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“Real” and Apparent Depth in selected work from
Ro2 Art's Chaos II, a curated show of small art
Matt Bagley Fine Specimen of Male SpaceBug #1 attributed to the artist Click Zing $200
Ro2 Art's CHAOS, a curated exhibition of small works featuring over 100 artists with work by Elizabeth Akamatsu, Olaniyi R. Akindiya (aka AKIRASH), Karla Areli, Matt Bagley, Josh Banks, Sibylle Bauer, Lionel Bevan, Daniel Birdsong, Chris Bramel, Bill Bridges, Fannie Brito, Ashley Bryan, Paul Bryan, Mark Burt, Angel Cabrales, Jay Cantrell, Aimee Cardoso, Christina Carfora, Rebecca Carter, Zack Chambers, Alyssa Chi, Kate Colin, Leah Constantine, Ray-Mel Cornelius, Camilla Cowan, RE Cox, Ken Craft, Val Curry, Chance Dunlap, Roger England, Sam England, Peggy Epner, Gary Farrelly, Erica Felicella, Piero Fenci, Nancy Ferro, Rachel Fischer, Jason Flowers, Michael Francis, Barbara Frey , Danielle Georgiou, Justin Ginsberg, Joshua Goode, David Graeve, Kurt Griesbach, TJ Griffin, Steph Hargrove, David Anthony Harman, Terry Hays, Hillary Holsonback, Scott Horn, Steve Hunter, Thor Johnson, Brian K Jones, Lance Jones, Mary Jo Karimnia, Sonali Khatti, Rachel King Barker, Joel Kiser, Mike Kury, Bonny Leibowitz, Eric de Llamas, Kai Peter Martin, Nick Mathis, Shawn Mayer, Scogin Mayo, Aralyn McGregor, Julia McLain, Tammy McNary, Jesse Meraz, Eliana Miranda, Brian Molonphy, Jimmy Montanez, Jennifer Morgan, Randy Murphy , Adam Neese, Vanessa Neil, Mark S. Nelson, Brooks Oliver, Ricardo Paniagua, Jeff Parrott, Madison Pechacek, Art Peña, Alvaro Perez, Cassie Phan, Julon Pinkston, Pinky Diablo, Robin Ragin, Fari Rahimi, Robert David Reedy, Jason Reynaga, Susan Ritter, Kathy Robinson-Hays, Adam Rowlett, Tom Sale, Sam Schonzeit, Brian Scott, Shelly Scott, Thomas Seawell, Carolyn Sortor, Alison Starr, Erica Stephens, Katherine Taylor, John Alexander Taylor, Ian F Thomas, Erik Tosten, Liz Trosper, Ellen Frances Tuchman, Joy Ude, Judy Vetter, Michael Westfried, Chris Williford, Byrd Williams IV, Scott Winterrowd and James Isaac Zamora. The opening reception was 7-10 July 12 and continues at 110 North Akard Street in downtown Dallas, through August 12, 2014.
We are all aliens, of course, so another one along for the ride makes it merrier. I like that this being is speaking binary. Except that none of us speaks it, it seems the right contact mode, now it's finally come out. Wonder how long it's been among us, and nobody noticed? Like any alien, there's a price on its head.
But the colors and physical links between what I perceive as head and body may be the best parts. They wind, wrap, tie and connect the body to soul, mind to spirit that make this and one other piece by Bagley, sing. Maybe the ones and zeros distract from the message, as does the $. But the connectors connecting it to its parts are subtle, meaty and beautiful. Plus big eyes, the better to see back into us.
I didn't notice until I'd been studying these pieces awhile, but most of the these works seem to have a lot to do with real and apparent depth.
When I wrote this, I only knew the artists for a few pieces, so most of my comments in this review were a little more objective than usual. Luckily, some artists still sign their work. A couple days later, I got a complete list of names and titles from gallery co-owner Jordan Roth, who then wrote back with corrections to names I'd mangled. Thank you, Jordan. I hadn't wanted to trouble him with sizes and mediums.
Scoggin Mayo Untitled II $175
This big show of little pieces was as inspiring as the light in the gallery was often terrible. That much art in a difficult room anyway, meant many pieces drowned in the dark. This, like glass-fronted others, was splattered with spectral highlights and other noisy reflections. I tried to get it clear of those and just hope I didn't change anything important in its resurrection.
Simple shape, moderated nearly neutral brown-gold tones and prickly branches. The background showing through under the white collar and tie are perfect. Especially the hat. I think I can see a mustache. Unless they were self titled, none of the art in this show was. There were only small, white, scribbled garage-sale tags hung from each with the artist's name and price. That's all. So it was awhile till I got all the titles.
Sometimes, like this one, I wanted one.
Peggy Epner Floating Dock $375
Counting the days and nights afloat. Sometimes the ocean is the sky above us, sometimes it's blacker that we can see. Often our anchors do not hold, and we lose ourselves in dreams.
Eric de Llamas A Hero's Journey $375
I hope this is really the color of the paper. The moodiness of this drawing struck me when I picked it out among the clutter. I just stared, not wanting to look away from the writing on the flag and all that bloody detritus scattering from the donkey and human's centers. But gruesome sets the mood, and I wanted to see more details, all there for the deciphering.
Now I've been watching it larger than life, I'm thinking it might be too pat, needing more character but less detail. My eyes keep going back to the human's face. I like the hat, but I want to know less about that guy and more about everything else in the picture. I tried to translate the flag text, but it's fragments. Maybe from some culture's heritage.
Kathy Robinson-Hays The Big Squeeze
All this intricate yet inessential detail on a belly-bloated semi-human form, clamped and squeezed to within about fifteen inches of its life. A big, mixed-media metaphor writ in tiny, tattoo-like exactness on a corpse whose feet, head and shoulders are all chopped off. Too much going on in what's left to pertain to any human we could comfortably identify with. But I loved the clamps, and I warmed immediately to the piece.
It's a simple-enough object that gets a little lost in its own intricacies, topped with a textured black box that makes no sense, or did someone just forget it there? (Apparently, it was supposed to have been tipped up, but it wasn't.) I've seen and enjoyed this artist's work before, now I want it to say something more fanciful, forceful or important. Not that fat is trivial, but most of the details we get lost in here, are.
I never connected who did it with her, and now I wonder whether I would have said what I said if I had known…
Ray-Mel Cornelius Jackrabbit Among the Aspens
I've always liked Cornelius' gentle animals, but this bunny is not cute or little. Sometimes a rabbit with big ears and soft everything else soothes us. But if those trees are the trees I know and love, this is one big rabbit. Maybe not king of the jungle, but at least an assassin of the arbor. Despite its cozy brown fur, sparkling eyes and major funky ears, I think this bunny might be dangerous.
Cornelius called this varmint "that jeopardous jackrabbit," when he told the title before I got them from Jordan, and asked if I'd seen Night of the Lepus, suggesting that might have been a good title, too. Night of was made in 1972, lasts 88 minutes and is about ranchers trying to rid their land of rabbits with a hormone that instead makes the animals 150 pounds bigger "and gives them an appetite for human flesh." And the promo asks, "Are the ranchers any match for the ravenous rabbits' reproductive skills?" It's called Sci-Fi Horror, and stars Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun and DeForest Kelley.
Cornelius was the only artist who emailed me with a title, but I'd be happy to entertain any other show artists' comments, pro or con.
Christina Carfora The Grass is Always Greener $600
The beginnings of a fight, each mirroring action its own reaction. Or are these brown-lined women gently discovering who they are? The duality of one, muted flesh human looking and touching and learning against a muted green ground. Nice. Enigmatic enough to get involved. Are they twins or one in the same? The title almost makes it make sense.
Justin Ginsberg What Might Have Been (part II of diptych) $1800
It's a posted note with pinned-on humans. I like that the writing is wet, blurred indecipherable, and the balance of black and white and gray is nailed to a nearly neutral board that's still the most colorful part of the piece. I think of it as a scroll. No idea what it's proclaiming, but I would listen.
Kathy Robinson-Hays 3/16/14 Recurring Dreams 9 2:37 PM
Kathy's a friend, but when I chose this piece, I didn't recognize it or remember seeing it on Facebook just after its creation, when I said I liked how she'd memorialized a fleeting moment in time by pegging it exactly (lowest left). I like it in an artist — even one whom I follow — that I sometimes have no understanding of what they're into lately or why. Too many artists get stuck in their ways, although there's an obvious complexity here that's hers alone.
Anna was agog at the piece we saw Kathy deliver late from across the street when we arrived arrived early, but that one wasn't shown well at this show, although we saw some like it later at The Small Gallery in Valley View. I can almost taste the candied sweetness in these details. I sense a party with glitter aglow like fireworks and vivid flowers, but I still wonder who the Tiki is, and why its grin seems evil.
Brian Scott Slumpy $450
There's lots of characters in this show, but Brian Scott's police blotter portraits are the most poignant. Slumpy's a clown, of course, but hardly happy, despite his red runaway hair and makeup, pink slumping skin and his lilting, near-symmetry. Skin tones and face paint make sure of that. His being, like the muted background, is sullen white and suffused with gray.
Jeff Parrott Untitled $850
A sturdy litany of eyes and abstracted cartoony faces in parrot colors, protected and looking back at us through all those contrasting and containing frame-job proscenia. We're all in the Clown Parade now.
Sibylle Bauer Urban Still Life (Chair 1) $315
I assume this is a photograph, but I guess it could be a wonderfully executed painting of an almost real scene. Great texture. Perfect, bicolor hues set off with an elderly black iron chair. A scene literally littered with shapes and textures deep enough we can almost feel them on the souls of our bare feet. The chair is an aristocrat lost in the real world.
Mary Jo Karimnia Rainbow Pony $650
I liked another, not altogether dissimilar Mary Jo Karimnia work better at first, watched it awhile to solve its spatiality, but I kept zooming into the lilting sky blue detail of its subtly resplendent sequined dress, the notion of its glittery, muted hues glowing in its busy understated sea of black-outlined white women. Then I pulled back from those soft blues to to see this.
In both pieces, there's two figures that held my attention. One vivid and clearly out front in texture, form and color against a field of outlined white. The next figure back was less vivid, bold or intricately textured, but it's the colors that reveal this piece's dimensionality and that's lost in the muted blacks, gray and white in the figure behind and near the right edge. Karimnia's hierarchy of colors and tones sets the works' dimensionality, so we know where everybody stands without having to decipher the outlines.
David Anthony Harmon Remainder $550
This scene reminds me of Fort Worth's Blagg Brothers — especially Daniel — whose photorealist paintings of common urban landscapes imbue them with a magical force, although this is much more abstract. It could be a photograph, or it started there, but I want it to be a painting, and it could well be. With a similar look-down angle to the piece above it here, and a similar toying with dimensional color and feeling for shape. Here, however, we have to look harder for an object among the ground, but it's there. First I thought it was the rutted tracks, but now I'm convinced it's the deep dark shadow reflection of a bridge over this muddy field.
Elianna Miranda Moments in Syria III $175
The mysterious soft smoke and abrupt hard object and ground make a harsh color contrast to the chair a couple clicks above. Or is that a deep blue sky? I like the masked, dark-shape human releasing puffs of white vapor. Sometimes the questions art dislodges bother me. Sometimes it's the answers. A good mystery is dependable.
Aimee Cardosa Untitled I $350
The farther away I stood from this, all while avoiding the unending crowd and their shadows, the more like a photograph it became. I can almost feel the soft texture of the blanket and the cool light coming in from the window above.
Daniel Birdsong The Gospel Accorded to a Wild Hare $400
I liked this soon as I saw it, but delving into its details later, confused me. More bunnies, and a dog we probably all identify with. Dancing on roses-strewn ice against what? — the soft white mountain behind's almost-face confuses me. Our hero dog has one right, line-toned paw and elbow and one bright white left leg and paw, and oddly placed dark shadows between.
Put anything resembling two eyes parallel, a horizontal area long or wide enough to be considered a mouth and side-by-side nostrils in the middle somewhere, and we see a face on the left under the dog's head, even if the sharp detail of our dog's lolling tongue obscures its left ear. The big, soft, fat-lip grin below cinches the deal, and the confusion of tone and texture make it difficult to know where dog ends and the feline, snow-pile mountain begins.
Maybe the cat is spectre, amorphous as Elianna Miranda's smoke, its phantasmal white paw slung over our hero's left shoulder, its face smiling a bloated, clown-white grin out past the roses.
I think I know the cat's the mountain I mentioned, but knowing doesn't make it so. So we have another intriguing, if not entirely successful, attempt to create depth in a flat art form while the soft (back) ground and the hard, hairy (front) objects blur into each other.
Adam Rowlett Untitled $150
Turned wood. Was some discussion a few decades back whether turned wood could be art, and while most of it could not ever, sometimes someone gets it enough right to bring it up to fine art standards, whatever those might be. I know better than to touch art on a wall, but I did it anyway to prove those concentric grooves were more than shaded lines, which I still sometimes think they may be — pantomiming two dimensions in three.
Nicholas Mathis Dream Studies III
This is the best of three drawings done in the same style and which were difficult unto nearly impossible to photograph low in the dark gallery. I hope I am at least getting it close in this photograph. It is a portrayal of spatial intersections of differing objects in differing circumstance, each with their own texture, shape, colors, density or design.
It's yet another artist's exploration of depth without resorting to shadows or size, although I especially appreciate that one, concave shadow of whom might be the artist's favorite candidate for real in this complexity of intersecting forms. The others range from almost definitely there to not quite to nearly insubstantial.
It is all flat, of course, and behind reflecting glass, but the dotted lines are not our only tip-offs to its depths and collusions. We get the gist, and that may be enough, but as enterprising a task as it must have been, it doesn't seem to work all together, although my photo may limit our ability to see what was there. It all gets a little murky in the middle.
Cassie Phan Mammoth Punching Video Installation with Gallery View
Chiaroscuro, if you must — the dark and light of the room. Showing more illumination on the far, snack bar side and not much on the near wall behind me when I shot this scene. The video screen was seriously overexposed here by sucking some light out the darkness, but at least we can see the funky tower connecting it, if we can separate that from that long shadow of light falling diagonally into the picture from the left.
Video Detail with Horse and Tube
This is what the video really looked like with the plastic horse — its head down examining some tiny detail of the surf — as the tide came in and went out looping all night, a gentle vision in its own light. Nice respite sometimes, with video as color, texture and movement with nearly no deep-down meaning or back story. Time goes on and on.
Not all the art was on the walls or curated, and I was drawn to these dark marks on dark skin against a white shirt better than a lot of the littler art in the show.
Gallery View Looking Out Onto Akard Street
Some walls were well-illuminated, as long as nobody stood close enough in front of the art to see the details past the shadows. Big shows of little art are always a booger to light, especially in a dark cave of a space.
Looking Out onto Akard Street, Ro Sr. (center) and Others
There were more pieces I could have written about, if I could have photographed them better. I started on the wall by the front door, walked around staring at every piece my eyes could reach, then eventually, looped back through the middles, being amazed that that many pieces were in that small a space with major portions of walls left empty, if not blank. Ro and Ro left the place's most distinguished brick walls open and unadorned, leaving wide vertical spaces that never quite impinged on the growing crowd.
Ro2Art Outside from standing in the middle of Akard Street
From the first time I saw their gaudily blinking, amateur animated GIF in the email promoting this show, and skimmed through the long list of artists, I knew this would be a good time to start writing about art again after a couple months rest. I photographed every name and price tag I could find for the pieces I liked well enough to photograph, so I could ponder them longer in better light later.
As usual I didn't use all the work I thought I might have, but I gave every piece the time of day even in the far-back dark recesses of the little downtown space that nobody else wanted — or wanted to pay for, although I think the ROs are still in low-to-no-rent territory with The City, who wanted that place occupied and watched over.
Especially nice to have a downtown gallery to attend now that our downtown is finally a decent place to live and see and be seen in, after Dallasites for so long had to visit Fort Worth for such progressive notions as humans inhabiting downtown without fearing for their lives in the odder hours.
All Contents of this site are Copyright 2014 or before by publisher J R Compton.
All art shown on these pages are copyrighted by their originating artists. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are copyrighted by J R Compton.
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