Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jeff Mueller + Harmony Padgett

Jeff Mueller - Five-four - 2012
Acrylic on canvas
24 X 24 in. repost of my article back in April 2012.

William Campbell Contemporary Art Inc., a Fort Worth gallery, has a great showing of works by Jeff Mueller and Harmony Padgett. This group show titled "R*A*V*E*L" implies these two artists are trouble makers, which I can agree, but I also see one artist using influences to drive the work while the other is driven by material used in the art making. Jeff Mueller combines the sensibility of highly layered street art, with a Rauschenberg collage influence, and a conceptual weight like that of Vernon Fisher. I see a great deal of Fisher in Mueller’s work, because of his layering of images and texts that are unrestrained by a square canvas. I am pretty sure Mueller went to the University of North Texas while Fisher was a teacher there, so I am sure Fisher must have had an influence on his work, but I really see Mueller taking on some of the formal qualities used by Fisher and then pushing those boundaries to form a counter voice to Fisher. Mueller seems to feel at home as an installation artist using the space like a graffiti artist might. Mueller’s limits are the exhibition space alone. The word art interests me the most, because the messages in the text are overlaid with more words to get the effect
of an unclear thought. The effect slows the reader down to get a message that mirrors something you might read tagged on a wall. The painted words can also be fluid in their look, as if Mueller writes from pouring paint from the can.
Mueller also uses pop images, but muted in color and prominence. The abstract elements seem to accent the ordinary objects of flags and hospital beds. Mueller creates a nice balance of image, word or script like brush marks, to give the feeling of an ongoing communal outdoor process. But he manages to tie in the colors and distribution of shapes that emphasize one voice. Mueller is simultaneously killing and resurrecting the author in each art piece.

Harmony Padgett’s gouache and ink on mylar and yupo works are drawings to me. I will not bore you with another lecture about what makes a painting or a drawing; I will just say I know it when I see it. Padgett’s lines dance and move across the yupo. The gouache painted mylar conceals and reveals the ink lines while creating its own shapes through cut out spaces. Mylar is delicate like the handling of the ink lines. I feel a lot of energy, but with a contrasting sense of fragile resistance. Her exposed wood panels also play with the movement of line and concealment of paint, but in a more rhythmic motion then the yupo pieces. I would jump at the opportunity to be in a group show with either Jeff Mueller or Harmony Padgett, so I am hoping you will make the trip to Fort Worth, but you only have until April 28. That is a whole month, but don’t procrastinate and miss a fine show.

For more images of the show visit

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