.

I don't know who chooses it, or if the artists (some, few) and draftspersons (most) chose the work themselves. But a better job of choosing should obtain. Much of the work along that walkway left much to be desired.

Giraffs - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Cynthia Daniel   Giraffes

Though not this, cute as it may be. A lot of the issue may have to do with placement. Some of the works placed along that road were very difficult to even see, let alone appreciate or identify. What looks great against a simple wall in a gallery or studio may end up looking like it's not even there in the grass with too much going on behind it along a busy walkway.

These giraffes may have had the best placement we saw. Eminently recognizable shadow shapes twisted against jungle of green with exotic red vegetation beyond. Nice. We liked. We appreciate the simplicity of object and sympatico ground.

Minimalst Sculpture / Maximalist Sign - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Maximalist sign with Minimalist Sculpture

The signs were gloriodsky in our faces and ugly and ornate. Red field with bold white words and scripty art form i.d.? Oh, Lard! Especially compared with sculpture that was hardly even there and much of it entirely invisible. I like knowing who did it, and I suppose how to get in contact with them does make sense, but those red, bumpy signs were gaudy and ugly and I wanted to do something mean to them. Including piece titles would have been nice.

Brad Abrams -

Brad Abrams  

Another interesting piece I would have liked to see somewhere else, but against these trees, bright sky and sun, this partially translucent blade seemed lost and difficult to appreciate.

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an autumn essay

Daisies Open Book - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

J R Compton   Daisy Open Book   October 24 2011   digital photograph  

I was keen to write about some art I saw recently, but not because it was good, though it almost was. Rather because it was interesting in a flip-back cosmic way. Set my mind to wandering and wondering why I needed to write about it, and what I needed to say.

I know the artist has talent. I've seen them touch minds. But every time they show new work, it's in another direction. Competent, visually interesting and often difficult to put together, but I don't see their Self in it. It doesn't shine back through the work, like it does with artists I know are successful because I can see who they are, in their work — literally in their imaginary scenarios, or more elusively in their styles, their sense of space or interrelationship of real or abstract forms.

But when they keep changing formats, it's like they're running from showing their real self. Like they feel not good or worthy enough. Or think something else would be more in. Whatever it is that holds them back from exposing who they really are in their work. Then I look back over my shoulder to my own art, and I wonder if my self or soul is in there. I can't see it. First person singular, we never can.

Though we fully participate in exhibiting our own style in what we do, we cannot see it ourselves, though it may be obvious to others.

Style takes care of itself. I.M. Pei and others have noted that style is not something we knowingly create or can arbitrarily alter. It's what happens when we make art. When we work our craft, when we keep at our chosen forms and do what comes naturally.

Soul or Self is like that, only more difficult. Soul shows obviously in some artist's work. I often see more soul in work by artists who are so busy making art they don't have time to figure out how to show as ineffable a quiddity as style or soul or self. It just is. It's not something that can be manufactured, and because the artist cannot see it, we/they are never sure it's there.

Seeing it, is up to much more objective viewers who see past what we put into it and what we think we put into it to what's really there.

These concepts are difficult to write or think about, because they squish around. Press on it here, it goes there. You think you find it, flay it open to see how it's put together, and it's not there anymore. It is way beyond specific mediums, forms, colors or technical skills.

Maybe like the human soul, it is more organizing principle than object.

Saying that may have done it. I'm thinking this pile of words may have quit my challenge to write about that artist's work — and others when they struggle to hide from themselves or from showing who they are. When they hide that quintessential communication, they forget the soul, manage not to show it, and we miss it.

I missed it that time.

The pieces in the show that brought this essay on, were hewn intricately and craftfully. They were colorful and initially interesting — very nearly fascinating — without quite obtaining those qualities, let alone anything deeper or beyond. But they missed the mark, and I suspect the next format that artist's work shows up in will also.

Artists frightened of freeing their souls to do what souls need — to show their selves — may stay lost to themselves and others, and their art might never connect with the deep-down parts of those of us who sense those ineffables — although in a way, we all do. When we bare our selves and souls in the unique style we've worked at for lifetimes, we communicate. When we jump about for a new medium every time we get close to the quick, we don't. We can't.

We haven't got a prayer.

 

Index of Summer Essays

The previous edition of Art Here Lately (#12)   and The Art Here Lately Index

Continued on Art Here Lately #14

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All Contents of this site are Copyright 2011 or before by publisher J R Compton.
All art shown on these pages are copyrighted by the originating artists. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.

 

  cumulative Art Here Lately count

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 #13 since October 24 2011; 165 b4 Mod Ru Too; 502 b4 Kary/McLain/etc; 779 b4 10inOne;

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