Abandonment and Oceanic Futures: Beauty and Dread in Dallas

by William Sarradet June 7, 2024
A painting of a blonde women on the floor, holding onto the ankles of another woman that is standing.

Kelli Vance, “A Certain Encounter,” 2024, oil on linen, 36 x 48 inches

A painting of a blonde woman laying face-down with her hair being cut by red scissors.

Kelli Vance, “Self Sabotage,” 2024, oil on linen, 30 x 40 inches

Kelli Vance: Don’t Abandon Me at Cris Worley Fine Arts, May 11 – June 15, 2024

Kelli Vance’s exhibition Don’t Abandon Me offers a captivating and unsettling exploration of female figures in intimate settings. Vance’s deceptively realistic and wash-like painting style captures close-up, anonymized figures with a striking lack of detail, even in elements like their hair. The highlights in their jewelry — pearls and other baubles — catch the eye, revealing slight peaks that lift from the painting’s surface.

The figures, often topless but usually adorned with lace and jewels, tumble over one another in boudoirs and bathrooms. These women obsess over one another in scenes imbued with a sense of quiet tension and underlying anxiety. 

Vance’s paintings, described in the press release as taking “Lynchian dread a step further,” evoke the eerie atmospheres of films like Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive. The women’s faces are obscured, reflecting a sense of deprivation of self, while their circumstances are rendered with sharp focus. The narratives within these paintings are rich with decadent detail and photographic refinement, yet the works vibrate with an ineffable anxiety.

The exhibition oscillates between admiration for the subjects’ elegance and seductiveness and a deep apprehension about their fates. Vance’s women appear in control and poised, waiting for something sublime, pedestrian, or terrifying to arrive. This tension between beauty and dread creates a powerful and layered viewing experience.

Don’t Abandon Me is a masterful display of Vance’s ability to merge high glamor with a pervasive sense of unease. The result is a series of paintings that are as gorgeous as they are unsettling, inviting viewers to navigate the fine line between admiration and apprehension.


An image of an audio-sculpture by Miguel Sbastida installed inside a wooden shed, comprised of shaped iron rods, audio cables, and speakers.

Installation view of “Future Reefs” by Miguel Sbastida at The Power Station in Dallas.

An image of an audio-sculpture by Miguel Sbastida installed inside a wooden shed, comprised of shaped iron rods, audio cables, and speakers.

Installation view of “Future Reefs” by Miguel Sbastida at The Power Station in Dallas.

Miguel Sbastida, Future Reefs at The Power Station, April 3 – June 21, 2024 

Miguel Sbastida’s exhibition at The Power Station, organized by Picnic Curatorial Projects, offers a captivating exploration of the intersection between art, nature, and technology.

Sbastida’s sculptures, housed within a Japanese tea shed, exude an organic materiality that invites viewers into a realm of sensory immersion. The artist’s fascination with adaptation is palpable, as modular sculptures morph and evolve to new shapes, creating an intimate relationship between artwork and viewer.

“Sound is the main,” Sbastida told me about his immersive installation, where audio recordings from a coral reef off the coast of Galveston transport viewers into the depths of the aquatic biome. Through sound mapping and filtration, Sbastida reveals the complex interdependencies of post-natural ecologies, blurring the lines between natural and artificial, human and other.

The sculptures came alive under the moonlight, as was the case during the nighttime opening reception, mirroring the spawning of coral reefs with mesmerizing blue lights. Sbastida’s keen attention to detail extends beyond the visual realm, as microphones capture the sounds of reeds degrading and evolving, echoing the future of coral reefs and the impact of acoustic enrichment technologies.

With industrial materials like steel rods and amplifiers, Sbastida explores the morphology of coral and the symbiotic relationships that define our changing world. As viewers navigate through the exhibition, they are confronted with the fragility of ecosystems and the urgent need for ecological stewardship.


William Sarradet is the Assistant Editor for Glasstire.

Correction June 8, 2024: A previous version of this article misnamed and noted incorrect run dates for Kelli Vance’s exhibition at Cris Worley Fine Arts. The error has been corrected. 

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