Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tony Cragg at the Nasher Sculpture Center

Elbow, 2008, wood

I caught a quick glimpse of the Tony Cragg exhibit while we were at the Nasher Sculpture Center in October for the Nasher's Avant-Garde Society's annual members' party.  I finally had the chance to take a close look at the sculptures on the final day of the exhibition on January 8th.

Outspan, 2008, bronze

Eroded Landscape, 1998, glass

I had been familiar with Cragg's sculptures such as the two above having seen them at the major art fairs over the years.  I had also seen some of his smaller sculptures which were probably easier to transport to and from the art fairs.  It was a delight to see his much larger scale works in this exhibition.  I am only posting a few of my favorites:

Lost in Thought, 2011, wood

This guy was my most favorite. I like the name, but I respond to the form as well. It feels human, in an abstract way, to me.  Like one of the abstract characters in a Carroll Dunham painting but rendered in 3D. The crowd was thin, so I had time to get lost in my own thoughts as I moved around this sculpture.

Runner, 2009, bronze (sculpture + details)

Before I entered this exhibit I had expected that Mental Landscape with its literal partial faces blurring as they stretched around the carved jesomite was going to be my favorite sculpture. Instead, it has been the more subtle faces that seem to appear in the sculptures such as Runner above. I began to appreciate being left to my own devices to see faces or other body parts captured frozen in time in the way that a photograph taken from a moving car does.

Divide, 2005, wood

Most of the sculptures in the exhibit were wood tones or bronze patinas.  There was one chrome work, the yellow of Outspan shown earlier in this post, as well as one blue painted bronze sculpture. So the red stain on Divide was a welcome hue of warmth.  It glowed in the early winter afternoon light from the nearby window.  The Nasher is, of course, superior in its curation and placement of sculpture.

The crowd was light on the final day of the show.  I truly hope that many people in the DFW area, as well as visitors, had the opportunity to take in this stunning exhibition.  I know that I am very glad that I did.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

We took a few hours on a recent Sunday and went to the Dallas Museum of Art to see the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit.  Photography was not allowed, so I've attached a short video from YouTube above.

This is an amazing exhibition of the fashion creations of Gaultier that are truly works of art.   There are outfits worn by Madonna and Grace Jones and super models, as well as costumes from movies such as The Fifth Element. 

There were hundreds of people in line to get in to see the galleries.  Our DMA membership allowed us to go straight in to see the show. Membership does have its priviledges.  We joined hundreds of people already in the galleries, and waited in lines to view some costumes or simply peered over folks' shoulders for others.  I really expected Rusty to want to leave within about ten minutes due to the throngs of people in attendance, but the works are all so good and compelling that we managed to stay for almost two hours.  Rusty says the crowds just melted away as he got caught up in the designs and construction of the Gaultier's works.

We are planning to go back on a weekday soon, before the show ends and while attendance is lower than on a Sunday.  We both highly recommend seeing this exhibit. Some of our friends have already seen it four or more times.  It is on view at the Dallas Museum of Art through February 12th. Then it will travel in March to the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, de Young, which is the second and only other U.S. city on the tour.  See this in Dallas or San Francisco, just be sure to see it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vincent Falsetta: Recent Exhibitions

DG 11-5: Obsessive Worlds
oil on canvas, 60" x 60", 2011
image courtesy of Conduit Gallery

I am most familiar with Vincent Falsetta's paintings such as the one above. However, I am thankful that I recently had the opportunity to view a couple of Falsetta's paintings from 1975 at 500X along with several more recent color study works.  Also, another non-commercial gallery in the same Exposition Park neighborhood of Dallas, The Reading Room, exhibited a collection of index cards that Falsetta uses to sketch and catalog his works in progress.

Falsetta received his BFA at Temple University in 1972, and he earned his MFA at Tyler School of Art, Temple University in 1974.  He began teaching at University of North Texas in 1977 and attained the level of Professor in 1992 and continues to this day.  Falsetta is an alumni of the 500X artist collective, and he has been "teacher" of many of my art friends including Jessica McCambly and Charlotte Smith.  Jessica McCambly has included Falsetta in the exhibition she has curated Big and Bright, and Vincent will be giving an artist talk at the exhibit on January 26, 2012.

Sarah Hamilton curated Falsetta into the exhibition she conceived and brought to fruition at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in 2011 titled Obsessive Worlds. In the catalog for the exhibition we read Falsetta telling us about the title of the painting shown above:
"My most recent painting DG 11-5: Obsessive Worlds was conceived and made for the Obsessive Worlds exhibition. I do not normally title paintings beyond my cataloguing system title, but I did ths time because the title of the exhibition was appropriate to the title of the painting."

Falsetta's system of cataloging his works involves the use of index cards, a process he has employed since the 1980s. These were on view at The Reading Room:

These cards give us an intimate view into the mind and process of the artist.  We find notes that tell us the music he listened to at that moment.  We see little sketches and color charts as he works through his process of problem solving.  On card DC 11-1, 2, Jan 2011, we read, "month later 2010  idea abandoned// new plans for naples yellow pt w/ new questions" then there is a list of questions which seem as abstract as one of his paintings.  Another note on the same card states "Martha responded well to the circular form". Martha is his wife.  On card DG 11-5, 1, June-July 2011,Obsessive Worlds, we find this among the various didactic notes, "Dedicated to Martha, Mario, Trisa, Xander & Doug". A dedication to his family.

These works were not for sale, nor should they ever be.  The purpose of The Reading Room is to explore the intersection of written word and visual images.  And for that, I'd say The Index Cards was a great success.

A few blocks over we were presented with yet more of Falsetta's works at 500X.

Sound Wave Series #7, acrylic on paper, 22.75" x 30.25", 1975

detail of Sound Wave Series #7

Color Studies, 2007 - 2011, oil on museum board, various dimensions

These recent exhibitions of Vincent Falsetta's works afforded me deeper insight to the man I know of as "abstract painter".  I'm very pleased to have gained this understanding of the man whom others that I know refer to as "great teacher" and "husband" and who is also known as "dad".

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Big and Bright: New Work From Texas - Press Release

Thursday, January 26 at 11:00am at Southwestern College, Chula Vista, CA
"Big and Bright: New Work from Texas" January 26, 2012- February 21, 2012 Southwestern College Art Gallery Opening Receptions Thursday January 26 11-1 & 6-8 SWC Art Gallery Artist Talks Sponsored by the SWC Foundation Thursday January 26 12 PM featuring Matthew Bourbon & Vincent Falsetta .

The Southwestern College Art Gallery presents "Big and Bright: New Work from Texas", curated by Jessica McCambly . With the title taken from the song, “Deep in the Heart of Texas”, this exhibition is a regional survey that highlights the diverse range of work being created in Texas today. Despite the massive size of the state of Texas, there is a close community that exists amongst the artists who live and work across the state. They know each other.. or of each other.. and are usually fans of each other. The strength of this community of artists and the scene that they contribute to seems to defy the obvious geography that physically isolates them from the LA/NY art centers. With the presence of strong academic programs along with the support of regional cultural institutions, artist-run spaces, commercial galleries and virtual, cultural outlets that bridge the distance, these artists work and interact within unique and fertile conditions. This, along with the prevailing ethos, results in a vibrant and important art scene filled with complex and distinct work that stretches across Texas.  

Featuring work by: 
Curated by:
Jessica McCambly A graduate of the University of North Texas, College of Visual Arts and Design and former Texas artist, Curator Jessica McCambly is an artist currently living and working in San Diego, California. She also serves as Assistant Professor of Art at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California.   

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jessica McCambly: "Float" Interview from YouTube

This is an interview by The New Children's Museum with artist, and my friend, Jessica McCambly.  McCambly discusses her latest installation at the museum titled Float.  The overall installation is titled Trash and includes works by twelve artists.  In addition to McCambly's, there are also works by Ed Ruscha and Vic Muniz.

From the New Children's Museum's web page we learn this about Float:
"Finding complexity in simple material, Jessica McCambly transforms ubiquitous white plastic shopping bags into an ephemeral cloud of light and shadow. Created from bags collected from NCM visitors, the accumulated mass of delicate imperfect rings, floats mist-like overhead, mimicking the dynamic shape of a wave breaking against the shore. The uniformity and intricate alteration of material invites myriad associations to be projected onto the suspended formation. McCambly encourages visitors to slow down and observe the temporal shapes the light draws against the wall and to contemplate the quiet beauty in the subtle shifts the piece makes over time. The simple act of noticing is critical to the experience of this work. As McCambly states, “the fast pace and culture of convenience that necessitates these plastic bags is also the one that interferes with our ability to notice fleeting moments of visual, aesthetic pleasure.” By reducing the pace, McCambly offers an alternative, giving us an opportunity to breathe and find the magic in the mundane."

McCambly received her BFA and MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of North Texas.  I first came to know Jessica when she was a member of the art collective 500X. Jessica has curated an exhibition Big and Bright at Southwestern College, Chula Vista, CA that opens January 26, 2012.  This exhibition includes one of Rusty Scruby's works. 

We visited with Jessica and her artist husband, John Oliver Lewis, last year while in LA.  John helped Rusty hang and light Rusty's gallery exhibition at PYO gallery, for which we are eternally grateful!

John and Jessica at dinner with us after installation and before the opening

I have three of McCambly's works in my collection including this one which reminds me of Float, and she tells me that it was one of the precursors to Float:

Swarm Colony Study 4, 2007
acrylic, powdered mica, sterling silver, cast shadows

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lost in the Desert

Today marks the first anniversary of the theft of Rusty Scruby's art work.  Quin Mathews and his crew at QMFILMS has told the story beautifully and I've attached the video above.  Rusty also has the story in his own words on his website. Both of these tellings of the events of January 10, 2011, the day and the week starting with that day, were recorded as soon as we returned home from LA on January 25, 2011.
Rusty's next exhibition was scheduled for March 12, 2011 in Miami at PanAmerican ArtProjects. Rusty had originally planned a new body of work for PanAm, but after the theft he decided to recreate some of the artworks that had been stolen and had never been seen by anyone but me and a few people in the Angel View Thrift Mart. Janda Wetherington, director of PanAmerican ArtProjects, gave Rusty a third 'project' gallery space to tell a visual story of the theft.  This was a cathartic project for Rusty:

Quin Mathews' film was projected on one wall of the PanAm Project gallery

Rusty installed images and recovered but ruined art works on the oppisite walls.

The installation took several days to print all of the images that Rusty then took several days to pin up on the two walls.  He had recovered Thanksgiving but it had a hole punched in it by an unknown source rendering it unsellable. Rusty used this piece and recreated one of the possible scenarios he imagined as the cause of the hole by pushing a broken stretcher frame through the hole to present in the installation. On the adjacent wall, Rusty pinned up dual images, one on top of the other.  The base image is an interior shot of the thrift store.  The outer image is a picture of the Angel View Thrift Mart as seen from across the street.  Rusty employed an oscillating fan on a stand to create wind that caused the outer images to lift and reveal the base image underneath.  This action represented a variety of stream of conscious thoughts. The desert winds eroding objects in the harsh elements. The temporal nature of art once it is released from the studio. The hidden truths of the seemingly shady business conducted at the Angel View Thrift Mart as well as by the many local police and sherrif departments that Rusty had to deal with in Palm Desert, Indio, and Palm Springs.  It also represented Rusty's fears and feeling of loss of control over the situation and his stolen art.
Since the theft, people have repeatedly asked Rusty questions such as "how will this change or inform your work?".  It will take longer than this one year to fully realize an accurate answer to these questions.  Grief over the loss of a loved one or one's work and livelihood can take years to heal, and grief continues to manifest in both positive as well as negative ways. I will say, however, that the work that Rusty created for his December show at Cris Worley Fine Art was a fresh realization of his knitted/woven photographs.  He used circles instead of the hexagons, squares, and rhomboids employed in the works stolen and the works recreated and shown at PanAmerican ArtProjects.  Also, the work at CWFA was not mounted on stretcher frames, instead it hung loosely in the way that tapestries are hung. In addition, Rusty acquired some wool yarn just before Christmas and pulled out all of his knitting needles and began re-exploring various knitting techniques.  He is allowing this process to inform his thoughts and ideas toward realizing fresh concepts and techniques for future works of fine art.

For myself, the theft came on the heals of my losing my job and career of the previous thirty-three years.  This blog has been one of my responses to those losses.  This blog has also been a means for me to stay busy, maintain my pc skills, and expound beyond my technical wirting skills.  Plus it allows me to talk about one of my favorite subjects - contemporary visual art and the people that create it.

Today marks the end of our official mourning period.  Together we are moving forward.  And to end, I use one of my favorite Friedrich Nietzche quotes:
"That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Gun & Knife Show @ Centraltrak, Apr 30 - Jun 4, 2011

Before the 2012 art season kicks into high gear starting this coming weekend, I want to spend a bit of time recalling some of the art exhibits and venues that left an impression on me.  This post reviews
Gun & Knife Show at Centraltrak co-curated by Heyd Fontenot and Julie Webb.

I stopped by Centraltrak on May 6 while the temps in Dallas were still in the low to mid 80°F.  Gun and knife shows are a constant in Dallas, and over most all of Texas. In fact, there were several billboards within blocks of the gallery that advertised different gun and knife shows at several locations around the DFW area during that time period.  But this was an art show and quite different from the other shows, I suspect, though I've never been to the kind that actually sell weaponry.

This exhibition featured works by 40 artists, some local and others from various U.S. cities.  The artists included were:
  Leon Alesi, Sterling Allen, Nick Barbee, Tony Barsotti, Chicks Bill, Camp Bosworth, William S. Burroughs, Louie Cordero, Chris Crites, Jack Daws, Leah DeVun, Margaret Evangeline, Al Farrow, Faith Gay, William Gaynor, Charles Hancock, Bootsy Holler, Donna Huanca, Bruce LaBruce, Jeffrey Lee, Lance Letscher, Dotty Love, Marne Lucas, Margaret Meehan, Katrina Moorhead, Tim Roda, Royal Robertson, Alexandre Rosa, Tom Sale, Joshua Saunders, Brian Scott, Roger Shimomura, Taro-kun, Karlo "Kaloy" Olavides, Dan Phillips, Robert The, Terri Thomas, Bruce Lee Webb, Barnaby Whitfield
Heyd Fontenot had recently become one of the artists in residence at the University of Texas, Dallas Centraltrak and soon became the director of the gallery after this exhibition. Co-curator, Julie Webb, is director and owner of the Webb Gallery in Waxahachie, TX.

These two works by San Fransico/Bay Area artist Al Farrow were probably my favorite two of the whole lot.  The idea of "turning swords into plowshares" is captured in reality as Farrow turns guns and bullets into cathedrals and candelabras. 

Overall, the forty artists employed as many media to create objects and images that ranged from humor to violence.  Some created weapons, while others created works that reflected the results of violent acts.  Lance Letscher presented an actual AK-47 that he covered in a collage of stickers or stamps.  Margaret Meehan created a gun shaped object with butterfly wings out of ceramic and graphite. Brian Scott displayed his apes with guns paintings, but I also saw a dildo gun object that I think was his creation also.  Many different works that shared a common theme of some type of weaponry fetish as art.

Some works were on pedestals as in a usual white walled gallery.  But other objects and works on paper were in acrylic cases, while others that hung on the wall were placed within painted frames that gave me the feeling of vertical showcases.  Overall, the show had the feel of a trunk show or trade fair as I image real gun and knife shows are displayed.  But these works of art went much deeper in meaning than their more violent counterparts.  I was a bit surprised that a group show with this many artists actually worked, the theme carried through and I was both attracted and repelled simultaneously.

This one installation commanded its own corner wall to display the visceral effects of silver objects pummeled with bullets.

I received guns for Christmas for many years as a kid.  I let my dad lock them in his gun safe after I unwrapped them.  Hopefully some of them will have great value someday when I carry them into an Antiques Roadshow appraisal.  Meanwhile, this Gun & Knife Show is as close to the real thing as I care to go.  But I am still thinking about this one.