New American Talent: The Twenty-Fourth Exhibition
You'll find striking examples of people depicted in this rush of new artistic creation
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Aug. 7, 2009
'New American Talent: The Twenty-Fourth Exhibition'
Arthouse at the Jones Center
through Aug. 23
New American talent? Who couldn't get behind an exhibition that's new and features Americans with talent? In fact, forget "get behind" – that's an outmoded form of expression, isn't it?
– like starting a review with a series of questions? Who couldn't immerse themselves, even profitably, in a pool of the most current visual art to be culled from that wider, incessant ocean of American creation?
You won't find that person at Arthouse, eyeing the materials manipulated, the hues rendered, the potentials given solid form (following little function but whimsy or concern's expression) and resisting vacuum in the venue's rooms. You'll find other people: representations of people, anthropomorphic objects or images spiking a familiar shape into the collection's diverse array of made things.
You'll find Space Suit Form With a Burden of Platonic Solid Talismans by Houston's Garland Fielder; this is an arresting mannequin-based sculpture that seems a distillation of the entire figurative-amid-the-abstract exhibition. (Hamza Walker, director of education for the University of Chicago's Renaissance Society, who juried this show, mentioned this piece in his opening-reception remarks, carefully inserting a shim of artistic intent between this work and what's encountered in the more commercial fashion industry. We got the feeling that the example was also an example of synecdoche.)
You'll find Elemental Topography, precise iron castings of a single female body, arranged neatly in more than a dozen distinct pieces, upon a large wooden table. The whole woman responsible for this disparate woman is Erin Cunningham of Austin.
You'll find Austinite Leah DeVun's series of photo-portraits of girls dressed as Disney character Hannah Montana, the costumed personas of these young women usurping their own identities the way photography usurped painting as a record of what's real.
You'll find Kristin Wanek of Los Angeles continuing the celebrity focus with a series of carefully crafted media-icon dioramas documenting Lady Diana Spencer's campaign toward the U.S. presidency with Jesse Jackson as her running mate.
You'll find Amy Grappell's video installation Quadrangle presenting a look into part of what the sexual revolution of the Sixties wrought among her parents and their closest friends. (More about this piece can be gleaned from "Amy Grappell's 'Quadrangle,'" p.31.)
You'll find these and other examples of people depicted and nonfigurative pieces that are yet redolent of the artist's vibrant humanness and pure abstractions that your own eyes must, if necessary, provide the humanity for, and your discoveries will, we insist, do you a world of good. Because new artistic creation, whether burdened or enhanced by Platonic-solid talismans or otherwise, is by no means an outmoded form of expression. And we stand squarely behind that statement.