Right at Home

Local artists show off their work at Lawndale's annual Big Show

There is some nice abstract work in the show as well. Denise Ramos's 14-foot diptych has hazy, undulating vertical stripes. The pale blue-grey tones create a kind of hypnotic panorama. Dandridge Reed has haphazardly decoupaged rough squares of brown fabric onto a dirty pink canvas. The result is formally satisfying, with a casually purposeful effect. Ibsen Espada's Swimming Upstream, (2002) feels like just that. The work's vertical splotches of sanded down color feel kinetic -- a flurry of color seems to be rushing over the canvas.

Melanie Crader pushes her ironically girlie brand of minimalism in a witty new direction. Instead of the sparkles and trim of earlier works, here she is simplifying feminine shapes into abstract yet evocative forms. The Classic Cut (with Scallop) from The Basics Series, (2003) is a pink, panty-esque shape with black scalloped edging.

There are two nice video pieces in the show, a division sorely lacking in most juried exhibitions. This may be because not that many people enter video, but I'd also wager most video doesn't get seen all the way through. Images and objects require significantly less viewing time. For a juror weeding through hundreds of selections, committing to long minutes of video can be taxing.

Artist Robert Pruitt paints a new twist on Norman Rockwell's America.
Courtesy Lawndale Art Center
Artist Robert Pruitt paints a new twist on Norman Rockwell's America.


On view through August 23; for more information call 713-528-5858
Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main

Joe Ives' My Canvas, My Friend, (2003) gives a Geppetto and Pinocchio spin to the relationship between artist and artwork. We see the melancholy artist sitting alone, dangling his feet in an apartment complex pool. He builds a canvas in his studio and returns to find it sitting upright on the floor wearing one of his shirts. The two become fast friends as the canvas accompanies the now cheerful artist to eat Tex-Mex, riding shotgun in the car. In the final scene the artist and canvas gleefully jump into the pool.

Tape 5925: Amy Goodrow is a mock confessional documentary, in which the artist, Eileen Maxson, plays the role of Amy Goodrow. Goodrow tells her story in an intimately close head shot. The image itself is visually striking, a messy black bob, a blue shirt against a lime green background. She starts out with banal personal information, her major in biology, a hobby making greeting cards, and then in the same depressed monotone she begins to talk about her affair with her high school math teacher. Maxson based the piece on a girl whose story was told in an Oprah Winfrey Presents TV movie. Maxson found a copy of the show on an unmarked video. The real Amy Goodrow wanted to be on The Real World. Maxson added an audio track of an MTV guy chatting blithely on the phone while the girl's tragic story unfolds before him. She effectively conjures the pathos and the disposability of human tragedy in the era of reality television.

The 2003 Big Show has quite a few nice surprises, and you don't have to look too hard to find them. It is a requirement for entry that none of the work has been shown in Houston before, so it is a good place to discover new works by artists you may or may not know.

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