California Dreaming

Los Angeles artists bring their defiantly difficult work to Dallas

Equally rewarding are John Williams' "Tree" and "Pizza Everywhere" sculptures and seven short video pieces. The couldn't-look-more-like-a-floor-display-at-Target "Tree" captures the fluorescent-lit limbo of middle-class America's retail wasteland that seems to be Williams' thematic stomping ground here.

Less hearty, though no less visually amusing, are Kelly Barrie's untitled photographs from her "Spitting Image" series. These dark, black-and-white close-ups of people's faces feature accents of white saliva globules rising out of their mouths like a cartoon speech bubble. They have a risible seriocomic effect but not much of a follow-through after the droll humor.

None, however, can really compete with Hull's hulking presence. And that highlights not only the lone weakness of the show but what may be the m.o. of this generation of L.A. artists. Hull--along with Ingrid Calame, Michelle Fierro, Monique Prieto, Laura Owens, Casey Cook and Charlie Rose--dabble in a sort of stream-of-self-consciousness realm that straddles academic theory and low-culture awareness, creating an interesting dilemma in contemporary art. It can be dangerously off-putting for gallery-goers not wanting to flex their minds while drinking deep of today's visual vocabulary. But if it makes audiences start to become aware of recent trends and ideas, then it could be an attack with positive results. On the other hand, anything that reeks of effort usually means people simply dismiss it into obscurity.

Valley girl: Melissa Thorne's "Radiant Cities" alludes to the visual motifs of quiltmaking and urban planning.
Valley girl: Melissa Thorne's "Radiant Cities" alludes to the visual motifs of quiltmaking and urban planning.

Details

On display through September 11; 214-823-6456
Angstrom Gallery

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