"Carl Block: Odd Pottery" at Yard Dog Gallery
Block's ceramic monster-faced jugs with crooked teeth and varminty eyes are indeed odd but also colorful and delightful
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Dec. 29, 2017
Sometimes, when you want a piece of artwork to advance the goal of keeping your own meager portion of Austin weird, your best bet might be to go to Waxahachie to get it. Except when Waxahachie conveniently comes to you – as with this new "Odd Pottery" exhibition by Carl Block.
"Odd," indeed – and therefore, synonymously, weird as well. But Block's monster-faced jugs are as delightful as they are anything else, all expertly rendered in glazed ceramic and staring up at you with a grinful of teeth and an unexpected number of varminty eyes. "Equal parts Appalachian tradition and tattoo shop irreverence," goes the official show description, and we can only wish all gallery texts were as affably precise.
Those jugs, as well as Block's panoply of freaky-floral serving platters enhanced with vines and flowers and skulls and eyes, have another thing to recommend them to a viewer's own eyes: a wonderful palette of colors. The pigments lavished here – deep, rich, exuberantly applied – range across the entire spectrum, consistently eschewing the blandness of pastel without ever overcompensating into the neighborhood of neon. Garish, they should be – especially considering the subject matter. Garish, they are not; merely a menagerie of polychrome joys to behold.
It could be that you're already aware of Yard Dog's collections of folk-art wonderment. On the other hand, how many more people move to Austin each day? Something like 50 or 60 new folks per diem, is it? So, to be sure, please note that this Carl Block show resides among the venue's regular holdings of equally compelling works (in acrylics on panel, in woodcut print on homemade paper, in shards of linoleum tile on itself) by such artists as Mike Egan, Ellen Greene, Fort Guerin, Jo Clauwaert, Bill Miller, and so many others. And much of it might not be "odd" or "weird" or whatever, but all of it is damn sure worthwhile to feast your own usual number of eyes upon.
“Carl Block: Odd Pottery”Yard Dog, 1510 S. Congress, 512/912-1613
Through Dec. 31