Arts & Culture News

McKinney Avenue Contemporary's Annual Member's Exhibition is Open to Anyone, Literally

Once a year at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, you, your cousin and your auntie can all exhibit at the gallery. No, not a prank, but an interesting opportunity given to artists of all levels at the MAC.

For a fee of $30, aspiring and established artists get a one-year artist/student membership, meaning you're entitled to the MAC newsletter, event invitations, discounts to The MAC, and oh yeah, a spot in their group member show. Not bad right? I think the more than 50 artists who participated in this years edition, "Δ (DELTA)," which opened Saturday, would agree.

The MAC described the exhibit's "Delta" theme as, "The capital letter Delta, Δ, is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. The symbol is commonly used in subjects of science and mathematics, often to describe change. The triangle, the strongest of shapes, can also be a source of inspiration."

Such an idea on the surface seems swell. But it also opens the door for a lot of mischief, which isn't a bad thing as much as potential way to dilute the of quality what's presented and to create an overwhelming, claustrophobic feeling that can seize your senses upon staring down such a large number of loosely affiliated and obtusely presented pieces.

Does some of that happen? Sure. Is all the work interesting? Of course not. Does that even matter? Not really. It creates a sense of adventure, pushing viewers to take time to scour out the secret gems.

But there's much to appreciate in the idea of a major gallery giving an opportunity to artists who otherwise might never see their works in a gallery space, and plenty of members took advantage of it, with creative options including performance, readings, collaborative, 2-D, 3-D and electronic media. My sister Kayla, just graduated from school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, became a MAC member from out-of-state so she could have a piece in this exhibit.

The highlights of the night were those artists who took the time to make bold and invigorating work, whether they used the Delta theme explicitly or loosely.

Julia Trinh's painting, "Gray Melody - 1," Robin Ragin's "Delta," Judith Seay's "Delta Wave," H. Schenck's "IIX" and Brain K. Jones "Aunt Jemima's Fluffy Ass Pancakes" deserve extended viewings.

These artists used mixed media components to forge meditative works that left plenty of potholes and missing steps, leaving the viewer with the exciting task of making bounds and filling them in.

The highlight of the night belonged to Danielle Georgiou's "Elle est nee avec une bombedans sa tete," the most vibrant piece in the room, a vivacious hat sculpture made out of flowers brought to mind metaphors of floriology and femininity. And what a eloquent way to remind us that even the boldest of statements we wear eventually wilt into irrelevancy.

The MAC is offering a rare opportunity for artists of all mediums to showcase their work in a professional and well managed show. If you're interested in joining next year's group dialogue at The MAC, you can become a member pretty easily. Guidelines for next years event are posted on their website.

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Lee Escobedo