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A Recent Survey of Art in Dallas

Story + Photographs by J R Compton

Part 1 — November 2004

Rita Barnard - Tribute to the Fallen,
2004 - mixed media (detail)


I have mixed feelings about protest art. Too often it misses its mark by a wide margin — too easy to get lost in the protest and loose track of the art.

I'm surprised by the paucity of anti war expression. I know it takes half a century to fold a particularly deadly war into our historic understanding, and about the same time to make a decent, realistic movie about it.

The lessons of Vietnam have been all but forgotten in about that same time, and here we are a half century after Dienbienphu doing pretty much the same stupid thing again.



Ruth González - The Dead of the Media, 2004
mixed media, including multicultural newspapers
at the annuald Day of the Dead Show at the Bath House


Seems like anything so wearing on our collective conscience ought to be coming out of our pores and eyeballs by now. But it isn't. Unless we have someone over there or lost someone close, Americans are maintaining a cultural disconnect from the political idiocy in Iraq.

The schlock that followed 9-11 still foams, but a full-fledged war hardly seems to flick our outrage, let alone spark our creativity.

I thanked Rita for the piece when I first saw it, while she was still installing. Took me three visits to get the right photograph. And while there may be a sea of tiny print on this piece — and a hand-out with even more — what better than a Day of the Dead show, this at the Bath House Cultural Center , to show her tribute in?

And how else but with long columns of small print might one express the terrors of this terrorist war on terrorism — all those war dead of ours and theirs?


Jason McPeak

Jason McPeak - Laid to Rest, 2004 (detail) - more info below


Jason McPeak continues to amaze. This, dare I say, cutting edge (Do those knives comprise a dragonfly, flower or face?) is a shining example of mixed media in which the mediums actually mix it up, though there's only shape contrast and blending here, no pigment fusing.

More strange gizmo-like flora rise from the lower wood platform that makes me want to classify this ornately bizarre piece as somewhere between Antonio Gaudy and early James Crowe.


Jason McPeak - Laid to Rest - mixed media

Jason McPeak - Laid to Rest, 2004
mixed media collage of found metal on untempered
hardboard framed in an old vanity dresser mirror frame
40 x 45 inches


Both subject and ground could almost be precisely cut stained glass, meshing vertical rectangles below with rounded above, but of course it isn't. It's paper and ink and utensils and wires with metal objects and orange medallions that seem completely out of place, except they're almost perfect right where they are, well within the short color spectrum.

I can almost understand the body parts and display of human systems around and beneath the central figure, but what's with the psych study little girl pics in the middle, and what in tarnation are those gold, scissors-pincer devices splaying over the spiral darkness above?

I'm hooked. And now I have to go back yet again and study this complex, exquisite and dark, window — into an artist's soul? that seems to be about a lost child.


Kathy Boortz - White Bird

Kathy Boortz - White Bird


Easily the most lyrical and interesting piece — among a short hand-full of especially nice (I have to say that; one of my photos is there) lake-related artworks in the inaugural exhibition in the new White Rock Lake Museum at the Bath House — is this untitled white, found object and painted wood bird by Kathy Boortz.

It's easy to see why I put Kathy B on the now mostly-forgotten Artists Worth Watching pages, and now I can't help thinking I should put Jason McPeak on there, too. I'm eager to see what he comes up with next.


Mayxe Craddock - Minor Histories, 2003

Mayse Craddock - Minor Histories, 2003
embroidery on gauze and metal (detail)
72 x 73 x 44 inches


DARts member Norman Kary insisted I visit Pan American Gallery to catch up on their sculpture show. He was adamant. So I went, and wow. I agree. Marvelous show for the space and some amazing pieces of 3-D art.

I was blown away by Mayse Craddock's work in general, and Minor Histories in very much particular. It's a surrealistically realist bit of moving multi-media crossing Oat Willie and Betsy Ross. Scrumptious colored loose wads of thread dripping from a long thin, embroidered gauze flag. Mind-boggling in all the best ways.


Edward Kienholz - Spit in the Ocean

Edward Kienholz - Spit in the Ocean, Berlin, 1984
mixed media assemblage - 38 x 72 x 17 inches


What Norm wanted me to experience was this $75,000 Kienholz, and I can plainly see why. Not perhaps as intricate as a contemporary Stella sculpture, of which it keeps reminding me, thanks to its integrated arcs of objects and continuous flow of events, each taking up where the last left off.

Nice just getting to visit something intricately integrated yet sweepingly simple as this is aesthetically valuable, makes my mind wander with wonder.


with photographs by Ross Odum at Continental,
paintings by Otis Dozier at The MAC, little buildings at D-Art,
high relief sculpture by Frances Bagley at Pan American,
and low relief sculpture by Tina Medina and Anila Agha at 500X.


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All Contents of this web site are Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 by JR.Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any media without specific written permission. E-mail JR at See JR's resume, Exhibitions List and Exhibitions Produced.


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