‘Sugarcoated’

With the exhibit 'Sugarcoated,' co-curators Lisa Choinacky and Katherine McQueen have assembled an energetic mix of drawings, paintings, sculpture, textiles, and mixed media by female artists

Arts Review

"Sugarcoated"

Women & Their Work Gallery, through June 17

I like having choices in a show, and co-curators Lisa Choinacky and Katherine McQueen have put together a quirky troupe in "Sugarcoated," an energetic mix of drawings, oil paintings, sculpture, textiles, and mixed media by female artists.

Arts Review

Perhaps ironically, the two artists in the show who literally used sugar held my attention the least. Theresa Vargas presents chocolate covered tools, which seemed more like a waste of perfectly good tools and chocolate than a way to achieve the stated goal of addressing gender issues. Lisa Ludwig's installation of sugar-frosted sculptures was more successful. Her white Rabbit is made of icing in a realistic scale near the floor. It portrays a perky jackrabbit, and I was able to conjure some fond domestic memories of making coconut lamb- and bunny-shaped cakes.

Funny art is hard to come by. Sarah Lasley of New York has terrific six-foot charcoal drawings. They demonstrate a strong understanding of anatomy, drawing facility, and good humor. While the subjects in the photo-based series are recognizable as various women in bathing suits, Lasley distorts the proportions in a caricatured manner reminiscent of local fabulizer Heyd Fontenot. The women are half-naked, but their faces share a smushed-up, squinting-into-the-sun expression that effectively desexualizes them. They leave a nicely unidealized impression of wholesome fun.

Also tickling the funny bone is Lisa Krivacka of Germantown, N.Y., who presents four delicately detailed oils on panels. My favorite is These Woods Are Crawling With Bears. It's a heavily forested landscape with lots of little clearings. In these, bears helpfully demonstrate their various family and daily activities like little actors. With the recent ballooning of nature programs on TV, it is a sweet commentary on our tendency to anthropomorphize just about everything and our desires to control the wilderness.

Totally out of control and blowing my mind are the mixed-media paintings of Aimee Jones from Houston. If you liked the Art Palace show by Austin artists Nina Rizzo and Stephanie Wagner a couple of months back, then you'll dig the abstract explosions of ridiculously bright colors here. Day-Glo colors are quite hard to handle in combination. Jones is so comfortable within a highly keyed-up environment that she adds little beads and toys into small areas of the compositions. The work is so blinding that, in spite of the inclusion of plastic and glitter, the lasting impression is that of a painting. They are a bit scary, a bit shocking, a bit overwhelming, and surreally intriguing. Jones seems to have enough vim and vigor for 10 people; perhaps she chewed up colored candies and then passionately vomited out these rainbows.

Austin's own Bonnie Gammill is more down to earth. She hits the streets with candy colors, painting carscapes in delicious pinks and oranges. Her palette is bright with pastels but also limited and nuanced. Her layering of cut-tape edges give the work a sleek graphic feel. These sharp edges, combined with the subject matter of trucks, roads, power lines, and Arby's signage, contrast nicely with the dreamy colors. She focuses on sweeping and rather soothing compositions of traffic.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Sugarcoated, Lisa Choinacky, Katherine McQueen, Theresa Vargas, chocolate covered tools, Lisa Ludwig, Rabbit, Sarah Lasley, Lisa Krivacka, These Woods Are Crawling With Bears, Aimee Jones, Bonnie Gammill

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