Here We Are: Christa Palazzolo and Brian Halloran

The painters' craft in service of art doesn't get much better than in this two-person show

'Bagged' by Christa Palazzolo
'Bagged' by Christa Palazzolo

'Here We Are: Christa Palazzolo and Brian Halloran'

Big Medium

Through Sept. 26

After the initial shock wears off ... after about three or four minutes have passed ... you may stop wondering, "How the hell does someone take the soft mud of oil and make it look like there's an actual human being standing right in front of you?"

That's when you'll notice the excellence of spatial composition, the wise choice of theme, the cleverness of the design. This is true of most of Christa Palazzolo's paintings, and it's gorgeously evident at Big Medium, where the artist's newest paintings share wall space with recent works by Brian Halloran in a two-person show called "Here We Are."

Palazzolo's latest series concerns the ubiquity and tenacity of consumer disposables, showing portrait subjects cloaked and masked and otherwise encumbered by bubble wrap, by trash bags, by plastic cups and bottles and dead cell phones, by the kind of crap that clutters up what we'd prefer to think of as the natural environment. A pair of 5-feet-by-4-feet portraits stands out in almost full-bodied, life-sized starkness; a pair of watercolor-and-pencil pieces, no less stunning in their realism, brings other textures to the display. Also, there are Cibachromes and a random, unnerving fact communicated with cunning, original typography.

And then there are Halloran's works, also in oils. They're even larger than Palazzolo's biggest, oh sweet Jesus, filling entire walls one at a time. The man's style isn't the same photorealism, but it's no less recognizable as reality, with just a hint of Ivan Albright grisliness haunting the edges of his figures. Figures, plural, for most of these are ensemble pieces: a family entertaining its babies; a couple of guys working on the engine of a car; kids in the back of a truck, riding through burning fields that illuminate the Mozambique night; and, especially, ToysRus, December 24th 8:30 PM. This last is painted as if captured by a fish-eyed security camera, showing several cashier lines thick with holiday shoppers, the glut of commercialism, for good or ill, rendered in all its polychrome diversity. You'd need a lot of space to encompass such a complex scene, with maximum impact, on canvas; Halloran's ToysRus is an 11-feet-by-7-feet horizontal masterpiece.

In this Big Medium show, the emphasis is on big as much as it is on excellence; and the painters' craft in service of art doesn't get much better than this.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Arts Reviews
Biography of Spooky Rocker Roky Erickson Gets Inside the Myth and Madness
Biography of Spooky Rocker Roky Erickson Gets Inside the Myth and Madness
New oral history explores the head and mysteries of Austin's psych pioneer

Raoul Hernandez, Dec. 3, 2021

Review: Hyde Park Theatre's <i>My Season With the Astros, Expos, and Phillies</i>
Review: Hyde Park Theatre's My Season With the Astros, Expos, and Phillies
One man’s sports obsession becomes a charming one-act exploration into mediocrity

Bob Abelman, Nov. 19, 2021

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
Chocolate, Cheese, Waffles, and Caramels
Chocolate, Cheese, Waffles, and Caramels
Well, yes, those are some of our favorite things, too

Dec. 3, 2021

Austin-Made Food Products to Satisfy Every Palate
Austin-Made Food Products to Satisfy Every Palate
Five savory and five sweet treats for the foodie on your gift list

Dec. 3, 2021


Here We Are: Christa Palazzolo and Brian Halloran, Big Medium

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle