Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Ricky Armendariz + Ken Little + Gary Sweeney

Gary Sweeney

Re-post of my article in ModernDallas.net for a show in July 2012.

Once there was a gallery known as Road Agent in Dallas. Every time I would walk in, I either hated or loved the work on display. There was a kind of Barque quality to her aesthetics that left little room for feeling indifferent. Though gone (something to do with trendy shoes I’m told), Red Arrow Contemporary seems to have picked up the torch and is running with this often ‘over the top’ aesthetics. Not that this is a bad thing, because the gallery is willing to take risks along with their artists. The current show titled “Worth 1,000 Words” is just a spectacle of a show which features artists Ricky Armendariz, Ken Little, and Gary Sweeney.

I found myself at one of Gary Sweeney’s talks about his work several years back and I was struck by his total commitment to conceptual art ideals. I instantly fell in love with the work, because I felt a kindred spirit. Here is an artist dealing with language and the passage of time observed in an individual’s handwriting. Like his O’Keefe piece, her handwriting got progressively illegible as she got older. These captured moments reveal stages of our own lives. His sign language pieces slow the reader down like Christopher Wool’s text paintings and gets you to read slowly simple messages. You experience aesthetically the words and letters rather than quickly reading the information.

At first, I hated Ken Gary’s work and possibly I hold a grudge for this type of art you might see in the movie “Untitled.” His animal sculptures seemed familiar, like the work by artist Brian Jungen, which I like. Maybe his moose with leather and shoes seem a little campy and lack a sense of elegance, but personally a moose head on a wall is tacky anyway, so Gary is embracing the kitsch. Just like his money pieces, you can’t get more cliche and kitsch than making objects out of money, but the fact he is embracing the ‘obvious’ makes me wonder if there is so much he is saying in these pieces. Maybe pointing out the absurd is enough.

Ricky Armendariz has a political charge to his work, but I was fascinated with his technique, in particular his burn drawings. The artboard has multiple shades of burnt brown lines that make for a richly drawn figure. I love the variation of the color brown left in each mark. Red Arrow Contemporary will have all three of these artists up until the 28th of July.

ModernDallas.net for more images.

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