Show REACTION, Durango Herald, Feb. 23, 2007

Durango artist curates exhibit at Lost Dog in search of ‘fearless’ art

“What?!” by Thaddine Swift Eagle; “Winter Pressing 2003-04” by Mary Ellen Long; “Black Cloud” by Mary Ellen Morrow.

February 23, 2007
By Leanne Goebel | Special to the Herald

The painter Tirzah Camacho is frustrated by the redundancy of stylized western art and what she calls “safe” contemporary art in Durango. So, the local artist decided to curate an exhibit that would prove Durango is filled with high-quality artists capable of producing fearless, conceptual art.

Lamenting that Durango lacks progressive venues to display such work, Camacho enlisted the Lost Dog Bar & Lounge to provide its space. She invited a committee of unidentified local artists to jury the show. Why not say who they are?

All submissions were supposed to be in response to Camacho’s article “A Response Ability” in the fall 2006 issue of Arts Perspective magazine.

My reaction?

There is little new under the Durango sun.

“Show Reaction” features the work of 16 artists, most with recognizable names.

Mary Ellen Long’s “Winter Pressing 2003-04” was shown at the Shy Rabbit Gallery in Pagosa Springs.

Mary Ellen Morrow frequently exhibits at the Durango Arts Center. A traditional, plein-air painter by training, Morrow won “Best of Show” at the Four Corners Commission show at DAC. At Lost Dog, “Little Black Cloud,” an oil on canvas of golden treetops, mountains, sky and a black cloud shows Morrow’s ability to explore shape, color and form in landscape.

Rebecca Koeppen has three pastels in this show; she has shown similar work at Shy Rabbit and DAC. Ron Fundingsland has shown his prints at Shy Rabbit and briefly at Karyn Gabaldon Fine Arts.

A small lithograph by Kristina Butler from El Paso, Texas, explores perception and how we interpret what we see. “Anala & Montezuma at the Fair” provides two views of a gypsy woman and a snake. On the left, the snake is touching her forehead, on the right she seems to be swallowing the snake. It’s a decent print; unfortunately, the mat is uneven and the print is not centered in its frame.

Thaddine Swift Eagle steals the show with her two acrylic paintings. “Well?!” features three abstracted figures staring at the viewer as if to say “What are you looking at?” The painterly style, truncated arms, exaggerated hands and simple clothing of these dark-skinned figures conveys attitude, emotion and life. In “Welcome to Durango,” a vibrant female figure dominates the canvas. It tells the story of a woman who jumps into the river after her baggage and hangs on to every bag with her head barely above water.

Welana Fields is in the viewer’s face with “Let’s Make Her an Indian, Let’s Put on Her Osage Clothes” a mixed-media piece of giant paper-doll clothing, complete with beaded jewelry.

Camacho disappoints with her predictable painting so tied into the theme of the show that it leaves no room for reaction. “This Is Only the Beginning” features railroad tracks and a heart, symbols seen repeatedly in Camacho’s paintings.

Much of the work in “Show Reaction” is mediocre. It’s not fearless. It’s not revolutionary, and some is not even well executed.

Art should move the viewer, not briefly, but over and over.

I, like Camacho, long for art that affects, that isn’t old-fashioned, that makes me nervous and uncomfortable, that makes me laugh and perhaps even smile. I didn’t find it at the Lost Dog.

“Show Reaction,” the work of 16 artists, through March 16, Lost Dog Bar & Lounge, 1150 Main Ave.
artsjournalist@centurytel.netLeanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the arts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s