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The Winter Show (logo)
Latest page update:
Friday, 25-Nov-2011 20:42:08 PST +2 or 3 hours = Dallas time*

Richard Ray - Near Oak Cliff

Richard Ray   Near Oak Cliff, 2008   acrylic on canvas   $400

THIS PAGE:   Show Name Possibilities for Winter Show II   Next Year   Calendar   Press Release   The Plan   
Artists  Short   # Emails   Blog   Original Plan   Brief Story from the cover.   Invitation: front  &  back 

Part Two is January 2010 — Tentative dates are January 9 through February 6, although the Bath House is considering extending shows to five or even six weeks, instead of just four. If that happens, our second winter show's dates will be expanded further. But we'll still need a new name.

Previous DARts exhibitions   1026 Tranquilla     White Rock Tour     Big As Night, Too     Fierce

All artwork on this site is copyright 2008 or before by the originating artist. No reproduction or approximation
of these works may be created in any medium for any use without specific written permission from the artists.

Part One of the Winter Show is down now, but from December 6, 2008 through January 3, 2009, it included art by Supporting Members of this site. Click their links to see their art:

Mirtha Aertker, George Bailey, Rita Barnard, Rebecca Boatman, Kathy Boortz, Fannie Brito, Glenn Comtois, Sheila Cunningham, Annie Davis, Kapil Dixit, Nancy Ferro, Chris Fulmer, Paul Rogers Harris, Melody Hay, Michael Helsem, Anne Hines, Joan Iverson, JeanE, Matt Kaplinsky, Norman Kary, Gale Lambert, Chris Lattanzio, Susan Lecky, TJ Mabrey, Elaine Merritt, Marty Mitchener, Bob Nunn, Anna Palmer, Gaby Pruitt, Marty Ray, Richard Ray, Esther Ritz, Carroll Swenson-Roberts, Lynn Rushton, Elisabeth Schalij, Ken Shaddock, Art Shirer, James Michael Starr, Cecilia Thurman, Tiana Wages and Bonnie Wilber. The show was curated by J R Compton.  

So far, we've shared 799 emails about both parts [See below.] of this show, counting mass mail-outs once per. This statistic is updated daily. All correspondence and curating for this show (with few exceptions) has been handled via email, which makes the process more efficient and easier to keep track of.

Stories + Photographs by J R Compton

Winter Show Blog

February 27

Well, I kept thinking February had several more days till the end. But it didn't and doesn't, and I never came up with a better name than The DallasArtsRevue Show, which may be what we're stuck with. And that's okay. Straight, simple, direct. Maximum publicity value. Only a dot com at the end would further that publicity, and I didn't think that would be right or fair.

So there it is. The end of this blog. The blog for the next show won't begin for awhile. I've decided not to decide on any rules for that show for six or more months. Of the last two, rapid-fire exhibitions, I'm leaning toward Fierce in selection and presentation. But I want to eminently fair to all DallasArtsRevue Supporting Members, also.

And I want the best possible work in that show. I especially want work by the professional artists among our members, and at the same time and exhibition, I want rank amateurs there, too.

As I say, I don't expect to resolve these competing notions for at least six months, putting the time of resolution by the end of September, when I'm usually at my better.

This concludes this blog.

February 19 2008

Got two new next art show names this week. Nancy Ferro suggested "Revue of DallasArtsRevue," and when Anna Palmer heard that, she blurted "Deja Revue," which has a ring to it. Substance with internal punning and name recognition in four quick syllables. But I've got till the end of this month to decide. I think I've thought about it too much already, so I'm happy to back-burner it like this till then.

I dunno when this was written exactly, but I didn't want to put it at the bottom of the page again, so it's here at today's top

It's been on the cover for too long already, but now it's here, where it'll probably stay, though I still have some pieces I need to write about — and I need to learn not to promise to write about every piece in any show ever again.

Mirtha Aertker - Father Time - photograph of it Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Mirtha Aertker   Father Time, 2008   bronze and mixed media   $450

The Winter Show blog continues with reviews work in this site's Supporting Members Exhibition shown at the Bath House Cultural Center from December 6 2008 through January 3, 2009. The blog continues to juggle various plans for The Next Show (working title only) next January in a larger and nicer space, for which we've begun to plan a larger and nicer show with larger and nicer work.

Meanwhile, the curator is putting together pieces previously not seen as all that similar. For example, he sees many similarities in these first two images, not the least of which is that they are both three-dimensional, though short on depth. Both are also created from found materials and employ circular visual themes, befitting work about time.

Father Time above is looking away from his time machine directly at his viewers (us) in Mirtha's piece, while the distinctly-last century traveler in Norman's work below faces into his Stonehenge circle of stones, which serves much the same purpose, and by paralleling our view looking away and beyond, more becomes us.

Both images employ numbers more as texture than as anything directly numbered while reminding us that they might, and text as texture, although either may be seen as a clock or calendar, ticking the tocks of their circular or cubic clocks, solar or other. Both also employ a simplified contrast of basic colors. Green and gold in Father Time and amber and black in The View from the Edge, with red numerical accents. Both main characters also stand on amorphous promontories. In the transition, Father's wings become the space-walker's umbilical.

Norman Kary - unsub

Norman Kary   This View from the Edge, 2008   mixed media and collage   $800

Norm completely reworked this piece once he learned that the Bath House prohibits nudes. Even though the original piece's nude was not blatant and included no protrusions (outties) or innies, and they probably would have allowed it. I'd even developed a whole rationale for it, but this is even better.

The image below is also three-dimensional (in its own flat, photographic way, not short on that third dimension, but shorter than the above two, except apparently) and comprises found materials, though simply captured and not rearranged, more as Nature created it, though great portions of it have been cropped into disappearance.

Meanwhile, the curator continues to review every piece in The Winter Show (that closed January 3). This and the next image, for examples, have not yet (except here on "the cover") been reviewed on The Winter Blog, but they will.

Anna Palmer - Banana Buds

Anna Palmer   Banana Buds, 2008   photograph   12 x 20 inches   $100

I kept from showing this image during the exhibition itself, because I wanted there to be some surprises left, and this image fits that category well. I am still hoping to eventually include every piece in the show on The Winter Page, making it a large and historic piece unto itself.

Bob Nunn - Above It All, 2008

Bob Nunn   Above It All, 2008   oil on canvas   14 x 14 inches,  $600

This image is here, because the previous image of this beautiful landscape (albeit viewed from a different pesective) that I photographed and reproduced here and on The Winter Page was done so most of the colors were wrong, and this is much closer to Bob's real piece and its actual autumn spectrum, and because it is a beautiful painting originally reviewed right here, and that review is now at the bottom of this page.

Tuesday January 27

Well, that was my big news, held back such a long time already. Those who thought I was putting the Bath House down may now understand my desire to have us show in a bigger, nicer gallery somewhere, even if it's just around to the other side of the wall from the last one.

Wonder where we'll show after that?

Anna Palmer, who reads these things about as much as I do, sent in these show name possibilities. I hope others will send theirs, too. Silly or not.

Second Winter
Another Winter, Different Stuff
It's Winter, Let's Put On a Show!
Winter, Winter, Show, Show

Elaine Merritt sends:

The Winter Exhibition
A Blast of Winter
Winter Shows its Art
The Art of Winter
The New Winter Show

Joan Iverson sends:

The Snow Ball
A Snow Ball's Chance ...
Snow Balls
Snow Flakes - Artist Flakes
The Winter Bath
A Saturday Nite Bath
Winter Oasis

I think we're stills scrambling in the dark here. Hey, @rt, you reading this? You always have great names for things [He's one of the best namers I know, with style and a deliciously sardonic sense of wit], what's in your head about this one?

I'm growing partial to The Winter Shoe, Part ii. [I'm adding more to my previous list, will continue that there.] Although Winter MMIX is very interesting; we don't see nearly as many Roman Numerals as we need to.

Meanwhile, I'm sure there's someone [who was] in the show whose work I haven't written about yet. I'll look, but if an artist in Winter Won has a need for being written about still, lemme know.

Saturday January 24

Part ii of The Winter Show, I am only now authorized to announce, will be held in the main gallery at the Bath House Cultural Center next January. Not sure what we'll call it yet, but I have to decide by the end of this February. Any suggestions about the name or anything else about it, gang?

I'm thinking it'll be even more carefully curated than the last one was, with bigger work. You must be a currently active member of DallasArtsRevue as of December 2009 and still be active when the show comes down.

The Winter Shoe, Part Two
The NEXT Show
Winter Too!
Oh, No, Please Not Again
Phase Two, Lumpy Jello
Winter MMX

There will be a whole 'nother page for that one, complete, of course, with its own blog, pictures, etc. I figure I'll start that near the end of next month, February 2009. As of this writing, this page weighs in at 17,187k with a download time of 2,456 seconds at 56k, still only a few seconds via high speed internet, but big enough already, I think.

In today's email:

J R,
Thanks for your review [immediately below] of my two pieces in The Winter Show. In your comments regarding young artists in general, you hit several of my nails right on the head. I've spent 30 years in the corporate world and have only recently reacquainted myself with my childhood love of painting.

My biggest challenge by far is getting what's in the right side of my head onto the canvas without it being inhibited, condensed and generally screwed up by the "rules" in the left part of my head. I tend to approach my painting as if I'm writing a business report — period, new paragraph, quotations ... phooey!

A particular thanks for your simple statements about not pushing it, but letting the art control the artist. I felt as if I was having a "wow, I coulda had a V-8" moment when I read those words. I can't tell you how many times I've been determined that I would control my brush, my stroke, the blending of the paint, the outcome on the canvas, that it would be what I had decided it should be. How incredibly backwards of me!

You've turned on a light bulb for me ... illumination is a very cool thing.

Many thanks,
Elaine Merritt

Friday January 23  

Ellaine Merritt - Lucky Deuce

Elaine Merritt   Lucky Deuce, 2008   acrylic on canvas   $100

Young artists (remember, we're talking experience here, not age, and we're not putting them down because they haven't acquired enough of it, we're attempting to understand what they do that's different, and why we care.

Young artists tend to think too much and play with their mediiums not nearly enough. They often need to let go of their minds while holding firm to intuition and spirit. They'll still be bound by gravity, their mediums and other laws of the physical and metaphysical universes, but letting go of nearly everything else helps.

Like all of us, they want to make great art. Just they have not yet realized it rarely happens when planned. They tend to make art that portrays what they think are great ideas, while what they should do, is what experienced artists do almost automatically by now — play with their mediums and see what comes up, out, over.

As one of the great dictums of our era states, "Tell the truth and let go of the outcome." Not the literal truth, necessarily, although when we let go of control, what tends to show are our own, uniquely individual (and thus, by a perverse quirk of How Things Really Work, universal) truths or as close as we're likely to get.

What that means is, make stuff, and who you are will show in it.

Let form, format, preconceived notions, rules and reality as you think you have finally figured it out, fly out the window. Set you and your chickens free. Let your mind wander as your hands and fingers do what they know how to do and what they are learning as you do it. Explore. Watch what you're doing but don't push it. Let it control you. Let it flow.

And keep practicing. All the time. If you really are an artist, you won't have a choice.

That way, capital A Art might just happen. But if it doesn't — and generally, like any perfection, it's unlikely, but you will learn stuff, discover possibilities, and get ideas for the next piece and the one after that.

Instead of striving to create your own unique style, let it happen when you make what you make. Engage your inner self — the one you usually hide from everybody, and let it shine through what you do, whether you can see it there or not. And if someone else figures it out before you do, don't stop doing it, but blend that into what else you know and feel.

Elaine Merritt - Icarus

Elaine Merritt   Icarus, 2008   acrylic on canvas   12 x 9 inches

There are at least three pieces in The Winter Show that manifest my definition of young art.

Elaine Merritt's Icarus is rich in primary colors and expression, yet curiously bound by the artist's intellect instead of emotions. Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and got his waxen wings melted, then fell into the sea, learned some things on his journeys up and down, but we don't know anything about that, because we can't even see his face, and most of the evidence we can see does not support the theory.

The sun's presence is felt and seen in the upper half of this painting's background, and viewers may consider the flames or molten red stuff dripping off his otherwise pristine body. But we are not emotionally engaged, because we see that he's neither flying nor falling — he's just standing there posing. The guy is vertical, not a common attitude for flight or fall, and under that blazing sun is a lovely blue sky, because the artist knows — and knows that we know — that skies are blue, and she hasn't let what she feels alter that image.

Some of the colors are vivid and believable, and we like the idea of it and those contrasting reds and blues and yellows stand out, but our hero is not real. We don't see him suffer or lose altitude. All we see is something dripping red off his back and the big yellow blaze. Unfortunately, the only way we even know who he is, is by reading the title.

Her other piece, Lucky Deuce is a two-headed, red snake. No surprises. Unlike the melty guy in front of his blazing sun, however, there's no context and no story. It is what it is, and there it stops. It's a nice-enough red snake with two heads. More than that, we haven't a clue, although I suspect the artist will buy us some, with extended time and effort.

Anne Hines - Madonnas of Darfur
Anne L. Hines   Madonnas of Darfur   acrylic on wood   $300
This digitally altered presentation is more what it should have looked like hanging
in the exhibition than what it actually did.  Here, it's all equidistant and straight.

Anne Hines' Madonnas of Darfur have lots of colorful context, shape, textures, lace, ruffles and flip-flops. We know what to feel about her vibrant figures, because there's a joy in their hues, shape and attitude, and we share a palpable human and emotional connection. However, these vivid mothers and children in exotic costumes and amazing hats were separated at conception and thereby a chore to hang individually, since none of those wood plats are parallel or square.

But as a more or less unified color drawing they succeed remarkably, despite the artist's unease with figures, faces and especially feet. The woman in purple and blue with the child in green and yellow, faces slightly left, tilts her hat but not her head, while her upper body squares directly at us, then twists somewhere below, so feet aim hard left. I assume to avoid having to draw them in perspective, since all these feet are rendered from the side.

The child in the first plat has flippers instead of feet, again seen from the side, even though its legs are not splayed. It's a minor issue that detracts, like her inability to draw lips (two plats flanking the middle), from the overall realism, a visual stutter in this tale of idealized women.

The images are from photographs. We sense that the artist's heart is in the right place, and these colorful humans pique our interest and attract our attentions, until we look or think too close. We know there's a story — or several — in this richness of texture and tone, but the artist's skills in both seeing and rendering are not up to the complexity.

I'm pleased to see her work beyond her didactic saints and cruciforms [See her member page.], into our nearer world, but I want more credibility and cohesion, and I don't want somebody to have to spend forty-five minutes hanging them on the wall dangling from one nail each in only an approximation of straight.  

Wednesday January 21

Lynn Rushton - photograph Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lynn Noelle Rushton   Mother and Child, 2008   acrylic on canvas   $450

I've been a paid member of D-Art or whatever they're calling it this decade for about a half year now. I know this, because I vaguely remember giving them some money and thinking Joan might see the cosmic joke in it, and because I get something in the mail every couple of weeks with something else to send them money for. No exhibition opportunities, just yet another plea to send them $50 or $100 or more bucks for what I already do not want from them.

Something's deeply, disturbingly wrong about that. I do not get invitational postcards for shows I can go see, except when they want more money to make them happen should they ever have an event that is not another fund-raiser. I do not get notices of exhibitions. Far as I know there are none of those, have not been any.

I get the idea that it's not a membership in the sense I had hoped. Like I'd get to show one or two pieces of art in the middle of the night for about a half hour as some of my friends got to late on the night of the membership show last year. They liked his work enough to give him a small showing in a back hallway for several weeks. Not that I would expect my work to win something like that. I just thought I'd enjoy having people see it/them, if only briefly, and if only in the middle of the night when only other artists installing their work were around.

But I've got no mentions of any exhibition opportunity there yet. Maybe ever. I know their director would love to get rid of the membership show altogether. Kinda obvious when she only shows members for a limited number of hours at odd times during the post midnight hours, I suppose.

Meanwhile, DallasArtsRevue, which charges slightly more per year for membership, has given the her of those two artists I've been talking about two opportunities to exhibit her work so far this year, and another last year. We only gave him one, and he had not at that time, even joined us.

I recently let my paid membership in The MAC (the other contemporary art center across town) lapse, because I did not wish to make another tree ornament that they would seriously devalue and sell for $10, thus netting me another year's membership there, and more importantly, net them a steady flow of exhibitions, many of which involve showing local, Dallas artists.

My ornaments sell, some before they are even seen by anyone but the staff, who also sets the price. Do you suppose there's something fishy about that? Anyway, it's embarrassing that my ornaments, that I usually write about on these pages first, so somebody out there knows what they are all about, only net one fifth of the amount that people who pay for MAC memberships have to pay for those. (I can only assume that nobody there reads this site.)

So I demurred. What I hadn't figured on, however, was that I no longer received notices of MAC exhibitions (did I mention how many of those involved local, Dallas artists ((even if those artists seem to have to have serious gallery affiliation, because there's some sort of involved deal with the galleries to help pay for the show)) ) and I'd have got one whole, three-week exhibition that's open days ands evenings to exhibit my work for that lousy $10 ornament sale.

TJ mabrey - Winter Lemon

TJ Mabrey   Winter Lemon 2008   yellow sienna marble   $2000

When I asked if I could get on their press list to receive notices of shows, The MAC instead gave me a membership, so they could send me notices. Since they called what they gave me a membership, I asked if I could exhibit in that one member exhibition a year, which has been my primary reason for making those ornaments and thereby joining the organization I helped found (I was the Founding Board Secretary of DARE), they startled me by saying yes.

Which worked out pretty well, except that I'm still "a member" of that other contemporary (There are so damned many of those contemporaries these years.) center across town (although I think they may have or will eventually move to another part of town even further away, but vaguely close to Dragon Street, and that was as close as they could get at a price that they might actually be able to afford, thus the reason they keep asking paid members for even more money).

Kinda wish I could get my money or the half of it I haven't used, back. So I can just wander over there every once in awhile and stumble on an exhibition worth writing about, and not even ever consider any opportunity to have my work shown in an institution that was founded to exhibit local artists without gallery associations.

Maybe I should instead join DallasArtsRevue so I can get in our show coming up next January. If I had joined three months ago, I might have got into The Winter Show, though they might have had to find some other idiot to curate it.

Saturday January 17

Although I contemplate the distinct probability daily, I am still not abandoning this narrative. There's promises to keep and opinions to express about this very well received and extraordinarily diverse little show. While concentrating on it earlier, I let some other commitments slide, but I've wrapped most of those up this week, so while I lax out this weekend, then work on Monday, I expect to be back at the nubs and ends of this page and show later this week.

I've still got some pieces needing discussion.


Saturday January 10

James Michael Starr - Book of Knowledge

James Michael Starr - Book of Knowledge, 2008   found object sculpture   $700

There's a bit of fun art crit brewing on the front cover (both on its upper and lower portions).

I have, as yet, no digital analog for a "back cover," although mayhaps I should see about that. In the magazine world, where 'covers' are operative, those are generally all ads.

as the curator continues to find among the 70 pieces in this show similarities and contrasts that entirely eluded us as we placed it into that so-called "multi-dimensional mosaic" I keep raving about not having accomplished — even though we did.

All this is, of course, in attempt to avoid having to review — or write stories about — the work in this show not yet written about here. There's lots in several categories, but the one bunch I most fear saying anything about is work by young artists, many of whom may not quite understand the purposes nor practice of art criticism.

At an opening last night I conversed with an artist whose work has been variously written about on these pages. Apparently, I've said good things, 'bad' things and no things at all about her work, though I only remembered refusing to say anything about some of it in a two-person show wherein I had no words for her work, and apologized appropriately. She was able to quote from each instance, so I knew my words affected her, but she insisted that she didn't take criticism personally, although I don't know how else someone can take it.

Young artists tend to take it hard, picking at every word, entirely ignoring the bigger picture. They are not used to having anything said or printed about their work. Certainly not in Dallas, where artists are either lauded or ignored, with an overwhelming predominance for the latter. Although there was a time when legitimate, populist art criticism in either the big morning paper or the free weekly was always a possibility, not no more.

I suspect there will be much less of it as our recession recesses, and I'm pleased that it costs so little to publish on the web, where DallasArtsRevue has more than 1200 pages of stories about Dallas art — often in full color.

The trick is to get read. I do that by being strictly honest and backing away from probable fights when possible. Although I can engage fully when need be. See An E-versation + Reluctant Review to learn some of the ramifications of these seeming simple notions.

Even though their family and friends — who generally don't know squat about art — tell them how utterly wonderful their art is and agree with their every personal assessment, artists are not used to having their name bandied about in public. When they do and it's not entirely complimentary, they tend to go ballistic. Sometimes even artists I'd think would know better.

Attacking artists can be fun, and they make it all the more so by firing salvos back sometimes immediately. Although I tire of explaining everything to ignorant and unappreciative complainers, something there is in journalism that appreciates controversy. Getting people all het up can be its own reward.

One of the founding purposes of this rag is to publish intelligent criticism of work by local artists, and I cannot do that without bruising a few egos, although once they've had time and space to consider what I have written, many artists agree that I did them no harm, and that they overall appreciate my efforts. Some even champion this publication.

As my good friend Marty Ray explains when artists complain about something I've written, "He's just this guy who writes about art." I can't make or break your career. I can't even get you into a gallery. I say what I see, knowing another writer may see something altogether different.

Another dear friend, the late poet and artist Gerald Burns long ago wrote this about me as an introduction to my Small Sculpture in Texas book, and there's probably still truth in it, though it does go on. Another, major, appreciation in fewer shorter paragraphs came from D Magazine when they named me "Dallas' Best Local Arts Promoter" a few years back.

One doesn't get such accolades by pussyfooting. I say what I mean, crafting my opinions in carefully chosen words. What you do with them is up to you.

I don't believe objectivity exists [inexplicably an index of my notions about that inexistence] — I am in here and aware. Who I am matters in what I write. It is me experiencing art, sometimes even your art. I have pledged to be direct and honest about what I see in what I write about it. More than that I cannot promise, except that I gratefully accept the honor and challenge of being Dallas' Best Local Arts Promoter. I cannot do that if I'm anything but honest.

Back to our regularly scheduled program:

I had one review in the I Didn't Like It When I First Saw It brigade that I yanked after a few hours. I pulled it because it was listed in the wrong category, and as soon as I can place it among its natural constituency and can deal with its proper kith and kin, perhaps intelligently and without condescension, the better. That category necessarily involves the dreaded term, 'young artists' [above on this page].

By then, I will have discovered other anomalies in this on-going coverage of an exhibition that stopped being one of those late in the evening of January 3, 2009.

I sure hope by now all the artists of (no longer in) this show have picked up their work, but it is difficult to let go sometimes.

Friday January 9

Michael Helsem - unknown

Michael Helsem   Paean and Deliverance, 2008   ink, paper and chalk on paper   $200

If The Winter Show had caught my attention and piqued me into writing a review of it, and not just one piece or a few, I might have noted more work than in the previous entry as not as good as others here. That I am the curator complicates the matter. I did, after all, accept all the work there, and to some extent the entire exhibition reflects my tastes.

But there are differing reasons to accept something in a show. One of more inscrutable of these is taking work by "young" artists, whom I'm usually inclined to remind readers has nothing to do with their chronological age. More with how long they've been making art or making this sort of art, since artists often change mediums and techniques. Or more specifically how good they've got in that time. All those progressions vary.

DallasArtsRevue exhibitions have usually presented work by young artists, many of whom might not have been accepted using the same criteria applied to other artists in that show. One of the challenges of DARts Membership events is to promote work by young as well as by accomplished artists.

The Winter Show was always for all the Supporting Members of this site, although not all of them chose to participate. I attempted to get at least one, often two pieces by each member. Once we had all the pieces we received, up on the walls and risers, I wished I'd accepted three each, since it didn't look nearly as busy as I'd hoped for that "multi-dimensional mosaic" I wanted [below] But then was too late to open it up more, and we certainly did not want to have to do it all over again.

The next DallasArtsRevue Member exhibition will be more carefully curated than this one or even Fierce [The Fierce Page and Blog], the show last July in Plano that presented work by members and selected others. The Next Show will be in a larger space than The Winter Show and a nicer place than either of the last two.

Each DARts show is different, has differing procedures, different criteria for acceptance and is philosophically different, so even if you've figured out our criteria for the latest one or the one before that, doesn't mean you'll quite understand the next.

The Winter Show, despite anomalies, was about smaller work. The next show will be about larger work. Part of that show will likely be hung salon-style, and there may be quite small pieces in it, too, but the overall look and feel will be about larger, more substantial work.

The next show, which has not yet acquired a title (although I like "The NEXT Show," which will serve for its name until somebody comes up with a better one), will be absolutely curated.

I won't let work into that show just because the artist is a member of this club. In fact, some members' work will be declined. The watchword for that next show is quality, and the curator will decide. If you can't stand to be curated, or you ignore deadlines or you don't like my choices or whatever issues you have with my curatorial process, tough.

Which is not really what I'd planned to write about in today's entry, but I guess I needed to say it.

The NEXT Show will be significantly more about following rules, although the rules will be simple and, of course (It's me, after all.) variable. I want as wide a variety of work as possible, but I also want to show the best work, almost no matter what else.

The Winter Show showed work by artists who might not make it into The NEXT Show, because they're not good enough. Several younger artists had work in The Winter Show, and reviewing them is what an upcoming entry into this already bloated [16.017 megabytes, so far = 2,289-seecond [[=38.15 minute] download time @ 56k) blog will be about.

Wednesday January 7

Crossfile these entries under "It Actually Is Wednesday as I Write This" and Pieces I Did Not Like When I First Saw Them

Mirtha Aertker's elegant (I can see that now; all I knew for sure when I first laid eyes upon Father Time was that it wasn't like any of those other Aertker constructions we'd seen in new spaces on Dragon Street all the way up to the Texas Sculpture Association's shows at the Plano Art Centre. This form is essentially flat, and there's no globs or lines of junk hanging all around him.

Took awhile to begin to appreciate her pared down form and stealth subtlety. Instead of tottering, glommed figures, we have transition (?) to more svelte presentation. Found-object sculpture depends on what the artist finds or deems worthy putting together, and Father Time here looks like a winged, but flattened goalie in plenty height and width but not much formal depth, although any exploration of the pieces from the ducted open, angle-iron stand, up into the pebbled, copper-discolored clock-like Time-Machine face reveals plenty texture, shape and mystery.

Gale Lambert - Caribbean Pinks

Gale Lambert - Caribbean Pinks, 2008   acrylic and oil   $350

Gale Lambert's Caribbean Pinks of three Pink Flamingoes staring at each other with futzy feathers all awry seemed simplistic and cartoonish until Terry Hays pointed out her gleeful impasto of pink paint that looked loads like real feathers, alternately hard and feathery soft. I still see her Grooming monkeys sinister as the larger, dominant beast meticulously grooms a carefully restrained figure who is at once barely there and careful not to belie a twitch in an unapproved direction.

After understanding her paint in service to feathers, the fuzzy rendering of tufts of hair on these two of humanity's uncles are elegant and realistic.

Pixar talks about their rendering of similar stuff and the texture of clothing way too much, but it's not easy in any medium to make puddles and lines and thicknesses of paint accurately resemble wisps or mullet chunks of hair or fur. I'm still taken by the iris-less look of the top monkey. Even now, the more I look at it — and I cannot not look at it if I'm in its vicinity, the more I appreciate the physical and spiritual connections. I even like the green slime smog blurred in the background, lending even more attention to our thereby comparatively sharp star ancestors. Her signature always seems grandiose by comparison, but the sense of reality, emotion, of power and pliant, dutiful obedience in this nearly human vignette is palpable.

We discussed hanging Chris Lattanzio's Fontius next to Ken Shaddock's missing-finger symbol photomontage, The Alchymical Byrd, because the dancer touching her sharpened skate to the back of her head might also be giving the finger to the judges. But there's nothing of emotion in this cold, white on white world.

Except the raised finger — I'm number one? Look at me, look at me? — it's too easy to plumb this placid frame, and what we see is not enough, although the technique, unique as it is, must be grueling. Takes decades sometimes to come up with a style so startling and rare and difficult that nobody, maybe not even the industrialist Chinese will bother to copy it. When I first beheld its JPEG, I wondered how he did that in Photoshop, but this is real in two-and-a-half full dimensions, so mayhaps it will take time and extended effort to fill in the spaces with energy, emotion, backstory or warmth.

The ruffles of her skirt fly forward, so I assume there's motion, but I don't see it. This is technique in slavish service to a nearly random image. No story,no context, no feeling. The only drama is the hope that maybe her head is stuck to the icy steel of her skates.

Richard Ray - Self-Portrait

Richard Ray - Self-portrait, 2008   oil   NFS  

Richard Ray's Self-portrait: I didn't really need much of an excuse to visit my dear friends Marty and Richard Ray. I went there to decide on pieces so new Marty hadn't finished them yet, so to help her decide which ones to finish — and two of Richard's extensive collection of this year's paintings. Statistics from him are hard to come by, but he must do one a day or more. I chose Near Oak Cliff soon as I saw it. No hesitation, but Richard wanted to exhibit this self-portrait and nothing else besides. I remember him standing at the door to Marty's studio holding it, and me wondering why of all his paintings, did he choose this. I was not an immediate fan like I am to most of his work.

I hummed and hawed, but Richard insisted. Part of being a curator is allowing some artists who are plenty good enough to choose what they want to show, even when I do not necessarily agree. It took nearly the full three-week length of the show and that goofy glitch from Christmas to New Year before I warmed to this painting. It helped that I hadn't got a decent shot of it when he first proffered or delivered it or when we got it in place on the wall. I was continuously wowed by his other, darker, colder, winter piece and all but ignored this now startling spring painting.

So it wasn't till I finally did photograph it that those blazing blue eyes and the seriously whelming blue of almost everything else in the frame struck me. In me. It's not monochromatic. There's white and green, even a nasty brownish gold framing whatever that might be behind his head. And the muted maroon sliver of wall behind his greenish shadow, always just the right colors with Richard, though vivid.

Only when I did finally get involved in those intense blue eyes, did I notice the white star on top. White's important here, I'm still learning. It splatters the organic Matisse background, the white pole, tree, outlines of a figure in the tiny painting on the reddish wall. And gets all excited in his beard.

Elisabeth Schalij seems fascinated by the dual resemblance of her and her mom in her self-portrait My Mother Or Me etching that reminds her so of family. I liked that the round frame offered diverse placement possibilities and a differing quality of negative space, but it still seems primitive to my tender sensibilities, and unrelenting in gray pencil-like textures. I'm much more enamored of the bright red flowers just now on her member page and that gossamer pelt of green growing in the water called Afloat I discussed down there.

Michael Helsem's Paean and Deliverance turned me around slowly. At first all I could see was its painted frame and topographic randomness. Took awhile to let the lines sift in. Michael's been busy this year and he hasn't had time to write or paint. To have fit this into that mad schedule is a monument to slipping the surly bonds of earth and letting his artly craft soar, and that frame is one of but few I've seen that seriously extend the rhythms of the painting contained by it. At first blanch I thought it ugly, but now with time and lyric pleasure, this poet's visually rhyming and writhing landscape scintillates.

JeanE's Waterscape was a matter of the curator wanting more splashing of the slightly abstracted pool scenes series I'd seen before and on her member page, and getting instead dull but colorful splats of hand-made paper. I hadn't got to see those before she chose to place them in our show, either.

The smallish Waterscape was the last piece she brought. Unlike most other artists in this show, she did not submit JPEGs. Nor was she in any mood to let some guy tell her what she should show, so she eluded my curatorial process with a series of end-run deliveries. I might have gone along with the spitball splats but they were so oddly and dangerously framed, I had to insist on something / anything different.

At the last moment, she showed up with the waterscape perhaps long neglected in her busy garage studio, barely similar to her work I liked most that I accepted it immediately, to get on with the process. But I gradually learned to appreciate its liquid wiggles and glints. It helped that the colors seem right, this small flat painting looked liquid, and that except for the water, I could not fathom what it was supposed to represent.

Like Richard Ray's Self-portrait, Rita Bernard's Emerging was a trust deal. There's little of her work I did not think was amazing, and I like getting caught up in her narratives. So I let her run with what she wanted to do, and I never saw nor sought samples, drawings or inklings. Apparently Rita never tuned in to this blog, so she had no idea when our deadlines or hanging schedules were, and she finally arrived, with the new piece as we thought we were finishing hanging the show.

I've been told by another artist that there's a rising of hope up from the bottom of despair etched into copper nameplates marking each wood or bamboo traffic-light shape up her stick of whatever, but I have not yet put it together into a meaningful intention. Something there must be that's not apparent to these eyes ....

Daydreamed about using Art Shirer's Moon Shadow welded steel sap as a weapon if someone were threatening. Me the hero using art to stop the bad guy in his tracks. Must have watched too much mayhem on late-night TV. But what a mean little sucker that would be. I wasn't sure if the bipodal cylinder end would be comfy enough to grip, but I could easily imagine the thwop that other end could deliver. Oof.

When he first brought it in, my reaction was, "You took that long to do that tiny thing?" I couldn't believe he'd squandered our time and deadlines to deliver such a skinny dip of steel. Notorious for bending and shattering deadlines, Art usually pulls something amazing together at the electricified last minute. So it seemed only fair he had to ram the noisy hammer drill into concrete to hang his creation, because we hadn't saved him or Rita any space. Nor could I have imagined what he'd described when I'd communicated with him about this latest masterpiece.

But now I like the multiple irregular bends, the X shadow, the pegged, bipodal hip connection and its other winding shadows that seem more active than the shank of steel itself. I still wish the wall were smooth, so I could concentrate on its shiny black's shape and not get lost in the splots and scrapes.

Bonnie Wilbur -

Bonnie Wilber - Bonnard's Garden Room on Padre   2008   $120

Bonnie Wilber's Bonnard's Garden Rooms seemed too similar when she submitted her JPEGs early in the process. Her — it's her, even if it doesn't look like her. I don't know her, so I don't know whether it resembles her, but it's her, nonetheless. Sitting in front of a proscenium. Like in much of her work, figures in front with something going on behind them and through the looking glass into somewhere or some when else.

I didn't at first, but watching Bonnard's Garden Room on Padre over the last month or so, I've taught my eyes to linger over the primitive representation of body, face, the vessel forms and the simple stripes of decoration on those blocks of furniture. The cat was universal in the pieces she offered. Only what's behind and beyond the framed window changes in her world's views.

She calls Bonnard's Garden Room on Padre her "war" piece, originally created to show in The MAC's last year member show, War & Peace (or whatever), but it may be too subtle. If you study the central portion of that spring-like scene of leaves and flowers beyond the cat, you might see bombs bursting in air and destruction wreaked, pasted in upside-down.

I happily missed all that, and find it a peaceful scene of intricate colored lines coexisting in her warm, soft universe on this side of the window wall. If anything, her Peace (Bonnard's Dining Room at Ruidoso) is more warlike, although none of that makes sense. I like the rendering of her up front, in that same but slightly Twilight-Zone altered room on a lower chair, with the same cat and the same windows, a little further away so we see more stuff on the shelves.

The scene projected beyond the windows looks like Indians and cowboys and something about a big bag of money although that could be a figure. I don't know or care. Where the action is in this piece, is on the thin shelves of the kitchen (?) with objects that change hues and shape with the light. The figure may be older, or younger or just different, though she holds the same object dear to her heart.

I don't much care for the stick-figure peace, it's the tranquility of her so-called war piece that captures my heart and eyes. It's her inner furniture and the landscape, flowers and squiggles of joy and deprivation out through the windows that brighten my outlook now, every time I remember Bonny Wilber's latest paintings.

When I spoke briefly with Matt Kaplinsky about his Circle Series #1, I told him I liked the other painting much, much better. He did, too, openly admitting he often did not like paintings he'd finished, even though he sells more than half. It used to take me years to appreciate a frame of photographic film I'd shot, so I knew where he was coming from, but I wanted two pieces from nearly everybody in this show, and along with his superb Architecture of Flora, this would do. But this gold-limned inner light of circles in circles of circles of circles dripping white and tinged color down a black drop of emptiness has grown on me. I love the drips, the clot of dried-blood emanating cells from the right center and the scribbly red lines desperate to tie it all together.

Tuesday January 6

Hall Gallery After The Conversation - Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Hallway gallery after "The Conversation"
Most of these were removed the next afternoon.

Since I'm already into stealing tomorrow time, why not keep it up, down, over, back and around. Today is not Tuesday as I write this, but I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a slice of New York Style pizza today.

I've just had today's laugh from someone who didn't pick up their work Saturday or Sunday and suggested I deliver it to them. That is truly funny. Must think I have all the time in the world. And distance, too.

Be different if they'd made arrangements before the last time I visited the Bath House, now it's just laughable.

Nope, if you were sick or lazy or stupid and left your work at the Bath House, it's probably still there. Check with Enrique. I don't know his hours, but his info is always on the Bath House site. I put "Bath House" into Googlification's slot, and click and twist twice around, and there it is. Probably it's on this page somewhere, too. I'd do a page search for "Pick up Art After the Show." But no deliveries. It's up to you, now.

Heard from another artist who was too shy to attend The Convection, The Kvetchion, The Connection or whatever that was Satty night. Jokes on them, too. A good day for laughing, ha-ha. Tra-la-la. Ahoooga-ahooga! Sproint, sproint!

Monday January 5

Tiana Waages - Tomorrow

Tiana Wages   Tomorrow, 2008   oil on wood   $1,500

I'm not going to write anything Monday, so I'm stealing this date from the future — time travel is inevitable — to quote my dear friend TJ Mabrey (she of the wisteria seed and art terror time bomb crossword sculptures; formerly of Artists Coalition of Texas that later became D-Art and whatever they call that now; who was one of the first subscribers to DallasArtsRevue when it was published on paper from 1979-1996): and one of the first people to ever tell me that I had talent writing about art:

J R,
Your rantings on theBlog weren’t necessary, but if you feel better — good! I’m happy knowing you reflected on the evening! We all know you and love you (or love to hate you), and would have been surprised had the evening’s shindig been anything except what it was.

Without an extraordinary amount of planning (i.e. — determining what particular, singular question one could pose about a subject which might be of interest and influence to most of the artists present, or in some way integral to the work of most, if not all, artists present …. blah, blah, blah — you see how boring this could become! And how VERY NOT J R!!!) — any kind of Conversation with the Artists program will dissolve into what happened last evening ….. a kind of social hour where artists either seek out artists they wish to talk with, or amble around in the exhibit hall until someone seeks them out, or they just look around, have a cheap cookie, say goodbye and go home — happily or not.

There’s something very satisfying about the “special” kind of Conversation we had last evening at the close of The Winter Show ….. it developed into its own kind of “Comptonian” social hour orchestrated by you, J R!!! Artists moseyed and mingled. They noshed and mashed and farted and parted, and if they came prepared to answer or ask specific questions during the “conversation” portion of the evening — perhaps they did that anyway — with individuals instead of the group.

I was having such a good time I forgot about asking the question I had come prepared to put forth, and I won’t mention it now, because it would be superfluous. I met several people I didn’t know — some I only knew by reputation, and I renewed acquaintances with artists I hadn’t seen in years! I was very happy with the evening’s proceedings and drove home — happily remembering the event.

On the three-hour drive back home today, I realized what should have been the subject of the evening’s discussion: It should have been J R Compton. You are the singular, influential thread that tied all the participating artists together into The Winter Show. I would like to know:

How did the diverse artists of The Winter Show, with their equally diverse means of expressing their art, come to be part of the life, art and work of J R Compton? I suspect it’s much more than the $75 that buys membership in DallasArtsRevue. But what is it exactly? For each of us? Last evening, I would like to have heard the answers to that question. Collectively, the answers might be sufficient in bulk and substance on which to base an entire exhibition! Or perhaps they already have.

Good show, my dear friend!

The answers to some questions shall remain obscure

But it still only costs $75 to join, though some send $100. See the How to Join page before attempting to become a member. There's info there many members don't know and need to.

Sunday January 4

Talking with Enrique - photo Copyright 2009 by Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Talking privately with Enrique in the mop closet    Anna Palmer photo

I talked semiprivately with Enrique today during pickup. He did not write that idiot PR, as I suspected he had not, though he admitted to being "obsessed" with this blog. Perhaps not as much as I have been. Without that goofy PR, last night might have been mostly just us artists, more as originally planned, and the artists would have been and felt more important, as I'd planned. But very possibly the evening would have been a lot less interesting, varied and exciting, too.

Some artists still hadn't got their work when I left, hungry and exhausted ten minutes before the end time for picking up work in The Winter Show I'd advertised here — and more than two hours before Enrique said it would be a couple days ago.

I got mine (including the surprising gift of two from Ken Shaddock and Carroll Swenson-Roberts - South for Winter (somewhere below) that I bought and that Enrique placed a red dot on the I.D of last night, when someone asked me my favorite piece when I was facing down the seated audience, I only mentioned the one piece of the whole show that I've bought.

But there are others:

the left section of Susan Lecky's piece; Richard Ray's delicious night skyline Near Oak Cliff; Tiana Wages' intimate little self-portrait, Tomorrow; TJ Mabrey's superb dark glossy Wisteria Seed; Kathy Robinson-Hays Recurring Dreams; Joan Iverson's simple and elegant thin-walled Green Moss Bowl; Sheila Cunningham's intriguing six-image blocks toy, Shadow Blocks; Matt Kaplinsky's stunning Architecture of Flora; Kathy Boortz' small but beautiful Redtail hawk; Glenn Comtois' intricate wood construction Scrabble; Esther Ritz' mysterious Vanish; Bob Nunn's Above It All and Anna Palmer's Fitchery Frog all compete for that title

but for $75, I couldn't pass up the birdly South for Winter and it — and Ritz' Vanish were perfect for the invitation), left a check for the eventual arrival of that artist (maybe). Several other pieces still hung on the wall.

I probably should have sent out another email reminding artists to pick up their work, but I'm so glad the show is (mostly) down, I frankly don't much care anymore. It's cold lately, maybe a bonfire is in order. I know some artists never saw this page. Too bad.

This bloggerooty journal is all about me, of necessity, he says thinking vaguely of iambic pentameter.

Enrique did say that many, many people attended the show. Some repeatedly and returning later with more friends, so maybe the acclaimed claim is not all that far off.

I have a couple projects due soon, too soon, that I'll complete, so this page won't be updated as often or as obsessively this week, but I hold to my plan to write about every piece that I haven't yet, though as the spirit moves, not all at once. I took more shots yesterday before that whatever it was, event happened, so I'll have a few more pictures here later next week, though perhaps not as appropriate as these recent few, though more colorly accurate.

And I expect to have a swirl of understanding now the show is done about how it should have been.


Crowd at The Conversation - Copyright 2009 by Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Silhouetted crowd at "The Conversation"    Anna Palmer photo

In the cold hard light of day — well, actually, the sun isn't up yet. It's still dark out there, although if I strain I can see a faint blue in the eastern sky out my office window — I'm afraid I got my egomaniacal self stuck in the big middle of proceedings last night. What I didn't want to do, I did. What I told you, me and everybody here in this blog I would not do, I did. Repeatedly.

Once we accepted the inevitable fate of the errant publicity, pretty much everything was predicated upon my immense stage fright, making it about me, not about the artists, whom yesterday should have been all about. Even though I asked any artist or anybody else who had anything to say to say it, most did not. And some complained about what the few who did respond to my entreaties in my brief stand in front of that gathered said.

Artists are sometimes shy creatures who need a little prodding to spout that which they usually hold back, putting those abstruse understandings out instead in their work.

I invited artists, listed their names on this page. They're still there, floating [below today's entry now], but I did not introduce them and show them next to their work — make that direct association to the non artists gathered, and I think I should have thereby honored those artists who braved attending that event, because many did not show their faces. Instead, I succumbed to my own stage fright.

Two of the artists I had pizza with later said they had prepared remarks about their work for last night's events. That surprised and startled me, since I'd specifically asked the artists to say anything they needed to say during my brief remarks, and those two didn't make a peep then.

One said what they'd planned to say in the public event there in that private dinner after the event, and I did not understand a single phrase she said. I wanted another way to present it, here perhaps. But most artists are not writers, they are, after all, artists. We see their work, we wonder what they're trying to do. We do not generally worry whether they accomplish their goals. We assume they do. Events like an Artists' Talk or even an Artists Talking should be about bringing those secrets out.

The other artist, perhaps despairing, would not even tell us few gathered around the pizza table what she'd hoped to say to that greater (more of 'em) public eager enough to understand that they attended. Not much I can do about that.

The Curator Regards Idiocy - Copyright 2009 by Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Curator — a photographer who does not particularly like being
photographed — regards bureaucratic idiocy.    Anna Palmer photo

I suspect Enrique or some erudite artist, like maybe James Michael Starr or Terry Hays, though I have asked neither of them and am using their names completely without permissions here, could have done a better job emceeing that event than, shy, ego-intruded, stupid and sweaty I did. My apologies to the artists who came expecting to speak or be introduced. Someone should have made sure they had their opportunity.

Perhaps we can still tar and feather the idiot bureaucrat who redefined everything.

I had a wonderful time last night, and artists there then and since have indicated it was great for them, also. I wondered if this blog is too much about me, and too little about them, whether I've just got in the way — but nobody else knows all this shit.

The sky is a much lighter blue now. The neighborhood dogs are barking.

Artists in the show who have agreed via email to participate in the Artists' Conversation about The Winter Show. Click their links to see their art.

Said they would

Joan Iverson
Anna Palmer
Chris Fulmer
Chris Lattanzio
Gaby Pruitt
Ken Shaddock
Kathy Robinson Hays and Terry
George Bailey
Elisabeth Schalij
Marty Ray
Carroll Swenson-Roberts
TJ Mabrey
Nancy Ferro
Jeanne Sturdevant

Did anyway

James Michael Starr
Sheila Cunningham
Rebecca Boatman
Susan Lecky
Bob Nunn
Cecillia Thurman


Saturday January 3  

Wow! That could not have turned out better. Well, maybe if I'd been organized, knew what to say, hadn't got all nervous and sweaty when I did talk, etc. But our — The Conversation was spectacular. And whoever sent out that last minute PR on the Artists Talk got the timing right on the button. Said the right things in the right place at the right time to the right people.

Perfect, considering the lemons we had to work with. Wonderful crowd. Very participatory.

I don't yet know what all I got recorded on my Clip. I know it stopped recording after it filled up 319.9 megabytes of .WAV file voice data, and that probably some of the conversations I shared with people tonight thinking I was recording them did not get recorded. But the event itself was all so near perfect, I don't care.

One member then told me I should quit whining and just enjoy whatever happened tonight. I told him to go fuck himself. Yet he was there tonight, and he didn't seem upset. Maybe he didn't check his email. Maybe he just assumes I'm an asshole sometimes. He'd be right.

Because I was so careful not to plan tonight's events (because that makes me even more nervous), I didn't know what to do when something needed to be done. Basically, I waited till Nancy and TJ got there, then I started scrambling to figure out what to do. Some people were sitting on the chairs Enrique and I put out before most people arrived. I liked sitting, and I figured other people would, too. But I didn't really want them to sit and listen to me or anybody else pontificate all night, but still I made sure there were enough chairs for everybody.

I'd hoped to circle the chairs, but it was more of a misshapen oblong around that end of the hall, blocking access to Marilyn's show in the big gallery and the museum but not Jeanne's in the back. I felt need to get everybody together, so I less than subtly herded them to sit in the "circle," then I tried to think what to say, said it, some of it maybe a couple of times, then told them to (Maybe this is what happened; I don't listen to myself any better than I listen to anybody else, so it's not all that certain; but this is the way I remember it.) ask any questions they needed to ask or make any statements they needed to state, and when that was over a little later, I said I hoped they'd all keep talking, and I finally stopped — talking and sweating — and they went back to talking.

It seemed like it was necessary to give people permission to just keep talking, that that's what this Conversation was all about, as close as I could figure it.

I'd decided sometime this afternoon that stopping that many people from all talking at once was just wrong. That it wasn't all one Big Conversation, it was just The Conversation. So I didn't stop them, and they didn't stop, and it was several orders of wonderful as everybody talked about art, including the art in our show. Most people circulated and recirculated through the exhibition, talking.

The Crowd at "The Conversation" - photo Copyright 2009 by Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Part of the crowd at The Conversation    Anna Palmer photo

I went around recording conversations with lots of people, asking them questions like which piece was their most favorite and least favorite and why, and whatever that led to. It was wonderful. I had a wonderful time, and others reported they did, too. Maybe about 40 people stood or sat around talking in the hall tonight, till after 9 pm.

It was much more interesting to me, more focused, than the opening. Others told me that. I felt it.

Eight of us went to Lover's Pizza after we stacked up all the chairs, and we had wonderful big pizza slices (mine was spinach, Canadian bacon and sun dried tomatoes) and chianti and water and lots more talk about art and artists and the show and, of course, everything else.

I'm so glad whoever sent out that last minute publicity sent it out just when they did and said in it exactly what they said, which is just what needed saying and sending. It didn't matter any whatsoever that it, what I pissed and moaned about yesterday, "redefined the event." We all of us there present tonight defined our own event. Listened very nicely to J R say whatever J R said, then went out and did precisely what they were doing before he interrupted what they had been doing to gather them together to tell them whatever he/I said. And we talked and talked and talked about stuff and art. And it was so much fun.

I met some new people, some old people and several people who said they were going to join. I told them what I always tell people who tell me that, that I'll believe it when I get their checks. I got two checks, and I believed it.

Thanks everybody who attended, who participated, who talked with me and to me and to anybody else. Who sent out the last-minute PR.

And just wow.

Saturday January 3

I still expect a good conversation at the Bath House, where artists and others will talk about art 7-9 tonight. We may even discuss art hype (See below.)

After awhile of that, we did retire to Lover's Pizza in nearby Casa Linda (9440 Garland Road MapQuest] in the SW quadrant of Garland Road at Buckner Boulevard, a couple doors south of the glowing neon theatre [We have no affiliation with Lover's; we just eat cheap there sometimes.], where a big slice of real 22-inch pizza is only $3, they have other genuine Italian food not prepacked franchise crap [PDF menu], there's room to rearrange tables for a crowd, and they're open till ten.

Ken Shaddock - Spooky Encounter on a Dark Mountain Path

Ken Shaddock - Spooky Encounter on a Dark Mountain Path, 2008   digital collage   $300

Friday January 2

Perversely, the City of Dallas Art whoozit has chosen to send out publicity for "an Artists Talk" there tomorrow night. I have insisted upon using the words, informal conversation for the event, but whoever wrote the publicity either didn't know that or did not care. So now, likely there will be more persons in some sort of audience expecting an organized Artists Talk.

Which they ain't gonna get.

We'll be in there conversing among ourselves and anyone who shows up, despite the idiot publicity that has at this last possible moment, attempted to completely redefine the event, is invited to join our conversation. At least they got the "informal" part right.

An Artists Talk with 13 artists sounds like a panel discussion, which concept is antithetical to anything informal. Now I expect people in suits to come expecting box seats. This audience isn't going to find chairs or any specific area to float in, if I can help it — although it may largely be out of my hands and my definition, and that just pisses me off.

They did call the show's term (perforated as it was by an eight-day lapse) "a highly acclaimed run," for which I've seen zero evidence, except here, but then I'm only the curator, so what do I know? And "an inspiring group exhibition featuring works in an array of media by the diverse artists who support DallasArtsRevue.com," which is entirely accurate, if clumsily verbose and redundant. 

I strongly suspect someone else there wrote this. Enrique signs his work, and he is honest and not prone to empty, theatrical hype. He also follows this blog, so he'd know the tenor I am trying to engender — that I've used to pry shy artists from the safety of their studios out into what I had hoped and promised would only be the semi-public of our conversation.

My apologies to those artists for this rude, last-minute redefinition. Although I actively participated in all other aspects of this show's publicity, I had nothing to do with this idiocy. I was not consulted.

Like claiming somebody is an "internationally renowned artist," calling this show "highly acclaimed" without citing name, sources and quotes is stupid and counterproductive. If an artist is renowned, you don't have to say it. If you do have to say it, it's a lie. If this show were "highly acclaimed," having some idiot who doesn't even sign their name make that allegation is absurd. They're just lying.

Maybe we will retire to some eatery after about 45 minutes (See below), after all. That notion has begun to glow. The Bath House has been a comfortable place, but now it's giving me the creeps.

Susan Lecky - I Hear You (detail)

Susan Lecky - I Hear You (detail), 2008   acrylic on canvas   $950

Thursday January 1 2009

Writing about art is so different from making shows happen, just had to get a little pile of it into the end of last year, and I'll promise more this. Not so much it happens when it needs to, sure not when I want it. More magic when there's no plan. Amazing when those blazing colors erupt through the dermal crust. Writing what's on my mind is easy when I blog every day, about this or birds, but I'd almost lost myself in terminable exhibition minutia when that burst of art writing zinged through yesterday.

Hall el loo ja!

I see the Bath House has just sent out promo for the conversation, so I guess there'll be more of an audience than I'd anticipated. Anyone who shows up is welcome.

Wednesday December 31

Another piece that stops me in my tracks every time I stroll or scroll past is Richard Ray's Near Oak Cliff. In many ways it says winter show brighter than any here. A star shooting through a Van Gogh night-skyscape in which light from churches glows more important than blankets of trees over the city's undulating topography. White along the edges, limned light that always reminds me of snow. The full-circle crescent moon and energy auras enliven the intense, charcoal firmament it calms me to contemplate.

Kathy Robinson-Hays' new work thrills in its transitions, catching an artist's nervous change from texture-obscured forms to comix shapes a little humor sneaks into, and I've just caught myself lusting after three Nature Paintings in a row (Susan Lecky's the first), with more to follow. Kathy's polar bear caught on the melting ice of the coming Brown Age, like a flaming coyote writhing in blue-stripe pools mixing little land and water-scapes floating in the free spaces of an ancient Japanese print updated, a turving topsy worldscape of tawny ochres.

Esther Ritz' subtle mystery of Vanish on the invitation is still flowers, if I want them to be, but I also see a writhing dynamic under its buttered popcorn sky, of red and subtle hints of red on black shadowy ground, an unbound dance of the sugar plum furies, a flurry of Epiphyllum, exotic daisies, maybe poppies, intense crimson of the life bloody landscape swirling the force that through the red fuse drives our lives.

Nearly opposite, JeanE's rippling Waterscape is bright with splattered reflections wrinkling in dense wet blue. Her poolscapes [on her member page] that usually yield easily to translated shapes reflected, here splash a riot of unrecognizable reality, abstracted further than she usually allows.

George Bailey's vivid fantasy of glowing pastels floats like psychedelic buds in a zero grav universe; Elisabeth Schalij's lilting jellyfish plant forms wisp in submersion; Michael Helsem's writhing Paean and Deliverance escapes the comic in a roiling Dante-esque landscape prosceniumed in his subtly simpatico painted wood frame; Matt Kaplinsky's Architecture of Flora ties the organic skein threading through all these Nature paintings into a formalized structure; and Bonnie Wilber's windows into the past show us more floating miasma and more red flowers, joys in the after worlds.

Three other pieces were included in my earlier story at the bottom of this page.

Susan Lecky - Wonderment of Spring, 2008

Susan Lecky - Wonderment of Spring, 2008   colored pencil 

Tuesday December 30

This evening the hit counter for Fierce matched the hit counter for this page at 2020. Visually ideal. Then upped it a few. Linking Fierce here so you can see it, seems counterproductive, but I've been watching these silly numbers — my only real connection to the last two DARts shows. Seems stupid. To have a show that's not a show, because nobody can see it. And to watch hit counters, hoping this one will beat one that's been up 18 days longer. I understand the Bath House crew needs a vacation. So do I.

I finally got chutzpah enough to crop the photo of Susan Lecky's scrumptious I Hear You painting into what now tops this page. Look at those colors and the winding way they're strung together, layered with texture and flower-like shapes. Green.

I've been lusting after just such an element of her multi-element pieces. She doesn't want to part with parts, and I understand. But when I reproduce them here or on her page, they get small and hard to fathom. Her details make JPEG's horizontal compression algorithm crazy and the files huge. Nice to see part of one large for a change, though I get lost in the labyrinths — especially with bright clean colors. I just stare at this one.

Monday December 29

Home stretch: It's still weird to have a show open but not at the moment — and not for awhile yet, and when it does finally (no kidding) open again, it's only for two days, then it's not, forever. Too weird to contemplate or talk about in the present tense. Altogether too much like not having a show, except nobody picked up their work. Yet.

Medium-sized to-do when that happens. As that happens, while it's happening. Since the conversation (The Conversation) will likely continue through the first take-down. And probably the last one. Our elapsing egresses will extend longer than the opening.

No real publicity for The Conversation, except on this remarkably popular page (as contraindicated by the three-person response when I asked; it may soon pass the hits on the Fierce show). If more than the 16 artists show up, the hall will be packed (literal hall and literally packed). I expect at least one more than those 16, since I will probably attend, although inevitably some who've promised won't, because they only signed up out of some misplaced sense of guilt or have got all nervous about talking about their art, neatly forgetting, we'll be talking about all art. Or something. One artist who did not sign up, has just signed off, sending regrets about a prior engagement.

Another wrote saying she can't imagine talking about art for two whole hours (I've spent whole years talking about art ((especially when DARE was infant)), and I'm pretty sure she has, too.), that we should kick the place after 45 minutes then do dinner somewhere [else].

Noble as that ambition is, it'll take at least a half hour, mayhaps all 45 of her minutes, before most of the artists (we are artists, after all) show up mumbling excuses. And what would we do at dinner but talk more, while half of us couldn't hear the other half's conversations.

Two hours does seem an eternity, until we forget time altogether and just talk about art, which is longer than forever and never long enough.

I think of it as a party. My latest updatest is to start talking — as if I could stop, anyway — when I get to the Bath House, continue whatever happens along the way and document it all the while, on my Clip, which I'll have to clear of all my Paul Slavens shows to make room for three hours of art talking. Or so.

Those who come early, middle or late, are all invited to join in, but it might be difficult to determine when The official Conversation begins, middles and ends, since it will already have begun when most of you — expecting the usual Texas Time to start us 15 or 20 minutes after the stated and slightly advertised start time.

It is a conversation, not a lecture or an Artists Talk or any of those official, stand-and-deliver sorts of events where an audience centers their attentions on a person in the metaphoric spotlight. No spots. No stars. Just us. Talking about what we do and why and all those niggling details and whatever else comes up.

Off-topic will not be operative, since there's no topic. Just people talking.

Jeanne Sturdevant, whose show is in the back room coincident with The Winter Show will join us at the conversation. She is an artist, first and foremost, and thereby eligible for this thing, as well as a Supporting Member of DallasArtsRevue, and she has work down past the hall at the Bath House till whenever, also.

There's still a few pieces that have made it to this page, got shunted off, bounced back on, then off, or never got here in the first place that have to be here. I'm tired of moving them around. Just when I find the perfect contextual placement, I need it for the latest entry, move it, and I just added a half dozen more.

Eventually, when I retire this page, I'll re-sort images, so they make sense, then stop, but that's a ways off yet.


Friday December 26

The show is still up. In the gallery as it has been what seems like forever now. But the gallery is closed Christmas through New Years, so it's very like not having a show. Odd feeling this. All the other DARts shows have been one or two-day affairs, so having one up for three whole weeks (giving the eight-day week this and taking another few days after New Year's it is, this week, an off and on-again situation that does not feel right, at all).

I suppose that's part of why we got it. Of course, nobody in their right mind would go out of their way to ask for this hallways space. Except, of course, it being in the big middle of everything, everyone who goes, intending to visit any of the three other spaces, has to go through the hallway, at least briefly.

And there's the fact that we have hung an enticing, colorfully diverse exhibition of mostly quite small, eminently approachable pieces of art, I don't see how anyone who goes to the Bath House to see art would skip it, although to do so would mean they'd have to blindfold themselves and stumble into one of three other spaces.

The hallway is the least appreciated space at the center, yet I keep hearing that, at the opening reception, it was the most popular. I keep hearing that from fellow members of DallasArtsRevue, so we can't take it as unvarnished, objective truth (which does not exist), but I noticed the same effect and assumed I saw it because I wanted to.

I did want to, almost enough to make it happen. Jeanne Sturdevant's solo show in the back gallery was nice, though I'd become comfortable with some of those pieces over the past few years, the serpentine art in the middle were fascinating. But, to get there, one had to transverse the hallway.

I keep wanting to drop by there to make those last few gallery shots of the whole caboodle. Today, while I was looking for birds around the lake, I even checked carefully as I drove by, high above the Bath House for Enrique's car, which wasn't there, so I didn't stop. I had the wrong lens, anyway. (I shoot birds with something I call the Rocket Launcher, because it looks like one when I carry it by its handle/tripod mount. It's a long lens). Shooting the show needs a wide angle.

But the show continues to haunt my daylight thoughts and dreams. I guess I'll arrive early at The Conversation to take gallery shots, and continue through the event, then document the pieces coming down. Till they're all gone.

Tuesday December 23

Gale Lambert -  Grooming

Gale Lambert   Grooming, 2008   acrylic and oil   $300  

Finally, today I photographed the rest of the show, except that I did not — as I had intended — shoot the entirety from several directions. I did, however, photograph all the individual pieces I had not good-enough-for-me photographs of already.

Marilyn Waligore was in the big room next door doing the same thing for her show, although she was using lights on poles (that gallery is a devil for bright sunlight days, because there's a skylight on the far side that throws off color cameras from the tungsten lights that lights almost everything else in there) that kept flashing. It seemed odd that she was photographing her photographs she must already have photos of.

I entertained the notion of documenting parts of Jeanne Sturdevant's show in the back gallery, since she is a member and a friend and there are works there I like a lot (that again), but then I settled on keeping it simple. It was cold and foggy outside and a cool in the front room, but it got overwarm after an hour of shooting up a and down (following the bouncing work) the hallway. I kept peeling off layers.

So now I have decent photographs of all the pieces and shall begin to repopulate this page with all of them. Work which has now acquired details and textures, even colors we might not previously have seen here. Even whole pieces and ones that are among the show's finest.

Most artists simply cannot be depended upon to photograph their own work. It's a whole 'nother skill set. See How to Photograph Your Work by yours truly elsewhere on this site.

Bucket Head - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

J R Compton   Bucket Head, 2008   photograph   $250   not in show

Sunday December 21

Was reading the Winter Sow (sorry) Show blow (sorry) blog and I sympathize with the artist who had to think about what s/he would say about his/her work in conversation before committing to actually conversing about it. When I first read about the idea of a conversation with actual artists about the show and especially my meager contribution to it I was struck with a real episode of anxiety, which I found strange and unexpected.

Gulp. Don't think I can do that. But then I thought, what the hell, why not, all I have to lose is whatever self-esteem I have accumulated in the last however many years I have been alive, and J R can catch it all for posterity on his camera and then document it on the internet in perpetuity, or whatever, you know, forever, maybe longer. So looking at it from that perspective, it should be fun, and I hear the cookies are fat free. See ya there.

By the way, I am working frantically on "The Sacrament of War," trying to stay ahead of the nightmares.


Marty Ray - Moving Uptown

Marty Ray   Moving Uptown, December 2008   stoneware, glaze & slip   $900

Saturday December 20

13 artists have signed up for the conversation January 3. That's plenty (although I'd be delighted for more). It's a small hall packed with small and smallish pieces of art, a dozen or more folk in there plus any audience will pack the house. Small is good for conversation. Orchestrating an actual conversation among any crowd larger than, say, three, is pushing it, although I've enjoyed wonderful conversations among six or seven people, but in few of those did only one person speak at a time.

I was the fifth member of the conversation in my photograph just below, when I'd backed away from to document the impromptu event. We were talking about Ken's piece, "The Alchymical Byrd," which contains a lot of strange, to most of us — it was natural and real to Ken — lore and logic. The five of us shared gentle conversation, with only one of us speaking at any time. It continued as long as it needed to, then dissipated.

For me, at least, any conversation with my old and dear friend Ken Shaddock (formerly of Victor Dada and other cultural references, including his enigmatic performance art presence at Fierce, where his real work was refused by the gallery) is enlightening and enlivening. Our talks are rarely gravitied to the planet. They loop and soar. The artists on the right are new to me and DallasArtsRevue. This dialogue occurred naturally, probably started with questions, gathered itself around the art on the table, then expanded, as conversations do.

We'll talk about the art by the participating artists, of course, but I doubt our talk will be tethered to those artists' work, we'll include all the show in our ramblings — or whatever seems important at the moment.

Friday December 19

Informal Discussion - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Ken Shaddock (center) leads a very informal discussion on symbology.
Left to Right participating artists : Anna Palmer, Ken, Glenn Comtois and
Elaine Merritt — an impromptu conversation among artists.

It's Friday again. I've got an email from a member artist who was "interested in hearing the other artists tell about their work," but "I'll have to think about what I have to say about my work before I commit." Which attitude I found antithetic to conversation. I really hope this thing will be an actual conversation. If it starts getting speechy, preachy or condescending or any of those mucky-muck isms, I'll probably ask a direct question of someone who hasn't been talking.

It needs to be casual with an emphasis on communion. Together talking. Tete-a-tete, not colloquy. Exchange not speechification. Aspects of argument are acceptable. Dialogue essential. Fun probable. If it gets too serious or heated (as conversations might), the moderator will change the subject, try to maintain the energy, but parry it off into another direction, knowing it will likely loop back.

Conversation can be a delicate act. They stop in the middle, trail off, plow through puns, get lost, find their ways back and head off into directions we never planned. Public conversations, especially with more people, can be difficult.

I admit I sometimes actually think about what I'm going to say before I say it — and even then it always comes out different than the carefully logical wording I'd planned, but the best conversations are free and loose and loop and feed back and are full of intended and unintended humor and exchanges of ideas and ways of thinking. Conversations that are prepared are a drag. When one of those rears its ugly head in real life, I wander off to talk with someone else.

I hope artists are not afraid of this capital C Conversation. I look forward to openings — which are terrible times and places to see art — more for the conversations to be had there, than for anything else. I learn in real give-and-take conversations, talking with darned few rules except civility when that just has to happen. I am excited about the possibilities of this closing conversation. I can't imagine it will all be smooth or even gentle.

Chris Fulmer at Delivery - Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Chris Fulmer at Delivery

As I was telling Bruce Felps, Editor of Lakewood (and other Dallas neighborhoods) Now online (That's him top right with a typewriter on his shoulder) for an upcoming story about me (????), I love art lectures for the opportunity to sit in a darkened room and watch visual stimuli (slide shows, etc.) and carefully worded ideas where I can set my mind to wandering in a quaisi-meditational trance.

But dialog, like Bruce and I've been having at Dixie Lakewood on Fridays lately and other conversations I have with dear friends and artists I meet at openings and closings are gangbusters fun, because they're open-ended, non-chronological (I'd sure hate to have to go back and put everything I've told Bruce into chron order, although I didn't mind living it that way), fun, surprising, revealing and all those other things that make real conversations — even directed ones — so amazing and worth any initial heebie-jeebies.

But to be an actual conversation, it's gotta be real. That's the trick.

Every time I looked at those stupid gold globs on some of the art on this page, I shuddered. Gag reflex still operative, I removed them after a few days of ill feelings (mine, all mine), Only three globs left on this page. One under the jazz horn player who played at the opening, the one in the paragraph down there talking about globs. And this one (gold glob).

When I write about works in the show, you'll probably figure out which ones I like and more importantly, why. Actually, I've already written about some works, including Carroll Roberts' South for Winter, and several other map pieces in the story near the bottom of this page)

 Fannie Brito - Last Minute for J R - photograph Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fannie Brito   Last Minute for J R (Suenos II)   pigment and acrylic on wood   $650

Friday December 19

When I wrote (somewhere below) about reviewing this show, I spoke of liking, appreciating and etcetera some pieces more than others, which is not the nexus of quality art criticism but rather something art writers sometimes (I often) get caught up into. We're at our best when we let you use your minds' eyes to see the piece as we do, so you can make up your own mind about it.

Saying we like it or that it affects us is simplistic. We should labor to explain why without you catching us at it. So what if we like something when most people either don't notice or don't care? The answers may make writing comprehensible. Could make art crit(icism) worth reading.

But there is liking and liking. I've just negotiated to purchase one piece from this show. It's a small piece I can afford. It's something I liked hugely the moment I saw it, and knew immediately it was what I was looking for for the invitation. It wasn't until I re-posted its price, yester, just below, that I began dreaming of having it. Putting it on my office wall. A winter solstice present to myself.

I am a birder and a photographer of birds, and while I like my bird photos sharp and recognizable, I do not require those traits in other media. I love this piece, because it tells a simple story, efficiently with appropriate color and technique. That its color is winterish cool adds to its appeal. The artist, Carroll Swenson-Roberts, originally called it something else, but she let me rename it (That happened twice in this exhibition). I thought South for Winter concise and obvious, so that stands. It's obviously about migration.

I appreciate that not all the birds are flying uniformly in any direction. They swoop and swirl. And some that fly against the tide are warm colored and small, emphasizing the cold by offerring small portions of warm colors. I like the fluffy, amorphous land mass, if that's what it is, and nearly ubiquitous clouds, lending a true bird's eye view. Most bird pics are horizontal, this is a straight-down vertical at our little world these dinosaurs fly over, using the jetstream to move quickly across our sight.

It feels cool yet dynamic, with cartoon simplicity and obvious shorthand shapes that we instantly understand. Symbols across a map (that word again) like we see behind TV weather persons on the nightly news. Bird migration being one of the basic facts we all understand as we view thi deceptively simplistic, small work.

Sheila Cunningham - Shadow Stocks - image Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Sheila Cunningham   Shadow Blocks, 2008    photograph construction   $500

Speaking of that word again (way below), this may be the first notice I've made of it here, except a link at the top, but I did a small story of art criticism on a few other pieces in this show for the home page several weeks back, to point readers to this page and The Winter Show. That short, untitled comparison of some of the better pieces here has hung at the very bottom of this page since I grew tired of seeing the same thing on the cover. So that was my first, I think successful, attempt at a review from this show, although I will write more.

The other instance of me naming a piece that had had another name that the artist couldn't remember is Fannie Brito's "Last Minute for J R (Suenos II)," which has not yet made it to this page. She'd submitted her other piece, then because I so wanted two pieces by eaach artist, she went back for one more, but was unsure what to name it. This is what she came up with.

Thursday December 18

Alexandra Bonifield, the latest potential art critic for The Dallas Observer, sent her review of the shows currently at the Bath House, including ours. I have carefully excerpted The Winter Show's portion of it here, with her permission and only slight punctuation and style changes. Her full story may be found in about the middle of Critical Rant & Rave: Alexandra Bonifield.

Art Takes Flight at Bath House


Carroll Swenson-Roberts - South for Winter, 2008   ink and watercolor on clayboard   8 x 10 inches   $75

Flight patterns of migratory birds: they surge and soar, hover and circle, commune, or glide in solo contemplative regard. I gauge the success of an art show opening by the continuity of motion through the space, like migration. If the show is hung well, appropriately lit, the flow has a palpable dynamic. If the art offers substance and depth, the viewing experience satisfies. The Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake currently presents a multi-layered winter art show in its tri-chambered gallery space, with no detail of creative display off-kilter. ...

DallasArtsRevue’s The Winter Show sparks the imagination of milling viewers with a thought-provoking “multi-dimensional mosaic” including seventy paintings, collages, prints, mixed media photography and sculpture. It presents works by forty-one artist members [of DallasArtsRevue]. ...

It’s a feast of colors, shapes, textures, ideas, creative concepts and eclectic whimsy. No discordant jumble, it’s a carefully juxtaposed kaleidoscope thanks to the skillful planning of the Bath House’s Curator and Cultural Programs Coordinator Enrique Fernandez Cervantes. “Every year we receive ninety proposals for gallery shows, and we can only mount fourteen or fifteen,” Cervantes says.” We choose shows that will work well together, either thematically congruent or as contrasting expressions with integrated elements.” An advisory committee of arts professionals and community members juries proposals. “Serving the needs of our community is integral to the Bath House’s mission, so we favor DFW regional artists. Sometimes making the final choice can be a tough decision. Jeanne Sturdevant’s current show came to us in proposal last year, but we didn’t have the right pairing for her work until now.” ...

Rebeca Boatman - Hope Triptych

Rebecca Boatman   Hope Triptych, 2008   stoneware and mixed media   $675

Compton’s DallasArtsRevue.com’s The Winter Show forms a tunnel of eclectic diversity between Waligore and Sturdevant’s thematically unified shows. D Magazine has called J.R. Compton “Dallas’ best local arts promoter." Passionately dedicated to gaining exposure and recognition for local arts and artists, Compton includes both emergent and well-known artists in this show.

Sheila Cunningham’s three-dimensional “Shadowblocks” photograph construction and Rebecca Reagan Boatman’s “Hope Triptych” in stoneware and mixed media inspired animated commentary at the opening reception, as did Kenneth D. Shaddock’s disturbing digital photomontage “Alchymical Byrd" and Art Shirer’s welded steel “Moon Shadow.” Fannie Brito’s “Distancia Entre Dos Puntos”, a mesmerizing pigment and acrylic on wood, and companion works — stoneware and oils by the husband and wife team Marty and Richard Ray, drew reception patrons in close to view and back again to re-view as they migrated through the galleries.

The Bath House Cultural Center winter art show is not so vast that one needs hiking boots and GPS to traverse it, yet vast enough to stimulate appreciation for its diverse wealth of creativity. It’s always pleasant to visit the Bath House at White Rock Lake. Indulge yourself in a warm, rich artistic experience as winter’s frosty bluster descends.

Elisabeth Schalij

Elisabeth Schalij   Afloat, 2008   monoprint   $150

Wednesday December 17

Just so I know who's reading this, please send me an email telling me where you live and what kind of art you do, if any. I will compile the results here, and throw away your emails, so I will not keep your email addresses more than one day, and I will never use your email addresses for any purpose but to reply, ever. I promise. Say anything else you want, too, but be assured I will keep your anonymity.

Well, apparently, I'm doing this blog for two people, the only two who've responded to this plea. I already knew those two and had already hoped they were reading this, so I haven't learned much, and perhaps that's just the way it is.

Tiana Wages - Today, 2008

Tiana Wages   Today, 2008   oil on wood   $1,500

Tuesday December 16

I often change, sometimes significantly, text in previous entries. It's unlikely anyone will reread old text just to learn how better I've edited words below, but I do, and I will. Sometimes these entries just grow. I start with a few lines, then since I'm updating often anyway, I accidentally upload just those starts, some of which don't go anywhere. I've had whole days like that.

The purpose of this blog seems to have connected. I wish I knew to whom; who all reads this page. I wonder whether many of you are even in Dallas. Or why you're here, reading this page. It's exciting to have as many as a couple hundred hits a day, because the art criticism (reviews) I usually write sometimes don't get that many, ever. I sometimes track them for my own ego, hardly ever to aim my writing toward that which is popular. I'm too much my own person for that. Or contrarian.

One of the continuing most popular pages is our revue of art critic and educator Dave Hickey's lecture at UTD a few years ago, although that one's hits pale in comparison with Visiting Tom & Frances or the Ops page or How to Photograph Art, among others.

I am DallasArtsRevue is more ways than I have sometimes realized. I had no idea what it would become. I only knew I had things to say that would often involve strong opinions. I called it "fiercely independent" from before the beginning (when I first published it on paper in 1979). DARts' only real purposes are my own. I used to cringe when people said whatever they were doing, they were "doing it for the community." I'm doing it for me, mostly. It's handy and nice that the community appreciates it as much as they do.

Other stories, when I look back at them later or need to update something (which I sometimes do, as I do here), I find to be much more popular than during the first few weeks or months after they were posted. After I no longer follow their hits, which neither I nor anyone else reading from my Internet Service Provider (big company) can alter in any way, meaning there are many more hits than I can check via the inevitable counter at the bottom of most DARts pages.

Annie Davis - Let's Play

Annie Davis - Let's Play, 2008   steel   $500

Part of me wants to write a review of The Winter Show. I suspect that part is internal and connected to my digestive track, and just doesn't get out enough. Another part (brain, probably) knows what a bad idea that could be. There are pieces in this show that I admire greatly. I've mentioned a few of those with compliments, but I've been careful.

Unfortunately, there are also pieces I do not like. I've written before that while I don't go out of my way to dis works I actively do not like, I might let loose on works in a show that contains work I do like and am moved to write about. That there are those, here, drives me. So it continues to be a struggle not to write a review of this show. The fact that I'm the curator, and everything in this show is my fault contributes to my hesitance.

I've already been turned around about several pieces I had thought ill of. Probably nice (for me) to know that my mind changes, can change. There are also pieces I once liked that I've grown tired of. Probably my favorite pieces are those I sense a change of direction in. Where the artist had been going along doing one thing, and now they're off in another direction. That can be exciting to watch, although not all transitions are.

When I first beheld Lynn Rushton's Mother & Child, I was disappointed this much smaller painting was not in the florid Romantic style of her larger works — often involving hugging and looking fondly. She pulls off those, what I think of as Editorial Illustrations that'd be perfect for large-format magazines that do fiction, with intelligence and polish, not smarmy emotion, and I like them immensely. See her Member Page for those strong paintings. I like that artists with vastly differing styles help support this website, and that they are included in this community and this show.

That's the positive side of curating. The more or less neutral side includes letting some artists do whatever they like or they need to do, then either liking it or lumping it. Liking it is positive. Lumping is neutral or negative. I may have lumped too much this time, but the next show will likely involve more regulation and specificity. Might even be a better exhibition. It will be a larger one in a larger, more posh space.

Not every piece I post on this page is something I like. I am attempting to post every piece in the here, although I know there are pieces that still haven't got this far. Pieces I've placed at the top of this page are more likely to be art I like a lot.

Something in me (another of those internal organs) is stopping me from simply listing my favorite pieces in this show, but I'm seriously thinking of blotting this portrait (It's tall and vertically scrolling, so it's not a landscape.) with dots of some color that, when clicked, directly link to the next piece down the page, in no particular order. I did that with my poetry on my personal website, so one can link rapidly through that great (as in large) pile of words via the large yellow diamonds. Click each succeeding one, and you'll get my drift and see what I consider my best of that stuff.

Kathy Robinson-Hays - Recurring Dreams

Kathy Robinson-Hays   Recurring Dreams, 2008   ink & watercolor on Aquaboard   $400

At one time, early in having member pages, I had link splots atop all of the pages, so it was possible to link consecutively, without going back to the Members' Index (which I've just discovered hasn't been updated in several weeks — change out the pix, clunk, clunk.) to all the work by all the Supporting Members of DallasArtsRevue. It's too complex keeping up with who does and does not renew their memberships among this sites many members now, but click-linking down this page may be feasible.

Do I really want to tell some members in a members' show that I far prefer others' work? Oh, never mind. That's obvious. Of course I do. I'll talk about what I like and why and ignore entirely both the ones I kinda like and kinda don't and really really don't — along with, for now, at least, the ones I am still growing to appreciate and will eventually get a gold glob, but I'm just not sure yet. Just like always.

Upon this and other considerations, I've decided to content myself and anyone else who's open to contention to citing my absolute favorites here. I've just placed gold globs ( gold glob) left over from an early iteration of the largely abandoned (by its originator; we still keep it up) Aesthetic Crisis Center where it marked the best of the best on that page. And I think I started using it on Fontaholics Anonymous, my site that proceeded DallasArtsRevue online. About fonts, that I took down after its first 200,000 hits when I needed to put my energies into this site instead — while I was still mad at ART (in general) for making The MAC out of remnants of DARE.

I'll link the globs when I begin writing the review of those pieces, most of which will remain in their current context, although I've appropriated these two of my favorites, since they are so opposite in several ways, while being close in my personal appreciation. But linking will have to wait till I've posted all the really best ones onto this page, which inevitably means that long-procrastinated tripod trip to the Bath House. But probably not on this already cold cold day. Today, while there's still light and cold, I'm going off to shoot me some birds.

Rebecca Boatman - Continuom

Rebecca Boatman - Continuom, 2008   smoke-fired
stoneware with fused glass and metal   14 x 6 x 6 inches   

Monday December 15 actually from Sunday

I attended another event this afternoon that was billed as "a conversation." I went, because my friend Elisabeth Schalij invited me, and she's in that show, too (as well as being in The Winter Show). I'd told her I'd see her latest work, and photograph some for her member page.

Like our upcoming event, this one coincided with an exhibition, was held amidst it and featured artists in the show — three. It also had a moderator, a group of attendees, coffee and cookies. I was watching carefully and listening to what happened, step by step. I did not go just to study the event, but once there I spent most of my attention parsing and mentally deconstructing it to learn how to, and how not to, moderate the winter show conversation.

This one started with people introducing themselves, which is probably a good idea. I said I was a writer and a photographer. Others insisted on disclosing that I published DallasArtsRevue. Not sure why they couldn't just leave me with my own introduction, I wasn't covering the show, and I'm not going to write a review. I was there for my own purposes as a writer and photographer.

Docent Tour - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Docent Tour at a commercial gallery: One person (far left — glowing hands) doing
all the talking in an event advertised as a conversation. Am I missing something?

Several people did that with another attendee who publishes an art events ListServ, and the moderator later separated yet another guy out (all of us called attention to were males, although all the artists were female) as "the collector" in the group. I, too, consider myself a collector, and have an extensive collection I have documented online, but I'd have been as uncomfortable being called that as the guy there was. Again, it seemed rude and antithetic to a good conversation among equals.

That moderator led the discussion, insisted we discuss the art using his convoluted and unexplained terminology ("The Layerists"?) and dictatorially steered the supposed dialog back to what he wanted it to be about, instead of letting it flow like real conversations, personal and branching, with each participant speaking from their own point of view. I promised myself to let ours flow freely, anarchistically.

I'd been thinking about starting the winter conversation by noting the multiples of subject matter themes — self-portraits, landscapes, abstractions, birds, animals, whatever. But now I'll let everyone there introduce themselves, attempt to keep others from de- and re-introducing other attendees, then mostly let the conversation go, unless someone hogs it.

This one was held around tables pushed together at the far end of the spacious gallery. Happily a table won't fit in our compressed hallway, and that square platform was too formal anyway. It was difficult to reach the chocolate brownies in the middle and sometimes hard to hear what was said on the other side. Worse, some who wanted to just listen, were forced to spout on the moderator's topics.

Gradually, I edited my plans for moderating the winter conversation. I'll start. Introduce myself, say why I'm there, ask everybody to intro themselves and tell why they're there. Suggest everybody act like it's a polite conversation. If they have something to say, wait for a pause then say it. If you just want to listen, listen. I'd toyed with the notion of letting more than just one person talk at a time — like real conversations sometimes devolve into, but that may be too chaotic, if only because I want to hear everything. And probably so do others. It is a public event.

I expect we'll walk around the hall and study specific pieces, to show what we're talking about, but it won't be just the artist leading a docent tour, I hope it'll be all of us talking and asking and answering and discussing. If anyone hogs the conversation or if there's a long silence, that's when the moderator should step in, albeit briefly.

I need to not aim anything, but be there, just in case. I'll be recording it, and — like today — wandering away from the group to photograph. I should let it go its own chosen directions, although I'll probably have a thing or two to say, too.

The Conversators - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Conversators in front of work by Elisabeth Schalij at Haley Henman Gallery

Sunday December 14

Can you believe it took this long for me to remember to put prices on work in this show that was designed from the very beginning to be a pre-Chrismas exhibition of small pieces with small prices? Though, of course, some people's usual prices are not that small.

I worry about me sometimes. Maybe a list would help. But I'm getting them on now, finally. Maybe I had somethings else on my mind before. That's always possible.

Prices are a whole 'nother ball of wax. Beginners sometimes do, and probably should, have low prices, so they can sell stuff and get that major blast of ego boo(st). Raise them gradually, as things keep selling. When they do. If they do.

If they don't, however, don't let trying to guess what people will pay for guide what you make. You'll always be wrong about why some pieces sell and others do not. Worse, people who guide their art toward selling, tend to sell out. Become hacks. Forget who they are.

The best art is always more about who you are than what you sell. It's an expression of the unique individual you are. As in writing, the more individually specific you are to yourself, and thereby what you make or write, the more universal will be your appeal.

But when more mature (again, that's got nearly nothing to do with age) artists sell work in any venue, they have to sell at their established scale, or risk offending those who have paid other prices. Beginner or mature artist — with or without a gallery, it's a complex bugaboo. Artists who are with a gallery have to balance their asking price with the fact that they may owe the gallery half (for the noble service of making their work worth higher prices). So some prices are really low when they seem high, and versa vice.



I know less about this subject than I'd like to because I rarely sell. I realize that could be a blessing, since I might not do this show, this site, this livelihood, if I regularly sold. It'd sure be a temptation. Then again, I might not have found out what all I know about it if I'd been a financially successful artist. I wonder if I would have cared.

I've known artists who've sold by the square inch. My friend and mathematician Gregory Horndeski (one of whose work I have in my own collection) did that, starting early in his career when that rate was low, till sometime later in what I consider his middle period — before he moved to Santa Fe and started being shown in a lot of places. I don't know what his work sells for now (although I probably couldn't afford one now.)

Either. I really couldn't afford mine then, so I had to pay it out over a year and a half. Many are the possibilities of paying off art. I once knew a painting that was way too expensive the first many times I saw it (starting from the week it was painted) till many months later when it showed up at Gary Matters bolted to another painting for that same price — about double what I could afford to pay for it over time, so I asked for it at half the price if they unbolted the other painting by the same painter, and got it. That artist has since moved to NYC and charges even higher prices.

Posting prices on a web page is another fine mess, because that policy tends to attract idiots who say they want five of this and two dozen of that — or the Nigerians who will promise anything then send a bad chack to get artists in trouble cashing the fool thing. I've been on all sides. Artists like knowing what other people charge or think they can get, although not every artist will get the same prices, even if they think their work is darned near the same. Since this show was supposed to be a sale — even though it's in a noncommercial space that does not even post prices on the walls next to pieces, but will happily help potential buyers get in touch with the artists, and take a small "commission."

Chris Fulmer - Qi Jiguang

Chris Bergquist Fulmer   Qi Jiguang, 2008   mixed media on panel   15 x 12 inches   $250

I'm also getting more pieces on this already huge page, and I'm getting them into places where they make contextual sense. Several senses sometimes. I wish we could do smellavision or even sound, but I'm happy, so far, to leave that last one out. Might be interesting, though, to see what image gets to illustrate these thoughts.

I always wonder what piece will illustrate any thought I say in words and pixels. Fascinating medium this.

I'm also noticing, as I place prices on these pieces from the strangely alphabetized price list (which is, itself, covertly labeled "$0.00 - Not For Sale") that several artists have changed the titles from when they were submitted — and approved by the curator. When I like the new titles, I use them. When I don't, I won't. Curator's choice.

I keep wishing the price list also included dimensions, although would bring many more possibilities to screw up. I often need them to tell one piece by the same artist from another, especially when the major difference between two works is their size and shape. Oddly, that happens several times in this show.

Tiana Wages' lush, dense, noir self-portraits are in that category. Luckily both are the same mediums and have the same price, or I could tell Today from Tomorrow.

Which it almost is now, so I'm going to sleep. And dream.

Saturday December 13

I've been using the price list to name work on this page I didn't have titles for, and I've discovered a disconcerting alphabetization of names of artists (a common practice) who use three names to distinguish themselves. Paul Rogers Harris, Chris Bergquist Fulmer, Rebecca Reagan Boatman, Carroll Swenson-Roberts, and Kathy Robinson (the -Hays ending that name is missing in her listing) are listed by their middle names. James Michael Starr and Lynn Noelle Rushton are not. Just enough of an odd quirk to throw me off for awhile till I figured out what was going on. Our post-it notes were probably not clear about that.

Marty Ray Pot - Copyright 2008

Marty Ray pot   Kandi, 2008   stoneware, glaze and slip   $350

I'm meanwhile dealing with another disjoint, on this page. Most images were thrown in willy-nilly. Now I'm attempting a much more logical inclusion of images about what the text talks about. The section on badly wired work already had illustrations of just that. But the entry for people who don't deal with deadlines had just stuff in it. Now the errant artists' works are there, showing just how important it was to wait for them to finish was. This is a work in progress.

Other sections may receive just as appropriate illustration as time goes on, all the while realizing that many of the images here are just images from the show and not particularly appropos as illustration of any notion. All this time, I've juggled them about. I knew the current top image was going to be there for awhile, but I'm not sure what goes there next. But I have a few days. I don't count days any image stays at the top, but I try to allot about a week.

When readers see something new at the top of a page, they have some vague notion that things have changed since their last visit, although that pink update date helps, too. As I've often said, and I was the first I ever heard say it, in the Internet, the bottom line is on the top, although it hardly took genius to ferret out that information. Sometimes stating the obvious is important. Other times it's just annoying.


Friday December 12

Thought it'd be nice yester not to have more shots of work in the show. Set it apart, since I was promoting something again at the Bath House. Still got lots more shots of pieces in the show, though, and still need to drag a tripod over there to shoot the ones that have escaped hand-held shots so far.

I even know which work will top this page next — and a couple of candidates for after that. Only just now started to think what I'll leave up there when I finally go on to other pursuits and more or less abandon this page, so others can find it more serendipitously.

Most exhibitors who've fed me back so far are in favor of the event. One out-of-towner complained it should have been earlier in the day when artist talks usually are. It's not, because the show officially ends that evening, and artists couldn't take their pieces away in the middle of the day and because I didn't realize when I set the time that it was on a Saturday night.

Oh, goodie! Another list. No slashes, asterisks or squigglies this time. But a list. Growing. Slowly.

This event has been described as a party, an end of show party. I think of it more as a conversation, at the end of the show. An artists' talk where artists talk with each other and whoever else is there. The public is invited, and it's free.

Somehow, I don't see free coffee, water and cookies as much of a party. The Bath House cannot serve alcohol without a special permit, and I don't want to get a special permit. I'd rather have clear minds.

Thursday December 11

Round Table and Square Chair at the Bath House December 11, 2008not in show

A mind is a terrible thing to lose.

Mine, this time. I keep forgetting to mention that it might be interesting to have a conversation about the winter show the evening the show comes down. Artists would, of course, be invited, and while they're there, at the end of the run, they could take their work with them. Wherein yours truly got up and told some of the stories about the work in this show and the artists who made them, then set those artists loose.

I'd remember to record that, and if artists did or did not wish to participate, that'd be okay. I'm floating this as a possibility. If no one shows any interest, I might do it anyway. It both sounds like fun to me, and it would be a practical way for me to start writing about this show in a different context than this page.

The Closing Party: A Conversation about The Winter Show

Your suggestion about having artists talk about their work is very appealing. Would we also ask questions about each other's work? I suggest a guideline time limit, enforced with some well defined visual cue, like we all start throwing pop corn after a half hour is up:)

Thanks for the great picture of the inside of my bowl and the detail shots of all the other works. I now see other things I enjoy, as in Recurring Dreams.

Joan Iverson

So I guess I'm not the only one with Winter Show tunnel vision. Plus I got positive feedback the next day. I think I will be the "well-defined visual cue," and though I don't like time limits, my cue would go off quickly, since we got 41 artists, not all of whom will be there, if experience is any guide. But any number of exhibiting artists would be a lot.

Artists who do not attend The Closing Conversation could still pick up their work at the predefined calendar date.

When I suggested it to Enrique, he responded quickly:


Yes, that is a great idea. Doing it 7-9 PM would work out fine with us. There is no theater show that evening. We could provide some drinks (water, coffee) and cookies.

Go for it! We'll make sure to announce the event on our website.

Enrique Fernández Cervantes

Esther Ritz - Vanish

Esther Ritz   Vanish, 2008   oil on canvas   20 x 24 inches    $650

The official title of our new event is now An Artists' Conversation about The Winter Show, and what it took to make it happen was one suggestion in this blog, one positive email feedback by one member within a few hours (proving that some members do read the rantings of the curator), one email to Enrique at the Bath House, one back from him (both above), then one email to all DARts Members. And we'll see what happens. Joan Iverson called it The Closing Party, and that makes it make sense

Wow. It's working out. Artists keep saying it "sounds" (interesting choice for the visually endowed) like a good idea. I think so, too. So glad I changed it as I was writing the email to DARts Members to Artists' Conversation and them talking, instead of me, although I do love the sound of my own voice. Many voices are always better. But we'll be singing different tunes on different instruments to different drummers in differing keys. A heavenly chorus.

Other than the name and the description, I'm leaving further details up in the air. I look forward to orchestrating however many voices join our song. We should probably have a few chairs in there, but not many will fit, and we'll be walking (or at least I will, and I still have in mind people looking at the pieces we'll be talking about up close and personal, so other brave souls who don't anchor down in an informal conversation can see what we're talking about) around the smallish hallway.

I'll do a quick, impromptu introduction — because I get all nervous if I plan what I'll say — and let 'er rip. We will have several, if not a whole bunch, of artists who need to talk, so I'll have to referee some. But I think it'll be fun.

Later Wednesday December 10

Jeane McIntosh - Waterscape

JeanE   Waterscape, 2008   oil on canvas   $250

You might think that an undertaking like this required great planning. But I'm not good at that. After doing more than a dozen (my resume on my site) shows, I've simply learned when to do things — and when not doing them would blow the deal. After a few decades, it becomes second nature. I don't make or keep lists, anymore, though I have stacks of them under a bed somewhere from the last century. If I ever do write a page called How to Produce an Art Exhibition, I'll probably have to put up some sort of chronology.

But that's cheating.

What I do is start a page like this and the Fierce page for that show last summer. Then soon as I realize something else needs doing, I put it here, so everybody involved can read about it and know what's going on, what's expected of them and when.

Some things you gotta have: One needs artists, which I've got plenty of right now (always have me, anyway). A space with hangable walls somewhere people can find and aren't afraid to go. People willing to do unenviable tasks, like carting heavy sculptures or pile through entry forms, so we get the labels right, and somebody knowledgeable to check every piece someone brings in to make sure it'll hang right (next time). A little publicity. An invitation. And some other stuff that will occur to me as I write that eventual story.

Oh, yeah, people who are visually intelligent and skilled at hanging shows and others to attend the opening and keep coming in the days after the over-crowded reception. Today, there to take photos of pieces new to this page, I met whom might be one of the two interchanging Dallas Observer art critics.

Remember when I thought I was gonna be the Observer's one art critic and wrote a series of stories to meet the editor's ever-changing notion of what constituted an art critic even though he didn't bother to communicate with me six weeks at a time? Thoughts of Ain't life interesting amid pangs of wondering what would have happened if I were more open to ditching this site and going over to the dark side. 

The new, interchanging freelance writer (on the far left of the reception image somewhere on this page) who really wanted to do theatre reviews was curious about The Winter Show, asked, and I answered for about twenty minutes, regaling her with all kinds of inter-relationships in the show. Grand fun. Beats the heck out of writing such a tome. She'd need a tape recorder or an audialgraphic mind to remember half of it.

I had my Sansa Clip (much cheaper iPlod clone with recorder and FM radio) but didn't have the good sense to turn it on, so I'd record what I know and said. That woulda made writing the eventual story a lot easier. La la.

Fascinating, though, that of all that information I shared with her (That's her at the far left of the crowd scene at the opening below.) only tiny bits were anything like art crit. I shared stories about artists as people and as artists, how pieces fit in their oeuvre, what series they were working on, what they're doing now, etc.

Norman Kary - Portrait of the Artist

Norman Kary   Portrait of the Artist   collage, 2008   $700

Wednesday December 10

I think today I'll visit some silly show over at the Bath House and take photographs of pieces I haven't photographed yet. Pretty sure there's some neither I nor they have made JPEGs of for me. Yet. Probably some I even like. We'll see. Last time I looked at it I couldn't the art for the show. Maybe this time it'll focus. Gonna be real cold outside, maybe some birds will be perched on the bars in back.

Then, while working on this page, again, early this morning, I noticed, finally, that this page has become something of its own, de facto X (on line X ibition) of The Winter Show. At first I was afraid to show everything in the show here, because I wanted people to come see the actual, physical display. But how likely is that? I don't even know where most of the readers of this page occupy space. I suspect more people will see it here.

Like books — even comic books — wall art shows are so 20th Century, though they've been going on longer. Used to be only rare few artists were shown on gallery walls. Now it seems like everybody is. It's not as difficult. Andy Hardy common. So gradually, fighting it some of the way, I have attempted to put this 'bition online — without even quite knowing that's what I was up to.

Someone on the Nikon lens forum recently recommended I make of my word-intense photographic bird journal "a gallery," meaning he didn't wish to plow through all the text just to see some of my photographs. I explained I was mostly doing it for me, to get better at it, learn about birds, and I'd always wanted to combine my words and photographs in journalistic presentation that people would want to read.

I dint wanna do that, but now I'm sensing the sense in tearing away the gallery walls of an already established (up and everything) art show, leaving just the art hovering here, now bereft of physicality, in bare pixels with text in the same medium. For floors, walls, doors, and refreshments — though not that fine jazz horn player, David Carr, Jr. (website soundtracks are universally annoying) — we got words. 

Annie Davis - Let's Play

Annie Davis   Let's Play, 2008   steel   $600

Tuesday December 9

There's plenty online exhibitions out there. I just never gave them the time of night, when I'm prowling the net. I'd think it a natural for me, but just as most art shows suck, probably even more online Xbitions do, too. There's been some listed on our Artists Opportunities (open calls, jobs, bids, etc. for artists) page I've mostly ignored.

An online show would be an extension of this ongoing Winter Show lesson in digital submissions, certainly. And a helluva lot easier than hanging a show, hassling members to do their dada duty, meeting deadlines, doing the PR, etc.

My office is awash in paper, but darned little of it generated by me, except the backs of envelopes I write on. I've embraced paperless, and a couple other changes in tech over the years. I was digital when it was still a joke in 1991. My skills are in preparing text and especially images for the internet, so online exhibitions would be a better use of my time and energies than another up-against-the-wall exhibition.

And people still do look at member and other pages with new art. I get a couple emails a month tracking down this or that artist, because some enterprising curator wants to include them in their latest shows. I got three, in fact, during the last ten days. That's above average, but with an online X or two running, I'd have plenty to put on the cover, and we (all of us) would draw more attention to this site and our selves.

I actually enjoyed many of the more social parts of putting up The Winter Show, but still others were a long, unmitigated drag of the sort I'm not looking forward to repeating any time soon. Thank the gods and goddesses there's a whole year till the next one. But my excitement is rising for an online X.

I guess we could spell that "X."


Monday December 8

Joan Iverson - Green Moss Bowl

Joan Iverson   Green Moss Bowl, 2008   glazed hand-built stoneware   $225

Less to do with The Winter Show and more to do with some of that theme-less show's sub themes and my own feelings about exhibiting work on walls most anywhere, I've been back-burner daydreaming about a new online exhibition on this site. There has, of course, been one here since darned near the beginning, very early this century.

It's called the Self-Portrait Show and it's garnered little interest or popularity in all that time (for startlingly realistic reasons; it's implementation, circa 2001, is dreadful; images are small and — oh, well, you get the low tech drift). When I started that, images had to be very small, because they took so long to load (You can tell which of this site's 1,200+ pages are from more than a few years ago by the size of the JPEGs.) with the slow, old modems we had then.

I've gradually increased image size, especially over the last, oh, three years. Lately making images 777 pixels wide the standard (The TJ & David pic above is 777 pixels wide). This page differs slightly from the standard, so I could get something of a modified grid going down the middle, where many are 527 pixels wide (arrived at serendipitously). I added to that sense of follow-through by making charts and calendars that width, also.

TJ's Wisteria Seed (somewhere on this paage; it keeps moving around), for example — like this text block, is 527 pixels wide, while the image — including the vague gray background — is 777 px. Just to keep the game going.

It's also almost as dark as the real sculpture, now [although the unknown photographer did not render it thus. He seemed to think it was gray], That piece has grown on me. My back still hurts from carrying it nearly the length of the hall the first time.

The second time, I got my legs and lower back under it, still cradling it securely, waddling it across the room, so it didn't hurt, though it didn't get any lighter.

Last I saw it as of this poly-paragraphical and parenthetical insertion, after everybody else left the opening, it was stained with sweat from dozens of inquiring fingers.

But that was after TJ oragamied the "Do Not Touch" label I'd been careful to post next to it to "Please Do Touch."

I waited to go large till more than 70% of United Statesians had HSI (High Speed Internet) of one sort or another. That's when I finally got mine, after enduring several years when the minority who had HSI slowed everything down for the rest of us by bloating their sites till they almost wouldn't download. I didn't want to get into bloat-vision till till HSI was generally available and near-fully adopted.

777 pixels across (or tall for vertical compositions) would be ideal, I think — since no one's ever complained since I've made images that big. I'm set on that, but I don't know how long to keep it up. Forever? Or for a specific period, like 3 or 6 months? That would give a lot of people the opportunity to see what's in the show without it being a permanent fixture.

George Bailey - Number 10

George Bailey   No. 10, 2008   $160

Something there is to love about a fixed-length exhibition. I'd hate to have something of mine gathering pixel dust in a show for very long. But I have promised myself to enter more online shows. The Winter Show only stays up three weeks, and I don't think that's long enough.

At this point in the development of the online show without a name yet (although if I'm not careful, it might start getting called The Online Show, as if it were the only one out there), I'm busier making ideas than precise plans. But having done all the work to put up a fairly nice-looking exhibition only a finite number of people will ever see in person does tend to open my mind to other more interesting and expansive notions. Fewer, in fact, than have visited this web page. Cumulatively, at least.

The hit counter on the bottom left of this page is sitting at 1,509 hits. I seriously doubt that many humans will visit the Bath House Cultural Center to see our 74 (?) pieces of art in the three weeks that show will continue showing. But online, new only lasts a little while.

So that's size and duration skipped across the water about. What else?

Marty Maple Leaves

Marty Mitchener   Maple Leaves, 2008   digital photograph   photo by the artist   $150

Theme? Seasons were great fun in The Winter Show, where I denied all along having a theme but simultaneously theming many of the images (in a moment's lapse before finishing this sentence, I remembered someone not in the show whose work) I used to promote the show to members. I early tended toward cold-looking art, then gradually began picking others that were warmer, autumnish and hot.

So that's a possibility.

The Online Show would necessarily include anything that can be JPEGged, and it would continue to teach artists who've not yet made the giant leap forward into digital presentation, because of course, everybody is heading there, no matter what they used to tell all their friends back in the days of analog yore.

That may be enough of an announcement to get the digital ball rolling. More thinking out loud, as more thoughts occur, till eventually, it will acquire a name and a blog page of its own.

Meanwhile, I expect plenty lessons to pour down this page as The Winter Show ages, mellows and hardens — like smelly cheese.


Saturday Night December 6

the show before opening - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

the show before 7 pm

Just back from the opening, and I'm utterly exhausted. Great night. Fabulous opening reception. Sweet jazz saxophonist playing by David Carr, Jr. himself and with prerecorded rhythm. Everything so very nice.

Most of the artists in the show were there and many many friends, which is what openings are best at. I don't go to so many openings of other people's shows anymore, unless I'm starved for human communications, but boy did I get some of that delicious stuff tonight.

Nurturing art talk. Everything was fabulous, but I'm still absolutely joyous that it's all over with. The show will be up till next year sometime, but the work, the consternation, the everything else but taking it down eventually and visiting it a half dozen more times se fini.

I kept telling people tonight that I could barely see it. I look, and it became it blurs in front of my eyes. Opaque melange of images and ideas and hopes and angers and joys and all that wound up into a big ball of yarns. I could barely see it anymore, and I have to go back and document it as an exhibition and tomorrow or the next day or sometime soon. From lots of angles, kinda did that tonight. Photos of friends and crowds of human shapes, and people pointing at that piece up there, and digging and experiencing the art.

So very glad it's over and I don't have to do anything more but check on it ever couple weeks and keep the stack of DARts flier handouts and business cards maintained. And think about it and what I learned about it and from it flowing sometimes on this amazing page. And stuff.

Saturday December 6

Art Lookers - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Art Lookers

Been busy ignoring this show these last few days. More active photographing Red-tailed Hawks and Bufflehead (ducks) and the eerie imprint of a bird flattened into a mirrored door and catching up on my movies. Feeling me and happy and free. Anything but art and this show. Lovely time, really. Some of the golden moments.

A local web news site has been wanting to interview me ever since they saw my name linked with that other 70s Underground Newspaper Editor, Stoney Burns, although they've also been following my Amateur Birder's Journal, so who knows what it's going to be about. I'd put them off till next week I've been so busy, then suddenly so free.

Living the other portions of my life almost as intensely as I had this show for so much longer. We're talking three days — the longest I've gone without an entry into this blog since the beginning (He says boldly, without bothering to check accuracy by scrolling down and counting. Like facts have more meaning than this feeling).

Hall Action - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Hall Action Opening Night

As I note on the home page of my personal website, I get really tired of doing the same any-thing for very long, and The Winter Show long ago crossed the line. These major projects generally do.

If I were doing it for the money — if there was more of that to be had — I might could see all that effort a little more objectivity. But here, $250 hardly even covers gas back and forth and never approaches any other meaningful measure — I've spent hundreds of hours on this booger, at maybe a dollar-and-a-half per. It's been some sort of back-handed gift for the people who rightly support this site. It was gang-busters fun, no doubt, and educational, to boot. But it's also been a big drag dealing with some few artists and their condescending attitudes.

One of my main lessons is that doing all that work for others who should have been learning the lessons I was re-learning, was wrong-headed and stupid. Of me. Counterproductive. Next time, instead of three or five or six of us hanging the show, everybody who shows will share the glory.

Nobody will have to work very long, but everybody in the show will have some brawn or brain equity in the event.


Little Big Horn - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Big Horn — David Carr, Jr. played sweet and original   golld gob

That one will be, as I said of Fierce, "carefully curated." I took little guff at Fierce, but some of that guff got fluffed up and over into this show. As if some exhibitors were in charge, and I was just some guy who could safely be ignored. Most exhibitors were nice, the great majority of them did what needed to be done, took my brief instructions and didn't get snotty about it. Some even took their art to new heights. But some few seemed to believe they could do anything they wanted.

Unfortunately I'd set opposing goals: To show work by all members, and what turned out to be the secondary goal, to show the best member work possible. Both could not succeed in one show, although this show is remarkably good for all that. Next time, it's back to showing the best possible work by Supporting Members of DallasArtsRevue.com. And those artists who follow the rules, will get work in, and those who don't, won't.

DallasArtsRevue membership is all about artists of differing experience. Whether they've been at it for a lifetime or just figured out they needed to be artists. I've never denied membership to anybody on the basis of their work or their media. I love the diversity. That stays.

There's lots more lessons from this show that will more slowly sift into my consciousness. I may only be beginning to understand them, and this blog will continue through the run of the show, talking about the art, about the experience and about what I'm still learning. 

Kapil Dixit - Nepalese Mountain

Kapil Dixit - Nepalese Mountain, 2008   stoneware   NFS

Another surprising lesson is that even beginning artists have better work in them than they've shown or known. When I pushed, many did work neither I nor they thought them capable of. Fascinating discoveries.

I understand that, especially near the buying season that is Christmas-time, some of the most experienced and successful DallasArtsRevue members have places their work can go and sell that net them more than some little hallway show at a community cultural center. I want that next show to be something more, serious, professional artists want to participate in. And more beginners can effectively compete into.

There's more lessons in this than I've wanted to face, so far, and I'll be thinking some of those through in the coming days once this show is open, tonight. Stay tuned. I'll likely illustrate this entry with photographs from the opening.

Wednesday December 3

Well, it's up, and all the pieces are stuck straight on the wall and mostly parallel to it, and even level, although all that was more challenging than I presupposed. We moved a few pieces around again today and even added yet another painting.

But we wasted a lot of our time reattaching wires artists who had no idea what wires were for or how to attach them had variously stuck to onto their work. Basically, a securely attached wire across the inside top of the virtual box inside the back of a properly wired work, allows its hangers some flexibility in hanging it balanced, straight and flat against the wall.

Amateur Hour Wiring - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Nails sticking out of the back and loose wire had to be replaced with short
eyes screwed in to the top, then balanced with thick thumbtacks on the bottom.

Often, however, in this show, at least, the wires or whatever they were attached to, instead made pieces stick out. Rather than attaching the proper device in the correct places, artists hammered nails into the back of the piece or frame, making certain that the piece hung looking like it was about to fall off the wall — or diving. Indicating that the artist didn't know how to attach a wire, didn't care enough to ask someone who does and left it then for somebody else (us) to figure out and fix.

Diving pieces look unprofessional. Artwork should hang parallel with and as close as possible to the wall. Easiest way to do that with wood is to twist a screw eye into the inside back of the box of wood stretcher or frame, with a pair of Needle Nose Pliers (nice pics but those cost twice to ten times what they cost at Amazon and others), then tighten a wire between them, so whoever gets stuck with hanging it can reach the piece up, slide it carefully down, catching the wire on the heads of two nails we'd already pounded nearly flush into the wall.

Metal frames have wire gizmos attached or attachable. Cheapo thrift shop or Michael's frames — like one we got from one trickster among us — are often a booger to hang, keep straight or keep from utterly falling apart. Especially egregious are those tricky frames with fold-up cardboard backs and swing holders and slots, although they can be eyed and wired securely.

We got several pieces with nails or screw eyes sticking straight out the backs. Susan suggested artists try hanging their work on their home walls before they truck it off to some unsuspecting exhibition, where some idiot — something I'm good at and insist be done right, so I get stuck redoing them — has to re-wire their blankety-blank pieces.

I also had to tighten wires, so they did not loop out behind inside the box of stretcher/frame. A little play is helpful. A full loop does more harm than good. Smaller pieces suffer more from stick-out-itis, and the looser the wire, the more likely work will tilt away from the wall. We stuck thumbtacks into the bottoms of a bunch of frames to counteract that tilt.


Loose Wire - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Loose wire, though anchored correctly to the upper inside of the box

I saw one piece where the wire was supported by one poorly inserted staple on each side. I'd never seen that before. Those staples were barely into the wood, and stuck out about a quarter of an inch, making them very weak. I twisted in screw eyes and reattached and tightened the wire.

The worst case scenario, however, was where somebody glued a business card to a front-faced, only slightly interior, shadow portion of a multi-media piece. We couldn't get it off, so we found a (vaguely) similar colored and toned piece of cardboard and glued that on top of the card, only very subtly altering the look of the piece. We even relocated the only ring-hanger on its back, so it would finally hang straight.

Then, Susan and I went piece-by-piece around the gallery, counter-clockwise as it happened, me sticking very sticky bits of double-stick vinyl tape Enrique had to bottom outside corners of framed pieces, and left the pieces obviously crooked on nails, and Susan could level and smoosh them into the wall, so they would stay firm and straight.

Several exhibitors had bumps of felt stuck in those same corners — possibly to level the lean wires induce. I'm less an expert than I sometimes seem or try to; mostly I gather info and report, so I don't really know what that's about, but it was especially unnerving to adhere schizo-tape onto those high-point skid-pads. Enrique said the tape comes off easily without leaving remnants. We'll see.

Gaby Pruitt - Strive

Gaby Pruitt - Strive, 2008   photograph   $250

All artist's names will be on I.D stickers lined up along the right edge and a couple inches below pieces on the wall or on risers, so personal business cards, flyers or brochures — even neatly stacked into spiffaloid plastic dispensers next your work, will not be tolerated, because poor taste reflects on us all. All that crap may be placed on the sign-in table (although if that gets egregious, I may just sweep the lot) along with your bios and resumes, which will be bound into a notebook on the sign-in table, close to where all our I.D tags will be sorted alphabetically.

Please wear an I.D, so I'll 'remember' your names for a change.

If I'd had the sense to check each piece before we accepted work, I could have let the artists solve their own issues in these realms. Doing it for you means artists won't learn that it was necessary or how to do it right. As I keep reminding myself in a semi-historic metaphor mix of House and Mash pop culture references,

We are a teaching hospital,
not just a bunch of
freebie last-minute
meatball surgeons.


At the beginning, I stated clearly, "No Sawtooth Hangers." Yet one artist stuck one on of each of her pieces. My fault for not noticing till we had to hang them, I suppose. Her fault for putting them there and/or not reading or heeding my instructions. Art says those are easy to hang, but they don't often hang straight. Next time we have a show, I won't accept work that's not ready for hanging to our specs, and although I will happily instruct how to do those things and why, I got better things to do than do it for anybody but me.

Someday I may do a story about preparing work for exhibition, although a thorough read of this page will go a long way toward that goal.

Realligning Comtois - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Art Shirer realigning an unparallelable piece

Today's hanging diva and divo were Susan Lecky and Art Shirer, again. Nobody else bothered to show. Many thanks to both, again. Part of the prize for Susan was another piece in the show. She found just the place, and it improved the show much like Art did at Fierce last summer. At our next show, participation in production will be required.

By the way — and you're reading it here first and will find it no where else for months and months — we will probably have another Members-only exhibition — with very carefully curated, no-size-limit pieces, one year from next month, in very early 2010. I'm hoping for three pieces each, but I always want that, and I almost never get it, and probably should have tried it this time. I can't say where it'll be yet, but I know. At a larger and better gallery, where a good crowd is almost guaranteed, and they'll pay most of our expenses.

Not to negate in any way the joy it's been working with the Bath House, Enrique Fernandez and other staffers there. You guys have been great, and thanks so much for the opportunity to show there.

All the artists will have to do is follow the rules. I wonder how likely that is.

And I am so very pleased it's more than a full year away. My back still hurts.


Tuesday December 2

Susan Lecky Hanging - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Susan Lecky Hanging

Susan Lecky arrived shortly after I did just before Enrique this morning. We started almost immediately, working from the back wall, where I'd dreamed putting a bunch of risers — because those walls are concrete and hard (literally, but not impossible) to hang work on. We worked our way toward the front along the left.

We got stuff up fast, so we'd feel we were accomplishing something and meanwhile acquire a sense of space vs. pieces available, to hang the rest accordingly. Then finesse later. We only had to redo a little.

Then Elaine Merritt and JeanE McIntosh arrived, JeanE with a replacement piece. Later, Art Shirer brought his in, then eventually Rita Barnard completed the deliveries.

Everybody helped, Susan — who's done this sort of thing before — the most. I ran things till I grew weary — wrenched my back moving TJ Mabrey's heavy Wisteria Seed [below], then found things for everybody to do while Susan continued around the hall. I worked with her the first couple hours, then the others did by turn. She was very efficient.

Big Art Out Front - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Big Art Out Front — the painting at left is 36 x 48 inches: L to R: Matt Kaplinsky - Architecture of Flora;
Carroll Swenson-Roberts - Redwing Blackbird; Gale Lambert - Grooming; and Glenn Comtois

The three Es, Elaine, JeanE and Enrique hung big pieces I didn't want dominating the hall full of littler pieces and some smaller to balance, in the foyer. It was a long struggle that turned out elegant, beautiful and simple-looking, introducing our show's wild variety from the front — with monkey-ish humanity, a gilt-edged bird, giant abstract flowers and a wall of cork shields. Then JeanE hung picky pieces in the hall, and Elaine put I.D stickles on everything (seen small above), so ident tags later would be easy and correct. Enrique offered to do numbered pins, but I wanted everything immediately identifiable, so there'd be no doubt who did what. Prices will be on a separate list.

We paused before noon, drank warm Sprite, talked, then blended back into hanging and finessing, for another hour and a half. I cleared unused risers, trash and Enrique's magnificent cart (that he found in the trash) of tools, then photographed the walls for further study, planning to return Wednesday at noon to adjust a few areas.

There's one totem (vertical set) with the top two gray-scale — or nearly monochromatic — images on white mats in thin black frames, then an unframed miasmas of color and tone that I've been struggling with. I want to separate the black frames but the middle piece is tiny and needs eye-level placement so it's easy to see — there's always little trade-offs.

Wall Q - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Wall Q: prior to lighting, straightening and finessing. The left riser moves to the right,
and I'm thinking to move the center totem around a bit to avoid the visual chunkies.
What happened was, the next day Art replaced the very colorful center piece framed in
thick black with a white-matted similar-sized piece from a grouping of all light pieces.

The other area needing attention (Wall Q) is larger and more a challenge. It, too, is totemish, essentially six stacks across. Plenty of color but maybe too many dark tones slightly broken by two pieces on white risers, one thin and one dark vertical and four pieces with light or no frames. The area has already been refinessed, but needs something more.

To make it more complex, I really like most of it, see visual humor in totem 3 — square chunks with round danglies and a round framed self-portrait framed by them — and intelligent use of positive and negative spaces — a piece on the first riser fills the gap from a jog in the next, more colorful stack. But the whole of it looks dense, blocky.

Placing — or spotting — a show then hanging it is a delicate dance of aesthetics and practicalities like the piece that needs to be plugged in (on Wall L) and the very small piece that would be easier to see higher (for taller people). Worse, after staring at the same art in the same places we put them, it's difficult to see how it could be better.

Elaine Merritt Shufling Forms - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Elaine Merritt shuffling through sign-in forms for names and titles

As curator, I get to decide and differ, so I'm glad I thought to photo the show so far. Looking at the photos carefully enough to write this, I can see that most of the visual discordance is caused by the top-heavy stack in the middle. The bottom piece is too like the one next to it. Not sure which of the upper top-heavier works to move up or down, but altering the rectilinearity of the chunks will smooth the soup.

I'm mostly happy with the rest of the show, although fresh eyes and minds may have subtle, easily executable ideas that will make big differences. Just a little shuffling might do it. Other exhibiting artists have declared it "just fine," but I'm not convinced. It can be improved.

Essentially however, it's finished, and we're proud of a lot of it — especially the far end. It took everybody — I don't mind making instant, more or less arbitrary decisions if required, but I prefer to engage everybody helping's personal aesthetics to puzzle out what to do — to do it, but Fierce took longer and we had more people working on that.

Hanging today was not nearly as onerous nor long a job as I'd feared, and with everybody helping went smoothly and efficiently. I was the last of us to leave, around 1:30 pm. I saw a beautiful young Red-tailed Hawk — not unlike Kathy Boortz' piece in the show — dip low into the parking lot as I latched my seat belts, and a stately Turkey Vulture rocking into the sun over Casa Linda after a warm lunch. I only had my wide zoom, missed the hawk while I stared in appreciation, then barely got the Turkey Vulture.


Monday December 1

Sheila Cunningham - Shadow Blocks - Angle Flat, 2008

Sheila Cunningham   Shadow Blocks   Angle Flat, 2008   $500
approximate 8 x 10 x 3 inches   J R Compton photo

I am not and I am, too, freaked about tomorrow. I didn't make a list of who's going to help, and it's a little late to start. I guess whoever shows up will be just the right people and enough. Thanks to all those who toured the show with me as it was last Saturday and Wednesday. It helps to see art through others' eyes. Helped me change direction on a couple pieces I'd worried about, thought I was dead set against. Now aren't.

Probably I should've invited more people to make the tour — had already planned to tomorrow — come to think of it. I often ask around at openings. See who likes what. And why. Got an earful the first couple times I tried with this show. See, it's a show in my mind already, struggling for unity while apart completely, but a show, although it is all together in one room (Well, hall). Now.

Just needs some people to fit the pieces and put it up. I should note that anybody can help. You don't have to be in the show to help hang it — I'm not. Art is about changing minds, and mine's changed a couple times by even the stuff I thought I didn't like that's already in this one.

Hall Full - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Some People We Know & Some People We Don't Know

At least three different artists (Aren't they all?) are bringing work I've never seen (Who, me? I'm just the curator.) Fruit Loops early tomorrow morning. We will likely continue the puzzle Weddy at noon. But no work will be accepted after Tuesday. Unless we need something to fill the unfillable hole.

Right now when I think about that pile of colorful stuff around the walls on the floor and on risers, I shudder. By tomorrow at this time I'll probably have learned the rhythm, figured the trajectory. It will look remarkably like an exhibition by then. I wouldn't have believed it.

Sunday November 30

Some helpful tips about What artists have to do
to make their work
ready for exhibition

For most shows, you deliver your piece in your packing materials (box, bubble wrap, cute little Michael's corners, whatever), and leave them there, and somebody there stows it in a closet and matches it back up with your piece (or you do) when you pick it up. So it's awfully helpful if you put your name prominently on your packing materials — no name means it's up for grabs. I have seen artists appropriate unidentified wraps.

It is likewise helpful if you have your name and title, etc. on your piece. Preferably on the front but sometimes on the back or bottom. Some people who want things done right, stick a post-it on the face of the piece (glass, frame, etc.) where it's really helpful, so whoever sticks the i.d tag near it doesn't have to molest it — take it off the wall, turn it upside down, etc. — to find out which piece it is.

Here, most artists delivered then placed their art against the wall, and took the packing with them. Although some left unidentified junk in the hallway, remembering it only later, if at all. I stuck most of that in Joan Iverson's big bowl. From there, I'll stow it in a closet.


James Michael Starr and Rebecca Boatman - Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

James Michael Starr and Rebecca Boatman conversing at the opening

Museum putty, properly called "The Museum Putty" is available at The Container Store and no doubt other places. It costs $6 a package, but it lasts forever if you don't use it and keep it away from air, and it's reusable if you keep it clean. It's the sort of stuff you twist, squeeze and work with your fingers before using.

If you ask Google or Amazon, they will send you to Museum Gel, which is not the same thing, but now we got some of that we can experiment. The gel dries clear, or at least translucent. Supposedly they use that stuff in San Francisco, where the earth moves from time to time. The putty looks like putty, whitish and soft. The Bath House usually uses The Museum Putty to lock down tippable or joggable objects and frames to the wall to keep them straight. I use it at home, when I can find my pack; it keeps moving around.

I don't like Museum Gel. It's messy. The Museum Putty is clean. The gel is too easy to use too much of. Putty is hidden somewhere, usually under a piece, so it doesn't show. The gel looks oozy and is difficult to control, though it does stick, probably better than the putty. We haven't pulled up the gel yet. The putty is simple to deal with. I doubt the gel is reusable.

If you make art — usually sculpture — that does not sit or stand flat or vertical or whatever you want it to do, you should either start over and make it stable or make a stand for it, of the same material or something visually compatible. There are stand-makers out there. Our own Art Shirer is one of the best.

If it can be bumped, it might be. The Museum Putty or Museum Gel might not be enough. Probably won't be enough for largish, heavy or inherently unbalanced objects. Be careful when you make strange-shaped things. 

Art is for showing.

Make it easy to show
while keeping it straight
and safe.

Artists don't just create visions. They know their mediums and protect their work. Some goofy bunch of art hangers won't necessarily give your work the extra care it needs. You have to.

fragility = danger

Some artists delivered art that could not be leaned up against the wall, which is where we start pieces off — then move them to and from as we figure out where each piece goes. Every piece will get moved several times while we figure out where it goes. If your piece is fragile, every move is potential tragedy.

This should be a blatant warning. 

If your art is so fragile we cannot handle it like we handle all the other, more robust and strengthy chunks of art, you aren't protecting it. And it's very likely to get broken, damaged, neglected or placed in a dark corner where we don't have to think about it. I mentioned that I didn't require paper materials to be behind glass, but you really ought to place fragile materials like thin pieces of hand-made paper, mache or otherwise, and delicate anything elses inside frames to protect them. That's what frames are for. Not all frames are rectangular.

Artists should understand the mediums they use.    

If it's going to require more than two nails (max) to hang, you should provide a paper pattern to show where the nails go. If the piece is light, it'll probably only get one nail, then we rock the piece back and forth with the wire on the nail till it's balanced; The Museum Putty takes up the slack.

Measurements and diagrams, no matter how carefully crafted, don't help much. Nobody wants to mess with measuring wall space precisely and without a predetermined reference. If we can't nail nails into a pattern, it's not likely to get hung like you wanted.

The wire rule is for wide, flat, singular work. A wire between two posts that are only an inch apart doesn't make any sense. Best would be to include a matrix that makes hanging a multi-element piece quick and easy, with all the pieces of fitted into the matrix, which either looks like the wall or the piece.

Telling one person how to hang your work is useless. Provide instructions that are easy to find (attach them to the pieces of the piece or inside at the top of the box containing it). And make those instructions simple enough anyone can understand, because anyone might get stuck with hanging your piece. I usually try to get someone as picky as the originating artist to do that sort of thing, but volunteers that picky are hard to find. 

Check with the curator before you expensively frame an irregularly shaped object that might have been more fun to hang among other objects, rather than set off by itself. I noticed this one too late. Several other artists mentioned it when they saw it, too. My, wouldn't that Redwing have looked fine in an irregular negative space that included other objects. Now it's hogging all that bright white space around it and looking all the more, bigger than anything else in sight, and I'd feel bad taking it out of that frame that looks so expensive.

Carroll said she got the frame before she showed it to me but is working on some others and hopes some day to free them all.

NOTE: The reason I don't know a lot of titles for newer work is because I didn't scan all 41 of the Bath House's receipt forms. Those are visually complex enough it's hard for me to tell what needs to be filled out and what needs to be just glazed over like we artists usually do with long, wordy forms. I'm not even sure I filled out the ones for the two pieces I brought for other artists correctly. I usually make up my own forms for our shows, but the Bath House has been there for more than twenty-five years, and they use what they use. They've probably learned to look where the important stuff is.

Rita Bernard - Emerging

Rita Barnard    Emerging, 2008   mixed media — the portals are labeled, bottom
to top: fear, no hope, despair, grief, loneliness, empathy, preservation, future
and hope, etched in copper   $400

Saturday November 29

Except for two artists, everybody delivered their work by today. Got two pieces from most. Startling diversity of work. Hanging them together without looking like a mess will be a challenge.

The two who did not deliver were Art Shirer, who is notorious for ignoring deadlines. I probably should have told him that the deadline was last week, but he's the sort who sneaks peeks at this page early and often. He knows what's going on, and he'll deliver his piece at the latest possible moment by his own reckoning. It will be excellent,

So will be Rita Barnard's. I think Enrique talked with her last week and surprised her that the deadline was this, not next Saturday. She might need another week. That electric last week when deadline-bound artists finally accelerate into escape velocity. Apparently not someone who reads this page, religiously or ever.

If I were a hard-ass curator, we could do without either artist's work. But as I keep saying, I hope and expect to show every artist member of DallasArtsRevue whose name is on the invitation. I've accepted other work not subjected to the vagaries of curating, I'm sure not going to take those and turn down two of DallasArtsRevue's best artists. I'm not even mildly surprised Art didn't bring his piece in. Not enough drama yet. I suppose.

Usually his just blomp in place, and they're installed. Rita's will be more complex. I'm using singular numbers here, because I anticipate only one from each, if we're that lucky. I expect Art has more in mind, but his effort is directed into one now.

Rita's will be a plurality in itself. Much of her work involves many small pieces. Do a site search (It searches all my sites.) or visit her Member page to see lots of her work. Too many to mention here, although her major installation to date atop her member page would give us all pause.


Art Shirer - Moon Shadow

Art Shirer   Moon Shadow, 2008   welded steel   $850

My take is Art will deliver in the nick of time. Whenever that might be. I'd place the nick's matrix middle this coming week. Rita might miss the show entirely, but her piece will be noteworthy, if not spectacular. Smallish, but compoundly complex. Not lyrical exactly, but there'll be a text or subtext. Art's will be simple, maybe black. He's known all along when the deadline is. But his work comes alive after the cutoff has gone.

I'm extraordinarily lucky we've only got two major recalcitrants.

Trick is to allow the both artists to be included. Which means leaving room but not time. It's a nuisance, and it's not fair to artists who deliver under the deadline. But it's hardly unexpected. With Art it's dead solid normal. I have laughed about it, but it's not that funny anymore. Rita has not acquired the reputation. Art's work gets simpler after deadlines. Rita's discovering hers can be simplified but it'll take time.

I've emailed both, but I wouldn't bet on a quick reply.


Wrong again. Thank the goodnesses.

Rita said she'd deliver Tuesday morning, which is copacetic. Art said he's still working on it, and I told him to bring it Tuesday at 9 ayem, and he agrees with me that's fruit loop early (Enrique set that time. I set the one the next day at noon, which I'll still have to get up early for, but after an all-day, I'll need my sleep), but Art said he'd planned to come help then anyway.

Art Shirer is the best exhibition hanger there is. Only thing better than Art hanging is he and Norman Kary working together. They did the Big Ass Night, Too show, and they were amazing to watch work together. Old friends who think in three dimensions and can finish each other's thoughts while they're both already flying outside the box. Did I say they were fun to watch?

See links near the top of this page for links to our other shows.

Enrique mentioned today that it will not be necessary to hang the whole show by Tuesday night. So I see us continuing the puzzle Wednesday. By then we will have developed a trajectory and rhythm, if not exactly a pattern.

Now, today, my plan is big pieces out front in the foyer, separate but in their own inequality. Mostly large, flat work. Maybe a big pedestal piece or two with signage to link those, down, around and deep into to our unconnected hallway. Work out there always seems lost in all those chairs, tables, doors, windows, bathrooms, plants, offices, food and people. There it's a short pattern of art against the larger and more complex patterns of life. More about pausing upon entrance than visual understanding. I've seen visitors check out the art there carefully, but out there needs a determinate maximal scale. While a denser, smaller scale will thrive down the hall. With a beat you can dance to.

In the hallway it'll be its own rhyme and reason. A gentler sense of scale with a generosity of shapes, colors, textures, styles and every other category [below]. In the front, besides big, it'll be simplish and direct. I'm hoping a vinyl headline will lead viewers into the hall. Hard to put one show in diverse spaces, but we'll do our best.

TJ Mabrey and David Hickman - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

TJ Mabrey & David Hickman in the lobby at the opening reception 

Friday November 28

A flurry of email today, in anticipation of tomorrow's second — and last — delivery date.

I've already begun wondering what all categories we will be able to come up with for placing and hanging the show. Those who will help hang, should pay special attention to any likenesses and unlikenesses they see in the pieces — visual or more subtle.

After Wednesday's deliveries, I think we'll be able to put everything — two pieces by everyone who brought two pieces — in the show. But I could always be surprised about that.

I am again disappointed with some artists who chose to ignore my curating, and wonder if I should come down on them for making everyone else follow the rules — soft as they were — while they blithely ignored them.

Just pisses me off when some people think they're more equal than others. All the while knowing that some people are more equal. It's difficult to act on those angers when I 'let' some artists off hooks. But that freedom comes from trust. I keep saying this, because it keeps being important, that after working this long with some DARts members, I've learned to trust even the deadline fudgers implicitly, while being utterly baffled by those who refuse to follow my other rules.

The most egregious dismissers of my requirements are whom I've learned not to trust, even if I thought I did. This last disregard adds misgivings. And anger. Especially when I don't like the work. It is a member show, and I'm pledged to show two pieces by as many member artists as possible, even those who thwart my curating.

I'm guessing placement is my only available revenge.

Bravas and Bravos, meanwhile, to those who struggled with the curator's constraints and came through with work that's not just new, but interesting, beautiful or thought-provoking.


Elisabeth Schalij - My Mother Or Me

Elisabeth Schalij - My Mother Or Me, 2008   carborundum print   $250

Wednesday November 26

We hit one thousand hits on this page just after 1 pm today. Just before 2 pm, I'll be at the Bath House waiting for work to be delivered. But first, breakfast and a long-sleeve shirt.


It was fun meeting artists I hadn't already and meeting ones I had too long ago again. Nothing better in the whole world — except maybe looking at their work — than talking with artists. Even artists who've ignored my every rule, regulation, requirement and deadline.

My only real disappointment is that there doesn't seem to be nearly enough pieces to fill the hallway with my proposed multi-dimensional mosaic [explanation even further below now]. True, only slightly less than half the artists delivered their stuff either before today or today, but it's gonna be spare in their instead of the floor-to-ceiling melange I was hoping for.

Maybe I should have made the size larger. Or ignored it altogether. I wonder if we'll even have room for two deep in the hallway, and what are we going to do with the space in the foyer. Work out there never looks like part of any show in the back somewhere, and there hasn't been any signage to augment the notion in viewers. Maybe I should show something in this after all. Such complications.

I added some instructions to the Deliver Art to the Bath House listing on the Exhibition Calendar above.

Matt Kaplinsky - Circle Series #1

Matt Kaplinsky - Circle Series #1, 2008   acrylic on masonite  $800

Tuesday November 25 Again

I keep talking about how this show was supposed to teach artists how to digitally enter exhibitions. But if this was a lesson, I've failed miserably on some of the basics. A spare, very infinitesimal few, professional artists saved the JPEGs they attached to emails to me with their name and the title of the piece.

Oh, golly gee whiz, you have no idea how practical and refreshing dealing with those few were. But many more either did not mention their names or the piece or either in the file names of their images. I just opened one that had my name on it, as if that would be informative. Arghhhhhh!

I got several with just the number the camera put on the original files. [J R stares bleakly and blankly into space, eyes widened in quiet astonishment. He is not screaming. Yet.] Several attached the same image twice or more. Or sent me the same file more than once. One says they sent me images a long time ago but never heard back from me and since sold the piece — that I never saw and they never sent, to me, at least. If you're curious, ask.

I realize we are sitting on the bleeding edge dawn of a brand new technology, but OMG, folks. Pay attention. Please. For your own sake.

Would you deliver a slide of work you want in a show — and not write your name and the title on it?

I have to wonder.


Nancy Ferro - He has?

Nancy Ferro   He have?   mixed media on paper   $300
14 x 12 inches,  2008   photo submitted by the artist

More Golden Rules of Digital Image Technology:

It boggles my mind how many artists included space bar spaces in their file names. For each and every one of those, I have to go in and delete them one by one, or put on the artist's name or type in the title of the piece, or remove " marks or sizes. I think a little less of those artists every time I have to edit their image file names, and I should never have to. Nobody should.

You'd think by now I woulda come up with a page of rules about these sorts of things...

Oh, yeah, I did. It's here rather clearly. You did read the How to Join Page didn't you? I'm sure I suggested it more than once already. And it's here again in big bold letters that'd be hard to miss on a page curiously called How to Send Us Images.

Scuse me. I'm upset. I'll be calm and happy by this afternoon. I just had to let the bozos among you know, especially now that it's probably too late for this show.

Paul Rogers Harris - By the Pool

Paul Rogers Harris   By the Pool, updated 2008   $250

Tuesday November 25

I got this email from Enrique at the Bath House today:

J R:

I have been reading your Winter Show journal at dallasartsrevue.com with great interest and delight. As a curator, it is fascinating and educational to observe the process of another curator as he organizes an exhibition — particularly an exhibition with a large number of participants like the Winter Show. I feel that your plans to present the Winter Show as a "multi-dimensional mosaic" [explanation below] composed of connections and inter-relationships is so exciting. I can't wait to see all the artwork hanging. I am sure the show will be a colorful and textural splash of creative stimulation for the eyes and mind.

I will have agreement forms for the artists to fill out when they drop off their works tomorrow and Saturday. The form states the artist's responsibility to pick up his/her work on time and the City's responsibility for insuring the artwork while it is on display at the center. Occasionally, some works of art cannot be insured because of any concerns the City might have regarding the integrity and stability of the piece. We will let the artists know if their works will not be covered by the City's insurance. Don't worry, however. I think that in all the years I have been here, only 2 such pieces have come about and they really were a risk for the public and for the staff. I don't anticipate any problems with your group, though.

I received your postcards already. I will give some to the artists who request them. Our offer to mail out cards on behalf of artists who turn in labels is still open.

I am sending out press releases to the media later today. Our media contacts usually request information ten days ahead of publication time. We get considerable coverage online, too. I saw your press release. It is so good, I think I will use it as a model for our official release, with your permission. [Of course, I gave him permission.]

I am updating our website today so that, by the end of the day, artists and the public in general will see show information online.

Enrique Fernández Cervantes
Visual Arts Coordinator / Curator
Bath House Cultural Center
ph 214-670-8723 f 214-670-8751

And I sent all but the first paragraph of his letter in an email with a reminder of the delivery times and dates to participating artists.


Ken Shaddock - The Alchymical Byrd

Ken Shaddock   The Alchymical Byrd, 2008   photomontage   $300

Monday November 24

I'm hearing from and tracking down stragglers now before delivery mid- and late this week. One artist sent small jpegs of her work today. You'll see one when she makes the jpeg yet bigger. Both are interesting, but I like one better. Sometimes I trust artists I've worked with, other times I got no choice. Some few I let do what they want, because I've learned they decide better, and the show gets better work when I free them from all the silly rules.

I'm looking forward to warming to that other piece that's more in keeping with her long-time work. Right now it looks strange, disjointing. I may have learned that when that happens and I open my eyes and my mind, a higher appreciation happens. Other artists need guidance, and I'm here for choosing work and not settling for the first piece suggested.

Yesterday, another artist I've been gently pushing sent something I liked enough to remind it was past the deadline for getting stuff judged, but to bring it anyway. Meanwhile I'm warming more to a piece they sent last week. I judge better when I have time.

I also spoke with a notorious deadline smudger, so I have some notion what's coming there. Seems a lot of sculpture will hang from walls. Makes me wish we had some free-standing chunks of 3-D inter-dimensionality, in spite of my careful size rules.

I'm getting excited, and glad there's awhile between delivery (Expecting much work to come in that first day is probably absurd, though there are artists who deliver stuff the first day. I've even done that twice) and putting them up. I'll have time to accustom myself to all that new art. If I learn to appreciate something, I'll find a way to show it.

More excitement will be meeting new members I've only emailed. It'll be fascinating to converse with them. Email is so distant, cold, empty. Talking is still a thrill, and I'll match personalities with art. More important for membership than for curating, it'll add depth to both.

Saturday November 22

Official The Winter Show Press Release:

The Winter Show

The Winter Show, opening with a reception at the Bath House Cultural Center (map) from 7 - 9 pm, Saturday December 6, is a group exhibition by the artists who support DallasArtsRevue.com. It is free and open to all during regular business hours through January 3, 2009, although the center will be closed Christmas Eve till New Year's Day.

The show, curated by DallasArtsRevue Editor/Publisher J R Compton, features painting, sculpture, construction, collage, drawings, photographs and other art forms by 41 artists, including Mirtha Aertker, George Bailey, Rita Barnard, Rebecca Boatman, Kathy Boortz, Fannie Brito, Glenn Comtois, Sheila Cunningham, Annie Davis, Kapil Dixit, Nancy Ferro, Chris Fulmer, Paul Rogers Harris, Melody Hay, Kathy Robinson Hays, Michael Helsem, Anne Hines, Joan Iverson, JeanE, Matt Kaplinsky, Norman Kary, Gale Lambert, Chris Lattanzio, Susan Lecky, TJ Mabrey, Elaine Merritt, Marty Mitchener, Bob Nunn, Anna Palmer, Gaby Pruitt , Marty Ray, Richard Ray, Esther Ritz, Carroll Swenson- Roberts, Lynn Rushton, Elisabeth Schalij, Ken Shaddock, Art Shirer, James Michael Starr, Cecilia Thurman, Tiana Wages and Bonnie Wilbeer, most of whom live and work in Dallas.

Art in The Winter Show may be previewed online on The Winter Show page, where there's much more information, and the DARts Members Page, both linked from the top of the site's home page at www.DallasArtsRevue.com.

My old friend and new DARts Member TJ Mabrey (We once drove from Dallas to Amarillo to meet Stanley Marsh and tour his giant pool table, tattooed pig, Cadillac Ranch, Inclined Ramp and other artly delights for a story in DallasArtsRevue on paper sometime in the last century.) emailed asking for a copy of the press release about this show, so she could send it out in her neck of Texas (west of Killeen). Certainly makes sense to have one. I sent her to the Bath House site, where she did not find any such thing. I hadn't looked, since I already knew too much about this show, but I guess I'll have to make one now.


I've already posted a shortened version near the top of this page, so the second thousand visitors here will know from the top what this is all about.


The Night Kenda North Played the Bath House - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

J R Compton   The Night Kenda North Played The Bath House, November 8 2008   Not in The Winter Show
Neither is my other shot of the Bath House — Round Table & Square Chair — $300

Thursday November 20

Most curators won't exhibit work in shows they curate. I've been considering it. I've written before that after showing on walls in more than 90 shows, I don't get much ego boo from it anymore. And I've never made any appreciable money selling prints, although I've spent a lot on making and framing them — in my experience, making prints is a long, involved and expensive drag, since I always know I could do it better.

This show already comprises 41 artists, and I'd like to show two pieces by each, so I'm expecting a space pinch, even with the extra walls the Bath House has offered. I thought about printing 5x7s or 4x5s, but that's just silly. The whole size rule tumbled from what size I wanted to print — Super A3 (13 x 19 inches)s. In a frame that's 20-inches max.

Where I enjoy showing is on the internet — even though I know I'm getting ripped off, because people who do have the need to tell me, usually while cussing at me for expecting to make a living by my work that they like so much, though I have tracked some of them down.

What I really dig is preparing images to show in this medium. Extending the logic I've strung through today's entry, maybe I should place the images I'd planned to show there here instead.

Thanks to the screwy selection process I've let develop, nobody's certain which pieces, including those here, on the members index, and the cover, will be in the show anyway. Even though I surely hope to at least show the ones I've used to promote us.

Can you see the notion twisting in my mind? It tickles.

Turns out I'd already worked up the egret, or I wouldn't have been able to find it quickly. I shot it for my Amateur Birder's Journal. Follow this link to discover it in its natural habitat. I saved the other shot in a special place.) See the similarities?

When I do show work, I prefer it be recent.  

Wish I'd thought to show these here when I started this page. I put hit counters on DARts pages both to keep me honest and to learn which attract attention — although many do it while I'm working on others. When I check back I am either astonished or disappointed. So far, this has 861 hits. Most of what I write doesn't get that many till it's been up for months. Or years. If ever.

It might be that learning how shows are put together is worth people's time and attention. My idiot web host has it rigged so I — and anybody else using my ISP, can't even nudge the number.

I didn't put my name on the invitation, because I thought it too hubristic to have it twice. I'm hardly a traditionalist. I have a whole page of links to why I don't believe in objectivity, so that's not it, either.

I haven't always, but this time I think I am going along with tradition. Feels good already.

Matt Kaplinsky - Flora

Matt Kaplinsky   Architecture of Flora, 2008   36 x 48 inches   $2,400

Wednesday November 19

One of the things I struggle with at DallasArtsRevue — and especially on this page here — is to maintain a balance between male and female artists. I worry about balancing races, too, of course — and everything else. I am a worrier (and a counter — I always count things, usually know how many Blacks, Latinos, men versus women there are in an art audience), but I attempt not to have only one of any kind of person represented on pages, especially in stories about group shows.

Trouble is — well, it's not a problem, just a challenge in this regard — that most of the artists who are Supporting Members of DallasArtsRevue are women. There are only 17 male Supporting Members. Altogether, we (unaccountably, I count myself as a member, because I want to keep my member page) number 63 or so — though for several, sometimes competing reasons, I'm never exactly sure who all to count.

Oof! That's the first time I've counted members in a long, long time, and I'm startled, amazed, baffled. We — I — struggled for so many years, and now, suddenly, on the eve of the total collapse of the nation's finances — got more members than I know what to do with.

(Not exactly true, of course. I've got it down pretty well by now. I badger them for images, gradually, eventually or immediately put together a page, post it, link it, invite them to those rare ((though not lately)) membership exhibitions, and struggle to keep up with them so I can do some of that stuff more often).

I have noticed that I don't' know all the members anymore. I wouldn't recognize at least a dozen of them, maybe more, if I encountered them on the street, or more likely at an art opening, and I am still confused by some names. Oh, gosh, is that person one of my members ...

It's odd to say we are mostly women (because I'm mostly not), but in contravention to the population of the city named in this site's name, we are also mostly Caucasian. And of course I worry about that, too. Although frankly, I don't know the ethnicity of all DARts Members. I care. Some, I suppose. But once I open the door open to anybody, and anybody wanders in, there's not much I can or want to do about it.

Except maintain some sort of relative equality of art on pages. By the logic expressed in today's paragraphs, I should only show males' art just a smidgen over a quarter of the time. Which I've probably been doing all along before I got worried about it and started counting. Just to be fair, I should note that people who know me might well suggest that contrarian that I am, I'd likely also work at opposing any rule, even one about being fair or one I created).

Matt and Allie - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Allie and Matt Kaplinsky at Delivery Saturday November 29

As it stands, almost anybody can be a member of DallasArtsRevue. You pays your money, and you takes your chances.

[Perhaps I should not point out that I've only ever denied membership to two individuals. Both were guys. Surprising to me they were sculptors, which medium I love more than any, except photography. Unfortunately they were both also abusive and mean-spirited [I am struggling for an appropriate noun here; I've already rejected several that pop right to mind, but aren't appropriate for print], and I didn't think they'd fit well in our merry band, although both later apologized for being such ____ ____. Sadly, I refunded their fees, and do not remember their names.]

I suspect after seeing and talking with and I hope working with many of the members of DallasArtsRevue on this show, I will know those I/we still have better. I look forward to it.


Tuesday November 18

In the mood to see something new I dropped into PanAm because I hadn't in a while, and they're closed when I'm generally on Dragon. Their usually cluttered front walls were empty white. Still walking toward the back galleries, I asked if they had any art on the walls. By the time someone answered I could see the answer.

They were putting up a show. Everything was in disarray back there. No people in sight, but art, or something like it was in stacks of boxes and ladders and strew. Too in medias res to see art, I paused to consider it a gentle premonition, turned around and walked out to my car mumbling "too bad."

TJ Mabrey's sculpture package

TJ Mabrey's packing box for Wisteria Seed — This Sculpture Is Slippery, 2008 

Monday November 17

After all that digiphoto yadda, I thought I should write something about curating. Not so much the philosophies of what to pick — I'm usually on automatic pilot for that; I know what I like when I see it, and when I don't I ask for more — and I'm often amazed at the differences. This entry is about what I expect to do with it when it's gathered.

I've worked with Bath House Visual Arts Coordinator Enrique Fernandez before — for my own show in that same hallway, and more recently for a solo show in the White Rock Lake Museum just off it. Working with someone else who pays attention to as many visual clues as I do is fascinating and always educational. I think we work together well, if briefly.

New, different and sometimes strange ideas zing back and forth quickly and smoothly. It's fascinating — yet eminently practical — a better show than I expected always comes of it. We each have strong feelings about what works and what doesn't, yet we're both willing to try the untried and unconventional. Having other visual artists in that mix should be even more interesting — and fun.

Kathy Boortz - Redtail

Kathy Boortz   Redtail, 2008   mixed media   NFS

It's all very nice to present work in long, neat lines of images [below] with lots of negative space so viewers can rest between bouts with new ideas and paradigms. But we've got 42 artists to fit in the Bath House's smallest art spaces, and because I still want to present more than one piece per artist if at all possible, those bright white walls will be covered. Pieces will fit together spatially, not linearly.

Using that closeness to our advantage, every time one piece is juxtaposed into the mix, viewers can be exposed to visual comparisons and contrasts, so we can — by placing work in just the right space and relationship — emphasize subtle and overt visual themes, like

colors, palettes, tonalities s
light, dark and patterns
meanings, visual and verbal puns and jokes
subject matters and attitudes
textures, shapes
apparent dynamics, balance

and anything and everything else that does or might connect or creatively disjunct individual pieces  — even that the same artist did them. I want viewers to not just see the art. I want them to experience it and have to think about it and perceive new connections, even if they don't know that's what they are doing. Maybe especially if they are not conscious of what all's going on right before their eyes.

Being aware of — and using — those connections, we can enhance the inter-relationships among work in an exhibition — visually, intellectually, spiritually and whatever else-ly. We gotta pay attention on many levels and be willing to experiment with multiples of possible placements, but the results can be a lot more interesting than just figuring out what piece goes first, second and third down the wall.

It's not a slide show of individual pieces clunked together aesthetically, it's a multi-dimensional mosaic. And it's not just how good the work is, a lot depends upon how they're associated and the perceived unities and convergences. That's one of the more important aspects I notice about some (few) exhibitions. That visual understanding and care of placement matters. We'll be in the big middle of two other shows in contiguous spaces, and our work will be seen on the way to both.

The Supporting Members of DallasArtsRevue are a diverse lot, with differing experience and skill levels. We engage in wildly different art forms and will be the only show going that incorporates a third dimension.

Building a unified continuity among our disparate images and imaginations could make the difference between just another bunch of pieces hung in the hall and a truly moving, memorable and cohesive exhibition. If we're not careful about all that interconnectiveness, however, we could just make a mess of it.

Chris Lattanzziooo - dancer throwing the finger

Chris Lattanzio - Fontius, 2008   mixed media   $1,750

Sunday November 16

Some DARts Members report that my lesson on the Basic Measurements of Digital Imagery [below] helped. Others still find the whole thing a big bafflement. Some are too scared to even try. But being scared should not be an impediment. In fact, quite the opposite.

I remember publicly announcing to my Macintosh Users Group in the early 90s, that I was afraid to go online (then America Online) to do anything. Knowing I didn't know, then telling everybody that mattered gave me the courage to go ahead and try. I got better at it.

Many artists don't know where to start, and this still-nascent new digital photography paradigm will take them over. I started to suggest you ask the Internet, but most of the digital imagery information I found online confused me, too.

Guess I'll have to have to have to write my own.

Valuable Digital Lessons

Set your camera to its highest resolution.

Make sure you are using the right setting for the color of light you have. See "color" in my extensive How to Photograph Art story. While you're there, read the rest of it.

Get the exposure right, even if you have to get several wrong exposures, too.

Make sure there's no spectral highlights (bright white bits of reflected lights) in your image. Use a flood light, not a spot light, or use less wattage. Regular household bulbs work fine, if you set your camera right. If your work glistens, use less glisteny stuff to paint it next time. Photograph it in dull or cloudy light.

Always save the original file (that comes from your camera).

Name it with a short description (Numbers don't mean anything.). Lock the file. Include "original" in the file name. And keep it separate from the ones you will change.

If you change the color, contrast, size, resolution or anything else, fiddle with a copy, not the original.

Be careful how and where you save an image. If you save the fiddled-with copy with the same name and in same place as the original, you no longer have an original. I used to name full-size images with a +, and compressed or smaller images with a "-," or "sm."

If you don't have — or don't know how to use — software to resize images, there's an Online Image Resizer that probably works okay, if you need an image at one of the three resolutions they offer.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is the universal internet image format.

Use GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) only if your image is all solid lines or color or you need part of it to be transparent. If an image has any subtle tonality, save it as a JPEG.

TIFF (Tag Import File Format) images retain full quality. So do full-size, uncompressed JPEGs. Raw file formats have the highest quality and most adjustability, but your camera may not save as Raw.

If you save a JPEG at lower quality (more compression or smaller size), you can't get it back. That's when having an original, full-resolution, full tonality, full-size image file really helps.

Photoshop (Elements and other image-adjustment software) lets you change your image levels using a dynamic histogram. To set your image as close to reality as possible:

A) Align the right triangle to the right edge of the black area of the histogram, even if it's very thin there.

B) Align the left triangle to the tallest portion of the histogram (not the left edge) or as near there as you can stand. Carefully watch how adjustments change your image.

C) Move the middle triangle to adjust the lightness or darkness, only if you think it's necessary.

Be careful with Sharpening. Always under-sharpen, 'cause you can't get back the smooth. The smaller the image, the more sharpening shows. In Photoshop Elements, use Unsharp Mask instead. Takes a bit of fiddling but you can be subtle.

There are many many more lessons.


Glenn Comtois - Scrabble

Glenn Comtois - Scrabble, 2008 - miscellaneous wood construction - $1,200


Saturday November 15

I got really tired of the same old stuff on the cover [this site's home page] and have used the opportunity to change up the visuals and write a little art crit about some of the work in this show. It's always a puzzle to write about art, but consider this a point in the direction of an ersatz catalog for this Winter Show that seems to be gathering steam again after relaxing into, suffering through and emerging out the other end of a lull.

Wednesday November 12

Thanks to artists' feedback, I need to write two more HOW TOs. One of advice to artists new to this area: Where to go, what to do, where to get your work seen and to be surrounded by other artists. My best advice is to join The MAC by donating a tree ornament at Blue Yule in early December, show in their one member show much later that year, and attend their other shows and events and talk to other artists there. That's what I've been doing for the last several years.

The other, that is more pertinent to this show, other shows like it and probably many more into the future, is How to Create Digital Images to Enter Exhibitions & Competitions Online. Or something like that. The proper title will manifest itself somewhere in the middle of writing it, because till then I won't know exactly what it will be about.

I remember telling someone I didn't have any idea what an artist should do to prepare themselves to start showing their work. Then, moved by the need to, I wrote How to Start Showing Your Work, the writing of which taught me what I did know. Trouble is I know too much about preparing images to show online and avoid thinking about entering digital images to exhibitions and competitions, because so far, doing that has been a royal pain in the butt.

Now that art competitions and exhibitions (like this one) are requiring digital images sent as attachments or (shudder) via hugely complex and complicated stand-alone, on-line programs that digest those images (like the Texas Biennial in Austin and Fort Worth's annual Art in the Metroplex shows last summer) while utterly refusing to explain the terminology they repeatedly use, there are some basics that might help.

An artist in this show wrote yesterday saying the software on her PC (Microsoft Office Picture Manager) gave two options for resizing images in pixels [the universal unit of image measurement]. Essentially, a pixel is one of the tiny dots that comprises everything we see on a screen (monitor) or in an ink-jet (Giclée) print.

Caroll wenson-Roberts - Redwing
Carroll Swenson-Roberts   Blackbird, 2008   ink   13.5 x 26 inches   $250

Basic Measurements of Digital Imagery

For my purposes (since I use Mac) a pixel equals 1/72 of an inch. That's not true on all monitors or output devices or software or anything else, but it's a start. When I explained this simple formula, the artist was able to divide the numbers of pixels the software produces by 72 to learn how many inches that was. I need images that are at least 5 x 7 inches (360 x 504 pixels) in size, although I would prefer much larger ones.

I typically request images of at least 1 megabyte (1,000 k file size) so I can create decent images for DallasArtsRevue Member Pages. But I rarely get them, because so few artists understand what a megabyte is (image file size of 1 megabyte or 1,000k) or how to make those from what they got. And there's plenty of confusion among the terms relating to the physical measurements of images and file sizes.

I'm sure somebody has written a simple explanation of this on the Internet somewhere. (Ah, here is a pretty good one with pretty good illustrations: Pixels, Images and Files. Scroll down one screen past all those ugly ads.) But it's still confusing.

Among the Google results I found this quote, "Megapixels simply measures the pixels wide by the pixels high, while megabytes measures the pixels wide by pixels high by the number of colors" of which there are usually three (3), because digital cameras generally use an RGB (Red Green Blue) color space, another term we needn't go into in this supposedly simple explanation (and which may not be strictly true in all circumstances, but it's good enough for our understanding).

I am reluctant to give the link here, because their explanations are way more complex than we'd want to deal with at this level (because it deals with the complex inter-relationship of publishing images in magazines, brochures and advertisements, and further confuses everything with Line Screen - (LS), PPI (dots per inch) and Viewing Distance. But if you already understand some of this stuff, you might be interested).

And it gets more complex, so I'm stopping here, realizing I either have to find a superb online source that ties together all of this information in a simple, step-by-step story, or write it myself. But once you know that 1 pixel = 1/72 of an inch, you're on your way.

WARNING: always save the best files that come out of your camera. I used to put an O for Original in the file name (select file name, wait for it to change color, invert black to white or whatever your system does to indicate it's selected, then type a new name), then lock that file, so you can copy the image and make smaller versions of it. But never save a smaller file with the same name on top of the original (in the same place) or your full-quality original will be gone forever. I did that once, and I sure wish I'd paid more attention, since it was one of my few images that anybody wanted to pay money for.

Doctor Fannie Brito at Delivery - Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Doctor Fannie Brito at Delivery

Tuesday November 11

What a lovely lull. Enrique reports he sent the invitation off as soon as he got it. That's mostly a relief. I don't know how long it takes to get them printed, but artists who have not yet dropped off their mailing labels (including me, of course) should, and soon. Pretty pretty day here in Dallas, and I photographed me a bunch of birds, so I'm happy enough for awhile.

An artist whom I will not identify, complained when I expressed concern that a work might be construed as one of the big, discriminatory -isms. [sexism, ageism, racism, classism, etc.] They asked where I got the right to make such critical statements, adding that I seemed to enjoy making negative comments every communication opportunity I have.

I explained that as curator, I would be dishonest if I did not express concerns. I did not say the piece was evil, of poor quality, nor did I note any other judgment or ban it from the show. I simply pointed out that it might seem prejudiced to some viewers, because it seemed that way to me. If a curator cannot or should not express concern, who could or should? And if they do not, what kind of a curator are they? That particular concern grew on me as I considered and reconsidered the piece. But it is a borderline situation, perhaps not egregious, but certainly worthy of raising the question.

Who would trust me to critique art if I did not express such concerns? Clearly, many artists do not understand the importance of honesty in criticism or curating. Most curators would simply act upon their concerns and not present them publicly, but since this blog is about all the niggling details of producing this exhibition, my concern — subterfuged as I've presented it — belongs right here.

Monday November 10

At Joel's today we kept thinking it must be Veteran's Day it was so slow, so gray, so dark out. Took the clunk of mail through the slot to set us straight. I got one image from one more artist, and still hope to get more from others, wish they'd adhere to the 5x7-inch minimum-size rule, so images don't look soft here. Mostly I don't have much to say about this show today, but I've been thinking random thoughts about it constantly. Tomorrow, I'm hoping there'll be enough light to photograph me some birds.


Bonnie Wilber - Peace (Bonnard's Dining Room at Ruidoso), 2008

Bonnie Wilber - Peace (Bonnard's Dining Room at Ruidoso)   oil, intaglio, watercolor   $120
image submitted by the artist

Sunday November 9

Well, we misspelled one artist's name. Put one r, not two in Elaine Merritt. Within minutes of getting her email, I attached a jpeg (Internet don't 'low no PSD (Photoshop documents attachments, especially ones that are 22 megabytes)) to Enrique, but it may have been too late. I don't know. I also don't know whether an uncompressed JPEG has the same quality as a full-res PSD.

We went back and forth on three names at least three times each before I delivered it to him just before the deadline, because I kept sending the wrong files to Anna, and she kept finding the same mistakes, and I'd correct those, then send her the wrong file that did not reflect the correction. So we missed Elaine Merritt's name. This is the first show she's ever been in.

As Anna later quoted back to me, "Perfection is unlikely," and "1 out of that many ain't bad."

I like it that DallasArtsRevue has both beginners and respected local commercial gallery members among our number. And many in-between. Watching some members grow and sell and show and grow has been fascinating. Of course, I love having seasoned professional artists support this website — and themselves — also. So membership shows are always interesting and exciting.

Originally, I'd hoped this would be a show-up-with-what-you-want-to-hang, hang-it and see-what-happens kind of show, but the Bath House wanted me to curate, and I can understand that, since our hallway exhibit will be sandwiched between what we assume will be two professional artists' shows in the main and back galleries. We would very much like to stand out and be noticed among all the artists opening at the Bath House that evening.

I have been and will continue to move the artists' JPEGs around this page. I almost decided to delete several, because I didn't want to wear them out. I.e., I wanted people to come to the show to see them, not just view them here. But since there are group shows in both the other spaces at the Bath House that night (Group shows always attract more people.) and in the following three weeks, plenty people will see everything.

Others will see them here or on the Index to Members' Pages page and probably the cover, too, in the week before the show opens.

My first task will be to find something I want to show. I have two images in mind. The white on white I mentioned before and an exterior of where we saw Kenda North (one of my favorite photogs whose work I have written about often, though for a long time I misspelled her name based on a misspelled I.D card at some gallery) and Jenn Gooch (who does mind art, sings strangely and plays the banjo) last weekend.


back of invitation to The Winter Show - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.
the back, address side of the invitation

Saturday November 8

It's a couple minutes after Midnight, Guess that's Saturday enough. I've just emailed the design for the back of the invitation to Anna, my best proofreader. It's due this afternoon at 5. I hope to deliver Photoshop files of both sides to Enrique (in RGB at 300 dpi that he's agreed to turn into CMYK) and a folder full of JPEGs the artists sent for the Bath House website.

My biggest design challenge was remembering how to create an empty box around the postal stuff. Plumb forgot. Don't draw many boxes. Still not sure what is the right way to do that. Luckily with Pshop there's several ways to do anything. The rest was quiet, gangbusters fun. About seven hours worth with the radio, the TV or an audio book going. Now, with luck, I haven't made any typing or spelling errors.

The design is spare. No art back there, no room really, white space between the names, comparatively larger type than the Bath House postcard I took dimensions from. The names are way smaller than I'd like, but I didn't want to do another like the Fierce card. I dig big art on the front I think of as spring flowers and winter. Even the colors are right. As Anna pointed out, very patriotic. Red (warm), white and blue (cold).

The backside has the logo, top and bottom lines in that same typeface (Washout, an old fave I've hung onto for decades) in that same red (#990000) as the front (and headlines here). And everybody's names, postal indicia, the Bath House's address and info numbers, web site, etc. With slightly more space for mailing labels on the address side. Soon as Enrique approves it,(He did.) I'll post it here.

Oh, and it's is mostly vertical, set off with amorphous white space from the gallery information. Or how I see it. I procrastinated doing it all this week. More or less lucky thing I waited, although only one artist changed her name during, several added. Last show I almost went crazy getting every name to fit just right without splitting names (although I erroneously truncated one important one) while keeping it all alphabetical. This time I didn't worry so much. As my sloppy sign on my kitchen door scrawls, "Perfection is unlikely."

If the invite works, I may take a vacation from The Winter Show a couple days. Spend more time birding. Might even progress my own piece toward ink on strata. Winter white on white, negative space dark.



I awoke this morning (!) suddenly realizing I'd ignored what the post office calls their "USPS excluded area" [on the Express Copy site] where, if it's not left blank, postcards often get stuck with a self-sticky bar code that frequently obscures valuable information or images. If the space is not left on the address side, often the sticker is stuck across the bottom of the image side (USPS logic).

Since I wrote How to Design An Invitational Postcard for DallasArtsRevue, I probably should have remembered that wide shallow blank rectangle (according to USPS regulations, 4.75 wide x 0.625 inches high, anchored from the bottom right of the address side). Now I have slightly condensed (to 96%) the typeface for the artists' names and scooted them over to the right, bumping just a couple names and again diminishing the otherwise strict alphabetization (why, why, why are the names on every invitation alphabetized?), the backside of my postcard design is even more skewed.

And looks even odder (maybe worth a double-take; wouldn't that be fine?). Seems more appropriate somehow. Anna found five spelling errors and a questionable punctuation, which I fixed easily. Many designers don't give care if their pristine visuals are obliterated by one — or several — of those icky sticky bar codes [shown in the How Not To portion of the How To Postcard page]. Since I'm so much a stickler for their rules, the P.O. will probably stick my design with some anyway. Often there is no escaping them, but I gotta attempt.

Total design and messing with time: approximately 14 hours. Loss of sleep: priceless.

Friday November 7

For historical reference, we've had Four Member Exhibitions so far.

1026 Tranquilla - at that address in East Dallas in 2002. All stories about our first Membership Exhibition are indexed on that one page.

Our participation in the White Rock Lake Artists Studio Tour in 200_ (although that page seems to be disintegrating)

Big As Night, Too never acquired an actual index of pages about that October 2007 exhibition in the space that is now MFA Gallery on North Polk Street in Oak Cliff. But there's a grouping of "The Other Pages" near the top of that story about the show.

Fierce in July 2008 has every link you need to explore that carefully curated exhibition that was not just a Member show. I'm hoping this page will grow into something like that, only better. It also had a show blog.

TJ Mabrey - Wisteria Seed, 2008
TJ Mabrey   Wisteria Seed, 2008   Black Belgium Marble   $3,500
4.5 x 14 x 12 inches   33 pounds   photo submitted by the artist

Artists complain their computer skills are limited. One of the many things this show was intended to do was to grow those skills, because at long last, many exhibitions now must be entered via the Internet.

I have a page that teachers around the U.S. direct their students to to learn How to Photograph Art. But it does not specifically address the question of how to make JPEG images of specific size (I requested 5 x 7 inches, because I'd hoped that would be simpler to accomplish than if I had insisted on a particular resolution or number of pixel on each side).

In Photoshop (full-blown and the much cheaper Elements versions), one picks Image Size out of the menus somewhere, fills in the blanks, and saves the image to those specifications (being careful not to save the new, smaller image with the same name as the old, original, full resolution image, thus destroying your original).

The technique seemed almost too trivial to explain. I suspect there's a tutorial on the Internet somewhere that explains it better than I could, but I have not yet been able to find one — and there are many other programs to do the same thing, and they all work differently.

People who have taught themselves to be afraid of learning new software, will buckle at the thought of changing the size of an image. Making an image smaller works better than making it larger. Any resolution larger than 72 dpi (dots per inch) means I have to change it to 72 dpi, because that's how Macintosh computers (which I use exclusively) deal with the web. But I almost always have to adjust contrast and sharpness anyway, so it's no big deal.

It is strange that even photographers apparently do not know the basics in this new, digital realm. I recently struggled through two all-online applications to exhibitions (Art in the Metroplex and The Texas Biennial). Combined, they took an afternoon well into the evening to figure out, and I'm supposedly expert in this image-for-the-Internet realm. 

(I got in the Art in the Metroplex show but was less enthused when I saw it; and I did not get in the TX BI, whose terminology still baffles me, and I have an event to list in the Calendar when I finally figure that one out.

So I understand just how complex this digital revolution can be, and I've been shooting digital since 1992, and sometimes it's still confusing.

I made one studio visit for this show — that incorporated three artists. But I won't do any more, especially since the deadline was a couple days ago. But artists are still confused. And I will probably attempt to allay some of that confusion in another How to story that will be of service to many more people than just DallasArtsRevue Members in this show.

The names on the list (of artists in this show) now links to all their individual Supporting Member pages.

Though I keep adding to this page, I keep subtracting, too, and I often wonder what color to make the phrases I delete, so you can tell they're gone …

I'm also struggling with where to put my photos of the hall space at the Bath House now on this page. I'd really like to just have show images here now. In previous DARts exhibitions, I've had separate pages, but I want everything to be on this one page this time. (Eventually, I left them in place but made them uniformly smaller, but I'm not at all sure that helps anything.)



Thursday November 6

It's too confusing to scatter new information all over this page. Now is time to add them into the daily little stacks of comments about this show that many people like to call blog — not unlike what I did for Fierce, even if, near the top, it got a little crazed with Off Topic comments.

Last show — you'd think I would have learned my lesson on that one — that these exhibition thingies are a great deal of trouble and take scads of time and energy — I decided against previewing any works of art, believing it would be better for people to come see the show. This time, Enrique Cervantes asked me for samples of the work in this show, so he could use them to promote The Winter Show on the Bath House site. So, if he's going to anyway, why don't I do that, too?

All the pieces in the show are not yet represented here. I don't think anybody yet knows which pieces will actually be in the show. I'm still asking each artist for two each. Looking at my photographs of the hallway itself [below on this page], I see there's about 20 pieces somewhat larger than our average size, lined up down each side. So it's should not be difficult to hang at least 40 pieces on each side, if they're mounted salon style. Maybe three times that many there.

And we have the foyer [also below] too. 

At first I suggested I do all the collecting of the samples, so we wouldn't further confuse the participating artists by having them send the same images to both of us. But now, soon, I'll pack a bunch of them onto a CD and deliver them when I deliver both sides of the invitation. Tonight, finally, I put the names of the artists whose work is on the postcard on their respective works, studied that for awhile, then made them both legible.

If your name is on the list below, you're probably going to be in the show. Wednesday November 5, was the cutoff for adding new artists, and I was several varieties of amazed when no one contacted me today (the day after that deadline) insisting I let them in. The curator got a little fed up with electric last minute additions, went to sleep early, then typed this at 5:15 am, a time I'm not used to, the next morning.

Today I design the back side of the invitation. The front side is somewhere on this page, except the names of the artists of the work there will be white on the lower left of each of their work. I doubt I'll post what the back side looks like.  

I do plan on photographing me some birds this stormy Thursday sometime (Went to a movie instead), but now that there is a more or less — ya never know — full list of artists (and now complete with links to their member pages), I'll put together the invitation and deliver it to Enrique at the Bath House on time.

Oh, wow, I just realized that the invitation design is not due till Saturday, that means I can go back to sleep, photo birds, console artists who missed yesterday's deadline, photo my birds, not worry about designing the back of the postcard — all that really goes back there, is a short explanation of this show, the logo, and all those names. And since I hate it when the curator's name is either the only one on the invite or at the top, mine probably won't be either.

The Curator Explors The Winter Show - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Curator explores The Winter Show     photo by Anna Palmer

Older, Non-blogged News & Olds

Since we have full use — whatever that might mean — of the foyer of the Bath House, we may have enough space for everybody to have at least one piece in the show. Artists with smaller work may have an opportunity for two. I'm only going to put in one, if that many.

NOTE: I'll pick one piece for sure from each artist, then a second we'll use if we have room. I.e., One for certain; the other for maybe. We won't know what all will be in the show till we hang it. Might be that one fits the rest of the show. Might be the other.

The above paragraph has been on this page for several weeks, but most artists in this show may not have noticed it before, so now it's big and here, where there's an outside chance someone will notice it. Tricky curating, I suppose, that doesn't take effect till after delivery, which means another date for pick up of the unused pieces before the show opens.  

I have only the vaguest notion how many pieces — especially of this many different sizes — will fit in the hallway and foyer at the Bath House, but I'm thinking that at least 40 will fit there, that's almost as many as we have artists. Placing this show should be its own little nightmare / exultation. We'll see.

new Soon as I get all the last-minute submitters who waited till Wednesday night to send me jpegs, taken care of, i can put everybody's names on a list, put that on the postcard, and be finished with this little game for a couple weeks. Might even get time to print my own submission by then. I think it's a shoe-in.


All work must be securely wired and ready to hang.

No saw tooth hangers or other sub-par or unprofessional doohickeys you got on sale at Michael's. Wire needs to stretch between the left and right inside of your piece's framing, so we can wrap your wire over one or two nails and hang it flush to the wall.

Work that needs placing on risers will be placed on risers, of which the Bath House has many, because all the concurrent shows are of flat art. If you sculptors need to avoid the jiggle, bring something to glue those suckers down. The Museum Putty works pretty well. Placing work (date & time tba) will be done by those who show up to do that stuff — as led by the curator.

If you need to deliver early or pick up late, contact Enrique Fernandez at enrique.fernandez@dallascityhall.com.

Hall Left - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Hall Gallery - Left Side - for somebody else's show: We'll probably hang
work Salon Style — top to bottom with sculpture on risers along the sides

No more artists will be added.

I have to submit the invitation (with names of all exhibiting artists) Saturday November 8, so if I don't have your NAME by November 5, you will not be in the show. Maybe next year.

JPEGs of your work should have measured at least 5 x 7 inches. Try to get them in focus and have the colors close to reality. Otherwise, don't worry too much about your photo documenting technique. I'll email back discussing your work soon as I know what I think about it. We'll have dialog, and we'll decide what goes in. If I change my mind, I'll let you know. I reserve that right, but I'll try to not be offensive about it. We're all in a hurry here.

I don't want you to change your style to please me. I want to present your work. But I also want to present the best work I can find. I've haggled with many artists who've already sent work. Often the first thing they send is not, in my opinion, their best. One artist sent three batches, and I fell in love with the third one instantly.

Don't show up on Delivery Day and tell me Oh, you just assumed I'd like your work. And do do do NOT show up with a selection of work you want me to choose from then. The curating for this show is by email only.

The Bath House is paying me to curate this show, so I will. For me to do that you have to show me your work. This show is shaping up to be a spectacular little show, one you'd want to be in. It is very possible fewer artists than are listed below will be in that show.

I'm calling artwork sent to me via JPEGs "submissions," because they are not definitely in the show until I say so.

It's called The Winter Show, because it's happening  in December. It is not a theme show. Although I do lean toward winterish images.

If they're small, you might get two pieces. Nobody's got three pieces yet, so probably nobody will. The closer your work adheres to the guidelines, the more likely you will be in the show. With as many as two pieces. Maybe.

The Winter Show Invitation - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Esther Ritz   Vanish and Carroll Swenson-Roberts   South for Winter on the front of the invite

The Invitations

Enrique says they'll print one or two thousand postcards.

To design the back side of that invitation, I needed to know exactly who will be in this show. To know that, I had to see your JPEGs.

The invitation will have color on both sides and be 4 x 6 inches. The front is shown larger than life near the top of this page. The back will have a full list of exhibiting artists. Do not try my patience by saying you want to be in this show without sending me jpegs.

If you give printed labels to Enrique, the Bath House will mail those invitations. What a deal.

We have full use of the foyer, where we can hang work on the wall or put them on risers. The Bath House will provide all the risers we need, since there'll be no other sculpture in the galleries then.

I'll pick one piece for sure from each artist, then a second we'll use if we have room. I.e., One for certain; the other for maybe. We won't know what all will be in the show till we place it.

DallasArtsRevue members, whether they're in the show or not, are welcome to come when we place the show. I don't yet know how we'll handle hanging it. The Bath House has a crew that hangs shows. If you are here, we will ask your opinions. If you've never placed a show before, the best way to learn is to help. We will decide where everything goes.


Paul Rogers Harris - James Distorted

Paul Rogers Harris   James Distorted, 2008   digital photograph   $250

Show Presentation

The show shown in these photographs of the Hallway, where our exhibition will hang, is hung sparingly. Ours will be more spatial, with work above and below, on the sides, on risers, maybe even hanging from the ceiling. We're going for an entirely different look from this line-em-all-up in one, optically centered line of pieces kind of show. The hang-them-all-over-the-place is often called "salon style," and has a long and glorified history.

Bath House rules preclude showing any piece that has been shown there before. And no nudes! There's more of their rules on their site somewhere, but I haven't found it in years. If there's any question, Bath House Visual Arts Coordinator / Curator
Enrique Cervantes Fernández decides.

James Michael Starr - July

James Michael Starr   July, 2008    found object sculpture   $700


Artists in The Winter Show

Click the links below to see work by participating DallasArtsRevue Supporting Members on their Member pages. It's really not my fault that some artists are still procrastinating putting together a member page.

The symbols in the list below have changed. Check marks indicate that I have either selected work from these artists or told them to bring what they have, because I know their art well and trust them and that they have sent me a 5 x 7-inch JPEG, so I can advertise their work here and on the Membership Page. A line behind a name indicates we've at least begun the process, and I fully expect them to follow through by delivering at least one piece, and send me a JPEG:

Mirtha Aertker
George Bailey
Rita Barnard
Rebecca Boatman
Kathy Boortz
Fannie Brito
Glenn Comtois
Sheila Cunningham
Annie Davis — √
Kapil Dixit
Nancy Ferro
Chris Fulmer
Paul Rogers Harris
Melody Hay
Kathy Robinson Hays
Michael Helsem
Anne Hines
Joan Iverson
JeanE — √
Matt Kaplinsky
Norman Kary
Gale Lambert
Chris Lattanzio
Susan Lecky
TJ Mabrey
Elaine Merritt
Marty Mitchener
Bob Nunn
Anna Palmer
Gaby Pruitt √
Marty Ray
Richard Ray
Esther Ritz
Carroll Swenson-Roberts
Lynn Rushton — √
Elisabeth Schalij — √
Ken Shaddock
Art Shirer
James Michael Starr
Cecilia Thurman — √
Tiana Wages
Bonnie Wilber
41 artists


How we got this show, a short history

I talked with Enrique Fernandez Cervantes during our Fierce Studio Visit, and when he mentioned having an exhibition slot in December 2008 that he was having difficulty filling the hallway gallery (on the way to the back room, past the main gallery and the White Rock Museum, all of which spaces are already scheduled) for that time slot, I suggested I could probably throw together a show of DallasArsRevue members pretty quickly if he needed one.

It's official now. All DallasArtsRevue Supporting Members whose membership was active in October 2008 were eligible to show in The Winter Show. A nice little opportunity to show off work in a space anyone who walks in the the Art Wing of the Bath House will have to see.

The Bath House is closed for Christmas and New Years, but the show will be up their usual three weeks, opening December 6 through January 3.

Norman Kary at Delivery - Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Norman Kary at Delivery

The Original Plan

We only got the hallway and the left wall in the foyer, but in the hall we can use both sides and floor to ceiling and on stands and hanging from the ceiling (well, maybe not the ceiling...). So some size restraint seems likely. I always want to show more than one piece per artist, but that's less likely with larger work or smaller spaces.

I'd much rather show something new than have it be yet another greatest hits show. Showing anybody's oldies and moldies is almost too boring to contemplate. So work should be new this year and smallish, without being onerous about size. J R will allow exceptions. Email J R.

Size should be smaller than 20 x 20 inches. I'm thinking I'll just say "small," and if someone brings "big," and it fits, I might keep it, and I might not, but don't plan on big. Plan small.

Tell me sizes when you send me your jpegs.

We also have the wall and other spaces in the foyer, and those pieces need to be big, so they don't get lost, so something or other that's big will fit in this show (out there), too.

I hadn't really expected to be the curator again, but that's how Enrique listed me, so I'm going with it. I like playing megalomaniacal. Once again, I decide what goes in and what doesn't. I won't be doing studio visits, however. And I don't really know what I will be doing, but looking at digital images is almost always fun, so that.

Next Year?

A couple members have mentioned that they'll just hang back on this one and put something in next year. That's an interesting concept, but you should know that we don't automatically have a member show every year. Sometimes it's been several years between. There are no guarantees we'll have another opportunity next year or the year after. I take what we can get, and this is an amazing opportunity. Grab it.

These opportunities may be accelerating. We had our first show way back in 2002, then a couple years went by without another opportunity. Then we had a show late last year (just before Halloween), Fierce this last July and this one. But time has a way of baffling us.

Just because the latter of these these happened in rapid succession doesn't mean that acceleration or average speed will continue. Objects in the mirror may be farther away than they appear. Future successes do not necessarily extend in a straight line from past experiences. Etc.

Risers - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Riser storage in that hallway Wednesday afternoon. J R Compton photo
Nobody else in any of the other shows will have work that needs risers.


Exhibition Calendar

An Artists' Conversation about Art

7-9 pm, Saturday January 3. Artists will talk about their work in an open-ended conversation moderated by the curator. Free, of course at the Bath House. Afterwards, artists may take their work with them.

More info in the blog below, as it accumulates. I only just thought of it early morning on December 11.

Pick up Art After the Show

If you don't pick your work up at The Conversation (above) work may be retrieved from 11 am - 1 pm January 4: Talk to Enrique about any other plans you may have at enrique.fernandez@dallascityhall.com or 214 670-8751.

Bath House Address, Map, Driving Instructions and Open Hours

The Winter Show continued through January 3 although the center was closed Christmas through New Year.

Deliver Art to the Bath House

1-4 Saturday November 29

new instructions When you get to the Bath House:

  1. Go in the front door, through the foyer toward the door to the back porch (Later, you should go out there and look around. You'll probably enjoy the view.);
  2. Turn left into the hallway towards the back, this side of the box office;
  3. Turn left into the main gallery just past whatever's left of the white risers [below] and past Enrique's office on the left;
  4. Sit down at the table;
  5. Fill out the Bath House's form for insurance, identification, etc. Sign it and put it in the orange folder on that table when you're finished;
  6. Make sure your name and title is on each piece;
  7. Put your piece in the hallway (It won't stay where you put it.) Lean it against the wall or on a riser if it needs one. If all the risers are taken, ask J R.
  8. Ask J R any question or questions that arise. Any. At any time. If I don't know, I'll refer you to someone who does. Or something.
  9. Give your mailing labels to Enrique or put them on his desk (back left in his office);
  10. Talk with the other artists gathered, whenever possible. Talk with me when I'm not busy with something. If I'm in a conversation, stand in the circle we'll make when we see you, then join in.

Mail Out

Enrique will put labels on cards Saturday afternoon for mailing. Deliver your mailing labels to the Bath House, so they can mail out the invitations, at no cost to artists — that happened last Saturday November 29.


9 am Tuesday, December 2 till we're too tired to do anything more.

I'd really like some help Wednesday at noon at the Bath House to finesse our hanging so far and rehang a very few pieces. Anyone is welcome.

and noon Wednesday December 3 and finish. We hope. Anyone who'd like to help or learn by doing, may, either day or both. There's no Peanut Gallery. You're there, you'll help.

The Winter Show opening reception was 7-9 pm Saturday, December 6. The show at Dallas' Bath House Cultural Center will be up during regular open hours through January 3, 2009 — although the center will be closed from Christmas Even through New Year's Day.


Art Crit formerly on The Cover


Susan Lecky - I Hear You - Copyright 2008 by Susan Lecky. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Susan Lecky   I Hear You   triptych   11 x 28 inches, 2008   $950

Want to watch an art exhibition unfold, step by step, before your eyes? Tune into The Winter Show as we decide what will and what won't fit into this growing exhibition. Join us in the discovery.

Like other DallasArtsRevue membership shows, we start with a page of information and pleas to participate, throw in some pix of the space and work submitted, scatter rules, hopes, needs and concerns. Gradually build a list of artists, a calendar, an often updated blog and everything else. Watch it happen.

We've been in a lull lately, but things should start jumping when work is delivered 2-5 Wednesday November 26 and 1-4 Saturday November 29 then lurch forward as we jigsaw the pieces together as we place and hang what fits — physically and philosophically — December 2 as we decide what goes in the show and what doesn't.

Even I, the curator of this exhibition, don't really know which work will be in this show or how we will hang it. That exciting bit of discovery will happen as we whoever of the artists in the show show up to help. I'm confident these pieces will be in, but juxtaposing all the works that will become the show will be fascinating fun.

It's been awhile since I wrote about art, but after I decided to put Susan Lecky's piece here — because it is so different from what was here before, I gradually recognized the challenge to compare and contrast it, this gem by Bob Nunn and the Anna Palmer's frog. Gradually, this story will grow into it's own page of short stories about the show.

 Bob Nunn - Above It All, 2008

Bob Nunn   Above It All   oil on canvas   14 x 14 inches, 2008  $600

These are much closer to the correct colors.

I'm reading all three as maps, differing in their presentations of dense colors and dimensionality, while providing sure and secure baby steps forward in each artist's progression of their bodies of work. Oeuvre.

The top two show verdant, blossoming spring subtly hinting foreboding winter. Bob's may be more realistic, while remaining abstracted in rich ranges of tonality, while Susan's work on paper dances with rhythmic organic shapes like a flower garden barely restrained by geometric gates and trellises.

Searching the submitted images for another map, I rediscovered Anna Palmer's digital abstract reality of a Fitchery [her contraction of "the Old Fish Hatchery area" at White Rock Lake] Frog manifesting yet another variety of cartographic representation. Sampling Where's Waldo while indulging us into the nearly monochromatic detritus of autumn, contradistinguishing life and death, rough and smooth, crispy and soft into another map we can easily find our ways into.

As we determine which works will be in and how they will all fit into it, this show will reveal itself in many connections and contradictions during the last week of this and the first few days of next month. Then comes the show itself, the joys and social excitement of an opening reception, then the quiet discoveries of an extended exhibition, our longest ever.

Anna Palmer - Fitchery Frog - Copyright 2008 by Anna Palmer. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Anna Palmer   Fitchery Frog, 2008   digital photograph   16 x 20 inches   $150


All Contents of this site are Copyright 2008 or before by publisher J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.

 since June 19 2008


* Stupid web host clock ticks hours strangely, different at differing times, and not just Daylight Slavings.



since 04 24 09