Thursday, August 27, 2015

PLACE/NON PLACE at RE Gallery

Installation View - Caroline Sharpless + Chris Bexar
Photography by Frank Darko


ModernDallas.net repost by Todd Camplin

If you find yourself south of I30 and between I35 and I45, you will find yourself in a place that is in a kind of strange transition. Some new residence spaces are there, other areas are under construction, yet other places are abandoned. The change there is organic and in the middle of it is Re Gallery. By driving around the gallery’s neighborhood, I understand Wanda Dye’s inspiration for titling the show Space/Non-space, because lots of examples inside and outside the gallery space can be found. Her background in architecture probably had some influence too.

But to tackle such a fuzzy concept, Re Gallery combined a group of artists with their own take on the idea. Photography is a great mode of operation when it comes to describing this contradiction. I fell in love with Allison V. Smith’s Maine series a few years back and I was excited to see her in this show. I had visited Maine about a year before I saw her show, and when I walked in and saw the work, (before I’d even read the work was about Maine) I knew I was experiencing that place again even though the images were not of anything particularly iconic or any particular place I had been. Her Marfa Texas series also captures a feeling of West Texas without capturing the expected image. Paho Mann’s take was photographing store fronts with the same basic architecture and showing the similarities and differences. These businesses have changed hands and been repurposed. Many are convenient stores that seem like eye sores, but also function as places that service their community and passersby traffic. Mann has made sure the weather is the same and the shot is set up the same as well. Thus the space feels familiar, even though I likely haven’t visited these places. Then again, how would I even remember that I did, because the places are so similar? I must say, after looking through a stack of them, I began to appreciate the variations. I just wouldn’t want to walk out with just one, but rather a set of three, four, or more to create a great dialog between images. Debora Hunter’s Storage Units is a great example of place and non-place. Storage units place objects out of use into a kind of non-place. The items are not in landfills, but not exactly fulfilling a purpose either. A kind of object purgatory and Hunter chose to photograph one that is in a field with a great view of the mountains. These units make the view even less of a place.

Paul Kremer’s Great Art in Ugly Rooms is a stroke of genius. I don’t think I have ever said that about anyone, but I am glad to reserve it for this body of work. Iconic paintings, sculptures, and pictures placed in the ugly rooms, ordinary hallways, bathrooms, trashed hotel rooms, etc. Outside the context of museums, these cultural objects seem demystified and of course, out of place. Marcel Duchamp’s painting leaning against 1970’s style wood paneling and thick brown carpet or a Dan Flavin hung on the wall over a toilet is just a taste.

Painting was not left out. Caroline Gary Sharpless and Peter Ligon left their mark on the show. Caroline Gary Sharpless had depictions of empty bookshelves and empty rooms. In her paintings, I feel like I could be shopping for a home or business store front. There is potential, but nothing is being fulfilled yet. Peter Ligon paints houses that feel nondescript and cramped in by the small canvases. Very painterly and loss, Ligon makes the houses lose definition thus lose place.

Jeff Baker, Chris Bexar, Shelby Cunningham, and Mark Lamster are also in the show and very much worthy of your consideration. The show runs through September 1st. Just in time for gallery season to gear up.

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