A R T   L E T T E R

The Timely Magazine of Art

#26 <previous/ next> Artletter index April 1, 1996

letter: Brilliant! at the CAM 	

I was disappointed to read Greg Tramel's blurb about the Brilliant! show (AL
25). "Sophomoric" is too easy a criticism. If the work seems immature and
overconfident, perhaps that's because many of the artists are only 3 or 4
years out of their respective M.A. programs. What's wrong with young
artists getting to show and sell work? As far as the hype is concerned, one
cannot criticize artists for the press they recieve. I do agree that this
might not be the best work available from these nine artists and that there
are some glaring omissions in artist selection (i.e. Gavin Turk and that
Blood Head Guy). Mr. Tramel glossed over the strongest, most interesting
work in the show: Georgina Starr. I don't understand why self-indulgence is
a negative characteristic. I thought that the accompanying photos, video,
and sound were necessary for the installation and not just art-wank
accoutrements. Many of Houston's young artist community would jump at
the chance to exhibit abroad. In both Houston and London many artists opt to
organize their own shows. Albeit, many of these Brilliant! artists now show
at commercial spaces, but only because of the threat of lost business. The
galleries wanted their cut.-Patrick Phipps 

Brilliant! at the CAM	4/14

Underground art with a sky's-the-limit budget. I just won't wait around to
watch video in galleries, and I'm not dazzled by technology: Georgina Starr's
CD-ROM installation made absolutely no sense without instructions. -B.D.

Debbie Riddle at Lawndale	4/13

Unlike many installation works, Riddle effectively transforms Lawndale's
small gallery into another kind of space. The most interesting aspect of the
show is the evocation of the personality of the inhabitant of the room
through their stuff, although it relies too heavily on kitchy cliches of
lowbrow trailer life. Riddle's photographs are badly integrated, popping up
in awkward places to mar the illusion that this is someone's home.-B.D.


Snapshots at Diverseworks	4/28

Badly curated. A snapshot show should be snapshots, not a free-for-all
photo show. The focus is lost. Nevertheless, looking at other people's lives
is interesting, and usually the least "artistic" photos are the best: Andy
Mann's old Navy snapshots, the white dog pictures, the string of old
boyfriends, and many other tasty tidbits are hidden among the clutter.-B.D.

Address letters to: Bill Davenport, 801 Tulane St., Houston TX 77007

Mail subscriptions $15/year. Look for Artletter 27 on April 15.


Hawkins and Galaska at West End	4/27

Hawkins' weak, bland landscapes seem lazy. Do you ever look at art and
think that the person that made it is half asleep? When I first saw
Galaska's work I thought it was kind of cool, like folk gameboards or old
fashioned puzzles. Materials and pattern suck you in, but leave you feeling
cheap and fooled. Big puzzle screen seems most sincere.- Louise Cranston

Material + Spirit at Barbara Davis                                          4/27

Standout piece is Agnes Martin's square of paper, gridded with pencil and
ruler into small rectangles. Mancuso's rubbery white latex paint surfaces
are bisected by parallel or concentric lines formed by the edges of the
overlapping layers of paint. Lipski fills a large instrument case with white
candles. The materials are seductive like a fresh bar of Ivory soap, but to
call something pure or spiritual just because it's white and waxy is a
misnomer. Horn's motorized butterfly and oyster shells are too creepy. Kiki
Smith's glass sperm are only good for a sophomoric yuk. -Delfina

Texas Art Celebration '96 at Cullen Center, 1600 Smith

This show is one of the most disappointing Assistance League shows in the
last few years. Mediocre abstract paintings and sculptures and b/w
snapshot photographs dominate the show. Hernandez's wall sculpture  on
the invitation postcard is a monstrosity. The trend of combining paintings
with sculpture seldom works. In Parker's first-place winner where the
addition of the 3-D pear appears to have been an afterthought. The same
holds true in the work of Hill and Kary. There are very few pieces worth
noting. Souza's art is always surprising and his unique cut newspaper
assemblage is no exception. McCleary's collage shows a mastery of her
medium. Davenport's Oldenburgesque soft sculpture is well executed.
Woest's ethereal silkscreen and clay piece is an innovative use of
materials. Eagle's photographs of her cake decoration creations are more
ambitious than her current show at Lawndale.-Greg Tramel