I should have popped an Adderall before walking into the Web Gallery yesterday in Waxahachie. I was there for one goal: to see the new group exhibition by Jad Fair, David Fair, Tim Kerr, Will Johnson and Dan Phillips. I had braced myself for that. What I wasn't prepared for was the interplanetary wormhole that opens when you tug on the building's giant wood and glass doors; it sucked me into a salvaged treasure land jam-packed full of oddities, miniature carnival rides composed entirely out of toothpicks, and wall decorations from defunct masonic temples. It's as though someone combed through the entire Ripley's collection for items of strong artistic merit, curated them perfectly and then built a temple to house them. It is glorious.
A bottle cap throne, tramp art, varied types of folk and outsider art all mesh together in this gallery of the peculiar. Had the owners wanted a roommate, I would have moved in on the spot and changed my address to read: Waxahachie, Texas. It's that good.
My favorites of the actual exhibition were works by Tim Kerr and Jad Fair. Kerr's pieces don't exist on traditional canvas, instead they're painted on discarded items like cardboard and plywood, or broken bits of old fencing. His paintings celebrate historical African American figures, some of whom like Aretha Franklin are common names and require little description, others are photographers, poets and banjo strummers who have fallen out of direct public vision. Each is given his proper due with a short summary on the subject's life, like an after-school learning aid and is painted up with stage colors, lavender and yellow, magenta and green. It's an inspirational showcase of heroes done with a folksy lean.
Fair's intricate paper cut pieces lighten the heart and set it to sail. Each work falls somewhere between cut-snowflake holiday craft and indigenous culture wall painting, but the culture he's expressing is not of this earth. If it exists anywhere it is in a kaleidoscope universe where love is cherished above all else and mystery traipses behind in its shadow, like a puppy in tow.
The Webb Gallery is an adventure destination; one well worth the 30 minute drive down to Waxahachie. If you're excited by artistic ephemera there's no better place for the immersion. But do note that Webb Gallery is only open on weekends, so make a day of it.
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