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Framing Desire
at Fort Worth's Modern

Allison V. Smith -

Allison V. Smith   Parked, May 2011. Mar fa, Texas, 2012   Chromogenic color photograph   46 x 46 inches

This and one other Allison V. Smith piece were described as attempts to photograph details of Marfa, Texas that had not yet been taken over by the art and art commerce mob.  Image courtesy The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

@ The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth through August 23

On our way to Fort Worth, I kept wondering whether huge rooms in museums were really the best place to show photographs and video. I often think a good monitor makes a better venue, so I listened to the press tour guide long enough to learn I didn't care about most of what she was saying, but looked long and hard at pieces that caught my eye or mind, and ignored too many others.

My conclusion? Video, even projected large in full quadraphonic sound is nice, but though I'd rather enjoy most photos online where light comes through them (making them much more vivid) than see even well-illuminated art in large and darkened spaces I'd have to go out to and probably pay to get in, it's really difficult to get the sense of visual comparison only one image shows, and even on a giant monitor, one to four images is usually about as many as I would want, although video flows a lot of single images into my mind quickly.

The first compelling series I noticed was The Brown Sisters group portraits I'd seen in Aperture and other photo magazines and books in the mid-to-late 1970s, portraying Nicholas Nixon's ongoing series of portraits of his wife and her three sisters. And they were again fascinating, although I didn't give them their due attentions till I opened the PR thumb drive with miniatures, but if I had given all the pix and vids in this exhibition the time and attention I should have, I might still be there.

MAMFW only includes every fourth or fifth year of Nixon's 40+ year series. 25 are here, and a video I had to turn the sound off does another selection of 25. I'd love to experience a quiet vid of all 40, but if that were readily available, they probably wouldn't sell enough books.

 DFW Art Press - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Part of the DFW Art Press Gathered for the Press Preview of Framing Desire

I think I understand that most art writers who gather for museum press previews would rather be taken on a show-an- tell tour than wander around discovering art by themselves, but maybe that's just what museums believe. Unlike The Modern, the Kimbell opens the galleries while the press gathers and eats, so some few of us can watch the show till the tour begins and maybe on through it as well, depending upon who's talking or what they're saying. I always get a much better idea of what exhibitions are like and about by seeing them than listening, although sometimes I remember to bring a recorder so I can listen later, and there was a time when I could remember great swaths of verbiage.

A few museum talkers are utterly riveting — like Kimbell Director of Conservation Claire M. Barry, but I can usually pay more attention to the work during tours, only latching onto a few particularly pertinent phrases.

 graphic nudity warning with names

My Favorite Signage at the MAMoFW — Ironic Juxtaposition?
I have no idea who the Hallmans are, or why their names are there.

I vividly remember when Larry Clark's book, Tulsa, shocked the photography world with its startling, real, dark, unposed documentation of people we hadn't yet seen in Life magazine or on TV. Amazon has the book and clicking on it yields an almost adequate selection of images, but you might have to buy it to see what that body of work was really about, and it still might take awhile to get though the shock waves.

Thanks to the Modern's press kit, I can present the following tidy bit of ironic juxtaposition involving two women photographed in houses — first by a woman then by a man — which is more sexist? I don't remember how close they were in the mu, but they weren't together.

 Laurie Simmons - Walking House and

Laurie Simmons   Walking House   1989   pigment print   83.5 x 47.5 inches, and
Arne Svenson   Neighbors   2012   pigment print   29.5 x 44.5 inches

I was just beginning to get into Svenson's Neighbors photographed through their home windows when the tour ended, but I'm much more curious now, after I found an intriguing news story about it on The Guardian. Googling Laurie Simmons, I found some remarkably similar images, which brings us full circle around and through the above juxto.

Looking without reading I.Ds, I was visually fascinated by a series of color photos only one of which I could find online and had not the sense to document in situ. I did stare and wonder, then mis-guessed they were about hands, only later learning the series was called Holes, a collaborative series of images shot through various apertures by Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler billed as Hubbard/Birchler, and I wish I'd glued into them longer, but that happens attending press previews instead of spending time enough in an exhibition to get my money's worth.

I keep wanting to show Dallas artists first and foremost in Art Here Lately, but it took till I was nearly through this story to google enough search to find this gem of online video showing many others of Allison V. Smith's Marfa pictures, again contending online video with big photographs in big rooms in big museums. And a number of other Dallas and former Dallas photographers' work in this show.

$10 adults, $4 seniors and students with ID; free for children 12 and under — Framing Desire: Photography and Video at Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth through August 23, 2015

Foolin’ ‘round with my camera & some Art

Paper Napkin Heart by Richard Ray - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

impromptu  Paper Napkin Art by Richard Ray on a table at The Bath House
The distracting lines on the table were already there.

       The Bath House

First stop was El Corazón at the Bath House Cultural Center, which show I have a piece (nice placement, thanks) in. Must say the this-time competitive exhibition (Vargas seems to be alternating invitational and competitive each year) was noticeably better than usual, as nearly everyone I talked with about it there agreed. Good job, José Vargas. I was sitting at a table in the foyer talking with Richard Ray, when he clumped some Kleenex together, tore out the middle leaving a ragged hole, then compressed that middle wad with some-liquid-that-was-not-blood but-it-sure-looked-like-it red.

This was neither submitted nor selected for the show, because Richard made it right in front of us just then, but it's certainly more expressive than some of what was shown, and the process was quick but fun to watch, although at first I wasn't sure what he was up to with the Kleenex, from which this expressive, tattered, textured, red-tinged, though maybe a little gruesome — heart emerged.

I was in a mood to photograph whatever pierced my consciousness, and had brought my favorite, little art-documenting camera. Not sure we can exactly call this story art criticism, but I can't really help myself but opine when I write, so this time the story is charging through me about as fast as stories used to do a year or so ago, when I was hot to write about art so often it fried my brain there for awhile. Welcome back, Lightness, My Old Friend.

Alice & Anna in Parking Land - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Alice & Anna in Parking Land

Ro2 Downtown

Downtown galleries almost always have a problem with parking. This is where we usually park to visit Ro2 Downtown, if we can't find on-street parking, and we almost never can. Down Main Street a few stores past Akard Street where the gallery is, left up the ramp that we often almost miss, and just a couple bucks on the way out — beats keeping track of a meter and is maybe a half-block walk.

Danielle Georgiou - self portraits - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Danielle Georgiou   self portraits   $75 each

She's the dancer and choreographer I may already have written about too much, but I love her visual and often verbal work and love to photograph dancers doing her dances, and I may yet write about her more. Easier, however, to photograph photographs (seems to be a sub-theme down this story) of her looking back from several personae, which reminds a little of my friend, the late Linda Finnell who did self-portraits as differing persons of varied genders so long ago.

Do a quick Sites Search for "Georgiou," and you'll see plenty stories, usually profusely illustrated, about her dance and performance and art.

Little Girl in a Red Dress - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Little Girl in a Red Dress at Ro2 Downtown

I'd got entranced with this child's dancing, little-girl red-dress motions earlier, before I got the exposure right in that crisscross of gallery and general illumination, lighting and dark floors of art spaces. I photographed her at least a dozen or twice that, but this is my favorite and best of the night, and I appreciate the copse of dark shoes, sox and legs growing up around her.

James Zamora - Camera Profile - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

James Zamora   Camera Profile   $2300

I identified with this, because for most of my first 10 – 15 of 51, so far, years as a photographer I was strictly black & white, and I once had a camera that looked a lot like this, only it was brown leather and more rickety — that I'd rigged it to use 35mm film, and that worked pretty well there for awhile. So I especially liked slowly synching into the notion of a black & white painting of a black and white photograph of a black & white camera. Much of Zamora's Ro2 show was paintings resembling photographs of various tech reproducing machines, and I at first wondered at the concept, then sifted into liking the idea altogether, since it made overt, physical sense as well as being an allusion to an illusion, like better photographs often are.

Ro2 Downtown Glass Case of Small Art - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ro2 Downtown Glass Case of Small Art

Colorful, bright and nearly tactile in shapes and tones with so many circles it must be a game. Some jewelry thrown in that I didn't mind at all; usually art-like jewelry makes me nervous and antsy, because it's so often bad, but this isn't, at all. Instead, it was a lively box of energy just waiting to burst forth. Especially liked the Santa penguin in a rowboat on a pier with lotus blossoms, but there's lots to look at here.

Fashion Medium at Ro2 Downtown - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Fashion Medium at Ro2 Downtown

Last time I reviewed something there, I photographed what people wear at gallery openings, because that world is still rare and strange to many, especial artists out there who are not sure yet why they feel the way they do and need so desperately to make objects, and haven't figured out what all that might mean, where they'd go to talk with others about it, and what they should wear when they get there.

I like this photo, because it has that marvellous floor circle game that almost matches the gold nearly everybody posing here's outfit includes a little of, there's all those women in black & white or red and tan, kinda dressy-upped, with plenty else of the spectrum of what people wear to art openings showing in the gallery all around them.


Gray Matters

 Vance Wingait - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Vance Wingate   West Texas Talisman #2   (Talismans for Sullen Entropy)
walnut ink, acrylic & graphite on paper 2015

I liked the ritual sensibility of the repeating pattern of this undulating snake form so often understood as change itself for the couple minutes I stared at it, and the minute or more it took to photograph this central detail of it, also:

Vance Wingate -  West Texas Talisman #2 (detail - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Vance Wingate   West Texas Talisman #2   (Tailismans for Sullen Entropy)   (detail)
walnut ink, acrylic & graphite on paper 2015

I just had to show you all the painted quality of applied colors here, lest you think Vance had rendered it too high contrast, essentially black & white. No. There's all these wonderful splatters and mixes of primitive colors. Yum!

The following words are former and current gallerist and painter Vance Wingate's from a sheet titled Ergo: Superego: New Work by Vance Wingate / February 7 to March 21, 2015, which must have been the title of the show I hadn't heard a twit about, but Anna knew and drove.

Talisman for Sullen Entropy

"I heard the words 'sullen entropy" in a Robyn Hitchcock song many, many years ago, and it struck me as an elegant way to describe natural forces in the world and also the way I physically make artwork; things modify and evolve, but not easily, and not without pushback. The 'Talismans for Sullen Entropy' series are figures and objects depicted with degraded, overworked surfaces using copious amounts of graphite, oil on canvas or other standard drawing materials, usually on paper. They involve a large amount of stop & start, make/discard, discovery and change."


Door & Fan at Gray Matters - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Door and Fan at Gray Matters mirroring Vance Wingate art

I once again fell in love with this beautiful swinging door set of repeating patterns and rich wood tones crowned with that big brown fan. Too many people were in the office or I might have found something interesting to photograph there, too. But these were a wonderment, and I stayed fascinated with the similar shapes and deep browns and light chromes and tins for many minutes. Unfortunately, my photograph of this lush scene tilted back and angled in several directions I only hope I got mostly straightened out here, but it still seems to tilt in impossible directions, and I am not at all convinced I got the proportions right.

Gray Matters Alley - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Gray Matters Alley at Night with Unplanned Self-Portrait Shadow

I've photographed the magic of these aging barns down the alley beside the gallery in evening and night before, years ago when Gray Matters was one of the best and most avant galleries in Dallas, before Wingate went (back?) to school at SMU, got a degree and became much more serious an artist. I was killing time on the front steps, waiting for the entourage to catch up, and clicking my way back into impromptu photography of whatever was available, digging photographing anything that volunteered.  2/7/15


On a Satty Afternoon Watching Art

Ryan Goolsby - Timothy Harding - lavander shape - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Ryan Goolsby and Timothy Harding collaboration   in a series called Telephone
2014-2015   9 x 5.5 x 1 inches   wood and paint

Thought I had several hours to kill and only the notion again, but I surprised myself and acted on it, drove to Deep Elm to see art. I admit I'd been visiting 500X lately when they were and weren't open, but this time the big rust door was wide, so I wandered in looking, thinking and taking pictures.

The project room of flat colored objects precisely daubed with colorful paint grabbed my attention. I know Tim, curated him into a show a couple years ago, after discovering his work upstairs at TCU's Moudy Building during Art in the Metroplex shows. His early drawn-into paper wads thrilled me. It shouldn't be difficult to see them in these collaborations with Ryan Goolsby, but it's a stretch.

Tim's a shapist whose work tends to subtle forms with sometimes color — which aptly Goolsby's work I found online as well, although his sculpture is more linear than spatial. Tim experiments with shape better than anybody I know — I've watched him stand staring at a flat sheet of dark texture I'd wondered about, till he folded it once on the wall, producing a roll-top gentle falling curve, and let it drape.

But Harding's only half of this, and I don't know Goolsby, though I'm willing to learn and was impressed by the spareness in his sculptures. What I learned online is "wood with a hint of color," even if there's a lot of the latter covering dimensional silhouettes of the former in this showing at the X.

The phrase applies to both artists, and those undercurrents might be what brought them together — that and that both are fairly recent TCU grads andcurrent 500X members.

Ryan Goolsby and Timothy Harding collaboration detail - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

untitled Ryan Goolsby and Timothy Harding collaboration   2014-2015   detail   12.5 x 12.5 x 1.25 inches   wood and paint

I liked mostof these and there wasn't any I didn't, so I took my time to choose just these two. This is the close-up of the lower right corner of a shape that looks a little likethe side-view of a pan a bent-up handle. In both, the ground is solid wood with flat solid color with the grain or not-grain showing. But it's the fussy little applied blobs that make this these objects sing. Together there's a curt, colorful Ryan amd Tim combo.

Great collab, especially when we can't see either's style clearly, just them together.

Laura Garcia   Altar Installation - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Laura Garcia   Altar Installation   upstair at 500X

This is not an altogether new or unusual sight on the X's far end upstairs. I remember other strews and altars there. That bright end of the great nave-corridor seems ideal to put one and stand there drinking in its rich color and littl eritualistic offerrings. But this view reminds me too much of my photo of Commerce Artist Ashly Bryan standing before Val Curry's The Everything Window in 2012, though Curry's strew was better organized and had no need of an altar. The two are eerily similar, with tall, cylindrical verticals and small pieces around.

Laura Garcia - Altar Installation detail - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Laura Garcia   Altar Installation  detail

More original are the richly colored, chunky organic objects on this deep purple altar nearly filled with dense reds, oranges, yellows and greens that match and mingle. Lush solids and powders, cups for but no liquids, and another big phallic candle to remind us of all the littler ones scattered below. Contrasted smartly with dull pastels through the windows from across the street. Nice.


Sergio Garcia   Somehow everybody knew - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Sergio Garcia   Somehow everyone knew Lil' Timmy would kill it on Wall Street   2015
fiberglass and resin sculpture with acrylic paint   $3,000

Next stop, more because I knew right where it was, was Kirk Hopper, where I've only ever been disappointed twice in its history. Kirk was taking his dog out for a ride when I walked in. We said hello and smiled, but it was a bright and happy day. Felt like too long an absence, but I was all too glad to stand and stare at ripe, abstractish paintigns like the ones I'd already fallen for in email and the internet. I was already intrigued by those paintings, but it took awhile to settle into the real thing, so much bigger and airier than the little Jpeg in an email.

Sergio Garcia's sculpture should cost an arm and a leg.

Mac Whitney - Big Bend  1976 - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Mac Whitney   Big Bend   1976   hot rolled steel   23 x 15..3 x 6.6 feet

I always check out the back yard/sculpture garden and there saw a shape I either hadn't ever seen before or not since the mid-70s, but I knew whose it was, by shape, sensation and that they had it, even with the built-in bench, a place to sit, briefly related to Linnea Glatt's elderly series of places to, holding the verticals together. Sorry the clutter back there I wanted painted dull like the walls, so they'd bland out and not compete, and it needs be pulled away from the confusion and that wire, but I like the sky on it and imagined it dominating my back yard.

Nicholas Mathis   Untitled   2014   mm - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Nicholas Mathis   Untitled   2014   dimensions variable   $1,200

On the wall left of the Mac Whitney out the back door was this. I keep seeing these in postcard announcemnts and jpegs and I haven't figured out why yet, but I like them inordinantly. Something about a collage or mellange of tiny shapes crowding together from the corners or beyond, to mix, mingle and crush, eventually integrating into the interior. Nice, too, that it transitions to 3-D mesh up her legs, coalescing pattern and shapes, as do the paintings' interior I couldn't stop watching and wondering how on earth I'd explain why I'm including them, but my eyes like resting and investigating there.

Alejandro Diaz-Ayala  - Untitled Portrait - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Nicholas Mathis   Untitled 3   2014   mixed media on canvas   72 x 84 inches

For awhile here, I saw two guys at a table playing cards, the closer one on the right more massive, wearing a party hat and is that a bright paper party horn? Guy across the table a thin spectre smoking a flaming cigar. But after more staring the vision calmed and I was left with another mallange of competing color splotches arranged like derranged Chinese Checkers coming in from the dark corners gaining hue every hop.


Nicholas Mathis   Untitled 1   mixed media on canvas   28 x 22 inches

This might have been the one I saw on the advert. I passed it right by on my way in, but it grabbed me when I got near again, and held. Nice of those flat paint areas to relent into apparent 3D by the middle left, just under its optical center and outlined in dimensional pink.

I didn't know, but only hoped most of these artists in this show were from around here. I asked much too later, and Kirk Hopper Assistant Director Casey Stranahan told me, the three artists "are all Dallas-based." I like when that happens, but don't usually even ask.


Deep Elm Orange Bird - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Deep Elm Orange Bird on the Brick Wall among dark metal spikes and stairs

Out in Deep Elm's colors again, I found this interstitial bird sliding in and out of one sort or another of reality, vivid in its stay, but might flit off at any moment, likely in the direction it's checking out. Gotta watch birds in the moment, when you can. They don't stay long. They busy.


Terrell James - Paladin - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Terrell James   Paladin   2011   oil and graphite on canvas   66 x 41 inches   $14,000

West toward downtown, a quick right into the parking lot at Barry Whistler. Catch my breath, hold it, turn off my audio book, sit in the quiet maybe a minute and walk in. Suprised myself being taken by this. Liked it, wondered why and watched it awhile trying not to people it with faces and places, but I think they're there anyway. From the Latin Palatinus — officer of the palace and a 50s TV show western I adored and used to sing all the words to his song.

Barry Whistler Gallery Front Door - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Barry Whistler Gallery Front Door from inside   color JPG   messed with subtly

I took this after I got the mood of the place, checking every piece through the place. Uncomplicated space with moments of clarity and a view of the parking lot, I always feel at ease in there, especially when there's no mob. Like a pleasant warm Saturday in the middle of winter everywhere else but here.

Tom Orr

Tom Orr   Dutch   2014   Polygal®   digital print on sintra and ink   33 x 24 x 12 inches   $5,000

I'd seen something similar to this Polygal® material in a supplies catalog, where I daydreamed using its double wall plastic to insulate my back porch for the winter. Orr's use spectacularly more interesting than mine. He was showing older work that's hard to tell sometimes from the newer, but I was excited to be standing in front of something I'd never dreamt of. I think Tom avoids me sometimes, because I'm such an embarassingly big fan of his work from the first time I saw some in the 197. Couple times when we met all I could do was gush about it. I don't blame him. Somebody did that to me — and nobody has in way too long of forevers, I avoid em like the plague. He seemed to falter and attempt escape, now we just talk about something.

So nice at odd time not to have artists around when I'm watching their art. And a real delight to have all the caption information on tags obviously close to the works they describe, making my job almost easy. Wish all galleries could learn that trick.

But his work still grabs my breath. Move your head a fraction of an inch either way straight on at this, and the colors lineup changes in that queasy optical dillusionary way. I lined this up so carefully, I didn't even notice I'd chopped off the shadow below. But I stood there longer than in front of anything all my mad dash art afternoon. Still steals my breath and mind.


Barry Whistler Office Door - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Barry Whistler Office Door

The tag was hung just left of this door, and I had to wonder a while if it could be another Tom Orr, till I realized it pushed into an office. So just a door, and Barry told me later the tag had to be away from the piece some, especially in a crowd. I've always loved the serenity of Barry Whistler Gallery, why I spent such a long time polishing my portait of their front door darkness and light.

Tom Orr - When they take away your crown - Photograph Copyright 2015 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Tom Orr   When they take away your crown   2014   digital print on PVC   25 x 80 inches   $7,200

By about this time I realized I was probably running way too later than I'd imagined, but I so much liked being out on the prowl for art again and in those so comfy familiar places, I'd have to get back at doing it. Writing about it now redux the feel.


The persistence of myth: Why Flash Photography is Prohibited at Art Galleries and Museums


4 Wet Allusions

Rance Jones - Roundhouse Harbour - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Rance Jones   Roundstone Harbour   watercolor   27 x 19 inches   $8500

Of course I love the detail and resolution in this nearly photographic watercolor — I got up close as I could and stood there staring at each succeeding element, watching all those sharp shapes quietly interact. Many decades ago, I fell hard for Superrealism [images], of which I still have a book that thrills me when it bubbles to the top of the heap, but this image fits the category with all its exactness and apparent reality. There's even almost emotional content.

From that dark brown, tarpaper-like surface where one guy stands looking down at another, crouched over a trap unloading a lobster, back across the shaded harbor to the bright seawall behind, all with the precision of vivid boats moored between, we are dosed with a miniature universe of crisp details a little too often executed in primary colors.

Then comes the successively darker, duller indigo of Bertraghboy Bay, the even darker rolling foothills with houses and trees behind it, then the softened successive peaks of the Twelve Bens. Each layer behind layer offers slightly less detail. So we not only get the succeeding stratum of sharp to dull, and dark to light and back to dark again with colors repeated past the seawall, and out to the mountains, we get perceived depth upon depth, each layer with its multitudinous specifics.

I wish I could remember where I saw this painting — or most of the others in this story, but I sure like looking at it and learning about Roundstone and its little squared-in harbor on the west side of Ireland not far from the Atlantic. Where the guy on the right has pulled a dark lobster out of that black trap in the foreground shadow that frames this fishing village harbor, almost over-filled with boats that appear in many of the Yahoo Images and paintings of that busy little town.

UNT Grad and Commercial Artist Rance Jones must have stood right about where we are, between the harbor and the bright line of shops behind us on the other side of that wide ersatz road where vehicles keep falling into the drink. I like the feel of this painting. I loved exploring Roundstone online, and the only parts I really don't care for are the too-sharp, bright white, little and bigger boats pasted out on the bay.

 Kathleen Wilke - Samurai - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Kathleen Wilke   Samurai   color photograph   10 x 10 inches

This is one of the three best pieces at the current Bath House Cultural Center exhibition called Levitas — involving 17 invited photographers visualizing weightlessness in the Hallway Gallery that I also have a piece in. Standing before this one, Anna and I long wondered whether Wilke had used Photoshop to float him there, because except for a wisp of hair on his forehead, he didn't look wet, his clothes weren't very floaty, and some of the edges seem a little too crisp.

But surely his position would be untenable without buoyancy. Even if it were faked photographically, I like the sensation of him suspended in liquid, holding his breath long enough for the photographer to take several shots, and still smile, although his red-eyed stare might put him under real water, even if real water is usually not that clear or evenly illuminated.

I don't know what that sharp texture behind him is about or why it doesn't continue under and to his right. Are those the breathing bubbles that would have helped establish where our floater was, even if none of them cling anywhere to him? I'm not sure I appreciate his overexposed hands and wrists, but I really like the sword balanced jauntily across his shoulders. Do you suppose they posed his jacket floating straight up like that?

I don't know, but doubts are sewn, and though I want to believe, I really can't tell — nor do I believe it much matters.

Artist Unknown - rubble - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

artist & title unknown

I've seen piles of rocks like this and wanted to photograph them unto art, too. But I never knew or thought about drawing into the print, nor would I feel comfortable in that medium. Like just clicking the shutter at it would give me all the depths and colors that probably aren't there. There's a lovely sense of spacial complexity in this painting. Great shadows, I want to step on the flat stones up from the liquid red-brown base, maybe rock up and back a little on the loose ones.

The white and gray stone outlines work well. Everything feels in just the right place. I wish I knew who did it. I almost always photograph I.Ds, if I can find them, and strangely lucky for this story's headline, this rock pile is right on the edge of a body of water, blue with a squiggly, moving reflection top left, which adds to the sense it belongs here.

A pile of rubble rocks on a beach somewhere with built-in graffiti, drawn edges and rough and smooth tones look real enough. Maybe a little past that. It registered soon as I saw it. No dancing around in incomprehension. Instant dimension communication. Formal, as in of or related to form, shape transmission mind to mind. I want to believe these shapes, colors and tones bad enough they already are.

It speaks directly to the fleeting random concepts that fill my mind sometimes when I'm thinking into dimension through the flat viewfinder of a camera.

unknon overlook - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

artist & title unknown

These reds pissed me off when I sighted this concrete overlook with city behind, but I still haven't figured out the pattern of depths here. I like the plooched wrinkle and the feeling of space looking out and down, from both sides of the rail. The yellows and purple, blue and grays are near perfect. The space and sense of it seems close. But the red tightens up my neck and shoulders like a deep muscular cringe with two sudden fists. Otherwise, I could enjoy the view and feel of those expanses. Purple is just gray brightened a little, and I knew the orange belonged when I finally realized it was there.

Now I'm settling into this little paper painting push-pinned into the wall, the ocean or whatever that mass is out there upper and right feels ominous, like a giant wave under a multicolored sky. And I'm only now willing to talk about the stripes and color slashes. Except for the red, I don't mind and/or I like. The artist conveys something by stacking them like that, and it seems to be working.

The wet here is mostly the medium, and I've been staring long enough I know the aqua of out there cuts down the sides of the gray mass inside amid the washes of yellow and orange, and there's a deep shadow, purple to indigo with a smear of red immediately contrasting something like the side of a pit or pool, the colors vague like they're moving, with smudges on the side. Shadows tell us shapes except for the crease, and I keep wondering if this is real or an imagined place. If I knew where I saw it, I might figure out more. But I like it already.


Remembering James Watral at the Tin Ranch

people - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.


I met James Watral in Commerce, Texas at one of his ceramic sales in the mid-1970s when I needed to get something for my mother's birthday. I'm sure my dear friend, the late Carol Wilder told me about it, and Mom loved the closed-top pot, but it must have got broken, because I'd hoped to get it back when they moved to retirement. I returned to his studios several times, and eventually photographed him with his latest work for a story in Texas Monthly written by my Austin Sun friend Carlene Brady.

I was always going to get another one of his pots.

Paul Ashby witn singer 


Much later, in Dallas, I loved his calm presence in his and my rare talks when he lived just east of Central Expressway. And I remember long, rambling nonjudgemental discussions and his smile, then I didn't see him again till he settled in at the Tin Ranch, which resident MaryLynn Bowman (hugging above) accused me of naming in a headline of a story about it in the old DallasArtsRevue on paper, repeated on this site bout a year after my first visit.

Bringing Flowers In - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Bringing Flowers

I'm not identifying everyone here, because I don't know all their names, and making this into a Who's Who doesn't seem right, although it seemed like James Watral was friends with everybody. We were there because we wanted or needed to be there.

Pair Staring - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.


These photographs were taken from 3:22 till 5:21 PM Saturday November 8, 2014.

Singer Singing - Artist Playing - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Singing, Documenting and Accompanying


Burying Some of the Ashes - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Burying Some of James Watral's Ashes


Rest of the Ashes - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

The Rest of the Ashes Held Firm


Moment of Mirth - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Moment of Mirth


Dog with Shadow People - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Dog with Shadow People


Nostrovia - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.



Hands Full of Flowers - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Hands Full of Flowers


Frank Discussion - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.



The Photographer - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Taking Pictures


In and Out - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Out and In


Be Brilliant - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Be Brilliant


with the remember wall - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

with The Remember Wall


20-year-old Dog - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

20-year-old Dog


Sensing New Life - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

New Life


James Watral Drawing - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

James Watral Plans



A Transfer of Spirit: Artists who studied with Roger Winter at Kirk Hopper

Tracy Harris - Wheel - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.  

Tracy Harris   1980   Wheel   1989   oil and encaustic on wood panel   36 x 60 inches   NFS   link

Roger Winter was an art teacher and Professor of Art at many schools and universities — including SMU — from 1961 through 2005, during which time, he affected many artists. On a lark, I asked my only friend I still know who took classes at SMU about Roger Winter, and hit pay dirt. See the bottom of this page on his website for a full listing.

Dallas Artist Pamela Nelson told me, "I am his friend. He and Jeanette and Bill and I were neighbors and took vacations together. I left school early to get married and never had Roger as my teacher although [I was] aware of him. He modeled his authentic commitment to helping and sharing his love of art, even out of the classroom."

In this story, year dates directly after artists' names under artworks are, if I could find it, the year they earned their first SMU degree. If I could find a website with enough of their work, the word link at the right of captions links it. A few of these artists were students at other schools, and I have not tracked their degrees.

See Note below from Roger Winter, who curated this exhibition, about my early errors, have been corrected.

Tracy Harris, then called Tracy Hays Harris' piece is first here, because it was first in the show soon as I came in the front door. A pleasant surprise to see it again. It took me back decades. I wasn't sure whether I liked her work when first I encountered them, then I saw many of them, and liked it more every time I saw another, and now I'm a fan of this work, but not so sure about her more recent work she did when I wasn't paying attention. Art and life is like that, I guess.

Now, looking back, this just seems scrumptious, and it near perfectly embodies the spirit and reality of this show's title. All that ectoplasm is going somewhere and doing its duty.

Dan Rizzie - Landscape in Black and White

Dan Rizzie   1975   Landscape in Black and White   2006   acrylic, enamel and Flashe on canvas   48 x 36 inches   link


Perhaps I have too long clung to my early 1980s theory that it takes at least a dozen years for an artist with an M.A. to figure out who they really are enough to get beyond what they were inculcated with in grad school, so they can apply their true selves to their unique vision. I had noticed how that worked before, but I began to understand it when two friends were in grad school together at SMU in the early 1980s, although they seemed immune to academic indoctrination, and instead took the opportunity to try everything as they flashed through the last hundred years of art history.

Seeing this remarkably diverse show and the quality and individualism in it, I began wondering whether my theory dismay might have been displaced. Then I remembered my art hero, the former Fort Worth Art Critic and later Las Vegas Academic Dave Hickey had set forth a similar thesis in a lecture I attended at UTD on March 1, 2003.

See Emotionally Abused and Battered Grad Students See Hope.

Charley Aberg - Standing Woman - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Charley Aberg   Standing Woman   1981   oil on canvas   83 x 53 inches   NFS

I am a fan of Roger Winter's work, especially his cows and dark urbanscapes from the last decade and a half of the last century. Just when I was wishing there were collections of contemporary artists as replete as for classic artists, I found Roger Winter dot net, where we get to see a lot, if not all, of his paintings from many segments of his life.

One of the high points of my art crit career was when the late Photographer Andy Hanson photographed me mooing in front of one of the cow paintings by "former Dallas Artist Roger Winter" in a photo in the November 1992 edition of D Magazine — on the same page with Tom Landry and Trammell Crow playing Monopoly, and the "Chairs of the Cattle Baron's Ball" "wagging their tongues."

Brian Cobble - San Minato

Brian Cobble   1977   San Minato   2012   pastel   17 x 38.6 inches   NFS   link

Seeking visual clues in students' work to match their teacher's seemed at first a fool's game, but they're here for all to see and few to understand. Clicking through Brian Cobble's Pastel Gallery was a deep and shadowy revelation of echoing images and techniques. There sometimes are teachers who make it too easy for students to copy their work, which may already be a copy of somebody else's, as I discovered a couple years ago when I reviewed the Estate Sale of Ann Cushing Gantz, another Dallas teaching icon who lived not far from The Winters.

In the short video Roger Winter and the Line on his website, Cobble, John Alexander, David Bates and others testify about Winter's teaching more realistically than anything I could write.

David Bates - Fillmore Avenue - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

David Bates   1975   Fillmore Avenue   2007   oil on canvas   24 x 30 inches   NFS

Though I chose visually interesting art, not names, many of the artists in this show whose work I include are now famous — some few more than others. Many of their work is distinctive, and though I can usually tell when I'm standing in front of a David Bates or a Dan Rizzie, much of the work here seems strangely foreign yet attractive and interesting. It's a great idea for an exhibition, and a good-sized one at that, comprising 48 pieces, including a few sculptures and other art forms.


Lilian Garcia-Roig   1988   Palm & Fronds   2008   oil on canvas   60 x 48 inches   $12,000 unframed   Courtesy Valley House Gallery

I can't help wondering how teachers influenced these artists' work, and whether we could see their influences. I know there were visiting professors in various media staying semesters or more at SMU. One, of whose work these two pieces reminds me — whether or not the visiting teacher — Neil Welliver, back in the 80s — was actually involved. He popularized dense, detailed arboreal paintings, often large.

As I was with many of the so-called super-realist painters, I was a fan of Welliver's work, even after I heard plenty complaints about his teaching.

Kathy Windrow   Cuero Y Salado Wildlife Refuge Honduras   2012   acrylic on canvas   36 x 72 inches   $4,500

Kathy Windrow   1986   Cuero Y Salado Wildlife Refuge Honduras   2012 acrylic on canvas    36 x 72 inches    $4,500

Lilian Garcia-Roig's treescape and Kathy Windrow's Cuero Y Salado Wildlife Refuge Honduras almost immediately brought Welliver's dense Northeastern forests work back through the years, although I know when he visited. Windrow got her MA there in 1986, and Garcia-Roig her FA in 1988 and Welliver was there earlier.

Laurie Hickman Cox - Spinnin' Girls

Laurie Hickman Cox   1978   Spinnin' Girls   1990   oil on canvas   50 x 50 inches   NFS   Courtesy Valley House Gallery

The joy in this painting reminds me of what I perceived of as wild fun in much of then enfant terrible John Alexander's early art. His piece here, seems subtle and gentle for what I remember of his wild and strident early work. Laurie Hickman Cox's large painting broadcasts a much more overt sense of joy with her muted, color coordinated kid figures among a mélange of nearly abstract color forms in a plausible yet visually unlikely scene.

Sally Shiels Schupp - Night Sky in Tela

Sally Shiels Schupp   Night Sky in Tela   2012   collage on canvas   36 x 36 inches   #1,500

Here's more spatial abstraction and many, more vivid hues. What felicity! We know right where we are, even if there's no way we could be there, sandwiched in with the chickens and dogs and impossible houses under that scalloped, inverted-umbrella sky.

Jan Lee McCommas - The Kitchen

Jan Lee McCommas   The Kitchen  1973   acrylic on canvas   24 x 36 inches   NFS

Then, in this more precise step into spatial abstraction, we find a charming red rocking chair in a child-drawn room oddly framed with splattered leaves on vertical yellow tape a little like Matisse. We know right where we are, and with that soft rocker, we know we'll be comfy.

Carol Hoy - Animal Refuge with Still Life

Carol Hoy   1970    Animal Refuge with Still Life   2013   encaustic and mixed media on panel   40 x 32   $4,200

We can see into this room's corners, past its odd furniture, animals, people and who knows what all, with Jill and her pail of water and Jack getting up from his fall. What's next?

John Alexander   Mandrill   2014   oil on panel   20 x 16 inches   $15,000

John Alexander   1970   Mandrill   2014   oil on panel   20 x 16 inches   $15,000   link

I spent about an hour in Kirk Hopper photographing the art that made me stop and take notice, all while wondering where it would lead. I'd shoot the piece, then the name and ID on the list, later the work and just the numbered pushpin to cross reference them later, neatly glossing right past several artists' names whose work I would liked to have noticed, known who did what, then gathered data for future forays, though I would have been collecting primarily for personal reasons having not nearly enough to do with this survey.

Daniel Heyman - Ride the Son (Dartmouth)

Daniel Heyman   Ride the Son (Dartmouth)   2013   oil on Mylar   42 x 30 inches   $16,000   link

I liked this when I saw it, photographed, then only much later tried to parse its visual sense, when I realized that for all its prosaic lines and colors, Ride the Son is deeply political art, because so much is going on, in so many different directions, dimensions, forms and colors, and because some former Roger Winter student artist out there is listening to his own mind and heart and doing art from his soul. I wonder how many years it took.

His earlier work on this same subject — he's been at it awhile now — was simpler, more prosaic and to the point, a Feiffer-esque cartoon of some guy surrounded by his swirling words — narrative writ large, but so much less soulful or visually interesting. It's always a trade-off. The red hoods are our first tip-offs. We know that's Abu Ghraib. Then we peel back the layers into new horrors.

Peter Julian - Volcano

Peter Julian   1975   Volcano   2009   gouache on paper   11.63 x 9.75 inches   NFS

Regrettably, there was other work I liked but could not photograph well — and so could not spend time appreciating or understanding, mixing or matching them later, and others were lost behind reflecting glass. This one's a thematic transition from Heyman's and visual a segue into a flaming White House early in American History.

Barbara Fontaine White - The Legend of Dolley Madison

Barbara Fontaine White   1984   The Legend of Dolley Madison   2012   oil on canvas   30 x 30 inches   $3,000

Legend has it Dolley or one of her slaves liberated a second or third copy (with careful misspellings on a book spine about the "United Sates") of a prized painting of George Washington looking as he does here, from the White House before the British burned la Casa Blanca late in the War of 1812, when contemporary stories described her as petite and thus unable to reach as high as the painting hung to thrash the frame and liberate the painting. Here, it's the Father of Our Country who's petite, and she looks like she could knock down the flaming walls.


James Dowell - Cecelia

James Dowell   1972   Cecelia   2012   oil on canvas   48 x 28 inches   $5,200   courtesy Valley House Gallery   link

And here's another shero in white perhaps late in a life, whence may be a decent place to end this story. The show closed October 25 2014.

See also a 1996 Richard Brettell review of Roger Winter's art work and life's work.


On October 18, 2014, after only five persons had seen this story, Roger Winter wrote:

Something Overlooked
from Show Curator Roger Winter

Many of the artists in the show were from my classes other than those classes at SMU. Robert Yarber, Carol Hoy, Tim Coursey, Charlotte Seifert, Arleigh Stark, and Stephen Mueller were my students in the museum school at the old DMFA in Fair Park. Jaq Belcher, Hiromi Majurimuno, and Melissa Guion studied with me at the National Academy School in NYC. Daniel Heyman worked with me when I was a guest artist at The University of Pennsylvania and over the years in private critiques. Leah Goren was my student at Julius Schepps Jewish Community in Dallas. I curated the show because no one else was around all those times and places. Perhaps you could have found out more about the origins of the show and my guidelines for choosing the artists. But nevertheless, thank you for the article. The works in the show are worthy of the attention you have given.

Roger Winter

Thanks, Roger. Guess I should have delved deeper, but I was already so late in visiting the show, and I never saw any of the pre-show publicity. But once I learned of it, I knew it would be a fascinating subject. I have updated your new information into the story, which previously only mentioned SMU.

Thank you for your timely corrections,
J R Compton


As always, if you see something that's just not right or know of a link that should go on this page somewhere, let me know. I want these stories to be as accurate and true as I possibly can, and you can help by emailing me at the contact link at the top of every DARts page. Thanks..

All Contents of this site are Copyright 2015 or before by publisher J R Compton.
All the artworks shown on these pages are copyrighted by their originating artists. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are copyright J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.

294 b4 wet & watral; 495 b4 satty; 562 b4 foolin; 720 b4 framing;


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