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Special “Eye” to Watch
June Mattingly // contributing art writer
Dunn and Brown Contemporary’s Show
up through June 19, 2010
As different as Sam Reveles’ and Robyn O’Neil’s art is their shows complement each
other perfectly due to the taste, experience and wisdom of Lisa Brown and Talley Dunn.
Since 1999 this partnership has represented well a stable of around 20 artists by their
commitment to “exhibit outstanding and groundbreaking contemporary art in a variety
of media by established and emerging artists… through the combination of an ambitious
exhibition program and an ongoing dialogue with museum curators and art critics in the
United States and Europe.” Courtney Tennison, their patient staff person deserves a lot
|Also, regularly read regularmain.com, June Mattingly's personal blog on art.
|“Cathedral,” 2009, oil and acrylic on canvas, 37 1/2 x 26 inches
|The title of Reveles’ one person is appropriately “Juarez Paintings” in reference to his move
from New York back to his home town El Paso two years ago. Ciudad Juarez lies on the Rio
Grande across from El Paso, one of the largest and fastest growing bi-national metropolitan
areas in the world; four international points of entry connect both cities. From statistics, all
these people coming together cause violence and unrest.
|“Triunfo de la Republica,” 2009, oil and acrylic on canvas, 58 x 80 inches
|In what way Reveles’
surroundings relate to his
work I can’t say, I just know I
reacted very positively to his
gorgeous new action packed
paintings on canvas and
paper while his work was
being installed last week at
Dunn and Brown
Contemporary for his show
and again at the official
opening when I got to meet
WHOA! His works exude impulsive movement enthused by his exclusive, passionate artistic
world. He creates pulsating dense spaces filled with perfectly controlled and executed
clusters of radiating squiggles, in a multitude of colors in repetitious patterns floating across a
secretive matrix. All this painterly activity is achieved by deft and delicate handling of paint,
saturation of colors and cycled, replicated, intangible brushstrokes. His pulsating palette of
blending colors look in a way as being watched over by the warm West Texas sun – hues
ranging from electrifying blues, exuberant lime-greens, alluring turquoises, muted reds to
delicious peaches and pinks.
Reveles was born in El Paso in 1958, received his BA from the University of Texas in El Paso and
his MFA from the Yale School of Art and Architecture. His last show at Dunn and Brown was in
2008. Among solo museum exhibitions is the one at the Contemporary Arts Museum
accompanied by a catalog and the Museum of El Paso. The permanent collections of the
Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum own his
Reveles’ other galleries are CRG Gallery in Chelsea, New York and Anthony Meier in San
|“On Sorrow”, graphite on paper, 60 x 60 inches
The titles of O’Neil’s shows such as her one person right now at Dunn and Brown
Contemporary “Come, all that is quiet” corresponds precisely with titles of other one persons.
This year at the Des Moines Art Center it was “The World has won…A final blow was taken”
and at Clementine Gallery in New York in 2007 the title of her show was “This is a descending
world.” Titles of individual works contain similar resonance – “Hurricane,” “A Song of So Many
Beginnings,” “Turbulent Beliefs,” and “Almost Quiet” as examples.
Thought-provoking, poignant, precisely conceived allegorical graphite drawings are O’Neil’s
principal way to depict the world’s upheaval, to make us more aware of the not so upright
bright side. There’s a ray of hope offered in this show we won’t sink down deep into the
bottom of the tumultuous sometimes menacing ecosphere she pictures so imaginatively,
graphically and convincingly. She doesn’t wish us to despair, to ever loose courage to
escape to higher ground. To produce this unorthodox form of narration, O’Neil works with the
inexpensive thinnest lead mechanical pencil and the smallest, 10 x 12 inches, to the largest
available commercial sheet of paper at a height of six and half feet. One framed three panel
drawing spans 8 x 13 feet.
|“Come All That Is Quiet,” 2009, graphite on paper, 60 x 60 inches
For someone as young as O’Neil is (she was born in 1977), it’s remarkable this Houstonian’s
showed in important venues in Paris, San Francisco, Berlin, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.
Her first show in Dallas was in 2002 with my good friend David Quadrini who ran Angstrom
Gallery. In 2004 O’Neil was chosen to show in the Whitney Biennial and the Whitney Museum
of American Art has her work in the permanent collection. In 2006 the Contemporary Arts
Museum in Houston honored her with a one person exhibition.
O’Neil received her BFA from Texas A&M in Commerce and an artist-in-residence from Artpace
in San Antonio in 2003.
“But I made this really distinct choice
where I had to be selfish, that was the only
way I could see this, being an artist,
working out for me. And I think, from that
moment until month, seriously, I’ve been
going like a maniac. By the time I got to a
point in my career where I could quit my
job and focus on only making these
drawings, it killed me to even take one
night off. I mean, it would drive me insane,
which is horrible, it’s a horrible way to be.”
O’Neil’s gallery in Chicago is Tony Wight
and Praz-Delavallade represents her in
Paris and Berlin.