Arts The thin yellow line

Fans of minimalism will love the inaugural show at Lawrence Markey’s gallery

Exhibitions come and go, quietly hanging around for a month or two, but there have been some blink-and-you-miss-it events on the art scene lately, and since I’m sure some of you blinked, I’ll recount a few.

Gordy Grundy awarded Linda Pace his “Paragon of the Arts” honor at Sala Diaz October 7 and the ceremony came off beautifully. Pace graciously said that she had stayed up late to brave a possible farce because, “How could I say no’ to art?” Artpace and Sala Diaz have been around for the same 10 years so it was nice to have representatives and fans of both showing a little love. Afterward, there was some “aboriginal” dancing around the bonfire á la South Pacific.

Barrier or portal? The minimalist sculpture made with yellow yarn by the late Fred Sandback is part of a one-man show at the city’s newest gallery, Lawrence Markey, Inc.

An hour later at Flight Gallery’s Eve of Destruction, they destroyed the unsold art although most of it was purchased; I was impressed and amazed at how young art buyers had stepped up amid a huge crowd of black-clad 20-somethings ravenous for quick and glorious fireballs `see “Endangered species,” October 6-12, 2005`. It turned out to be a bit of a struggle to destroy the work the vinyl wouldn’t catch fire and the chalk dust refused to blow away but in the end destruction reigned.

Finesilver Gallery may be leaving the Alamo City but Lawrence Markey recently relocated his eponymous gallery to 311 Sixth St. from New York, and the Big Apple’s loss is our gain. Markey’s gallery is known as a minimalist mecca, which in Texas may be a reductive roadhouse, and New York-based minimalist websites are already in tears.

The gallery opened in San Antonio last month with a one-man exhibition featuring the late Fred Sandback, who happened to be the subject of Markey’s first New York show in 1990 and a close friend, so the inaugural exhibition is bittersweet. The biggest object in the room has the least substance: A string of yellow yarn angles out from a ceiling beam to form an isosceles triangle that rests 23 feet wide on the floor. It spans the better part of the room, tempting you to walk through but there is something about it that makes you go around instead. What is that quasi-mystical power? I think it’s a combination of awe for High Art, museum guards’ past warnings, and a dash of superstition about walking under ladders thrown in.

Fred Sandback

Noon-5pm Tue-Fri
Through Nov 4

Lawrence Markey, Inc.
311 Sixth St.

Sandback works on paper are placed intermittently throughout the rooms. Three untitled drawings play off the sculpture with their precise lines and primary colors. I would never call these delicate, although at their busiest they feature only two thin lines. Instead, they are precise, and the colors and slight heft caused by the pastel’s softness recall fluorescent light tubes. The lines are all lean, like Robert Motherwell’s torn papers, and they reflect a kinship to constructivists such as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy who floated his lines. In a Sandback drawing from 1987, two yellow lines angle toward each other like chopsticks gracefully grasping against beautiful cream-colored paper. You have to see works like these in person because reproductions will never capture the slight twinkling of material and tiny details such as the way black pastel dusts the paper.

In the adjacent room, wood engravings stamp, and slightly pucker, fine Japanese paper. A perfect blue is incised with what looks like a three-dimensional drawing that continually repels real space no matter how you work it. Minimalist works such as these remind us that the dance of basic compositional elements, not to mention good craftsmanship, are still the cornerstones of art. This inaugural show harkens many exciting less-is-more moments to come.

By Catherine Walworth


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