New exhibitions in bloom this month
From the wide-open prairies of the Lone Star state to nature viewed through a personal lens, Dallas art spaces offer a glimpse of spring. Writer Kendall Morgan shares her top suggestions.
“Hometown Texas” by Peter Brown at Photographs Do Not Bend through May 5.
As every Texan knows, there’s nothing like the small-town charm of a well-preserved Main Street or the sun setting over the rugged rocks of Big Bend. Perhaps that’s why we long for our land with a fervor often missing in the residents of other states.
With “Hometown Texas,” photographer Peter Brown captures state pride in a series of quiet moments, highlighting vistas that might normally be no more than a blurred view outside a car window.
A companion piece to a glossy photo book Brown released with journalist Joe Holley last fall, the show serves as “a statement of how we need to relook at Texas,” says gallery co-owner Missy Finger.
“I think if you see the images you get the feel of all the details, funky architecture, and mix of different styles in these little towns,” she says of the 30 images featured in “Hometown.” “It’s just a love story to the state of Texas.”
“Unintended Garden” by Celia Eberle at Cris Worley Fine Arts, February 24 through March 31.
Man’s relationship with nature has never been more ambiguous than it is in today’s digital age. Dallas-based multimedia artist Celia Eberle has always examined our need to both worship and control the natural order of things, but often her themes were just a bit before their time.
Not so with “Unintended Garden,” an “unfortunately topical” show, according to the artist, that utilizes fragile elements such as coral, moss, bone, and driftwood to comment on humanity’s callous plunder of the planet’s precious resources.
Works include the pearl-studded Hermit’s Grotto, a ceramic cavern perched on a driftwood plinth, and a Christ-like figure of Neptune reconfigured with a mermaid’s tail. By lingering in the shadow of her moss-covered grotto—complete with a contemplative soundtrack of a mourning dove—one is inspired to consider just how we can make things up to poor Mother Nature.
“(The works) further extends our confusion about nature and how we should use it, should we use it to the extent we just use it up?” Eberle queries. “People used to think I was cynical, but now it’s pretty obvious it’s the truth. Maybe things will improve because of (how we view) it.”
“Glancing Backward” by Kalee Appleton at Erin Cluley Gallery, February 24 through March 31.
Landscape backdrops have lent a cheesy charm to every school photo session or Sears Portrait Studio for decades. In her first solo show, Kalee Appleton mines the nostalgia inherent in these waterfalls or mountain scenes by deconstructing their kitsch origins and reworking them into something vibrant and new.
Appleton (who also serves as the Director of Visual Resources at Southern Methodist University) searches photography fire sales and Amazon for her source material, and then combines it all into quirky frames she makes herself.
“We’re so enamored of these images; it makes me wonder where this fascination comes from,” she says. “We see them on calendars and puzzles—even the desktop photographs that come with an Apple computer! Even though we have never been to those locations in real life, we’re interested in their history and the nostalgia associated with getting your photograph taken in front of them.”
Layering similar yet slightly different backdrops of the same vista on top of one another, Appleton re-photographs the crumpled results, giving them a supernatural beauty in the process. More than a sum of their parts, they reference both mid-century modernism and the digital age in equal measures.
“Tinies” by Gael Stack Holly Johnson Gallery, February 24 through May 5.
Sometimes bigger is better, and sometimes you can get much more out of something perfectly petite. Noteworthy contemporary artist Gael Stack has spent years honing a visual language that blends handwriting, Japanese prints, illuminated manuscripts, and paintings from the Middle Ages.
Stack, who also mans the Moody Gallery in Houston, has taken a slightly different approach for her latest Dallas exhibit. Minimizing her complex mix of subjects onto 5×6-inch paper and utilizing a new color palette that includes greens and ochres in addition to her Yves Klein blue, she prompts the viewer to take a closer look at her visual poems on paper. Undersized they may be, but extremely impactful.