Art of the Dance

"When we dance together, my world's in disguise/It's a fairy-tale land that's come true/And when you look at me with those stars in your eyes/I could waltz across Texas with you." When Ernest Tubb wrote these words in 1967, he captured in song the feeling of being lost in a dance--the floating, dreamy sensation you wish would never end. And when painter Gail Wendorf created the pieces that make up the exhibit Waltz Across Texas: Dance Halls and Last Calls, she captured the same feeling in art.

Wendorf's blurry, brightly colored images, inspired by such Texas staples as Gruene Hall, Bandera Cabaret and Austin's Broken Spoke, re-create scenes from the dance floor: the embraces, the action, the lights and the crowds. Looking at the works, you can almost hear the fiddle and steel guitar. In her artist's statement, Wendorf, a native Texan, writes of the "emotional 'whirl' atmosphere" of her works. "I love being inside the swirl of dancers and color. I love the look of pure joy (or intense concentration) on each dancer's face..."

Audiences can take a whirl of their own through Waltz Across Texas as the series is being shown at W.J. Morrill Ltd. through January 10. The large-scale paintings are so warm and inviting, though, you may be tempted to stay past last call.

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Rhonda Reinhart