‘"Comic Release: Negotiating Identity for a New Generation"’

Visual arts review

'Disposable Teens' by Michael Belivacqua
'Disposable Teens' by Michael Belivacqua

"Comic Release: Negotiating Identity for a New Generation"

Arthouse at the Jones Center, through Oct. 24

Here's the good news about "Comic Release: Negotiating Identity for a New Generation," the touring exhibit curated by Vicky A. Clark and Barbara Bloemink: It's well worth seeing. It's well worth seeing if you like to give your eyes a treat or you like to give your mind's teeth something complex to chew on or you appreciate the vernacular of comic books and graffiti or even if you don't.

Zak Smith’s 'Jill, Tasty on the Floor'
Zak Smith’s 'Jill, Tasty on the Floor'

If you're familiar with the surreal work of cartoonist Glen Baxter, say, then you might feel a slight tingle to be looking at a large original of his; if not, you may still be delighted by his The English have always adopted a relaxed attitude to sexual fulfillment at the end of one hall. If you fondly recall the Gottfried Helnwein self-portrait used as the cover of a Scorpions album, then you'll likely enjoy the Disney-dropping message of the artist's mixed media work American Prayer, and you'll probably even forgive the misspelling of his name on the nearby title card. After all, what evocation of comic-book history would be complete without a typo or two, and who's got time to read text, anyway, when there are such vibrantly graphic treasures as Michael Ray Charles' painting (Forever Free) Beware and the Reed Anderson/Daniel Davidson video "Macho Shogun" to enjoy looking at?

There's much to enjoy here, from the colorful mushroomy phantasms of Takashi Murakami to the sculptural collection of individually painted glass bottles by famed tagger Barry McGee, from the New Yorker-ish miniature portraits by Juliette Borda to Peregrine Honig's Gorey-tinted Awfulbet as rendered in ink and watercolor on 26 separate brown lunch bags. (You especially want to walk around to Arthouse's streetside display window, where Miguel Rodriguez's life-sized busts, Considering Informative Action, will give you a deeper appreciation of both superheroes and the potential of fired clay.)

A smattering of the pieces in "Comic Release" seem little more than images that are fun to look at, and there's nothing hella wrong with that. The few innocuous creations are a welcome balm, in fact, as much of this show works the sociopolitical plow for all it's worth, using the sharpness of popular comic-book icons and design methods to dig up fresh perspectives on gender, race, class, and all the rest of the ground our lives are necessarily seeded, if not ceded, in.

This exhibit's worth, I told you at the beginning, is the good news. The bad news is evident only in the wide world beyond the gallery, where the human race continues doing to itself and its surroundings the sort of things that fictional – whether visual or textual – tragedies and farces are created from. The only bad news is what some of the artists of "Comic Release" are expertly commenting on.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Arts Reviews
'The 2012 Drawing Annual'
Don't let Tiny Park Gallery go without experiencing this exhibit of depth and meaning

Wayne Alan Brenner, May 18, 2012

Arts Review
'Memento Mori'
The three artists showing here exhibit so much sentience, mystery, and grace

Wayne Alan Brenner, April 13, 2012

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
Uh-oh, the <i>Rick & Morty</i> Box Set Is On Its Way
Uh-oh, the Rick & Morty Box Set Is On Its Way
There's some kind of a pickle in here somewhere, isn't there?

Jan. 20, 2021

LeRoy & Lewis x Huckleberry, Easy Tiger Returns to Downtown, Philanthropy Rules, OMG 4th Tap Brewing, and More
LeRoy & Lewis x Huckleberry, Easy Tiger Returns to Downtown, Philanthropy Rules, OMG 4th Tap Brewing, and More
All the news that's fit to get your taste buds quivering

Jan. 19, 2021


"Comic Release: Negotiating Identity for a New Generation", Vicky A. Clark, Barbara Bloemink, Glen Baxter, The English have always adopted a relaxed attitude towards sexual fulfillment, Gottfried Helnwein, American Prayer, Michael Ray Charles, (Forever Free) Beware, Reed Anderson, Daniel Davison, "Macho Shogun", Takashi Murakami, Barry McGee, Juliette Borda, Peregrine Honig, Awfulbet, Miguel Rodriguez, Considering Informative Action

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle