A R T   L E T T E R

The Timely Magazine of Art

#5 <previous/ next> Artletter index May 15, 1995

Structures at Lawndale                                                           ends 6/3

Only a man could think there is a poverty of concept in Debbie McNulty's
large installation (see AL #4). Hint: notice the admittedly tenuous and
probably coincidental link with Vernon Fisher.-Elizabeth McBride

Evidence at Inman Gallery	5/20

In your discussion of "Evidence" (see AL#4) you didn't take into account the
interaction of the paintings with the space of the gallery: Perry House's The
Mirror had a strong impact when it was shown at Gray Matters in Dallas,
partly because the viewer could step back and view it against a pristine
expanse of white wall. The absence of these conditions diminished its full
effect at Inman.-Tom Moody

Rachel Hecker at the CAM	6/18

Precision crafted to convey straightforward feminist messages in a
subversively appealing way: the objectification of the female body ("SEE"),
forbidden lesbian sexuality ("BITE"), masturbation ("Parboiled"), impotent
male sex-aggression ("Brace"), society's view of lesbianism ("OUT"), all
rendered in tight, almost offensively slick and well designed  packages.
Seduction of technique substitutes for the seductive qualities denied the
monumental, depersonalized nudes. Faces are cropped, bodies subtly
disjointed, nipples misplaced. The LCD letters situate the  works in the
present, looking backwards at slightly dated figures and cartoons. The
ideas they illustrate are simple, even trite (to some), yet important. They
are impersonal yet fun; didactic yet decorative. They have mass-media
visual appeal without a mass audience. Perplexing.-B.D. with Jeff Elrod

Upstairs-Downstairs: Rachel Hecker and the Boys at CAM	6/18

Hecker's work is like getting a bone with some meat on it, the Art Guys' is
like  a piece of chicken skin: hot and slick and greasy; it goes down so
smooth, but if you eat enough of it, eventually you get a heart attack. Some
people may not agree with Rachel's agenda or the way she presents her
statement, but her work has marrow, and deserves credit for taking
chances and for its craftsmanship. The Art boys deserve a great big napkin
to help the CAM staff mop up some of the leftover oil.-Dolan Smith

see page 2 on reverse

Vernon Fisher at Hiram Butler	6/17

Swimming Against the Tide for Relaxation incorporates some exciting new
tricks: the black chalkboard is dissolving and dripping, becoming
transparent and broken by the intrusion of giant white digital squares. The
trademark photoreal paintings are submerged within the image and look
like magazine clippings. Photo paintings, digital image, and black drips
interact in a strong,  necessary way without the everpresent nostalgia of
standard Fisher works such as Scout, I'll Do It, and Blue Africa.-B.D.

Lamar Briggs at Moody Gallery                                        	6/3 

The metallic paint and fabric scraps give the work the tasteful feel of a
women's clothing boutique. Every collaged bit is dutifully integrated into
the whole. Every piece includes a border. The identical tile format of the
small paintings and the similar all-over compositions create a unified body
of faceless designs which could be repeated indefinetely.-Delfina

John Biggers at the MFAH	9/3

Biggers caricatures people and situations with an authority based on solid
draftsmanship, making specific everyday situations into metaphors for
more general human concerns. In Going to Church , stance and light convey a
message of spirituality which is at once homely and sublime. In The History
of Negro Education in Morris County, Texas details like the curious corner
door in the upper right show a genuine affection for the persons and places
depicted even as they are made into a historical monument. Biggers is at
his best when depicting the African-American experience without the fuzzy
metaphysical messages of Web of Life or most of the "Africa" works.-B.D. 

McKay Otto at McMurtrey 	6/3

Each piece contains a facile trick which simulates  meaning: A column of
rocks suspended in the air (magic!), or balanced on a wheel (how'd he do
that?), or strung on a bent rod (like an unfinished game!).-B.D.

Sonia and Kaye Marvins Portrait Collection at the MFAH	6/4

This is a fabulous, special show, possible in Houston only because of the
passion and genius of Anne Tucker (photo curator for the MFAH) and the
generosity of the donors. I am told this is the first time any major museum
has included the work of Annie Leibowitz in its permanent collection. The
collection avoids the faults of "Songs of my People" and other "anthology"
type shows by not dumbing down or fawning. No mediocrity here, just
quality.-Elizabeth McBride


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