Link & Pin's Newest Exhibition Soars on Digital Wings

Local artists offer a show that overclocks the eyes with beauty

Paradise Paved by Leslie Kell
Paradise Paved by Leslie Kell

You know how easy it is to do so many things badly, of course: We all know that.

And you know that the easier a system is to operate, the more people will attempt to operate it; and that the more people attempting to operate a system, the more mediocrity will creep into the results of that operation.

That's just human nature: Few of us give enough of a damn to put sufficient effort into available industries. And so, when technology affords more convenient access to formerly hardwon creative tools, more lazy fools will use that technology casually, without expending sufficient thought or energy or time in exploration of its parameters and possibilities. And what comes of this is what the wannabe practitioners might call "art" but which is just, well, flashy-looking pieces of shit.

[Note: Damn you, technology – look what you've done.]

This is why, when some people hear the term "digital art," they might reach for their guns: It's relatively easy to create finished, polished, high-end-looking works that are nonetheless aesthetic trash.

It's like, ah, remember that stage play from A Chick And A Dude Productions several months ago? Samuel D. Hunter's The Whale? Wherein Shanon Weaver wore a customized fatsuit to play the role of a dying man who weighs around 600 pounds? And it was a serious play, and it was a harrowing situation displaying itself across the Hyde Park Theatre stage, and it would've been so easy for Weaver to, in any number of ways, to do a shitty job. And yet, watching him take on this tough role, you could see that the strength of Weaver's skill was matched by his (and his director's) simply (as if) not making any of the thousand shitty, ineffective choices he so easily could have made.

You get what I'm saying here?

So when I tell you that New York-born Greta Olivas does mixed-media works composed of watercolor and drawing and collage and who-knows-what-else, you'll know that, unlike so many gambits of that combo that you might've previously suffered through the viewing of … this stuff, what Olivas has wrought, is beautiful work indeed. The sort of things – often eerie landscapes with what appear to be the ruins of castles and/or cities on the horizon – that you can stare at for a long time, absorbing the shapes and shades of the subtly hued scenes, contemplating their potential as settings of ancient epics or future mysteries.

And when – more to the original point, here – I tell you that Leslie Kell's portion of this two-person show at Link & Pin Gallery is a display of her digital art … well, then you'll know: All the possibilities of taking the easy way out, of rendering visuals that are less than complex and compelling and, basically, stunning: Those are possibilities that Kell has no truck with. I can barely imagine the tactics of expert manipulation she's visited upon her photographic images, the multitude of cut-and-pastes and filterings and enhancements and focus-shifts she's used to modify her pictures of architecture and foliage. Kell's working the sort of high-level graphic wizardry that's impressive in and of itself, even when it doesn't result in – as it so often does, in this exhibition – in exquisite beauty. That, when framing her printed works, the artist chooses to transcend the digital and adds brass fittings and polished branches and more to complement and intensify the beauty of each bright wonder … well, I'm just shoring up my case here: This is work created by someone who gives a damn. This is work that defines and glorifies the word "painstaking."

And all you have to do, citizen, is find a parking space or a bike rack or a nearby bus-stop and walk on into the gallery. And that's not much effort, really, is it, in this crowded urban domain of ours?

And yet, holy shit, will that effort be rewarded.

[Note: The reception for "Between Space & Time" is this Friday, Aug. 8, from 6-8pm; the show runs through August 30th; and the gallery's regularly open Thursday through Saturday, from 2-6pm.]

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Leslie Kell, Greta Olivas, Link & Pin Gallery, digital art, austin art galleries, people who give a damn

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