The Austin Chronicle


Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, September 9, 2011, Arts

'Texas Wax Encaustic Group Show'

Julia C. Butridge Gallery, 1110 Barton Springs Rd., 974-4000
Through Sept. 25

This is an exhibition "of 40 works by 13 artists showcasing the diversity and versatility of mixed media and encaustic wax, an ancient art of painting with wax." Yes, it is. It's also a display of things to feast your lucky eyes upon. Your eyes, yes, not your fingers, although you may be tempted to touch these richly textured creations, some of them as luxurious as what was presented to kings in biblical times.

One speaks of creations at an art show and one admits the necessity of a creator. One speaks of creation and creator outside that context and one might run athwart opponents of Darwin's glorious theory of evolution. And if one is an atheist and tends to wax (heh) philosophical in a loud (but not quite spittle-flecked) fashion against religion in general and maybe Christianity in particular, one is to be trusted when one says: In this show of works from members of Texas Wax Arts, perhaps the most compelling and finely wrought are Jennie Kimbrough's paintings illustrating Bible verses.

Psalms 73:26, Proverbs 5:22-23, Jeremiah 17:5. I'll be damned (heh) if I know the corresponding data, but I'll also be happy if Kimbrough – who incorporates lengths of rope and other objects beneath the subtle and thickly layered illustrations on the panels she improves – devotes the rest of her life to rendering such graphic and textural beauty from that tome of wild, inspirational, and confounding mythology.

Yes, because though Robin Tripaldi's Coils and Elixer are eerily evocative, and Cari Washburn's Party Animal and Giraffe in a Hat are playful without being treacly, and Stephanie Rubiano's Play is like one of the best nonexistent New Yorker covers done in wax ... still, the allusive depths of Kimbrough's biblically inspired works match if not quietly trump the more secular fabrications in this hellishly good show.

Recommendation: Take some time out of your busy day, even if you're, ah, burning the candle at both ends, and see what beauty this diverse group has melted and applied for the delight and edification of all gods' children.

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