Keith Varadi's oil paintings have something you can't quite but your finger on. They seem unexpectedly muted and soft. Even the boldest colors have a quiet quality to them.
Overall, they are mostly multicolored paintings full of deliberate marks, busy with abstract splotches and indiscernible forms. Is that a man in Crux Tug? A key? Who can say for sure. They have depth to them, a sense of history.
In this newer work, Ortiz is more invested in a synthetic energy that comes from mixing cultures and artistic genres than past failed revolutions.
There is eeriness to the perfection of the works in Austin artist Jessica Halonen’s new show.
Each of these artists deals with notions of the familiar, such as daily scribbles, cups of coffee, and tools for painting.
While many of the works reference movements and artists who famously fused “high” with “low”—Arte Povera, Warhol, Koons—the show smartly refutes that now haggard binary. Instead, Diaz seems to argue that today such hodgepodging is no longer deviant, but rather suggests a framework for “progress” within free enterprise’s cycles of appropriation and assimilation.
Cruz Ortiz is known to work in wheat paste murals, video, street sculptures, and guerrilla AM radio broadcasts. His latest solo exhibition is just gouache on paper and panel, but that doesn't make it any less quiet. "I Speak Lightning" at David Shelton Gallery is a loud, blaring show. It is full of bold colors, bright text and, yes, more than a few streaks of lightning.
Curator Shane Tolbert brings Ted Gahl, Nathan Hayden and Lane Hagood together for the exhibition. They each have very different styles and sensibilities, but, for purposes of the show, they are united by their exploration of the "idiosyncrasies of daily experience."
With this latest work, Faber continues to toe this line between figurative and abstract art, though it's one that's increasingly getting blurred. There's more guesswork involved and not knowing. That can be challenging, but Faber leaves just enough clues to keep you in the game.
Rich oils and delicate watercolors don the walls of the newly opened David Shelton Gallery. Verdant foliage and cascading waters are juxtaposed against interior scenes. A nude man lounges in a rose colored daybed, looking to the viewer. Joey Fauerso’sInterior addresses us personally and invites us into a softer, symbolic world.
David Shelton Gallery, San Antonio
Through February 11
by Wendy Atwell
Jessica Halonen's series of nine paintings at David Shelton Gallery read like elegant, reductive charts, hinting at a vaguely familiar landscape. The paintings, each named Target, are differentiated by numbers in their titles and muted colors, graphite lines and impressive trompe l'oeil details. Two sculptures, made from twigs arranged into spheres, elaborate on the paintings' subject and colors. The targets evoke the spinning color wheel on a Mac computer, or pairs of chopsticks arrayed in a circle, their tips pointing towards the bull's eye. Yet the pairing and subtle indentations in, for example, the delicate, ampoule shapes of Target 12 (2012) reveal them to be far more complex and relevant than computer programming or chopsticks. The landscape is the microscopic world of chromosomes-actual maps of life itself-containing DNA, protein and genes.
As the title suggests, Halonen's Propagating Uncertainty visually responds to "pharming," the pharmaceutical industry's manipulation of chromosomes to grow proteins with medicinal properties. Halonen's work prompts a dialogue about organisms like the "spider goat" in Quebec, where Nexia Technologies is making silk milk, which, once created in commercial quantities, will be used to create a product called BioSteel, to be used in the medical field and nanotechnology.
Halonen literally represents the etymological origin of the word chromosome, which is composed of the Greek words chroma (color) and some (body). The color's relevance is due to the association with strong dyes that render chromosomes visible. Most of the chromosomes' perimeters, drawn in graphite, remain visible beneath precise painting that evokes the fill-in-the-blanks of a standardized test or sample on a slide. Halonen reinforces this implied manipulation by harvesting colors from pharmaceutical advertising. Safe, inoffensive, subtle tones stolen from the natural world, suggest the fur of a fawn, the spot of a moth's wing or color of human flesh. The targets quietly remind the viewer that all creatures great and small are up for grabs, altering the natural into a sci-fi world of monsters.
Target 13 (2012) depicts graphite tracings of the target structure, yet some of the painted bodies appear to have fallen into a pile beneath the target structure. Target 11 (2012) portrays a trompe l'oeil needle stitching the chromosomes together, the delicate tracing of graphite moving through them like thread. In Target 5 (2011), the chromosome is tagged, suggesting possession, control and ownership.
The two sculptures on pedestals, Rx Garden: Sticky Ends (4) (2010) and (6) (2012), are made from maple, sycamore, cottonwood, birch, oak, cedar and pecan twigs. These spheres' careful and delicate construction makes them appear as if graphite drawings of molecules have been rendered into three dimensions. Pastel colors, painted over the twigs' joints, suggest a seamless accuracy. Halonen's use of organic materials reinforces the appropriation of the natural world into the scientific marketplace. Her careful slickness recalls the bland anonymity of pharmaceutical ads and echoes the way profit-making motives of private enterprise gloss over ethical issues-rendering the appearance of the drugs as innocuous and benign.
What happens when god-like powers are harnessed for profitable endeavors? Halonen's subject matter calls to mind Leigh Anne Lester's elaborate drawings of mutant plants. Lester often layers together her elaborate botanical drawings, made from graphite on vellum, so that they combine into complex yet random single plants. Lester's blending of different species questions the repercussion of genetically modified plant species entering the natural world. In the dystopian world of The Hunger Games, a book trilogy, the totalitarian Capitol engineers genetically modified creatures, called mutts, to use for weapons and intelligence. While this may be a worst-case scenario, it is the ever-observant and watchful eye of the artist, working in the shadow of Big Brother that prompts difficult conversations about the future of this industry. Halonen accomplishes a maneuver as equally polished as "pharming," marrying controversial issues with a restrained, subtle formality, that, despite its quiet quality, provokes profound ethical questions.
Wendy Atwell received her M.A. in Art History and Criticism from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She is the author of The River Spectacular: Light, Color, Sound and Craft on the San Antonio River.
Jessica Halonen makes her debut at the David Shelton Gallery this month with Propagating Uncertainty, a meditation on the pharmaceutical industry's genetic manipulations of plants and animals.
With Lawrence's work, you really do enter another world, of insects and gears and flowers and assorted human body parts, and sometimes these are growing from vines, like fruit, or incorporated into vast pseudo-mechanical systems of some sort.
This weekend was a shot in the arm, though. Texas Contemporary in Houston was a hoot and a holler AND a matter for serious consideration.
Seduced at an early age by four-door wanderlust via multiple trips to Disney Land, Yellowstone National Park and other points West, O’Connor launches her good natured critique of America (same thing as Utopia, right?) from recent experiments in spaces outside the frame in 2009 and 2010. From these dual expansions of her endeavor she has derived beams of light made of yarn; replicated calcification; the hexagonal structure of wasp nests; and of course, those lovely, lovely drips (nothing to do with Gorky). Post Utopia extends these experiments by bringing them back inside the frame and with multi-colored radial vectors painted directly on the numerous windows that line the space.Seduced at an early age by four-door wanderlust via multiple trips to Disney Land, Yellowstone National Park and other points West, O'Connor launches her good natured critique of America (same thing as Utopia, right?) from recent experiments in spaces outside the frame in 2009 and 2010. From these dual expansions of her endeavor she has derived beams of light made of yarn; replicated calcification; the hexagonal structure of wasp nests; and of course, those lovely, lovely drips (nothing to do with Gorky). Post Utopia extends these experiments by bringing them back inside the frame and with multi-colored radial vectors painted directly on the numerous windows that line the space.
Somewhere between childhood wonder and adult disillusionment, Kelly O'Connor is creating a psychic landscape from fragments of familiar movies, TV shows, vacationlands and fairy tales. While she's been making the collages mined from her childhood pop culture for years, O'Connor's "Post-Utopia" show at the David Shelton Gallery seems more intimate and introspective, inspired by a photograph of the artist as a young girl standing in front of the Mammoth Terrace Falls at Yellowstone National Park.
Gallerist David Shelton is taking chances. He has moved his gallery from the affluent northern suburbs to Southtown. His first public show, "Up and Coming: 4 to Know," features Megan Harrison (seen at the McNay in "San Antonio Draws") and newcomers Gabe Bernal, Nicholas Hay, and Corbin Spring. Now, Shelton usually promotes mid-career artists who have a sales record. Even in SA, art galleries are a business. So launching these pups took a bit of moxie on Shelton's part - they're not all even out of college. He did remark, however, that this was an exciting show to mount. I think he meant scary-fun. Opening night was packed.
Up and Coming: 4 to Know features new work by four artists who are completing or have just completed graduate work in art at area schools. Some were recommended by established artists who are faculty members, like Joey Fauerso, who teaches at Texas State University and also shows at Shelton. With others, it was serendipity: Shelton was wowed by Megan Harrison's work in a recent drawing show at the McNay Art Museum and went in search of the University of Texas at San Antonio student.
Works on Paper presents new works by Sara Frantz, Kelly O’Connor, Al Souza, Dan Sutherland, Michael Velliquette, and Matthew van Hellen*. It was organized almost as an afterthought by David Shelton to accompanySan Antonio Draws, an exhibit designed by curator Lyle Williams opening soon at the McNay Art Museum. Though paper is most commonly associated with drawing, the show at Shelton presents a variety of technique, including graphite drawings, ink drawings, collage, cut paper, and cut and sewn paper works.
Among the many things going on in Alejandroworld, from social and political commentary to the gentle hijacking of everything from Modernism to Madison Avenue, the underlying proposition seems to be: Why can't art be funny? Why does it have to be so "serious?"
Ortiz’s work has often been written about in the context of multiculturalism and political action. While both of these notions have a strong presence in his work, on that Thursday, I saw Ortiz’s exhibition through the lens of the children’s stories I grew up with like Peter Pan, The Wind in the Willows, and Charlotte’s Web.
David Shelton Gallery selected as Critics Choice for Best Gallery in San Antonio.
David Shelton seems to delight in bringing together unusual groupings of artists, and Good and Well, currently on view, is a prime example. Mimi Kato's digital compositions, steeped in Japanese culture, play alongside kitschy sculptural assemblages by Leslee Fraser and abstract paintings by Aaron Hans Forland. But somehow, the installation feels natural as the three very distinct formal and conceptual approaches play off of, and enhance, one another.
By bringing these artists together, Shelton demonstrates how a strong eye can tease the affinities out of divergent artwork, and how an art collection can be strengthened by textural and conceptual contrasts as much as by the threads that run through it.
Spaztek is the alter ego of Houston-born Cruz Ortiz, 38, who for years has portrayed his fictional doppelganger in video art and photos-and depicted him in folk-tilting screen prints-in exhibits from L.A. to Madrid. The character, says the artist, who has been alternately celebrated and criticized for his take on Mexican-American lifestyles, offers a funny but fundamentally serious spark for dialogue about Hispanic identity in modern America.
Ortiz hits the Contemporary Art Museum Houston May 6-July 11 with an exhibit that features his primitive-style prints, video pieces, robotic found-object sculptures and possibly some performance art, all of which interprets the anti-hero Spaztek's search for love.
But Ortiz's art is not dogmatic. In his talk he referred to a legacy of identity politics in art he endeavored to avoid. While clearly working as a Latino artist, he also clamed to be "raised on Scooby Doo and the Smurfs. And it's worth noting that Ortiz was raised in Houston.
Exotic Matter, the breathtaking show at David Shelton Gallery, stays on his walls only until May 8. Go marvel at Joey Fauerso's sexually charged, rigorously investigative and (yes) beautiful paintings, which are all about surface. Well, and depth. And also nudity. And renderings of exploding plant life so lush you want to disrobe and roll around in them. Michael Velliquette takes paper-cutting past the ordinary "painstaking" or "elaborate" territory into, well, the exotic; they're relics from a culture you're not altogether familiar with, but always knew was out there somewhere. The show's been held over for two weeks, and Michael McClure Ph.D., assistant professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, saw fit to write an essay about it; we think it's worth driving north to see it.
In addition to being a painter of substance and resonance, Joey Fauerso is an astonishing technician. It is work the trip out to Shelton's gallery just to see the dense black that Fauerso achieves in "Feel What it Feels Like"--in watercolor, a notoriously difficult medium.
Michael Velliquette's work is sort of like coming upon a new species of orchid or butterfly in the wild. In addition to being a painter of substance and resonance, Joey Fauerso is an astonishing technician. It is worth the trip out to Shelton's Stone Oak gallery just to see the dense black that Fauerso achieves in "Feel What It Feels Like" - in watercolor, a notoriously difficult medium.
"Fauerso explores the existential human condition in her cosmic figurative paintings, while Velliquette is making exquisitely detailed masks and totems using the child’s craft of colorful cut construction paper."
Given its title, it's sort of ironic that the painting has the power to stop you in your tracks. "San Antonio Commute," the anchor work of "Foretopia," a small and wondrous group exhibition at David Shelton Gallery through Friday, is not exactly landscape; it is perhaps more accurately a portrait of the land, a "forced decorative imitation of nature," as its creator, painter Sara Frantz, puts it.
"Foretopia," also features new work by San Antonio artists Judith Cottrell, Jayne Lawrence and Vincent Valdez.
Not many contemporary artists embrace Remington and Russell for inspiration. Holly Hein Brooks and Bryson Brooks do. The young San Antonio painters' "Westerns" depict cowboys ropin' dogies and such - without any trace of irony. Holly, a former equestrian rider, lays the foundation, sketching the bones of an image, often from photographs.
Not many artist couples - from Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner on down - actually paint the same painting. The Brooks, who live and work in what was once an industrial freezer space at the Blue Star arts complex, truly collaborate.
"That he "paints" with a mosaic of jigsaw puzzle pieces pulls viewers into works such as "Love Birds Redux," an orgy of organic romanticism and expressive, raw-color brushstrokes"
There was a decision early on (prior to the start of these paintings) to merge representation with abstraction.
"This work to me is about discovery," says Austin painter Jonathan Faber, whose series of drawings and paintings on view at David Shelton Gallery began "with this idea of developing a visual language around the act of recalling experiences or memories."
"...the exhibition demonstrates an interesting combination of mediums, and an educated exploration of abstract art."
"Curator Miki Garcia, executive director of the Santa Barbara Contemporary Art Forum, has assembled a lively show brimming with wit and cleverness..."
The inaugural "Multiples" show, featuring works in a wide range of media by some of the region's most accomplished and respected artists, is well worth the drive.
Within Multiples, the aptly titled exhibition, the David Shelton Gallery has collaborated with several artists to create multiple works. The gesture seems to have been returned tenfold. Multiples delivers to the viewer a body of work united by craftsmanship, that delves into the distinctly modern while maintaining direct ties to the classical. As the viewer moves from one piece to the next, each body of work successfully adds to the exhibition a new dimension rooted in the individual artist's distinct sense of style. Shortly thereafter, this plethora of individuality proceeds to collide into an interesting, and well thought out exhibition.