Take Adela Andea's "Liquescent Light" exhibition, held this past January at Anya Tish Gallery, stick a fork into whatever socket electrifies its neon light sculptures, and what you get is "Primordial Garden," a hopped-up room installation and entry into the 2013 Texas Biennial (TX★13), an exhibition of Texas contemporary art and artists.
Texas Biennial turns five this year. To celebrate, an exhibition will be on view from September 5 until November 9 at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum in San Antonio. As a special nod to past biennial participants, "Texas Biennial Invitational" is being held at Lawndale Art Center, honoring Christie Blizard, Marcelyn McNeil, Tom Orr and Brad Tucker with a showcase of the artists current works (Blizard, McNeil, Tucker) and previous ones (Orr).
Blizard participated in the 2009 and 2011 biennials. She uses her art to speak on social issues. McNeil previously showed in the 2011 biennial, works in oils. Orr, who participated in the 2007 and 2011 biennials, creates site-specific sculptures. And Tucker is a mixed media who showed in '07 and '11, as well.
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The exhibition, in Lawndale's Grace R. Cavnar Gallery, is curated by Michael Duncan (TX★9) and Virginia Rutledge, and organized in a circle, with Tucker's nine-unit installation, "Body and Voice" (2013), situated in the middle. This is a clean, polite curation, one that allows movement around the pieces, giving viewers the opportunity to respectfully admire every artwork on view. Press releases emphasized abstraction as the exhibition's focal theme. It is a theme, but it is the rich color of "Texas Biennial Invitational" that pops out more, even in Orr's black-and-white silkscreen abstracts. Where Andea's "Light" and "Garden" is an electrocution of blinding neon lights, "Texas Biennial Invitational" is more controlled, a singular LED tube lying inconspicuously in the corner, its quiet white light accenting, not overpowering.
Hanging as a set of three on the wall facing Lawndale's large windows, "Nothing More Nothing Less," (2013) "Orange Like A Pro" (2013) and "Red Herring" all display the exhibition's color theme, as well; splotches of bright pink and orange in no particular shape or order adorn each canvas beautifully. On the opposite wall, "Walk Project (visiting where I grew up in Columbus, IN) 7/4/13" (2013), is colorful, too, but identifies more as graffiti art than abstract, thanks to the bursts of rainbow color spray painted onto a canvas lying on the floor.
"ZZZZZZZ" (2007) is an oxymoron, for there is nothing boring about it. The mixed media piece is a black-and-white silkscreen rectangle that runs nearly floor to ceiling. This big rectangle is accented by pops of bright color in random places next to or on it: a black square, a teal rectangle, a mirrored cube. A long lime green string that dangles from the top of the giant rectangle is really a product of the same technology that lights up Andea's pieces: neon. Its brother, on the other hand, is not boring, either, but might induce hypnosis. "Fingerprint 5," (2007) located on the opposite wall, is completely monochromatic, but designed in an elegant diamond pattern that moves when the viewer stands still. Stare at the center long enough -- or too long -- and the horizontal and diagonal lines that wiggle start to look like Medusa's deadly locks jumping out at you, hell-bent on turning you to stone. As you stand there, immobile, staring wide-eyed and slack-jawed at the 81-by-81-foot piece, it appears they've done the job.