Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Well Wishes...

...and a happy non-denominational holiday season to all!

Sorry folks, but I won't be reporting on the comings and goings at the DCCA again until January third. I'll be busy eating cookies and visiting family. So, by the way, will the busy little bees in the DCCA offices.

But don't fret, dear readers! Even though most of the staff will be away, the DCCA galleries will be open until 3:00 on the 24th and from the 26th to the 31st at 3:00, so feel free to come by and explore our wonderful new exhibits, THE BOOK: A Contemporary View and Brain Fruit. This morning I was able to sneak into THE BOOK, and I can honestly say that you'll be amazed by the wonderful pieces in the show.

So, adieu for now, dear readers, and stay tuned; there'll be plenty going on at the DCCA in 2011.

Panoramic View: Brain Fruit

Jackie Brown, Brain Fruit II: An Excited State, 2010,
various materials, filled-space installation
It's difficult to walk by this exhibition without stopping for at least a moment; you can't help but wonder what was going on in Jackie Brown's own brain when you happen upon the phrase "Brain Fruit." Add to that the bright green and orange rods, grayish blobs, and the delicious strangeness of the exhibition and it's impossible not to venture into the Constance & Hennessy Project Space to take a look around.

Once you've entered the newly transformed gallery, you feel a little like you've stepped into the middle of a collection of giant neurons--hence the "brain" part of the title. Of course, this is a piece of contemporary art, so it isn't quite that literal and it definitely isn't that simple. While Brown has created something like a system of neurons, the forms she has created follow no natural schema. Whereas neurons are spindly columns with organically shaped tendrils (or "dendrites" to the scientifically minded among you), Brown's forms have dripping, irregular bases that support textured blobs that seem to have sprouted sharp, geometric rods. Yes, Brown has created a vaguely biological system that she wishes to be understood as inter-connected, but the piece does not address neurology exclusively--at least, not as it applies to individual brains.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Works in Progress: THE BOOK: A Contemporary View

Susan White, Between a Rock and a Hard
, 2010, Deconstructed book pages,
text dots, variable
If you've ever had a chance to look around the best website in the world , you're probably aware of the fact that the DCCA presents an average of 30 exhibitions annually of contemporary art. If you've ever been to the DCCA, you're probably aware of the fact that there aren't 30 galleries here. You see, we opt for quality, not quantity. The reason, dear readers, that we are able to present you with 30 exhibitions per annum despite our limited exhibition space is that our curatorial department is like a group of busy bees in a DCCA beehive. They're constantly planning, designing, and, most relevant to this discussion, de-installing and installing new exhibitions.

Lately, the sound of electric drills and the smell of paint have been floating through the air at the DCCA (please feel free to blame the paint fumes if this post seems more whimsical than usual). A new exhibition just opened in the Constance J. Hennessy Project Space (more on that later) and our Preparator is hard at work installing an exciting new exhibit entitled THE BOOK: A Contemporary View in the Carol Bieber and Marc Ham Gallery.

For the past week or so I've been embracing my wildly rebellious side and peeking around the "installation in progress, please do not enter" sign that's in the doorway of the gallery. I've yet to get very far though, as the guy who's been carved into the pages of books that have been suspended from the ceiling is more than a little intimidating. The same goes for the page-cyclone in the corner. There's also a rumor floating around about fearsome book mushrooms that are growing on the walls, but I've yet to see them.

THE BOOK: A Contemporary View, is dedicated to exploring the book as an object, subject, and concept. As the glimpses I've gotten of the exhibit would suggest, the artists participating in the show have created fascinating works of art that stretch the definition of the word "book" with delightful results. The exhibition will open next Wednesday so be sure to stop by and see if the rumor about the book mushrooms is true.


"Works in Progress" is a series of posts dedicated to giving you advance notice about upcoming DCCA shows.

Friday, December 10, 2010

In Depth: Hercules Holding the Sun and Rainbow

René Treviño, Hercules Holding
the Sun and Rainbow
, 2008,
Acrylic on Mylar, Courtesy of C.
Grimaldis Gallery, MD
One would be hard-pressed to find a better example of a self-aware culture than the Ancient Greeks. They were people who were well aware of human virtues and vice and their vibrant mythology reflects that awareness. Indeed, many of the lessons found in greek mythology still apply today. After all, what is Twitter if not a real-world answer to the Narcissus myth?

Given the Greeks' penchant for self-reflection, it is fitting that artist René Treviño should adopt one of Greek mythology's best known heroes to examine his own identity and the society in which he finds himself. In Hercules Holding the Sun and Rainbow Treviño combines a black and white rendering of a bronze statue of Hercules with a vibrant Mayan calendar. These two images fuse traditional western culture with the less familiar and thus, exotic Mayan culture. In a nod to the myth of Hercules holding up the heavens, Hercules leans forward and cradles the Mayan calendar in his upraised arms.

To anyone who grew up after the revisionist history movement (the scholarly movement that was responsible for bringing Christopher Columbus down a few notches), the combination of these two elements suggests a rather obvious interpretation of the piece. Clearly, a student of this movement would say, this is an emblem of the crushing guilt western culture is forced to carry as a result of its  destruction of Native American cultures! While this theme is certainly at work in the piece, there is something else going on.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Panoramic View: (Text)ure

Renee Benson, No. 97, 2010, Acrylic on
Canvas, 30" x 40"
Aside from the delightfully mischievous pun included in the exhibition's name, I wasn't immediately certain what, in particular, drew me to (Text)ure. The exhibition is a decidedly abstract collaboration between DCCA studio artists Felise Luchansky and Renee Benson. On two of the adjacent walls, Renee Benson's paintings of swirling, multi-colored dots beg the viewer to reach out and touch--at the risk of invoking the wrath (well, perhaps its more like "mild annoyance") of the security guards. Spreading across the two opposite walls is Felise Luchansky's piece Release, a collection of dot and dash shaped canvases that spell out the title of the piece in morse code. At first glance, the exhibition is rather sparse. But where's the fun in taking just one look? It turns out that this seeming austerity is naught but a clever ruse, for the exhibition is much busier and--dare I say--noisier that it first appears.

Luchansky's piece sets the tone for the rest of the exhibition. Yes, the canvases she puts on the walls are small on their own. When put together, however, one can't help but feel as though one is being shouted at by a drill sergeant. When put together, Release is a loud  and provocative statement. "Loud," may seem to be a strange word to describe a piece of visual art, but it isn't too far off the mark. By using morse code in Release, Luchansky fuses the taps and tones of morse code with the visuality of paint on canvas. The result is a strange, synesthetic experience that bridges the gap between sound and sight, thus completely overwhelming the viewer.