Arts & Culture
'TX 13' is a Jumble of Good Intentions
Published: October 30, 2013
Houstonian Will Henry’s darkly mesmerizing Painting for Budd Hopkins, the pioneering UFOlogist, is among other representational work rising above the maelstrom. Austin painter Sara Vanderbeek’s expressionistic Trenton Doyle Hancock is the only true portrait in the show. Dallas artist Rebecca Carter drew mirror images of off-kilter pianos on the wall and connects them with a yarn string rainbow plugged into a couple of wall sockets in the Wrong Perspective with the Dirty Rainbow. Houston artist Ann Johnson used an apron burned by iron marks to frame a photo of a black woman tending a white child in the poignant Star Child.
Video art is the 600-pound gorilla in the room, or at least, it sounds like it. Blaring soundtracks spew across the galleries—unfair to art forms that have worked quite well without sound for millennia.
The Houston team of Hillerbrand + Magsamen produced the best video, Whole, which shows a family cutting holes in the walls of their home and crawling through as if trying to escape the cluttered confines of their suburban existence. Houston artist Madsen Minax’s slick (No) Show Girls, featuring gender-bending striptease artists, would have been daringly transgressive a decade ago, but now the question is whether it’s high art or merely low-brow titillation, as advertised by the Live Nude Genitals neon sign.
Houston artist Seth Mittag’s Hurricane Allen incorporates video of a claymation weatherman to highlight his miniature sculpture of a television with foil-wrapped rabbit ears. Fort Worth’s Gregory Ruppe never sees more than the trees in his humorous Bigfoot. San Antonio artist Julia Barbosa Landois slyly sings about religious oppression of women in her music video, Star-Crossed II.
Art critic Jerry Saltz bemoans the advent of “Neo-Mannerism” in his essay about postmodern clichés, especially ‘Modest Abstraction,’ which casts a disappointing shadow over “TX 13.” Abstract painters seem to have lost heart, though the small, unobjectionable abstract paintings would be better off in a quiet, white cube of their own. Denton painter Matthew Bourbon follows the path not usually taken with his figurative abstractions that substitute tile-like blocks of color for skin tones.