Visual Art

Letter Writing Is an Art at RE Gallery's Going Postal

In addition to its roster (impressive), its kitschy theme (snail mail) and its awkward environment (inside someone's house), Going Postal at RE Gallery had the added benefit (when I was there) of the fast-talking, funny, devilishly charming Irishman Gary Farrelly as exhibition tour guide.

Alas, he has returned home by now, but it can be no accident that gallery owner/house resident Wanda Dye recommended seeing Going Postal while Farrelly was around. The show charmed as much as he did, or at least came close, and I seriously hope this starts a new trend in Dallas of planting charming rogues in every gallery doorway. If it does, let's call it Curating the Swoon. Make that happen, Dallas.

Joining Farrelly on the roster are Michael Corris of Southern Methodist University, John Pomara from UT-Dallas, and Marfa resident Sam Schonzeit. Each artist took a different approach to the theme.

Pomara, whose large scale paintings typically bask in the light of a digital muse, substituted his canvases for the annoying little cards that fall out of the New York Times hardcopy edition. He half-submerged four of these mailers into paint -- one each of blue, yellow, green, and red -- leaving the subscriber form visible.

It's a simple concept that didn't seem to hold up well against the other pieces in the room, but the funny thing is that it's those pieces I think about when I think of this show. The colors, simplicity and economy of those works pinned them to memory. Maybe your 10-year-old could execute the process, but WOULD your 10-year-old execute that process without getting in the way of simplicity? All I know is if any gallery should undertake a fondue-themed show and invite Pomara's participation, I will be there.

Adapted from pieces made in the 1980s, Corris' work is fantastic. His contributions are postcard size, but framed and behind glass. A series of four may have been inspired by the optical trickery of Bridget Riley: Logo for the Cultivated (a circle composed of the text "For Art & Capitalism"), Logo for the Dispossessed (an inverted triangle composed of the text "Art: An Enemy of the People!"), Logo for the Activist (a square within a square composed of the text "Art is a Weapon!"), and Logo for the CONFUSED (composed of symbols, including direct reference to the other three logos).

Farrelly's work can be handled and touched. He considers it the final stage of a process that had him making art to be mailed unprotected from Dublin to Dallas, but surprisingly, there was very little damage or alteration to his pieces inside the postal system. Go figure. Ironically, several of those pieces have been sold and are destined for civilized life within a personal collection.

Schonzeit has an established mail-order-art subscription service in which subscribers receive small works by post, some of which are on display in Going Postal. The most fun are the pieces they did together, sent back and forth between Ireland and Marfa, so you could include the postal service as their third collaborator. They had never met and did not communicate artistic intent by email or text. One artist would create a foundation, the other build on it or sometimes make wild changes. A piece Farrelly mailed in two-dimensions had taken on architecture when it came back from Marfa. "It got bloodthirsty," Farrelly said. "I'm suspicious of three dimensions."

Going Postal runs through September 14 at RE Gallery, 1717 Gould St. in the Cedars. (It's next to Lee Harvey's.) I recommend checking the RE Gallery Facebook page for up-to-the-minute-ish visiting information.

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Betsy Lewis
Contact: Betsy Lewis