From big national artists to big state artists. Or at least they’re getting some play. I’ve heard about Francesca Fuchs’ paintings from shows in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas via Glasstire and ARTL!ES. I visited Katrina Moorhead’s installation while checking out the “Spanglish” show at Artpace. And I have read about ex-pat Thomas Glassford, now living in Mekico, again via Glasstire and ARTL!ES. So I’ve seen Fuchs work, saw one piece by Moorhead and was aware that Glassford made art.
Driving around looking for a parking space, I could see the gallery illuminated by a burst of fluorescent lighting. Upon actually arriving at the doors a sputnik-like sculpture made of tubes of fluorescent lights blinded me. It was a wonderful contrast to the space’s previous incarnation of darkened hallways and rooms. Standing next to its luminescence was enlivening rather than the depressing atmosphere of a school’s lighting system. I notice there is another satellite around the corner and a black and white piece on the wall, but I go to the front room where Ms. Fuchs paintings are.
Two wall paintings are exhibited here. They look like they were copy and pasted onto the walls directly from the computer. Actually, only one looks like that. The first one appears to have a soft, diffused spotlight shining on it. But then I realize that it is the color of the paint that is emanating that warmth. But I do note that there are lights aimed at the piece. I want to move closer to inspect it, but there is no need to as the painting is devoid of any detail. It consists of flat areas of paint even though it is a portrait of a baby breastfeeding. I remember reading about the artist’s inspiration coming from the recent experience of her child’s birth. That explains the close up shot of this intimate moment and the pastel housepaints usually reserved for a newborns’ room. But why the attempt to abstract it? It is my experience that when I hold a new life and gaze upon its miraculous existance, that I inspect and investigate and notice every little bump on its transparent skin and every single strand of hair on the baby’s head. I am hyper-aware of what I am coddling. Did the artist need to flatten the work in order to justify her private portrait as art? Looking at her portfolio online I see all of work looking flat. From flowers to portraiture, there is the same language being used. Without the gentle caressing of the baby’s features, all I see is breastfeeding. And you know how much that’s enjoyed in public.
Compared to her recent work at Artpace, Katrina Moorhead disappointed. Ms. Moorhead arranged bouquets of flowers into letters and spelled out the phrase “closer to maybe than ever” at a diagonal across the floor. The flowers, containers and the surrounding room are white. I didn’t see anything extra. Those ordinary flowers were already wilting five days later. Did I miss some other element on the ceiling? Some info on the show describe her work as “appropriating graffiti text” in order to address the “true poetry of the mundane…” Does that mean that Barry McGee has it wrong and graffiti is just as outstanding as the brick facade of a building? Hmmmm.
So I go back to check out the Glassford work. One is dangling from the ceiling at about eye-level and the other is sitting on the floor. They are both constructed the same. Reflective plastic cores hold fluorescent tubing and wiring shooting out from the center. It looks like an artificial star. David Letterman just doesn’t get the beauty of satellites. On the wall are some squiggley ripples on some neoprene. The neoprene is divided into about 4″ by 6″ rectangles and are connected with latchhooks similar to braziers. I swear I have never tried on women’s underwear. The wall says it is a landscape sonogram. Cool.
As a sci-fi fan, I really enjoyed Mr. Glassford’s work. I could see concerns about light pollution, planetary colonization, and energy consumption. Who would of thought a spongy material and fluorescnet tubes could do that? I enjoyed the intimate moment that Ms. Fuchs provides for us, but I believe the execution, in relation to her painting history, is a little shaky. And I can’t help but be puzzled with the installation of carnations by Ms. Moorhead. If that is graffiti text as I am imagining it, then why didn’t she use the same font style? Overall I was able to navigate the work more smoothly than the previous show. This show is GOOD. It isn’t too brainy but you are allowed to use your imagination and I think the materials allow for that.
I’ll tell you ’bout what I sees.