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Stories + Photographs by J R Compton
Art by Dallas + Ft. Worth Artists


Fort Worth Clouds Are Different - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fort Worth Clouds Are Different

We almost didn't go to Fort Worth. Then we did. Dallas' gallery day was a week away and Dragon Street and other spaces opened that night. Our plan was to hit those when we got back from Forp Woof, so we knew we'd never make them all. We wanted a sampling. I printed the FWADA (Fort Worth Art Dealers Association) map from their site, so we could tell where spaces were and read a list of places. No cross referencing, however, since map numbers were illegibly small. But it was a start, and we knew we'd find a real map along the way.

Looking back through these images I am developing visual theories of intense patterning, the comfort of birds flying through, and that the illustrator-like graphic arts influence continues. More than that you can decide for yourself. I love that the next two works, though quite different, are so similar.

In fact, the first four pairings of subsequent work below — Bob Nunn and Jessica Neary; Susan Lecky and Margaret Ratelle; Letitia Huckaby and Patricia Murphy; and Susan Cheal and Kiki Ishihara are remarkably comparable in theme and/or presentation, though you may have to think about their sames and differences. Which is, of course, why I mention it.

Then there's Kinky and the cowgirl; Charlotte Smith and Elsa D'Arrigo; the TCU students and the Gentlings; and my photo of a scrapped airplane vs. Philip Lamb's plastic shred, all of whose likenesses are probably be too obvious to mention. The more subtle analogs of Sarah Maxwell's Chimpurbia 2 and Omar Hernandez' hero I may be too awful to contemplate.

Bob Nunn - Transitions Four: Land Grab,

Bob Nunn - Transitions Four: Land Grab, 2006
oil on canvas

We stopped first at Art In the Metroplex (AIM) at TCU, because we knew how to get there. Both our work was declined this year, but I've got in six times, and usually only go when I'm in. Anna insisted; we went; and it was the best stop on our tour, both the show and the school around it.

Jessica Neary - Dead Possum & Flowers: 2 Kinds of Beauty

Jessica Neary - Dead Possum & Flowers: 2 Kinds of Beauty
oil on canvas

We arrived while the crowd still packed the auditorium for the juror's talk, so we had long minutes' nearly alone with art and were surprised and pleased to see friend and DARts Member Bob Nunn in this important small-scale competition. I'd shot Susan Lecky's latest weeks back, so I knew she was. We talked with both when the crowd piled into the gallery. Susan knew the juror's proclivities, so thought she had a chance. Most artists just enter when we think we have something good.

Bob told us the juror showed a slide of each artist's work, talked about it, then compared with other nationally prominent work. Bob's cognate was in Chicago. Seems like jurors when I don't get in AIM, better localize their lecture than when I do. But this was a fine little regional show sampling the best of the plex.

We were both taken and amused by Neary's vaguely Chagall-ish evening sky tumbling with lilting flowers and the carcass of a frayed, splayed possum, its tail trailing into Flowerland while flies buzz its paws. Lush colors, idiosyncratic combinations floating through a lilting, tragicomic postmodern universe.

Susan Lecky - Beyond, Before and the Memory of Now

Susan Lecky - Beyond, Before and the Memory of Now
acrylic on canvas

Susan was especially excited she'd won one of AIM sponsor Templeton Art Center's sub-club prizes. For the princely odd sum of One-Hundred and Nine Dollars and Forty-Seven Cents. If I remember right, the award was the Rocket Science prize, although that may be my imagination. I know the number is correct, because we kept chorusing it.

Margaret Ratelle -

Margaret Ratelle - Stem VI
spitbite etching

More and surprisingly similar organic forms: We didn't know Margaret Ratelle was in, either. The Templeton Street group never releases a list, so if we don't go, we never find out who's in. Even if we do go, scrounging a list is a bitch. It's either surprise or mystery. Maybe nobody else but DallasArtsRevue cares. Griping about it sure hasn't helped, so I doubt the policy will ever change. I thought I'd grabbed a list of artists but don't see it, so other than these this may be another year of mystery.

I knew whose this was without looking, however. Subtle rubbed and scratchy textures and lilting colors mark work by one of Dallas' most consistent artists who wields crafts-like techniques with subtle care and grace, lush with natural shape and color. Not a bad painter, either.

L Huckaby -

Letitia Huckaby - Quilt #2 (untitled)
digital prints on fabric

I looked at this, looked away, then looked back. Several times. It insisted I take its picture. Something about it I wanted to keep looking at. Smarmish sentiment I didn't want. The figures are a guy. Color density deep. Contrasting chunks of poodled cotton? Nice that it hangs, not framed or behind glass. Anna liked the clothespins. Course, it's large, so framing'd be massive expensive. Five or six feet high. Wrinkles a nice texture, remind us what we have billowing before us. I didn't figure and did not want to know the story. Now I'm curious. A little.

"When those cotton balls get rotton, you can't pick very much cotton, in them old cotton fields Down South."

Patricia Murphy - Postcards from new Oreans 2007        x  xx

Patricia Murphy - Postcards from New Orleans 2007
oil on canvas and photography

Another set of postcards: I know this story. Lilting little — these images are about half size, and just two of many stuck-together little paintings — postcards from the city Homeland Security forgot — towering up the wall on the left as we enter the little gallery. The homes are multicolor. Simple, from photographs, constrastily colored with vivid geometric elements, uncertain flatness with certain depth. Little vignettes of personal architecture coming back from the flood. Topical without being in our faces.

Susan Cheal - Constructing Your Graph and Kiki Ishihara - Techno-cartographic of Meditaion of Memory

Susan Cheal - Constructing Your Graph and
Kiki Ishihara - Techno-cartographic Meditation of Memory

We especially liked the juxtaposition of these two graph-based, graphic art-ish works of organic line and shape. I apologize for the discolored field in Cheal's piece and reflections in both that faced an outside window, and those annoyances difficult to remove without altering texture and structure of work we liked seeing together much as separate. Stylistically distinct but thematically similar, they set our minds wondering about graphing lives. They were wider apart than here, plenty of cogitative space between them.

If either or both artists have a better jpeg, I'd much rather use those. Email me.
Here's the one other time we've shown and mentioned Kiki Ishihara's work.

Carolyn Natishyn - Sonderland

Carolyn Natishyn - Wonderland, 2007
oil on canvas

Bob told us one of his former students was in an MFA Show on the second floor, so we followed a thin crowd up stairs and down a hallway, past classrooms, teacher offices into a smallish gallery where this lush piece stole my attention. Then we wandered out and down again, bypassing the gallery to explore educational spaces. While we were there.

Bird Wall - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Bird Wall - student art in process

Wandering around where creativity runs rampant is an intermittent joy. Nice that doors were open, spaces largely unoccupied and replete with art. Intriguing juxtaposition of two- and three-dimensions. I was attracted because we bird, and especially because I'm nosey. Lots to reward exploring the J.M. Moudy.

Titles and names were only obvious on a few bird pieces, but I'll make the attempt: top row, right from the negative space Turkey Vulture - Hunter Kelley; Surf Scoter - Kim R Jones; Burrowing Owl - E Wiley; yellow Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Plover below, curve-beaked one, duck and gull - all indecipherable in my 5-megabyte photo; Purple Gallinule - Hunter Kelley; Laughing Gull - Puris Barnett (maybe). Second row: nameless heron; Great Blue Heron with black belt - Walker Winn; indecipherable multicolored bird with curved-down beak; Karen Ho; Harris Hawk - Janna Salinas (?); skip several; big yellow Wood Duck - Mike Stewart; Common Loon mostly yellow end piece - Michelle Kaytaz.

TCU Sculpture Sucker - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

TCU Sculpture Studio - Big Sucka

We liked the feeling of immense space but wondered how many students cram into it. Lots of safety equipment. Learning the use of may be the lesson. Know too many sculptors who've breathed, accidentally ingested or subcutaneously injected killer materials and died for their sins.

Gentling Birds detail

Scott Gentling and Stuart Gentling, 2001
Kestrels (detail) - giclée

The Art of Stuart and Scott Gentling, A Retrospective, was one of seemed like half-dozen exhibitions cohabiting the sprawling Fort Worth Community Arts Center that used to be Fort Worth's modern. The Gentlings' show one of the more aesthetic offerings. We spent the most time with it. Especially fond of the 28 x 22-inch watercolor Snowy Egret on the wall and on an invitational postcard that extended our kinship. Also a crafts weaving show and smattering others through the interconnected maze.

Pamela Chamberlain - Bluebonnet Prairie

Pamela Chamberlain - Bluebonnet Prairie
acrylic on canvas - $1500

One of our favorites — more for the hokey stereotyping than capital A aesthetics — this field of bluebonnets splattered through cowgirl with one smooth realistic and one mirrored dreadful awkward hand akimbo, dull grinning face hatted over — maybe the artist couldn't draw faces any better than hands, in vivid Western everything but fringe, her hat and hair dis integrating into more birds and trees.

Lorrie McClanahan - Train Station 2

Lorrie McClanahan - Train Station 2
mixed media - $125

Every time I look at this I think of a long-ago photo I took down by the river in downtown Fort Worth, though there's not much in common between them. A sense of space — the verticality, and the businessman with his briefcase. Waiting. I liked this before I made the connection. Apparently in some bring-it-and-we'll-show-it exhibition in the sprawling art space that reminded too much of Patricia Meadows' D'Art.

No Guns, Smoke - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

No Guns, No Smoke - UNT artspace FW's impenetrable exterior

When we pulled up, I'd promised Anna UNT artspace FW would have strange, thought-provoking art. What I didn't know, was getting in would be the challenge — although the large landscape photographs were glossy or behind glass, so photographing the variously abstracted but fascinating images was unlikely. Some outside doors were locked, others inoperable. People sitting inside the one that worked, pointed us left when we failed the first, so we skipped the next, that eventually worked, and walked through the nasty heat across the chained closed set of non-entryways.

We finally got in, found our way back to the gallery and were mightily impressed by the cold air in there and Dornith Doherty and Luther Smith (especially the former)'s startling Reverberation on Landscapes featuring very large, densely colorful and gleaming photographs wildly extrapolating traditional concepts of landscape.

Links to see their landview extrapolations: Dornith Doherty - Holly Johnson Gallery and Foto Fest; and Luther Smith - Luther Smith dot net and Afterimage Gallery.

Kinky -

Leslie Lanzotti - Kinky

Leslie Lanzotti - Face It at ArtSpace 111 filled smallish interconnected galleries with larger-than-life faces. I did not recognize The Kinkster (of Texas Jewboy — "There was a rumor of a tumor, nestled in the base of his brain" from his long-ago hit about Charles Joseph Whitman on the UT tower killing everybody in his sites, lilts through my mind every time I think of him — and former gubernatorial candidate fame). I just liked it for its more interesting human textures.

A lot of people's big faces in low-contrast blandness, details but soft. Hard to peg the colors in work illuminated by so many different colors of light splashing — took some serious Photoshopping to get the walls all white in the next shot — from unfinished ceilings, and it so incredibly and uncomfortably ovenish anyway. Reminiscent of upstairs at 500X later, in Dallas, but more extensive and growing.

ArtSpace 111

hot, dark, spotty lit, huge, back porch

Big fans blew the heat around. Didn't remember all that space back through the largish building, emptying into a formal back yard that might make a great place for a formal barbecue in the spring or fall. Extensive expansion. Can't say I pay much attention to Fort Worth, but I make a point to visit this place, despite its silly me-too name every town already has too many of. Artspace. Hope to watch it grow in semi-annual visits as long as FWADA and DADA choose different dates for their seasonal gallery extravaganzas.

Grafitti On A Train - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

We struggled with reading this, for awhile thought
"TIERD," but we're pretty sure now it's "HERO."

Queer on bright train colors, prairie schooner elevators and gleaming corrugated metal, I happily drove through empty fields taking time out to photograph each other and neat graffiti on a bright yellow train while Anna read about a show called Graffiti on Trains in the FWADA brochure. We thought we could skip that one, since we had it real right there. Sometimes life trumps art. I'm coming off one of my longer periods of art ennui and while needful of seeing lots of local art, more than willing to give it a rest sometimes.

Rainbow Museum - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Rainbow Museum

This may be the back of a science museum I've never been inside of, but we liked the sign/banner. May have been some text above. These parting shots are exterior local color. We'd had enough inside art to last a forty-minute slide back to Where the East Begins. And more.

Airplane - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Airplane at Gift Shot Behind Museum Row

I sometimes know where I am in Fort Worth but almost never the names of streets, but this is Montgomery. This lovely lively chunky life-size folk art is past the museums, nearly to I-30 / The Old Turnpike, cross that street from the rainbow museum. Does kinda have the shape and usefulness of a scrap of plastic caught on a fence, huh?

Tired and weary, we went our way back to Big D for more art.

Philip Lamb -

Philip Lamb - Plastic Caught in Fence, Haskell, 2004
Gelatin Silver Print

First stop on Dragon Street back in Dallas was Photographs Do Not Bend, where we had to visit Photographs of Texas, my old friend Philip Lamb's first solo show in years — of his truly Texana, film-based photographs of highways and byways in rural Texas. We were especially enraptured with this bit of plastic and a gorgeous, subtly-lit tumbleweed, both caught on barbed wire fences, the latter, he said, from "northwest of Amarillo."

PDNB's postcard showed the tumbleweed, but that halftoned reproduction missed the delicate edge-light etched into the tine scramble only a sizable print shows. I interrupted another conversation with Philip, telling about the jpegs of his work on the gallery's site so bad they nearly scared me away, but there I was anyway. Then foolishly asked if he had better jpegs, neatly forgetting these photographs are very traditional, film-based, and he still works with silver gelatin, so naturally he disparaged all online jpegs.

Lazlo Art Dog at PDNB - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lazlo Art Dog at PDNB

We've photographed Lazlo before, younger then, though his duties haven't changed. Today, he mostly lolled in the gallery's main entry garnering human attention, baby-talk and petting. But twice while we were there, he padded back into a gallery and barked loud. That noise still echoing among the bright walls, Philip quipped, "Everybody's an art critic." Then Laz wandered back to his place and rested.

Charlotte Smith -

Charlotte Smith - unknown title (detail)

We were eager to see Pan-American' new space west, past all the other new galleries, toward the Oak Lawn Avenue end of Dragon Street. I liked their old digs overlooking Lee Park and labyrinthine tunnels to offices and bathrooms, art all along the way. But now they're on the beaten path of art buyers, I suppose, though it seemed a cramped fit.

What we sought there was Charlotte Smith's latest, much of it geometric as she explores ins, outs and angles, but the most photogenic was this big, bright, vivid red flat that rips my retinas every time I scroll past.

Elsa D'Arrigo - White Shadows, 2005
paper, cloth, thread, acrylic paint, marble
24 x 19.5 x 3 inches - $3,800        

Nearby was this sewn white shape thick with overt and subtle textures and not much else but its cast shadows.  Nicely nicely.

Polly Perez – Looking from a Hilltop, 2007
felt, gouache, thread on paper - $450

One last stop at 500X on our hungry way back home to my neighborhood Mex (Acapulceña on Samuel Boulevard, great food, usually good music and inexpensive), then some image unloading and eventual sleep.

Wasn't thrilled about anything in 500's Pit — although I remember a miniature police tape and pylon toy — or main gallery up the short stairs from the front door, but in the Member Space down the downstairs hall, always a trove of treasures, we found this gentle cross of soft toy, fabric, 3-D relief in graphic art shapes, the barest essence of landscape and sample color "graph" in rich browns, tans, grays and wrinkly white. Sweet.

Fish Bomber

Omar Hernandez - hero I, 2006,
mixed media on paper - 22 x 30 inches

The real X citement y outre d'art was the up the sweaty stairs menagerie called Cirkit of Mythos work by TCU MFA grads Omar Hernandez, Eddy Rawlinson, Greg Mansur and Jason Reynaga. So certain of their vast art superiority, Xers provide nearly no publicity on site or in PR about the renta space upstairs, so I didn't know who did these and knew not to ask, since the X studiously ignores my emails (and I'm off their mailing list again for pointing out inconsistencies and reneged promises — some artists can't take a little crit) and they won't be open again till next weekend, when we'll be busy burning up the Dallas map for the DADA and other concurrent local showings.

Meanwhile, I had a couple of email addresses, used those, and now have full I.Ds from that show here.

Pepsi Jesus

Greg Mansu - Mall of America, 2005
archival digital photograph on paper mounted on panel
24 x 36 inches

Pink and pink blurs look staged, but I hope the crucifix on the echoing pink Diet Pepsi cup isn't. Everything else looks mallish and mal, but I wonder. Tres ironique.


Omar Hernandez - eyes and ears no fear, 2007
mixed nedia on panel - 18 x 24 inches

Radar and Air Force insignia collaged with paper money, wood grain and electronic switches make me wonder more. Love the splatter and ultra dynamo composition. Wonder what it all means but don't care I like it so much.

Hear The Train - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

I Can Still Hear the Train

Down the front stairs into the X's main space I paused to photograph guys talking in the dock left over from when the building was a warehouse on the tracks. I remember standing there close with friends gasping for breath or breeze on hot sticky nights of art when the thick air clouded with loud roar and piercing whistle clang of a freight train shaking the earth, us screaming along.


As always, if anyone has corrections, I'd be happy to entertain them.

All Contents of this site are Copyright 2007 or before by editor/publisher J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.
But you're free to link away to your heart's content.



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