By Jef With One F
By Pete Vonder Haar
By Abby Koenig
By Olivia Flores Alvarez
By Jef With One F
By Christina Uticone
By Angelica Leicht
By Altamese Osborne
In 21st-century America, when we see young men in T-shirts and jeans running at full speed through an urban environment, we assume someone is chasing them and they'll end up face down on the ground, their hands handcuffed behind their back. But here, they keep running, and as those Cops associations fade, a sense of freedom and exuberance takes over. You want to be out there, too, running as fast as you can, doing a handstand as you vault over a fence.
The video is shown in the context of a series of 2D works by Jemison, most of them printed on clear sheets of Mylar and tacked to the wall. One of them is a black-and-white photo of an airbrushed banner, with portraits commemorating the death of a young man, Gregory Robinson III. If you Google his name, a story comes up about a 14-year-old Chicago high school freshman shot while sitting in the back of a car after his cousin's basketball game. It's a senseless and all-too-common tragedy.
In other works, Mylar is printed with self-help-type statements and mounted on board. "If I can, I will love myself first, so that I may love others." The statement is repeated with changes in tense — "If I could..." and "If I could have..." — implying both inability and regret. In the context of the other works, they read as lamentations on the needlessly violent world we live in. Unfortunately, the Mylar just looks kind of cruddy. (Maybe it's referencing overhead projector transparencies?)
5101 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, TX 77006
"2011 Core Exhibition"
Through April 22, 2011.
Other sheets of Mylar are printed with mound-like shapes and layered over brown paper shapes glued on the walls. I'm sure these are derived from something, but I have no clue as to what. (At this point, as in many previous Core exhibitions, one might turn to the accompanying catalogue, but it's not printed yet.) These images aren't interesting enough to make me care about them. Jemison is touching on provocative issues, but it seems like she's taking pains to throw in obscure imagery.
Julie Ann Nagle's Breakdown of a Long Chain (2011) is a plaster sculpture of a man in a suit, attached like a figurehead to a wooden construction that looks like the "prow" of a ship. His coat is blown back and his hands are stretched out, holding string intertwined between his fingers, cat's cradle-style. I don't know whether he's based on someone specific, but he's an absurd and intriguing figure. The prow shape is constructed from carefully cut pieces of wood, but then the artist stuck some random sloppily painted scraps of wood at the base. It's like Nagle said to herself, "Oh shit, I'm making this look too good, let me stick some crap here."
I see this impulse a lot in young artists, and I don't know where it comes from. It's like it's uncool to care what stuff looks like. I'm not some big advocate for "well-crafted" work — sometimes crappiness is inherent in your content. But when you have forced crappiness, it's just kind of silly. (Nick Barbee's enthusiastically crappy sculptures, made of stuff like orange peels, chewing gum and bad casts of bananas, are also on view, and a little goes a really long way.)
Also disappointing is The Inverted Structure (2010), Lourdes Correa-Carlo's large-scale photo installation presenting an upside-down image of an old wood-sided house. Correa-Carlo has flanked the photo panels with pieces of corrugated metal painted white. This is another piece where a back-story might suddenly make it fascinating, but as it is, there isn't much to hold your interest.
Art is still a visual thing. If people can't divine your content by looking at the work, you should at least give them something interesting to look at. In the meantime, I'll hope for enlightenment via the upcoming exhibition catalogue.