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Toast of the Town, Blayre Stiller Lights Up Dragon Street

Andy said, "Don't pay attention to what they write about you, just measure it in inches." If the same can be said for "eager discussion," Blayre Stiller can measure hers for blocks.

Admiration for Stiller's charcoal on paper drawings at Cohn Drennan gushed ceaselessly on Saturday night, as gallery patrons traversed Dragon, wine in hands, returning time and again to the artist's raw honesty in confronting body image and self-acceptance. Part of an MFA thesis exhibition, Blair Blayre, with fellow UNT artist Michael Blair, Stiller's work will be available for viewing through May 5.

Technically speaking, Stiller is immaculate. Her images are sophisticated, clean, and photo-realistic, celebrating the complex mechanics of human form, emancipated from the laws of physics and granted the freedom to explore space without the constraints of weighty backgrounds or busy color dynamics. Ultimately, a viewer doesn't view, so much as they are confronted by, Stiller's sharp Chiaroscuro and barefaced determination to exhibit humanity in its diverse beauty. Of her lauded work, a piece titled "Grabby Hands," found near the gallery entrance, garnered particular attention. Evoking a sense of defiance, the piece carries out Stiller's commitment to the female form, often presented in tandem, nude and clothed.

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Interestingly, while Stiller's work contains strong feminist themes concerning the anxiety in revealing an "imperfect" female body and the implicit tension in comparing contradistinct forms, her supporters were far from uniformly female, and her work spoke to patrons of seemingly diverse age and socioeconomic identities.

In fact, Stiller's work was heavily favored among a variety of excellent pieces from more than 20 galleries. From Oak Lawn to Continental and among the Design District's gritty warehouses and posh baubles, Blayre Stiller hit a nerve. Hers is a name to remember over the coming years.

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