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This next week is your last chance to see Elaine Bradford and Seth Mittag‘s really top-quality show FICTITIOUS REALITIES / REALISTIC FICTIONS at Art Palace.
Elaine Bradford's squirrel planets

Bradford’s work has been so visually and
conceptually strong for the past 2-3 years that I was very curious to
see how she would evolve as an artist. I never saw this coming.
Bradford steered clear of the easy way out – larger scale, bigger game
– and instead has gone small, focusing on interior worlds and
(SHOCKINGLY) narratives for her quadre of taxidermied squirrels (and
fellow Sciuridae). There’s even a stop-motion video, co-created with
David Waddell and Teresa O’Connor! The video provides a storyline to
the assemblages of planets and squirrels Bradford created for the show,
imbuing the pretty displays with an epic quality that might not have
been evident otherwise. It’s very interesting to see artists
collaborating in this way, across media (even if the strict division of
media is totally boring and we’re all so over it these days), to help
birth a shift in an artist’s work, as it seems happened in this case.
Seth Mittag's Loss, Collection and Search for the Archetype, 2008

Seth Mittag’s mixed media sculptural works are interesting in a
different way, though they also invoke a very vivid storyline. They
remind of Fischer Price play sets, designed to teach kids how to
become good consumer/work drones, like the tiny cash register set, or a
tiny McDonalds
. However, Mittag’s constructed scenes littered with
conspicuously poignant trash, like empty bottles, cigarette butts,
piles of VHS tapes, etc., exude a very personal sense of heavy
melancholy and drunken loss not especially present in Fisher Price’s

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5 Responses

  1. Pat

    I do not even have to see this show to know what will be in it. Why are you promoting artists such a Bradford who are in a rut they are too lazy to get out of? There are so many artists who challenge themselves, take risks, truly evolve.

  2. Ivan L

    Well Pat, I report on it because (a) I feel like it, and (b) because despite your pessimism about Bardford’s work, this show is a very big step forward in her work, a really smart and labor-intensive conceptual evolution in her work. Too bad you didn’t challenge your preconceptions or take a risk with this show, you really missed out.

    Furthermore, I promote artists such as Bradford because I think she’s one of the most interesting artists in Texas right now and Art Palace is in the top 3 galleries for contemporary art in Austin.

    Lastly, I have a hard time caring if artists challenge themselves, take risks or truly evolve, as long as the work challenges me, the work takes risks and the work truly evolves. Those two things are very different, and a big reason some people have careers and some just dabble.

  3. Ivan L

    Pat, virtually the same show as what? Bradfor’d Women and their Work Show, or her Okay Mountain show, or her Lawndale show, or something else?
    And perhaps you’re right about the “accounting for taste” part. As much as I enjoy seeing new things and new art, I also really enjoy seeing artists grow. I certainly wasn’t expecting Bradford to do color field paintings or social sculpture…

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