A R T   L E T T E R

The Timely Magazine of Art

#42 <previous/ next> Artletter index December 1, 1996

Reconstructedness at Diverseworks	1/4

I found this exhibition mysterious in many ways. Most of the pieces forced you to peer into their
meanings and the processes by which they were constructed. Whether through humor, visual
poetry, or glimpses of a hardened, dirty reality, these 7 Dallas/Fort Worth based found object
artists definitely caught my attention. Ludwig Schwartz's untitled pieces, including the covers of
microwaveable dinner boxes pinned to a wall, a string of cigarette butts dangling from the
ceiling, and a looping video tape of a Beverly Hills 90210  scene in which a character tells her
boyfriend, " you're not an artist, you're a whore!" question the treachery of the
gallery-feeds-artist relationship. Michael H. Henderson's A Film About the Sky  is lyrical and
lovely. Tom Sale's miniature worlds are adorable. Anitra Blayton's pieces are a bit ambiguous and
uncentered. However, her Dream Deferred: Refuge  succeeds in frightening one in a nightmare,
half-remembered way. Dottie Allen's photos detailing old letters, surrounded by old frames,
photos and bric-a-brac are powerful; vague and personal all at the same time. Looking at them, I
felt as if I were reading the artifacts of my extended family's past- and that this family consisted
of people I'd never actually met.- Angie Dodson

Mark Allen: The Fall Collection at Sally Sprout Gallery	12/27

The videos are amusing and have a frenetic, eerie silliness. Best Video:
Burger Boys. Best painting: Hatbox, the tension between pattern, drawing,
painted surface, and subject is precisely balanced. Most Beautiful painting:
Potato Eater.  Best Bargain: 101 shrink art drawings for $1200. I can't say
much more; I've looked at it so long I have lost my usually ever-ready
facility for snap judgments. Go see it. -B.D. 

Jesse Amado at the CAM	12/31

Pointless but clumsy romanticism (cut lillies, smoked meat, wilted flowers) masked by pointless
but facile materials/process art (rolled lead, cut carpet, glass, clamps, steel, mirrors). Amado
has distilled the essential look of two recognizable art genres and combined them with finesse and
sensitivity, but to what end? It doesn't add up. Take, for instance, Lily Pond. The wilting lillies
are dead, decapitated by a paper cutter/guillotine in the center of a square of floor from which the
carpet has been peeled back to expose the tarry adhesive underneath. Should I interpret this to
mean that "school will kill you" or "paperwork destroys the flower of our youth"? "The skin of
the CAM is being removed, to expose the truth about this school/death tragedy"? None of these
interpretations is borne out with any consistency. Apparently the main point is to make
something which deflects criticism by fence sitting. Looks good, but what does itsay ?-B.D.

Brian Portman at Robert McClain and Co.	11/23

Beautiful brown paintings, like closeups of the old masters. What's not to
like? Like fine custom furniture, these well crafted paintings would be a
lovely addition to any home. -B.D.

Artletter is available the 1st and 15th of every month at Brazos Bookstore,
Lawndale, Glassell School, Inman Gallery, Menil Store, CAM Store, Brazil Cafe,
Diverseworks and the MFA bookstore. Mail subscriptions $15/year. 

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