Special “Eye” to Watch
June Mattingly // contributing art writer

What’s going on downtown in Deep Ellum
and close to Fair Park gallery-wise these days?

We contemporary art addicts visit in Deep Ellum: Barry Whistler, Public Trust, the new Kirk Hopper
Gallery on Commerce/Canton, and alternative spaces 500X and Centraltrak on Exposition.
Twice-yearly open houses occur in copious, commodious studio loft buildings like Continental
Lofts on Elm for mostly unrepresented artists.

More recently, there is a movement to alternate art spaces close to downtown and
this week we take  a peek into two current shows  Jenny Vogel at  
The Reading Room
and robert mateo diago at Steven Paul Productions..
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The Reading Room on Parry Avenue diagonally across from the Music Hall, although tiny
in square footage and the physical size of its inspiration and arranger Karen Weiner its
presentations are big, big, and even bigger! In this private although open to the public,
personalized gallery every month each show is accompanied by a talk, literary program,
performance, book signing or the like.

Jenny Vogel’s show “Dead Men Are Heavier than Broken Hearts” in April was worth the
excursion. Jenny is an assistant professor in the New Media College at the University of
North Texas.
robert mateo diago - Junk Drawers -   Seahorse - Doll - plant
“Paper Doll Head” reads …collected doll parts, arms, legs, limbless torsos, heads.
what of this head with its brown eyes and scuffed up face? does it remind me of
myself, my inner wounded child? a retro americana look. it is plastic. there’s
nothing inside that head. a simple suggestion of the idyllic childhood i longed for…
The underlying theme in Jenny’s powerful images draws from representations of disasters
and human suffering expressed using photography, live-streaming web movies, video,
drawing and printmaking.  She stresses the futility of attempts to predict and prevent the
worst of our fears through technological developments by transforming Black Box
recordings of plane crashes, earthquakes and military maps of battles into imposing
abstractions intended to be at once “beautiful and terrifying.”  

An image of a meteor floating on a large abstract background uses roofing tar applied
with a spatula to create a rough and textured surface makes “direct references to
geological matter, rather than depicting it. The weight of the meteor is further underlined
by the fragility of the laser print paper surface.” “I’d rather be a lightning rod” represents
the seismographic record of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake that leveled the city,
etched into glass. Each curve in the line directly corresponds to each terrible shake of
the earth, the fragility of the glass stands in direct conflict with the severity of the event,
while the etching process mimics the physical destruction the city endured.
Next is the Carson Warehouse Building - Steve Paul Productions occupies this renovated
building at 2814 Main, a mixed-use space housing this full-service media production
company in back and a gallery in front. Steve, an award-winning audio and video
engineer shows his passion for photography, music, sound and art in this his third
office and recording studio. His developed, dedicated client base crowded this
longitudinal location opening night for robert mateo diago’s show (he prefers
his name and the text in his work written in lower case) whose first Dallas solo
exhibit “junk drawer©” officially closes May 30 - with an artist talked
scheduled for June 1st.
Born in Puerto Rico, raised in the north east, Robert has lived in Dallas over 15 years; he
recently turned himself to fine art as full-time endeavor, but by high school he knew
he’d pursue art as a career. He received a degree from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.
Robert has participated in these members’ shows: Arthouse Five x Seven in Austin, Dallas
and Houston, 500X – the annual open, the Texas Visual Arts Association’s Citation, and
the Visual Arts Coalition of Dallas.
no more junk
His graphic design background, identification as a love addict and spiritual nature
are all apparent in his work. Within the gallery space, one long uninterrupted white
wall exhibits perfectly the 28 photographs in his Photos/Written Word series. At first
glance the 16 x 16 simply clip-framed black and white photographs look rather like
beautifully executed graphite drawings. The handwritten and always intimate prose
leads us in this direction too. Keeping it personal, there is only 1 of 1original of each print.

In what might sound like an odd match this photography display is combined with a
series of 13 assemblages in old tattered drawers. Of course it’s the now familiar objects
you’ve seen and fragments of the prose you’ve read that tie the pieces and overall
exhibit together.