A R T   L E T T E R

The Timely Magazine of Art

#38 <previous/ next> Artletter index October 1, 1996

Eric Swenson at Diversework's Subspace	10/6

I've said it before and I'll say it again: art should be sexier. Or at least, like
Erick Swenson's motion-detector-equipped sculpture, happy to see me. The fuzzy
pink Untitled hovers near Diversework's entrance like a pet, a PR flack or a
Jungian blob. But don't touch! That piece, and the cheery Welcome-to-the-
Vulva-Diner installation A Lovely Place are tufted with Fiberglas insulation, and
will tempt you into more trouble than your average vagina dentata. Have a Vodka
Gimlet, but don't relax on the Death of the Universe range top recliner. The
social fabric of this exhibit is a minefield- just as you slip into a conversational
stupor, a cigarette-lit explosion rips out loud enough to be heard over the punk
ripoffs outside. Swenson's lesson: flick your ashes with care. Danger lurks in the
lounge, folks. This is space age bachelor, mad.- Shaila Dewan

Incredible Shrinking Art Show Small projects Gallery, U of H art barn. 	10/24

Odd hours: call ahead 743-2835.  Despite a conscious effort to take these miniature
bits of melted plastic seriously, the overall effect is unimpressive. The pieces seem
like novelties made specifically for this show. One memorable piece, playing on the
shrinking process itself, was a mini-postcard; the tiny, incredibly crisp handwriting
exaggerating the crowding of a long letter onto the back of a card to a friend.-B.D.

Fred Tomaselli at Rice	11/3

"It's that guy who makes the paintings with drugs".  It's an attention grabbing
gimmick, a necessity in today's crowded, media-driven artworld. It's vaguely
retro reference to the drug culture of the 60's and 70's is  not so explicit that it
confines the works  to mere nostalgia. 49 Palms Oasis  superimposes a hexagonal
array of pills on a silhouette of palm trees at sunset, creating the impression of
a chemical oasis reminiscent of the Eagles' Hotel California album cover. Other
works remind one of rainy day collage activities carried out on an ambitious
scale.  A link is made between the repetitive, soothing activity of arranging tiny
objects and the effects of the drugs themselves. The Rice show is disappointingly
legal, the works lack the illicit punch "controlled substances" would produce.
Don't miss Cubic Sky , a goofy surrealist firmament of five cubic lamps; but
remember to turn out the stars when you leave the room. -B.D.

Rene Yung at the CAM	11/10

A vapid compendium of incredibly trite, oh-so-delicate sentimental cliches.
Saccharine, vague, incommunicative, Yung's "whispered dreams"  are whispered
in the hope that no one will notice that she's got nothing to say. Dreams are not
like this. Dreams are complex and irrational, but never insipid. To budding
installation artists: see this show to know what to avoid: obscured text, antiqued
books, wax coatings, and tracing paper overlays are bad enough, but above all,
don't trivialize  important issues such as your trans-cultural background and
gender identity by using them to justify your superficial works. -B.D. 

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