Monthly Archives: December 2013

HAPPY HOLIDAYS – 2013

Wishing you a lovely and blessed Holiday Season.

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Archived Review: Ann Stautberg and Richard Serra at Barry Whistler

Originally published in The Dallas Morning News

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Barry Whistler Gallery has paired two very different artists to good effect. Ann Stautberg’s moonlit photographs ping nicely against the hard edges of Richard Serra’s etchings.

Her handling of chiaroscuro is intriguing because it intimates mystery and portent. Barely discernible trees and buildings are dreamily outlined by the moon or mysterious orbs — and if you’ve ever experienced the magic of car taillights on curved roads, this is an exhibition for you. Like the depicted telephone wires in her photographs — hand-painted with oils — distance is spanned. 9-23-11, PM makes you traverse space and do a bit of work to fill in gaps. You’re likely to find yourself wondering about destinations or narratives invoked by her images. In her capable hands, even asphalt is transfigured — no small feat.

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Meanwhile, Richard Serra has seven etchings on view that show us a different kind of (internal) landscape. They’re forceful and large — and decidedly unnerving since they’re a mashup of NASCAR tracks and Zen head-boilers. Path and Edges #13, created in 2007, has a decidedly Japanese ambience. The edges are mottled and vaguely leafy, but the interior arc invokes all the fragility of a steel-belted radial tire. It’s a collision of delicacy and a power play for your consciousness.

Serra’s etchings magically convey the same heft as his huge sculptures done in metal. They’re smudged and beautiful and moving, in that they create genuine velocity. However, unlike Stautberg’s art, Serra’s roars with musculature and feels like a series of strolls in a brightly lighted space — even if it’s the interior of your own noggin.

Archived Review: “Word Spirit” — Chaco Terada at The Crow Collection

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[Apologies for the poor quality of the jpgs shown.]

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Observation:

Many times it seems as if people don’t know what to make of artwork until they see a price tag.

The prices for her work are ludicrous.

The same is true, by the way, of John Kingerlee.

His work sells for 7k to around 70k. Add a zero and people would be far more interested.

It’s a marketing error. The fault lies with method of valuation rather than with the art.

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WORD SPIRIT: CALLIGRAPHY, PAINTINGS, AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHACO TERADA

There may be larger exhibitions at the Crow Collection but none will expand your heart more than the works of Chaco Terada. She chose the word “Kotodama” as the title for her small but infinitely impressive show. The name is derived from a combination of Japanese words for “speech” and “soul” and pays homage to her native culture’s notion that spiritual power lives in language. Sometimes this “language power” is called upon to harmonize mind and body to focus upon a specific task; thus, there arises a “spirit meeting.” In her exquisite exhibition, there’s not only a meeting of forces between the artist and the page – there’s also a beautifully attenuated meeting that occurs between her work and the viewer. Terada conveys her own sense of “qi” with nuanced elegance and terrific power.

“Woman of Red Lily V” is a case in point. It’s a beautifully blurred dance, a tiny bit of pinkish wind and quick gesture that makes for a pulse-quickening experience. While it may be meant as an exploration of the spiritual power of words, it expands into a reminder of the old adage that “it’s the soft things that break your bones.” It’s lovely.

Terada learned calligraphy from her father, a renowned Japanese calligrapher who chose to teach her with silence rather than with words. He asked that she watch his gestures, sense his speed and hesitation and understand the nuanced pressure of a brush on paper. More importantly, he taught her to apply her own “tama” or “qi” so that she would produce work that was profoundly revelatory and a “language of the heart.” Well, that’s exactly what Terada has accomplished and it’s so sublimely subtle and gorgeous that it’s nearly impossible to bear.

While her calligraphy is stunning, she also brings her marvelously honed sensibility to works in paper and silk. Her photographs, including “White Dream,” are beautifully somnambulistic and are produced on layers of silk. The effect is the visual equivalent of perfect pitch. It’s astonishingly delicate and manages to convey movement. To compare it to lenticular printing would be analogous to talking about oil drills in lieu of surgical implements — but it does give the impression of movement, just as lenticular printing does in a far more coarse way. This is fine work. It’s so pleasurable to behold that it’s nothing short of a privilege to view it. “Gates V” is another exercise in oneiric wanderings. Go ahead. Let yourself go. I, for one, would happily take up residence in Ms. Terada’s twilight world on a permanent basis. Why exit so much loveliness?

Archived Review – Stripped: Neo-Minimal Strategies in Contemporary Art

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Marty Walker’s recent exhibit assembles an array of talent and diverse media that handily shows us some new terrain. However, I suspect two pieces are especially worthy of your time and attention. One is “Four Corners” by Anna Krachey – a luridly brilliant abstract photograph of magenta and cerulean that is shot through with an India-ink blue. It’s an inkjet print on archival paper that, interestingly, displays a faux matte that, literally, makes one do a double take. It’s reminiscent of vivid summers and cocktails and makes one glad to be above ground and imbibing luscious colors.

Secondly, Tom Orr’s “Flow” is definitely one to watch. Literally. This sculptural piece constructed of aluminum rods and wood evokes [e]motion and, if you stand to one side, it will elicit memories of vacation-y isles and watery landscapes. But it’s all pared back. “Strategies” is an apt name since it’s all rather cerebral stuff. This is art not “of” things but “about” them. It’s Fantasy Land for thinking people — and it’s worth expending some effort. However, I suggest you unpack it somewhere to the left of your sternum, in the region near your heart. That being said, if you’re into still life images of mums, pass this one by.

Archived Review: “Obstacles” – Eric Sall

It’s bright.  It’s fun. And it’s terrific art.

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Mary Walker’s Gallery has a newly found intimacy I find engaging.  Her current exhibit, works by Brooklyn resident Eric Sall, is small but impressive and reminds us yet again that nicely executed art possesses the glorious capacity to make us new if we simply grant it ingress.

Not only is the gallery pleasant — Mr. Sall is something of a novelty.  He is as brightly engaging as his work and he’s happy to tell you about his “process of thinking” as well as the manner in which he approaches his oil-on-canvas paintings.  Mr. Sall greets you squarely and exhibits the clear glance of an extremely gifted, well-adjusted child.  He speaks enthusiastically about the focal point of his life — painting — and describes it in lyric detail as a process of accretion.  He begins with photography and drawings — and a rather long period of rumination. Things merge and coalesce and what subsequently unfurls in an intricate linear progression with some delightful results. Ultimately, we’re greeted with spirited confetti such as Abstract 1, 2009  — pink and blue stripes festooned with a looping and strident black.

This marvelous work is reminiscent of tents on beaches in the South of France or summer parasols under which one imbibes drinks with wide lime wedges.  Au fond, this is art that is thoroughly enjoyable.  Yet one need not feel guilty feeling more pleasure than angst while looking at (gasp) art.   It’s okay to not have your serotonin level drop like stones in a burlap sack and leave a gallery without feeling awash in anomie.  I suspect Sall manages to make the same synapses fire that are ignited by, say, Miro.  That’s no small feat and I laud him for it.