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Rick Maxwell   Twist   2002   pecan, cypress and fire   detail

Pairings


 

Pairings: Artist's Selections from the Dallas Museum of Art at the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art through March 1, is the show the museum should have celebrated its 100 anniversary with.

This diverse show features some of this city's most celebrated local artists (Wake up, MAC!), showing intelligent, sensitive, startling, often amazing art in direct comparison with pieces from the DMA's permanent collection.

David Bates, Vernon Fisher, Linnea Glatt, Tracy Hicks, Nic Nicosia, John Pomara, Linda Ridgway and Andrea Rosenberg each chose a work from the mu's collection and responded with a new work of their own. The DMA loaned the DCCA its originals, so the pieces could be displayed together enough for in-depth comparisons.

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Responding to former DMA Director Jerry Bywaters' (1906-1989) classic 1937 Share Cropper oil on masonite, David Bates' Self Portrait With Hat 1998-99 painted wood relief offers direct, serio-comic, contempo comparisons of dress, style, color and form.

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Comparing the textual and textural complexities of Marcel Duchamps' The Green Box book of interlinked and interrelated drawings, facsimiles, typed and hand-written text splayed across a horizontal display case, is Tracy Hicks' crystalline, solid vertical columns of specimen jars containing molds of extinct frogs. Called Atelopus, 2003, it is a translucing assemblage of jars containing silicon rubber and plastic molds, and strontium (shown above right fluorescing under a black light).

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The simplicity of Linnea Glatt's (left - maybe 8 feet high) mixed media, Pouf, 2003, semi-globes of glass laid out in flower pattern linearly similar to her large, sewn flower drawing in Barry Whistler's recent Drawn 2, contrasts its color simplicity and delicate pink, misted plastic and inevitable reflections with the soft floral shapes and colors of Jim Hodges' precisely laid out (museum workers used an overlaid transparent template for positioning), yet seemingly randomized, planar explosion of silk flowers (above right - detail).

Vernon Fisher chose Lynton Wells' enticing acrylic on photosensitive linen that hadn't been seen publicly since the museum was in Fair Park, but he remembered it. John Pomara paired his minimal image bar code paintings with the optically deceptive, minimal hued Andy Warhol electric chair series. Nic Nicosia chose an Ellsworth Kelly colored paper piece. Linda Ridgway picked Richard Tuttle's Maroon Blue Egg, and Andrea Rosenberg drew Rodin's The Sculptor and his Muse.

It's a beautiful and beautifully realized, visually spare exhibition illuminating local artists. The exhibition is darkened only by the now permanently opaqued windows -- reducing light levels, so the DMA could insure its loaned art -- and insipid, kindergarten phrasings ending each smeared, tiny texted identifying label.

Frosted glass helps isolate the art. But it also further isolates the DCCA from its community -- hardly a new direction for the museum wannabe.
 

The frost also blocks Rick Maxwell's superb, spare, burnt wood sculptures in the resurrected and renamed sculpture garden, now called 3 D on Swiss, from being seen from inside the Meadows Building. (See photo - top of page.), even when it's cold.

Signage for Rick's trio of large, exterior pieces is, inexplicably, on a temporary wall for an interior space on the other, 'in' side the opaqued white doors and windows. That 'room' is entirely devoted to an as-usual, mediocre ethnic Mix show sponsored by the big slick oil company.

Maxwell's elegant, burned and chain sawed pairings seem to be about the involved, spatial dance of getting closer and closer without actually touching.

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 Shots in the Dark: Eight Portraits
Story and photographs of the Pairings
Panel Artists February 12, 2003 at the DCCA
© 2003 by JR Compton

 Tracy Hicks holds a mic in one hand, is gensturing with the other. He is talking and smiling.

 Andrea Rosenberg is sitting at the panel table, quietly listening.

 Tracy Hicks

 Andrea Rosenberg

Fascinating evening. Good discussion. Excellent panel. Apparently the panel got commandeered at the last moment. Some rough edges showed, but the evening smoothed almost immediately.

I'm still not sure who chose these eight artists, although I assume Joan Davidow did. They are certainly among Dallas' best. Also, most have had showings at The Museum, so having the museum lend work to compare and contrast with these artists is not difficult to imagine.

Maybe the ones who haven't had a significant showing there should. It does remind us that some special few Dallas artists have had showings there in recent years. It's not true that the DMA never shows Dallas artists. But we do seem an afterthought.

These are not strangers suddenly vaulted. Some chose not to admit even going there, even though they'd had shows there in recent years and musta had to be there more than a dozen or so times...

Still, a worthy event. Oddly unrecorded. I saw no tapers, aud or vid. And there shoulda been. That's something a real museum woulda thought of. Course I didn't have one to bring, usually trusting notes or my fading mind.

I spent most of my effort on this very informal evening of conversation taking pictures of the panel members in the near darkness of the gallery. I took few notes, but nothing coherent.

Tracy Hicks asked me earlier that week, or I might have missed it. He put me on his guest list. That caused my closest encounter of the evening with The Joan. She musta heard my voice at check in, came out to check on me, not a member anymore.

She reminded the girl at the counter to charge non-members. I was filling in a form, they'd asked me to. "He's a guest of Tracy Hicks," she said. Joan stopped, disappear back.

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 Linda Ridgway is animatedly answering a question. Vernon Fisher, on her right, is leaning toward her.

 David Bates sits quietly (for a change), his arms folded in front of him. He may look angry, but he is actually just listening.

 Linda Ridgway

 David Bates


Later, I watched her handle the panel well, very unobtrusively. Panelists seemed wary of her questions, though, and answered their own. It was all very smooth, like I say, and gentle with good cheer, even some loud joking among the artists, who were obviously comfortable with each other, even friends.

The audience was better dressed. I didn't count the crowd, but there were plenty people to hear this.

It was a lot darker than it looks in these pictures, which I've lightened considerably.

The whole scene reminded me of something 500X woulda done early in its stellar career. Nothing much happens there now. But the contemporaries seem to keep the ball clunk bumping along from time to time, unlike DARE, which was always shaking things up.

The notes I took are, of course, nearly illegible. I noted David Bates telling of seeing shows at the mu on one of his "jogging, speed-reading tours." I identified with that; I see many shows at just under a run. I can do most exhibitions in under two minutes, if I don't see anything worth writing about.

This show, however, is a stare and stare and stare, slow. Long looking, cogitating kind of exhibition. Fine show, as I note. I disagreed with whomever called it "cold and intellectual," although the physical temperature was more controlled than usual. DMA insistence, I suspect (Op sit).

I'm not burying the hatchet. I'm sheathing it. I've said before that when Joan of Art (Texas Monthly called her that in a revealing story many moons ago, Kathy showed me last week.) finishes her task at whatever it's called by then, it will be amazing.

She may have pissed off a lot of potters by calling the big clay show Texas Mud -- I thought it a dramatic title -- and other artists with her elitisms and insipidities, but she's on a fast track, if she can keep her temper.

I even want to go back and put all those dozens of stories about the historical revisionism and other isms at this institution onto one big page, so you don't have to track all over the site to CSI the blood splatters.
 

Listening to good artists talk about their art was worth the grim and bear it admission. Gosh, I wish I could play it back and tell you some of the finer things these artists said.

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 Photographer Nic Nicosia rests his head on his right fist. He looks pensive.

 John Pomara holds a microphone, is talking. He looks alert, attentive.

  Nic Nicosia

 John Pomara

But I got only one scintillating quote, and it doesn't really fit anywhere. After the panelists had all had their says, I startled myself by asking one good and one pretty insipid question of my own. My good one was about why the artists didn't get their first choices of art from the DMA. Joan answered that one carefully, and nobody else said a word.

Then Pamela Nelson asked how often the panelists attend the museums in their respective cities. Great question, because it sparked real opinions, unusually honest responses. Only a couple of these artists have more respect for our faint-hearted mu than I do.

But my favorite quote I wrote large and legible. I've written attentively about Linnea Glatt's work for decades now. When she talks, I listen. When I see art she's made, I look and wonder at the simplicity of it. I wish I'd had the smarts to be in one of her classes at Richland.

In response to Pamela's question, Linnea -- who was last exhibited in The 12 Show decades ago at the DMA, said, "I have been to the Dallas museum many more times than the Dallas Museum has come to my studio."

Fascinating evening.

At least one other person who was there says they want to add to this discussion. I hope they do. And I hope you enjoy my informal portraits.

At the event, just after someone would say something surprising from the front of the room, Joan'd flash them with her camera.

I just slumped low in my chair -- not as slumped as Nic Nicosia -- and shot at my highest "film" speed at shutter speeds in the 1/13 range, holding very still in the mausoleum lighting, clicking away.

Afterwards, I talked with a lot of friends, from both sides of the table. And met some new ones. What a lovely evening. I'm so glad I went.

photograph of Vernon Fisher with his hand on his cheek wrinkling that side of his face. His eyes are dark and he looks placid.

Linnea Glatt (pronounced Linn A Glott) looks almost a little angry. The DMA work she paired with is behind her.

Vernon Fisher

 Linnea Glatt

Too bad you missed it.

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