This Statue Has Been Getting Felt Up by Texas Oilmen Since 1917

Way better than a wishing well.
Aside from a swath of fabric draped across her own masterpiece, The Golden Goddess stands entirely in the buff. The statue pre-dates Deco, but looks like something that could guard Versace's old South Beach nest.

She's had a peculiar life, this golden girl. And it seems like divine intervention that she wound up here, at the exclusive Forth Worth Petroleum Club, a mainstay oasis for Texas oilmen and their legacies. If she'd gone elsewhere her potential might have gone unnoticed. But here, it's tapped.

And rubbed.

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Our Six Favorite Artist-Made Ornaments from Blue Yule

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By Harlen Johnson
This ornament had a Twinkie inside, 'cause you might get peckish during the pending Hostess apocalypse.

Each year the MAC puts on a killer holiday party/fundraiser called Blue Yule. The event's main draw is the quasi-competitive ornament sale, where guests politely booty check each other to reach the piece they like most, first.

Handmade creations all, the holiday cheer dangles from wire throughout the room. The pendulous immersion leaves you feeling like a giant cat, resisting the urge to bat at each with your less prominent cocktail hand. We popped in on Saturday evening to exercise mild restraint and terrible iPhone photography skills. Surprisingly, we only broke a few things while picking our six favorites.

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The Macabre Beauty of Ari Richter's Skin Art

Ari Richter
"The Mummy Returns" detail Pigmented human skin on glass 4" x 2.25" 2012
The most surprising aspect of Ari Richter's skin art -- aside from its unorthodox canvas, of course -- is its unexpected beauty. Richter guided me last Thursday through the white drywall maze of CentralTrak to his summer studio, where he was putting the finishing touches on what will open on Saturday evening as The Skin I Live In, an exhibition composed of pigmented human skin on glass, "tails" meticulously constructed from an amalgamation of collected hair and delicate curving sculptures built from the artist's own crescentic finger- and toenails.

Beauty, one might rightly advise, resides the eye of the beholder. Last week, we showed you a few of Richter's designs.Trust me on this one -- the photos don't do them justice.

In person, Richter's "disembodied tattoos" are ... pretty. A simplistic descriptor, but a sufficient one, no less. They are bright blue and red with bold black outlines, which -- as Richter himself noted -- have a certain translucent quality reminiscent of stained glass. From the initial photos, I was intrigued. Curious. But not expecting beauty. After all, what kind of person anxiously culls a daily, if limited, supply of skin from his own inner cheek, only to mount it and manipulate it into shapes of Freddy Kruger and Leatherface?

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Jennifer Moreman, a Tyler Artist Who Made Her Name Painting Longhorns, Has Gone Global

Jennifer Moreman
Ole the Bull, 36 x 36
What do you get if you mix rainbows and sprinkles, unicorns and starbursts, with a little country-and-western Texas realism? Well, Jennifer Moreman is the woman to ask.

Now living in Tyler, Moreman grew up in Dallas, where she graduated from Trinity Christian Academy before taking a BFA from Baylor. She began painting at four, but it wasn't until a humid summer day when her acrylic began running that her signature style began to develop. Now painting with watered down acrylic, Moreman's work is distinguishable at first glance.

Moreman paints a variety of animals and natural subjects, but she tried her first longhorn at her UT graduate husband's request, and she was soon commissioned with so many similar requests that cows, bulls and mustangs have become a bit of a trademark style. She estimates that she's now painted hundreds. But while one might think that ranch-chic would appeal exclusively to Houston oil barons or Dallas sports team owners, Moreman's work has gone global.

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FLP: Door Boards of Papua New Guinea

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Courtesy of Joel Cooner Gallery

Today's FLP (or FLPs) come from the Joel Cooner Gallery. They're called door boards, and they are exactly what they sound like: boards that are hung over and around doors.

Or the openings to homes, anyway.

These are from the Star Mountains in central Papua New Guinea from the Ok mountain culture. (Pronounced "oak.") "The designs are visual abstractions of the human form," Cooner explains.

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"Fanatic Aunt" Studies Facial Expressions While You Talk About God

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Courtesy of RO2 Art

People can be, shall we say, incredibly emphatic when they talk about religion. But, sometimes, they're a little too emphatic. Enough that you can't help but wonder what they really feel.

Today's FLP, "Fanatic Aunt" by r. mateo diago, one of four pieces in a series titled "iChat God Talk," examines just that question. Without their knowledge, the subjects, members of the artists' family, were photographed continuously as they were discussing their religious views.

The images that diago captured are full of passion, wonder, and humor, as well as confusion and uncertainty. Each piece is accompanied by a short handwritten swatch from the conversation, highlighting each person's religious views.

The result is a visual eavesdropping of sorts, particularly fascinating because there are no aural cues. The movement, the posture, and the person's use of their hands all become more essential with the absence of sound.

It is far easier to lie with words. The body and the face often give us away. 

r. mateo diago: every then and now is on view at Ro2 Art Downtown through January 28, 2012.

Shawn Smith's "Disintegrating Eagle" Starts with a Google Image

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Courtesy of Craighead Green Gallery
Sculptor Shawn Smith likes to take stuff apart so he can put it back together--pixel-by-pixel. He finds images online, and then crafts them into 3D reality: One little piece at a time. He starts with a Google image, usually nothing more than a thumbnail.

He zooms in until the image is pixelated, and then he draws what he sees on graph paper. From there he creates a map, of sorts. Then it's on to cutting tiny pieces of wood, dying them, and, ultimately, assembling them.

In "Disintegrating Eagle," a three-dimensional bird looks as if he might dissipate into pieces. The simple act of searching online gives us an image. But Smith dissects that image and then reassembles it, painstakingly recreating in reality what was instantly granted virtually.

So, there's an interesting social commentary at work here: Is there artistic value in the Google search, as well as the resulting rendering? Are you, Google searcher, a part of the art?

They're interesting questions, all ones you can seek to answer at Smith's current show at Craighead Green Gallery, where you also can see the work of Peter Burega and Pamela Nelson through December 19.

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Must-See Painting of the Day: Michael Reafsnyder's Explosive "I've Got a Feeling"

Courtesy of Marty Walker Gallery
Some art leaves a singular, momentary impression. Other work sets the mind afire. Michael Reafsnyder's paintings definitely fall into the latter category. In this week's FLP, "I've Got a Feeling," Reafsnyder takes the eye on an amazing race through every scrape, swirl, and, dribble and blob.

Get close enough--we swear--and your eye finds the shape of a smiling face that Reafsnyder appears to have squeezed perfectly from a paint tube. It's a subtle, but bright reminder to cheer the hell up. Just trust us, OK?

There's no perceptible rhyme or reason. The colors race and wiggle and swerve. It's an expression of playfulness that can be best served up close and personal.

See it at the Marty Walker Gallery through December 23.

Steven Culbert's "Red Tree" at Jacques Lamy Gallery

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Courtesy of Jacques Lamy Gallery
Culbert's "Red Tree"
Steven Culbert is one of those artists who eschews the idea that there's any limit to the number of ways you can paint. You can see that in his current show, Big and Small, at Jacques Lamy Gallery.

Upon viewing the show, you might not even guess that all of the work is from the same artist. The works are indeed big and small. But they are also robust and minimal. Boisterous and meek. Colorful and pale.

This FLP, titled "Red Tree," invokes an under the sea feel with the central feature looking more like coral than any earthbound tree. The thick paint Culbert employs reads like reef on the canvas. You can almost sense the slow drift of underwater movement -- a sway, really. Culbert's work is often about mood and this piece certainly has one: meditative and anticipatory and watery.

See Culbert's Big and Small until December 5 at the Jacques Lamy Gallery, 1607 Dragon Street, 214-747-7611,

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Conduit Gallery Offers a Fine Lookin' Trio of Exhibitions

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Jeremy Red's "Alex 1," 2011
While the rest of us are freaking out about what to buy Aunt Fern for the holidays, Conduit Gallery is basically blowing up with shows.

There's Jeremy Red's solo show of unconventional portraits, Catching Up -- his first here since he moved from Denton to Seatle, WA in 2003. There's a group show called from outside, in floats a music box, and then Tom Russotti is putting on a mock trial of sort under the show name Hatchjaw and Bassett LLP. The latter is clearly a commentary on overpriced attorneys and frivolous lawsuits. The former, well, they are an exciting mash-up that provides us a three-in-one of Fine Lookin' Pieces.

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