You may have read some of my opinions in the Chronicle lately. You may also have noticed, I got together with my “co-workers” to discuss the Texas Biennial. With the first installment out and the second and third coming out today, I decided to whet your appetite with a small fraction of my “secret project”. Following is a stream of thoughts as I wander through the gallery.
The split direction layout of the Butridge Gallery always causes an immediate dilemma. This time I choose left. Cutout paintings of a book and cassette tape, a pair of photographs, and some cut paper works catch me turning my head as I look at Tom Orr‘s piece. The boring steel hoops leaning against the wall become exciting as I realize the mirrors on the ground reflect sparkles of light. Along with the shadows, the three elements merge into a dance between heavy and light, light and dark. Amazing how a simple light show can entertain such a feeble mind. Speaking of light and entertainment, Andrew Anderson‘s paintings remind me of a TV screen turning off. Yeah, there’s some boogie woogie, maybe some Constructivism, but the RGB compressed by the surrounding black tells me someone just pulled the plug on my favorite episode of the Simpsons.
In the same end of the gallery, a mocha colored rug lay under a spotlight. The brown and creme hues made Frances Bagley‘s rug very homely and ordinary. Surely this wasn’t included because somebody decided to hand braid a piece of furniture?! But then I see the tuft of hair at the end. Human, horse or synthetic? Again craftsmanship takes center stage. This time it’s cut paper. In a quintiptych (is that a word? can I make it one?), Michael Velliquette moves you from Primitivism to Super-Consciousness, as the title suggests. But maybe it was a tread mill, because the first and last images are similarly baffling. I mean, I see the movement a la Thomas Cole’s Empire, but the middle three images make it difficult to reconciliate their relationship. Floating eyeballs don’t cut it. Neither does the paper. Wouldn’t colored pencil have been equally as effective?
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Yeah but did you know Mars is closer to Earth? Thats why the males are positioned higher than the females in Soody Sharifi‘s photographs. (bros befo’e hoes, yo) They follow along the white male-centric pictorial hierarchy. Have you ever seen the black soldier in Winslow Homer’s Prisoners From The Point? Well, he’s there. There isn’t much else to say about these top grade photos, besides hoping Ms. Sharifi doesn’t get stuck with working Muslim imagery. I’d hate for her to become the stereotypical “Muslim artist” as much as I’d hate Candace Briceno to be the “Latina artist”. Art for Dummies. The cutout cassette tape and book look and sound like self-help material. Corey Escoto titles the book, “You Can Change The World” and the tape “Leadership”. I can only assume the artist is referencing someone whom Chris Rock recently called a retard on SNL.
Black text on white paper. That’s all Matthew Roberts gives us. Another political statement? Perhaps another racial statement? I can go either, or, and both. Charlie Morris gives us simple objects. Solid colored electronics fashioned out of wood. Is that because of cheap quality of the product or that these electronics fail to fully enrich our lives? The street market, on the floor presentation suggests their inferiority as products, but if you ask me I’d rather be unplugged. And kick back all sprawled out on a couch.
Hanging on the wall is a painting of a living room scene. Having experienced Erin Curtis‘ installation a few months back, this piece felt incomplete. I had trouble with the installation, I have more trouble figuring out this individual work. The patterning and flatness of space remind me of Matisse, while the perspective of the room makes me think of Van Gogh. I don’t know whats up with the tape on the edges, though. Tassles? Fringe? Lily Hanson‘s work also felt incomplete, lonely. The negative space of the cut-out shapes seem to reach out for an adjacent piece to nestle. Like the plush toy creatures seen at museum giftshops, the fabric is attractively comforting while the object’s odd shape is a little confusing. The colors smell like coffee.
Michelle Grinstead and Nancy O’ Connor felt kinda squeezed into the end of the gallery. Their monument, although poignant, felt unnecessarily dissected. Of course the reality of space dictated how much was allocated, but the well lit photos were on one side of the hallway path and the darkened corner for the video was on the other. The ceiling feels a little low for the box, too. Engaging this installation was a clunky experience. Emilie Duval‘s video wasn’t that smooth a-watching either. I watched part of it, but forgot to come back and get a pic. The drink table easily distracted me as I chose to avoid the grouping of people around that area. Came back during a weekday and watched both videos. Ms. Duval’s “Mind The Gap” had me wondering what gap I needed to pay attention to. The black screen interstitials didn’t do much. Was I supposed to see my reflection on the screen? The clips of a hurricane allude to the eye of a storm. The kid reminds me of Elliot in E.T. The white linens and bathroom scene lend a clinical air. Is his mental health in question here?
I felt a little disappointed with the turnout. The crowd was not as large as I imagined it would be, but the gallery was packed. With the low lighting and emphasis on formal concerns, the gallery had a clinical atmosphere overall. A very sober and sinister art experience.
I’ll tell you ’bout what I sees.