Tuesday, November 29, 2016
OTIS JONES + ALLISON V. SMITH
Two very different shows are coming down this weekend at Barry Whistler Gallery. The paintings of Otis Jones and the photographs of Allison V. Smith. Jones is known for his rough edged shaped canvas, his minimal use of colors and shapes, and for his work’s purely charming mystique. In a past show Allison V. Smith displayed enchanting photos of Maine that so encapsulated the place that my wife, who grow up there and knew nothing about the show, asked if the pictures were of her home state. She had not been to any of the places Smith photographed, but the images gave off an aura of Maine.
Allison V. Smith tackles Big Spring, Marfa, Albany, and Levelland, Texas as subject matter in her current show. With this body of work, she has once again captured places that seem to give off the feeling that these images could not be from anywhere else, but the southwest. To capture the essence of a place is amazing, however, the most important thing that struck me was how amazing the compositions were constructed. An inch or two to the left or right and any one of these images would have failed, but everything was spot on. A perfect balance of asymmetrical and symmetrical compositions. Poles, plants, and the horizon line always seem to be in the perfect position for the view to feel that the image was built rather than just there in the environment. Painters, stage designers, and interior designers should really study Smith’s handle on composition, because it reaches a level of near perfection.
Otis Jones in not interested in perfection in the strict sense of the word, but he too is strong with composition. Particularly his strength in symmetrical work. Sure it is simple symmetry, but if it is a little off, I bet you would notice. I think that his subtle layers of paint and his choice of simple color palette is beautiful and sublime. One can go on and on about how interesting the exposed wood structure and raw display of the staples holding the canvas make Jones’ pieces so very attractive. In fact, I see Jones has synthesized the Minimalists with the Post -Minimalists. The Minimalists were pushing the boundaries of what could be aesthetic and not be plain. The Post-Minimalist were about material and exposing the underpinning of a structure. Jones’ painting does both minimal exploration of paint and shapes while exposing the ugly truth of how something is made. Ideal mixed with truth, sounds like a classical view of beauty to me.
Otis Jones’ paintings and Allison V. Smith’s photographs will be up until October 15th at Barry Whistler Gallery. And I know that Barry Whistler has been in his new space in the design district, off Dragon Street, but I haven’t had a chance to really express my excitement about the expansive space he has now. I know he had pushed the limits of his location in Deep Ellum, but now he has an over abundance of space. I think there are opportunities for some ambitious shows and I look forward to the creative exhibitions. I hope a project room of sorts evolves out of an area or two. Hope to see you at his openings this season.