Visual art news, views & reviews in Dallas, Texas, USA
Home Index Calendar Member art How to Join Ops Resources Feedback Contact us Reviews Search
Previous DARts Exhibitions: 1026
White Rock Lake Artists Studio Tour, Big
As Night, Too
This is PAGE TWO — VISITS continue on Page
THREE and from Page ONE.
The Fierce Index links all fierce info including artists visited.
These studio visits were intended to allow the curator to visit artists in their homes and studios and to select work for Fierce. I knew they'd be interesting, but they turned out to be fascinating and amazing fun. Not sure how I dreamed doing this up, but it must have been an inspired moment.
Elisabeth's Dogs on the Living Room Floor
My visit with Elisabeth Schalij — less than a crow-fly mile from the Robinsons, also overlooking a deep green crevice, though neither as steep nor dangerous — was my last stop on that Friday's southern tour. I'd been there before but didn't get lost in the up, down and around winding geography this time. Those twists and turns through neighborhoods I'd previsualized on MapQuest's aerial photos showing trees and houses not just lines and arrows, made finding it almost easy.
Kitchen Grocery List — Another Textured Abstract
I parked in the rock-lined visitor's slot, already watching a gleaming water-throwing sculpture shining in the sun as I climbed out my car, only barely aware of clunks of worn, once-white sculpture and bright flowers dotting the yard. Plenty hot out, but cool inside a warm-toned, low-lit, comfy right away front room scattered with art magazines and two massive old dogs slowly unfolding onto the floor. Elisabeth, husband Bill and I cushed back and set to talking about all those personal universals — especially art.
Found Wood Thing
Which gradually led to me following her, winding around through the inside of her house, past windows looking out into the lush green and along walls of an accumulating history of her and friends' and heroes' art. Pausing at each new find, it slowly sank in — again — how much she loves found natural objects that resemble fantasy creatures.
Elisabeth Schalij - A Very Early Piece
Not all that dissimilar to the way her own art incorporates the shapes, colors and the real, once-living grit of nature in service to a personal vision of realities we recognize and identify with. Often they're pretty, sometimes complex, fantastic and real — landscapes dense with texture and live with color.
Photo by Elisabeth Schalij
Our informal tour of her home eventually wended us into her busy but efficient studio, which seemed remarkably clean, although there was a middle-sized painting growing in the back corner of the space dominated by her big side-paddle press.
Elisabeth's Studio with Painting, Dog and Artist
I'm not showing the painting any better, because it'll be in the show when it's finished. But I'm already enamored of its textures, deep paint and smears of contrasting color.
Check out Elisabeth's DallasArtsRevue Member Page for more examples of her paintings and her luscious nature and fantasy prints.
Print Bin Tour into the Future of Elisabeth Schalij Art
Thence back into a reading room, with more art, indoor plants and an even more fascinating and informative, inner tour through her print bin, a visual database of future projects. Paging through it, she told elaborate technical details needing doing with each piece in that growing, informal loose-leafed book. A plan of creative endeavors well into the future.
Then outside onto a narrow porch with white metal patio table and chairs and matching umbrella, overlooking the long dense green down into the hidden highway whose hushing traffic wasn't nearly as obvious as on my last visit. Lot of birds chattering and flashing squirrels in the brush.
Passion Flowers in Elisabeth's Garden
We walked out into their widening back yard, past found-wood collections that looked like some things else, nooks and crannies of more collected art. Under this once chrome-bright spiral now bared to rust, happily having lost its artificial gloss, turned now natural roots, branches and high looping iron blending into the real forest beyond.
A Beckoning Backyard Retreat
I followed Elisabeth through their extra acre's growing gardens, labyrinthine greens, ornate wood benches and sculpted stones, past patches of bright flowers, under a lush arbor with only the second Passion Flowers I've ever seen, on through and past more green and flowers until we beheld a comfy human oasis. Might have been nice to stay, but I had to be back on my way north before traffic.
The Hays Back Yard, Down through the Upstairs Screen Porch
Second visit that Friday was with Terry Hays and Kathy Robinson Hays whose elegant home startled me so much I didn't think I was at the right place until Terry came out to greet me. Inside was richly wood toned, open with an immensity of freshly cleaned wide open interior space, with lots of big windows that looked out over and steep down into maybe a creek beyond the vegetation. Beautiful. Terry, Kathy told me, had been busy terracing and landscaping, so their steepening backyard and the house perched atop it, wouldn't slide into the pit.
Their Home is a Richness of Tonality and Texture.
The couple, who've been together 26 years, have — to my more or less educated eyes — remarkably similar styles. Their art's not the same, at all. Hers generally comes out flat, perhaps a little rounded. He constructs three-dimensional monuments he calls "houses," and she paints on paper and sometimes curved, planar objects. But both are directly and easily discernibly about texture. It isn't just everywhere in both their work. It is their work, though their issues, interests and outward forms vary significantly.
Kathy's Studio Showing New Work in Progress
Their studios occupy contiguous spaces. Kathy's is larger, but you'd have to go through hers to get to his. Both overlook the verdant area out back. Both spaces — the entire house, really — nearly sparkled. They said they had cleaned up everything for my visit, which seemed extreme, but I understand utilizing the opportunity of a visit to clean up a house that isn't always.
Terry Exhibits An Interest in Graffiti
They also seemed nervous, an aspect I'm beginning to realize has probably been present on several previous visits, too — if I'd paid attention to that sort of thing. I remember being nervous when Paul Harris visited my garage studio many years ago. If I'd thought it through, I probably should have been anxious in their presence. These guys are amazing artists. What's that word again?
Kathy Robinson Hays - Work In Progress
Both their day jobs involve art. He paints sets. She does serious art restoration. When she does, she often wears a hazmat-like outfit similar to those in this piece, which Kathy assured me would not be finished for some time — certainly too late to put its finished form in Fierce.
Both the images above show them extending their oeuvre into directions which this careful observer was not aware, good enough reason right there for a studio visit.
Terry Hays - Work In Progress
Terry told me of his growing interest in graffiti and that elements of it would be in the pieces he's working on, especially those for his upcoming solo show in The Contemporary's Hall Walls space he earned at their Membership Show by becoming a Critic's Choice. I can see how those colorfully busy contemporary abstractions might fit right into his flurry of constructed colors and shapes.
Kathy Robinson Hays - older work
I was similarly surprised at the realism in her drawing of the protective hoods. I'd got used to her careful precision of fine intersticing lines, organic forms and deep natural colors.
Another Terry surprise were these patterned sticks, inspired, he said, by Australian Aboriginal pieces. I told him their patterning reminded me of some carved wands from there that I'd photographed at Joel Conner gallery where I sometimes work. Not so much in their design or patterns but of their sense of magic.
Ill-fated Gift Boxes by Terry Hays and Kathy Robinson Hays
The gift boxes (above) the two artists collaborated on turned into an expensive and involved process to try to sell something small but affordable. When they were affordable, the price did not cover the artists' growing involvement in their construction and decoration. When they were — inevitably — expensive, they did not sell. Another of those anxiety-provoking art conundrums.
Kathy's Test Shapes and Colors
Kathy tests watercolor textures, shapes, colors and flow patterns on large pages.
Terry meticulously labels each piece in numerical order for the architecture of his monuments, so he always knows where they go when he's painted them. Place tab A8 in slot A8...
Kathy Attempts to Thwart the Photographer
Kathy did not wish to be photographed, put her hand up to stop me and kept moving around the lens as long as I pointed it at her, pretty much guaranteeing another lousy shot of her. Nice, though, of her hand.
Terry Hays Poses with Pieces That Are Always in Progress
Terry didn't mind posing with some of his work, which he said, is never finished. He's always adding onto and otherwise altering pieces — including those he's shown before.
What Happened When I Pointed My Camera at Ann
Animation collaboration by Anna Palmer and J R Compton
I've known Ann Huey maybe a decade, got to know her better when we did her peculiarly her website together a few years back. My all-time favorite Ann Huey moment, besides intense and extensive conversations about art at openings, especially in the soft furnitured comfort of Salon du FITs, was at Dallas Visual Arts Center when she pinned a "Make Art, Not War" button on my shirt just before the U.S's ill-fated stupidity in Iraq. I've still got it.
Ann Huey - Naked at the Last Supper, 2006
acrylic on canvas - 24 x 68 inches
In all that time I've said I wanted to, but never made the journey to see her home, along a quiet, tree-lined two-lane not far from a major thoroughfare, and her not-so-little studio out back. Miles from the city, but an easy shot to a beautiful place with a backyard view out over miles of rolling green. A soothing escape for Ann and her husband, popular drummer and teacher Martin McCall — who've been best friends since childhood.
Nearly Every Studio Has an Inspiration Corner
Ann Huey is known for her sense of not just humor — though that, too, in spades — but of a deep human irony and a wit that sometimes bites. See the Ann Huey painting He Was Quiet and Kept to Himself that leers down at me from my office wall.. She exhibits more often than I can keep up with, although I'm interessted enough to want to. Many rich examples of her older work are on her website at www.AnnHuey.com/.
Her Kahlo blue studio, like her home, is filled with her and other people's art. Containing an extensive archive of older work and several different directions of work in progress, it is an oddly vivid building with random roofing hues on top and much more color inside. What many artists would consider a dream studio.
Fresh Flower and Art Bird in the Window
Among the interior's bright walls of inspiration and exploration are at least two major new directions — and many minor offshoots, her naked at series, exemplified by two bright blazing, almost difficult to look at new pieces that will be in Fierce, and Naked at The Last Supper above that won't — and her budding Noir series of mostly monochromatic paintings — from old black & white films of the 40s and 50s — one very colorful example of which that I've been amazed at for awhile will be in the show.
A Rising Star
Probably the major concern of our conversation
that bright hot sunshiny day was Lethargy. Not unusual in the building
heat of North Texas summer; more like a universal mind distortion. Combined
with Ann's dismay that only her smaller, cheaper work sells. Selling more
serious work woild bolster her spirits, although her job at the Dallas Zoo continues
and would probably grow, if she let it cut more into making art time. Despite
her professed inertia, Ann got animatedly excited each time she talked about
planned new paintings and their working concepts.
Kathy Boortz - Work in Progress
Visiting Kathy Boortz' studio, though always a delight, is not unusual. I go there two or three times a year to photograph her latest work, so this is familiar territory, and this particular visit was to the point of picking new work — one very new, darker yet much lighter political figure, and one bird that's waiting for a head and other details from the kiln. Still, any excuse to talk with the gregarious artist is always a joy, although we made quick work of it.
Kathy Boortz's Busy Studio
The mention of her name among area artists brings nods of understanding and appreciation — and usually a big smile. She may not quite believe her place in the Dallas art pantheon, but trust me, it's up there. On the White Rock Lake Artists Studio Tour — which she'll take a break from this next October — her stop has long been the most consistent recommendation from other artists.
A Smiling Kathy Boortz in Her Studio
Her home is neat, and her studio is clean but shall we say creatively cluttered. I've seen it more organized — on the White Rock tour, for example, but never as full as this busy season. I sneak visits in there whenever I'm near, both because I feel right at home in that complexity, and because I'm always curious what she's up to. Like in my home, it's got so I can see past what's been there for years and hone in on what's new. I'm a big fan and keen to know the gritty details in the progressions of her work.
Kathy's Early Work — A Life Size Cow
Her bird and animal pieces ring true as folk art, but there's more to it than that. She's no outsider. She got her MFA at UT Austin in 1974 and studied extensively with longtime Art Chairman Charles Umlauf. The life-size cow in Kathy and Chet's den is from then. It holds a position of reverence, even if it sometimes serves as a glorified hat rack. Making art of animals is nothing new for this prolific Dallas artist.
Her work is a clever mix of objects she finds on walks through nature here or around her Hill Country summer home — with faces, feet and other details sculpted in clay, wood and metal, often including rebar, cans and familiar tools. She keeps her prices — to mention a topic that has been coming up in recent visits — low and affordable, and that keeps her from settling into too many galleries, although she has a growing history with Buchanan on Galveston Island, where you can see many of my photos of her work and Valley House in north Dallas.
It's obvious she uses whatever reference she can find. There's often a splay of opened books on her busy desk, looking out the back window to the pond the Boortzs' share with neighbors. But she also observes life in the real. Their home's semi-rural setting brings young families of owls — mom teaching owlets to hunt, among other amazing sightings that have led to series of work — and colorful other critters in for first-hand study. Not to even mention her summer sojourns to the Texas Hill Country.
Wood Duck Waiting for a Head
To see examples of her most recent work — so
recent neither of them are finished just yet — you'll have to come to
the Fierce show this July. But there's plenty work on the Buchanan
site linked above, her
DallasArtsRevue Supporting Member page, and any
number of other mentions and showings on this site, including on one of
the pages in my personal collection, because I am treasured to own Whitaker
the Cockatoo, one of her early pliers birds.
George Bailey Painting in the Open Shade of His Carport Studio on a Hot Day
George Bailey teaches in a system where faithful teachers who teach what's on the test rather than what students will need to live life, are rewarded for their monumental efforts and eventual success by lowered wages. When he paints, he escapes into a world where anything goes. His mind and brush and paint create their own reality. When he sees faces in the lights and darks of a blank canvas, he brings them into colorful life. When they're hidden deeper, he manifests their deeper realities. Sometimes things magical are brought forth.
Fallen Son of Perdition, 2006
acrylic and marker on hardboard
48 x 48 inches
George teaches world history and economics and jokes that his high school students think he's crazy, because he does voice impersonations while teaching and tells horrendous puns, wears fake hillbilly teeth, rips TAKS and teaches his sophomores and seniors at North Mesquite to think, not just to learn to pass a test. I can understand their confusion, but some of his work shocks me it's so strangely superb. This piece, for large example, is one I wanted to have in Fierce — might still, I love it so — but it's been on his member page nearly a year now, and I promoted it more by stashing it on what turned out to be the wildly popular (for this site) Original Fierce page.
Unfortunately, my rules for Fierce insist that works to be exhibited not have been shown in the North Central Texas area before this exhibition, and I'm wondering whether Fallen Son of Perdition (I love that title.) qualifies now.
George Bailey - Betrayal and Redemption - oil - 24 x 48 - "My way of dealing with personal sorrow."
Like many of his paintings, no two of which are are all that much alike except the colors and textures — until I honed in on all the lurid details, the figure in the big middle of that colorful painting is in goofy defiance of contemporary norms, although it's being albino in negative space, and spooky besides, causes lust in my mind for it. The background, which I see as some wild blackboard mad scientist rant of computational scribblings, etched out of the darkness like one of those texture-rich crayon drawings where areas of color are hard scrawled over with waxy black, then that dark layer is scraped off, mixing layers and colors.
Gosh, I think I'm talking myself back into showing this Fallen Son of Perdition in Fierce, although there's a couple others of his new work I like, too.
George Bailey - Mothman, 2005 - oil
"Once again, I am fascinated by the legend of the Moth Man."
Maybe it's his bright, blazing, uncompromising colors or the primitive renderings I identify so much with in selected moments of George's work. I know people who call themselves Fauvists who never get this close to any real richness of color. "Donatello among the wild beasts," indeed.
George Bailey - Democrats & Republicans, 2007 - oil -
24 x 48 inches
24 x 48 — "I find the whole political scene a freak show and circus."
It doesn't hurt that when I visit — always in the heat of summer — he has iced mugs of very cold diet root beer ready, with a willingness to talk wide and deep. This visit was as much to see what he's up to that I might use in Fierce as to repopulate his Member Page with this last year's work. I'm only sorry I can't show that one new piece that will join Fallen Son in Fierce. But it should be easy to pick George's work out of the crowd.
Mark Collop Across the Street from Fair Park Entrance
We first encountered Mark Collop's art at last year's Texas Biennial in Austin, where I was impressed enough to include his work near the top of that page. When I got this show going, he emailed suggesting he'd "love to be involved," adding "If the walls are overcrowded, I can show in the restroom. I'm flexible." I sent him my standard invitational letter with links, and Mark replied attaching a drawing and his recent pick-up poetry piece.
Mark Collop - Word Processing at TWU - photo provided by Mark Collop
Obviously a multi-dimensional artist, I started getting excited about his participation but didn't yet know what form it would take. When I emailed again in early May, he answered, "I'm in a serious transition period so I'm studio-less, I am though working as an art handler and have the added perk of using the shop after hours. We (The company) have just finished remodeling the new space, so I have only recently utilized the perk for personal Art production. I will need to be seen later in the month."
I kept him on my schedule and a couple weeks later asked again, and he told me, "Still no studio, so I'm making do and taking the art to the world. Attached is an image from my new project. He was at Stemmons Freeway and Continental. He only lasted 3 hours before he was taken. So that's what I'm up to."
Unpacking Deer from Portfolio
"Any chance you'd like to install a few around the outside of the gallery, at least during he opening?" I asked. "Some inside, too, maybe, though inside, they're more likely to stay put." Mark said, he'd "love to," and I could always make one for the restroom. Maybe one for the stall that will hold toilet paper. [and] Timing is not necessarily part of the piece, but i like the idea someone can take him if they want.
Mark Collop - Deer Ready to Place
They are more public service announcements with humor."
I kept at a visit suggesting, "Maybe you could bring some of your little friends and you could 'place' them," so we met early that Sunday morning in Deep Elm where his sister used to live.
Mark Collop - Being Grateful on Exposition Avenue
in Sesquicentennial Plaza — Before it was downed
He brought three "new little friends" wrapped in a corrugated cardboard portfolio, and I followed his red Jeep about a dozen miles around the greater Fair Park area as he considered sites, then installed deer.
Mark placed "Being Grateful" in the bushes at Sesquicentennial Plaza near the CADD Art Fair. "God Bless" went on the corner at Columbia and Fitzhugh where his grandfather's clinic stood for many years, and "Help Wanted" was installed at Martin Luther King and Robert B Cullum Boulevards – with an army of DayGlo orange construction cones and stripey barriers around the gate to Fair Park, WRR's broadcast tower and the big Texas Star ferris wheel in the background.
And, of course, it's never quite real till it's documented.
Mark didn't expect them to stay up more than a few hours, but on our way home from Sunday dinner, Anna and I saw two deer nearly twelve hours later still in place, although the one on Exposition Avenue had fallen — or was knocked — down. I wanted to stow it in the back and take it home, instead I stood it up, leaned it into the bushes for more stability and drove off.
He reports that the God Bless deer made it a week, and that he picked up Being Grateful that Tuesday, has been driving around with it while it begs to be let off at NorthPark, which wish it'll get next weekend. Mark hasn't made it back to the Help Wanted deer. Later, three deer turned up, for awhile at least, on The Grassy Knoll.
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 May 10, 2008 - counter for first two Visits pages.
since June 11, 2008 for Page 2 - only.