Only one event this past Thursday night, but I was confronted with a trilogy of impressions. My first time visiting the Wildflower Center and I liked it. Its like a zoo for plants! Taking in the Texas landscape I was reminded of some fond memories of summer vacations in SLP. Then there was Austin Greent Art. I think this evening might have been a fundraising and volunteer-hunting event. Randy Jewart got up to speak about the organization and being featured on the cover of the Chronicle. He thanked the people working for him and mentioned that their were more "helpers" present and then suggested that maybe even "financial helpers" were somewhere in the room. I was standing just outside the door.
I went so I could check out his art in person. I've seen his portfolio online and have concluded that he likes rocks. He stacks them a la Andy Goldsworthy, he carves them and he paints them. They look the same in person as they do in the photos. At the entrance to the Wildflower Center there is a large slab of limestone with some snaking lines carved into them. Situated near the Center's cafe, a plot was designated for Mr. Jewart's work to reside. There, he had a group of limestones shaped into teardrops or flame shapes as the color suggested to me, and were incised with lines following the contour. Each piece had the lines moving in different directions. His newest piece was a limestone slab stained a turquoise color and had curls on one side making it look like an ocean wave. But its title was "Fuego". The only blue flames I've ever experienced were shooting from a torch, and those were coming out straight. Lastly, there was an unfinished piece that looked like a figure emerging from a pyramid. With shoulders pushed back, the torso jutted out of the apex and the legs were beginning to be chiseled from the pyramid.
The work is not really exciting. It speaks to me of Modernist work. The type of thing that you see populating public art venues when a figurative commission is not called for. I react to alot of Modernist work negatively as it looks too designy and decorative. The group of smaller pieces looks like glass bowls that I've been seeing in department stores and second-hand stores all my life. I fail to see where the investigations lie. A rock that is sculpted and painted to look like a flame will look like a flame sculpted from rock. But now a project with parameters that say: use stone as material and find a way to make it move like a flame that's a challenge.
What interests me about Mr. Jewart is that he is familiar with the limitations of his work, yet his organization is pursuing projects that are more ephemeral. Or am I getting that wrong? I thought he was using the environmental issue in order to get more commissions in this town. Maybe he wants to use sustainable materials in order to maintain his work in a public site as long as possible? You sly dog you! Although I am not fond of all of the manifestations of his organization, I do enjoy that combined with the Christo show at AMOA, Austin Green Art has attracted attention to our city's public art concerns. And I did like the "Green Wave" project.