"Post-Apocalyptic Harvest" at Atelier 1205
Artists Erika Huddleston, Tammy West, and Amy Scofield salvage beauty from a sundered world
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Jan. 11, 2019
In a small gallery within an architecture firm's headquarters in the urban heart of Austin, it's as if the apocalypse has already taken place. You know which apocalypse, of course: You've got Netflix or Hulu or whatever; hell, you've seen TV, you've been to the movies a few times in your life.
It's not that the Forsite Studio's building's interior has become any less tony, any less tidy, than its lovely exterior there on East Cesar Chavez. It's that the exhibition of visual art within this Atelier 1205 space has such a spot-on title for the works on display. It's called "Post-Apocalyptic Harvest," because it seems like the apocalypse has come and gone, but it happened out there somewhere, beyond the fields we know, and now someone's been creatively reaping what disaster and collapse have sown – and bringing it back for us to appreciate.
That "someone" is three artists: Erika Huddleston, Tammy West, and Amy Scofield. The pieces they've provided complement each other visually and texturally – curator Saul Jerome San Juan knows what's up – but there's also an implied sequential component that links these three discrete samplings of work.
Huddleston's oils on canvas and rougher materials capture the sort of viny, arboreal tangles that might proliferate during nature's resurgence after human achievement has been sundered. That many of her realist depictions of colorful botanical chaos are actually plein air renderings from New York City's Central Park, well, that just makes the apocalypse conceit ring more true, doesn't it? Aren't the jungled ruins of our biggest metropolitan hubs usually what's depicted when the end of civilization comes a-calling?
West, according to this sequence we're proposing, has followed, gathering up some of the natural detritus that Huddleston's been depicting portions of. She's taken twigs and leaves and their ilk and arranged them in compelling patterns, bound them encaustically for preservation's sake, presented them in convenient shapes and sizes for gallery viewing – as if trying to compensate for the order that's been destroyed. Here are handsome records in wax, of what will remain after all our vainglorious industry's kaput.
And Scofield, ever the eschaton's busy magpie, has matched West's methods in a materially inverse fashion: gathering not the natural ephemera and re-ordering them, but wrangling up the fabricated remnants of our proud world – the bright plastics, the shiny metals, the tubing and wires and chains – and turning them savage, shunting them beyond workaday linearity and arranging them in evocations of a less purely machined existence. Everything sold is new again.
So there's a winning trinity of creative harvesting for you to encounter on Atelier 1205's walls right now, is our point, citizen. Always a good thing to see before the apocalypse, n'est-ce pas?
“Post-Apocalyptic Harvest”Atelier 1205, 1205 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/434-9046
Through Jan. 27