The allure of ‘Magnetic Fields’ at Southwest School of Art 

On view in the Navarro Campus galleries of the Southwest School of Art through May 15 is “Magnetic Fields,” paintings by Barbara Kreft, Richard Martinez, Kim Cadmus Owens, and Dan Sutherland. The four artists meld traditions of hard edge abstraction with elements of representation in explorations of space, the uncanny depths found within the picture plane.

Kreft, from Minneapolis, sources textile designs from India, Latin America, and Africa, and adds observations of shadows, plant forms, and other decorative elements to her compositions. Though seemingly symmetrical, with ornate color repeats matched right and left, her shapes are cunningly asymmetrical. Subtly balanced variations of pattern run through the canvas in a dance of contemporary baroque flourish.

Owens, from Dallas, paints illustration-influenced urban scenes layered with abstract graphic layers to explore her interest in the ways that technology affects our perceptions. Using effects that occur in Photoshop manipulations of imagery as sources, she builds canvasses that contain multiple spaces with competing depths and perspectives. The results are exuberant
palimpsests of contrasting visual worlds, layered like electronic fever dreams.

Austin-based painter and collagist Dan Sutherland also uses multiple effects within single works, but adds trompe l’oeil effects and other art historical references. Architecture is present here too, not as renderings of buildings but in the way three-dimensional space is constructed. His paintings mix abstraction with identifiable shapes, such as human skulls, and collect competing compositions within the same canvas in ways that are difficult to track, flowing rather than stacking competing images.

Richard Martinez of San Antonio also alludes to building. Recalling shaped canvas paintings of the 1960s and ’70s, his medallion-shaped paintings seem at first to display the hard edge painting styles found in works by the other three painters. The monochrome paintings contain, on close examination, softly hand-painted lines that might represent wood flooring or show an abstract depiction of perspective with radiating lines transected to allude to planes of walls and floor. Near an edge of each painting he places a small motif, dropped like a monogram or seal.

Organized by Connie Lowe, the exhibit is a bravura display of painting that exists outside of narrative, unencumbered by words. Lowe explains, “It is about looking, spending time with paintings. The image is what it is all about.”


Magnetic Fields


9am-5pm Mon-Sat, 11am-4pm Sun

Southwest School of Art, 1201 Navarro

(210) 224-1848, ext. 403

Exhibit on view to May 15



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