A R T L E T T E R
The Timely Magazine of Art
|#23||<!>previous/ next>!> Artletter index||February 15, 1996|
Skin Speak at Diverseworks 3/3 The most interesting aspect of the show are the photographs: ordinary folks smiling for the camera in incongruous bikini briefs or sheer pantyhose and a big white bra, seeming unaware of the gnarly, disfiguring designs of snakes and dragons emblazoned on their bodies. The tattoos themselves are cliches of phantasmagoria, some impressively rendered, some stilted. Other types of tattoo images, such as cartoon characters, for example, are not represented here. As an anthropological study of folk decorative arts the show fails. This is not a survey but merely a celebration, left undefined, of some portion of the broader range of the tattoo world.-Delfina Texas Modern and Post-Modern at the MFA,H 3/3 Standout piece is Dorothy Antoinette LaSalle's Puritan, a geometric abstraction in white, black, and emerald green executed with great attention to the quality of the paint, spread with a knife like plaster paste, and to the subtle balance of the simple forms, whose edges either overlap with careful muddiness or pull apart to reveal the canvas below. Seemingly clumsy but with the design sophistication of perfume packaging, a quality it shares with David Aylsworth's goofy-yet-startling blobby target painting. Many of the museum-size canvases by recognized names vie for worst of show. The pompous flab of Robert Wilson's cutesy The Civil Wars and of Stack, Glasco, Espada, Wray et al are a personal affront.-Delfina Houston Area Exhibition at Blaffer Gallery 3/31 Pleasantly surprising. Zack Ratliff gives us a painting of a big rock, all jagged and brilliant like flint, against a ground of bare plywood. Two saguaros and two yuccas are intently real. Jim Rizkalla cut out addresses from old letters to a law firm. Almost all are funnily misspelled, but authentic, I'm sure. Molly Head shows a see-thru dress made out of tape, Milton Garcia a giant blue papier-mache leg, with the toes all splayed out, and Stephen Silva a blanket made by gluing Dentyne wrappers together. Al Souza's three shiny blobs of paint are obscene like melted livers. Bill Davenport's wormy bundles of crochet are touching. Elisabeth Jackson is letting us in with her winking, starry-eyed cat. Toby Topek's cool collage of clothing tags gets lost trying to be an Ethnic Map of the World. Anderson (1st prize) uses icky materials heavy handedly to state cliches: e.g. a 1950's smiling father and son are glazed over with brown goo. -Delfina Address letters to: Bill Davenport, 801 Tulane St., Houston TX 77007 Mail subscriptions $15/year. Look for Artletter 24 on March 1.