Roving Galleries on Dragon St.

Students From Two Universities Take Alternative Spaces To the Design District

Dallas, TX, 11/21/2011
published by D Magazine: Front Row

UNT's Art Rover-sign

Times of late seem ripe for taking to the streets, and last weekend, two Dallas-area universities did exactly that, though not in protest.

The taken street wasDragon St., that unofficial Dallas arts district, and the venue featured two moving trucks posing as art galleries. Lights ablaze, the alternative art venues signaled a cooperative stance of community inclusion by the area’s commercial galleries. Embracing these temporary venues fosters a symbiotic relationship between the local rent paying, bricks-and-mortar galleries and the fresh ideas and exploration of energetic students. Capitalizing on the sustained efforts of the gallery owners to draw a crowd, the student-initiated projects also provide the district with a quirky spectacle and infectious enthusiasm while further bolstering the already significant cluster marketing.

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REVIEW: Fresh Meat

500X Fresh Meat: College Expo
Jurors: Cris Worley and Erick Swenson
500X Gallery, Dallas, TX
Oct. 15- Oct. 31, 2011

published by D Magazine Front Row

Fun adverts, two hip art world jurors, and the 500x openness to experimentation has created an exciting college art exhibit. Jurors Cris Worley—owner and director of Cris Worley Fine Arts in Dallas— and Erick Swenson—international art star— selected 43 from 900 pieces, presenting a strong exhibit of what turned out to be primarily Metro-plex talent. Occupying both floors and resisting the “more is better” tendency, the show has a sprawling, spacious quality. The majority of pieces display a figurative inclination and graphic strength conveying resolved consideration, yet there are also several surprises including some accomplished ceramics.

Not surprisingly one work resembles Fresh Meat: chopped logs filled with silicon representing muscle, fat and sinew. Amputee by Rachel Muldez [UD] is an anthropomorphized and didactic reminder of our planetary destruction yet remains disgustingly, darkly humorous, overcoming it’s preachiness through craftsmanship and humor.

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REVIEW: Gaffes and Informations

Kevin Todora and Jeff Zilm
Gaffes & Informations
TCU Fort Worth Contemporary Art, Fort Worth, TX
September 17 – October 30, 2011

Published by D Magazine’s Frontrow. (Oct 12, 2011)

Zilm and Todora present a darkly droll, anarchistic mash-up of images, sounds and texts at TCU’s Fort Worth Contemporary Arts. Presupposing contemporary art world savvy, the exhibit blatantly obscures intention while providing an abundance of information.

Todora’s digital prints on foam core, vandalized with plastic and paint, are coupled with Zilm’s choppy, declarative sentences aligned on paper or canvas (“hit. hit. kick. destroy. hit. kick. kick. kill. loot.”) suggesting an exhibit redolent with angst. Further confounding the intent are light-boxes containing unknown objects, a series of chopped 8mm film stills neatly stacked on the floor, and a video projection featuring a shifting character with esoteric cartoon bubbles set to a jarringly loud computerized ‘boing’ every few seconds.

Viewing Gaffes and Informations is like reading “Infinite Jest” or deciphering Sigur Ros lyrics: the show needs a user’s manual. Luckily, Gallery Director Christina Rees hosted an artist talk with the gentle, quirky Zilm and Todora. As the artists expounded on topics brought up by Rees, the exhibit could be seen as the site of personal experimentations and conversation, allowing the audience access to the concepts and actions that informed the work.

For instance: Zilm’s textual narratives, blunt and minimal, are derived from ‘video game cheats’ found on the Internet. A ‘cheat’ is a set of instructions allowing the player to achieve a goal in the most efficient way possible, the concise text of the ‘cheat’ mirroring the purpose. Zilm takes a niche audience’s local, digital dialect and presenting it as if it is understandable or reasonable – like cockney slang for gamers. His pieces embrace these new linguistic structures, removing context and presenting a minimal, brutal form of poetry as imagery.

Todora’s works offer a similar re-contextualization as a print Michele Bachman on Newsweek is drizzled with red, white, and blue plastic goo: the advertised image becomes substrate for mock nationalistic vandalism, desecrating the image as a path to a more personalized and sculptural art form. Todora also displays a series of five hamburger prints cut to expose a red-pink circle, at once a pun and also reminiscent of Baldessari, the images further reference photographic iconoclasm.

Presenting niche dialects as common knowledge, the exhibit disrupts normative gallery viewing, intellectually and visually, while remaining somehow humorous and self-deprecating despite the violent overtones. It’s primary success, however, is the lack of transparency: the exhibit does not pander to the audience. Simultaneously alienating and a call to arms, Gaffes and Informations provides a challenge needed to foster a healthy, experimental arts scene.

Ryder Richards

Willie Baronet’s Sexual Debris at Central Trak

“Willie Baronet: Evaluating Vulgarity”
part of the UTD MFA exhibition “Four”
UTD CentralTrak, Dallas
June 11 – July 9, 2011

published by D Magazine Front Row

Red lips mouthing obscenities are likely to turn people on. However, Willie Baronet’s video work “SPAM” baits and switches, offering vulgarity as deadpan reality. The video, projected on a large flat screen with headphones, displays portraits of the lips of 90 women speaking phrases gleaned from pornographic junk e-mail. The close-cropped format portrays the mouths as vagina dentata, at once objectified yet made oddly personal by the age lines, skin tones and imperfect teeth. Presenting porn without the pouty-lipped sultriness expected, the piece robs the phrases of erotic fantasy, relegating them to disturbing silliness and generating more than a few chuckles.

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Wunderkammer: Southern Art Cross Pollinates at Conduit

 

“Wunderkammer: Southern Art Cross-Pollinates at Conduit”

Wunderkammer (wonder room)
Curator: Phillip M. Jones
Conduit Gallery, Dallas, TX
July 9 – August 31, 2011

published by D Magazine Front Row

Golden animal skulls overlook mannequin sentinels, gaudily guarding shelves of translucent castings, minute paintings and a dry piece of fruit crushed by a vice.
Turning to wonder at idiosyncratic profusion Wunderkammer displays roughly 150 art objects, organized and categorized as the specimens of an eclectic “Curiosity Cabinet.” Started in the 16th century by royalty and scholars, the concept of wunderkammer encouraged the collecting and cataloging of the arcane in an effort to better embrace an ever-expanding world. In this multi-city collaborative exhibit, curator Phillip M. Jones (director of Institute 193, Lexington, Kentucky) selected art defying easy classification from several Kentucky artists and selected Conduit Gallery artists.

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“Shoot Your Mouth Off” Panel Discussion

“Shoot Your Mouth Off” panel discussion
hosted by Plush Gallery, Dallas on 5/21/2011
sponsored by CentralTrak, UTD
Moderator: Heyd Fontenot
Panelists: writer/curator Noah Simblist, artist Margaret Meehan, gallery owner Julie Webb, and collector Carl Niendorff

“Did anyone bring a gun?” asked Heyd Fontenot, moderator of the “Shoot Your Mouth Off” panel discussion last Saturday evening. That’s probably a smart question to ask when one is in a state that has legalized the right to carry concealed handguns onto school grounds. No one was packing. No one even talked about muzzle velocity or modified ejection ports. Instead, the discussion moved immediately into more complex topics as panelist Noah Simblist discussed how architecture frames violence and the assertion of power through the positioning of weaponry. Discussion followed about the beautification of weapons (such as “Hello Kitty” designer guns), the artist/writer William S. Burroughs’s gun fetish, and the practice of collecting of “tough art” as the audience and panelists jointly navigated topics of power, violence, and cultural norms that aren’t so normal.

The panel was the verbal companion piece to the “Gun & Knife Show” co-curated by Fontenot and Webb and held at CentralTrak. The art in the exhibit takes into account the fascination with guns and the ability of artists to re-contextualize the weaponry. Both the panel discussion and art show were an invitation to disrupt classic right/wrong notions about weapons, seeing them as both artwork and cultural icon in a region with a predominance of gun ownership.

Many audience members offered up stories, mentioning that they grew up with guns and art in the house. Which begs the question of how learned cultural behaviors replicate themselves, simultaneously furthering the appreciation of both weaponry and fine art in our society.

~Ryder Richards
Published by D Magazine’s FrontRow  (PDF)

Review: “Making a Killing” by Hugo Garcia Urrutia

“Making a Killing” by Hugo Garcia Urrutia
New Works Space, curator Charissa Terranova
McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas_ on view through June 11, 2011

photo by MK Semmos

Towards the back of the project room at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, light projects through the bullet-perforated skin of Hugo Garcia Urrutia’s monolithic gold cube, spattering a constellation of illuminated patterns across nearby walls. Garcia Urrutia’s work, “Making a Killing,” we are told by the artist and curator Charissa Terranova in a statement, is a reaction to Mexico’s drug related violence. A metaphor for the country, its punctured skin referencing the death of innocents caught in a spray of brutality, light erupting from it’s confines. Across the room and lording over it all, there is an ornate, gold leafed empty throne. Seen in this way, the gold cube presents a portrait of a culture once closed and complicit in secrecy, no longer able to contain the atrocities committed.

Formally, Garcia Urrutia’s large aluminum piece references Judd’s architectural cubes, but subverts the minimalist notion through the incorporation of light and gold, materials which we can take as symbolic references to spirituality and money. Cordoning off the interior light-emitting space with golden barriers, the work isolates the audience, denying entry and assigning the role of outside observer. We may only view the aftermath of the violence, a staccato pattern recorded into the skin of the cube, which simultaneously creates a series of voyeuristic peepholes from which to view the internal workings.

Conceptually, the piece investigates complex issues related to segregation of the commons, architecture as site for violence, and the contradiction inherent in forcing secrecy. However, the piece is too pretty to develop a gritty activism or prolonged indignant anger. More importantly the use of light (reminiscent of several World Trade Center proposals) references those lost victims, obliging “Making a Killing” to function as a memorial, trading outrage for remembrance.

~Ryder Richards
edited by Peter Simek
Published in D Magazine’s FrontRow (PDF)