Death Mask of Exposition Park
Can I toss in my two cents? OK, thanks. First of all, I don't always agree with Christina Rees, but I happen to think she is an excellent writer who has a great way with words. As far as if she was actually correct in her critique of the art on display at the galleries in Expo Park ["Critic's choice," May 20], I can't really weigh in one way or the other--I haven't seen it. I will say that Dallas needs an Expo Park-type area to be the nexus of the creative visual arts scene.

Most of the people I've met that either live or work in the Expo Park neighborhood are genuine and inspired. I wish them all the best, and hope they are successful in raising the profile of our visual-arts community. Still, I have to ask this question: Do the names Ron English, Bill Haveron, Terrell Moore, Jeff Robinson, Matt Miller, or Dan Rizzie ring a bell? How about Todd Oldham, Tracey Feith, Amy Talkington, Mike Judge, or Roxy Gordon? All of these folks have one thing in common: They are creative people who all felt the need to leave Dallas to realize their ultimate goals.

What does that say about our city? It says we don't have brains enough to nurture the artists that live in our own hometown. The galleries in Expo Park are bravely showing the art that is available here and now. If you're wondering where all of the truly amazing and important art is, look for "our" people in Los Angeles or New York. Dallas-based artists know that if they ever want to make a name for themselves, it just ain't gonna happen here. It's not Expo Park's fault; it's ours. We take art for granted around here. How many of you out there actually went to the "open house" gallery night in Expo Park? Less than a hundred? There are five million people living in the area. You do the math.

As Rees pointed out in her article, at least the galleries in Expo Park have honest and valid intentions. That's a good first step. The "Death Mask of Christina Rees"? That's two steps back. I have to ask the artists themselves: Are you making art for yourself, or for Christina? What really matters: using your art to portray your perspective of life on earth, or using your art to "attack" somebody who doesn't happen to agree with your "vision"? Christina isn't the artist; you are. Laugh it off and create something new. If you can't deal with it, either quit calling yourself an artist, or do what everyone else does: move to New York or L.A. It may be your only hope.

Jeffrey Liles
Via e-mail

This letter is in response to the trio of very angry letters you recently received in response to Christina Rees' Exposition Park column. I write some criticism, on theater locally and on art for a Houston-based publication. I am also a working visual artist. As someone who's been on both sides of the fence, I'd like to say that the folks who wrote in and criticized Ms. Rees' criticism are almost completely without a clue as to what "criticism" is. A newspaper critic is not paid to suckle her subjects like a new mother. He or she is neither a booster nor an assassin. A critic is paid to deliver the readers his or her opinion. If Ms. Rees wrote glowingly of everything she reviewed she would be a publicist, not a critic.

It really pisses me off when I read a letter from someone who is angry because a critic or reviewer was not "objective" in his or her analysis of the work in question. Objective? A critic, by obvious definition, criticizes. What do you jerk-offs want? Critics to insert the sentence "Of course this is only my opinion; please don't be upset" between each paragraph? Grow up.

It has been my observation and experience that people who are upset when their work gets a bad review invariably have one thing in common--they are insecure about the quality of that work. Besides, on this particular occasion, Ms. Rees was dead-on right. In my opinion, of course.

Curtis Martin
Via e-mail

Sock it to us!
We at Sock Monkey would like to sincerely thank Christina Rees for acknowledging us as a gallery, and finally clarifying why you've failed to do so in months gone by. Though we did receive an honorable mention in your 1998 best/worst openings list, we've assumed that every time we sent you information regarding our monthly events, you must have been forwarding them to the music department. This is because during the past 11 months, we've had some really enjoyable art happenings, which have been noted in the music section but virtually ignored by the art department.

Now we understand why.
From what I gathered from the article, you must look at art from an entirely different perspective than we do. We run a gallery where once a month, we show a one-man exhibit. The type of art shown and the subject matter change from month to month, and so far, we've considered our attempts to expose these talents a great success.

The point is, if one person has enough motive and personal insight to take the time to create enough art to fill even our tiny bit of wall space, then they deserve to have a place where their art can be displayed and seen by the public (whether you think we're a real gallery or not). Personally, I feel that the artists we've shown (Joey Waldon, Mosquito, Greg Contestable) definitely "transcend the profane in their search for meaning or irony or beauty." But, apparently, that's not really what you're looking for.

To me, it seems that it's more about our Exposition Street clique than the cogency of the artists shown on our gallery walls. Because if it were anything more than that, you probably wouldn't have topped the page with an ignorant comment like "These are art spaces for Dungeons and Dragons dorks..." (That's fine, though; at least you didn't call us nerds, freaks, or faggots.)

Anyway, if you'd like to be removed from our mailing list so that we'll stop sending you annoying invitations to our monthly crafts shows, then please call the phone number listed above and let us know; we'd love to take you off (to avoid wasting supplies). Otherwise, look forward to receiving future invitations and information from the Sock Monkey, and we hope that one day you'll be fired.

Michael Allen

Dude, you're so on the Monet
Thank goodness I've never paid much attention to the tabloid critics. My own knowledge and preferences in the arts have always guided me through the pastures of creativity. When encountering something unknown, it has always worked best to approach with an open mind; to gain knowledge, then judge.

But there are those out there who do pay attention to the press. They are the sheep, the masses, those without a direction of their own who therefore have to look somewhere for a shepherd to guide them. And guide them you did, Christina Rees, right over the cliff's edge.

Where would the creative element of humanity be today if new ideas and thoughts had never risen out of the stagnant waters of tradition? How could civilization itself have evolved without free minds and new ideas emerging to march on and contribute to the undulating change of history?

New ideas do not come from a factory. The Corporate Universe and tradition allow for little give as creativity takes another breath. Under their guidelines we are to follow a path--theirs.

Well, Ms. Rees, take another walk down the path called Exposition, and you will not see it ending abruptly at the dead end of a brick wall. Instead, you will see the creative incubator that all artists need and desire. This is a true nest of ideas that all of humanity hungers for but is afraid to pursue for fear of being labeled different. Thank goodness Picasso was different, also Monet and his contemporaries. Mozart was dubbed an idiot and shunned by traditional masters of his day. His work will still be heard as man colonizes planets of other galaxies. If Jack Kerouac and e. e. cummings had gone about their craft according to the guidelines of the times, literature would be missing an important tile in the mosaic that is still a work-in-progress. From past observations, it has been apparent that artists are some of the most admired and revered of society, and at the same time, the most ridiculed.

I beg of you all who call yourself critic not to slice apart that which is working, that which is different, but rather encourage such bravery and admire tenacity. Criticism should be constructive, not petty and mean-spirited.

If you cannot, in fair and constructive manner, report on what is happening here in Exposition Park, or for that matter, anywhere, then stay where you belong: at the heels of Barry Whistler, Edith Baker, and the other upscale, "approved" art venues with all the whine and cheese that accompany those scenes. Leave us here on the avenues and byways, where we are free to grow and be ourselves, to become successful and to somehow rise above the snobbery of bought-and-paid-for bad journalism.

C.A. Wilkinson-Roney

Please, stop reading the paper
Excuse me? What was this absurd article about LeAnn Rimes' boxed set From the Womb Untimely Ripp'd: LeAnn Rimes Six Feet Under ["Cardboard tombstones," June 3]? "Not scheduled for release until 2006, this ambitious 502-disc set will be a real-time recording of Rimes' path from teen superstar to failed actress to washed-up musician to drug addict to overdose victim"?

I thought you were a reputable source, and then you go posting trash like this that doesn't even make sense. Is this project for real? Is it really endorsed by LeAnn herself and/or Curb Records? I can't believe you could do such a horrible reporting job!

Via e-mail

God only knows
I am fascinated by the stranger-than-fiction story of Madalyn Murray O'Hair ["Ain't got no body," May 27]. It amazes me that we are not watching minute-to-minute updates on this case on MSNBC. Can you imagine the guests on Geraldo? It struck me as strange that the murder of this well-known person, not to mention the triple-murder aspect of the case, has largely gone unnoticed. What happened to old-fashioned reporter-on-the-street journalism? Do reporters do little more than surf the Associated Press Web site to come up with news? If the media can't make a mega-news item out of this, they are in the wrong business.

Jeff Muller
Via e-maill


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