"Andy Coolquitt: Pinto Beans" at Bale Creek Allen Gallery

The artist's solo show is a public display of well-organized chaos, a sculptural nirvana of randomness and resourcefulness


Photo by Ben Aqua

Andy Coolquitt has invited some new friends to be in his solo show at Bale Creek Allen Gallery, and from the looks of it, they all jogged to get there. The Austin-based artist is back with his bric-a-brac in "Pinto Beans," bringing together some old familiar knickknacks – fuzzy toilet seat covers, amputated shirtsleeves, bare bulbs to brighten up the place – and transforming this latest space into something less like a messy living room and more of a cluttered showroom. Just ask the three naked sneaker-clad mannequins admiring what's on the walls.

Unlike other projects, where Coolquitt has seemingly basked in a hoarder's delight of home sweet home, "Pinto Beans" (which is sort of a working title, he explains) offers a different kind of stuff-centric experience into the artist's unconscious. Take again those mannequins, who serve better as attendees at the opening than actual objects in the show, their full-frontal figures facing each gallery wall, transfixed, inches from the artwork. They, too, have come for the free booze.

It isn't just the naked mannequins' myopic search for meaning (#tooclosetothepaintings is among the show's many helpful hashtags) that makes me wonder exactly what kind of world I've stepped into. It's also the onslaught of flashbacks from having worked at a Jo-Ann store: erect bolts of fabric, sensuously layered scraps of cloth – even the skeleton of a white button-down shirt, starved of everything but its seams, closes in on me at BCA Gallery. The proximity to strangeness doesn't stop there: a neon noose-like thread swings in the doorway below the EXIT sign.

So is Coolquitt trying to deliver a claustrophobic retail experience with "Pinto Beans," or am I being triggered by my Jo-Ann Fabrics PTSD? Perhaps both. The densely adorned space certainly feels less like a fictional domicile and more like a public display of well-organized chaos. Large windows, for instance, create a veritable storefront, and unlike most art galleries, which shield their shows from the light of day, BCA encourages you to have a look at the inventory even if you're just strolling by outside.

But do as the naked mannequins: Go in there and get up close to the goods. "Details work best with a show like this," says Cool­quitt, while I admire a shoehorn, balanced just so, above the unassuming photo responsible for the project's name. "Pinto Beans" achieves the same sculptural nirvana of randomness and resourcefulness as the artist's past spatial experiments, yet as the inscription reads on a small bird sketch, situated between a pocket lighter and a pair of striped underwear:

I do not sing my song

To entertain you

I sing it for my own purpose

That you will never know

So now when you hear

My song it will remind

You that you do not

Know my purpose.


“Andy Coolquitt: Pinto Beans”

Bale Creek Allen Gallery, 916 Springdale, Bldg. 2 #103
www.balecreekallengallery.com
Through Oct. 14

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Bale Creek Allen Gallery
"Jim Roche: Some Americans Feel Like This" at Bale Creek Allen Gallery
The show's hand-stenciled, colorful re-creations of political signs are a timely vessel for America's honesty

Sam Anderson-Ramos, Feb. 3, 2017

More Arts Reviews
Thinkery & Verse's <i>Dionysus in America</i>
Thinkery & Verse's Dionysus in America
This contemporary spin on The Bacchae shows how little the unjust treatment of women has changed in 2,500 years

Laura Jones, Oct. 18, 2019

TexARTS’ <i>Little Shop of Horrors</i>
TexARTS’ Little Shop of Horrors
This production of the horror comedy musical makes watching inept humans get devoured by an alien plant just a damn good time

Laura Jones, Oct. 18, 2019

More by Barbara Purcell
Eastside's Past and Present Revealed in John Mulvany's Latest Exhibit
Eastside's Past and Present Revealed in John Mulvany's Latest Exhibit
"Secure the Perimeter" at grayDUCK Gallery asks, “What if the outside force is an inside job?”

Oct. 4, 2019

“Jeffrey Gibson: This Is the Day” at the Blanton
The artist explores his indigenous roots and American identity in this solo exhibition

Aug. 9, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Bale Creek Allen Gallery, Andy Coolquitt

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle