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4 Wet Allusions
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 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 & 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
These photographs were taken from 3:22 till 5:21 PM Saturday November 8, 2014.
Singing, Documenting and Accompanying
Burying Some of James Watral's Ashes
The Rest of the Ashes Held Firm
Moment of Mirth
Dog with Shadow People
Hands Full of Flowers
Out and In
with The Remember Wall
James Watral Plans
A Transfer of Spirit: Artists who studied with Roger Winter at Kirk Hopper
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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) 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.
Heyman is the only non-Dallasite in this story that I know about, so far.
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 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 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:
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.
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 goes up there 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 2014 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;
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