The recent Santiago Cucullu show, Cardboard Center for Libertarians, meandered all over this 11th floor space: sticking to windows, unfolding between columns and lapping up on the floor boards.
It seems there’s some held-over inspiration from that exhibit still. Like something in the gallery has been stirring awhile. This dynamic continuum — in short, the essence of movement — is perpetrated in all the pieces at Mix Minds, Barbara Davis Gallery’s present group show. As far as group shows go, this unifying factor is a loose one, but it’s appropriate in its simple and specific verb-age. Mix Minds (verb-plural noun) moves. It’s almost like a command: Mix Minds. Ready . . . go.
Walt Bistline’s Hitchcockian photos exist in the long quiet distances between subject and cameraman. Bistline is a peeper who is hesitant to look but is nonetheless intrigued, and his points of view therefore become partially blocked by the abandoned structures in which (or behind which) he’s hiding. He is a voyeur whose gaze has become a shelter in itself; a refuge that ultimately assumes the most interesting role in the work, which set on South Padre Island.
With a cinematic eye for pacing and the keen ability to render anticipation and suspense-filled dissonance, Stephanie Martz’s ink-on-Mylar compositions exercise her intuitive use of line and negative space. Martz has mastered the horror-film set-up, and here it’s pared down to the most primary elements: doors left ajar, stunted views around a corner and a slow approach towards a doorknob. She’s keen on the aspects of places that seem off-step and confusing – those places where the same spatial qualities eventually lead to more creepy and sinister happenings. Eerie in a more post-traumatic way, Chuck Ramirez’ prints Andrea and Nate zero in on mutilated piñatas with sad, doe eyes.
David Lozano’s Cosmic Crash proposes a sort of materialized homage to Calvin Klein’s 1995 teeny-porn ad campaign, replete with turquoise sequins and custard spills splashed onto faux woodgrain wall paneling. On closer inspection, the resins are carved, or maybe even scratched, into the wood grain. Lozano’s anxious club-kid aesthetic serves as a dance-step diagram for a hyper-suburban rite of spring, or perhaps an ecstasy-fueled foray into first-time fellatio. His darker piece, Vanishing Point, doesn’t match the rigor of the other in terms of color or precision. Designer Chris Ferebee, on the other hand, works in restraint with a perfect sense of balance and circular resolution. His selectively arranged found-junk piece, Myths and Cycles — masking-tape rolls, deep sea sponges and plastic fasteners, each enclosed by separate bell jars — achieves symmetrical meticulousness, weighing equally in color, proportion and residual space. The display is laid out like a curio collection (the kind of spread you might see at some backwoods county fair featuring shrunken heads bobbing in bromide). Although Ferebee’s furniture pieces usually wow as glossy-veneered eye-candy, this smaller one mines a sense of complexity within the banal. Case in point, Heirloom’s intricately metered knots tied into hundreds of feet of fishing line hangs heavy off the wall, like some grande dame’s prized wig.
Spanish painter Zoya Tommy’s happy works on paper thrive as exercises in an additive process. Here Tommy brings her Kool-aid palette of watercolors to bear, and they seem to dictate the forms that we see. As if it’s not under her control anymore, the composition seemingly aligns according to where the lime-popsicle greens and the road-cone oranges want to align. In billowing, hot-plastic cloudscapes, Emilio Perez crams in all the detailed, filigree minutiae he possibly can with a Baroque sense of excess (sans the fat chicks and cherubs). Intricate x-acto cut latex strips layered over pockets of color run in dizzying patterns in Bullet-Proof Nothing, in tune with the deep purples and sparkling golden patches underneath – Kobe might want it for the spot over his couch. Mark Schlesinger’s panels achieve a density of detail similar to Perez’s; but Schlesinger’s jittery glut is one of tactile over-kill, and it’s rewarding to investigate from near or far. Every movement reveals tiny shadows or another material layer; the most surprising in his piece Sublime Lime, where what you might think is a skin-under-a-microscope-pattern is actually Home Depot particle board, caught in frozen temporality beneath a green plexiglass window.
Images courtesy the artists and Barbara Davis Gallery.
Wendy Gilmartin is a writer and designer living in Houston.