From earliest memory, I’ve been intrigued with set designs – in movies, TV shows, magazine spreads, the theater. As a kid, I lived for Saturday afternoon reruns of the classics and their stage sets: Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire tapping across polished marble floors, floating by perfectly placed art deco furniture and wall scones. Katherine Hepburn basking in the elegance of a Main Line home in the Philadelphia Story.
Fast forward to adulthood, I can lose time and sink deeply into the staged atmospheres of Woody Allen’s films (note: I can’t wait until Blue Jasmine opens in Dallas next Friday, August 9th), Nancy Myers’ directorial eye (I own the DVD Something’s Gotta Give because I want to live in that beach house) and any Merchant Ivory production.
So, it is no surprise that I’ve been intrigued with the idea of being part of a photo shoot. Through a recent body of paintings which explore using drywall plaster, handwritten text, drawn images and black-out color blocks, I recently was given this chance.
The very talented Dallas-based interior designer Joshua Rice, owner of Joshua Rice Design, Inc., called to look at my recent work and selected two paintings for a magazine shoot. It was fun and an honor to be part of his behind-the-scene team. Here is the finished dining room:
The larger, black-and-white paintings in the middle, which are mine, were inspired by a March trip to New Orleans and an artist who lives there. She uses drywall plaster troweled and layered over pages torn from old magazines, poster-sized cartoon figures, her daughter’s grade school drawings or other discarded images. Next with an electric sander, she grinds the dried surface until ghost images appear. My work started with this technique (it’s quite messy), and then I added a narrative story by hand-drawing images and writing text messages. The black-out color blocks may have been inspired by all the NSA stuff in the press these days, but I think this convention was borrowed from works by artist, Mark Bradford, who had a museum retrospective at the DMA in 2011. I love his work. Mark’s artist talk and larger-than-life, joyous personality got me thinking about recycling old paper, building layers of colored stripes, and then partially exposing hints of the under images by using an electric sander.
The painting, “Be Still. Sit. Create.,” seen below tells the story of Steven Sondheim’s creative process as he wrote lyrics to Act I: Gang Initiation Scene in the musical, Westside Story. The resulting song is still one of my favorites, “When You’re a Jet, You’re a Jet All the Way.”
A detail from the second painting “Vision Quest” is below – it’s a line drawing of hands holding the promises of a future. The text used in the painting came from an old ad:
- “When your vision is your reputation, it‘s what gets your phone ringing.”
- “Flawless execution is what keeps your phone ringing.”
- “When your vision is your signature.”
On view at the MAC (McKinney Avenue Contemporary on 3120 McKinney Avenue) in the members’ show is another painting (see image below) from this exploration. Look for “Searching for Big Tex” which uses red to build the color blocks. The inspiration for this painting’s story narrative and text was the accidental burning of our beloved Big Tex at last year’s Texas State Fair.
On the Dallas cultural front, I heard Gabriel Ritter, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, give a gallery talk about “DallasSITES: Available Space,” the current show in the DMA’s Barrel Vault and adjacent gallery spaces. This is an historic event and a welcomed one, at that: 1979 – that’s 34 years ago – was the last time the DMA had a major exhibition dedicated to local artists! “DallasSITES” is a fun, interactive and informative representation of the current North Texas art scene and talent.
Until August 18th, when this show closes, each week you can watch special videos featuring different Texas artists who focus on a different decade in the Dallas art scene. Don’t miss this exhibition – support one of our major art institutions’ efforts to showcase Dallas-Fort Worth talent.
To staying cool throughout August in hot Dallas, and experiencing more art.