Home, Artist Names, Printable Instructions, So far

Monday, October 5, 2015

Kelly Moran/Only Human

Collage is a powerful art form that can turn the ordinary surreal. It can re-order history, create relationships where none existed, fracture memory and reshape a fact into a greater truth. Today, many traditional photo collage techniques can be accomplished with a computer. Those who like to see the touch of an artist's hand -- and wit -- will enjoy the warmth and poignancy of Only Human.

Exploration Explosion is a small work with maps in the far background covered by a layer of overlapping black and white photos of (mostly) male heads arranged in a rough cloud. Atop it all, in blazing color, a woman who is either alarmed or excited wears a glowing space helmet.

Without no words uttered, the artist tells us a) the early history of female astronauts at NASA; and/or b) that women have been excluded from historical accounts of many scientific activities; and/or c) this girl's riding a rocket while those guys are puffs of smoke down there on the ground.

Explorer Explosion
2015, found paper on wood, 8.5" x 8.5"
Photo: www.kellymoranart.com

Bad girl meets wimpy rat?

In a form Moran calls cut-outs, she mounts computer-collaged images to thick wood, applies a coat of clear epoxy, then mounts a group of wood-backed images to the wall as one work. The images project from the wall just far enough to create thin shadows. In Do you have the time?, three black swallows flit around a girl with a sheep's head, a boy with a rat's head, and a clock hovering over them. The figures, minus the heads, are enlarged paper dolls from the 40s or 50s. Both are bedecked with time-telling devices and found objects held in place by the epoxy coating.

Their silent story suggests something different than the nostalgic patina of a past era. After all, the girl is not just a sheep, she's a black sheep. Worse, she may be a bad girl. Her two-piece outfit shows a fair amount of skin. And she's carrying heat, a small pistol that clings to her short a-line skirt. While the boy may be a rat, his slender physique suggests he's no match for the girl. However, like swallows, symbols of hope in many cultures, the sheep and the rat seem hopeful their encounter will be worth their time.

Do you have the time?

2014, Resin, wood, paper, found objects, 32" H x 36" W 

Photo: d. m. allison gallery
Most girls aren't perfect, most dogs are.

Two perfectly attired girls, one with dark hair, the other blond, are clearly role models of their era. Their dresses are hemmed to just above their knees, anklets turned down just so. They grasp their handbags securely, with confidence. Their dog has the graceful conformation of an Irish setter. The girls and their dog are mounted individually to contoured wood. Text covered paper, which may or may not be about them, covers the thick outlines. The three figures stand together on a carved wooden tray. On a shelf near them is a box with a setter silhouette on the lid. Inside, pegs are arranged to hold the three figures secure in the box.

Like a well-designed toy, the precise fit of the box and the potential stories of the figures offer opportunities for play and for reflection. With this set up, a girl could carry her stories with her, play quietly when so directed and not be the least bit put out. And the role models? They could wrestle with the dog, get burrs in their socks and grass stains on their knees. It would be their secret.

Tomboys, with detail

Photo: Joy Mullett
Modern romance

Despite its fairy forest appearance, Love could be described as a sobering meditation on modern romantic relationships. While the bear does appear to be interested in the girl, he's also in a hurry to get somewhere. (Bears have been included in folklore around the world, including the early 90s television show, Northern Exposure. In an episode titled Wake Up Call, Maggie's encounter with a handsome, cave-dwelling man who may be a bear, leaves her ready to abandon winter and greet spring.)

The girl in her cut-on-the-bias dress is not frightened by the running bear, but she is definitely distracted. Hanging over both of them is time. In the subdued background, people separated from the main characters by trees are engaged in everyday activities. Like other pieces in the exhibit, the main characters extend outward beyond the background as if escaping the environment they find themselves in. 


2013, 27" H x 24" W

Photo: d. m. allison gallery
Second round

About three dozen works appear in this exhibit. The stories I ascribe to the exhibit are mine. Other viewers will likely have their own. The rich, compelling nature of this exhibit makes rich and compelling reactions possible.

If I were to look at this work again, I would look more deeply for geometric patterns. I would bring a magnifying glass. I would dig into dense background imagery for hidden messages and construction techniques. I would figure out a way to describe how the artist handles scale within each work.

Yes, it might take some time, but it would be time well spent.

Kelly Moran

"First, I want them to be entertained."

Moran meets her first goal for those who view her work. Visitors experience delight within minute of entering the gallery. You can hear it in their exclamations and calls to their companions.

The toys, watch gears, and other downright interesting bits in her work draw them close to each work. If the visitors make a second round through the gallery, Moran sometimes achieves her second goal: they see something they didn't see the first time.

Kelly Moran, September 2015

It's only right that a second look beckons because the narrative possibilities in this exhibit abound with peril, fun, even affection for human foibles.

In this work, Moran is clear-eyed in her observations and not the least bit judge-y. She doesn't begrudge the eccentricities that get us into trouble, on weird adventures, or into confrontations we didn't seek but aren't going to walk away from.

In conversation, she'll go as deep you want to into motivation, materials, and technique but she doesn't force it on you. Any biography underpinnings in the work? Yes, but only if you press. Metaphysical influences? Some. But there's a lot of conversational steam in her art.

In addition to creating the work in Only Human, Moran has worked as a printmaker, painter, and ceramicist. Only Human is one of a series of her solo shows at d. m. allison art gallery.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Specter Field, Lawndale Art Center, Houston

The wandering nature of this exhibit complicates
presentation of photos. Every decision to show
one piece in isolation may unintentionally
create or destroy a relationship in a
way the artists did
not intend.
May be slippery warns a small sign posted at one entry to the gallery. Presumably the sign refers to powders scattered on the black floor of Lawndale's John M. O'Quinn gallery. 

Two artists, Harold Mendez and Ronny Quevedo, collaborated on Specter Field, unelevated assemblies amid the high white walls of the gallery. 

The collaboration's centerpiece is a work of dusts so squat and so dark the ridges of powder are barely discernible. The powders are accompanied by a low stack of bricks, a bright blue ball and a linoleum section that lies flat on the floor. 

A streak of bright blue powder calls attention to the existence of the larger work, a fortunate feature as the centerpiece was often unseen by visitors. At the opening, two gallery attendants were designated catchers of visitors who desired to walk across the gallery to view art, unaware it was currently under their feet. A more focused lighting design to help patrons see the art, not walk on it, would be a worthwhile addition.

In the room's perimeter, assemblies of disparate objects resemble detritus found after a storm. Three sacks of hardened concrete are wrapped in a cord and sprinkled with a rusty dust. A few yards away, shiny shards anchor an array of twiggy wire uprights; a snakeskin drapes over one twig. Across the room, tree roots thickly painted in industrial grey are accented with a clump of gold leaf and a drift of dried white paper. In a fourth assembly, stiff and darkened newsprint is the bed for straggly but upright plant forms.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the nation and our city are recognizing the 10-year anniversary of Katrina. Perhaps the work reflects our unconscious awareness of this mark on our collective calendar. We will never know for sure. In their talk, the artists may have referenced Katrina and more, but noisy conversations in the adjoining gallery overpowered their comments.

In a printed brochure the artists use high-bullshit quotient terms familiar to readers of artists' statements, including "perceptional concepts", "generative forms", "reclaimed objects", and "new approaches for contextualizing". The combination of these frequently bogus terms and the visual art itself prompts many questions.

Buddhistsand mandalas and Navajo sand paintings provide precedence for making art with particles and powders. Both, however, have extreme visual organization. This exhibit does not. If an artist creates a piece that viewers cannot see, should we question the presence of art? (Yes, I'm referencing that old story about an emperor who may or may not be naked.)

Quevedo's Wiphala on Broadway of bright colored light bulbs and milk crates mounted high up in a corner feels completely unrelated to the exhibit as a whole. Was it included at the last moment or planned? Given its high contrast from the other pieces, if it was included at the last moment, what role is it designed to play? If its vast contrast to the other pieces was a planned inclusion, why do so?

My sense of this exhibit is that it held more promise in words, in artspeak discussion, than in execution. I think the artists should try again.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Annell Livingston: Painting Fragment - Geometry - Change, d. m. allison gallery

Thanks for your interest in acting like an art critic. I look forward to your insights.

Please follow the steps shown in the column to the right. You must click on each step to see the surveys.

Yes, they involve answering questions, both before and after we meet Sunday afternoon, July 26, 2015, at d. m. allison gallery.

Your privacy is secure. I have no way of identifying the author of individual responses.

However, your participation is very important to my graduate studies, so I hope you will complete the surveys.

Many thanks for your time and consideration!

d m allison gallery post-event questionnaire

Create your own user feedback survey

Annell Livingston, Fragments G&C 180

Create your own user feedback survey
Fragments G&C 180
30x30 inches, gouache on watercolor paper
Image: d m allison art gallery

Annell Livingston, Fragments G&C 175

Create your own user feedback survey
Fragments G&C 175
30x30 inches, gouache on watercolor paper
Image: d m allison art gallery

Annell Livingston, Fragments G&C 165

Fragments G&C 165
30x30 inches, gouache on watercolor paper 

Create your own user feedback survey

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hazy Yet Vivid closing questionnaire

Now that you've had a bit of time to think about your artconfab, please respond to the questions below. Thank you!

Create your own user feedback survey