3 New Artists
The name of the show doesn't have to be creative, because what's on the walls is
Reviewed by Rachel Koper, Fri., Nov. 14, 2008
'3 New Artists'
Yard Dog gallery is showing "3 New Artists." That's the name of the current show. Which may not be very creative, but the title doesn't have to be, because the art that's on the walls is. When you walk into the long, high-ceilinged room, you see the groupings of the three new artists immediately to the right. Billy Kirkland has drawn with graphite on gessoed panels to create a central figure surrounded by mysterious abstract shapes. Mike Egan is a painter who is able to make funeral references look reverently adorable. Fort Guerin uses cowboys' poetic quotes, combining text and portraiture to give a nostalgic look at frontier culture.
Guerin's work reminds me of recent work by Tim Kerr because of the loose combinations of quotes and historical figures. His subjects are cowboys, so the quotes tend to center around campfires, guns, and drinking. The artist does historical research and pulls out tasty bits to give you a feeling of the hard lives these characters lived.
I was fascinated to read that Egan works at a funeral parlor. His imagery is sad and peacefully accepting at the same time. He has a great flat illustrative style that is quite contemporary – call it Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine style, if you like. The style is adorable, but his subject is death. His titles are poignant: I Pray That You're Safe and Happy to Be Gone. In the series, a skeleton character animates graveyards, little flowers grow, and little crosses float up to the sky. I think the crosses represent prayers of the living. These skeletons seem like ghost friends; they aren't out to get you, but they exist on their own terms.
Kirkland is an Austin artist whose work has a spontaneous feel, like he's discovering imagery as he works. It seems like he just starts drawing and gets wrapped up in his cubist-influenced style. He uses line and pattern more than shading. Rapido looks to me like a Works Progress Administration worker. He's wearing a cap, and there seem to be layers of pipes and grated floors behind him. In this vast room, checkerboards, eyes, plants, and shapes mingle harmoniously. These pieces draw you in with their complexity and abstractions and intrigue you with political titles such as New World Disorder and The Nocturnal Combatant.
While these three artists have different motivations for making art, the atmosphere at Yard Dog is always about making deeply personal art rather than purely looking for the decorative. As a statement on the gallery's website notes: "Lots has happened over the years: older artists passed on, we met new artists, the folk art/outsider art/self-taught art/whatever-you-want-to-call-it art field changed, and we changed. Now, if we like it, if we hang it in the gallery and it looks like it belongs, then it's Yard Dog art."