Monday, June 10, 2013

James Sullivan at Conduit Gallery


Repost of my article at

The Dallas art scene was in 3D last weekend. From the massive sculpture show by the Texas Sculpture Association at Cohn Drennan Contemporary, to the bare bones works of Celia Eberle at Cris Worley Fine Arts, and the Ideal Women of Allie Pohl’s work at Galleri Urbane Dallas. All were interesting exhibitions, but unfortunately I had first stopped by Conduit’s showing of James Sullivan which was the most hands on fun, filled with extraordinary objects, some nice drawings, and epic figure art which overshadowed my whole experience for the rest of the night.

Last weekend there were a flood of gallery openings and the foot traffic loud and electrifying. I didn’t know at the time, but the crowd at Conduit was going to be the norm for most of the spaces down in the Design District. I counted at least four people nearly tripping over Sullivan’s works on the floor, and I even had to navigate a patron around a piece myself. The work titled, Hive was a particularly tricky object that causes some red faces as they bumped into the work. But no one seemed to mind, after all there were drawers of objects you could pick up and examine, including the material he uses. I handled a few items and I felt a little more connected to the work around me.

Man Carrying Rocks had an eerie presence. I felt like a person could have easily emerged from this mass of plaster, straw, steel, and pigment. The rocks cradled in the sculptures arms felt heavy and burdensome. I am reminded of George Segal’s white figures, only I think Sullivan’s use of straw breaths a little more life into his figure than Segal. The giant head facing the rock instantly made me think of Nam June Paik’s Buddha Watching TV piece. Sullivan has his sculpture meditating on a stone rather than the self, which seems like a different approach to enlightenment.

The drawings of Sullivan kept me returning again and again. I love the detail and the structures he was representing. Drawings are perfect for this show, because this work can also be left over remains from a sculpture. The drawing can also have a finished merit that allows it to not only reference what was made, but also be itself an interesting object. I wish I could have touched these drawings, like the leftover sculptural pieces. Of course, I understand that he is using a 3D printer, so maybe the drawings will start to come from a digital source.

Besides James Sullivan there is W. Tucker in the front room and a sufficiently weird project room show by Brain K. Jones (Chuck) and Brain K. Scott (George). It was easy for me to dismiss Tuckers work because it lacks anything I am interested in, but I am still chewing on the installation by Chuck and George, so it is worth your consideration. All three shows will be up at Conduit through May 11th.

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