Saturday, May 21, 2016


Natasha Bowdoin, Garden Plot (detail), 2013, site-specific installation with gouache, acrylic, and pencil on cut paper with 
latexacrylic on wall, 10 x 28 x 1 feet.  Photograph by Marc Newton.

Repost of article

Last weekend, I had the goal of visiting the Meadows Museum on SMU campus. Not for the Dali painting now up or the Marie Cronin portrait show, but mainly because it had been too long since I had visited the space and I needed a good refresher on some Spanish art. Since Talley Dunn Gallery is somewhat in the neighborhood, I thought I would drop by for a visit as well. I was not prepared for the two exhibitions. Linda Ridgway had sculptures and drawings in the front gallery, while Natasha Bowdoin cut out installations and gouache paintings in the back gallery. I was familiar with both artists, but these two shows are quite the accomplishments. When I walked into Ridgway’s show I was fascinated with the quiet beauty of her images of textiles along with her bronze nature works. When I walked into Bowdoin’s room of paper cutouts and gouache paintings, I almost fell over.

Bowdoin’s show has to be experiences to get the full effect. I know I harp on how a photograph can’t capture the experience an art piece, but this show make browsing an internet site to look at art a crime. A piece like Roots Inside has layers of cut material that can only be properly experience in person. I was getting lost in the construction of this piece. All that paper, thickly layered, felt like I was looking at a highly complex Lucio Fontana painting. But instead of just cutting into the surface, Bowdoin opens you up to a new world behind the cuts.

Garden Pot Revisited is an installation that made me want to break into a line from Midsummer's Night Dream or resight a paragraph from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I felt like I was on stage and Bowdoin’s installation was compelling me to perform. The fact that installation had clearly written words made me curiouser and curiouser. Plants were the clear theme of the installation. Many other pieces were small gouache paintings of creatures that also felt from an imaginary world of myths and fairy tails. Two paintings were works on huge pieces of paper. These works depicted moths, but in the context of the show, these moths felt other worldly.

In Linda Ridgway’s show, I was captivated by the graphite drawings. These drawings are really a mix of print and drawing. A light amount of ink creates a ghost image and she fills in more detail to make a drawing that still looks transparent, even after she adds the graphite. I could image a TSA Agent would relate to Ridgway’s transparent works. I also enjoyed reading the poem by Robert Frost on the wall of Linda Ridgway’s show, which I felt related more to her sculptures.

Both artists deal with the natural world in their works and thus I think this made a nice pairing. Natasha Bowdoin theatrical approach to nature and Linda Ridgway’s subtle, intimate way to representing nature made for a wonderful images and fueled my imagination. Both artists’ shows will be up until May 14th at Talley Dunn Gallery.

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