A R T   L E T T E R

The Timely Magazine of Art

#52 <previous/ next> Artletter index May 15, 1997

The Timely Magazine of Art
#52										May 15, 1997

Letter: Core Show 1997
Dear Artletter: I don't think tou made it clear enough in your reply to the Gorilla Girls (in AL 51) that you, in fact, do all your own crocheting, with the exception of one piece, "Sunrise Blanket", and most of your own needlepointing. In re-reading Tina Marrin's review (in AL 49) I find that the G.G's. must have been obtuse not to realize it was glowingly positive. Speaking of obtuseness, there is nothing "meaningless" (see "Reply: Core Fellows. . " in AL 49) in saying, "if you mean Rick Lowe, just say so" (see "Core Fellows. . ." in AL 48) when the review clearly states that the piece in question includes a likeness of Rick Lowe that has been purposely obscured. What the reviewer is saying is "Why obscure it?" How is that mean? Sikander's show at Davis gallery was panned in AL 34, long before her "success". To suggest jealousy is downright snide. From a larger standpoint: one of the most important functions of criticism, including Artletter, is to expose the emperor's new clothes. When work is put out there, there's an implicit assumption that it's worthy of being shown and looked at, when in fact so much of it is not. To criticise art is not mean, it's an affirmation that art matters enough to be held to standards. If making art were, as so many seem to think it is, just an idle pastime to amuse the indolent, then, sure, critiquing it would be mean and purposeless. But art is important, dammit! It serves to explain human experience when nothing else could describe it as eloquently. Artwork that is unclear, ineffectual, or merely a vehicle for the artist's pretensions has to be called on! -Delfina Vannucci

Tobin Richter at Brent Gallery					6/28
Tobin Richter's cartoons are funny.Their puerile puns make one groan out loud. The best of the cartoons combine verbal and visual wit. Richter contrasts texts which have one meaning with illustrations which suggest another, punning meaning.  There is an intimate fusion of image and text which is rarely seen in visual art: simple, casual drawings rely on the text to become legible; the text relies on the illustration to make its joke. Each element is nothing without the other, a level of integration which most text/art never even approaches. Despite their obscenity and vulgarity, Richter's jokes are amiable. They satirize, but never denigrate. -B.D.

Bill Davenport at Inman Gallery									6/3
The orderly set up of Davenport's exhibition was a very smart move. A contradiction in a way that seemingly informal works- everything from a ragged blue foam block chiseled by a beaver with pencils, pens, and a seashell to a soft grey die with coral, wrapped carelessly in cellophane. Davenport's sense of humor in his approach to making art is both evident andrefreshing. You can virtually hear him whispering to himself "wouldn't it be neat to do this. . . or. . . that?" and he goes ahead and does it. There is nothing mysterious in the production of any of this work. The most complex technically are the ceramics, which have the look of the self taught. While Davenport may have a deep distaste for the hypocrisy and pretension in more accepted art styles, his sculptures do not send off any of the cynical pontifications of other works superficially like these. What is refreshing is one artist's delight in the things he finds around him and what he can do with them. His sole conceit lies in his elevation of these humble constructs to the status of sculpture. By doing so, he remind us that the grandest ideas are the purest as they emerge from that initial spark and usually get diluted over time and with refinement. This show of raw, simple works constitutes one of the most impressive statements in Houston in a long time.- Paul Francis Forsythe and David Aylsworth

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