Two Baboons and a Body Bag

Planet of the apes

Let's get one thing straight. The artwork featured in "Out of the Ordinary: New Art from Texas" may not be ordinary, but it's not necessarily from Texas, either. Some featured artists emigrated from Europe or are in the process of moving to Missouri, and their work doesn't reflect any regional school.

"The bit of glue that held these artists together is that they used common everyday material as a point of departure," says the exhibit's co-curator, Lynn Herbert. "Some of them incorporate the material themselves into the work, and some use them as a springboard."

For example, Francesca Fuchs's painting Four Stripes is only inspired by the color bands on a packet of sugar, while Todd Brandt's installation Table Piece utilizes condiment jars filled with returned paint from Home Depot. One innovative video installation consists of galaxylike swirls of ice crystals and steam. "It looks like this very cosmic sort of event, but it's just a video camera that's been pointed inside a freezer," Herbert says. The cataclysmic unfolding was discovered when the filmmaker was fooling around in his icebox with a flashlight. The name of the artist? Brian Fridge.


Out of the Ordinary: New Art from Texas

Previews Saturday, August 12, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (4 p.m. tour), through October 8, at the Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose Boulevard. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Free.


Straining the definition of "everyday object," Erick Swenson uses taxidermist's molds. In his diorama Obviously a Movie, two baboons in parkas carry an unusual contraption over snow-covered rocks. "To me, it's suggestive of maybe the shape of a body bag. Maybe they're going out to rescue a member of their team. But it conjures up all sorts of thoughts about arctic explorations turned bad," Herbert says.

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Don't worry too much about the laxation of adherence to the show's theme. The fun of exhibits like this is seeing the wide variety of interpretations.

"Ever since the pop art movement, people have felt a freedom to use common, everyday objects … and this is just an update on what people are doing here at this particular point in time," Herbert says. "People will instantly see the connection … but they'll also see how these artists have transformed them into something very different."

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