02/04/2022 - 05/08/2022
Chapman, Anderson, Keeler, Pedrotti, O'Connor and Horlock Galleries
Texas Artists: Women of Abstraction/ ARTISTAS TEJANAS: Mujeres de abstracción
In August of 2019 the Art Museum of South Texas (AMST) received a visit from San Antonio Museum of Art’s (SAMA) Brown Foundation Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Suzanne Weaver. She and her colleague, Assistant Curator Lana Meador were organizing the exhibition Texas Women: A New History of Abstract Art. Weaver wanted to see the Modernist art of Dorothy Hood in the AMST Permanent Collection. Hood’s work comprises 119 pieces in the Permanent Collection; including 52 drawings, 27 collages, 34 paintings, and 6 etching and lithograph prints.
Texas Artists: Women of Abstraction presents the abstract work of 30 painters, sculptors, collage, mixed media, and installation artists from across the state of Texas. With Dorothy Hood featured central to our examination, it is fitting to expand on what can be seen by her contemporaries working in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. These contemporary artists bring us further into new approaches, working with ideas, using media in many different modes of making art, and in some cases, surprising materials!
Artists in the SAMA exhibition included modern artists such as Toni LaSelle (1901-2002), Dorothy Hood (1918-2000), and contemporary artists Pat Colville (b. 1931) and Sharon Englestein (b. 1965). With this latest presentation in-house, AMST reiterates the concentration on artists working abstractly with a broader look at the art being made during Dorothy Hood’s early years, bringing Mary Frances Doyle (1904-2000), Coreen Spellman (1905-1978), Stella Sullivan (1924-2017), Emily Rutland (1890-1933), and Barbara Maples (1912-1999) into the mix. These women are the predecessors of all that follows.
Contemporary sculptor Bethany Johnson (b. 1985) employs a mindful approach whose work is composed of found paper and wood materials which she compresses, taking on the appearance of a geological shift. Abstraction is a vast area that these artists mine in ways that give us many prompts to ponder. Making statements in abstract ways that are personal, such is the works of Dana Frankfort (b.1971), and experiential and conceptual artist Sara Cardona (b. 1971). Playful as well as thought provoking, are the material use and impact as in the ubiquitous Hula-Hoop sculpted benches of Leticia Bajuyo (b. 1976). The soft sculptures by Katy Heinlein (b. 1972) rely on their stance constructed by their relationship to the wall, or floor, or pedestal in suspended color-formed-encounters. The paintings of Leila McConnell (b. 1927) deliver in their messaging a resonance of space in composition and atmosphere which conveys a quality not unlike spiritual meditation. The two large paintings by Susie Rosmarin (b. 1950) often come from an examination of everyday encounters. Her observations are delivered with precision that she devises by masking with tape her stages of paint to reveal a pattern of stunning optic accuracy once the tape is removed.
The materiality of some of this work is so attention-grabbing that we can change our viewing position and experience the work in multiple ways, such as with the light and color casting work of Claire Ankenman (b. 1947) and the iridescent, optical illusion of shadow play on paper in full color by Melinda Laszcynski (b. 1986). Laszcynski’s three-dimensional works rely on physics as well as on her own manipulation of the forms to create their direct dynamism. Margo Sawyer’s (b. 1958) Reflecting on Reflect, installation considers light flowing through and onto objects, the spread of its gleaming and radiant footprint in the light filled space is a captivating part of the direct experience in the Keeler Gallery. Unlike other artists who embrace chance, her attention to the interactive dynamics of forms, finishes, and reflective objects are considered and controlled, down to the hover created to make the installation appear afloat.
The artist/architect Luisa Duarte (b. 1959), whose work harkens back to her own home history and through a refinement of shape and color, reexams a place called home. This statement on a memory once so detailed is now refined to its essence. The works of Marcelyn McNeil (b.1965) simultaneously address surface and form. She acknowledges the formal aspects of her process; but, like Dorothy Hood, McNeil accepts and responds to the animating of the surface with the methods she applies in paint. The physicality of Naomi Schlinke’s (b. 1949) collages are a fitting mode of visual art as they seem to relate to movement in space, pattern, and have an emphasis on the elements of form, color, texture, and shape. Her consideration of the space within and around the collages communicates this sensibility. The artist spent many years as a dancer and this understanding of movement in space is foundationally evident.
Annette Lawrence’s (b. 1964) concept of translating a telephone conversation measuring time spent into a visual composition, serves as a metaphor for time and space travelled in communication laid out in visual form. Although the idea may not be immediately obvious, the artist’s concept is a time based examination of telephone conversations. Knowing this we become more attuned to the image. Such is the case engaging with Lawrence’s work. The two paintings by Catherine Lee (b. 1950) are painted not in a way that a grid might suggest, but randomly, in an all over painting approach made up of layers. Just like energy in quantum mechanics, the artist’s energy is dispersed across an entire organism in an approach that enlivens the pattern, with transitions, progressions, and contrasts. For Linnea Glatt (b. 1949) drawing and sculpting are experiences expressed in ways she examines and navigates relationships with contrasting tones and forms in both two and three dimensions. Marjorie Norman Schwartz (b. 1972) is another artist that acknowledges the body and self-awareness that breath brings. Her practice of yoga is akin to what the passages of layers in paint become, as color shifts and tones become atmospheric. The connection she feels when her layers merge on the canvas over time, as if from a dream stilled in paint, serve as a record.
The art of Liz Ward (b. 1959) exhibits transience and fragility, and at the same time use images so obviously recognizable that they can be comprehended immediately. There is a luminosity in her use of color, both in intensity and subtlety, that coalesces, creating a slower read that begs to be pondered. The large format paintings of Lorraine Tady (b. 1967) encompass the comprehension of what a painting can be. Her works reference places as if viewed from a street map and drawn graffiti, at times giving the viewer several things to extrapolate. The vivid color adds a graphic quality (which provides an unexpected painted approach that) relays a changing methodology, both in what a painting is and how it can be created. Encountering the startling intensities of Liz Trosper’s (b. 1983) work presents a photo finish appearance of what paint “is”. Her exploration and use of ink on canvas considers what comprises a painting and what it can be made of and suggests other art and artists who questioned what art can be and what it is “about”. The accuracy isn’t lost, and the impact is immediate and arresting.
As a modern artist, Dorothy Hood (1918-2000) figures prominently. Showing her paintings, collages, and drawings alongside other modern and contemporary artists allows these visual dialogues to continue. The psyche of the mind and the dialogue of artists working abstractly, resonates on many levels with a variety of approaches in chosen media and scale in both two and three dimensions.
The Art Museum of South Texas is grateful for the generosity and prolific output of these artists and their kind and helpful art galleries which include McClain Gallery, Moody Gallery, Inman Gallery, Foltz Fine Art, LLC, Conduit Gallery, Barry Whistler Gallery, Holly Johnson Gallery, Erin Cluley Gallery, and Gallery 1226. We offer our appreciation to numerous collectors, and very special appreciation to the San Antonio Museum of Art for permission to add to the continuing historical examination and impact of the abstract artist’s visual dialogue. We appreciate their lending the wonderful painting by Terrell James (b. 1955) from their Permanent Collection. This exhibition continues to be on view through Mother’s Day, May 8, 2022.