Large group shows are never really about the individual artists. They can’t be. When you’re confronted with well over 20 works of art made by well over 20 artists, you’re not dealing with a thorough and insight giving oeuvre. Instead, you’re dealing with a shotgun blast of diversity that has a spread pattern far and wide. You realize any idea of drawing some kind of analytical comparison between them is an absurd waste of time, and that you’re better off simply taking the show in for what its worth: a general survey. Shows like this are buffets that capitalize on their own variety in order to tease you just enough to want more.
DUE WEST understands this reality, and uses it to kick off the West Austin Studio Tour. What I appreciate about this exhibition is how well that tease is manufactured. Instead of opening the floodgates of diversity even more by allowing artists to submit whatever artworks from their inventory they wish, the show’s entry requirements restrict the size of each piece down to 12 x 12 inches. Therefore, although the works include painting and sculpture and range from abstract expressionism to realism demonstrating the divergent landscape of the Austin art scene, no one artwork dominates the others. Instead, the show takes on a certain cohesion that it would lack otherwise.
I guess that’s the common ground shared, and it left me wondering how artists responded to that requirement. Standing in line for the bathroom, I had the opportunity to ask one of the exhibiting artists about this. She explained that she usually worked smaller but enjoyed the challenge of, “scaling up.”
Sitting here now, flipping through the catalogue, and earmarking artists I’ll visit during the tour I’m planning on posing the same question to them (at least as a conversation started). I’m curious to see how much individualism came through in their conformity to the WEST Group Exhibition, and I’d like to find out about the challenges and surprises working with such regulations had.
DUE WEST is the annual fundraiser for the West Austin Studio Tour. Its show, the WEST Group Exhibition, is currently up at University Park, 3300 N Interstate 35, and runs from May 1st through May 17th. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 12:00 to 6:00 PM, and 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM during WEST Weekends.
For more information visit http://www.bigmedium.org
Posted 5th May 2015 by Arnold, H.C.