23 No. 7
publication of the International Sculpture Center
"Texas Uprising: Indoor and Outdoor Sculpture"
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
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De Leon Welcome Home Series.
which focused exclusively on the state of contemporary sculpture in Texas,
clearly showed just how diverse contemporary art is here. The exhibition
boasted over three dozen artists, most of whom submitted outstanding works.
I found Alex De Leon's "Welcome Home Series," a clustering of
simple, small dwellings constructed of homeless people's signs, to be
powerful, timely, and timeless. The scribblings of these lost men and
women, who write such things as "Dr. Said No WorkingAnything
Will Help," "Homeless Not HopelessWill Work For Food or
$God Bless," "No FoodNo MoneyNo Home,"
are universally sad and compelling. De Leon approaches the homeless and
buys these signs for up to three dollars, seeing this more as a working
relationship based on trust, trade, or commerce than exploitation, and
I agree. Above this construction of miniature houses, De Leon added two
speakers with recorded sounds garnered from places where the homeless
live. In this instance, he recorded beneath a highway overpass. His installation
was easily the most powerful work in the show.
Chris Sauter's Sleeper
was also thoughtful. The upholstered sofa covered in a fabric bearing
an all too familiar military fatigue pattern, with its pull-out bed redone
in added-on topographical forms, is extraordinary. Here again, as in the
case of De Leon, the artist asks poignant ethical questions with a supremely
Anne Wallace's Reflecting
Pool, composed of three small containers of tar dressed with brass edging,
had the extra added effect of smell. Tar, which signifies one of the most
intense forms of long-term organic waste fermentation, makes an odd nod
toward the state's oil industry. At the same time, Reflecting Pool refers
to public art and the perceptions we have about acceptable design and
materials for such accessible places.
Wallace, Reflecting Pool.
Bale Creek Allen's
West Texas Tumbleweed is both austere and delicate. In making a casting
in bronze of an actual Texas tumbleweed, Allen manages to bring the bronze
object to a very unfamiliar place. Cathy Cunningham's Mad Prophet of the
Nowadays was one of the show's most comedic works. A steer skull, with
a red bulb inside lighting up its eye sockets, sat atop a pile of salt
surrounded by another local iconbarbed wire. A red neon, comic strip-type
voice bubble contained the words "I'm mad as hell and I ain't gonna
take it anymore," bringing to mind the famous line in the movie Network.
However, in this context, the saying conjured up some local, inside joke.
The Art Guys' two miniature golf holes (one a par one, the other an impossible
vertical par infinity) also afforded a bit of humor, as well as participation.
The show, which was
vast and a bit overcrowded, had an outdoor installation at nearby St.
Pauls Square. George Schroeders One, composed of rusted steel,
dominated one area. The form, which looked like an enlargement of a heavy-duty
foundry tool, was as graceful as it was immense. Phil Simpsons Kings
Hill Country offers another compelling use of rusted metal. Here, with
a weird juxtaposition of supports and bent and torn sheet metal, the artist
portrays a most graceful, even poetic representation of a hillside. Lee
Littlefields Queen Mimis Exotic Flower II is funky and fantastical,
while Robbie Barbers Goddard Nomad V, which looks like an intergalactic,
albeit rusted 1950s style camper is brilliant.
The fact that all of the works here were accompanied by sketches and notes
was commendable. The drawings enable uninitiated visitors to see, to some
degree, the artists process: how they think and plan. Someone who
has never made a formal sculpture could see how a relatively simple idea
can become a major artistic expression.
Gallery 4, which features work from either up and coming or established
and experimental San Antonio artists, showed Linda Paces cacophony
of popular culture, Green Peace. Pace took green objectsstuffed
animals, a rubber duck, a water pistol, a frog key chain, Hulk action
figures, doggie dishes, a rubber fish, a toilet bowl brush, plastic turf,
hair bands, a hula doll, a feathered headdress, gardening gloves, a rubber
snake, and on and onand organized and assembled them into a rectangular
expanse that redefined obsessive. It made me wonder about the Collyer
Brothers. If they had possessed such a vision, a plan, could they have
created something from their hoarded detritus? Pace's Green Peace offered
a constructive outlet for the need to accumulate, an alternative to the
destructive effects of an acquisitive nature.
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