In this group show riffing on Austin culture, the secret is in the source
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Aug. 20, 2010
Austin Art Garage, 2200-J S. Lamar, 351-5934, www.austinartgarage.com
Through Sept. 1
Head south of the river – OK, south of Lady Bird Lake – and enter the 78704 of "We're Here Because We're Not All There" bumper-sticker pride, and you'll find, there off the nether end of Lamar Boulevard, in a large cul-de-shack beyond the parking lot of Strut clothiers, the Austin Art Garage. No airs put on here, friend, unless those airs are faintly infused with the aroma of purple-haired herbage you might score, if you're lucky, from Willie's personal dealer. No stratospheric pricing structures, either, just solid, artist-sustaining fees attached to a plethora of different works improving the gallery's high walls during this "Spaghetti Modern" exhibition.
Ostensibly a showcase that interprets the rift in the styles and concepts of Western-tinged Austin culture, the array of art on display could interpret a dozen other things as well; fortunately, one of those things would be, "How do you make a canvas or a panel look really good using local tropes and icons as your inspiration?"
Judy Paul, Joel Ganucheau, Ryan Ayers, and others are part of this show that, with its sheer numbers of works, obliterates the walls of the garage. Graham Franciose's pieces in ink and oil on wood are like storybook illustrations commissioned by some Caldecott panel in a slightly more surreal universe. Denise Fulton's big watercolors provide a kaleidoscope of natural and figurative images ablaze with polychrome splendor, while Adreon Henry's trademark vinyl-weavings-and-screenprint creations bring their more subdued, textural goodness to the crowded verticals. And more, and more: Contrasting styles and mediums are sardined in almost to the point of overwhelmitude, until you come to the gorgeous photographic prints (by the venue's co-founder Jake Bryer) spreading out from one corner. The prints by Bryer (who runs the place with Ganucheau) are affixed to wooden panels and come in sizes small enough for a desktop or large enough to impress your biggest wall; they are vivid, full-color images of Austin and its funky sights, like deep postcards snapped by some camera in a lonesome cowboy's heart.
Spaghetti modern, pasta present, no Western unstoned: a city mirrored back to itself in the glass of more than a dozen creative souls. Here at the Austin Art Garage's current show, the secret is in the source.