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at Circuit 12 Contemporary
by Todd Camplin

What is the difference between a collage and an assemblage? Can a collage or assemblage
also be a painting? If you want a good example of an artist that blurs these lines, look no further
than Howard Sherman and his show of paintings at Circuit 12 Contemporary. Sherman is back
in town and his show keeps you coming back for more. At least for me because I went and saw
the show three times. Normally once is all I can fit in for most shows with my limited time, but
something kept me coming back for more.
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Collage has fallen out of favor here lately because so many people are using collage to
scrapbook or slap together a lazy collection of images. So, some artists have started labeling
their work assemblage. However, assemblage tends to invade our space, if only just a little bit.
You might say assemblage is a modern equivalent of a relief sculpture. I would argue that
Howard Sherman is doing both collage and assemblage in this show, while also creating a
body of work that is about painting. Take the collages in the back room for example, these
works are cut, ripped, and assembled just like a collage, but he is using his own created
elements. Thus these works are not using the language of traditional collage. The small
works are miniature laboratories where Sherman tries out ideas for his larger works. These
are more akin to painting sketches.  The larger paintings in the main gallery are also
assemblages. Two works are almost completely assemblages with less of a traditional
painting structure left.  These two works are off stretcher bars and just pieced together
with paint on some of the surfaces. The rest have hanging elements but are on
stretchers  that hold the painting together.
During my first visit, I had a lengthy conversation with Sherman about his evolving practice. My
second trip, I noticed that the small collages informed the large painting. I found myself walking
to the back room and returning to the main room several times. I also observed that the large
paintings resembled faces. I had a similar feeling when I stood in front of a large painting by
Chuck Close. Though Close is rooted in realism, both Close and Sherman create a portrait that
demands your attention. With Sherman, you don’t just get a portrait, but his abstract approach
leaves his work open to more than just the portrait interpretation. Close leaves you with essentially
one read.

Howard Sherman has shown several times in the Dallas area. A University of North Texas alum,
Sherman is rooted in DFW. However, until just recently his studios have been in Houston. Now
he is based in NYC. Shockwaves of UNT can still be felt through his work, although refined,
stripped away, and reapplied. I still see hints of Vernon Fisher’s and Ed Blackburn’s
influence, but Sherman’s own voice is loud and clear.

Installation View
Ellen Soffer 2. Happy Things, acrylic on white linen, 12.625” X 17.75” X 2.5”,
courtesy of Mary Tomas Gallery
Howard Sherman’s show titled Shifting Fancy of the Crowd will be up through May 6th at Circuit
12 Contemporary. Be sure to read every title of each of his artworks. I promise you will get a kick
out of Sherman’s playful wit.

Installation View
Installation View
Installation View