The Austin Chronicle

Arts Review

Reviewed by Salvador Castillo, November 16, 2007, Arts


Gallery Lombardi, through Nov. 24

It begins with, "Once upon a time."

Darla Teagarden flashes us views of fantasy by way of fashion photography. Stylish ladies pose with theatrical props and strong lighting. There isn't too much excitement in the mohawked lovely riding a winged buffalo, but when things get nonsensical, like the tentacled cowgirl of Oct-o-Dutchess, something more happens than just playing dress-up.

Then a, "No, this really happened."

History puts out some ads as Ellen Tanner highlights notable women in compositions likened to those of magazine feature illustrations. Names, dates, portraits, and symbols describe the life and times of the subject matter. The way the elements are collaged succinctly tells the stories of the first cowgirl and the first trans-Atlantic flight.

"Here comes the scary part."

Raymond Uhlir brings violence to the mix. Bunny heads and teddy bears, little kids and Nazi soldiers are flying out of a burning plane in one piece. In another, you have gorillas in the smoke and guerillas smokin' folks. Again we have illustrative collage, except this time, it's cartoony and maybe more art-historical.

"The transformation begins."

Three dead rappers with sweet headdresses look out at us. Biggie, Jam Master Jay, and Tupac apparently went to Dairy Queen and placed a variety of ice cream products on their heads. The celebrity of Tanner's paintings meets the absurdity of Teagarden's photos in Hope Perkins' trio of pieces. The mirthful spirit and colorful paintings offer little more than the headdress itself.

"The end. Okay, I'll read it one more time; then it's lights out."

Chia Guillory brings us full circle with her use of Native American costuming, mermaids, and fairies. Small throw-pillows feature a silk-screened figure of mermaids, fairies, or Nature Girl. Appropriate for fairy art, three rainbow-colored auras backlight three different plants in a large painting. This mysticism is repeated in the seated mannequin. The deep-black plastic energizes the painted dazzle and colorful garments.

Each artist here brings together disparate elements and, like patchwork, creates a larger whole. Every object has a chic presence, and that gives the show a fashionable sense. The collage of symbols and ideas is nothing new, but coupled with the sheen of a polished look, they start inching toward a more ornamental identity. Knowing that one of the artists was involved in the recent Stitch event at the Austin Convention Center, is the use of costuming promoting a human-scaled visualization of narrative or the hipness of having a wardrobe with character?

Copyright © 2020 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.