Monday, June 29, 2009

Sleep to Dream

Polly Lanning Sparrow's Sleeper at Barry Whistler Gallery

Polly Lanning Sparrow's works in
Sleeper are graphically painted panels. Had she hung the works on the wall they would be paintings, but leaning against the wall and sprawled out on the floor they fall into minimalist sculpture territory. There are similarities that can be drawn between these works and those of Ellsworth Kelly or Donald Judd's rhythmic sculptures. They share bright colors, precision and a similar use of space. There is a shared refinement of craft that links these artists.

Painting on panels has rich art historical roots, especially when it comes to religious iconography. Ms. Sparrow's works don't share much visually with icon panel paintings, but like Dan Flavin's spiritual bent using light tube configurations, simplicity lends itself to reverence. The artist's work appears focused on formal concerns, but the title
Sleeper is so evocative when placed in a context with icon painting. If this is sleep, are we on the cusp of an awakening?

Blue Configuration, 2009

Red & Blue (diptych), 2009

Red Configuration #2, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ladies First

Femme Fatale with Virginia Fleck, Sharon Louden, Kim Cadmus Owens, Kim Squaglia, and Sarah Walker at Holly Johnson Gallery

This exhibition is the work of five women, all with their own particular approach and vision for art making. Despite the fact that the show is solely women, it's
first a group of artists that fit nicely in the oeuvre of work shown at Holly Johnson Gallery.

Dallas' Kim Cadmus Owens is the only local in the show, and the most exciting with paintings that make roadside scenes look as though they have been digitally unraveled. Breaking apart signage into a streak of colors overlapped with something like yellow channel artifacts from Photoshop, the work was at once traditional painting and contemporary with technological flair.

The plastic bags that were the basis for Viginia Fleck's art didn't transcend their origins, but have an intrinsic value in re-use of materials. The mandala is used for it's meditative and healing properties in the east, and the argument could be made that art from one person's promotional products (that would end up in a landfill) has a healing effect on the environment.

The definition of a femme fatale is an attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately bring disaster to a man who becomes involved with her. Significantly less ominous than that, this is definitely a group of women artists with a plan.

Kim Cadmus Owens

Virginia Fleck

Weekend Wish List

It's time for the summer group shows again. Modeled after the precedent long ago established in New York, Dallas has some potential highlights this Saturday. A constantly rotating group at The Public Trust and Barry Whistler Gallery are catching my eye today.

Cash & Carry: An Ever Rotating Summer Show at The Public Trust

Polly Lanning Sparrow: Sleeper and Leslie Wilkes: Sequel at Barry Whistler Gallery

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Decorative Rituals

Rex Ray New Works, Heyd Fontenot, Get Your Woods On and Alejandro Diaz at Conduit Gallery

Danette Dufilho from Conduit mentioned this Rex Ray show during a conversation back in January, and it has been on the calendar since then. His work is highly decorative, using custom printed papers for collage on panel and canvas. The paintings have a great impact at the larger scale and the coating has just the slightest sheen which compliments the work. Out from the decorative springs images that appear botanical on some occasions, as still-lives and other times like something out the book
Cabinet of Natural Curiosities.

Heyd Fontenot's installation of drawings, sculptural work and assorted ornaments had the feel of a secret society lodge with a twist. The installation appears to be in some part inspired by the work of Matthew Barney. It feels too easy to make the reference, but with pagan symbolism and ritualistic artifacts it's hard to get around it. This is not a bad thing. The works on paper are often unflattering portraits of people wrestling, riding or sitting with their doppelgangers. The fetishistic feel of the work could have easily been off putting, but there was something about the show which was undeniably fun to walk through.

Weekend Wish List

A whirlwind trip through part the new exhibit at The DMA was not enough. After the Willie Doherty artist talk there was time to see his exhibit and film and the adjacent rooms, but not the rest of the show in the barrel vault. The show appears to be focused on new and important contemporary art. Friday is the monthly late night at the museum, so it seems like the perfect time to check it out.

Private Universes at The Dallas Museum of Art

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

To Dream in Digital

Ayman Ali Alamoudi Bio-Digital at Centraltrak

Unlike the popular culture approach to the merging of analog and digital where there is so often a human versus machine motif or a forced integration of the two, this installation had a meditative feel. The use of digital artifacts was the connecting thread that linked a series of paintings, digital reproductions on stretched canvas and two projections.

The projections consisted of moving images projected from slowly spinning turntables onto layers of scrim that had been hung in spiral pathways from the ceiling. I had the feeling of anticipation while I walked through the spiral. That feeling was the the most compelling part of the projections for me. The images themselves had a retro look and did interact with the body as they spun, hence the Bio-digital title of the show.

The group of paintings that referenced those same digital artifacts were hung along a corridor and were well crafted graphic works. As self contained pieces they were the most aesthetically pleasing part of the show. In contrast the projections were attempting to achieve something more conceptual, a peaceful merging of analog and digital.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Weekend Wish List

It looks like there may be some good gallery openings this Saturday. I'm happy that I'm on the e-mail list for Conduit and Holly Johnson, because neither was listed on Glasstire, and only Holly Johnson was listed on THE Mag. Rex Ray will be at Conduit, and it's been on the list since January.

Virginia Fleck, Sharon Louden, Kim Cadmus Owens, Kim Squaglia, Sarah Walker in Femme Fatale at Holly Johnson

Rex Ray, Heyd Fontenot, Project Room: Alejandro Diaz at Conduit Gallery

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Agenda Weekend Wish List

The post that Christina Rees, owner of Road Agent wrote for Glasstire has been turning over and over again in my mind. She charges the top tier Dallas collectors with supporting the art in their own city. At a minimum she is looking for support from those collectors in the form of simply being present at the gallery openings around town. Her words are layered by the awareness that many galleries, including her own are struggling in the face of challenging economic times. Her gallery, Road Agent fills a unique space in the Dallas art community. The gallery shows cool, high-end work from Dallas to London. It can be provocative, and arguably Dallas' premier space for bleeding-edge contemporary art. That said, it doesn't feel too heavenly for earthly good, it's approachable. My desire is to suggest things to fix the problem such as Jen Bekman style online editions for sale, volunteer hours (she has reduced the hours to Saturdays only from 12-5) and help with promotion. Whatever happens I hope that this gallery can find enough support to weather these times to flourish in the future. So the one thing on my list this weekend is to visit Road Agent. I hope that they're open. UPDATE: I went to the gallery around one in the afternoon on Saturday the sixth, and the gallery was closed with the sign below (installation in progress) posted on the door.

Far From the Madding Crowd
at Road Agent

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Agenda's Best in Show for the...

D Art Slam at f.i.g.
May 29 - 31, 2009

Of the 150 artists at the first D Art Slam a handful rose above the throng. Each artist was given a twelve foot wall space to work from Friday to Sunday. There was a definite arts and crafts fair vibe, which was enhanced by the artists standing in front of their work. There were clear winners in my book, and two of the artists that I felt were standouts overlapped with the juror's award for the “New Dallas Nine”. Credit is due to the D Art Slam organizers for providing an opportunity to many
unknown artists as well as to chance to see a lot of work that is being made in Dallas. Below are my picks for best in show.

It was great to find someone that I knew, Sergio Garcia with what I found to be the most exciting space at the Slam. His area was less sales oriented which may have added to the appeal. A giant boom box filled the majority of the space and was ornamented with a bronze dog on a pillow perched on the boom box, a neon sign reading “For Those About to Rock” and only a framed painting of a payphone with a posted price. It was really a street-style installation.

a similar tack was a member of the New Dallas Nine, Shane Pennington whose wall was smartly assembled and fun. Using miniature figures very reminiscent of the snow globes of Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz three clusters of related objects were on view. Miniature figures climbed on the roots of the trees and were in Ball jars like captured insects.

Another member of the new Dallas Nine was Jennifer Jones with her mixed media work on panels. Pairing disparate images of objects on raw MDF there was an edge to the minimal work.

Perhaps the best strategy for actually selling work went to Blake Wright. He had a series of small, clever and affordable editioned works on paper that were hung on the wall in plastic bags with bulldog clips. I took home the one with Dear Uptight Prude written
in ornate filigree.

I left the fair wondering, was it successful enough for the promoters and f.i.g. to host the event again and become an annual event? Did the artists working their spaces for three days sell enough to make it worth their while? If it had been organized in some other way would more exciting artists get involved? There is potential to be realized.