The Austin Chronicle

Arts Review

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, August 5, 2011, Arts

'Water in Time'/'The Night Way'

Flatbed World Headquarters, 2830 E. MLK, 477-9328

Through Aug. 31

When was the last time you stopped by Flatbed Press and gave your eyes a long drink of what's possible with pigment printed on paper? Now's a good time to do that, because water

is a classical symbol of consciousness.

That statement isn't merely what your grandpa might have referred to as hippie-dippy horseshit, friend; it's also perfectly relevant, and it's perfectly relevant for two reasons. Reason No. 1: Bill Kennedy is a fine-art photographer who knows exposure times and lens filters and so on the way the people who train the Royal Lipizzaner Stallions know horses. And Kennedy can make his instruments dance, too, in a way that stunningly captures the streams of photons reflected from any object he wants to possess the image of. Of course, much of the time when professionals do that, they're all about representing the purely recognizable facets of our world – and certainly Kennedy's done that with sharp precision in the past.

But maybe you're looking for something less concrete to slake your eyes' current art thirst, if only to cleanse your optic palate of the last few lolcats you saw online. Note well: This "Water in Time" exhibition by Kennedy is a series of large prints of his photographs of water in Gallinas Canyon in northern New Mexico. Some of these images are in color, some in black and white. They're sharply focused or intentionally otherwise, close-up or shot at a distance, most often fully removed from the context of canyon and stream. Functionally, they're abstract. And beautiful, flowing like a strict, segmented river along the long and well-lighted corridor leading to Flatbed's printing area.

But that's not where the water-as-consciousness symbology comes in strongest. No, that's from reason No. 2. Bob Schneider, the man who's better known for his music, makes etchings. And if you know his music but you don't know his visual art, you might think, "How nice for him." But if you knew only his visual art, you wouldn't think a man with such a command of depiction and composition, who's obviously devoted hours and hours to his large and finely detailed renderings ... well, you wouldn't think such a maestro had time to be a musician. Still, it's true, and Schneider has a show of his big, etched works, "The Night Way," which may still be on view in the lobby of Flatbed World Headquarters, before you even get to the Kennedy show. Before you enter that venue's photographic river, you can spend some quality time floating in a sort of tide pool from the ocean of Schneider's internal world. The man's complex monochrome creations – figurative, weirdly narrative – will make you briefly forget that there's a sun in the sky outside, that there's a drought, that you're supposed to meet your friend down the street at Bennu in half an hour.

Flatbed Press, right now, is possibly just the oasis of art you're looking for.

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