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'Kelly O'Connor: Last Resort'

Kelly O'Connor's exhibit gives visitors a chance to escape into a fractured version of mid-century Vacationland

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., April 12, 2013

Exhibitionism

'Kelly O'Connor: Last Resort'

Women & Their Work, 1710 Lavaca, 477-1064
www.womenandtheirwork.org
Through May 9

See Rock City from the Tomorrowland Terrace after sunning in our Olympic-sized swimming pool! Kelly O'Connor has broken the tourist apotheosis of midcentury America into art-sized pieces and reconfigured them in the context of gallery space, filling Women & Their Work with big collages and a variety of installations as enigmatic yet achingly familiar as those pylons used by Sleestaks in a somewhat later but no less fabricated Land of the Lost.

That "ache" in the achingly familiar is the ache of nostalgia, or perhaps the ache of that nostalgia's shattering, as O'Connor explodes ideas of what was once idealized about getting-away-from-it-all. Still, you don't have to be a Mad Men aficionado to appreciate the particular color palate of those bygone days, and its representation here goes as far toward soothing that ache as it does toward exacerbating it: the golds and greens, the proud ocean of cerulean shades, all the formerly state-of-the-art triumphs of color printing on display again in these note-perfect deconstructions, sending you smiling through advertisement's paper-based heydays.

Women & Their Work is in the habit of hosting artists who not only display what they've created but also use the work to transform the available space into a fully furnished annex of their minds, bringing conceits and concerns to a three-dimensional totality that visitors can walk around in. This "Last Resort" show is another successful example of that, especially appropriate due to its attention on the destinations an entire nation once fled to for respite from the quotidian world. Here's your own chance to escape, then, ladies and gentlemen – if only briefly – into a fractured, vivid version of a previous generation's escapism, served up by artist O'Connor in that familiar visual-arts venue on Lavaca.

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