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Speke, Parrott” Where does art come from?


— A question i was given to ponder, as i strode the well-lit catwalk at the proudly apostrophical Artists’ Showplace (formerly Art Encounters) at Arapaho & Coit; ready counsel eluded me. I knew what my friend S. would say. Like Jack Spicer, he believed in voices from Mars, “Or good as,” with a shrug.

Origins were beside the point. Either you hear them or you don’t.

Perhaps. Certainly Leonardo, who was said to have driven clear across town in order to carry out a thought that occurred to him at an inconvenient moment, would not have done so if he had everything he needed when he was standing in front of the easel. And if he didn’t want to wait?

Wind eggs.* Art without psychic content, however skillfully produced.** Whether realistic or impressionistic pictures of sunsets, flowers, street scenes, or puppies, or variously derivative abstractions, all i saw bore a striking family resemblance — my first impulse was to call it all “bourgeois art.”

As opposed to the other two great streams of academic & bohemian art, although in truth we are all bourgeoisie now, & hardly any practicing artist has been spared the shadow of the university.

Still, on the one hand, i can distinguish art that derives mainly from ideas about art, from art that emerges as a discussion among peers. Where does bourgeois art come from?

From feelings i think; most of all, the feelings that come from a complete identification with the role of the artist. You get the equipment, you read up on the background, maybe even you put on an artist outfit — & the art takes care of itself. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, per se. It does keep paints affordable, or almost. And who knows? More than the wind might visit...

I was first struck by the silk scrolls of Charu Shah (top left). She, while not terribly accomplished in other media, definitely has hit on something here. The beginning of a personal form vocabulary — which can’t be bought at the art store.


Angie Henderson - Rainflow Flower
archival ink on canvas


Another thing i noticed was the way hi-tech has started to invade even this museum of obsolete styles. Sometimes i couldn’t tell how exactly a work had been done. Among these, Angie Henderson’s “archival ink on canvas”*** paintings create languid rhythms & original textures.


Robin Ann Walker - Target Series: Objects of Affection and Reaching Overhead


Robin Ann Walker has picked a peculiar master to pastiche: her pseudo-Dubuffets are almost compelling in their very pretentiousness.

(The same cannot be said of the featured artist, who seems to specialize in photorealistic renditions of the single eye of various animals, seen in extreme closeup. I kid you not.)


J B Parrott - Biolandscapes (detail) - mixed media


But it is only in the work of J B Parrott, out of 16 partners & 16 associates, that something really comes alive. These “biolandscapes,” while primitive technically (pencil drawings filled in with paint between the lines), map out a territory somewhere east of Gorky & west of Wifredo Lam.

The Martians, however, are speaking very clearly through Parrott.

08 08/09 04

More Michael Helsem Stories — including
Where Troubles Melt Like Lemmon Drops

about the Dallas Biblical Arts Center.

More work by DARts Supporting Member
Robin Walker
are on her member page.


Farmers used to think unfertilized eggs (which would never hatch) were fathered on hens by the wind.

Most of the books, movies & music created nowadays falls under that rubric.
Note from J R: Archival ink on canvas is yet another term — like the glorified Giclée— for an ink jet print. Archival used to refer to image stability for more than 100 years. Now archival colors are expected to maintain hue and density for 80. Canvas is one of several textures of print materials — what we used to call paper.


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