Practically hanging out from the entrance are metal racks that extend back into the far corner of the gallery. Jarrod Beck uses these aluminum studs to construct intimate spaces. They drop and create a darkened space with lights revealing painted pipes on the wall and a mass of paintings hanging in the corner. As the dominating element of the space, this secretive installation is contrasted by the colorful installation in the adjacent corner. Christa Mares and Scot Proctor really go to town. A flying lawn mower dips into a small front yard where two armies of ceramic bunny rabbits face each other in what looks like the beginning of an all-out war. The Christmas reindeer ornament, the mailbox and part of the house are covered in brightly colored doilies. The wound up garden hose mimics the wound up, bright orange extension cord. A giant pink fuzzy rug cradles a bowl of ceramic duckies on the Astroturf lawn. The busted up picked fence echoes the busted up siding of the house. Take cover, ’cause it’s going down!
On the sidewall are a group of photographs featuring artists Jill Pangallo and Michael Berryhill in a series of poses. They suggest something of a flashback as their costumes evoke a 70s type of style. Sterling Allen and Anna Krachey are known to dabble with the camera. It is difficult to distinguish their contributions to the photos. Hidden in the corner is Erin Cunningham’s bronze sculpture. It hangs there, neglected, lonely in a show of pairings, collaborations, and elaborate constructions. Confronting the pelvic casting on a one-on-one was awkward, maybe a couple more would have made it less uncomfortable. Across the way, three of Stephanie Wagner’s sculptures sit in front of a large porch-setting painting by Erin Curtis. The dainty objects hidden by the caked layers of paint or wax lend to the matriarchal, homey feeling of this pairing of artists.
Dave Woody’s two black and white photos face Roberto Bellini’s two black, imageless TV sets. Occasionally, the TVs flash an image, but are turned off so fast that it is difficult to discern what’s happening. Behind the temporary wall holding the photos, another group of photos and drawings focus on landscape and spaces. Karri Paul’s drawings are more apparent as landscape as Laura Turner’s photos better describe spaces. Behind yet another temporary wall you find Natia’s Corner. In Jill Pangallo’s performance you are introduced to healing stations and conduct exercises to remedy your spiritual ailments.
Making It Together, the second part of the summer grad shows at the CRL, presents just about every way you can collaborate on an art project. There are the obvious two artists with works in close proximity, multiple artists adding their signature elements on a single work, and artists inviting audience participation. Each incarnation of pairings allows the investigation of both the pieces and the curatorial mission. The audience can approach each group as if entering a conversation in the middle of its discourse. Each discussion kept to themselves as they were spaced well in the gallery. The allocation of space helps define the collaborating artists but the installation of the works helped unify the groups as a whole.
In comparision to the first MFA summer show, this was definitely stronger. A similar feeling emerges from within the exhibit. About half of the show was stronger than the rest. When framed with the notion of collaboration, the Beck/Fitzgerald, Mares/Proctor, and Allen/ Krachey works impressed. Ms. Pangallo and Ms. Cunningham presented work that collaborated in a different sense. Ms. Pangallo required the collaboration of the audience to complete her work and unless I’m mistaken, Ms. Cunningham’s bronze sculptures require a collaboration of assitants during the casting process. The close proximity of the rest of the artists did not constitute as collaboration. There were relationships and dialogue was happening between them, but trying to pass them off as collaborations was forced and didn’t come across.
With the inclusion of Sterling Allen, a non-UT MFA candidate, I wonder why other “collaborations” didn’t move outside the university. There are two collectives in Austin, that I know of, that would have extended the investigation further. Open Doors and Sodalitas operate with different criteria for the interaction of the artists involved. Public art is another avenue I would expect to fall under collaboration. I see it as expanding the opportunity for collaboration between artist and audience. And then you have to throw in the meddling hands of government.
The writing didn’t bother me this time around. But, I must point out that the two pages provided for each collaboration felt like the same amount of text provided for each individual artist in “Making It Alone”. The rhetoric was the same, so it wasn’t a shift in quality or content. It just would seem that you’re better off alone if you want more written about you.
Here’s what got published in the Chronicle ————
Making It Together, the second part of the summer grad shows at the CRL, presents different ways you can collaborate on an art project. There are the obvious two artists with work in close proximity (Bellini/Woody or Curtis/ Wagner), multiple artists adding their signature elements on a single work (Mares/ Proctor or Allen/ Krachey), and artists inviting audience participation (Cunningham or Pangallo). This exhibit gives quick answers to questions surrounding the idea of collaboration in art.
There are other circumstances operating in the artworld that were not touched upon in this show. Collectives are the first that come to mind. Collectives usually forego the celebrity status awarded to the individual artist by creating in a more democratic or communal process. Internet art also exploits the decentralization of power. And let’s not forget the large-scale production of works by the likes of Christo or Robert Smithson. One could argue that this show was about the MFA candidates. But if Sterling Allen could be approached, why not Sodalitas?
The works within the gallery walls are strong. Christa Mares and Scot Proctor create a whimsical installation. The two opposing armies of ceramic bunny rabbits are surrounded by a wide variety of objects and textures. It’s like an old Nickelodeon or late-night Cartoon Network cartoon with its over the top feeling.
Looks like they just did what they please.
Karri Paul and Laura Turner explore space. Having Ms. Paul’s landscape drawings hang next to Ms. Turner’s photographs didn’t do much to investigate collaborations. But the gaping omissions of the graphite Italian countryside related to the negative spaces and the unfamiliarity of the photographic images. Although some shots were interiors, they seem unrestrained.
Without boundaries, it’s alright to be free.
Practically hidden in the furthest corner, Jill Pangallo’s performance/installation invites the viewer to participate in a number of exercises. At Natia’s Corner you engage in New Age-type activities that can help overcome mental and spiritual obstacles.
With just a few moments of your time, Natia would cure your disease.
At the entrance of the smaller space, you find two black TV sets facing two black and white portraits. Dave Woody has a guy sitting studio portrait style except the lighting isn’t as generic and the guy seems to have been in a recent fight. Roberto Bellini’s televisions appear to be off until flashes reveal both sound and imagery. It is difficult to relate the two works. Yet the flashing might suggest a camera, the impact of punches or the instant recall of memories.
With all the bruises the guy had, he wasn’t so good-looking and the video was so hard to see.
Jarrod Beck’s installation practically pulls you into the gallery. Hanging near the entrance, aluminum beams extend into the corner and drop down to create a wall. Ali Fitzgerald’s pipe painting and accompanying mass of paintings hide in the dark. Mr. Beck’s construction not only interrupts the gallery space, but somehow unifies it as well. The beams attract attention to all of the divisions of space and they connect the show as a singular collaboration.
He seems to be saying, “Come together, right now. Over me”.
Knowing that one of the two summer shows was going to be weaker, I was hoping it was the first. Yet, “Making It Together” still had its own curatorial problems. The success of the summer programming became dependent on the second show, which became dependent on the actual collaborations. In the end, it was up to three or four projects to carry the weight of all of those involved. That’s not fair.
Still, their strengths allowed me to enjoy the exhibit. NOT BAD.
I’ll tell you ’bout what I sees.