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 Address letters to: Bill Davenport, 801 Tulane St., Houston TX 77007 Mail subscriptions $25/year. Look for Artletter 6 on June 1.