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Alexander Paulus Release of the Bulb Buds 2014 mixed media on campus 48 x 48 inches
I really wanted to show this pic at the top of this page, even though the artist isn't from around here. That artists I write or photograph about are from around here often weighs heavily on me. I'd rather write about Dallas and Dallas-area artists than anybody else from anywhere else. But they and their work don't always pop into view or mind. The one other artist in this show is, I believe, a local, Dallas-area artist, and I don't really know where the artists in the second story are from.
I like this piece, because it was big on a wall in one of Dallas' best galleries, and certainly the one that has the best sense of humor and notion of which way the winds are blowing. I mean, of course, the son and mother combination of Ro and Ro, called "Ro2" on Ervay at Sullivan perhaps a little too near the new The MAC (whose offices are upstairs) across The Canyon from downtown Dallas.
I liked seeing this piece large and at the center of attention when I walked into Ro2 on Ervay, and then I thoroughly enjoyed watching it awhile. Seemed ever so much shock-worthy, and the sort of almost-nasty that used to get us into trouble at Dallas NOTES from the Underground in the very early 1970s.
Not so much trouble selling it on the streets —"free to uniformed police officers," we always used to say, but a little scary to try to send it through the U.S. Mail, which may still be snigardly censorial at such moments. Thank the gods and goddesses, the Internet isn't so picky.
Nomadic Fungi Institute Nomadic Fungus Sighting: Texas City 2016 $575
I also love this imagery and thinking about giant spores taking over gas-guzzling automobiles sets me free from the earthly plane. I like floating around out there, and unlike the pic at the top of this story, it would never have got us into any trouble, because it doesn't appeal to our or anybody else's prurient interests but instead to our collective senses of humor. The concept of demon spores finding life-giving sustenance in old fuel and lubricants is just delicious.
Perhaps it would be best if you engaged more directly in their information on their website at http://www.worldofnomadicfungi.com/ although there's plenty of it here:
Nomadic Fungi Institute Nomadic Fungus Document Ever Vibrant Car… $300
It all sounds and looks intelligent and real, but of course, it's a big farce, though one I'm more than willing to participate in. The guy who creates these fantasies doesn't call himself the artist. He is the curator. And Ro and Ro are just the facilitators. But every time I see more of the evidence of these flights of fantasy, the more intrigued by the possibilities of it I become. Seems like every time I visit Ro2 on Ervay in The Cedars, there's more spores.
Nomadic Fungi Institute Untitled (Cars in Jars) 2015-2016 $350
"The Spore Sprouting Test is the latest exhibition by the Nomadic Fungi Institute (NFI). This exhibition "represents the culmination of two years of research, and provides a step-by-step guide to the scientific process used in these tests."
Nomadic Fungi Institute FNI Lab Sample: Mini Cooper 2016 $315
"By collection and germinating Nomadic Fungus spores NFI has taken the dangerous but necessary step in proving once and for all that the existence of this various eater of automobiles is not an urban myth or the hallucinations of drug addled beatniks."
Bumin Kim Accumulation 2016 thread and wood 9 x 12 inches $450
Then there are these amazing additions / extrapolations by Bumin Kim a couple weeks later at Ro2 again from the neo geo storm cloud still gathering around us, whose soft, colorful works were just so exquisite an extrapolation from putting paint on canvas that I could barely pull myself away from one to take in the next one around the walls in the front gallery at Ro2 on South Ervay Street on our latest trip there.
Bumin Kim Accumulation 2016 blue purple thread and wood $450
Almost too much of a really good thing. And a surprise after so much too-much geo neos everywhere I looked after awhile, always wondering who did the original one, and who copied that style to create the next one, etc. But at least I know who took all that in, cogitated it awhile and put the notion of geometric colors into some gentler medium the artist knew already more intimately to make these.
I just had to stare and stare.
Vincent Valdez It's Winter in America 2015 acrylic on canvas 84 x 108 inches
@ Holly Johnson I was so bored seeing the same old neo geo, I was desperate to do something different with all that undifferent art and thought I should photograph it from farther away. Besides, I really didn't want to show the usual head-on pix of this art. And unlike the next one down, these people weren't altogether more colorful, although after looking at this awhile, I'm liking the red brown gold black thing she's got going, especially contrasting with his neutral white, which makes the black & white and black & white photo drawings all the more subtle a surprise.
Anna Bogatin untitled (Sea Wanderings, 1008) 2014 acrylic on canvas 84 x 108 inches
What I liked about this foursome — counting the painting — are the patterns. The painting is all patterning, so small, you back far away from it and it turns solid darkish cyan. The woman in the orange vividly complements the thousands of Bogatin's composite dark and light vertical cyan bars. While the black on white swirling lines on the woman in the middle rhyme, somehow with the delicate stacks of short linearity. And finally the orange, white, blues and greens dress forms an almost a logical extension of the painting. But if all it ever were was the orange, I'd have clicked it in a nonce.
Coming out of Holly Johnson and Cris Worley galleries, I loved this soon as I laid eyes on it, even though I had to shoot it through a chain-link fence. This piece, though it probably does at least one entirely practical task, has a tubular simplicity contrasted with many other minute linearities and stepladder wheels in white, blue and black in an orange brick exterior corner with scattered gray boxes, some with even more internal circles.
J R Compton painted landscape digital photograph
I never know what these marks mean, exactly, but I have often appreciated their verisimilitude with painted and otherwise articulated images in landscapes between and among galleries. I especially like the red and orange lines that dot across the the immediate front grass, cross splashing bright the sidewalk then disappear into the mown grass beyond. The tall white X only adds to the complication of the composition, slashed with the diagonal gray shadow of slightly raised sidewalk.
Marianne Gargour Home With A View 8 x 8 inches oil on canvas
At Craighead Green, another small painting, very nearly life-size on my Mac (smaller on PCs), reminds me in its soft colors, strongly hinted exterior shapes and rigid canvas texture, of James Zamora's interiors atop the last Art Here Lately page. There's long been a strong undercurrent of rhythmic house paintings, only some spare few of which truly lilt, running through Dallas gallery showings over the last, oh, forty years — probably even longer — that I've been watching.
Tyler Butcher Inner Circle oil on canvas $3,200
I wasn't immediately fond of this painting, but for some reason, I photographed it. Then, gradually, I grew to like it. Three humans standing along the side of something we can't see. Each embodies a slightly different painting technique with similar but different palettes, shapes and smears. The most human parts of them are their feet/shoes and their slightly bowed heads. In the distance is a landscape shaped like a house. I see their differences like personalities, carefully articulated in an inarticulated world.
A Black guy, a White guy and somebody in the middles, their personalities colored by the expressive abstractions of sensate memories. Nice colors and contrasts. On a neutral tan empty field, concentrating our attentions on themselves.
Isaac Smith Angel Fish 24 x 9 inches painted wood
I'm a big fan of Isaac Smith's work that I used to have to explore inside closed closet or bathroom doors at Craighead Green to see the latest of. This seems obvious a fit to that definition, and I like it. Especially because it's new and employs new — for this artist — techniques and colorations.
Photographer in the Middle of the Street
Outside Photographs Do Not Bend, I immediately identified with the guy with a camera walking in from the middle of the street, because that, very often, is the best place to take pictures. Inside, we found Santa Monica Photographer Cherl Medow's widely-seen (Facebook, etc.) profoundly worked-over and exquisitely digitally-polished two-years-ago's images of birds worth staring at for long minutes, among many other Critters in black & white and color there, but I daren't photograph photographs, because many years ago when I tried that, I got yelled at and thrown out of the gallery two other places ago. This was my first, bold return, and I like their new digs on whatever street that is.
Transitional Device at the Curb digital photograph
When I got out the car, I saw this tableaux in the rubble by the curb and since the cam was already on and working, click.
There's always been a deeply subtle meaningfulness contextualized in an extraordinary intelligence in Lapthisophon's own work that I have greatly admired, and hoped to get to see more of it in this show he's curated at Conduit, but this pile of wood just just inside the gallery it occupies doesn't do it. It is a pile of wood charred at either end, marking the wall and floor around it that only almost qualifies.
Texas Division UDC 7th Grade Essay Contest — The 2014-2015 7th and 8th Grade Essay Topics are:
Our First Christmas Without Father, 2015, red clay, India ink, Marley braiding hair on paper, each 60 x 48 inches
But this/these get closer to that searing sophistication often seen in the curator's work and very nearly qualifies as worth the trip, but this next one throws me.
Christine Adame Renascence 3 2016 acrylic, ink & charcoal on paper $1,200
I couldn't begin to guess what it is about, but I like looking. I see a human, perhaps running, maybe an athlete or circus performer and a horse, maybe, with a mountain. Or some things entirely else. Odd the horizontal split, but necessary perhaps for paper size and traveling; I admire the shadow from the bulge in the middle, but it was probably not intentional. Helps break it up a little.
Adame also showed Renascence 2 in identical format, hung to this one's right on the big wall in Conduit's large back gallery, but I could make no visual sense of that one. My Mac's dictionary defines renascence as "the revival of something that has been dormant," and that seems somehow to fit.
Spencer Evans from the My Dear series
Maybe it's too obvious. It is easy to look at. There's serious quality in the scribbles that blend into the human's cuff holding that vivid cloth while wondering, being perplexed or concerned, and the color against the misty black and white is brilliant — even the lines in the collar. Add the simple reverse figures in on the cloth, and we have a 3-D winner here, ladies and gentlemen. It activates our intelligence while assuaging our need for aesthetic pleasantness and enigmatic misunderstanding.
Josh Dryk untitled chair 3 2016 photographic light gel & printer ink $2,000
This raw simplicity got my attention from my early misunderstanding of its materials. I thought "photographic light gel" with "& printer ink" meant it was light sensitive material as on film, but the artist simply didn't know what to call the translucent plastic many photographers use to attenuate lights in front it. Because I rarely work in any kind of a studio, I don't know what it's called, either (although a quick look in a photographic materials catalog might cinch it). But once I looked at it more carefully, I could see it was just ink on acetate. The translucent material is not photographic — relating to or resembling photographs.
Decades ago I experimented with light-sensitive (photographic) emulsions on acetate, which I first took this to be, that might have brought us this bare essence of chair. But this is just the essence painted on clear plastic. The other instance of this same symbol comprised marks on paper.
Sarah Barnett The Background Noise oil on canvas board $300
Non Pixelated with paintings by Rita Barnard (who I still believe has shown this piece at least three times there already), Sarah Barnett, Awadh Baryoum, Bernard Bortnick, S. Chuck McCarter, Justin Clumpner, Ray-Mel Cornelius, Steve Danner, Jacque Forsher, Gale Gibbs, Duke Horn, Karen Jacobi, Darrell Madis, Alexa Mason, Julia McLain, Ruben Miranda, Monica Moody and Madelyn Sneed and too-quickly curated by Bath House Cultural Center Visual Arts Coordinator/Curator Enrique Fernández Cervantes through July 30 2016:
A show of stop-action animations had been planned for this time slot, but it fell through late in the game, so the curator quickly looked around for work by Dallas-area artists whose work he liked for something they had on hand for a nearly immediate showing. He usually, as he told me at the opening, prefers to give artists about a year to meet a show title's meaning, and some of these acquit themselves very well for this one.
But many do not. It's a quickie. Some work is truly great. Some just is not.
According to the show's official press release, this "exhibition explores the unceasing relevance of the traditional medium of painting in the context of our contemporary digital age. The exhibition includes the work of artists who, for the most part, have chosen not to shift from their use of analogue painting techniques to the more widely accessible mass digital media."
"Rather than focusing on a particular style or subject matter, this exhibition has as its main themes the persistence of traditional painting as a medium that does not [seek] to be a final product that relies on technology, and the study of the contribution of the enduring art form to a world heavily saturated by digital images."
All of which is intriguing, since at least a third of the pieces in this show obviously depend enough on photographs to be conceptually inseparable from digital outputs. In fact, many either are photographs or directly directly painted from them. Alexa Mason's soft pastel Les Trois Petit Singes (Three Little Monkeys) had to have used photographs for the mother and two little girls in the classically clichéd, See-No-Evil; Hear No Evil; Speak No Evil line-up of hands on faces that would almost be cute, if it weren't so hackneyed.
Insipid, I think I called it when someone said it was the best painting in the show, although I got a little carried away and angry at that description.
About Sarah Barnett's pic above, I love it, but I bet there was a digital photograph involved in its inception. And a couple of humans, too, although their femininity, if any, got lost along the way. It keeps reminding me of gallerist / artists Randall Garrett, who looks like that and keeps popping up in other people's art. The duality is startling but the symbol in the middle between their foreheads seems silly or copied from the Masonic Lodge or something.
I like the flesh-tones, hair, hands, rings and eyebow-plucked lashlessnesses.
Sarah Barnett Monarch oil on canvas $400
More eyes staring. Sarah Barnett's Monarch oil on canvas looks so much like a digital print, it may well have been one or was surely painted from one. Even the layout reeks of digital playtime, although upon closer examination, I like the uncommon objects juxtaposed, their subtle tonalities and canvas textures. But I still can't imagine it was done without reference to a computer or the memory of one.
Monica Moody Bold as Love mixed media on Yupo $1100
Monica Moody's Jimi Hendrix cover rip in mixed media has too much in common with Jimi's album covers of yore to not be photo- or if not pixel-based, mayhaps halftone dot-based. Would it even have been possible without the Electric Ladyland cover? Not bad for a copy of a photograph. And pretty colors. But near zero points for originality.
Karen Jacobi Carnivorous oil on fabric $500
I did not like this the first twenty times I saw it. In fact, I actively disliked it until I got it here on this web page. Then I began to appreciate its subtleties and the collage nature of its tattooed, over- and under-prints. Perhaps the face is a little too glossy at first sight, but this painting doesn't just capture three dimensions, it's got more.
I understand some of the carnivorous aspects of this gathering of objects, but while I assume the winding green thing upper right is probably a snake, kinda so what? Boas sometimes swallow people whole, but they're massively larger. A carnivore is an animal (including us) who or that feeds on flesh. It doesn't have to swallow them whole.
I like the inclusion of the plant at his left shoulder that reminds of Audry II from The Little Shop of Horrors. But other visual references — like the Queen of Hearts that emblazons his T-shirt didn't eat anybody in Alice's Adventures, only kept decreeing death sentences. I assume the flowers are poison, and I just wonder about those headphones.
The image above is slick, glossy and clean. The next one down isn't. Otherwise, there's just so many similarities.
S. Chuck McCarter Advisor acrylic on canvas $650
I probably got really boring explaining this one to anybody who couldn't find a good enough excuse to run away screaming at the opening, but this is the best painting in this show. Not that everyone I asked at the opening agreed.
Way too many — including some artists whose work I admire — said it "looked like a Picasso," even though it doesn't look like any Picasso I've ever seen, and though I have not seen them all, I've seen hundreds and several times paged slowly through "All of Picasso's Paintings" when it was still online. I'm assuming people who don't regularly look at art use the phrase, "It Looks Like a Picasso" as shorthand for the actuality that they have no idea what it is, but it's kinda strange and painterly, so they chalk it up as a Picasso. Since Pablo was the only really famous artist they know who does anything like this sort of paint-blending or uses these colors and shapes, he gets the blame.
This painting however, has much more going for it than that over-simplicity. It's one of few there that shows overtly that this painter was still actively engaged in the discovery mode when he "finished" this piece and put a frame around it. Paintings are just that, an ongoing discovery. So, in fact, are digital images and I guess, any fine art. When it is finished, it could as easily be when the painter is too tired to go on with it, even if he has not yet learned all he could from it.
There might also have been a deadline looming. Yikes! Three weeks!
This painter seems to be learning as he goes, which is the correct path. He may have begun this one with an idea, but I doubt he mapped it all out ahead of time as do many of the amateur painters here. I appreciate the many make-over lines and smears and do-overs. The colors are gorgeous, and there may even be some obvious meaning in it, that the painter either does or does not go along with.
McCarter has one other painting in this exhibition, but this is clearly the better.
There were a lot of really bad paintings in this show thrown-together in three short weeks from what these artists had on hand not already assigned to galleries out there that might actually sell them, after the originally-planned exhibition did not materialize as expected, but this is not one of them. Unfortunately, I won't be showing you any of the really bad ones. For that you'll have to visit The Bath House Cultural Center and see for yourself, although the differences are sometimes subtle and often argumentative.
I see at least two, probably three, faces. The big one at the top is comparatively bright, with lots of patterning and color and who knows what all swirling around it. The second, below, has closed eyes and a hand over its mouth indicating trepidation, which is where painters often are while creating a painting. The third one, chin, lips and part of a nose, flanks the lower one on the left. There's too little info to call all its shots yet.
Put secure and exploring, trepidation and speaking something together, and we have a story whose details are imprecise, and "there's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear." Nor should it be. When painters spell it all out, as in the next piece down, they get lost in the details. Or our understanding does.
Bernard Bortnick Pyrrhic Victory acrylic on canvas $825
A pyrrhic victory is "won at too great a cost to have been worthwhile for the victor," which, unfortunately, too aptly describes much of the work in this show. It is a too-oft employed term for a much more subtle meaning, and this painting may have succeeded with a better thought-through title or proscenium stage view. It doesn't really help that our pointy-toed Blue Man is giving us his V for Victory while Death's minions carry him through the torn gate of war — but if he really were the winner, where are they taking him? Isn't this all just too obvious?
Palm Tree On Crutches in front of The Bath House Cultral Center
This is not a sculpture. It's an ailing palm tree supported by this wood structure just outside the front door of the Bath House Cultural Center. I've been following this tree's progress for years now. No telling where my photos of it are, and I doubt I could ever find them, but one is high above and behind me as I stand at this computer typing these words. That photograph is far more understated, with countless filligree crisscross shadows confusing themselves as palm leaves, where this is stark and obvious. And I keep thinking that deep indigo parking lot has to be a mistake, but at least it's not pixelated.
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