The Austin Chronicle

Arts Review

Reviewed by Nikki Moore, June 13, 2008, Arts

Lance Letscher: 'Industry and Design'

D Berman Gallery, through June 28

Dumb Luck. It's the title of one of Lance Letscher's latest works, a title that is redundant in the most clever ways – as is the piece itself. Drawing on this exhibition's penchant for amazing lines, appearing throughout D Berman Gallery in pencil, crayon, and collage, Dumb Luck might be a tracing of any man's daily walking path as seen from the air. It might be the mapping of a train of thought, or it might be, as a snippet in the upper left corner suggests, a random game of picture and story – something like life laid out in collage form. But be it path, picture, or point of thought, as Letscher's title makes plain, it is also only ever Dumb Luck. Interestingly, the show's theme is all that we as humans have in our toolbox to defy dumb luck.

"Industry and Design" is a step off from Letscher's previous work. While at first glance the work appears to be thicker, meatier, the truth may be that these works invite openness in a way that his previous collections, while stunning, did not. The works' colors stand out differently against more neutral backgrounds, and in the current, almost stair-step difference between paper background and book-cover foreground, the materiality of Letscher's media is more noticeable. Perhaps this is in keeping with the pictures and stories that "Industry and Design" evokes: children's thoughts fleshed out in squiggly lines, feet that don't fit the size of their bodies, scribbles that seem to come out of nowhere. In close contrast, some of Letscher's own pencil drawings have made their way into the collection. These careful measured studies in dark, layered lead complete the story told by the children's early work. And work is certainly the question here.

Throughout both the formal elements and the suggestive narratives that the artist strings throughout this group of collages, there is always the question of work: how children work through ideas and emotions and how adults, on a larger, possibly grander and more sublime scale, work through those very same ideas and emotions in supposedly grownup form. The answer may be "dumb luck," but as we are accustomed to calling such luck "talent" in many cases, the term seems all the more apt to describe Letscher's work in this exhibition.

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