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Special “Eye” to Watch
June Mattingly // contributing art writer
The MAC or McKinney Avenue Contemporary
in Uptown Dallas
|Also, regularly read regularmain.com, June Mattingly's personal blog on art.
|Since founded over 15 years ago, this not-for-profit “Dallas advocate for creative freedom”
has stood its ground as a spacious art showplace because of its backing of experimental
as well as established art, giving a plethora of gifted artists exhibitions in a gallery/museum
setting, and its central location. This well recognized and organized Texas art facility owes
its loyal attendance at each show opening and event (such as an artist’s talk), to Liliana
Bloch, the dedicated director headlined in DMagazine in 2009.
|Gary Cunningham and his assistant
setting up the show
|Up now are two exhibitions with Austin-based artists: “Ginger Geyer: The Porcelain
Reformation” and Kenneth Hale “Art Into Landscape” through May 15 curated by
Dr. Richard Brettel, an old friend from when he served as the Director of the
Dallas Museum of Art. Humanities Chair at UTA Dallas and famed art historian,
Brettel found the precious time to produce an elucidating catalog for each artist.
Another friend, Gary Cunningham A.I.A., designed the smart looking, appropriate
bases and tables for both artists. What a cool idea to have an architect do that!
Left: Installation of Ken Hale’s exhibit at the MAC
Right: “Carmel #14,” 2008, archival digital inkjet
with collage, paper 10 x 8 inches
Ken Hale received his MFA from the University of Illinois and serves as a full professor at the
College of Fine Arts at UT in Austin. Select collections that own his work include: Chicago Art
Institute, University of Dallas in Irving, Barrett Collection in Dallas, McNay Art Museum in San
Antonio, American Airlines in the Austin Airport, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. His
gallery affiliations are William Campbell Contemporary in Fort Worth and Flatbed Press, a
printmaking studio in Austin.
Hale and Brettel became friends when they moved from different places to Austin in 1976 to
teach at the University of Texas. Brettel became a student in Hale’s studio class in lithography,
a “medium to transfer visual creativity” dating back to the 17th century, still tremendously
popular by artists to this day.
Variations on an imagined tree symbol in a fake natural setting and/or landscape are the
main subject of over 200 prints in Hale’s series of digital works on paper that at first quick
glance appear to be elegant traditional color etchings. Unlikely sizes range from as tiny as six
by eight inches to a very large print of four by five feet. Mediums run the gamut too – from
the conventional ones like collage, watercolor, and gouache, to the computer generated
processes of photographic digital printing or the use of both together.
Typically in the genre of landscape paintings, works are portrayed horizontally with the
imagery closely matching the actual inspiring scenery. However, Hale’s small numbered
series, only four, of the “Carmel” (California) prints contrarily are vertical like the solitary trunks
of the trees. The trees in this particular series have varying dimensions of trunks and limbs, and
the skies, backgrounds, foregrounds and shapes of foliage change configuration in each
print as do the overall colorings to designate different locations, yearly seasons and times of
day. All of the trees unexplainably stop abruptly and disturbingly, lacking roots to hold them
permanently in the mysterious sometimes non-existent ground. “They are, after all, images or
visualized ideas, not trees.”
Left:“Binding Abundance,” 2009, glazed porcelain with oil
glaze, 10 inches by 18 inches by 14 1/2 inches (adaptation
of Poussin's “Autumn: Spies Returning from the Promised
Right: “All in One,” 2009, glazed porcelain with adaptations
from Michelangelo’s “Pieta”
Ginger Geyer earned graduate and post graduate courses from S.M.U., when James Surls
(featured on regularmain.com) was teaching there, worked for the Kimbell and Dallas
Museum of Art in the conservation departments and taught at St. Marks. Her expertise moved
into the area of collection management and she attended the Getty Museum’s school on
the subject. Later, under Dr. Richard Brettel at the DMA, even without an architectural
degree, she developed a plan for the about-to-be added Hamon Wing. After moving to
Austin, Geyer earned a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from the Episcopal Theological
Seminary of the Southwest. Her vitae are amazing and I just touched on high points!
Geyer is so adept at her medium, porcelain, which she uses to replicate almost perfectly,
commonplace, household objects such as a colander, corrugated box, plate of cherry pie,
and a folded quilt that we suddenly appreciate the substance of her large body of art. Her
hand-built work exemplifies the skill of a trained sculptor/ painter to shape and color the
objects so true to life and the dexterity of a ceramicist to work within the parameters of clay
and to apply the right glazes and metallics before everything’s precariously fired in the kiln.
There are so many elucidations of the work of this “technically brilliant artist” such as the
religious connotations and references in her use of symbolism in the history of art back as far
as Michelangelo’s Pieta (an ornament she places on top of a period lamp shade), to being
inspired by modernist rebel Marcel Duchamp’s “found objects,” only his were real, slightly
altered ones. What stood out in Geyer’s MAC show was her incredibly realistic rendition of
Jasper Johns’ landmark painted bronze Savarin coffee can with his brushes’ handles facing
down except Geyer makes her can out of a Maxwell House coffee can and her definable
brushes and tools in pure porcelain.
As Brettel advises on the last page of the catalog he wrote for Geyer’s show, go to her
website, gingergeyer.com which “can in a certain way, be used as an adult version of an
adolescent video game.” His description of Geyer’s oeuvre is far more scholarly and
complete than I can do in limited space and an enjoyable, enlightening read besides –
same goes for the catalog Brettel wrote on Hale’s exhibit.
Concurrently with her show at the MAC, Geyer is showing in North Dallas at Valley House
|Cheryl, the curator and Kevin,
the director or the Vogels, the
non-stop owners of Valley
House happily care for
those people absorbed in the
art on the walls and in the
sculpture in the garden. The
second generation of Vogels
continues to represent
contemporary regional talent
alongside 19th and 20th century
established American and
European artists in a constantly
changing gallery setting on the
beautiful grounds where their
family lived and they live.
Because of their long standing
(over 20 years) this gallery is
an honored member of the
ADAA (Art Dealers Association of
America) out of New York.
Cheryl and Kevin Vogel in their
garden, photo by Adam Fish for
D Magazine April 2010.