‘Adde Russell’

Adde Russell's artwork made me think she had stolen my childhood cigar boxes of treasures and painted replicas of each precious object onto canvas

Arts Review

Adde Russell

The Bread Factory, Ste. A-12, May 7-8

When I first saw works by Adde Russell, I thought she had stolen my childhood cigar boxes of treasures and painted replicas of each precious object onto canvas. This is Russell's first spring in Austin, and the humidity comes as a surprise. When she moved here from Seattle nine months ago, she leased a studio space in the Guadalupe Arts Center. After the GAC fire in which she lost works, materials, and a vast collection of source materials for her paintings, Russell approached the loss as an opportunity to develop a new visual vocabulary.

Russell's work reaches deep into my memories: a view of the world through a glass jar filled with the exhaled smoke from my grandfather's cigar, my cigar boxes filled with coveted objects from other people's pasts and the occupational hazards of owning a pet. In Shake a Tail Feather, the compositional elements of a military aircraft suspended over a trailer park community recall a more immediate narrative. I roamed the Mojave Desert on three separate occasions in 2003. The communities of Shoshone, Calif., and Tecopa, Calif., are home to antinuclear activists, artists, and hot spring enthusiasts. Both communities lie approximately 20 miles east of the southern end of Death Valley National Park and 80 miles east of Las Vegas, Nev. The residents of Tecopa Heights – a hive of trailer homes, some surrounded by concrete-covered hay-bale walls adorned with glittering wine bottles or fenced in by pink, avocado, and aqua refrigerators – are the frequent recipients of military testing. This part of the country, with its vast desert acreage, lowest population-to-income ratio of any county in California, and safe repository in which to store our nation's nuclear waste, is Fort Irwin's test site for modern weapons.

As I tell Russell my story, she asks questions: "Where is Yucca Mountain?" "How many people live in that area?"

We are using art to create meaningful dialogue.

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Adde Russell, Shake a Tail Feather, Guadalupe Arts Center

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