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A Weekend of Art:

The Long, Dark Tea Time of the Soul of Art

Zach Eichelberger - Amore Series,
2001, collage + pastel on paper
through November 16 at Plush

The first stop on our Long, Dark, Art Weekend of the Soul those rainy, charcoal gray days of October 18, 19 and 20, was at the giant red building that has commanded the horizon east of downtown Dallas for many decades. We entered at the basement parking lot level and wandered the building for long minutes, enjoing somebody's extensive train set and other wonders, like a long hallway wide enough to drive a Lincoln Continental down.

Now called Southside on Lamar, the building used to be The Sears Building, and when someone said that, everyone knew what they meant, because the thing is just huge. We weren't and really didn't expect to be wowed by the art, but the food, conversation and real estate was outstanding. Signs pointing toward the gallery, then back to the parking lot might have helped, but we were fresh, then and didn't mind exploring.

In the gallery we talked with CJ Davis, whom JR had met and interviewed at two years ago's Craighead-Green New Texas Talent show, whose press promised artists an opportunity to get gallery representation — although way too many pieces were accepted from way too many artists for that to be likely this year, although it actually did work out that way — for some, at least, at 2001's.

Coincidentally, that show is where CJ met several of the artists who now also reside and studio at Southside — and comprise the new crew at 500X (See below), which he invited me to visit soon (and I did). Kathy, meanwhile, was fascinated by the inexpensive Southside studio space rental deal CJ was eager to tell us about.

Then we crossed town to lose our way among the labyrinth of the Design District but eventually found LuminArté, which had sent us a fancy, obviously expensive, full color press packet, complete with a CD-ROM that wouldn't open. They were extravagantly proud of their art floors, which we didn't remember to notice during our short visit. They had touted themselves as uniquely both a gallery and a design company, but we were not impressed with either. There wasn't much of a crowd there, either, but it had been raining cold, wet and dark gray all day.
 

Steven Hopwood-Lewis - Man in a Bag (detail)
2002, oil on canvas, 36 x 24 inches

 

North to Upper Oak Lawn, where I enjoyed the subtle emotions in Deborah Ballard's littlerally rigid human forms (See Weekend page inside for pictures of her work) at Cidnee Patrick, where I was pleased to have another chance to photograph Stephen Hopwood-Lewis' Eskimo child-like Man in a Bag. Last time I tried, I blurred it. Kathy, meanwhile, stayed out front and yacked.

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Lisa Ehrich's Life Patterns,
2002 - wood fired porcelain
11 x 10.5 x 2 inches

 

On the short wall opposite, were a leaf and sphere shapes overwritten with an organic stippling by Lisa Ehrich that I watched for nearly a minute, almost expecting them to grow.

Three doors down, at Craighead-Green, Kathy and I both admired several wide, short oil on canvas paintings by, we think, Panch Luna, that showed blurs of gallery attenders spiriting mistily along a long line of paintings. We were already identifying with the nearly spent shapes, and the night was yet young.
 

Robert Moore
Sex is the Wasp Trapped in the Jar,
2002 acrylic and oil on wood

 

Parking at Plush was much more difficult than usual, but Randall Garrett's storefront space almost always amazes us with its audacity. I'd laughed when CJ called the art at Southside "fun," but relished the comment with irony when I enjoyed Robert Moore's truly playful wasphive, above.

Another, even more stellar find there was Dallas artist Zach Eichelberger's collage, which combines mostly traditional media in a fiercely fresh look at traditional subject matter — a boy and a girl, with the powerful love as addiction subtext reaching right through her heart — in his Amore Series pushpinned informally on Plush's wall. This piece is at the top of this story box.

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Neither of us rose bright, nor early Saturday, but Kathy wanted to start our day at the Creative Arts Center where she teaches Beginning Oil Painting and wanted to get some of her students' work out for the tour.

 

Deborah Ballard sculpture, lit up all dramatic, elegant and formal at Cidnee Patrick (left), and another at her show at the very informal Creative Arts Center on the White Rock tour. Nude or colorfully clothed, I like their simplicity of shape and subtly suggested emotion. One of Ballard's smaller pieces was removed during her show at CAC, and some people can't help but wonder if the thief was the same as...

Visiting Marty and Richard Ray's studios was, as usual, a highlight of the White Rock Lake Artists Tour for us. We put them near the top of our abbreviated list. Kathy was in a lot of pain, and my car was in peril.

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Marty's new work involves essentially similar vase shapes but now with kinetic scraps of color — tests for the new hues splayed across a nearby table — along with black figures and geometric ground. We're both eager to see her work in the upcoming Texas Mud show at DCCA, none of which was in evidence in her public spaces that day.
 


 

Richard Ray's recent series of skylines were everywhere in the Ray studios, to outstanding effect. Last year's tour was the first I'd seen his work, and it was love at first sight. Both Marty's and my fave of his current work, is West Dallas - oil on canvas, above. I especially like its pretty, lilting pastel colors — my favorite of his palettes, direct composition, neatly abbreviated architecture, long foreground depth and simplified textures.
 

Not far down the same street was Chris Lyon's sculpture studio, busy with people coming and going and looking. We liked several of his pieces on display, but my best photo was of this stone stacked V, which he will perhaps supply the title, date and materials for. I usually shoot i.d tags, but didn't see any there. That picture is on the Weekend page inside.
 

At Terri Stone's studio we liked her rusty garden hearts well enough to buy some for our respective mothers' Christmas gifts. I also got a really nice shot of a guy sitting down writing Terri a check — one of the important aspects of any art tour — with a bunch of her work slightly blurred, filling the background. But the image that I still like best from that visit is their big pig weather vane, low in the back yard.

See JR's recent review of Terri Stone's
Progress
show at the Mesquite Arts Center
.

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Our next stop was to friends Susan Lecky and Bill Verhelst's amazingly contrasting studio styles in one house much farther north from the lake. Susan is as neat as Kathy likes to think she is, and Bill's workshop — though neated up to within a centimeter of its life that weekend — was still as busy and cluttered as the office and rest of my home. No wonder we identify so much with these nice people.

Susan Leckey - painting preliminary drawing
and color doodle in sketchbook
 

Although I visited David and Linda Hickman's place the next day when Kathy was again laid low — because it wouldn't have felt like a real White Rock Lake Tour if I hadn't, our last Saturday visit together was to Kathy Boortz' tiny, back of the house, working studio with big windows, her extended viewing deck, and the wide expanse of back yard, ending deliciously in a largish pond with a big, splooshing fountain.

I've been featuring a page of Boortz' found-object, animal and bird sculptures, as I've been able to find them in shows and auctions around town, ever since last year's tour. Then, suddenly, within about a dozen minutes, I added more than two dozen more photos, many of which are actually in focus and well exposed.

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Kathy Boortz - White Stork - wood and steel
 

I prowled her tiny, close studio, which was dense with pieced together animal, insect and bird shapes, finding work after work, the best of which I'll eventually add to her Artists Worth Watching page.

But it's her life-sized White Stork greeting visitors from a little alcove, where the gate opens to her back yard, that stays in my mind's eye. Besides, I think I got a great photo of the piece, that had already been sold when we got there. Not surprising — it's gorgeous. The price next to its big red dot was only $450.


This is part Two

CJ Davis - Untitled Diptych
 

On Sunday after sleeping what seemed like forever, I took CJ Davis up on his invitation to see his and friends' work at 500X. I'm glad I went and still wonder why I hadn't before. 

It's always exciting when a new bunch start up at the venerable alternative art space on Exposition Avenue, especially when their art is as initially interesting as this group, which appears to have both talent and taste. The visiting show upstairs was a little more ragged, but the best of it was very good indeed.

A Sunday afternoon during the fair probably isn't the best time to try to find a parking space in that neighborhood. Luckily, I found one just big enough for my Nipponese Wondercar right outside the big, rusting front door, where CJ was standing watch.

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There was plenty to like inside. Probably the first object I actively admired was CJ's untitled diptych in the much-favored pit area, just in the front door. That's a lot of hues to squish together in such a small space and still maintain a cohesion of form.

What I used to like most about CJ's work was its smoothed, waxish texture, subtle with color and shape. But that's missing in action in this work, and I'm not sure I can explain why I still like his stuff.

I actively disliked his piece that won first at the recent Outside The Lines show at the Bath House, although I really liked the one he won the same competition with the year before. It hardly seems fair that he'd win two years in a row, especially with all new judges.

But his are hardly the only good work at 500 now. Kyle Wadsworth's bizarrre figures — foot tall, orangish flesh colored, sloppy fat male figures or a group of thinner ones masturbating, horizontally gravitied to painting-like bases, hung on the wall or resting on the floor, are pretty strange and invite notice.

While I was there, a group of giggling high school students wandered in and stopped short at Five Pulled Men. "Can you do that?" they asked incredulously, just before CJ had to yell at them to stop touching the art.

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Robert Boland's - mixed media Chandelier, 2002, above, commands the space in the 500X Project Room. You can't see it here, but the shadow shapes are scribbled in with pencil.

Brennan Bechtol's Not So Perfect, 2002 horizontal, close-order march of Number 2 pencils in the little room by the office, shallow down the back hall was simple, serene, sorta subtle and minimalist with household items, and seemed right at home with similarly spacey work in the smallish member's gallery. Another of his oddly textured wall pieces in the big gallery's back wall, involved 816 tiny black plastic fishes. I wonered if the count were accurate, but I'd hate to have to count them.

Upstairs are tesa b. morin's large black and white photographs from her 2002 Hybrids series, in which she's digitally twisted heads around and mix- and- matched body parts on male and female nudes. The resulting poses are intriguing, her compositions strong, and having the photographs hung unfurled and floating in the breeze is both inexpensive and effective.

Jen Rose's mixed media clay houses and suitcases are funky and fun. And there's a series of truly kinetic, long, tall, panoramic photographs taken by cameras tossed into the air by Michael J Madsen. Naturally, he calls them his Tossed Series, and they're startling and amusing to contemplate.

Erik Tostin - Whah, 2002
plastic on MDF
.  

Then there's Erik Tostin's vividly colored, strangely bulbous and oddly shaped, 2- and 3-dimensional objects that are also fine, as seen amid the room of morin's photographs, above.

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