Revealing Our Selves
Story + Photographs by JR Compton
The MAC's Picture Yourself (See Show Prevue) is one of the best unjuried member shows we've seen in years. I was amazed at the many fine works lining the walls of all three McKinney Avenue Contemporary galleries.
Not every work was wonderful. Of course. But even the lousiest didn't stand out, like it too often does at these massive, unjudged exhibitions.
The styles varied tremendously. The colors, textures, shapes and concepts crossed many spectra. Still this diversity held itself together. It's a damned impressive show.
It matters greatly what quality the work is around ours when we show, and I'm really proud to be in this one. So's Kathy. I am happy I chose The MAC for my 2002 membership.
The recent Dallas Contempt member show looked awful and must have been dreadful for the few good artists lost in its lackluster presentation -- although many believe DCCA's director is setting that show up for a fall, so she won't have to mess with artist members. In strong contrast, The MAC's care here is evident. This show is hung with care.
Picture Yourself attains a focus rarely seen. Having a strong theme helps, but a lot of the clarity may be due to the show's size limitation. Despite early grousing, it doesn't appear to have seriously hampered anyone's execution. Looking at the dates, we can infer that many of these works were created for this exhibition. It's marvelous to see so many new works in such a big show.
If anything, the 24 x 24 inch maximum brings the audience closer in to each work. Regardless of the actual sizes -- and there was great dimensional variance, all the images on this page are the same height -- a post exhibition democratization imposed by the editor.
I am a photographer, so it's not surprising that my tastes tend toward realism, but there are plenty of attention-deserving abstractions here, too.
I still don't know what to make of Dean Corbitt's MHC-2002-02-AAAA, which looks more like a cityscape than a portrait, but I love its lucid colors, and my eyes wanted to linger on its its many muted textures.
Russ Reed's gently comic cartoon mixes art historical impressionist dabs and contemporary photo realism. Visually miles away, Terri Stone's deceptively simple, concentric rock and steel circles similarly mix soft impressionism and hard reality.
I was more intrigued than pleased by Skip Noah's jumbled fields of painted objects, although it is a startling sight. Nothing like the morning mirror visions so plentiful in this exhibition of self exhibitors.
Fabric artist Sue Benner's quilt of laser printing on alternating vertical and horizontal mattress-striped cloth does not deliver its promised intimacy. I carefully lifted the central, face flap per the bold instructions, but I didn't get the built-in, correction joke till now. It hardly mattered, however, in this decidedly hard look via soft materials.
Kathy was stunned by Bob Nunn's greenishly androgynous Visionary, which is unlike anything we've seen by this mature painter, whose subjectified objects usually expose geometric structures. You might not recognize him from this little painting, but you know him nonetheless.
Nunn's signature colors were familiar, but this intimately personal, yet unflattering portrait is powerful and directly revealing. In this showing of objectified self views, his Visionary truly is.
While she is becoming one of those artists whose work I watch for new examples of, Sheila Cunningham's intimate close-up photo transfer here is anything but forthcoming. She hides in plain sight, playing visual distortion games that obfuscate her face while elucidating her personna.
Not everyone's self depictions were subtle or shy, however.top
If we're going to talk about revealing the inner I, we cannot overlook Julie Wright's painful little, eye-popping photo-realisitic painting that tells its own vivid story I first thought of as first-person singular, but can those be her fingers?
In an oddly paralleled, red-eye vision, Chris Berquist Fulmer's luscious textured, monochromatic gray mixed media rectangle projects a calming self-view, which, in turn, is not at all unlike John Ashley Bellamy's exquisite quartet of colored mood drawings, which pack four moods into the 24-inch square limit.
And it might have been interesting to combine more artists with their portraits, but I am usually so busy avoiding such cliches that I miss the obvious.
See also JR's pRevue of this show
with several other self-images.