The goal of artists is merely to alter the perceptions of mere mortals, in order to see the world in a different way. Two exhibitions at the Amarillo Museum of Art certainly justify this mandate.
“Cut Up, Cut Out” consists of some fifty collagial – note the play on words-international artists whose works were originally shown at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, California. And, though most of the works can be called collage, others dazzle with negative space.
The second, “The Panhandle Collects Anonymously,” is composed of quality contemporary pieces, of local but undesignated ownership. And it ain’t cowboy art!
A sampling of “Cut Up, Cut Out” reveals the range of artistry in this exhibition.
Mark Wagner uses currency, namely dollar bills, since money exists as a primary form of self-expression. By expressing all human activity and achievement in purely monetary terms, the artist raised real questions about societal values. But he did emphasize, in his art talk, that he breaks no laws in this use of this medium.
Amy Oates uses a true cut-out collage presentation of a large number of people, engaged in a variety of pursuits. We see their shape, their form, their suggestion of being, but do we really see them?
Rogan Brown, from Nimes, France, is influenced by the microscopic world and cytology. His Small Kernal, 2013 suggests a mitotically-frozen filamentous bacterium in staggering detail.
Similarly, Michael Buscemi’s Heart of the Son erupts like an explosion of dendrites from a neurological core. Again, the detail is amazing.
One of the exhibition’s iconic works is Carl Lane’s Sweet Spill, a thirty-gallon oil drum cut in delicate and intricate filigree, demonstrating that perhaps the banal and the blighted can ultimately become a thing of beauty.
Another impact work is Mounir Fatmi’s calligraphic cut-out of a giant table saw with passages from the Qu’ran, perhaps implying that the scriptures of all faiths possess the provocative dualism of inspiration and destruction.
The other exhibition at AMOA, The Panhandle Collects Anonymously, is similarly impressive as it demonstrates that there are those, here on the plains, whoever they may be, who are au courant in the acquisition of incredible art.
Two works are notable, the first an untitled work by Hollander Teun Hocks, which to me, portrays the Sisyphean challenge of college and especially graduate school.
American Joel Morrison filled bags with various objects, then managed to stack them together over which he cast a mold. The result is, well, interesting. I just wonder in what part of their house the mysterious owner chooses to showcase this work.
We appreciate the generosity of these people, whoever they are, and that of the Bedford Gallery for Cut Up, Cut Out. Because of AMOA’s dedication to mounting engaging and provocative exhibitions, like these, we can assert, with confidence, “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!”