Reviews: 'Dirty Dozen' at Blue Star Contemporary Museum, 'Hieroglyphs' at Linda Pace Foundation


Free by appointment
Linda Pace Foundation
112 W. Riche
(210) 226-6663
Through January 25


Dirty Dozen

2-6pm Tue-Sat
2-8pm Thu
Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum
116 Blue Star
(210) 227-6960
Through Feb. 16

Every day we make choices that are so habitual we barely notice them. Tacos or tuna for lunch might warrant a moment of thought, but that job you're not exactly in love with? Up and quitting may cross your mind as a fantasy, but choosing ways to make the day amusing is rarely encouraged in the American workplace, nor sufficiently practiced — an unfortunate habit we've inherited from our Puritan forebears.

Art exhibitions, especially group shows, are all about choices. What, if any, is the theme? Which artists to exhibit? What pieces? And where does everything go? Two shows now on view exhibit these choices especially well.

"Dirty Dozen," at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, curated by Catherine Anspon, fine arts and social editor at Papercity magazine, presents seven San Antonio artists and five artists from Houston. The show, says Anspon, "exhibits themes of the supernatural, architecture, pop-culture … and cloning" but what one immediately notices is that the assembled pieces work together and fit the room. Paintings line the walls, while 3-D works hang from the ceiling or are couched on the floor. Anspon told the Current that in making her choices, "I was looking for a dialogue among the pieces. Otherwise it's just strong work." While several of the Houston artists were invited in, the others were selected from over 100 submissions. "Looking at the work in San Antonio, I was struck by the strength," said Anspon. Of the themes, Claudio Dicochea's quotes from pop-culture is apparent, but mysticism? Anspon explained that she is not referring to conventional religion, but rather disparate elements, such as Susan Plum's mention of the solar system and the Mayan calendar. She also found Gary Shafter's work to realm about "spiritualism, nature, and the forest," while Ethan Moore's quote of the Crown of Thorns is "more spiritual than religious." Also with Esteban Delgado, Gabriel Diego Delgado, Michele Monseau, and Ivan Salcido from SA, and Houston artists Ann Wood, Nancy Douthey, Jon Leach, and Liza Littlefield.

Linda Pace, the late founder of Artpace, is known for her art collection, which concentrates heavily on artists who have exhibited at Artpace. However, she paid attention to many other artists as well. "Hieroglyphs," curated by Ballroom Marfa director Fairfax Dorn, focuses on two themes that are not often thought of as complimentary — abstraction, and works using text, which she found appearing frequently in the Linda Pace Collection. What one learns in this stunningly constructed exhibition — which includes works by modern masters George Baselitz, Hans Hoffman, and Joan Mitchell, as well as contemporary artists such as Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, and Kiki Smith — is not errata about the themes, but rather what shapes, tactics, and humor attracted Linda Pace. The very stuff of art itself.

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