A visit is worth a thousand words, or at least that’s the case when viewing works by Ingrid Dee Magidson in her “Once Upon A Timeless” exhibit at UNIX Gallery Houston. The artist – who grew up in Dallas and, after a winding life’s journey, ended up in Colorado – has been bringing the deceased back to life through her layered, ghostly portraits that reveal so much more in person than through photographs.
For those who have viewed the new “High Society” exhibit over at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, it’s hard to look at these Renaissance images without thinking of Franz X. Winterhalter’s portraits, with the jewels, fabrics, textures and all the accoutrements that befit nobility. Set in deep ornate frames with found objects, stuffed fabrics and scraps of sheet music, the faint gestures of eyes or mouth almost float like an elusive hologram.
Self-taught and with only a ten-year artistic career under her belt, Magidson continues to evolve her processes and techniques. The exhibit contains the layered-in-frames pieces that she seems to have mastered, as well as some newer experimentation with constructed layers of objects, fabrics and resin, and a few abstract canvases.
These are not paintings that the viewer can absorb in a glance; the more time spent gazing, the more to divine. In Delivering Destiny, the feminine muse gazes upon a knight atop a horse (a jumble of wires represent its mane and tail) while a compass guides the way. The artist incorporates butterflies in almost all of her works, symbolic of the fragility and beauty of life and our brief time here on earth.
Musical notes appear where the eyes should be in the ethereal face of Tosca’s Lost Love 2016, with the fabric arm appearing truly three-dimensional, and the high-ranking woman bejeweled with beadwork, dried flowers and a brooch.
Something not often seen, a painting walking a painting, demonstrates the affection between the nobleman holding a leash (yes, those are actual dog tags) while his faithful companion looks up obediently in BFF.
Butterflies and flowers are in abundance in Dragonfly, where the crossed pleats of the white Victorian dress open to reveal a musical instrument; while in the smaller The Whispering Muse, the curve of a pleated collar completes the musical note face and enigmatic smile.
Miniature table, piano and dolls continue the narrative in Cherished Memories of Correll’s Lost Muse in a loving tribute to the American artist and sculptor who helped pioneer assemblage. In this, an oversized butterfly serves as the bow, musical notes form a sleeve, a smooth piece of wood becomes an arm and vintage photographs dot the composition.
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Magidson’s newer pieces still seem to be evolving, but having an actual frosted cake emerging from the base of Let Them Eat Cake offers a nice contrast between the refinement of the rosette-covered cake and the messy, blue-frosting-coated canvas that pushes the human figure to the background. Look closely and count the cake wedges floating in the sea of blue, with forks and spoons forming the bottom layer.
“Once Upon A Timeless” continues through May 31 at UNIX Gallery, 4411 Montrose, open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., 713-874-1770, unixgallery.com. Free.