Arts Recommended: 57th Annual Art Faculty Exhibit: Huntington Art Gallery

The first thing that greets you upon entering the UT Faculty Exhibit is David L. Demming's welded steel junkyard dog, "Bully-Bully," a sculpture of rebar, plumbing joints, nuts, bolts, washers, and pieces of oxyacetylene tanks welded with a muscular Terminator canine-solidity that would be downright menacing if its face weren't so cartoonishly comical.

The exhibit is

carnival of over 100 pieces from a faculty group that includes nationally and internationally recognized artists. Forget any preconceptions of university faculty as jaded-ivory tower recluses who teach rather than make art. This is an inspired collection of current production from people with original ideas and the technical ability to render them.

There's something here for everyone - whether you're a serious student of the arts, or just interested in a visual party better than TV, movies, arcade games, or the Net. The works are flawlessly executed (As teachers, they have to set an example for their students). They're tastefully rendered (they do, after all, have their tenure to consider), yet there's a playfulness, and a willingness to take risks. The artists examine new themes and add new twists to old ones.

In Bill Wimen's four-piece series, woodcut figures of chanting, robed elders standing on pulpits within watercolor paintings relate the timeless powers of the sun and the seasons with the equally timeless power of song and verse.

Richard Bonner's ceramic sculptures free the medium totally from the context of functional forms and cute figurines. "What No Eye Has Seen," and "Sensitivity Training" imprison human figures in tortuous precision-measuring and examination devices. Through funnel and tubing, a twisting, spaghetti-brain-intestinal "Untitled" configuration takes in and processes some shining metallic, mercurial substance - leaving more questions about man, body, substance, and bad science.

What's interesting about Susan M. Mayer's "History" is not only the updated Mona Lisa at the helm of a speeding powerboat cutting through waves of "sea change," but the Greenpeace vessel "Rainbow Warrior" in the background. Maybe we're to look to modern woman to save the earth's ecosystem.

Timothy High's collages combine photography, hand-reduction serigraph, reduction linocut, and mixed media on paper for some very elaborate multi-dimensional images.

Susan Boscarino's "Bottle" is a giant breast made from a soft pink blanket stuffed with billowing raw cotton, fallen from the sky onto the floor, yet still suspended from the ceiling by huge elastic brassiere straps. The title expresses biological function while the absurd scale and sprawling shape remove any sexual connotation.

Don't leave the Huntington Gallery without a stroll through the upstairs exhibit of early prints by Norwegian post-impressionist Edvard Munch, famed for his 1893 painting "The Scream." The prints show a diversity of themes from the sexually charged "The Kiss" and "Puberty" in 1894 and '95, to the angst-ridden 1896 and '97 "Death in the Sickroom," "Anxiety," and "Melancholy." These last three capture in woodcut and lithograph the haunted faces and the swirling landscapes and skies that created "The Scream's" lunatic energy and movement.

The 57th Annual Art Faculty Exhibit and Early Prints of Edvard Munch will show at the UT Huntington Gallery, 23rd and San Jacinto, through December 15th.
- Cory Walton

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