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The Medium is the Message
at The Gallery at UTA - The University of Texas at Arlington
by Todd Camplin

Reception: Friday, January 27, 6 - 8:30 pm
Gallery talk during reception beginning at 6:30 pm

University galleries often times have a great amount of curatorial freedom to create exciting
shows. The Gallery at UTA, curated by Benito Huerta, has gathered together some of my favorite
locally shown painters in their show "The Medium is the Message."  The show has 11 artists, so to
keep  it simple, I will tell you about them in quick and  dirty categories of realistic and abstract.   
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Of the realists in the show, Michael Tole is the crown jewel of the exhibition. His paintings of
blurred decorative objects have always been rich with technique and skill. I had the
pleasure to babysit his work in my studio for  a week, and I really  got to study the work.
I came to the conclusion that Tole's paintings are what representational art can be,
while using the new tools of digital images as inspiration.   
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Michael Tole, Untitled (four eggs with carriage), 2008, oil on canvas, 60” x 80" courtesy of Conduit Gallery
Abstract artist, John Holt Smith makes an all consuming circle within circle abstract work that
uses bands of hard-edge colors. I can almost imagine I am looking at Saturn’s rings when I look
at his painting. He paints on a popular material called flat aluminum. I talked to him during his
group show at Barry Whistler Gallery, and he explained how he used industrial strength epoxy,
which is also used on airplanes, to mount his paintings. It looks as if the aluminum is floating.
Jackie Tileston’s and Kim Squaglia’s paintings are always treats to see. I happily get lost in
the small details and expansive space of these works. Aaron Parazette and Susie Rosmarin
serve up beautiful hard edge paintings that challenge your visual cortex with color and lines.
I ran into realist Janaki Lennie’s work down in Houston at the ArtScan Gallery several years ago,
and  I still think Lennie’s approach to minimalism is incredibly innovative. The atmosphere of the
sky creates a broad area of contemplative space, but parts of realistic life seem to creep into
the edges of the composition. The colors of the sky are muted and hazy which gives the work
a kind of melancholy feeling.

I once saw a study painting by Renoir. He was working on heads and bodies, but the painting
was really his testing ground for a finished work. I know the Impressionists were often accused of
not finishing the painting, but realist C. Meng seems to celebrate the study and the look of the
unfinished work. Large areas are left white while heads seem to float on the canvas in a
composition.
Aaron Parazette, Indicator, 2008, Acrylic on canvas, 78” x 72” courtesy of Talley Dunn Gallery
The show also includes paintings by realist J.T. Grant and legendary realist Melissa Miller with label
defying artist Christian Shumann. I parked off campus and walked to the Fine Art building, but you
can also snag a temporary permit for the day and see these 11 artists’ paintings, because like
the title of the show suggests, it is all about the medium. The opening is January 27th at 6 pm
and an artist talk starts at 6:30 pm.

. The Gallery is located in the Fine Art Building, room 169, at 502 S. Cooper Street, Arlington, TX.  
For more information contact Benito Huerta or Patricia Healy (817) 272-5658 or
visit
www.uta.edu/gallery.

C. Meng, Irene, 2006, mixed media on linen, 67” x 55" courtesy of Conduit Gallery
John Holt Smith, Hubble Oculus #1, 2011, Acrylic enamel on aluminum, 48” x 48” courtesy of William Campbell
Contemporary Art