Saw the Artadia Reprise show at Diverseworks. Last night, when Francesca got home from the opening, she said that Katy Heinlein said that the show actually made her proud to be a Houston artist. It's only hearsay, but I know what she means — many of the pieces were labeled 2007, and I felt as if I should spend more time making art, and less time writing about it.
I'd seen a lot of the work before, which made this show an interesting opportunity to re-evaluate things in a new context.
I tried a new technique — immediately after looking at the show I sat in my truck and dictated my impressions into the $5 mini-cassette recorder I got off ebay. I allotted myself five minutes; because I don't want to listen to myself talk for much longer than that. It took ten minutes, but I think I mentioned every piece in the show. I'm home now, waiting for the battery in my camera to recharge, so let's see if I can pound this sucker out before I hit the road again:
Gilad Efrat's moonscape should be first seen from farther away; that would give it's gray uneventful surface a chance to resolve into a photo real moonscape, before your attention was grabbed by that giant ape hung next to it. Both paintings are immaculate, interesting, and very similar but, side by side, you can't beat a monkey.
Jamal Cyrus wins as the best individual artist of the Otabenga Jones guys. Two found object pieces in the front space weave humor, African-American consciousness, and an edgy, dirty junk-sculpture style into thought-provoking combines that go beyond simple black/white, high/low dualities. In A Piece of the Sargasso Sea, a brain coral that by chance or design actually looks like a brain is perched on a hi-hat cymbal stand above a stack of LP records. Push the pedal, and the brain bops up and down with the discs.
Rachel Hecker has some knockout pieces, as usual. The paintings are very straightforward pop, big immaculate copies of a peppermint air freshener, a phone message form, and a partially used sheet of garage sale price stickers. But her best piece was sculpture: o.k. Matches, giant handmade kitchen matches arranged on the wall to form a crude OK. They're burnt, which is OK, like a smoking gun. Even crowding them all together in one corner didn't diminish my enjoyment of what could have been most of a really good solo show.
I was pleased to see Joseph Wooten's collage on canvas pieces; he seems to be finding a way to give his haphazard drawings more weight and presence. The largest piece, elaborately titled "For the good of the empire you are all fools. While I am stuck here at the bottom of the world", was his best, a complicated, idiosyncratic clutter of pencil, cut paper and paint, though I suspect Wooten of a fashionable taste in imagery. In the past two weeks I've seen sailing ships and tiny skulls in the work of a couple of other youngish artists.
For some reason, Dan Fabian chose to put some of his most forgettable work in the show. Instead of the sasquatch-suit photo opportunity he did in San Antonio, or the fascinatingly obtuse web project made from it, or the odd attenuated palm trees built like architectural models, or his offbeat pen drawings, he put in these. That man needs a gallery to tell him what to do.
The best of Demetrius Oliver's photos was Seminole (in which he drapes bacon over his head).
(TO BE CONTINUED . . .)