Capsule Reviews

Our critics survey the local art scene

Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth Anselm Kiefer is one of the few artists in the world who knows how to make the same old thing interesting. Though he's been making monumental, craggy-surfaced and quasi-spiritual paintings for 30 years, they continue to succeed in disarming the viewer, making her feel just plain wrong in her own skin. The key to this constancy is not novelty but subject matter. The atrocities of WWII and the embattled German identity have proven to be a perverse muse for Kiefer, endlessly dancing in his head and forever haunting his work. The layered scorched-earth surface built up atop the lightly rendered space of a Nazi ceremonial hall in "Ash Flower" sends a message of death with little hope of renewal. Kiefer's gestures can be collective or personal, telling of the melancholy of the German nation as well as the self. "Twenty Years of Solitude" (1971-'91) speaks more about the condition of Kiefer the artist than the citizens of Germany. In homage to Pollock's painterly emissions by brush and spastic gesture, Kiefer literally ejaculated onto four open ledger books, each of which sits atop large stacks of unbound steel pages. You can take the man out of the macho state but not the machismo out of the man. Through January 8 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St., 866-824-5566. Reviewed this week. (Charissa N. Terranova) Casket Factory '05 Dallas showed a different side of its art-world personality last weekend at Casket Factory '05, a happy-go-lucky hodgepodge of galleries selling their wares at Southside on Lamar. There was plenty of unusual form and action in place of what has become so usual for Dallas: paintings to match your sofa, lapidary planes of stripes or sundry abstract designs mounted on lustered industrial surfaces and the comfortable humdrum of monthly gallery openings. When Dallas is faced with the one-two punch of hipster art from Houston, Denton and Chicago, it struggles to hold its own. Ultimately, the city manages. Fifteen "institutions"--galleries, collectives, Web sites--collaborated in the art fair, mostly entry-level locales where young artists get their first leg up. Participants included Art Prostitute of Denton; Art Palace of Austin; Diverseworks, Glasstire and Rudolph Projects ArtScan Gallery of Houston; Mighty Fine Arts, the Pigeon-Stone Project, Mulcahy Modern, Oh6 and Plush of Dallas; Webb Art Gallery of Waxahachie; Polvo of Chicago; and Tom Sales' Pinky Diablo Trailer and the Amazing Hancock Brothers. It was an event of the almost. The gathering seemed to suggest that the Dallas art scene almostcompetes nationally. Regardless of national standing, though, there was some wacky art junk being hocked and cool tunes spun and spoken-word poetry slammed. The night's ad hoc feel was in part a result of being moved from the adjacent space of the Casket Factory to the Janette Kennedy Art Gallery inside the central building at the last minute. The move was unfortunate, as it seems to have tamed what promised to be a feral and raucous joining of the like-minded and freaked-out form. (C.T.)

Annette Lawrence: Edge Annette Lawrence makes flat striations of color that sit against the wall, what some might call "painting," from stacked two-inch strips of hand-torn paper. Ultimately, though, the pieces that make up this work, July-October 2005, are more sculpture than painting. Nevertheless their color palette and relationship to the wall bring to mind the long history of flatness and handmade marks of painting. The forms of July-October 2005 are the result of the artist's careful amassing, organization and ritual tearing of junk mail she collected over a four-month period this year. Lawrence has found an avenue of peaceful vengeance that reflects the monotony of junk mail. There is deadpan beauty to this work, from which emanates a cultural ethos of bureaucracy out of control and white noise given paper form. Also hung on the wall are several things-to-do lists in black and white paint on open brown paper bags. These pieces reflect a society run amok temporally speaking: a people most interested in functionally filling every day, hour, minute and second with work and productivity. Lawrence's paintings and objects inject slowness and deliberation into an otherwise frenzied national work pace. Through December 17 at Dunn and Brown Contemporary, 5020 Tracy St., 214-521-4322. (C.T.)

 
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