Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Note on Brass Tacks at GGallery

by Robert Boyd

Brass Tacks, a group exhibit at GGallery, started by asking three San Antonio artists to invite other artists. So the first three artists essentially curate the rest of the show. The thing is, I'm not sure who the first three artists are. In any case, its a novel curatorial tactic, and the results are generally pretty appealing. Here are some of the pieces I liked.

The first piece you see when you enter the gallery is Ronny Unraveling by Clay McClure. McClure starts with antique and used wooden furniture and transforms it.

Ronny Unravelling
Clay McClure, Ronny Unraveling, 2011, wood chair, paper rope

This piece struck me as a sculpture of a moment frozen in time--a fantastic moment during which a chair has become possessed by some plant spirit and explosively sprouted roots. When you see Ronny Unraveling, you can see in your minds eye the moments just before--when the chair was an ordinary chair and when it started growing. The piece has an Alice in Wonderland strangeness, accentuated by the fact that the seat, back and bottom of the structure are clearly parts of a very real and very ordinary chair.

Joseph A. Duarte, Mouth, 2011, inert bullets, concrete

Joseph A. Duarte uses bullets in his two pieces. Inert bullets are bullets without gunpowder or any propellant. Mouth is a sculptural depiction of a mouth, with ragged concrete gums and snaggly bullet teeth. Mouth is both ridiculous and menacing, and the use of bullets reinforces this.

Joseph A. Duarte, Mouth, 2011, inert bullets, concrete

Mouth is not quite toothless, but it doesn't seem particularly threatening. The inert bullets are impotent.

War Is a Lot of Things
Joseph A. Duarte, War Is a Lot of Things, 2011, inert bullets, marble

War Is a Lot of Things is more elegant than Mouth. The lovely piece of marble suspended over the bullets is prettier than the ragged concrete of Mouth. Even the bullets look better--stacked together in a glass enclosure, they show the viewer their noble brass jackets. Mouth is the old soldier as he is; War Is a Lot of Things is that soldier in his pressed uniform wearing his medals for Veterans Day.

I keep them as a reminder
Tommy Gregory, I thank God for teaching me humility, 2012, optic crystal

And speaking of elegant, I loved Tommy Gregory's crystal iPhones. They are appropriate monuments to this wonderful piece of technology--and they will last far longer than iPhones which, after all, will surely be obsolete in a few years. I realize that they could be read as ironic--that they could be seen to make a critical comment on our powerful attachment to our gadgets. But given that it could be read either way, I choose to read it as a straightforward homage to the iPhone.

I thank God for teaching
Tommy Gregory, I keep them as a reminder they're not killing me, 2012, optic crystal

Almost as important as the objects themselves are the displays. They communicate a sense that these are important, precious objects.

Time will take care of itself
Justin Parr, Time will take care of itself, just leave time alone, 2011, archival pigment print

Justin Parr contributed this spooky image, Time will take care of itself, just leave time alone. The stone well at night with a red glow from inside--it feels like something out of Twin Peaks. You don't want to look into that well, but you are compelled to.

Willie Sanchez, Mezclar, 2012, plaster, tar, polyurethane

Mezclar is the Spanish verb "to mix", and Willie Sanchez's Mezclar appears to mix Mesoamerican graphic elements with Japanese elements. The oval-shaped surface recalls a turtle shell, and the dark blotchy stain has a highly organic look. Mexclar feels more like an archeological artifact than a piece of contemporary art. An artifact from a non-existent culture, a mixture of other cultures. One could probably concoct a convincing historical explanation for this piece. The culture that created it valued beauty--that much seems certain.

Brass Tacks is up through June 29.


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