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

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