Friday, April 13, 2012

The Medium is the Message at UTA

Michael Tole, Untitled (four eggs with carriage), 2008, oil on canvas, 60” x 80" courtesy of Conduit Gallery
My art review for a show in February

University galleries often times have a great amount of curatorial freedom to create exciting shows. The Gallery at UTA, curated by Benito Huerta, has gathered together some of my favorite locally shown painters in their show "The Medium is the Message." The show has 11 artists, so to keep it simple, I will tell you about them in quick and dirty categories of realistic and abstract.

Of the realists in the show, Michael Tole is the crown jewel of the exhibition. His paintings of blurred decorative objects have always been rich with technique and skill. I had the pleasure to babysit his work in my studio for a week, and I really got to study the work. I came to the conclusion that Tole's paintings are what representational art can be, while using the new tools of digital images as inspiration.

I ran into realist Janaki Lennie’s work down in Houston at the ArtScan Gallery several years ago, and I still think Lennie’s approach to minimalism is incredibly innovative. The atmosphere of the sky creates a broad area of contemplative space, but parts of realistic life seem to creep into the edges of the composition. The colors of the sky are muted and hazy which gives the work a kind of melancholy feeling.

I once saw a study painting by Renoir. He was working on heads and bodies, but the painting was really his testing ground for a finished work. I know the Impressionists were often accused of not finishing the painting, but realist C. Meng seems to celebrate the study and the look of the unfinished work. Large areas are left white while heads seem to float on the canvas in a composition.

Abstract artist, John Holt Smith makes an all consuming circle within circle abstract work that uses bands of hard-edge colors. I can almost imagine I am looking at Saturn’s rings when I look at his painting. He paints on a popular material called flat aluminum. I talked to him during his group show at Barry Whistler Gallery, and he explained how he used industrial strength epoxy, which is also used on airplanes, to mount his paintings. It looks as if the aluminum is floating. Jackie Tileston’s and Kim Squaglia’s paintings are always treats to see. I happily get lost in the small details and expansive space of these works. Aaron Parazette and Susie Rosmarin serve up beautiful hard edge paintings that challenge your visual cortex with color and lines.

The show also includes paintings by realist J.T. Grant and legendary realist Melissa Miller with label defying artist Christian Shumann. I parked off campus and walked to the Fine Art building, but you can also snag a temporary permit for the day and see these 11 artists’ paintings, because like the title of the show suggests, it is all about the medium. The opening is January 27th at 6 pm and an artist talk starts at 6:30 pm.

The Gallery is located in the Fine Art Building, room 169, at 502 S. Cooper Street, Arlington, TX. For more information contact Benito Huerta or Patricia Healy (817) 272-5658 or visit
For more images from the show

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