Promoting Dallas Art & Artists Since 1979
Home Index Art Opportunities Resources Feedback Google this Site Art by Members How to Join Contact Us
Send Us Stuff Artists with Websites Dallas Visual Art Groups Amateur Birder's Journal ThEdBlog Art Space Information
< AHL #16
except as noted, words + photographs
Copyright 2013 by J R Compton
AHL #18 >
THIS PAGE New Texas Talent Akirash's
Oda performance in Pegasus Plaza Dueling
Performance Art at the DMA The
MAC Member Show Performance
Art? at the DMA Malleable Art at the LCC Seven
Openings in 43 Minutes Flat Danielle Georgiou's
Beauty/Beast at Red Arrow Reviewing Ann Cushing
Gantz' Estate Sale Only the newest
events are bold.
20th Anniversary New Texas Talent at Craighead Green
Owen Drysdale A Storm of Flour oil on panel 18 x 22 inches $900
Always an eagerly-anticipated competitive exhibition — and one that does not charge an entry fee, this 20th Anniversary edition was juried by the gallery's staff, Kenneth Craighead, Steve Green and Scot Presley, instead of a single art star curator. It's a big show, filling the front half of the large space on Dragon Street, and varied.
I have a lot of favorites in this show, and several serious why-on-earth-is-that-here?s.
I know why Drysdale's storm is there. It's beautiful, a little mysterious and about tonality, depth and implied motion. But it makes me wonder how many artists are exploring similar nebulous shapes. I've seen paint aspire to drafty, loose-shifting forms before, but this instance held its mistiness like a glass bowl, and if that's really blue in there, I don't remember it.
Jo Clay Abyss 4 x 2 inches and Sea Beyond 14 x 7 inches Glazed Ceramic Porcelain
There have been stronger, more varied and much riskier New Texas Talent shows over the decades, depending on that year's juror — from conservative to radical — which reminds of Charissa Teranova's 2009 turn, but this is a decent enough attempt, and in time, we might even consider it a good one, and except for a couple corners where work seems crowded or i.D tags were misspelled or mislabeled, it looks good.
I appreciate the inclusion of size info on the I.D tags, but wished for year dates, too. I always want to know how long some work has been hanging on. I took my time through the show, came back to everything at least once, and as usual here, am presenting not just the work I was attracted to, but work that actively upsets my cherished notions.
Dennis Meals Red Pop oil on canvas 48 x 60 inches $3,000
Like this was probably what most people saw first, looking up from the front stairs — and two others essentially similar and flanking frontal bottle collections in green or blue. Be hard to miss. As if super real color collections were still in.
Jim Tompkins Self Conscious ceramic stoneware, rubber and plaster 50 x 12 inches $1,800
I came back to this one three times, shot it straight-on, a detail featuring the bound and misshapen Self, and this side-angle, Rockettes view. Then, while I was waiting for six p.m., when the other galleries were to open, I sat down in CG's big comfy black, front couch and was shortly joined by Jim Tompkins, who stayed busy watching gallery-goers experience his piece on the other side of the room, clock how long they lingered, looking or talking, or just staring wondering what were their more obvious reactions, while we talked about it.
It was great sport, and like many others in this show, it had already sold. I don't know if there was a private preview of the show, but opening day began at noon, and when I got there at 5, a crowd had already gathered, although I slotted The Slider into a parking space right in front of CG's front door walk-up, then walked to the few other galleries I wanted to see. Everywhere I looked, there were red dots on I.D tags.
I told him I liked it, and to prove my bona fides, I showed him all three views with lots of other work in between. We had a long, low-key discussion in the cool front of the gallery for about a half hour. I only much later realized the remarkable similarities of our names. (I used to be a Jim.)
Tompkins is a Dallas artist who works in figure series. His other most similar piece has all differing figures, and as did I, he identifies with the worn, misshapen, bound and browned figure I think of as in the middle.
Veronica Jaeger Earthquake Bullet Girl oil on canvas 72 x 60 inches $4,500
Bullet Girl compares and contrast simple linear and solid geometrics with a spray of empty bullet-hole white and ground negative spaces and the barest outlines of trees, clouds and shapes that add to the already-deep dimensionality of that distorted face, but her base doesn't look as if it were out of balance or might tumble. There's no earthquake going on, although I enjoyed the float, drip and contrasts of volume and volumelessness.
Danqing Coldwell Grey Dress watercolor 37 x 26 inches $1,800
Oddly similar in some peculiar ways to that last one, this presents a female in volume against a drawn, flat ground. The dragonfly wallpaper makes it, pulls us back to a bygone era of muted colors, and textures haphazardly connected to reality as we sometimes see it. I am attracted by every aspect of this painting except the face, but I still want to see it again.
Lori Giesier Chasm oil on canvas 36 x 32 inches
There also was Julie Rendon's lilting No Such Thing portrait of a young man in a white, collared shirt on a white background with all but his head intersticed over with uniform vertical dabs of consistent yellow paint, almost like a screen lending the figure a quiet wanness, but my photo of it mis-focused, so you'd have to see it on the NTT slide show online.
I'd hoped to contrast that and this, probably because of the apparent depths, youthful subjects and peculiarity of texture as dimensions, although This Lori Giesler painting employs a differing intrusion of pattern on its sewn-swaths of canvas and tumble of young, male human forms playing hand games
Clint Mordecai Itonic Snapshot acrylic on canvas 36 x 40 inches $900
I like the patterns and gray shapes and forms with slivers of blue on dark, vignetted red, but I wondered about its inclusion here, which did not nearly concern me as much as the next piece down. I yahooed that word and found only two pertinent references, but it's been a long time since I've even considered a flashbulb, which might put this photographer back in time, but not as far back as Dragonfly Lady.
Jamie Pickerell Riviera acrylic on canvas 36 x 48 inches $1,800
One wonders, when presented with just one piece by an artist, how it fits in their oeuvre. Jessica Morgan Amos' backs of cute little cowboys in nearly-matching white cowboy hats and blue jeans, standing on the lowest wrung of a rodeo fence against a powder blue sky, may even be cuter than Pickerell's mishmash symbols and signals, but I long for saner sights against that quiet blue sky and seascape.
I keep dissuading myself from parking the terminally cute little cowboys picture here for comparison, but you can see an unsharpened version of it on the Craighead Green slide show for. Essentially, it's just too cute for comfort, as if this image weren't …
Sometimes one just wonders why.
Jeff Bradley Matriarch's Dent and Goodnight Ned 16 x 24 inches Ultrachrome prints $800
Jeff Bradley's shadows in the busy, architectural backgrounds of his densely populated photographs lend a scent of mystery and presence to their remarkably similar orange, green, blue, white and brown color schemes. These are photographically intriguing, because I just can't look at the one on the left without squinting, with all that detail and color contrast, whereas the one on the right almost seems serene, so its the one I watch, even though not nearly so much is happening there.
Worse, the two are crammed into the space on an outside corner near the back edge of the exhibition with an even busier sculpture by someone whose very similar work was seen in an earlier New Texas Talent. I wondered if they had rules against that sort of thing.
Allison Proulx The Rise of Kawaii mixed media 48 x 48 inches $2,800
If Less Is More, is More still this side of Not
Nearly Too Much? My OTS instructor insisted
that Nothing Exceeds Like Excess, and I was immediately drawn to this city street
scene as if I knew that place, had shopped in those stores and read the signs.
Lot going on here in a newly-busied downtown not unlike our own, where color
is texture and confusion makes it all right, and theres's still more going on
in the far back background.
DARts' previous New Texas Talent reviews: Michael Helsem's Autotelic Salsa about NTT XII mine of the 2003 NTT, called Survival of the Strangest Charissa Teranova's year at NTT in 2009 NTT 2010 and NTT XVIII
Akirash's Oda Performance Art in Pegasus Plaza downtown
Akirash Entering Pegasus Plaza after Walking from CentralTrak
Perhaps the most successful and exuberant attempt at Performance Art in awhile was brought to us by Ro2, whose downtown gallery is just up Akard from Pegasus Plaza, and it was primarily performed by Ghanaian Environmental Artist and UTD CentralTrak Artist-in-Residence Olaniyi Rasheed Akiniya, a.k.a., Akirash, although many audience members joyously participated, pouring and squirting paint after his heat-wave walk from CentralTrak to downtown Dallas in 104-degrees Fahrenheit August heat.
Akirash's On-stage Costume Change
Ro2 senior Susan Roth (in pink and white) behind Akirash looks on, while his daughter asks incessant questions as Daddy changes from his water suit to one that could be extensively painted.
Audience Members Squirt Paint on Akirash
The audience was smallish, except when compared with other recent indoor performance art attempts here, but we were active and engaged with this compellingly simple and direct action. The excitement, like Akirash's running monologue, rarely stopped more than a few seconds. Left to right, this is [yet-unknown], gallery artist Terry Hays, Akirash, gallery co-owner Jordan Roth, [yet-unknown] and photographer Anna Palmer.
Painter and His Canvas Early On
And as you can see, the whole thing colorfully adhered to the gallery's current show's theme, Paint! as well as the water theme of the Oda performance itself, as water-based paint was poured, splashed, dripped, dribbled and squirted on Akirash, who after setting it up, usually just stood there and took it.
Pouring Red Paint onto the Human Canvas in Pegasus Square
Saturated, wet and colorful, sometimes the performance artist and painter blended into his canvas. The differences between object and ground were nearly indistinguishable.
Akirash in His Set
Then, near the end of the performance, Akirash began to tear off squares of the pre-perforated painted canvas, so he could sign and give them away to members of the audience.
Resulting Art to Take Home
Not bad considering the wild abandon of random acts that culminated in the colorful canvas, a treasure.
Dueling Performance Art at the DMA
Once Again The Homecoming Committee Set Stole the Show, even if nobody much noticed.
I love having my eyes and intellect engaged in good performance art, but that art form is probably the iffy-est of all of art's wildly diverse genres, and although Dallas has experienced a sudden explosion of performance art attempts in the last few years, it isn't often very good, engaging or compelling. I keep attending and hoping, but over and over, the stuff dashes my fervent hopes.
Danielle Georgiou Mostly Silently Reading Among the Stacks
Thursday evening August 8, the Dallas Museum of Art in all its questionable wisdom presented three, not altogether separate, attempted instances of performance art at the same time, in very nearly the same place, and mostly similar circumstances — the two venues were only a few yards apart across one side of the Barrel Vault. Both separate-gallery events started at the same time, so whenever we got bored — which happened often on both ends — some few of us waltzed across the vault to see something else almost entirely, though our changes of venues were not necessarily rewarding.
Although I'm a huge fan of performance art, watching panel discussions ranks pretty low in my attention scale, yet that evening I was most often bored when I visited Danielle Georgiou's end of the vault, but I kept switching back and forth until I just couldn't anymore. Both spaces kept on keeping on, and I drove home wondering if I might have missed something, but not really caring.
Homecoming Committee Chess Game with Dominoes and Bowl
I've been down on PSW (Performance SouthWest), whose performance work has sucked into tedious self-indulgence most of this year [after being good to superb last year at 500X: Alison Starr and Courtney Brown, among others; plus what has to be Georgiou's best performance art ever, although there was probably more action and colorful passion and motion at her Beauty/Beast performance at Red Arrow, also below on this page.].
And I've been unabashedly up on Georgiou, but I was overly excited about seeing her perform in the otherwise superb Homecoming Committee set, which tonight was peopled by enough gently-interacting humans, still mostly wearing black, to keep it lively, even if most of the audience paid it scant or no attention, even if it was decidedly the most interesting performance art going on in the room
Performance SW's Set Before the Event
Once again, that set was the most interesting 'event' of the evening. As I've previously mentioned [below on this page], that set is superb, especially when each separate space of it is subtly activated by the presence of moving, acting and reacting humans, who in the best of times appear entirely oblivious of anybody beyond their cut-away proscenium.
And, perversely, the people this side of that set of exposed rooms, mostly ignore it. But even during Georgiou's least interesting moments, that set continued. Once one guy in black got the video set up, so anybody almost anywhere in the audience space could see her, they seemed to pay in zero attention, and many of us lost track that a lot of colorful activity was taking place while Georgiou writhed, anguished and chewed, neatly missing the best of what was right there in front of our eyes, if we'd only focus upon it.
I remember one guy, many minutes after Georgiou had begun, asking when it would start, and I explained it is and has begun. That performance art stuff is sometimes subtle, but usually not so much.
Reading the Projected Text from the Lectern
That Thursday evening, the often remarkable Danielle Georgiou [also below on this page] performed in the upper left-most room that has previously been described as "the torture room." It certainly seemed so this time as she writhed, perused and ingested pages from stacks of books, some of which she eventually pushed over that less-overt proscenium into the bare-floored space the invited audience, photographers and videographers probably thought was theirs.
The two 'performance' galleries could easily have been more different, but other than that amazing, wonderful Homecoming! Committee set, they just weren't. The PSW space, behind its black velvet curtain, looked like a classroom, the prof babbling on from a lectern at the front, still reading from his PowerPoint presentation and explaining which works of historical performance art he liked best.
The longer I stood there at the back of that gallery, the more likely someone would offer to unfold me a chair, but I was only passing through. This gallery was very formally arranged — and probably much more comfortable, while the Homecoming gallery was loose, and we could sit at the table or stand anywhere, including inside the downstairs of that set I so like.
Showing Performance Art Videos
Despite having previously announced that performance art could not be accomplished with video, the UTA prof moderator showed video shorts of some fascinating bits of it, all the ones I saw during my short visits were from elsewhere. Between the seated audience and the images projected on the far wall was most of a circle of panel-discussers, and in the black chairs were a much larger audience than had gathered in the Homecoming space down the hall by double.
Last time I walked out on a PSW panel, panelist Randall Garrett later informed me that he'd jumped down off the stage to interview members of the audience, which sounds enough like the actual performance art I never dreamed might happen there and then. I'm sorry I missed that, but glad the rest of the audience did not. Bravo Randall! But then he often seems a couple steps beyond.
Delta at The MAC, a Member Show
Paul Covington Rejuice plastic
The 2003 McKinney Avenue Contemporary Members Show was, as usual, a mixed bag of tricks. A very few superb. A very many, dreadful. A lot in the middle. Very high sugar content refreshments, but a lot of those, and a good diversity. And that dreck they call their 'famous' punch. We mostly talked with friends we hadn't seen in a while, noshed and looked at the art. In fact, I went around the gamut of both big galleries and the Project Space three times.
These are my favorites of the 217 pieces up through, well the invite doesn't say, and their website has not been updated in a while, so who knows.
I often like PVC pipe art escecially the white
ones, but I usually don't care for chopped baby doll parts art, even with
red fingernails. But this one, though it narrowly avoids being downright
cute, is a delta of sorts. That it's real sculpture only helps its cause.
Morton Rachofsky Untitled HDPR
Maybe for the first time ever, the mac listed
everybody's name on the invitation — at least once, although there are
misspellings. These are my favorites of the bunch, all but one of my selections
also adhered to the theme, which rule The Mac has never enforced, but I almost
did. There is no order at all. Morton told me what HDPE is (high density polyethylene),
but I promptly forgot it. I like everything I've ever seen of his work,
and this one, too. But I really like that it makes sculptural sense as well as
delta sense as well as a differing abstract shadow sense. For an all-white piece,
it sure is colorful.
Carol Swenson-Roberts Lawn Sprinkler acrylic
Last time I saw one of her swatch-book paintings
I fell in love with it on the spot, hanging on her studio wall in the Continental
Gin. I like this one for many of those same reasons. That it's a coherent whole
shape shifted into fragments that hold up very well while maintaining a long
green spectrum on one end of the color chart, short purple, yellow and blue on
the other, and it's all so very carefully colorful.
Lisa Miller Paper Lantern mixed
I like it just like it is in the gallery, but
I wonder what it looks like at night with a candle in it. Do the colors and their
bright contrasts wash out? I don't really care. Nice piece.
Sue Cobb Purple Abstract #1 wood
When I stood before this piece on the wall, I reached up and moved the hinged triangle at the top left. I interacted with it. Almost reflexively, except I knew I was doing it, and I knew that in a museum, an art police person would at the very least yell at me. It was adjustable, so I adjusted it. I assumed I got to do that, although I don't know what Sue Cobb thinks about such things.
I love the colors and their use here, although some edges seem a little rough. I did not attempt to move the bottom flap, but I bet it moves, too. And it's front is also hinged, so it probably doesn't mess with the other pieces when someone does that. I used to tell people that my favorite color was red and blue. Purple qualifies, and electric blue, which it gets when directly coexisting with red or purple is lovely.
That all the pieces of this work are deltas, except
the whole of it, only makes me like it more. Very simple. Direct. Superb.
Ron Criswell I Am Bipolar, But
I Am Not Mad Anymore mixed media
Except for it's cute little tri-corner hair do,
this piece almost entirely ignores the theme, and I have the feeling that I've
seen something extremely very much like it before, very possibly, if not probably
by the same artist. I hope so. I like the title. I identify with the title. I
like the gloss I was so careful to avoid in this photograph and everything about
the piece but the face, which seems a little clumsy and amateurish. I do like
the textures, the purple rolling and jagging thick lines, the spirals, the dark
green and woodcut patterns, the hair, the brown and black and blue.
Joel Sampson Blinkie at Work Plate
Vise, oak, electronics
The red light on the end of the oak plank is pink,
because it is flashing on here. I've been envious of Joel Sampson's photographic
career, and I am growing affection for his sculpture. They're simple, colorful,
and this one is mercifully quiet, just that little red blinkie at work. Nice.
David Woo Photograph of Delta Flight 191 Appropriated
and very subtly if at all altered
"by David Clingly 2013 mixed media"
Some people think it's okay to take a photograph even if it has been copyrighted and/or published and use it as if they had originated everything about it, when in fact, they've only appropriated it. Appropriated is like stealing. There are laws against stealing images, and juries have made people pay for doing it and making money from it. It is one of the banes of my existence as a photographer, because I don't like being ripped off, and I prefer to decide where my images are used, and it's why I usually splash my pix with copious instructions that it is copyrighted to me. And no, you do not have permission to use it without paying me.
I didn't do that here, because it's at least controversial, if not downright illegal of one artist to steal and use as his own, another artist's work, and I don't need the karma.
Reportedly, the supposed artist of this piece says he didn't know where he got Dallas Morning News Photographer David Woo's pre-digital photograph. That artist, James Clingly, says he made it into a mixed media work, but neither standing right in front of it nor looking at it here, can I see where or what he did that substantially alters the original photograph, which is the Fair-Use test for possible copyright infringement. When I saw it hanging on the wall at The MAC, I assumed it was a photograph. I still think it is.
However skillfully he might have done that, the "artist" did not substantially change the basic look of Woo's original photograph, so he can't claim it as his own. David Woo has been contacted, and it will be up to him to decide whether Clingly has permission to use it. I seriously doubt this version of Woo's original photograph passes the U.S. Copyright law's Fair Use test. I also seriously doubt it will bother "the mac team" that they are showing illegal art.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office, "Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. Accordingly, you cannot claim copyright to another's work, no matter how much you change it, unless you have the owner's consent. See Circular 14, Copyright Registration for Derivative Works.
See also Bob Atkin's Photography, the Law and Photographers Rights.
Because of all the above, this is not one of my favorite pieces in the show. Like probably a lot of other people around Dallas, however, when I hear the word, 'Delta,' this — or an image very similar to it — another one of Woo's photographs — is what comes to mind. I avoided that airlines, because of the snooty way they acted in court and elsewhere after this wreck, which was caused by wind shear. That wreck was why wind shear is now in the public lexicon.
I only photographed the piece after I heard about the imbroglio. Call it a teaching opportunity.
The Dallas Museum of Art Attempts Performance Art
Alison Starr — with Courtney Brown — demands "No Photography!"
Two signs I'd photographed earlier when I reconnoitered the area at six, clearly stated "No Photography in This Room" meaning the gallery just to the right of Ali and Courtney in the foreground above, and "No Photography Beyond This Point," so I knew I'd have to shoot whatever they would, do from the the famous barrel vault where at least a half dozen other visitors were busy taking pictures — of art, each other or the Jag by the big windows..
I'd set my mind to follow those rules, even though I'd have been happier photo-documenting the event. I'd just spoken with Alison's husband James Michael Starr, who told me he thought they planned to be in the area between the four galleries before the performance, so I told him it would probably be my only chance to photograph them. So I did.
Photographers always have to be careful in museums, lest they thwart some institutional rule, even if those make no sense. I was angry, because the way I 'take notes' of an art performance or show is via my photographs. It's how my mind works, or I'd probably be doing something else. But they suddenly changed the rules when I started taking photographs outside that room and well before that point.
When Brown and Starr passed into the no-photo zone and stood in the middle of that gallery hugging and mugging on each other, I joined the crowd of about sixty (I counted.) and put my camera away — although I saw a few others using phones on the sly. I might like to see their videos of the performance, although once through this one may be enough.
There were, for a change in these two's performance
oeuvre, obvious audible and physical interactions — a dialog if you will,
via intermittent call and response vocalizations, with their usual holding, bumping
and paralleling, and once, when both lay face up and feet to feet on the floor,
one shoved the other across the brightly polished and otherwise empty floor.
I wonder if they'd practiced that lately. That's a lot more effort than usual
for them. If I had photos, I'd tell who pushed and who got pushed, but in matching
black & white
outfits some when into their unexpectedly short performance their personas
Guy Photographing the Jaguar in The Barrel Vault
Their barely projected vocals were often monosyllabic, but I did catch one fleeting reference to, I think, pigs, stated in a mildly accusatory manner. Twice or thrice there was harmonizing — some eerie mutual keening that was probably the high point of their performance for me. Though each time they started, that audio was over in seconds and didn't make any more sense than the rest.
Usually, one would begin making spare, staccato, usually undecipherable vocals, then the other repeated some words or sounds, like a partially misunderstood conversation. I've no idea what they were on about, but it seemed to impel them through the performance, which lasted just at 20 minutes, although Alison had said they expected to go for an hour.
This performance was more energetic than their others that usually get stuck in slow-mo, so when I finally got around to reading another sign I'd shot earlier that titled the event "No Name (7/19/13)" and suggested we "join the founders of PerformanceSW for their debut performance exploring the dynamic of competition within oneself and with the other," I had to wonder.
Last time I saw — and photographed — the two together they were performing long, slow lolls in an empty building downtown just last March for five hours, although I didn't watch the whole thing. We came and went, and I came back again later to see it still going. That largely unattended event involved no audible or other interaction except paralleling poses, and much less between them and any audience.
Then came the news that they'd formed PSW in January this year, so how can this DMA event be PSW's debut? And isn't PerformanceSW too slick a title for such an esoteric artform; cover too much territory for a Denton-Dallas duo; and sound too much like South By Southwest (SXSW)?
Usually, performance, like artists of other
mediums, leave it to their work to say what needs saying, but these two's performances
just don't say much. If I'd read their text — I skip explanations lest
I get caught in the hype — before their show, it's possible I might have
had some notion what they were attempting, even if performance art isn't about telling. It
is about showing — visual,
No Name (7/19/13) A Performance by Courtney
Brown + Alison Starr
Most of the audience isn't even looking at the performers.
This time there was some initial audience interaction when some got "trapped" along the far wall, with the performers in the middle, and the rest of the crowd on this side, when Brown and Starr walked toward the wall-trapped few, which oddly included James Michael, who must have known — hence my suspicion, they'd slide or otherwise escape to another wall. I still don't know if that situation was planned or happenstanced, but it didn't fit any category I understood of what else was going on, but it was briefly interesting and charming.
Then further into the performance, Alison suddenly stopped whatever, turned abruptly and enunciated a loud, "No, Thank, You" directly at what I thought might be me. So as she walked toward where I was sitting on the floor, I scooted out of her way. She stopped where I'd been sitting, leaned in and pulled an iPhone out of some hapless guy's hand. Mighten it have really been interesting if he was a plant? But they'd never shown a sense of humor before.
me she had yelled and gestured as if to block my camera's view like I was paparazzi,
although she later explained she had not, as I suggested, "freaked
out." (See image on
this far into the performance, the museum person had moved the signs blocking
the entrance, so it's hardly surprising someone in a hurry
might have missed the subtle prohibitions.
If I had heard, discerned or understood the two's vocalizations better, I might have made some obscure sense of it. But by the end, I knew something vaguely resembling a tale was told in tones, terms and transit. There was only ever the gist of a plot, but most of the audience wasn't having it. A quarter of the them filtered out within the first ten minutes. More than half was gone by the 15-minute mark, and by the end, only about a quarter remained.
Not that performance art audiences are imbued with clues. It takes deep attention to this elusive art form to even buy a vowel. It can be subtle and/or maddening. Often it never makes any linear sense at all, and many can't be bothered to think deeper, spatial perception understandings or keep such elusive concepts tumbling through our minds. On a Free Friday Night at the museum, people expect to be entertained, but this was taxing them instead. It wasn't simple or direct, and it wasn't compelling enough to exert the effort.
Later, via email, Alison Starr responded to my obvious question saying, "We made a very intentional decision to not have photography in historical connection with other performance artists who consider their performance work as ephemeral and a one-time act. We wanted to see how it would be experienced over time without documentation. There are many other reasons."
The Homecoming Team.
Entertainment was more to the point of Homecoming, which I'm guessing was another performance and maybe even art attempt an hour earlier. I'd heard a football team would crash through the paper over the entrance to another gallery, so I stood there waiting.
The Homecoming crew had no prohibitory rules, although there were never more than about 35 people (and most of those were in one way or another participant) on the audience side during the official performance (although those actually in the set were supposedly still there during museum open hours — except only three or four of them actually were when I came back the next Thursday, so that might have been the best thing about Homecoming, but it wasn't.
Their set and its denizens in mild motion ruled.
It was beautifully done, detailed, informative, intelligently thought-through,
elegant in many ways, and immediately reminded me of Ro2 and Ryder Richard's
spectacularly successful The
Ergonomics of Futility performancein November, 2010 — in terms of
aesthetic intelligence; these things never make money sense — although
this set was not as subtly nuanced with physical art as that one.
The Right Middle of
the Two-story Homecoming Set — more was going on at each end.
By itself, the set was a wonder. With the people dressed in shades of black gathered in and around accomplishing apparent work and play, it was outstanding until some its members — mostly guys — started playing to the crowd beyond the confines of the set piece. While they were in character and in-place, they and it was compelling and engaging.
But that didn't
last. The official performers
hadn't a plan, or didn't communicate it with anyone
off set. Certainly, the audience didn't get the their purpose,
which seemed to be to answer inane questions, which was neither compelling
Push the Button and Be Heard, Nobody Told Nobody
On the long tables lined up facing the audience and parallel the sporadically still active set, was a box with a small red button on it that looked a lot like this. Visually, it fit right into where it was but did not stand out.
Here, cropped from the growing disarray of the room, it looks prominent; but there, it was lost in the dull darkness without a spotlight to distinguish it from the rest of the quiet chaos, even if there was a black microphone standing where the audience gathered.
We were still watching and waiting, when a small subset of the players filed down the ladder and out and sat along the back of the tables and glaring at the audience, expecting, we never really figured out what or why, although through their elaborate coaching we learned we should be asking them questions, but none of us wanted to.
The individuals in the set seemed absorbed in perpetrating their own, almost anonymous business, very much like a stage performance on the other side of the room-wide proscenium. But anyone could wander around and through that backstage place, except upstairs, which was accessible only via a dangerous-looking vertical ladder up the back wall. I wandered through and around the set but gave wide berth to the guys at the tables.
Eventually, several of them explained that we needed to ask them questions. But the spell was broken, and we no longer cared what they were up to, although they were having too much fun doing it.
I stayed and watched and photographed, but it was only speeding downhill. They'd got this superb set together, but they hadn't a clue what to do beyond it. What action there was just kept on and on, but it didn't extend the plot or lead us anywhere. Just some guys playing at being intelligent, even if they had to stand in for an uncaring audience and ask each other the questions they had answers for.
There was only one real audience
member who eventually engaged the red button to ask a question. And the players
didn't make it easy for whom might have been their only non-shill questioner — he
wasn't wearing black. The mess continued amid too much laughter from the
cast and consternation from audience left.
Guys in Black Coming and Going
The best performance art is engaging — which is why I keep writing about audiences — and compelling. But whatever else they had going for them at the DMA Friday, July 19, 2013, only the set in-motion portion of Homecoming was both; the football kids were briefly engaging; and the force-feed Q&A was neither.
And only the first few minutes and one tense moment
thereafter of No
Name in any way engaged its audience, and those may have been
happenstance, not planned. Not a great performance art showing for our downtown
art museum, but maybe a start. We have had great performance art, but it has
always been far and few between.
Because I keep writing about performance art, I get a lot of advice from artists who think they know more than I do about it. I've read one book people keep recommending, but it is the history of and what people once did and why, not what the art form is becoming in the 21st Century, which is a rather more subtle and nuanced story.
I've seen as much of what anybody has dared call performance art as I could since 1972 when I first witnessed Jerry Hunt engaging an audience in his candle-lit home, and I attended and photographed his amazing performances here (that he later exported to New York to great attention) for decades. In 1988 I participated in the performance of Allan Kaprow's Sweeping. I've been there, done that and paid attention.
I've also absorbed so many Dallas-Fort Worth performances over the decades that I'm working on an Index of stories and photographs of them engaged in what may be the most difficult and abstruse of accepted art forms.
So I've developed serious notions of what it is; what it does and doesn't; how it works when it is done right; and how it fails when it isn't. Although I believe performance art should be both engaging and compelling, neither is the sine qua non (Latin for without which there is nothing) of that seriously squishy form.
Although the museum has previously presented Jerry Hunt and shown superb taste in what they've presented there, I don't think this batch is up to those earlier standards.
As I noted in my review of The Future on my Art Movies Reviewed page,
Once I learned that the movie came from Performance Art, the little sense it so slowly made, made much more sense. Performance Art, when done well, does that. It pulls everything in and makes a visual sense of it, if not an everything-else sense.
More solid than malleable, but a fine 3-D show at the LCC
Gallery view from the
front doors: featuring
Eliseo Garcia Lift Off 2009 painted steel 8 feet, 4 inches high
This has got to be the best looking exhibition I've seen in the multi-use classroom / front gallery in the Latino Culture Center. I don't know who designed, curated or produced it, but wow. Lots of space between not too many, very different forms, colors, textures, sizes, mediums and sculptural concepts by four area artists — Angel Fernandez (Fort Worth), Eliseo Garcia (Dallas), Yesica Moran (Irving) and Ricardo Paniagua (Dallas) at the Latino Culture Center through August 31, 2013.
The title is odd: Texas Sculpture and Clay? But aren't all the clay works in this show already sculpture? Why would someone deem it necessary to add the word clay when they don't add the other sculptors' major mediums of stone, steel and wood? Wouldn't "Malleable Forms: An Exploration of Texas Sculpture" be enough?
Plus it seems an over-extrapolation to call this show Texas Sculpture, when the artists are all from such a comparatively small area in the upper rightish corner of this, our second-largest state. But then it calls these Metroplex-based artists "Dallas-based," even if they are a little more far-flung than that. And why exclude Eliseo Garcia's stone medium from the quick list in the publicity for the show:
"Working in diverse mediums such as wood, steel and clay, these forms will fill the MPR Gallery with 3-D forms."
I suspect the show might have been a little
rushed, but perhaps they all are, although I did see one preliminary
description calling it an outdoor exhibition.
Eliseo Garcia Heritage 2013
limestone and granite 27 x 13 x 13 inches
Yes, this collection of malleable forms is predominantly male, massively hard-form Latino, with contrasting delicate feminine organic shapes and lots of space between. I've seen plenty writhing skinny steel figures and boxes before, but here's a face that — except for the color and rising abstraction — actually looks Latino.
That eye must be The Artist's, though not necessarily just Eliseo's. I know his work well, and though much of it is relief, this one has enough of that third dimension that we know it is fully sculptural. The lips, cheeks and most of the nose seem firmly based in literal reality, then the ear, eye and mind carries our own senses into the conceptual and metaphysical.
That it also includes its own, slanting,
slightly contrasting base that looks simultaneously finished and not seems
mindful of its artist's need to show, tell and not get stuck with some ugly
Eliseo is all over the internet. I'd start with his own website and his Google Images page.
I've written about and photographed his work often, from the early years when modems were slow and images small, we can follow his work through the years; his is the 6th shot down in the inaugural Hall Office Park Story; here's one of the sculpture shows he helped curate; his work and a studio-visit for The Back-room Invitational I curated him into; some of his work at a friend's house; and an unpainted steel piece that's very similar to the big red one at the top of this story.
Ricardo Paniagua Holodeck Epicycle 2012
lacquer on wood 9.5 inches cubed
Seven visible cubes projecting from an invisible one with
a Sci-Fi title in vivid, in almost electric red and blue. Paniagua's two, refined
solid-form geometric forms on null field black, balance this show's larger,
more complex work. I
keep seeing his art — not just sculpture — described as spiritual.
I don't get that,
but his work here is stellar, maintaining an utter simplicity of shape, color
and that often elusive sense of a third dimension.
DallasArtsRevue has done three stories on Paniagua, whose surname, he has explained, is pan — bread; i — and; agua — water, in Art Here Lately #5 - collaboration with Hal Samples; #9 - his colorful art car; and #15 - other shapes; and he stars in other online pages including many pertinent images on Google Image's Ricardo Paniagua page; a story I like in MediaMag and an interview on Art Hash.
Angel Fernandez Erose 2013
steel 80 x 36 x 40 inches
Tarrant County College, Trinity River Campus, Associate Professor of Art Angel Fernandez' best piece here is the simplest, a cantilevered question mark, cubularly extended up from its flat, circular disk base, four times right angling out, up, around and down, then terminating in a sharp triangular spike, all of which is protected on the back by a glass-windowed wall, and on two sides by black crowd-control stanchions joined by thin, flat black rope, then, except for a yellow line incised into the floor, open to gallery strollers. Difficult to disccern where the art stops.
We obviously need protection from killer sharp sculpture. Erose, from the Latin erosus, is the past participle of erodere, meaning both irregular and uneven, specifically having its margin notched like a leaf. Which of course misses describing this variously projected form, but its compound shapes seem comparatively simple to most of the others in the show, except Paniagua's small, very regular, brightly colored cube projections.
I see this one as a question mark with a point — though not as complex as an interobang — or else an elaborate weapon.
His own profile offers a distinctive introduction to his work and ideas, and his resume fills in the details with other links including a page of videos. Glasstire offers a page of his earlier work in the form of an interview, and his Google Images page includes many pieces.
Yesica Moran Rastros Conmovedores 2012 ceramic,
glaze, acrylic, fishing line
The title of this slow fall of drooping, fruit-like balloons translates as "Stirring Signs," and (perhaps by-now former) University of Dallas student Yesica Estrella Moran's medium is the only reason why clay is in the initially confusing exhibition title. I was excited about a clay show, then only slightly let down to find this instead.
As malleable as this show's most pliant form is, someone or some bodies — I sense a committee — apparently decided they had to include "clay" in the title along with malleable and forms. Governmental organizations have trouble with simple, straight facts. They gotta make it more complex than it is.
Yesica Moran Rastros Conmovedores
This one translates as "Poignant or Touching
Traces" en Engles. Organic ocean-like forms, similar in color,
tone, texture and shape — though not necessarily size — to the forms
strung or meshed in her other pieces. They are falling from an opened,
black suitcase as if they were being dumped out on the beach.
Yesica Moran Desenvolviendo el
Don de la Memoria 2012 ceramic, glazed, wire, acrylic
If I really need to translate titles, we who do not
understand them may not be whom this art is for. But this one translates to "Unwrapping
The Gift of Memory." An I.D I remember somewhere I think
called it "The
Sea," which made more direct sense to this Anglo. Many of the identifications
in this show were in blatant white on the dark floor, so they were difficult
to read for us nearsighted viewers, and I bet most of them get marred or moved.
Of the four artists, Moran has the least online presence — I didn't even find a personal website, but there's a University of Dallas "Student Work" page that shows these same pieces in her Senior Exhibition there last winter.
Justicia: The Struggle for Mexican American Civil Rights
in Dallas Texas — 1920-2012 (detail)
I attended the mobbed Friday night opening, where most of the crowd waited in a long, triple-backed line for hot food, almost totally obstructing the entrance to the back gallery. I had to rely on the broken-field running I learned in high school hallways to get back there.
Parking was clogged all the way around the building and down several adjacent streets, so I had assumed there was a theatric production until I saw the massive horde in and just outside the Dallas Mexican-American Historical League's bi-media — historical and political, but not art, despite that it was supported by the Texas Commission on the Arts — exhibit, Justicia: The Struggle for Mexican American Civil Rights in Dallas Texas — 1920-2012 in the elegant back gallery.
It might not have been a pertinent exhibition for an art center, but for a culture center like the LCC, it is an almost ideal presentation. We all know that Norte Americanos often perpetrate evil on those we perceive as "other," and sometimes that enmity grows for centuries. I was there for the art, not politics, but I understand why it was crowded.
Only about a dozen people were in the front gallery then, and when I came back the next afternoon, the gallery doors were locked, although the empty offices were not. Eventually I tracked down someone to let me in. She said they'd locked up because they didn't want the kids in the children's class that had just let out in there, because some of the art — meaning Moran's work; everything else is pretty solid — was delicate. She didn't mention that some art might be considered dangerous.
One last definition. Malleable means "able to be hammered or pressed permanently out of shape without breaking or cracking," which the mediums in this show — steel, stone, clay and wood — all are.
Oh, and my guess as to what an MPR is, is multi-purpose room.
Seven Art Openings in 43 Minutes Flat
Simeen Farhat Artist's Statement 2013 urethane resin 120 x 120 x 18 inches J R Compton photos
This is the
best artist's statement I've ever seen. It says what it is, without stumbling
for words about what it feels like, but this large wall installation makes little
sense seen small like this or even from the other side of the room it commands.
To 'get' this expansive statement, you have to come in close, because its in
the details that its real sense shows.
Simeen Farhat Artist's Statement
Even this detail from just to the right of the center of the image at the top of this story is still still a melange of letterforms, but seeing the trees for the forest helps. There's plenty more large and small works in this show. These are just what I thought might be the most spectacular. Smaller works show whole words and phrases.
This one especially keeps reminding me of a softened
and multi-dimensionally expanded universe of the sort TV news shows used to waste
long minutes of our time proclaiming each new episode of their program. Except
these words, blessedly nearly indecipherable, are sweeter and gentler and flying
through much more space.
Simeen Farhat The Magic Words 2013 cast
and pigmented urethane resin
dimensions variable $25,000
Here's another piece that caught my attention immediately upon entering the back gallery at Cris Worley. This one's fully three-dimensional, though mostly grayscale monochromatic except the shadows, which are in full color.
More info for this show is now on our new
page that used to be our old Calendar.
Paul Abbott Continuum#13.4.24.C6 archival pigment print 22 x 33 inches
Paul Abbott has been making beautiful photographic prints as long as I can remember. His work is often surprising, often different from what it appears at first sight. When I asked Craighead Green for large image files of "the green ones," because I had so been taken by those images posted on CG's website, they sent these. I like getting large files, so I can reduce them to a still largish 777 pixels wide file that helps present them as accurately as possible.
I expected fully resolved images. I especially wanted the green ones, which look like along-the-road, countryside images by the French Impressionists from late in the century before last. I never guessed they were so amazingly pixelated, but doesn't it seem likely that someone who has been experimenting so long with digital media would someday get down to the rock-bottom basics?
Up very close the next image down and many others
in Abbott's show show a gray structural patterns that's not visible when a viewer
stands more than a few feet from the work. It's more than mere pixelation and
detailed, and I don't understand or much appreciate its inclusion. But there
Paul Abbott NM#13.4.17.C3 archival pigment print 20 x 30 inches
The woods in New Mexico (I assume) are distinctive only when you get close or see the large image, with its overall sepia-like color gently, almost fragily counterbalanced by orange-brown leaves still adhering in the lower branches. The season is either early winter or late autumn. I see no pixelation here, instead we have a battle of details. The monochromatic trees and their tiny, still subtle points of color.
For more info about this show, check out
the latest version of our Calendar page.
Joel Sampson Pipe Dream 2013 mixed
media and electronics 67 x 24 x 24 inches
30 seconds $8,000 (I cauhgt the flashing blue light but missed the red one)
Overall, I wasted little time bee-lining
through my picks of the openings Saturday June 29, which I saw in a force-march,
speedy 43 minutes, stem to stern. That quick tour included a cool, leisurely
stay taking in art, talking with dear friends and thanking Scot for sending
nice pix for the new
Calendar page at Craighead Green; watching Matt Clark's
loud plaids and trying to protect my mind from Joel Sampson's elegantly simplified
yet Rube Goldbergish Kinetic
Percussion: Rhythm Machines' loud music and flashing lights in Conduit's
almost always interesting project room; of course Simeen Farhat's wonderments
at Cris Worley; and maybe a little too fast through Cohn Drennan, where I found
a sweet prayer altar in the first booth back.
sweet prayer altar at Cohn Drenan
I missed Holly Johnson altogether;
but enjoyed a brief but crowded stop at Sun and Moon Gallery at 1515 Levee, where
all those people must have been photography-lovers probably very like
me, except better dressed, standing around a fine show of photos
of the Trinity River Area, some of which I would loved to include here,
but they were all behind glossy glass reflecting too much [and
I'm attempting not to mention the new offshoot about photographing
art behind glass from my already overgrown but still growing How
to Photograph Art page], but they'll be sending high-res jpegs for
here and the new Calendar page.
Does the Calatrava Bridge Just Left of This
Fine Old Stone Beauty Have a Tree?
Those 43 minutes doesn't count the time I either utterly wasted or entirely enjoyed trying to find my lost way from Dragon Street et al to where my list said there was an opening at MFA that steamy night.
But when I got there, nothing was happening. No
crowd of the art smart crowd hanging out in the heat out front, and inside was
dark. I worried out loud that this might be the
end of the best new Dallas gallery of many years, but when I looked more
carefully later, I saw that Mighty Fine Art opened the 27th. Next time I just
have to go.
Georgiou's Beauty/Beast at
Saturday June 22, 2013
One of French Artist Anne Ferrer's Large Inflatables
Thanks to Danielle Georgiou for cast identifications
Arrow Contemporary's closing reception for Anne Ferrer: Blow Up featured
a collaborative performance between Parisian artist Anne Ferrer, artist Danielle
Georgiou and her Danielle Georgiou Dance Group (DGDG) that interacted
with Ferrer's inflatables to create an experience that combined dance with live
Danielle Georgiou's press release the week before, although I've changed
tense from future to past.
Before the Show, Dancers
Peeked Out and Said Hello or Flurried in the Color - Chloe Davila
"Beauty/Beast by Danielle Georgiou was based on her experiences in Paris during the spring 2012 when she captured sound during Metro rides throughout the city, on the street in Montparnasse and at church services at Notre Dame. She took those sounds, coupled with recordings of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days and Rockaby and Edith Piaf’s La Foule, to create a soundtrack that follows an American’s experience in Paris."
"The movements created were inspired by street
performers Georgiou saw in Paris, and by her research of Tanztheater (dance theatre).
Using ideas from clowning; Mary Wigman’s theories on turning and jumping;
and Pina Bausch [See note below.]’s ideas on creating for a space
and use of theatricality, Georgiou created a site-specific work in collaboration
with Anne Ferrer and her ideas on femininity, life, and the surreal."
The Greeter Rests - Kate Colin
The sign on the door said it would open at 7:30, with the show at 8. We got there at 7 thinking there might be a crowd, but only about 20 people waited in the heat; others arrived and left; and several came out the door and walked away or went in. Right at 7:30 we were invited in, and cucumber water and fruit-filled, white wine Sangria was served free in the back.
Most of the audience
wandered in later. The strikingly tall woman in white tutu and
high gold boots holding a bunch of buoyant gold balloons strolled
up and down the dais silently smiling greetings. Here, she rests stretching
after most early arrivers were settled inside.
An Extravagance of Color and Motion - Emilie
Skinner, Amanda Maraist, Amanda Will, Haylee Barganier, Martin Godoy
The audience grew — I couldn't see
everybody, but after counting each person I could see and extrapolating
slightly for the spaces around the corners, I guesstimated an audience
of 111 when the show began at 7:45, although
more arrived later. There was no single ta-da moment;
it just started when the dancers donned costumes and gathered together, and as
we realized it was happening, the audience pulled back, creating our own separation.
Dancer Standing - Haylee Barganier
The small waiting area with cushioned
seats inside the front doors seemed like a good place to settle. From there,
I thought I'd have a view of the
proceedings. But as usual in a Danielle Georgiou production, the performers used all the
space available, except for the two long walls on either side of
the room, which were kept cleared before the event, so performers
wouldn't trip over them during complex costuming and decostuming on one side,
and many of the dancers eventually sitting on the floor reading art magazines
on the other.
His Hands on Her Head - Martin Godoy and Emilie
Previous Georgiou events comprised
all women performers, but that night, two clownish guys, by turns silly, playful
and antagonistic, starred the early proceedings. They wore black sequined
tops and frilly underwear and, using a sort of semi-sophisticated slapstick,
and interacting with the women, they sucked us into the action.
Dancer with Audience Behind - Amanda Mariast
The women dancers manifested several styles of
face makeup, maximally or minimally involving lips and noses, while donning wildly
colorful, often thickly padded costumes that blended hues and apparent size
with the air-filled artwork displayed around the gallery. In what I've begun
to understand as the Georgiou style, the audience
swirled around the players as they moved through the space, usually keeping at
least an arm's length between the competing masses, but the dimensions and speed
continually changed. I remember minor pushes, shoves and collisions as actors
pushed their ways through walls of audience.
Red On Her Nose and Lips - Hillary Holsonback:
As we watched, individuals and groups of like-costumed
characters wound through the extensive space either overtly performing or covertly
blending with the audience as their motional or emotional services were required.
Dancer Blending with the Colors - Emilie Skinner
The dancers probably knew
which groupings they were part of, but without a playbill, the audience watched
and wondered who were these colorful people, which are who and why is
that? Slowly putting together their own versions of the stories transpiring before
their eyes, rarely catching up or on as more and more action unfurled.
Two Dancers and a Member of the Audience:
Emilie Skinner and Amanda Will
Like French Artist Anne
Ferrer's work all around, the
costumes were wildly colorful in fantastical organic and otherworldly shapes.
Note the fan in this thick outfit. We watched for but didn't see any sweat, and
with those heavy costumes it might have been profuse, but neither did we believe
it could be cool in there, although at about the middle, "the
boys" actively fanned both dancers and audience all around the room, one
group at a time, with large rectangles of something. The sudden cool breeze was
memorable and pleasant.
Proscenium By Being - Emilie Skinner, Amanda
Maraist, Amanda Will,
Haylee Barganier, Nanci Mendoza, Martin Godoy, and Joshua Nichols
Eventually, most of the us settled into
either one or the other end of the long space or in alcoves
along the sides, while players moved from space to space, and photographers hunting
better angles crossed the constantly-moving "stage," which wasn't always
the wide expanse we see here.
The Boys Face Off - Martin Godoy and Joshua
Sooner or later in every Georgiou production,
players build anger with each other, tensions tighten, and a big, drag-out
fight with flailing bodies develops and splays over the arena. Several
of those erupted that busy night.
Exalting On the Other's Back - Featured dancer:
It's human nature. We
fight, make up, then fight again, and that reality is reflected
in our theatre, reflecting us back to ourselves.
Creepy Crawling - Danielle Georgiou
Meanwhile, many differing modes of motion
were explored and exploited, drawing attention from one group of players to another
as they changed and rearranged.
Woman In Pink - Jelena Opacic
But is it Performance Art? you may wonder.
There's little doubt it was Art Performance, inspired by one artist's work and preformed by other artists in an art gallery, but it was also Performance Art. Although there's certainly a first-this-happens-and-then-the-other progression of action that the players knew, followed, and participated in at just the right moments, there's still an overarching non-linearity of what it all means to the audience, whose individual members made it up as we went along, likely coming to wildly differing conclusions.
Performance Art does that.
Who's the woman in pink? Why is she in pink? What's
her part in this? What does it mean? Why is she carrying that suitcase?
So many questions, so few real answers. The suitcase was there,
Anna told me, because all the action was, among other themes, about travel.
Yellow Balloons and The Audience - Danielle
And what's with the balloons? That one answered
itself a few minutes later.
Dancer with Arm Raised - Featured dancer, Nanci
In dance, sometimes motions are for the sake of moving, rather than for meaning. Here the woman in black dances rhythmically while a dancer in red (Daniel Georgiou) experiences something between an epileptic fit and electroshock therapy, staccato moaning her way toward sexual? culmination.
The dancers changed positions and actions,
but the writher kept writhing, shuddering timed bleats of moaning,
while the balloons tensed with her, enlarging and exaggerating that insistent
throb and shake into a memorable scene, which may have been the show's climax.
Stepping Over - Amanda Will, Chloe Davila,
There are only so many motions
a dancer can perform, and too often when they've run through the playbook, they
do them all again. Occasionally there's meaning in those rhythmic repetitions,
but sometimes it's motion for the sake of motion or simultaneity
with other dancers, although Georgiou's choreography often skips over such
Children of All Ages - Hillary Holsonback
Other times, just sitting still in the audience
is all that needs happen, and we accept it as part of the dance that the person
sitting next to you has spots of red on their nose and lips, and at any moment,
they may rise and rejoin the fray.
Dancers Circling Each Other - Amanda Will,
Amanda Mariast, Emilie Skinner
Like wrestlers pacing the ring, these dancers
watch each other's every step, scheming, planning, pacing, walking faster
and faster, till they're running with energy high, ready to pounce.
Stylized Fight Scene - Amanda Will and Amanda
Then they writhe, bump and sling, scuffle,
chunk and fling, till one wins. Or the other.
Color Splatter - Featured dancer (in jacket):
Emilie Skinner; Dancers on
wall (who can be seen): Erica Manuel, Sarah Dye, Chloe Davila, Kate Colin
All the while this one in this vivid color
mix crawls all around the players and past the dancers all reading the same art
magazine, resting up for the denouement ahead. Beauty/Beast was a dance
of often insignificant moments whose actions build to a reality of meaning we
feel, more than we know.
Face To Face - Amanda Will and Amanda Mariast
Always there is something else going on, threading
the production together in small and growing stitches that seem inconsequential
till they prove their result, one movement feeding another, and others like
and unlike it into a subtle soup of meanings.
Exit Pink Lady - Jelena Opacic
With battered suitcase — the well worn traveler,
rich in component color, leaves.
Bowing Deep - Amanda Will, Amanda Mariast,
Nanci Mendoza, Haylee Barganier, Erica Manuel, Jelena Opacic
And sudden, it's over and the dancers and other
players taking their long, deep bows gratefully accepting applause.
Danielle M. Georgiou Smiling Big while Holding
the Balloons after the show.
these photographs were made with my Micro Four-thirds format Panasonic Lumix
G5 camera, with which I have also photographed other fast-moving Danielle Georgiou
productions, including Pizzicato
Porno at Ro2 Downtown in April 2013 and Silk
Stockings/9 cents a copy at CentralTrak in April 2012, and I hope to document
others in future. See my
G5 Journal for more information.
highly recommend Pina,
Wim Wenders's scintillating 2011 film documentary
of German choreographer, dance teacher and ballet director Pina Bausch's work.
Here's my review of that visually arresting fine art movie.
Reviewing Ann Cushing Gantz' Estate Sale
Saturday June 7-8, 2013
About fifty people had gathered before the opening set for 9 a.m.
I was surprised to receive an invitation to the Highland Park Estate Sale [address deleted] ... 9-5 Friday and Saturday June 7-8, rain or shine, cash or credit cards only. No checks, please." I'd never been invited to an Estate Sale before. I always before just stumbled on them and explored. The invitation was profusely specific:
"Come and experience the creative genius of prominent painter, printmaker and teacher, Ann Cushing Gantz. Immerse yourself in literally hundreds of original paintings executed over the decades in every style imaginable. From impressionistic to modernistic, from surrealistic to realistic, from diptych to triptych, from large to small; her legacy is a body of work that will amaze and delight for generations to come. A rare opportunity to admire a lifetime of work... in one place ... at one time. A not-to-be-missed event. The upstairs studio is filled with art supplies, tools and much more."
"We also have: Mahogany furniture 100's of books and records Elegant attire Heavy duty woodworking equipment: Delta, HEMA, INCA, Killinger Tools and a few fishing poles Dark room equipment: Image processor Radio control helicopter 6' balsa wood airplane frame Electronics Pasquini and Classic Gaggia espresso machine Decorative and collectibles Children's vintage clothing The house, garage and back shed are packed with wonderful items. It's everywhere! Just Let Lynn Do It! 214-616-6542 Doors open promptly at 9:00 am each day, rain or shine. See you there!"
Not sure what I had in mind when I beheld the invitation — maybe the opportunity for an alternative view of recent Dallas Art History, as experienced at an estate sale ten months after the death of another classic and very popular Dallas artist. Dare I review art at an estate sale? Oh, why not?
This estate sale story would be something
I've been hungering for, an experiment into the unknown. Not an art show, exactly,
but a differently exhibited show of art selected by time, circumstance, chance
and its late owner, not some silly curator or abstracted jury.
The Estate Sale Crew — Lynn Reagan is
on the right behind the table — shot from the hip
I was intrigued enough to think about it a few minutes, then almost immediately email Lynn Reagan of Just Let Lynn Do It, who was handling the sale, for permission to photograph the house and contents. I didn't notice the link to photographs of some of the stuff (which were good) until much later when I put fingers to keyboard to begin writing this opus:
The sun was still low, and there weren't enough trees to stand under away from its glare. While I waited for Reagan, whom I'd never met or heard of before her mass (I assume) invitation, I watched the neighborhood slowly come awake enough to absorb the event. People walked or walked their dogs, one man got into his large, expensive sports car and raced down the narrow street, fast past lots of parking spaces. I assumed most of the neighbors knew who had lived here, and probably knew she died at very nearly 78 years of age last August 22nd. I'm sure the sale crew had been there all week organizing and identifying everything left of the noted Dallas artist's household and art collections.
I met Lynn at "about 8" the first morning of the sale, and she let me into the house through the garage, because there were already a dozen guys, lined up waiting at the front door when I arrived. When she'd done with several initial sales tasks, she gave me a quick run-through of the house whose front door was still locked, showing me where everything was with an emphasis on the painter's studio upstairs.
Dallas Morning News obituary for Ann Cushing Gantz
Ann Cushing Gantz Self-Portrait Side
Lot of assumptions in this story. I assume this self-portrait was done comparatively recently, say the last ten or twenty years. I assume that's her hand painting purple on her back, although I have no idea what that is above her and her brush hand.
Compared to many of her paintings from what I assume is that era, this is simple, overt, obvious without a plethora of stringy textures blotting the landscape. Except whatever's going on behind her head and hand, this is an uncomplicated presentation. Another earlier portrait, perhaps another self-portrait on green and in purple is just below.
Early arrivers arranged themselves loosely along the front sidewalk and out into the yard, informally keeping track of where they were in line. They were queued informally with lots of space between them and were obviously comfortable; laughing and talking loudly about other sales and prizes they'd discovered; happy to be at the front of a line that grew to more than fifty people by the time I left, still well before the official 9 o'clock opening.
By then, the street was jammed with cars, and I assume more people came all that day and the next. I'd thought about coming back early on Saturday, but that didn't work out, and I didn't mind. I was glad to have seen this estate sale in its most pristine condition, before the front door was unlocked and the people mobbed in.
I brought my best art camera, with the most easily adjustable White Balance, and there were many varieties of light intensities and colors to deal with, sometimes changing inch by inch throughout the house, bright daylight mixing with variously dark lamps everywhere in there.
The house was packed with tight rows of sale items, narrow walkways around and through them, so everything was always within easy reach, but crowded. I could almost imagine how open the house was before, but now it was all, wall-to-wall crammed tight for sale, and everything was tagged with brief, often hurriedly-written descriptions, item numbers and prices.
If I had been as interested in some of Cushing's
art then, as I am beginning to now, I might have stayed and got in line. Many
of the prices were low. I'll include some of the descriptions and
prices I found on tags in captions down this page, and apologize that it took
me awhile to remember to hang the tag off the corner, photograph the work, then
let the tag hang back down, although sometimes I just like to remind us where
The Front Stairs
I took my time in the house, visiting all the rooms, going up and down the carpeted front stairs, seeing everything at least three times, taking the obvious photos, as I got the lay of the land and learned what was there, and where what I wanted to photograph was. I saw a lot of paintings, a very few of which I thought might have some importance, and others I found interesting for other reasons.
There wasn't a lot of space left over, but I had easy-enough access to almost everything I wanted to see or photograph — even standing some away from their groupings to catch better light — although the light was rarely ideal. I didn't have a plan. I just wandered around, wondering and discovering.
Some of these images are on this page because I liked the art, some because I didn't. Overall, there were more of the latter, and there were truly many styles represented. I'd call it a hodgepodge, and that dismayed me, but I had seen her teaching studio a couple times on the North Dallas Artists Studio Tour, so I was neither shocked nor surprised.
I don't think I saw any pieces tagged with year
dates, which are the historically important factoids I'm usually more interested
in than prices. I suppose Sotheby's would have had dates
for everything and a fancy color catalog, but putting anything in chronological
order was clearly inconsequential in this everything-must-go sale.
Unsigned Cushing Woman in Green #193 $95
I assumed this palette knife paintings was — and I wanted it to be — a much younger self-portrait of the artist, but the tag only referenced a "Woman in Green" so I don't know, and I had little idea what she looked like younger, but her younger self probably had red hair, too.
This small painting at the top of the front stairway seemed to have been done quickly and with ease. The lines and areas are sure, and not much reworking shows, except maybe the the chin, the only troublesome area. The style is direct paint on board, brush-mixed maybe a little here and there. The tonality seemed blocky up close, but back off a bit, and it was almost subtle, certainly more so than most of the paintings in the sale.
I never met Ann Cushing Gantz, although
I visited her teaching studio on two North
Dallas Artists Studio Tours,
where were many works by students.
I liked some of the details in Cushing's own work, but her students seemed
to be way too deep into me-tooing the teacher. I also visited her gallery
on McKinney Avenue twice and was impressed with the work she chose
to show — I
especially remember elegant classic brown clay pots.
Her Easel in Her Studio
I always wish I could have watched artists — whose
studios I visit too late — working on their art. It's difficult to
know what was there when this was her studio, and what got tacked on
for the sale, but I like the paint-splattered easel, pink chair and black stool.
They look comfortable. Lived in. Paint splattered on. The windows behind the
frame display, faces south and was probably open when the weather was kind.
Lower Easel Detail
I wondered how many years this easel served; how
often she used it, and what she did when she wasn't painting or teaching.
Ann Cushing Gantz signed still
life with vase and flowers
One of the less flagrantly florid pieces, I passed
this painting by several times at too close range before I decided to collect
its image. Some of her periods or styles — no dates, so no telling — were
wildly busy with scribbled areas and lines, but this seemed tranquil in its short
spectrum of shadowy spaces. Not a great piece perhaps, but a lovely, lilting
one. A gentle glimpse into somebody's home, a quiet space of some tranquility.
more flagrantly florid paintings stacked
in the living room downstairs
I quickly developed a taste for her more secure work, and I was happy to pass by the great majority that wasn't. Of course, what you see in an estate sale, besides the deceased's sometimes extensive personal collection that no one quite knew what to do with, are all the pieces nobody ever bought, many of which may have been purely experimental and never expected to fetch a price or even be seen, but some still had lessons for their artists.
I had hoped to see enough work to help me piece
together her oeuvre, but I was often disappointed in their quality. It would
take a dedicated bargain-hunter to even sort through all the stacks of work like
this, although I sorted through several stacks till I just couldn't anymore.
Ann Cushing Gantz title and price
By the time of this extravagant painting, whenever
that was, her signature had become less boldly dominant, so it might have
been when she felt less need to proclaim her name, but just as obvious was her
need to fill every square inch with tone, texture and several competing colors.
The flipped price tag in the upper right corner is the only respite I found in
this busy melange I'm guessing was done in the Seventies, when the Sixties
finally made headways into Dallas.
Everything and the Kitchen Sink
It didn't help that the whole house and all its
rooms were stacked solid with everything nobody else wanted. Paintings
like those in her florid, fill-every-inch style are best placed where
a viewer can get some visual relief, but in this crowded, gill-filled interior
landscape, there was only more and more stuff. Even the sink structure was
already crowded with dark once-trendy colors and busy textures, although I don't
even remember looking out that back window toward a perhaps more serene yard.
Beads and Glitter to Add to Paint
Upstairs again, in a storage room not far from
her studio, were neatly-stacked white shelves full of materials for paintings.
Here, recycled jam jars packed with glitter and other
shiny things "to be added to paint," Lynn told me.
Glittery Green Mask with Peacock Feathers
On top of that neat white shelf against this pea
green wall was a $4.50 carnival mask a little worse for wear. I doubt it was
there during her lifetime, but you never know. I can imagine it at a gala party
or as costume for a special portrait that must have sold immediately.
Ann Cushing Gantz unsigned nude back
Because I walked up and down those bright front stairs so often, I tuned into the work hung along the short walls adjacent and just opposite. One series that attracted, then gathered my attention was a series of unclothed women's backs. I've known painters who had trouble depicting faces so they turned people's backs instead, but that was not Cushing's issue.
There's at least real curves in this body with its perhaps distorted, abrupt hour-glass figure, roughly-hewn shoulders, but subtlety hinted wrap and turban with long, thin, barely-there earrings dangling. I only hope I've rendered these subtler pieces with their appropriate tonalities.
They look about right now, but that next one still seems bright.
Ann Cushing Gantz Woman with Braid 163 $148.50
I am reminded of Ellen Soderquist Bergman's very successful series of very large, monochromatic nude backs, which might possibly have been of the same era as these — circa late 1970s - 1980s and since. But Cushing's work here is less certain, not quite finished or realistic in the depiction of the human beings whose hair or hats have caught the painter's attention. More something to put behind whatever that person's feature might be.
Ann Cushing Gantz signed nude
This one, which may be the most finished of what's left of the series, seems more subtle and dimensional a presentation despite ragged lines at her ear and buttocks. But I can't shake the feeling I've seen this nude in this pose and maybe even that hat before, perhaps in somebody else long-ago's painting.1
Cushing's clearly-delineated signature here looks almost like a tattoo, counterbalancing the ruffled whites and shadow of the whatever is bunched on the model's left elbow, and the matching hat. And we almost get a glimmer of her face above.
Here, the shoulders are almost perfect.
Ann Cushing Gantz Woman with Orange
Scarf "After The Ball" 168 $148.50
This one, which I thought of as the last of the series, and a kind of afterthought at that, goes a little overboard with clothing details with the back of a necklace, too much hair detail, the busy, gilded scarf, purple edged dress and bold signature against the three-tone, gray, white, black background. As if she'd noticed a friend's back after a party, clicked a snapshot and worked from that instead of a model.
The bright gold frame competes glaringly rather than completes this too-busy humanscape, allthough hair and skin are rendered more realistically, in spite of the artist's ongoing issues with separating shoulders from backgrounds. I like what I think of as the earlier work better for their comparative serenity.
Ann Cushion Gantz
I didn't read the tag, but at least it's
not on the front of this more subtly-signed painting, manifesting a grace with
interior spaces. The bright banners with their busier toned and
textured lower portions lend plenty of color to the extended expanse
with tall, new and old paintings of women in a grande salon of extended balustrades
and extended stages.
Two Fat Cherubs in the Sitting Room Downstairs
I'm not sure this, or the
next shot either, belongs in this story. But they show us another side of the
painter and her worlds.
And Two Skinny Ones Upstairs
I probably shouldn't even mention that these little
cuties' clothes are dangerously close to falling off, and there's another red-haired
doll parked on the top shelf.
This was about all the elegant attire I was willing
to explore. I was more than happy to return to the art, as if some of it
fit right in with changing fashions.
Ann Cushing Gantz Woman in Hat amid
I can't read the tag. It scribbles the price and
something about purple. Not sure who bestrew the blue-red extending the headstone-shaped
painting of a hat with a person, who reminds me too much of Audrey Hepburn,
attached. I wonder if, for that price, you had to take all the purple, too.
Ann Cushing Gantz Unsigned Cushing
Daffodils 205 $127
I struggled taking this photo. I wanted it true to the floral unreality before me, but the confluence of living room colors conspired against me. Of Cushing's florid paintings in the house, this was perhaps the best, most likable, and there's almost actual purpose in the remnant floridity between the stems. Despite my misgivings about the curdling milk textures, I liked this thing and wondered in whose house it would end up and for how long.
Maybe thirty inches wide or forty (another statistic
I miss knowing), this seemed an outstanding example of the sort of painting Cushing
might otherwise have been overly tempted to fling way more colors and shapes
onto, but she was somehow constrained. I didn't like it so much that I'd want
to wait around and fight all those other art connoisseurs to buy
it, but I appreciated it for its mild restraint and wild color.
Ann Cushing Gantz
Now here's a wildly Romantic notion. A short,
single bed bestrewn with florid drapery on a beach, itself bestrewn with colors,
textures and shapes, all in front of a landscape of lilting sunrise/sunset.
Maybe I should have just stopped with Wildly Romantic.
Ann Cushing Gantz unsigned large
format Abstract 210 $127.50
Ascribed to her, and she may well have done it,
and it's not terrible a painting, although it's not abstract —
nor do I know which of her too-many other styles this was a marked escape from.
Nice mix of colors familiar from her other oeuvres and an oddly simple cast of
container characters, dancing chopsticks and no signature, so she was as unsure
about it being hers as I am.
Paints and ...
Back upstairs, we find shoebox shapes full of
paint tubes and brushes, and I again wondered how she would have left them
out while she was taking a break from painting. Was she neat or maybe a little
sloppy, changing like her styles all through her life, never settling long enough
to truly master one? Or set in her wandering ways since childhood?
Her Ironing Board
Somebody else in the family collected and flew
large, quarter drone-sized powered model airplanes, two examples
of which occupied major space in an extended closet downstairs, back near the
garage. I've always been a fan of Fokker D.VIIs, but the reason this photograph
is here is that I liked the sky that grew down to became a lowly ironing board
that still reminded of a cloudy blue sky, and might that dark shape be one of
her early signatures writ giant?
Unsigned Cushing Head Portrait 203 $62.50
We'll end this surmise with another red-haired woman portrayed in purples and greens. Both colors in vertical smears like trees behind her and in front, her red hair blends watercolor-like into the horizontally smeared sky. This person is not happy but not quite angry yet, either. If it's not her, exactly, it could be an alter ego.
1 = First, I looked at All Degas Paintings, which was fun but not useful. Then, the name Ingres came to mind, and there it was, The Valpinçon Bather, which she may have copied honestly, assuming everyone would know that famous painting.
Contents of this site are Copyright 2013 or before by publisher
J R Compton.
All art shown on these pages are copyrighted by the originating artists. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are copyrighted by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.
|< AHL #16||
AHL #18 >
#17 since June
2013; 94 b4 beauty/beast; 288 b443mins; 380 b4 malleable; 492 b4themu; 560 b4
692 br Akirash & dma perf art; 860 b4 NTT;
cumulative Art Here Lately count