Too Good to Eat 

click to enlarge visart-tryptophan_330jpg
Bite-size faux pastries, made of compressed coffee grounds and other near-food substances, by Yolanda McKay are on display at Three Walls Gallery in the Blue Star complex for Contemporary Art Month.
Too Good to Eat

By Elaine Wolff


Yolanda McKay's miniature cakes are one of CAM's best treats

Three Walls is one of the smallest galleries in town, but the size of the space does not reflect director Michele Monseau's ambition. She has offered the rough rectangle - bracketed on one end by her studio and on the other by her storage - to local artists and established out-of-towners for both wild experimentation and polished shows. Some installations, such as Ludwig Schwarz's Chronologic (Carry On), pushed the confines to a deleterious degree; but the current show, 2-inch tall faux cakes displayed on ornate miniature platters extending from the wall, makes the studio seem capacious in both physical space and inspiration. Fashioned in drool-inducing detail, the faux pastries are made of compressed coffee grounds (too bad for artist Yolanda Macias McKay's compost), tryptophan, vitamin C powder, gel capsules, and other near-food substances and derivatives that we regularly put into our body.

McKay has previously shown nude male soap-on-a-rope figures as well as ornate frames, game boards, and a giant "cake" made of soap scum and pigmented whipped soap. Critic Lisa Patt wrote of that show: " ... the relevance of her heritage, of being a woman in a macho society, is subsumed by her larger interest in systems of authority and control. If her work is read through a political, feminist, or racial screen, that is the critic's filter and not her own." In the context of McKay's work, that statement amounts to a denial of the subconscious, or of the human ability to have a non-verbal dialogue through art; I think we can or art would have gone the way of dance cards and the social register ... oh, wait, San Antonio still has a social register. But it owns April, not July.

Just up the street from the stretch of South Flores that is home to Andy Benavides' one9zero6 space and Gallista Gallery, Triangle Project Space is hosting a video installation curated by Jennifer Jankauskas, who since leaving ArtPace last year has worked with local galleries to bring recognized video, performance, and multimedia artists to town. Uncommon Truths, the CAM installation at TPS, consists of three single-channel video works convincingly organized around the theme of interpersonal politics. Berlin artist Bjørn Melhus' 2001 video, "The Oral Thing," is fun to watch. It transports the

Gastronomical Confections: Yolanda Mckay
By appointment
Through July 23
Free
Three Walls
106D Blue Star, Bldg B
733-8622

Uncommon Truths
Noon-4pm Wed-Fri & by appt.
Through August 8
Free
Triangle Project Space
1501 S. Flores
224-7587
voyeurism and titillation of daytime talk television to a sterile Starship Enterprise environment, and the result is a menacing distillation of the Pavlovian socialization promulgated by pop culture: Confess, serve as the scapegoat, recast yourself as a victim, receive validation. Melhus' "truth" is probably not so uncommon for the audiences likely to see it, but it's still a pleasure to watch a good visual critique.

The observation at the core of Adam Leech's 2004 work, "The Twins Interview," - that we prefer to be around people like ourselves while preserving a veneer of uniqueness - unfolds as subtitles against an orange background. In the audio-only conversation, the artist discusses an experiment in which he tried to persuade people to show up at a party looking just like him (with matching dates to boot); he notes the discomfort of people he solicited (many of them gave him phony numbers) and his own ambivalence when he finally pulls it off.

The uncommon truth - both in the sense of something rarely said and something that creates less commonality between us - seen but not heard was a solitary "I," a fragment of a sentence, that appeared momentarily on the screen. As Leech's and Melhus' videos demonstrate (there is a third video, "The World is a Classroom" by Caveh Zahedi, that this CAM-crammed reporter was unable to see), we are still the land of the individual - just not so rugged anymore. Let's get over ourselves already. •

By Elaine Wolff


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