A R T   L E T T E R

The Timely Magazine of Art

#27 <previous/ next> Artletter index April 15, 1996

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

The standout piece is Agnes Martin's square of paper, gridded with pencil
and ruler into small rectangles. The materials are seductive like a fresh
bar of Ivory soap: Mancuso uses rubbery white latex paint; Lipski fills a
large instrument case with white candles; 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 1600 Smith St.	4/27

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. The trend of combining paintings
with sculpture seldom works: Hernandez's wall sculpture  on the invitation
is a monstrosity. In Parker's first-place winner 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

Core Fellows at Glassell	4/27

I was impressed by Patrick Phipps' distinctive naivete. Andrea Grover's
humorous yet frightening photographs have a seamless quality portraying
lifelike representations of a new species. I was mesmerized by Robert
Montgomery's sparse minimalist paintings.-Greg Tramel

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Core Fellows at the Glassell School	4/28

Andrea Grover's altered fashion portraits are creepy and fashionable. They
bring out the artificiality of magazine photography, and the disgusting body
manipulation behind the glamour look. They're also fun, in a gross way, like
a game where you mix and match body parts of different animals and people
to create humorous juxtapositions.

Mark Frohman's installation is better than last year's. It evokes the beach,
or a surf shop interior or window display design in a vague way, without
leading to any particular point. I'm afraid that the wall lettering labeling
the piece "pure vacancy" is correct. Patrick Phipps' horde of notebook page
drawings are arty and selfconscious. They were made to be placed on a wall
like this and consequently have none of the freshness or unassuming charm
one hopes for in offhand doodles. Tina Marrin's last-minute paintings have a
naivete which I think comes from naivete. She really can't paint. I like the
series of "1995" paintings; thin, sketchy, they seem to commemorate an
entire year, the zigzag mountain range recalls a graph of economic
performance or statistical data tallied up at the end of the year. Cold,
labored, and deadpan the 1995 paintings have an ominous, deadly finality.
The cars, building, and Jack Nickerson seem overcomplex, and I don't
identify with Datsun/Nissan, never having owned one of their vehicles. 
Robert Montgomery's lordly columnar paintings are undermined by their
tacky, plasticky surfaces and his ocean of blue bubbles drawn on the wall is
too small.  Nicola Costantino's Belly Button Coat should be worn, and would
look good, more reminiscent of fancy ostrich skin than the human body. Her
chicken heads are boring. Shahzia Sikander's drawings are good in detail,
bad overall. Lea Whittington's well crafted interior decorations are dull.
They look good, but follow the rules of art too closely to be challenging.
They are what you would expect, making the comments you would expect
about luxury, consumption, while remaining elegant and eminently
consumable articles themselves. Charles Weis's execrable computer art
belongs in hell. Weise utterly fails to transcend the "Gee-whiz! look what I
can do with this nifty computer" style of aimless quasi-natural forms
repeat themselves in insipid patterns blending a moronic romanticism with
an equally moronic techno-fetishism. At bottom, they're graphically weak, conceptually empty, and spritually void.-B.D.