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2012 500 X Open Show
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Upstairs at the 2012 500 X O Show
It was decidedly not the best 500X Open Show ever, but neither was it the worst, although much about it clings to that end of the spectrum. Most X O shows looked better than this, because past 500Xers paid more attention to what it looked like. Ex-Xers running the gallery portion of the multi-family dwelling at 500 Exposition Avenue just down the street from Fair Park, dealt with such exotic and esoteric concepts as placement and spatial arrangement, because they thought it mattered. Most of this one was shoved together by a bunch who really didn't give a damn.
Angel Rogers Listen 2012 mixed media 20 x 28 inches $125
One of two favorite landscapes in this variously diverse exhibition. Media mixed but at the distance of glass over air over landscape streaked with traffic color, not much mixing of paint, instead painted in daubs and long lean color-changing veins.
Layered into the third d with its own shadows, defying traditional landscape and paint conventions and pulling it off without much hoopla. Maybe because it's largely grayscale plus outright black and white, it looks almost photographic, but it gets sneaky with those colors.
The guy I asked the Sunday after the Saturday night opening — when I told him that in the early 80s and some times since, 500 co-op members made a point of putting the best or most interesting work in The Pit, just inside the big steel front doors, so as the crowd meandered in they could see something worth seeing. Then spaced the rest through the middle gallery portion of the building, with different areas set out for differing kinds of work (landscapes, abstracts, etc.) and the real dreck relegated to down the back stairway, that was empty this trip.
Kimberly Harris and Robert Wedepohl An Ode to Joel Kiser oil on canvas 48 x 36 inches May 1 2012 $400
I don't still like this one as much as I thought I might when I took its picture, but it introduces an intelligence I hadn't noted before, although he's been busy learning to perform with a multitude of mediums and friends and ideas. Just the who who should be showing in shows like this. Besides, it's got a sci-fi flair, rich tonalities and solid primary colors.
He answered that they just started piling them up when the first ones arrived. Meaning no one cared what the show looked like, so it looks like it. Especially noticeable in the downstairs sculpture, followed closely by paintings in the pit, which they put together early on arrival day, when they thought they'd never stop coming, then they did and they had to space out out the rest. And three D upstairs, some lucky ones of which almost had space around, although there was plenty of space around.
Robert Wedepohl Three Blind Mice 2012 found 1980s truck fender with stretched canvas 36 x 58 x 7 inches
Forget the broken pot, I've only left it to remind of negative space, filling the white amidst dark shadows. I didn't so much care for the fender as accept it as there, although I can see somebody going for it as an odd bit of artness.
Not flat, but not all that interesting as sculpture, except that it is. No compound or complex curves, just there. The dirty and dented top edge not near-enough white metal on white wall needs a little cleaning, and whoever put that vase just so, might have a future in exhibition design.
These shows have been, at several points in the repeated and superimposed arcs of 500X' growth and diminishment, much bigger, more popular, more interesting, more representative of a wider variety of the best and worst of Dallas art. A couple times they were astonishingly successful money-raisers. Mostly it's enough to keep the always iffy establishment going for years or barely breaking even.
Robert Wedepohl Bang Zoom ... Straight to the Moon 2011 found object - bronze 9 x 15 x 6 inches $600
This is very nearly an elegant thing. Had it a mount angling it up off that dirty white box with that one, odd hole in the top, it might have attracted more attention. As was, the wings offer nice shadows but no view under. Maybe it's blank down there.
I like the way the feathers contrast the smooth iron, gently clashing concentric ovals of the upper, but I wonder if the head's on backwards. I guess it fits this way, but I would rather have seen it flying than flapping earthbound.
Not that the sculptors paying their way into this unjudged show helped the presentation by providing elegant or intelligent mounts to hold 3-D work up or at some angle besides flat, on a dirty riser (that I thoroughly cleaned up in Photoshop for this page), out from walls or down enough from the ceiling to not have somebody bonk into them accidentally.
The gallery-sitter had to warn me when I almost backed my head into a mangle with the next piece down, hung invisibly, black metal on dark against bright into the ceiling. Care-less-ness from all quarters did little to make this a memorable exhibition. Little actually stood out in the bargain-basement presentation till my second and third visits, and by then it was beginning to get tedious.
Rachael Epstein Rat Race 2012 steel rod 5 x 3 x 3 feet $200
Not an inelegant design if you can separate it from the other lines in the ceiling, but its site was chosen more for where it could be stuck off out of some people's way than where it stood its ground or drew attention. Quite the opposite. Too high for easy viewing and nearly perfect for colliding and scraping off skin. Truly dangerous art.
In years past, XO has been a harbinger for nascent talent — artists we'd see more from in months and years to come — as they gain confidence and notice. The '12 edition may yet deliver on that promise, but it seems the real talent used to be easier to find. Then I looked at my little stack of images worth saving and so many jumped out I had to pare them back.
Philip Johnson untitled 2 2012 oil on panel 48 x 36 x 2 inches $200
I think I've seen this one before, but it's still funny. And is that wilted fruit or bleeding chunks of flesh? I think I prefer the latter, although they look like soggy strawberries.
The new X crew apparently doesn't even know that artworld standard for expressing size always lists height first, then width and eventually depth. The ratty-looking artist-filled out I.D sheets stuck near nearly every piece lists them as "(wxhxd)." I've corrected most of those on this page, but the artists who knew, did it right, despite what the form required, and others stayed confused.
But they need to start learning how to produce shows — and be in them — somewhere. Why not at the gallery with the oldest established floating crap game around's biggest money-maker of the year? Gotta start somewhere. Maybe their exhibition designer was out sick.
Roberta Masciarelli Lunar Codes 2011 mixed media 6.5 x 17.5 inches $450
Quirky little piece catching light so oddly, I had to go back and refigure it. Its glyphs are silver, not white and darker than I initially believed. Like an off-planet, physical language against a busy field of colors blending warm to cool. Odd, but visually assertive for its size.
Two other, adjacent pieces by the same artist were not so successful, lacking the confidence, contrast or color interest. Like too much else in this show, I didn't want to look at them. But I came back to this.
Although show aesthetics were spotty, in some places the production approximates an exhibition. Maybe later shifts got the gist that more space and spacing might be attractive. Or they just ran out of art. If they'd planned it a little or knew what they were doing, it might have been fascinating with nooks of interest and crannies of negative space like the indeterminate 80s truck fender. Instead it was a spacey dump. Their way of showing all those who pay the X's way through life, as little regard as possible.
Steph Hargrove Where's Al? 2010 acrylic on canvas 36 x 36 inches $150
Color, rich and dense with glossed-over details so big you could drive a truck through and still get lost. A bit of meaning maybe, too, no doubt, but mostly it's bold and straight-atcha color and shape ike new tech stained glass somewhere between a graphic arts sensibility and magazine illustration.
After our opening reception visit, we thought the show was either overly or overtly sexual. Naked bodies everywhere, some engaged in blatant porn. I thought that heavy-handed preponderance might have to do with the hot, sweaty graphics used on the show promo and the Hot & Sweaty title. But on my Sunday afternoon visit, I hardly noticed that stuff and settled into finding what I could barely see the night before.
On my third trip, I had a good laugh at what startled us on first sight — an acrylic pencil orgy scene with little actual eroticism, some porn intent, a few heads and faces in X-rated places and an instance or two of demonic possession. I'm not showing that here, because it's not good enough — I've got nothing against scaring the wits out of prudes.
Essentially that black & white panorama shows four young adults on a couch laughing and pointing at the lurid landscape they're a part of. More practice, and artist Natalie V Jones might be dangerous to those with timid mores, although it's always a challenge to find a place willing to show transgressive art. It is, however, another ideal use for just such a widely-attended open show as this.
Abigail Lee untitled acrylic on canvas 22 x 28 inches
Not nearly all the work is over edges or pushed enough into the future we can't identify it. Open show content is really anything someone thinks needs our attentions. More diverse, the merrier. A slight variation on a familiar tune or something that rocks the artist's sox and maybe nobody else's.
I can't deeply explain these gloved hands so Trad they're almost religious, but the mysterious glow almost inspires, even if its rods look like they're going to cruciform into extended space.
I've always chortled quietly at work where some true amateur has notched a business card into the corner of a frame or etched in a phone number, now an email address or dot something, lest we lose them in the crowd. I actually saw a lurid red business card taped to one sculpture downstairs. Somewhere between "Who toots not his own horn, the same shall not be tooted," and semi-pro publicity for artists who haven't figured out that good work is its own draw.
Joshua West Lost in Wasteland 2011 transparent watercolor on paper 17 x 36 inches $550
My other favorite landscape. Rich earth and unearthly car colors, textures and densities in post-apocalyptic service by more, not-quite humans anymore. Lost, maybe, but finding their way. Lilting home-planet colors, thick with odd angles, shapes and enough mystery to make us wonder where we're tilting off to in such a hurry.
Sometimes XO work is a tentative baby-step in the direction of a potential future. Occasionally some known artist needs to try something different. Often someone lost their clue and needs to buy a vowel or two. Everybody gains from diversity in undirected directions.
Kyle Mitchell Stanford 2012 mixed media 1.5 x 3 x 3
Welcome to the Kyle Mitchell Show in sundry forms and mediums into that too-oft maligned third dimension: A lesson and a lush box on the edge of one of the few sculpture stands in the show. Backed into that edge in sacks, cloth and looking ashen. What did the trio of sack boys do and what's the authority figure up to?
Deeper than I initially imagined and dynamic in several sorts of opposites — curves and straight lines, angles and perpendiculars, clean, neat metal and scraggly burlap. Anonymous pranksters caught in the act or about to be marched off to a dark timeout corner to think about what they did?
One of the lessons for future XOs is deliver your work early, lest it be lost in the darkness down the hall or bake in the upstairs heat for the next three weeks.
Kyle Mitchell Equanimity 2012 wood 3.5 x 2 x 2 feet $650
More luxuriant colors from the warm sides of wood, deep beneath a tipping lid all lush and deluxe. Closed, it seemed a mystery, a strange symbol squiggled on top. Then I couldn't find a hold to pull the top up again. I liked it better open, and I wanted to reach down into it. Pretty but maybe not quite enough practical to just be a box.
Some others of the 3D work here suffer from the toos. Too busy. Too ordinary. Stuck too far up into the bend of the dark front stairway to be recognizable as third-dimensional art on its own, its shadows lost in the stairs' (By my third visit, they'd remembered to turn on its inner lights, and the piece was worse than I imagined). Too like an escapee from the shiny metal-grinding factory and too-simple shapes department. Too ugly for words. Or, like the cloth-hung Frances Bagley wannabe near the front of The Pit, too like that other artist who does that same thing spectacularly better and did it long ago first.
R Mateo Diago Findr Nite Lights 2012 mix electronic $100 each / multiple on board
The only installation. This one inveigles us into its techy co-conspiracy, and I like the stained plywood around Diago's dense, literally wired electronic exile for using 'bad words' on a social site with a computer brain that recognizes offense but doesn't acknowledge their amber and extrapolated messages. Art is always a difficult medium in the midst of censorship, even of the fully-expected varieties.
When I commented on that social site how difficult this story has been to write — always fighting me, one friend quickly responded, "There's a very fine line between titillation and nausea." I laughed then and again on my third visit. Indeed.
Leighton Autrey Big Tom 2011 aerosol and ink on paper 36 x 24 inches $1,000
Not altogether unlike Angel Rogers' squiggled landscape above, puffy and splatty with soft swirls and heavy, brushed piles of jagged blue paint. I know it's all flat but those aerosol shapes and texture contrasts give this thing dimension. Then that dark box does its best to take it away.
I often liberate art from frames but this one doesn't have enough ground around the figure, although the paint probably should have done that itself. A not quite good-enough Jesus flanked it, but the more I looked, the less I liked watching. This one almost makes it.
I'm not going to portend or project the end of the XO. It just is and sometimes seems like it always was, and though these Xers are bored silly with it already, if they dropped it, somebody else would pick it up and cram it into a smaller space. I think the community needs it, but whoever does it should pay more attention.