Once again the promise of art (and free wine) lured us out into the galleries of Dallas. Most are clustered in the design district, with 500x across town in Deep Ellum. With the latest hours, many from the other galleries also end the night there.
But first we entered Conduit Gallery where Erin Curtis’ textile inspired works instills nuances within bold patterns and colors. In “Keys”, the jazzy arrangement of interlocked “keys” not only negates the notion of negative space but also creates a strong architectural solidity. In “Speed Park, New York, NY,” the intrinsic naturalism through a strong linear perspective of urban street scenes is broken down by grids of patterns, stripes and color patches, echoing each other like a puzzled picture to be re-organized through minds. Ludwig Schwarz’ new works involve sculptures in floral forms of a large scale. Some petals are wrapped with varnished magazine paper. Eric’s favorite is a painting that seems like a wallpaper with damask pattern, except when viewed closely, these patterns are actually carved or sculpted to project real three dimensionality.
At Holly Johnson Gallery, William Betts’ new paintings are representational landscapes, but in the digital age. Through software and computer-controlled tools, he drilled Plexiglas mirrors to create a pixelated images. The original images range from photos which he took through a film camera in the 1980s to something recently captured on his iPhone. (In either case, the granularity of the picture quality seems to work favorably to the overall effect.) When they were projected and transformed into something four by six feet, the paintings force viewers to step back to comprehend the succinct visual elements and re-create the details that have been lost among the limited gray scale. I was told during the day the pictures totally disappeared because the strong light makes them much like a regular mirror. But at night, they resurface with ghostly silhouettes and ambiguous forms. I had to walk back and force or walk toward certain angle to recognize the elements captured in these paintings. This for sure brings the light effect on paintings to the maximum exposure.
Even though it was raining hard, the turn-out was great. However, in some galleries, we were puzzled that almost no one was looking at art. They were all busy standing in the middle and socializing. That was not the case in the Craighead Green Gallery where Chris Mason’s group of figurative wired sculptures caught the attention of everyone who entered the door. Mason states that “the two biggest influences on my work have been High Renaissance Figurative art and comic books.” The influence can be seen in the poses and gestures of the figures. A few do remind viewers of Roman statues, but most smaller ones, especially those climbing the wall, are more or less leaning toward themes in the popular culture. If such gestural figures of climbing poles make one smile, the fact that he is using the aluminum wire, something profoundly perceived as industrial, gives masculinity and coolness to the works. Many works, when hanging on the wall, cast beautiful long shadows. The fuzzy, grayish, larger than life shadow reveals what we may not have seen through the comical small figures of shiny wires – whether it is about tender or romance, the display was certainly successfully. A dozen or so red dots marked the wall.
At Cris Worley Gallery, Paul Manes’ recent works utilize strong patterns and textures that border in breaking down the representational nature into abstract. “In the Heat of Night” was Eric’s favorite painting of the evening. In “Djinn” and “Canto”, he flattened the space by choosing a close up cropped composition of stacked bowls. The ellipse and lune shapes emerged with spacial depth from his great artistic facility. His brush strokes render forms with great efficiency and his choice of colors and values help volume perceived within a very narrow range of tonality. Were there no dripping white paint that sways pictures away from naturalism a little bit, these pictures could easily confuse viewers as from the impressionism era.
Galleri Urbane featured Forrest Solis’ solo exhibition. “Self and Sex Series: What a Young Woman Ought To Know” is a series of paintings that juxtapose realistic portraiture with illustration and annotated quotes. The quotes are from the book Commendation From Eminent Men And Women – What a Young Woman Ought To Know while illustrations are from the book Yourself and Your House Wonderful. Some quotes were hilarious. For example, one recommends that “a good deal of exercise may be obtained in housework, and in conducted with pleasure in the work, may be a great physical advantage.” Yet the echoing image of a modern young girl scrubbing the floor on the right side clearly made the point that such Victorian-era influence (the book was published in the 19th century) has certainly passed the feminist movement and still resonates with the elder and reaches deeply into the psyche’s of many young women and their own self-identification.
We ended our gallery crawl in Deep Ellum. 500X featured an opening for a juried show. It was so crowded that one would thought he had mistakenly stepped into a dancing bar. Check our video to get a sense of the vibe!