Quilt Journeys: Pattern, January 30–July 24, 2021 and Dwelling: Experiences of Shelter, March 27–September 4, 2021, at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art.
Quilts, prints and sculpture tell the stories of pandemic isolation in Texoma, the broad regionality of far North Texas, near the Oklahoma border. The Wichita Falls Museum of Art is not a historical museum per se, but it benefits from the research resources of Midwestern State University, the parent institution of the museum in the same city. Jessica Calderwood’s enameled metal miniatures were developed as maquettes for larger works, until she realized that they made perfect sense as parables for all the time spent stuck: inside, between and on the way to the other side of loneliness.
Missy Burton: I Am Woman at Msanii HOUS Fine Art, June 4–26, 2021
Burton’s photos are paired with poems that flesh out the pictorial narratives of her photographs. The artist works with models of all kinds, but the subject matter is rooted in the artist’s family legacy. Generations of Burton’s family are honored in portraits arranged in a built-in wall shelf. Msanii HOUS Fine Art, founded in November 2019, is her flagship space. Earlier this year, she exhibited at the African American Museum in Dallas, in her solo exhibition Dynasty: The Peculiar Search for Totality, and as part of the group show Tears: Weaponized, Devalued, Reconciled? at the same institution. The reception included the announcement of Burton’s upcoming book I AM WOMAN: Ode to the Female Essence. This body of work will travel, she assures me, amid congratulations from friends and locals. Artists interested in exhibiting with the gallery are welcome to send submissions through the gallery’s web site.
Jules Buck Jones: The Sea, Eventually at Conduit Gallery, May 22–July 3, 2021
Jones, a steady member of Conduit Gallery‘s roster, has rendered his southern and western fauna in yet another format. Working with a fabricator, the artist has rejected the standard rectilinear frame of “fine art,” opting instead for grassy fronds to envelop his myriad wild friends. His watercolor and Sumi ink animals are back in grand paper panels, but there’s yet another innovation: Jones has begun to saw off the negative space of some works, which are painted on wood panel. Sugar-sweet magentas, blues and greens dance on the highlights of rippling swamp waters, and trace along the walls they hang on. This is a welcome evolution of Jones’ work — it’s sturdy but freewheeling.
Clint Bargers: Born Too Late at PRP, June 5–July 3, 2021
The exhibition statement for this show cites music journalism that evaluates the highly regarded Born Too Late album by American doom metal band Saint Vitus. Here, Saint Vitus as a subject is meant to be understood as beloved, yet tormented. Metal in all its categories sells power as a problem, like a barking dog requesting sympathy. (One could say it’s not my bag.) You don’t have to listen to these sculptures, but if you did, they would tell you that their ferrous sheen is really ceramic. Bargers has taken found objects and roughed them up a bit, and yet they look sparkling in PRP‘s Trinity Groves gallery. Greg Meza curated the show, and continues to program exhibitions at PRP through September.
Oshay Green: We Don’t Die, We Multiply at And Now Gallery, May 22–June 26, 2021
I recently watched Michel Franco’s gristly New Order (2020), in which a social revolt grips Mexico and shakes the humanity out of its people. The film prognosticates the tensions of the current day, and the exhibition statement for this show succinctly agrees: “Outside, there are roars of revolt.” Green, however, is not pulling from cinema to make his metallic war objects. He references the jazz drummer Art Blakey and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders for their contributions to the sound of unrest and agitation. There is a rich dynamic between the pieces of armor that Green has placed in the gallery, and the rhythms they would make if banged against each other.
Ruth Orkin: A Centennial Celebration and New Work by Gallery Artists at PDNB Gallery, June 5–August 14, 2021
Photographs may not bend, but they still shred in PDNB’s grand opening of its new space at the River Bend complex in the Greater Design District neighborhood. The sculptural work in the rear hall of the gallery is not a gimmick of contemporary schmaltz. “It was way before Banksy,” says PDNB’s co-director Missy Finger. The piece is a collaboration between Missy and gallery co-director Burt Finger, produced in the ’90s for a group exhibition of regional artists working in photography. It has traveled with the gallery over the years, and now sits in jealous audience of the various intact works on view, such as this exquisite photo of Marian Anderson and Leonard Bernstein by Ruth Orkin.
John Miranda: Movidas: New Work at Cluley Projects, May 21–June 26, 2021
Miranda’s use of rasquachismo, an aesthetic theory developed by Chicano scholar Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, in Miranda’s first commercial gallery show reveals the inevitable meeting point of necessity and temperance. Rasquachismo is, etymologically, the essence of the rasquache, which is a reclaimed derogative term that references the resourcefulness of the Mexican and Chicano working classes. During my visit to the gallery, Miranda said that his interpretation of this theory is not some heady line of art theory; it is instead rooted in an unarticulable essence. On view are wall paintings and floor sculptures, treated with encaustic. Miranda draws on his sculptures and sculpts on his paintings in such an expert fashion that the two disparate disciplines in his work could easily warrant their own shows.
On Screen / Off Screen: Contemporary Painting and Technology at Barry Whistler Gallery, June 5–July 31, 2021
“They could not exist without me making a drawing or a dry point or a painting, and working with actual materials. These exist because of that reality,” says Lorraine Tady of her works currently on view at Barry Whistler Gallery. Along with Liz Trosper and Kate Petley, Tady’s paintings and prints emblemize the gallery’s dedication to artists threading the needle along the delicate border of more traditional art and new media work. Though Tady’s printed paintings give every opportunity to be evaluated from a digital perspective, she is readily descriptive of how they require the hand to begin. Some lines that appear digital are actually derived from hand-applied pigment, and vice versa. Her studio may require virtual space, but that doesn’t clean it of the messiness that is the creative process.
Tady is so enamored with the strategies employed in diagrammatic drawing that it occurred to me to ask her opinion of the Voyager Golden Record, an artifact designed by a NASA committee and Carl Sagan. The record features a drawing boiled down to the barest set of lines, meant to communicate details about life on Earth to any extra-terrestrials who might come across it after it was launched into space on both Voyager spacecraft in 1977.
She responds: “It’s not my song, but I understand the infographics ability to communicate drawing as a language.”
Raul Rodriguez: Marine Park and Jose Villalobos: Por Maricón, at the Latino Cultural Center, June 4–July 24, 2021
Rodriguez is taking photos at a Fort Worth skate park, and the subject is both the place and the people. Skate photography is a special kind of action photography, where precise positioning and shutter speed are paramount. Rodriguez has taken on a more delicate approach to capturing the nature of this place, and the people who activate its public square.
Skate parks turn gravity into swift movement, but Rodriguez steps back to get a wider view. Rodriguez’s practice goes beyond his own photography: he has a publishing arm by the name of Deep Red Press, where the artist posts interviews and features on artists working across the state, like Drew Ducote of San Marcos, Hope Mora of Pecos, and Ciara Elle Bryant in Dallas.
Villalobos has sculpted in the realm of masculine obligations, and he has lots of room to set it up on the walls and the floor of the Center. Here, mixed-media wall pieces print people over tabulated scores on the Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI), a coda for evaluating an individual’s location on the gender continuum. Flaming boots flicker in a video work along the entry wall, and crumbled plaster makes its own statement on the floor. Villalobos has brought a robust assembly of queer evaluations to Dallas.
Factory Settings at The Power Station, June 12–August 21, 2021
Office furniture is an elegant way to frame risograph prints, and SooMi Han displays her curatorial prowess again, following her curatorial debut at SMU’s Pollock Gallery last year. For that show, she curated internet-famous meme collective Bttm Text of Atlanta, and carried the task of finding a creative way to exhibit the digital excreta of internet pictures. Printing the work via risograph was the solution, an apt choice because of the printing medium’s ability to produce vibrant color output in the technology’s unique dot matrix.
She’s selected a group of AAPI artists and printed their contributions by way of the Riso Bar, which is a print collective that operated out of the Pollock’s space for the past year. Riso Bar is now disbanded, but the various players are not out of the game. Han has formed Swim Club 수영 클럽, which is co-facilitated by The Power Station’s Gregory Ruppe. Dallas’ Taro Waggoner, a street-style publishing power in his own right (along with creative partner Mylan Nguyen), is featured here among international Asian artists and illustrators. Cindie Xin contributed a musical performance via video feed which ordained the opening.
Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, June 20–October 10, 2021
I was curious if I could feel anything from these galleries featuring an artist whose subject is the humble line. Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, provided a tour on June 17, and gave background on the retrospective featuring five decades of Scully’s work. The show is easy to enjoy. The exhibition begins with fantastic, massive paintings that reveal the artist’s gift for color and dimension. Later series reveal his studio watercolors, his precise prints, his expressive pastels, and many interlocking conversations between these various modes. I tend toward images with representational narratives, but every so often, a good artist will remind me that paint can be its own champion.
The Bartlett Project, Downtown Bartlett, June 12–August 21, 2021
The Bartlett Project is Leslie Moody Castro’s way of saying: Austin is growing, let’s meet to negotiate the details. The project is sponsored by Austin’s ICOSA Collective. Castro’s curatorial style is incredibly social, and the lively opening weekend featured artist panels, exhibition open hours, an all-day radio broadcast, and lots of people catching up after a long 16 months of pandemic distancing.
The rural town, an hour northeast of Austin, has a distinct Texas facade to its historic central intersection, which has been the backdrop for films such as The Stars Fell on Henrietta (1995) and Kings of the Evening (2008). This is the era that Bartlett, a very real place with very real overlapping communities, struggles to escape: that of a derelict boomtown upon which myths are built. Castro’s project pulls in participating Texas-based artists, and prods the perception of Bartlett as a city that “was,” and seeks to re-center the story around the place that it currently is. If a place isn’t thriving, that doesn’t mean it is abandoned. In fact, it’s reason for further inquiry into what makes place desirable or undesirable, in Texas and beyond. Castro has a knack for pulling together the right crowd to talk about complex topics.
Aimée Everett’s work consists of newspaper clippings, sewn and collaged in some instances, and left to be perused by hand along a cord they hang from. She also made sure to speak with locals, to understand how they felt about their own unrecorded histories. Mark Menjivar’s pirate radio broadcast includes interviews with residents at the Will-O-Bell nursing home. The art work installed in the empty storefronts along East Clark Street is the product of months of planning and deliberation. The exhibition is viewable by appointment, and you may read about curator Leslie Moody Castro’s journey with the project starting here, via Glasstire.