Capsule Reviews

Our critics survey the local art scene

Kirsten Macy With Kirsten Macy and her work, artist and object create total synergy. Like her paintings, collages and videos, Macy is dissonantly colorful, charmingly brash and on her way to a big and bright future. An artist working in various media, from desktop animation to whole-body performance, Macy approaches her work as an assault on the senses. She describes our collective visual experience as a "cultural attack on even the simplest image." Macy's work at Barry Whistler takes us for a formal romp through fields of technological morphing--from painting's flat analog realm to video's even flatter digital dynamic. There are several large-scale brightly colored paintings showing in the front room of the gallery. Macy uses long strips of slim industrial-grade tape that, when carefully pealed away or layered, delineate intergalactic lines that connect one spazzy star to another. In works such as "Untitled 972" and "Untitled 469," the effects are sherbet-colored fields of bouncing form reminiscent of the Atari game Pong circa 1981 and current retro-mod rugs at Target. Macy's collage sketches are hung midway between the front and back galleries. Though collages, they are cleaner and more refined versions of the large-scale paintings in the opening room. This increased refinement follows the general rhythm of the show; as one moves deeper into the recesses of the gallery space the better--the more resolved and keener--the work becomes. Which brings us to the pièce de résistance: Macy's video work located in the netherspace of the backroom gallery. In the short, abstract video loop "MTV vs. Museum," Macy elides collage into collage using desktop animation software. One sees blurry blips of MTV videos flickering through the open apertures of the collage surfaces. The clips from MTV alternate between .5 and 8 seconds, the latter being the average time one spends looking at a painting in a museum. We become anxious viewers in a battlefield where painting, collage and video skirmish. Macy's message is a healthy rehashing of the Swiss-German video artist Pipilotti Rist's MTV-inspired work from the mid-'80s. What is fresh, new and proof of her talent is the way in which she rethinks collage through low-tech video. While the painting and collages come across as sketches for the polished video in the back, the show registers as complete only by way of the showing of all three media. Take away one, the painting or the collage, and Macy's brilliance as a video artist diminishes. Through August 6 at Barry Whistler Gallery, 2909-B Canton St., 214-939-0242. (Charissa N. Terranova)

Ten Year Anniversary Exhibition Art galleries are by nature transient. The logic of their turnover rate seems more Beckett-like than Wagnerian, with life spans often absurdly clipped like Beckett's 121-word play Come and Go rather than heroically interminable as with Wagner's four-opera Ring Cycle. The steady attention of good management can make them; whimsical turns of the market can break them. Celebrating 10 years of livelihood in the art business in Dallas, Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery has struck a hardy balance between creative direction and capital. PDNBG knows just how much Texas photographs collectors can take; they're keenly in tune with what they will and will not buy. While the gallery harbors a stable of photographers who shoot both within and without the bounds of elegance and good taste, the current show is sophisticatedly, if not safely, inside those limits. In a vignette of prisoners whiling away their time by rhythm and jig, Jack Delano's black-and-white "In the County Jail" (1941) offers a dancing play of stripes and limbs. It reminds us that documentary photography waffles between social commentary and art. Bill Owens' "Before the Dissolution of Our Marriage" (1971) is a visual hymn to the republic of suburbia, showing a horn-rimmed bespectacled woman watering flowers that bloom from the hollows of a porcelain toilet in the back yard. Misty Keasler's talent takes us fast forward into the present, with two large-scale c-prints made in the last five years: "Good Luck" (2001), an image of a grimy quilt-covered mattress with a lonesome pillow, and "Masha and Her Best Friend" (2000), a picture showing two expressionless leggy adolescent girls sitting on a couch surrounded by patterns of Persian and ersatz Persian rugs. If the photos out front are edgy without going over the cliff, the one that quietly pushes you beyond the overhang is hidden in the back. Hanging there on the wall behind bric-a-brac is John Walker's memorial to Kennedy's assassination and the city that hosted it. Seven photographic stills taken from the famous Zapruder film show the explosion of the president's cranium. Underneath the sequence Walker has embossed into the white matting the phrase "You can't say they don't love you here in Dallas Mr. President." The gallery's 10-year celebration marks a turning-of-the-page temporally and spatially speaking since a relocation is in order. PDNBG is looking for bigger and brighter space in the Design District. Through August 13 at Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery, 3115 Routh St., 214-969-1852. (C.T.)

Ty Wilcox's Everything but the Kitchen Sink Ty Wilcox is obsessed with the semantics of symbolism. Transforming the stuff of everyday civic life into a game of jokes and mistakes, Wilcox foils the direct communication intended by street signs. Showing the silhouette of a little boy riding a bouncy toy bronco, "Lil Buckaroo" is a make-believe sign for an imaginary public sphere. "Slip" is a bright pink surface with the profile of a girl, dolly in hand, about to fall to the ground. Wilcox's pieces are too cuddly-cutesy for what the medium portends. These vinyl and aluminum sign-objects offer a keen transformation of icons, painting and rudimentary information. They could be much more forceful, however, if Wilcox directed his visual challenges into a more serious realm. What a shame it would be for Wilcox to waste his newfound voice on the treacly stuff of children at play when there are so many serious issues in the world. Through August 12 at El Centro College Art Gallery, 801 Main St., 214-860-2115. (C.T.) Orbit The egg is such a loaded symbol. It is at once indeterminate and decided. It signifies the ambiguity of origins (which came first...?) and the certainty of gestational protection for all sorts of creatures, such as baby chicks, lizards and snakes. Talented artist and rising graduate student Aqsa Shakil knows the power of this incredible edible. With several eggs in different sizes and colors--one broken, one lit, some with writing in English and others in Urdu--dangling from the ceiling in the upstairs gallery at UTD, Shakil's installation "Orbit" plays on the form's simultaneous strength and preciousness. Overall it is a carefully crafted piece, with each egg meticulously painted and suspended from dripping string. Even more powerful for this artist--and certainly a greater challenge--would be to create such a mesmerizing hanging garden of form from not so loaded a symbol, since the egg can easily become an intellectual crutch. Through August 12 at the University of Texas at Dallas Visual Arts Building, Upstairs Gallery, 2601 N. Floyd Road, Richardson, 972-UTD-ARTS. (C.T.) Concentrations 47: Jim Lambie Jim Lambie has recalibrated the architecture of the Dallas Museum of Art, sheathing the floors of the museum's main corridor with multicolored tape in an installation work called "Zobop." Lambie has transformed the blasé postmodern interiors of our local hall of culture into a funhouse for vertigo of the imagination. Five pieces by Lambie--the vinyl-taped main corridor and four sculptures--constitute the overall installation. In what amounts to one of the best showings in the long-running Concentrations series, this exhibition ranks high not just in Dallas but in the whole country. Through August 21 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St., 214-661-1716. Reviewed July 14. (C.T.)

 
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