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Arts & Culture

In Southwest School Exhibit, Chris Sauter Explains It All (Not)

Photo: Bryan Rindfuss, License: N/A

Bryan Rindfuss

'Belief Engine', one of Sauter’s felt sculptures, reminiscent of altar decorations circa the 1970s

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Maybe my favorite moment in this chapter of the pilgrimage is Soft Focus, (2013) a stark, elegant photograph of a space capsule mid-orbit over a purple horizon, with fingerprints all over the acrylic frame. I’d like to know what the capsule actually is, its date and provenance, but it ultimately matters less than the wonder and curiosity it evokes, and remembers. Childhood nostalgia in Sauter’s hands is elevated past jokey cliche, and goes right to the origins of the American mythmaking mind. The kind of technology of NASA in the ’70s; we’ve got our grubby hands on outer space.

I was a big fan of The Known Universe (Childhood Bedroom), (2007), an enclosed environmental installation for which he constructed a dreamy, life-size replica of his boyhood bedroom in Boerne. It’s got dresser drawers, a single bed, the Time/Life “Mysteries of the Unknown” book series and the song “Under the Milky Way Tonight” by The Church on deck.

With “Doubt,” it feels as though he’s taken that nucleus of an atom of an idea and blown it up, taken a longtime viewer from the known universe of childhood to the shattered orthodoxies of fortysomething. This is an aside, really; coming fresh to Sauter in this pilgrimage is as good a way to start appreciating him as anything he’s done before.

The next three stops on the pilgrimage are at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum (which opened December 5), Fl!ght (Dec 14) and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (Jan 4). From there, I can imagine many environments Sauter’s work could inhabit: a natural history museum, a planetarium, a space station, outer space itself.

Chris Sauter: Doubt

9am-5pm Mon-Sat; 11am-4pm Sun
Southwest School of Art - Navarro Campus
300 Augusta
(210) 224-1848
Through Feb 2

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