A R T   L E T T E R

The Timely Magazine of Art

#10 <previous/ next> Artletter index August 1, 1995

Laurie Waller at Firehouse Gallery	8/12

Four bodies of work which share a lack of conviction, relying on vague
cliches and designey execution to cover for an unwillingness to say
anything in particular.  Birdsong at Midnight superimposes bird heads over a
houseplan, making the trite connection between home and nest, and
contrasting this connection with the even more trite brooding melodrama
of smeared charcoal. Works in the Where Do I Draw the Line series
juxtapose patterns of pointing hands interrupted by meaningless white
boxes as if fulfilling the requirements of a school design project in an
attempt, I believe, to show the confusion of "drawing the line", whatever
that is. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and Three Square Meals evoke the
association of moral uprightness with meals, but the artist's purpose in
showing us this familiar household tyrrany is illegible.-B.D.

Julie Broberg at Sally Sprout Gallery	8/12

In some works (e.g. Mistah Kurtz-is Dead), reliance on the familiar colors,
words, shallow fields and even specific images (crowns) of Jean Michel
Basquiat demand a comparison. Basquiat's patchy paintings captured a
swirling urban landscape while brilliant image/text combinations mined
history to create movement through multiple planes, but although
appropriation lends Mistah Kurtz. . . significance, best results occur when
the artist goes it alone, as in Bottle Feet, Boiled String and Eggs and the
tiny, unassuming Cakewalk. Like codes or puzzles, these etchings are
intimate and calculated, and the scale seems just right for the artist's
delicate touch. If the text never rises to Basquiat's complexity and bitter
wit, what the hell? Who can afford Jean Michel?- Elizabeth McBride

Neo-Dada at the CAM	9/10

Works which were a slap in the face when new are held at a comfortable
distance from the present. Manzoni's Artist's Shit is still faintly disgusting
even in a can, in a glass case, 24 years later. Tinguely's unmoving
Metamatic #2 is dead; Duchamp's Trebuchet (Trap) is raised safely out from
underfoot on a pedestal. Oldenburg's Liver Sausage with Slices is still
fresh. Take a sausage, make a sculpture of it. A simple idea, in the long
tradition of Dutch food art, but no one has done it so well since. Dadaism
invites participation: anyone can make art, anything can be art. Especially
pleasing for its purity is Klein's Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility,
which I imagine as slightly larger than the CAM building itself.-B.D.

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