Here’s what’s on view right now in San Antonio:
Blue Star exhibits a thought provoking show of abstract painting curated by Lilly Wei. The artists included in this show are Nate Cassie, Christopher French, Arturo Herrera, John Moore, Thomas Nozkowski, Kimberly Squaglia, and Natasha Sweeten. Wei’s choice of works reflect an appreciation for sensuous beautiful painting that engages the old rift between abstraction and representation. This show reflects the exciting potential for painting through the hybridizing of abstraction, and each painter in this show offers an unique voice to this endeavor. The cutout by Herrara is a must see.
At Cactus Bra Artist Jennifer Wallace creates an installation titled Daddy’s Girl that is provocative in both senses of the word. The gallery is thoroughly transformed with painted red walls, ornate chandelier lighting, and the sound of birds floating though the air. In this sickly-sweet romantic environment hang a series of almost identical framed photographs. Each picture is an similarly posed close up of Wallace engaged in a kiss with the only variation being who she is kissing. This show is partially a record of a social experiment of sorts whose effect is to test people’s boundaries and examine the intimate nature of a kiss.
RC Gallery is showing Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain, works by Lucia LaVilla-Havelin. In this show LaVilla-Havelin uses graphic imagery to make pointed political commentary. She draws from craft tradition using fabric, beading, and stitchery and creates images that are both layered visually and in political meaning. When viewing these pieces from afar their seemingly benign format of textile and needlepoint bring to mind home decoration. But this is their wily tactic — it doesn’t to long for these pieces to sweetly suck you in to receive their political punch.
Jennifer Agricola’s MFA thesis show New Works at the UTSA Satellite Space is thoughtfully presented. Painted monochrome sculptures are inspired by architectural images and the urban streets of the Czech Republic. Each piece is composed of several units. The work is somewhat minimal and design oriented with its predominantly repetitive geometric forms and muted colors, but this quality is pleasantly countered with softened edges and burnished surfaces.
Sala Diaz exhibits Gordon McConnell and Bale Creek Allen. These two artist’s works together create a loaded show that gets under your skin. Entering the first room of the gallery the viewer encounters what appears to be a set of deteriorating framed black and white photographs. On closer inspection each piece is a painting of an old western war scene in motion that illicites fleeting romantic notions and a disturbing nostalgia for war. The tone continues in the next room where Allen’s weapons for a biblical war are installed in a manner reminiscent of a history museum. Each piece is composed of found objects altered succinctly with paint and presentation to create a series of spiritual tools with literal edge. Sala Diaz is open 9pm every first Friday.
In the Bower, artists George Ferrandi and John Orth exhibit a variety of medium including traditional painting, sculptural diorama and diagrams inscribed directly on the wall. This show revolves around a tender and tragic cast of characters that each artist has developed. The exciting twist to the non linear allegories in these works is that the figures are not human. Instead these artists use animal headed figures that allow you to focus on their emotions and psychology as metaphor translates in an immediate manner into emotion. What at first appears seductively whimsical quickly proves to gently and thoroughly engage the viewer in a thoughtful dialogue about the nature of experience.
Finesilver exhibit’s works by five very different artists. There are drawings hung downstairs. Lordy Rodriguez’s drawings resemble maps and have a thoughtful color sensibility while Laura Lark creates large-scale pointillist drawing than surprisingly congeal into fashion photography imagery. Upstairs, Seen/Unseen, an exhibit of three dimensional work, offers further exciting variety. Loris Cecchini casts a variety of found object in urethane rubber elegantly transforming the mundane. Chris Sauter constructs an environment in miniature forming stimulating juxtapositions of the domestic and the industrial. And Courtney Smith alters found furniture giving it a makeover which suggests new possibilities.
A show titled Squiggle is on display at the REM Gallery. Artists Charlie Morris and Joan Fabian share the gallery. Fabian’s paintings reflect her interest in the decorative crafts and design making that evolved from a Fullbright experience in Pakistan. She transforms this impulse into otherworldly imagery creating a biomorphic surrealism that is playfully disorganized and open to personal interpretation. Morris’s process begins with index prints from the one hour photo lab which he manipulates digitally until barely recognizable. He them moves to canvas and creates abstract paintings which contain digital remnants that subtly reference both photography and cinema.
Felice Koenig is an artist and writer living in San Antonio.