Local Palette

The Tarot Show

Various Artists

Alternate Current ArtSpace
through December 1

You can count on Alternate Current for a party at their openings... usually one worth the sweat you break from being in their funky little building. Its "Tarot" show was no exception. It started with a paranormal event. What other gallery would feature two tarot readers and a drum circle, all planned on the full moon?

This Halloweenish exhibition is well-suited to the non-traditional character and ambiance of AC. Here, funkiness oozes from the green and pink walls, and the artwork generally oozes right along. Add in the mystical essence of this show and you have one bizarre blend, my dear.

But what's really interesting about this show is the way it celebrates the art of tarot drawings and similar interpretive designs. William Kirchner's series of paintings puts a 1990s twist on the 500-year-old art form. "The Devil" is a perky realtor, leading a young couple to a land of promise, which is covered by a cloud of factory soot. "The Emperor" is a man in a nicely-pressed suit smiling placidly while standing atop a mound of skulls in front of a factory spewing waste. As with traditional tarot drawings, Kirchner's paintings are simply rendered but powerful, with the contemporary images adding even more bite.

Perhaps the show's strongest image is Rachelle Meyer's "Death." The large acrylic piece depicts a naked woman, surrounded by scorpions, positioned next to the Grim Reaper, who watches as the Devil takes the woman's ghostly soul from her body. Yet the woman appears pleasantly asleep. Not something I'd hang in my bedroom, but a beautiful, haunting image nonetheless -- and a perfect component to this witch's brew of a show.

Is It Something
in the Water?

Various Artists

Tarrytown Gallery
through November 16

Sometimes when the air is soupy, the eyelids are droopy, and the brain is loopy, visiting a gallery can be like swimming in glue. One just hopes that the awaiting exhibition is a real eye-opener, a full-of-life, slap-in-the-face wake-up call. Fortunately, this past Saturday, Tarrytown Gallery's show proved to be just that.

The title, Is It Something In the Water? the undercurrent of austin art gives little hint as to what's in store. For me, the pronounced energy and fervor of the exhibition's 16 artists is more like a tidal wave than an undercurrent. It's exciting to see a collection of so many local artists who are not only technically skilled, but carry distinctive styles and ideas.

Animals seem a popular vessel for artists' narratives these days. Animal iconography and personification are rampant here. Sam Yeates' acrylic "The Blue Guitar" sets the bright blue musical instrument afloat on a grassy river, where two herons discover the strange object. The piece proves Yeates' talent for conveying shadows and highlights with incredible realism.

Malcolm Bucknall's watercolor animals are more disconcerting. "Bird in a Gilded Cage" is a portrait of a female nude with big, chunky pearls and a feather boa encircling her soft pink body, and a bug-eyed gawking bird's head resting on her neck. His smaller ink on paper drawing "Spring Has Sprung" shows a young woman with the head of a sweet-eyed doe caught somewhat exposed in a grassy meadow. Bucknall's works are deliciously bizarre, and his take on the female form is interesting, indeed.

The gallery describes this exhibition as "narrative, figurative, fantastic, real, and surreal imagery." It not only summarizes the collection, but, I hope, the future of Austin art. -- Cari Marshall

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