Four local art shows are worth noting: the Amarillo Museum of Art Biennial 600; tape art at the Citadelle in Canadian, Texas; the High Plains Public Radio benefit at the Cerulean Gallery; the student exhibition of Dia de los Muertos in the Commons Gallery of the Fine Arts Complex at Amarillo College.
The eighth Biennial 600, a juried occasion held every two years and open to artists within a six-hundred mile radius of Amarillo, carried the theme of Textile + Fiber. Juror was Alex Unkovic, Exhibitions Manager for the Fabric Workshop and Museum of Philadelphia.
Textiles and fiber, starting with the clothes we wear, are the constant contact art form in our lives. This exhibition, then, explores ways in which textiles, as utilitarian, become conceptual art forms.
The first-place winner, Scottie Burgess, created a large work using carpet padding and colored bailing twine, with each knotted length signifying a continuum, an end which becomes a beginning.
Two Santa Fe artists present at the opening shared interesting insights about their work. Julie Nocent-Vigil used Hanji paper and a Korean thread technique to portray the tapestry of the plains, something to which we in the Panhandle can relate.
Kathleen McCloud’s work is informed by her time at an ashram in India and how Gandhi made weaving cloth a visible symbol of rebellion against tthe British Empire.
Jennifer Weigel’s work takes the viewer by surprise, illustrating the truism that, in the world of Amarillo art, the unexpected is the norm.
Tampons as jewelry? The artist’s assertive iconoclastic feminism openly assails the taboos and cult of silence surrounding menstruation by making the implements art.
Finally, Brenda Bunten-Schloesser, created a trio of quiltish sculptures. One, A Light, shown here, resonates with both Boccioni and Klimt.
This is a compelling exhibition, which posits the transformative potential realized by imagining the creative inherent in the common. Thanks to Alex Gregory and his staff for designing a quality show that is worth multiple visits.
October 17, Cerulean Gallery of Amarillo hosted an exhibition with a portion of the proceeds benefiting High Plains Public Radio.
Chief among the works displayed were several paintings by Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson, who, in an artist’s statement, notes that she paints passionately, spiritually and avocationally. An artist/mayor certainly personifies an artsy Amarillo!
One other painting among many worthy of mention is Near Neptune by Edward Cavasos. This Botticelliesque creation has a haunting pallor whose blood-red eyes long for love and acceptance.
October 19 was the first day of Fall Foliage Festival at Canadian, Texas, which mandated a pilgrimage to the Citadelle Art Museum.
The old First Baptist Church was repurposed by Dr. Malouf and Therese Abraham, first, as a family home, then as a venue to showcase their lifetime of artistic acquisition.
A separate pavilion houses temporary exhibitions, the current entitled Out of the Blue: A Tape Art Experience. This work, created by artists from the Rhode Island School of Design, depicting the degree to which digital domination defines our lives, is organic as well as ephemeral.
As soon as it’s finished, it’s ripped down, which the artists say they find thrilling. Go figure!
It’s always a pleasure to visit the permanent collection as well as the old home place, which has an aristocratic ambience combined with Texas friendly.
A fourth exhibit is worth noting: Dia de los Muertos by Amarillo College art students had its opening on Halloween in the Commons Gallery at AC.
Of course, expectations are that young artists from Hispanic backgrounds would most fully portray the impact of this celebration.
This yearly exhibition demonstrates that non-Hispanic students, thanks to guidance from gifted instructors like Professor Steven Cost, are able to intuit another cultural reality and express this event from their own experience. An example of this cross-cultural appropriation is Thriller de la Muertos by Michael Sebastian.
In the words of the artist, he was inspired by the day and John Landis’ depiction of Jackson “for a fun and interesting mash-up of pop culture and the Mexican holiday!”
A powerful work by Jeremiah Galan, entitled Refugio Cook Enriquez, portrays his grandfather, who first, loved his family with twelve children and thirty-five grandchildren. His next love was Nortena music, Ramon Ayala being his favorite musician. If this young artist’s talent is not professional grade, it is muy proxima!
Celeste Ramirez, in Our Ancestors, portrays the essential cultural conviction that we are each the embodiment of all of our ancestors. She therefore painted herself in traditional festive dress, bedecked with Dia de los Muertos flower petals, as she summoned forth her ancestors.
With such quality art, displayed in concurrent exhibitions, it’s easy to say, “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!”