Sunday, March 23, 2014

From Valley View to Valley House

Michael O'Keefe at Valley House Gallery re-post of my article

I like to keep my eyes open for clustering of artists in a common area. I enjoy going on open studio tours, like the White Rock Lake tour. And for a while I kept hearing about the Valley View Mall encouraging artists and galleries to open up in abandoned stores. So I thought I would finally take the plunge this weekend and see this colony of artists.

As I ventured into gallery walk night, I was struck by a garish sign for Gallery at Midtown & Artist Studios. Maybe it was the font or the very busy background, but it was truly a sign of things to come. After walking into every gallery and studio, I was completely underwhelmed by so many places filled with one boring cliche painting after another. Most of the spaces were packed full of amateur art with salon style hangings. Decorative abstracts were a dominant theme in many of the galleries. I guess the somewhat keystone gallery had one or two artists I thought were effective in projecting a unique voice, style, and technique; however, because these works were surrounded by train-wrecks I just couldn’t pay enough attention to hone in on the particular artist, medium, or even size. I found it too distracting an environment to appreciate better art pieces.

Slant Gallery had a mildly interesting show of Frida Kahlo inspired work. Rita Barnard’s Small Gallery had a quirky Cowboy and Indian show. I ended up spending more time there, if partly to avoid going back out and seeing more noise on the walls. It is possible, in time, the mall will bring in more talent that will raise the level of art. However, doom and uncertainty looms for this artists colony as there are plans for redevelopment of the mall.

I had to cleanse after the mall and what better place than an opening at Valley House Gallery. I was not disappointed by the drawings and sculptures of Michael O’Keefe. His small figure drawings reminded me of Giacomo Balla’s Futurist paintings of moving bodies. The sculptures were in a Modernist style, smooth heads. O’Keefe’s large drawings look looser than the small drawings. He appears to have taken a free form approach that allows the figure to emerge from his process of drawing. I felt the work was elegant, with a thoughtful and skillful look to the Modern past. O’Keefe’s show will be up through February 15th.

No comments: