Monday, November 28, 2011

David Schulze at Farmers and Merchants Gallery

On Sunday, November 6, I rode up to Pilot Point, TX with my good friend David Schulze for his gallery opening at the Farmers and Merchants Gallery.  Pilot Point is about 10 miles northeast of Denton, TX on the eastern shores of Lake Ray Roberts.  The gallery is named for the bank building it now occupies.  A quaint building erected in 1896 that was utilized in the filming of the movie "Bonnie & Clyde".

Many of the original bank amenities are still in place, such as this vault door manufactured by the now defunct Mosler Safe Company of Hamilton, Ohio. Art and antiques now fill every nook and cranny in this charming gallery.

This was a group exhibition.  Several of the artists, such as David, belong to the Outdoor Painters Society.  The exhibition also included pottery by Marty Ray and art works from an estate.

David exhibited his oil on canvas works that depict bucolic scenes around Texas and New Mexico.

  David also showed his Vista Series works which are acrylic on paper that don't represent any actual landscapes but conjure up ideas of dreamy summer time escapes.

I enjoyed seeing these two vessels created by Marty Ray.

There were quite a few of Marty's vessels around the galleries.  Here we see some on the mantel on the far left as well as on the pedestals and tables in the middle.  David's paintings are on the back right wall in this photo.

These paintings by Lin Hampton were some of my faves from among the other painters in the show.  Lin seems to make the light sparkle as she dances with shadows.

Wes Miller, who owns the Farmers and Merchants Gallery, presented hauntingly familiar Texas scenes.  Almost 4 million acres of land which included over 2800 homes burned in Texas from November 2010 to October 2011.

Barbara Maples, North Cheyenne Canyon, print edition of 20

Alexandre Hogue, Cap Rock Ranch

These last two were from an estate.  Both artists were from Texas and worked between the 1930s to the  1960s.

All in all it was a fun day of art in a charming gallery somewhere in North Texas.

Dallas Convention Center Omni Hotel

photo by Rusty Scruby

The new Omni Hotel at the Dallas Convention Center opened this month to much local fanfare. Back in May 2009 we had a city election to approve the City of Dallas building and owning a hotel attached to the convention center.  At the time I was opposed to the City of Dallas owning a hotel.  It seemed to me that there were plenty of large hotels owned by major hoteliers in and near downtown Dallas.  But the majority of voting citizens chose to own a hotel and construction began soon afterwards.  I have since changed my opinion for several reasons.  First, we just experienced the longest and hottest summer on record.  It does make since for visitors to our city to be able to go from their hotel rooms directly to the convention center without ever having to step outside, especially during extremely hellishly hot summers.  I hope that next summer the Mary Kay conventioneers and Texas Teachers who both gather in August every year at the convention center appreciate this new treasure.  Secondly, I absolutely love the rainbow of color that moves horizontally around the outside face of the building.  It adds so much color to the downtown skyline as well as help fill in the gap between Reunion Tower and the more clustered skyscrapers along Commerce, Main and Elm streets.  Reunion Tower is being refitted with new more colorful lights that will debut early in 2012. And finally, I am super impressed that the hotel project chose to include artworks created by more than 150 local artists, one of whom I interviewed for this blog in August of this year. I raise my glass and toast to much success for both Omni Hotel and the City of Dallas on this new venture.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Battersea Power Station and Serpentine Gallery Revisited

There are business trips and vacations that we all take that we remember for the rest of our lives. My trip to London in 2006 for the Frieze Art Fair was one of those times.  And a visit to the Battersea Power Station was the icing on the cake. I love art fairs themselves, but it is many of the side events that have stuck in my head.  And I will cherish these memories forever. This art deco monolith has gained an iconic reputation over the years appearing in the Beatles movie Help!, on Pink Floyd's album cover for Animals, and in countless tourist photos shot from the trains connecting Gatwick Airport and Victoria Station.  The building is now in very bad condition and is not open to the public.  I remember that the (private tour company) bus driver that shuttled us to the Power Station was in just as much awe as those of us on the tour.

We took the tube to Knightsbridge and walked the remainder of the way into Kensington Gardens to arrive at the Serpentine Gallery in time for the breakfast and begin the schedule shown above.

That year, 2006, the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion had been designed by Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond.  It was an inflated translucent structure that floated above the Serpentine's lawn.  It included a frieze designed by Thomas Demand.  We enjoyed some danish and fruit with tea and juice before we wandered into the gallery.

The exhibition up in the Serpentine Gallery was titled Uncertain States of America.  It featured more than 40 artists working in a wide range of media.  A short statement for the exhibition informed us
"The exhibition is not entirely American—influences come from everywhere... In a period where the official political culture of the United States is viewed with great scepticism on the other side of the Atlantic, it seems important to remind ourselves of this complexity. The Uncertain States of America are not only uncertain, they are many."
as written by Daniel Birnbaum, Gunnar Kvaran and Hans Ulrich Obrist.
It is a shame that the USA gained the sympathy of the world after the 9/11 attacks, and then we and our elected officials caused the world to resend that sympathy and goodwill in the years immediately following 9/11.  It made me 'wake up' and pay attention to the global resentments aimed at the US, especially as I was viewing this show far far from home.  And now five years later, I realize that those global attitudes towards the US have not changed and may have grown worse.
At 10:25 we left the gallery and began to queue up to board the motor coaches that would transport us the short journey to the Battersea Power Station.  I sat next to a German woman who had known Hans Ulrich Obrist for many years and she shared many stories with me along the ride.

The bus driver deposited us at the entrance to the Battersea Power Station site.  The Serpentine Gallery re-purposed their 2002 Pavilion that was designed by Toyo Ito with Arup and set it up near the entrance to the BPS site.  This pavilion housed the Tea House by Yauatcha and the UniversalSHOPS.  We had a nice cuppa tea and browsed the wares for sale in the shop for a bit.  But we were anxious to see the main attraction that was quite visible through the large windows of the pavilion.

I actually had chills walking towards the Power Station. I have them again remembering the privilege of being able to step inside!  This is the largest brick structure in Europe.  It is just unbelievably massive. 

The roof of the main part of the building had been removed in the 1990s during one of the first attempts to find a new use for the building.  There was a very nice presentation in a small side room that had a scale model and a video of a more recent plan to redevelop the entire site.  I see, however, that this plan also failed and the current owners owe billions in unrealized loans and property taxes.

At 11a we began to gather in Turbine Hall B to listen to the introductory talk on China Power Station: Part 1 by Julia Peyton-Jones, Kitty Scott, and Hans Ulrich Obrist.  I was awed by Obrist's words.  It is no wonder he was named arts most powerful figure in 2009 and second most in 2010.  Even though he is recognized as a super-curator, it is quite evident that he is an advocate for the artists.  He considers himself, in fact, less a curator and more a utility that allows artists to be themselves. He has been an inspiration to me on my journey as an "art enabler".

After the talk, we made our way up the narrow and crowded stairway to see the video exhibition.

We entered a long dark room that had video screens lining a wall with projections in progress.  I believe another room on another floor had projections on both sides of the main walkway.  There were 22 Chinese artists in the exhibition.  There were a couple of animated and animated reality shorts that I enjoyed.  One of the artists, Ai Weiwei, debuted a video work in this exhibition which focused on a visit to his studio by the Museum of Modern Art's International Council in May of 2006.  We saw 80 dignitaries parade across Weiwei's grey brick courtyard and then enter his studio.  He had hidden cameras beneath shrubs and behind grates.  He edited the film so that we mainly saw only torsos in some shots and only video images of their shoes in other shots. We saw council members looking at artworks on a shelf that would soon would be featured on the cover of the September 2006 New York Sotheby's catalog.

This was my first introduction to Weiwei's work.  I had no idea at the time who he was and certainly had no idea who he was to become.  I love art for that. It is a media that informs us of things and ideas that we don't always immediately recognize as important, but the images, sounds and/or movements get into our heads and stay there for future reference.  Then some catalyst in our current situation ignites a spark that sets our synapses into action and memories come flooding back to mind.

The first and last image were obtained from the world wide web.  All other images and videos belong to Rusty Scruby.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Harry Geffert: Tribute at Cris Worley Fine Arts Oct 15 - Nov 12

Along the Hill, cast bronze 2010

A solo exhibition of cast bronze works by Harry Geffert is up at Cris Worley Fine Arts through this coming Saturday. These are exquisitely produced casts of Texas plant life.  Some of the sculptures have been enhanced with powder coating to represent the colors nature originally provided.

Spring, cast bronze and powder coat, 2011

Spring detail

The gallery's statement for this show says that
"This exhibition entitled, Tribute, will feature recent wall-mounted bronze castings of Texas’s
plant life conceived by the artist’s own imagination as abstract landscapes - forests, meadows and meanders. Always inspired by the natural world, and surrounded by many acres of untouched land, Geffert has now removed all traces of man that once inhabited his work. In his own words, “Right now I’m very conscious of nature and the Earth and everything, but I’ve been that way even from the very early things— forest and land and man… Now the people have kind of disappeared from my work, but the images of the Earth and nature are still there, coming up stronger, and the people are going back; maybe the people are less important to me now than the Earth is.”"

Forest, cast bronze, 2011

I find it interesting that McMurtrey Gallery in Houston and Cris Worley Fine Arts in Dallas are both showing cast bronze works that feature native Texas plantlife.  The difference is that Beverly Penn's work at McMurtrey is created by a woman and the feel of the sculptures is fluid and lyrical while Harry Geffert's work at Cris Worely Fine Arts is created by a man and the feel of the sculptures is upright and linear.  Each interprets Texas landscapes according to their own sensibilities.

Morning Breeze, cast bronze and powder coating, 2011 

Morning Breeze detail

It is interesting that the statement says that Geffert has "removed all traces of man" from his work.  Geffert used to run a foundry and was a master caster for other artists such as Joseph Havel, Frances Bagley, Vernon Fisher and many others including my friend James Watral.  Geffert closed his foundry twelve years ago to focus on his work alone.  I believe what he means in his statement is that he no longer casts man made objects such as Havel's sculptures of sheets of cloth or Watral's thrown clay 'Elements'.  Rather, Geffert is casting former living objects that were created by nature and arranged in sculpture form to represent landscapes created by nature.

Scape, cast bronze and powder coat, 2011

Geffert's sculptures are masculine compared to Penn's feminine curvy forms.  But Geffert's still maintain a quiet peaceful look at nature that reminds me of sitting at my parent's house enjoying a hot cup of tea while gazing out the window at the surrounding forest.

Desert Flower, cast bronze and powder coat, 2011

Desert Flower detail

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Four Houston Gallery Shows for Oct-Nov

Genius-Loci-Villa, 70" x 70" x 8"

McMurtrey Gallery presents a solo exhibition of Texas artist Beverly Penn.  Penn casts from local flowers and plants to create lush bronze sculptures that reflect the Texas landscape.


Twin,70" x 70" x 6"

Several of Penn's sculptures span almost 9 feet and feel almost as big as Texas itself. Penn recently had a solo exhibition at the Grace Museum in Abilene, Texas.

McMurtrey recently converted the former frame gallery into a new 'micro space' gallery.  Jean Wetta's oil paintings were on exhibit.

New York, New York, oil on multi-media board, 11" x 28" x 1"

Light on the Far Field, oil on multi-media board, 11" x 28" x 1" 
There were five of these lush little Jean Wetta paintings in the mircro space.

Sarah Williams, La Plata Winter, oil on canvas, 12" x 12", 2011

McMurtrey had this little Sarah Williams painting up in the back room.  I love the way she captures light in night time landscapes.  Williams currently has a solo exhibition up at the Galveston Art Center that I wish I had the time to run down to see.  Both Beverly Penn and Jean Wetta's exhibits are up through November 23.

I stopped in at John Cleary Gallery to see the Susan Burnstine photographs.  I didn't take pictures because a) I don't like to photograph photography for the possible copyright infringements, and b) the glass on the frames usually makes it too difficult anyway.  These are lovely atmospheric black and white photos of city scenes in New York and Chicago.  The black and white photography and the effects blur our vision creating dreamlike images.  Many of the photos were shot so that the horizon line is very low leaving us with the jagged edge of the top of the skyline verging on disquieting cloudscapes. This exhibition is up through November 26.

Kari Russell-Pool and Marc Petrovic, Banded Vessel Series - Flower Diatom, blown glass and lampwork, 17" x 10.5" 

Kari Russell-Pool, Tea Party, lampwork glass, 8" x 15" x 7.5"

Kari Russell-Pool, Aromatic Amphora #3, lampwork glass
Hooks-Epstein Gallery is currently exhibiting assemblage works by Ward Sanders through November 23.  In the back room of the gallery I found these three blown and lampwork glass vessels created by Kari Russell-Pool.  I could find no other information on Russell-Pool other than she lives and works in Connecticut and she also shows at a glass gallery in Nantucket, Ma.

Goldesberry Gallery presents works by Holly Wilson through November 26. 

Holly Wilson, Almost There, bronze, wood, sterling silver

Holly Wilson, On a Limb, bronze, wood, sterling silver

Wilson casts the birds on these sculptures from silver to represent the precious aspect of burdens in our lives, or as Wilson explains "birdens".
Goldesberry also represents a large group of ceramic artists.  I don't find many galleries in the south and southeastern US states that exhibit fine crafts such as ceramics, glass, or wood like I have found in many galleries in the northwestern states.

Diana Kersey, Platypus Jar, ceramic

This vessel caught my eye in the backroom ceramics gallery at Goldesberry.  Diana Kersey lives and works in San Antonio, but I see that she received her MFA in ceramics at Washington State University.

Susan Giller, Standing Raku Cats, raku ceramics

I recognized Susan Giller's raku cats almost immediately even though they were standing on a lower shelf.  I visited Giller's studio a few weeks ago along the White Rock Lake Artists Studio Tour and she had a few of these sculptures out.

drawings, sketches, and sculptures in Giller's studio - notice the raku cats at bottom right

Heather Gorham on the left also visiting the studio of Susan Giller who is dressed in black to the right of Heather.