Last Thursday I made the trek from Fort Worth to Dallas to see Seedlings: Nature. Industry. Productivity. at The Dallas Contemporary. Having been out of town last fall I missed the official opening of its new space and I have to admit I hadn’t found a reason to visit the Contemporary since I’ve been back. Perhaps I was afraid of being disappointed? Perhaps it was because I hadn’t heard much that could get me in the doors (no air conditioning, $10 cover charge, artists and curators being accosted by an aggressive microphone, not scheduling openings with other galleries in the Design District, etc…) Perhaps I was waiting for the changing of the guard to take place and a chance to welcome the new director whomever that may be… In the end I decided to go see Seedlings on the promise of the press release and the reputation of the artists including David Brooks, Lucy Raven, and Jedediah Caesar whose work I first saw at the Hammer in the THING exhibition a few years back. I did find some nice work, but the show’s layout and the lighting left much to be desired.
Curated by New York- based Regine Basha SEEDLINGS is a mixed bag mostly because of how the work is swallowed up by the space. All 9 artists’ works in the exhibition address the environment and society’s relationship to nature, industry, and productivity. Basha says its not so much about environmental issues as it is about our place in
the natural world and how humans relate to nature.
Jessica Halonen ‘s delicate gouache on paper portraits of plant-based drugs "Rx Garden" are meant to explore the relationships
between body, nature and the medical world by looking at genetically modified plants in the pharmaceutical industry. Her "Sticky Ends" sculpture was a particular favorite of mine. A fragile lattice of sticks endlessly transitioned and spliced with patches of pastel color. Unfortunately it was placed precariously on top of a white pedestal (not the wooden one shown in the photo) that not only seemed too small, but also left it abandoned and unlit in the middle of an expansive space without a wall or a proper base to ground it.
On Saturday I hit the Design District once again. First Conduit Gallery , then Marty Walker Gallery with works by Buster Graybill and Jesse Morgan Barnett that caught my eye. Interestingly the exhibitions theme also had to do with nature and the enviroment but coming from a different angle. According to the press release "With a lot of recent attention on global warming and religious fanatical end-of-world warnings, these artists confront the roles of agriculture, technology, and industrialism in a society left without humans."
Buster Graybill’s "Tush Hog Surveillance" stills and his sculpture were made while he was a resident at ARTPACE this Spring. Directly entering the gallery you encounter his three-dimensional dodecahedrons constructed from standard pig troughs. They transform into futuristic looking machines that dispense corn and get pushed around by the animals captured in Graybill’s inkjet photo stills.
Next I was off to Holly Johnson Gallery to see INK, inc. There were several stand outs which included Ernesto Caivano’s "A Certain Angle Reveals the Layer and Pulls the Screen (Little Act of Companionship)". A small drawing that hints at the large scale work Caivano is known for. It felt more like a sketch for one of his larger works but was beautifully rendered none-the-less. And of course I have to mention one of my absolute favorite artists in the DFW area – M and his "The Arrival Of Hermes". From the first time I saw M’s work at Road Agent where we showed together I couldn’t get enough and it is even better in person. Obsessive and precise each drawing is filled with an epic tale that unfolds slowly with every line of ink put to paper. Both of his drawings in this show are quite beautiful and sweetly melancholy. They and INK, inc. are a must see.
Last but not least I want to plug the project space over at Mighty Fine Arts Gallery. Opening this weekend is C.J. Davis and Michael Mazurek — INSTALL FOR THE MASSES, a collaborative installation that is being built as we speak. There is so much to see in Dallas. This Saturday make a day of it looking at the shows that have already opened, including Rachel Whiteread at the Nasher and Luc Tuymans at the DMA , then end the night in Oak Cliff at the MFA opening and grab a taco for me while you arer there!