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Tats, Sistahs, 50/50, Verse & Eggs

Enrique Castillo - untitled

Needing art to write about, despite my onset of a coughing, sneezing allergy attack, we hit all four openings Saturday night March 15, starting with the South Dallas Culture Center we hadn't visited in years for Sistahs On the Horizon: African Diaspora Emerging Women Artists, tootled off to the Soda Gallery in Haute Cliffe's 50/50 Group Show; back through downtown to visit Kettle Art in Deep Elm's Tomorrow Comes the Wolves tattoo-related show; and finished our night at the gala multiple-opening at the Bath House for Cracked: Two Chicks' Eggsabition and the group show, Verse and Reverse, an exhibition of mixed media visual art and literary writings by artists and poets from the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Of the five shows at four stops, the most cohesive and impressive exhibition was at Kettle, why it leads this story. There the night came alive with art. Very different art to be sure, and not much peculiar to Dallas, but knock-our-lights-out delicious. We were so impressed we had to tell both the owner and curator. Usually we demur. From the first image, all around the art-crowded gallery, we just got more excited. I shot lots of images, but not nearly enough.

Adam Walsh -  Wise Lil Rainbow

Adam Walsh - Wise Lil Rainbow

Anna pointed this out. I looked, and liked. The frame reminded me of those the Impressionists favored. Of course, we're fond of birds, almost any birds, but it matters it's an owl, a creature replete of texture, fierce impression and oodles of symbolism.

Flaming Dragon

Dru Bias - Dragon - $800

Intricate texturing, deceptively simple design and not a lot of different colors.

Dragon Fight

Jay Cavna - Kaosho + Snake

Another, more successful presentation, especially here small on this page.

The Seventeenth Century Japanese hero, Kaosho Rochishin, alternately described as "the grotesque priest," who vanquished tigers and, apparently, giant water snakes, and appeared as one of 108 heroes of the Suikoden, an illustrated Japanese novella of the early 1700s. According to Tattoo Symbol & Meaning, "He is notable among the great number because he is so easily identified in Japanese tattoo work today. Kaosho Rochishin became a monk to escape punishment for a murder he committed but later went on to legendary achievements as a sort of hero-bandit. He was tattooed with cherry blossoms and is usually shown wearing a rosary and using the staff as his weapon."

With all that wildly splashing water, I can't help but think of Mickey Mouse in Disney's Fantasia spilling magic onto the worldimmense power that does not fit back in the bottle, and the frustration resulting.

B Chalmers

Bryan Chalmers - 3 Girls

Classic 40s — maybe even earlier — nudes, still popular. Simple, obvious, and lurid, especially with the snake. Note the iconic eight ball and the owl, a stamp of alternate texture, extending the composition.

Tomorrow Comes

Bert Krak - Tomorrow Comes the Wolves

This the piece the show was named for.Love those lurid blood-trailing claws. Stylized in simple colors, presented in three views, with similar and contrasting styled elements to fill out the composition. There's dozens more images in this remarkable show closing with a party March 28 in conjunction with the international, Masters of Tattooing Convention at the Dallas Convention Center March 28-30.



Lovie Olivia - Continuum, 2007

Last time I was at the South Dallas Culture Center, art was sequestered. Not much of it in evidence. What little was was stuck in glass cases, nearly hidden from the center's crafts and theatre aspects. But that was years ago. Since then it's gone away and come back with new architecture, new spaces. Now, visual art is important.

That night, it was in evidence soon as we walked into the spacious building. Beautiful, stylized black & white photographs by Carl Sidle of jazzers, hard to see for all the reflected light in that bright space (and thereby impossible to photograph and present here, though I've asked for JPEGs) immediately caught our attention and appreciation, but while we were enjoying those, a receptionist pointedly and repeatedly asked us if we were looking for "the art." We thought we already were seeing some and said so, but she insisted on directing us down the hall to the gallery proper, where we could hear the banter of a waning crowd as we approached.

Director Vicki Meek, busy with photographers and artists near the end of the 4-7 p.m. opening, waved as we entered the big visual art space and we looked and looked. We were more impressed by the space and the possibilities there than most of the work, but I was blown away by Lovie Olivia's split-level Continuum way before I noticed the white iPod ear buds and wires snaking down from the traditional dark red shapes of its own audience at the bottom.

I liked the dollar-bill simplicity of dark framed people sitting back and watching the subtler toned oil world im- and ex-plode, rooting into the earth.


Soda Group

various artists

Soda Gallery on Bishop showed "50 artists, 50 small paintings, each priced at 50 bucks!" Few artists were identified, and most of the work was derivative with darned few originals mixed in with the monsters, Marilyn Monroes, David Bowies and other obvious rips.

Old Roy Lichtenstein was too popular, as if many artists had newly discovered — and plagiarizedhis work from 40 years previous. I thought I remembered lots more sodas in the store years before. Always thought that many bottles in inventory 'd be a nightmare. Not so many anymore. Dozens now instead of hundreds, leaving more wall space for, uh, art.

Emma Flocke - Dumb

Emma Flocke - Dumb - mixed media on paoper

Of all the pieces there — and I tried to peruse every one, going back several times, not because I was drawn there, more like I was repulsed but didn't want to miss any gems slurried in — I found this piece by Emma Flocke the most original, skilled presentation. Simple, cartoonish, not entirely unlike a tattoo drawing, nearly monochromatic with lovely soft textures and something of a point, though I don't know — or care, what.


Ann Huey -

Ann Huey - untitled oil on canvas, 2008

The night's last stop was The Bath House for two openings, Verse and Reverse, a duet of visual artists and poets in the hall and main gallery — more about in a minute, and Ann Huey and Julia McLain-Echol's silly, Easter-themed Eggsabition in the back room.

I was disappointed to see only two new framed paintings by Ann Huey, although there were thematic elements not entirely unlike the tattoo stamped owl and drawn glowing eyeball scattered around and setting off the project room. The oil above is several kinds of goofy and a self-portrait with great texture, expressive tonalities, vivid color and punning elements like the rooster nest hairdo complete with three laid eggs, feathers flying, a moody, stormy sky hinting we might not be in Kansas anymore, and her self-contained persona caged in chicken wire with all the both chickens on the other side. All a wry continuation of much previous humorous work.

I am prejudiced. We're friends; I own a disturbing and dark image from her extended Clichés series and an uncataloged drawing, and I did her extensive website, where you can find many example of both her serious and not-at-all serious paintings and drawings.

Ann Huey -

Ann Huey - Naked in Spring

This is the other Ann Huey painting, but it probably wasn't made for this show. Plenty of flowers, even some birds, but no eggs or Easter, though there could be argument for an Easter Parade. It's a dream about showing up naked [link to the winter one] at a garden party, likely part of her ongoing series of those nightmares. Still, an interesting contrast of tonalities, lots of easy symbols, reads fast and fun. Guess I'm just not eggstatic 'bout it being here.

A more compelling vision seemed to be Ann's Eggs and Hamlet stop-action video continuously shown at the entrance to the back room, so its audience kept the entrance to the show blocked much of the evening. Back and forth through there, I couldn't catch the beginning and only saw bumpy snippets.

Anna got involved with it. She said:

I applaud and appreciate Ann Huey's Eggs and Hamlet, a pun-filled black and white parody of Shakespeare's classic. Her first foray into stop-action animation is choppy. (Oh well, mine would be too.) Her husband Martin and friends supplied the appropriate soundtrack. Drawings of the backdrops are displayed around the monitor. See it at the entrance to the Eggsabition. I loved it so much I bought the 13-minute CD from her, which she signed, "Anna, You're a Good Egg, Ann Huey."

Most people seemed to enjoy the show, but I had trouble with its over-the-top silliness and 3-D kitsch. Too cute for comfort, although I liked the paintings and silhouetted emblems on the walls, like the owl and glowing eye in the tats. I was in the middle of an allergy attack that night and perhaps my sense of humor had packed up and gone to Arizona.


Ray-Mel Cornelius

Ray-Mel Cornelius

First pair of pieces I paid attention to in Verse and Reverse were by Ray-Mel Cornelius, whom I talked with about the invitational's concept. He said his paired poet wrote the first poem responding to his first painting [above], and he created the other [below] after to her other poem. Verse and Reverse.

Ray Mel Cornelius -

Ray-Mel Cornelius - Winter Disguise - acrylic on canvas

I like his vivid color textures, cartoonish colored characters and the stories behind them that almost write themselves in the backs of our minds. Neither seems to need text. I like the mysteries more than knowing. The painting more than the poem.

Juan J Hernandez - Let Her Fly

Juan J. Hernández - Let Her Fly - acrylic on board

I appreciate the mirroring math of the show's establishing concept but never made it through any of the longish poems mounted next to their art, joking I'd long ago chosen art crit over lit crit, but that it might have been intriguing to illustrate a much shorter poem that people could actually read through. I write poetry sometimes, but never long. I assume there was or will be a reading of the stories. Probably should be followed by a tour through the gallery of their illustrations.

I'd seen the larger of two Juan J. Hernández' paintings in last year's Hecho en Dallas [link to ThEdblog showing the piece] at the Latino Culture Center and now realize it was likely the first, with this much looser and wildly more expressive painting his response to his linked poet. This may be his best piece ever.

I've never met Juan, but I've been a fan for a long time, and any literary work that set his chickens this free is worth reading, so I guess I'll have to go back and peruse some poetry.

Kathy Boortz - La Anciana de la Selva

Kathy Boortz - La Anciana de la Selva (detail) - mixed media

I'd likewise seen and photographed the other, earlier wood sculpture by Kathy Boortz. In fact, it was at the DARts Member show on Tyler last year. It too is expressive and open to interpretations, but I was utterly blown away when I saw this intricate carving extrapolating from her found wood objects. This is beautiful and amazing how she could have seen all this is some trees she found somewhere, because that's how she works.


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