Wednesday, August 20, 2014

CONDUIT GALLERY @30


Vincent Falsetta, Untitled, 1980, oil on canvas, 70x65"

ModernDallas.net re-post of my article 

A few things happen over the course of the summer months with commercial galleries. Galleries close for vacation, galleries try some untested curator or artist, or a gallery will launch a group show of their stable artists. If a gallery is going for the easy road of showing a stable group show, how can the they take a fresh approach? The answer is simple, visit Conduit Gallery and you will find a creative approach that takes even the seemingly easy road approach and makes it complex and interesting. Nancy Whitenack’s and Danette Dufilho’s concept for celebrating 30 years of Conduit Gallery was to seek out an old piece and a new piece from their stable artists. Then display these works together to create, in some cases, jarring comparisons.

Because Conduit has so many artists, they split up their Longitude/Latitude show into two parts. The first part just came down this week and they are launching the second half this weekend. In the first show, a few artists stood out as interesting comparisons between their old work and new work. One glaring difference between old and new were Michael Tole’s two paintings. His 2005 painting is an atmospheric calm blue landscape, where as, his 2012 painting is an orgy of flesh and blurred camera effects. Only the theme of photo reference realism remained between his paintings. This upcoming show will have Robert Jessups’ 1998 cartoon style painting, Schrodinger's Mouse II next to his 2014 March Moves painting which is incredibly abstract but no less whimsical and narrative based. Justin Quinn’s 2003 musing on Moby Dick with the letter E pulled out and reworked like a conceptual puzzle is completely different from Quinn’s abstract 2013 Mystery Plane drawing. Both works are drawings, but the more recent work feels like some of the conceptual structure has given way to a more emotionally charged abstraction.

Though some artists had radical shifts, others you could tell made slow and steady developments in their work. In Conduit Gallery’s first show, Ted Larsen’s 2003 assemblage painting Batten may look radically different from the 2014 piece Bird Dog, but spend some time and you will see the similarities. The paint on the wood and the pure aesthetic look of both pieces feel like he keeps an incredible continuity of thought and vision, and this runs through Larsen’s work. Vincent Falsetta’s 1980 painting and 2014 painting both Untitled, had a similar rhythm and complexity only the 2014 piece felt more amplified and refined. In the upcoming show, Jules Bucks Jones 2010 drawing matches the 2014 drawing in style and mark making. Only color distinguishes the two works. I guess 4 years isn’t really much of a time comparison, on the other hand I have known artists that change style like they change clothes. Buck Jones, like Falsetta and Larsen are taking their time to develop the work rather than plunging into wild, unfocused experimentation.

Conduit Gallery’s 30 year celebration will end August 30th. 30 years is an incredible run for a gallery, since most barely last a year or two. Nancy Whitenack and Danette Dufilho have taken a normally boring, throw together gallery stable group show, and put a nice spin that reintroduces you to their artists. I look forward to their 60th year celebration in 2044. Hope to see you there.

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