Capsule Reviews

The Dark Matters and the Lingering Lightness, installation by Michael Velliquette Installed in the small "project room" at Conduit Gallery is Michael Velliquette's full-body multimedia environment, replete with voodoo-cosmic music and a myriad of interior accoutrements--aluminum foil doodads, construction paper chains à la second grade, and paper cut-out silhouettes all hanging from the doorway, walls and ceilings. The pièce de résistance is without a doubt the large, stuffed hand, too flaccid to be furniture but too comfortable to be a beanbag, that lies in the center of the walk-in-closet-scale space. Velliquette claims that he is more "campy" than "kitschy," as the latter denotes a sense of nostalgia. This work is all future--the past future of a 1955 B-grade science fiction movie. The space is busy and almost messy but ever so inviting. The splayed palm on the floor is indeed an open hand, a symbol of generosity on which weary gallery-goers will want to unfurl and let the surrounding space, time and commotion pour over them. Through October 16 at Conduit Gallery, 1626-C Hi Line Drive, 214-939-0064. (Charissa N. Terranova)

I Think I Prayed for You to Come but Wasn't Prepared for the Reality, paintings by Michael Tole Michael Tole has found a muse in Cracker Barrel. Photographing the oddly photogenic wares of the Cracker Barrel gift shop and then painting details of them from odd vantage points, Tole makes fine art painting out of redneck tchotchkes. Tole's paintings bring to mind the '70s-era Photorealism of Richard Estes. Different, though, from Estes' often monumental and shiny imagery, Tole's paintings depict fragments of the ugly and banal. In "Untitled (feet)," a long phallic form adorned with the words "best secretary" dominates the picture plane, for which the greater subject matter is the feet of stuffed animals aligned on a shelf. Central to "Untitled (doll)" are the pouty cheeks and lips of a pre-adolescent Loretta Lynn-like doll's visage. That these paintings offer an age-old play on the collapse between high and low is further brought home by their beaux-arts salon-style installation. Tole prettifies the lowbrow, transforming objects of bad taste into tchotchkes for the bourgeoisie. Through October 16 at Conduit Gallery, 1626-C Hi Line Drive, 214-939-0064. (C.T.)

The Last Painting Show, paintings and sculpture by Annabel Daou Annabel Daou insists that her work is not painting--and that, despite the title of this exhibition, she really isn't concerned with the umpteenth death of painting either. Talking to Daou is like reading essays by Donald Judd from the 1960s. As with Judd discussing his shiny aluminum and Plexiglas boxes, Daou lays bare her modus operandi through clearly articulated negation and disavowal, describing what she and her work are not rather than what she and here work are. This, however, is why her work is interesting: It is difficult and formidably intellectual. Evidence of such brainy, if not Conceptualist, play is located in the black lines that bleed off of her large white segmented canvases onto the walls behind, such as with "Limbo." Here's where the question of painting's beginning and end is posed. "Painting is nowhere," she explains. "It has no containment and no context. Painting is about questions." With "Cathedral," the Lebanese-American artist Daou has pulled painting off the wall and made it sculptural, setting it up piece by piece in modular form adjacent to the wall. To be more accurate, Daou's work, especially this piece, is more installation than painting. With this work Daou has built a miniature wall, one side white, the other black, from small wooden modular blocks. Each block has painted on it the schemata of a drain from the city street. The modules heighten the architectural (and thus everyday) quality of the work, bringing to mind the famed Freobel blocks that introduced a toddling young Frank Lloyd Wright to architecture. While titled "Cathedral," the work has a remarkable duality, resonating in both black and white, being both Muslim and Christian, as the dark side, according to Daou, is equally representative of a mosque. Daou's quiet and monochromatic work is cause for deliberative pause. Through October 16 at Conduit Gallery, 1626-C Hi Line Drive, 214-939-0064. (C.T.)

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