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Donna Huanca (and friends) at Women and Their Work

Secret Museum Of Mankind
I don’t understand what happened at Donna Huanca‘s Women and Their
show, Secret Museum of Mankind. I arrived at the gallery half an
hour before the opening, and up until opening time, there was still a
mad scramble in the space to get shit done. When I walked in, the paint
was (literally) still dripping. Also, this solo show somehow turned
into a three person outing. The unsubstantiated word on the street is
that Huanca just couldn’t get it together in time and called up
her two
co-creators, Lizzie Wetzel and some dude called owleyes (?) to help
her fill the gallery (EDIT: check the comments for the real version, direct from "Donna Huanca’s management team"). I can understand it if that was the case,
Women and Their Work is a pretty large space.
Huanca's dog

I should really congratulate W&TW for being one of the most daring
galleries in town. It seems like every other show there runs on
ambition. Despite the somewhat boring name, in the past year or two
it’s become one of the most exciting spaces in town. Some of their
shows miss the mark, but hey, at least they’re trying to stay
interesting, which is more than most spaces in this town can claim.

I really hate writing descriptions of shows, so if you want one, here’s
a highly descriptive review
by Amanda Douberly for the Austin Chronicle that pretty much
covers it.

Huanca's diorama

Huanca’s work was interesting. I liked the way she constructed the
figures in her diorama and the way she used textiles. It’s smart. I’m
not crazy about it but I can respect it. She probably should try to
edit her work a bit more. It’s a classic example of the law of
diminishing returns. I think next time she has a show, she should
consider her choice of crutches better (that is, if the rumors have any
validity to them whatsoever).

Wetzel's altar
It’s sort of a shame that Lizzie Wetzel wasn’t "officially" credited
for her work in "Secret Museum of Mankind" because her work stole the
damn show. She can count me as one of her huge fans. I <3 her work.
If I were to draft up a list of my top 10 artists living in Texas under
50, she would certainly be in there somewhere. I’m completely
fascinated by her witchcraft voodoo rave aesthetics, her sense of
color, her materials and the seriousness and care she displays in her
Tower of skulls
I wasn’t really sure where Owl Eyes (still impossible to Google!) fit in or what he did for the show. (Ed: He has a show at ArtStorm opening January 19th! And i still can’t tell which part of the collaboration was his!)
an offering to the black hole

To conclude, go see this show. it’s totally worth it. If you have back
problems, you might have a hard time actually entering the gallery, but
I won’t go into that. Mystery can be a good incentive. (Ed. but then again, what do I know? I’m not even familiar with lazer eggs…)

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3 Responses

  1. tobrienwriter

    I just talked at length with Lizzie last night (at Angstrom’s resurrection) about her performance at the opening, which sounded incredible. She’s great, but I fear we’re about to lose her to New York. Happily, we’re lucky enough to own a couple of her pieces to remember her by!

  2. dirtysands

    Sir, You are misinformed.

    I am part of Donna Huanca’s management team, and as such, it is my beholden duty to disabuse you of a few misbegotten notions.

    First of all, it is in no way true that Ms Huanca could not ‘get it together’ as you say. She had it together and then she in turn took it apart with the help of her collaborators. You make her seem like some kind of “Britney Spear” or “Linseed Lohan” whereas she is more akin to the Winchester Cathedral or the “Harlem Globetrotter” of having it together.

    Suffice it to say, you could learn a lot about working from working around Donna Huanca. She has a keen eye for the rising talent, as was made manifest by her decision to enlist the aid of various friends. More to the point, Lizzie Wetzel is a sharp shooter. Learn how to shoot sharp before you resume sniping, dear sir, and the world will thank you for it.

    Furthermore, Owleyes is a respected, albeit, exceedingly private artist in his own right. In fact, he has a solo show opening tonight at Artstorm Houston that Bill Davenport mentioned a few months ago.

    Have you ever heard of lazer eggs? No, I thought not.

    Lastly, please bring yourself up to speed with your understanding of our legal system. Diminishing Returns has been overturned at both the state and the federal level.

    Seasons Greetings!

    Ted Sands

  3. Wrosshirt

    Rave and Voodoo aesthetics aside, I still have a pounding headache from this opening, and I’m not allergic to incense. Of the four lackluster openings advertised on Glasstire that night Huanca’s show was definitely the most memorable. Let here understand that memory is a biological adaptation for storing information enabling the holder to avoid dangerous pitfalls and recognize potential signs of impending predation. I don’t mean to come off half cocked on this, and I’ve certainly been to worse showings, but there is an expectation, which by now should be laughable, that a space with an ostensibly prestigious reputation would find a way to show work a touch less evocative of a coloring book filled in by a frustrated fourth grader. Granted, we are in the midst of this Post Modern period (or are we Post Post Modern?), and so must righteously elevate chunks of felt to the status of High Art, but hmmmm…, must we? I know that skill and talent are supposed to be cliché in these enlightened times, but can we meet somewhere in the middle (while cutting out the dregs so that average is at least palatable)?

    It seems I’ve missed the boat, and while I’ve been sniffing around for three dollars worth of quarters and a payphone to put them in, Art as a concept has become merely a backdrop for a ridiculous party, and in this case a shabbily constructed backdrop for a party on par with a funeral march. More free wine please!

    I am being harsh. This rant isn’t entirely directed at this show or even the Austin scene in general. There are just as many polished turds opening up in Dallas and Seattle and New York. Standards of artistic production are dismal everywhere and it is exceedingly difficult to find artists who can successfully combine talent and skill with intelligence and dignity, and who even looks for integrity? Truthfully though, and without exaggeration, five minutes is all I could take in this installation setting, so I took ten and left with a mild headache for what turned out to be a few bright spots among smudges at Mt. Okay. Can we stop glorifying (dignifying) mediocrity so we can get to the good stuff?

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