The Austin Chronicle

Local Palette

58th Faculty Exhibition

November 29, 1996, Arts

Various Artists

Huntington Art Gallery, UT campus
through December 8

Few things make me want to return to college... spring break, maybe; between-class naps, sure. But this exhibit! Oh, how this exhibit made me envy any UT art student. Those lucky dogs! "Faculty exhibition" sometimes resonates with "old school"; this one, however, resonates more along the lines of "aesthetically brilliant."

How smart of UT to show off works by its renowned and keenly-talented art faculty, the muscle behind one of the country's most comprehensive art programs. The Huntington provides the perfect exhibition space, with its cavernous, vaulted room allowing ample wall space for each piece and elbow room for each visitor. Generous exhibition space is all too rare in this town, but UT really allowed its faculty room to toot its horn.

Mentioning one or two artists from such an exhibition is difficult -- each is worthy of an entire column -- but here goes. Sarah Canright's oils of massive, blooming white roses possess a Georgia O'Keefe-like feminine sensuality. Thana Lauhakaikul's 2-D pencil illustrations -- simple renderings on graph paper entitled "My Neighbors" -- show how a few well-placed strokes of lead can convey distinct emotion and personality. Bradley R. Petersen's dazzling acrylics look like an Amazon forest from the viewpoint of a bug, surrounded by towering pink and yellow flowers. David Deming's sculpture "Two-on-One" is a standing, full-length mirror, with two steel post-Armageddon cats clinging to the sides, trying to reach a cheerful, steel bird poised on top. Another Deming sculpture, "Play Dead," appears to be act two.

Eyeing the lollygagging art students as I left the building, I felt both envy of and excitement for those lucky apprentices. But that's easy for me to say -- I didn't have to go home and study.

Membership Exhibition

Various Artists

Women & Their Work Gallery
through December 24

Gertrude Stein
How much is that serpent in the window? And that bust of Gertude Stein?

It's a good time to shop at the galleries on Lavaca. At Lyons Matrix, you'll encounter Robert Willson's "A Battle Between a Serpent and a Dragon," a grand, luminescent glass display of the Loch Ness Monster's prettiest cousins. The dragon actually is more akin to "Puff the Magic Dragon," with its cheek-to-cheek smirk (do dragons have cheeks?) and bright splashes of blue and red.

Next door, at Women & Their Work, you'll find Abraham Lincoln and Ms. Stein herself gazing out at you. Sally Saul's life-size ceramic busts of distinguished luminaries have amusing, intricate detail, as in Thomas Jefferson's ponytail and Franklin Roosevelt's cigarette. The figures' bright, rich colors and placid smiles make them look like huge board game pieces.

Venture inside, past the grinning dignitaries, and you'll discover the gallery's first members' exhibition, a collection of works by 18 artists, possessing distinctive techniques and styles.

As you make your way around the room, you'll find multimedia sculpture, naturally lighted photos, and Miro-esque abstract paintings, but be sure to make it back to Benita Carr's photo collages. The kaleidoscopic, black & white images of random, manipulated body parts remind me of those fold-up drawings in the back of Mad Magazine, sans silly punch line.

Works by all 180 members of W&TW were considered for selection in this exhibit, a feat made easier by the gallery's slide registry, an immense catalogue of photos of members' works. The registry is an excellent resource, both for artists seeking exposure and collectors checking out the market. You'll find the registry through the doorway, just past the Mad-like photo montages. -- Cari Marshall

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