Thelma Coles Tom Dr uecker Mar k Goodman Ken Hale Don Her ron L awrence McFar land B r adley Peter sen Susan Whyne
published in conjunction with the exhibition
COMPOUND INTERESTS August-September 2013 GALLERY SHOAL CREEK Austin, Texas
COMPOUND INTERESTS Thelma Coles Tom Dr uecker Mar k Goodman Ken Hale Don Her ron L awrence McFar land B r adley Peter sen Susan Whyne
INTRODUCTION Compound Interests is an exhibition celebrating the artwork of eight members of the Department of Art and Art History in the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin who are retiring in 2013: Thelma Coles, Tom Druecker, Mark Goodman, Ken Hale, Don Herron, Lawrence McFarland, Bradley Petersen, and Susan Whyne. This is an eclectic group that has influenced students and contributed much to the university's studio art program over the course of forty years. The title Compound Interests refers not only to the concept of value accrued over time (as in "compound interest," singular), but also to the kind of growth that this group of artists, their students, and co-faculty have experienced in sustaining a long-term dialog and proximity with one another's diverse artistic interests. Individually, the eight artists are painters, photographers, printmakers, metal and ceramic artists - each held in high esteem for their own creative work. The exhibition draws on the artists' most recent work along with earlier works which originated during their time at the University of Texas.
Introduction and essays by Jeannie McKetta, B.A., B.F.A., M.A, University of Texas at Austin
FOREWARD At first glance, the work in this exhibition may appear to have little in common. Careful observation is called for, but your eyes alone may be insufficient instruments to glean the deep connections among these artists and their shared legacy. The evidence suggests that the artists in this exhibition have been leading double lives. You might know Thelma Coles, Tom Druecker, Mark Goodman, Ken Hale, Don Herron, Lawrence McFarland, Bradley Petersen and Susan Whyne exclusively by their work, their exhibitions and their intense dedication to their practice, but each one possesses an alternate identity. Their double lives are less visible, but no less potent or far-reaching. What unites this group is the profound influence they have had on a generation of young artists, colleagues and peers who know them as the faculty who formed the nucleus of the studio art program at The University of Texas for the last four decades. What makes this group stand out? They have sustained an intense studio practice while simultaneously giving themselves wholly to the dialog, negotiation, skepticism, contemplation and bottomless support that is critical to teaching young artists. They have been engaged in two full-time jobs, each one demanding a high degree of intellectual reserve and stamina. This group shares an extraordinary history as productive artists tightly connected to their practice,
but also as teachers who have left an indelible imprint on generations of young artists in the Department of Art and Art History at UT Austin. The Department of Art and Art History will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year. The first few decades of the department were home to an art scene that existed largely within the boundaries of the southwest. That changed irrevocably in the 1970s and 80s when a new generation of artists came to UT Austin and made art that didnâ€™t look like it came from here. These were artists who were educated in the 1960s and early 70s, and they brought with them an idealism and awareness of the world at large. It's no coincidence that once this group arrived in Austin, the reputation of the program spread nationally and the Department of Art and Art History firmly established its voice in the dialog of contemporary art. These artists also brought new techniques and materials and reinvented the tools with which students learned to make art. Austinâ€™s ascendance as a locus of experimentation and invention is usually credited to its music scene, but visual art and music have always been siblings, and they were seminal in building the vibrant culture that defines Austin today. These artists put studio art at UT on the map, and they built a program that allowed generations of artists to flourish.
Jack Risley Ruth Head Centennial Professor Chair, Department of Art and Art History
KEN HALE In his Frameworks series, Ken Hale has lifted segmented strips of glossy, wood-colored paper from magazines and catalogs to piece together images of architectural, birdcagelike structures. As in his Complex Cage (shown) the glossy page of an illustrated art book serves as the backdrop for the artistâ€™s collaged construction. Yet Hale buries most of this found image under a thin, monochromatic layer of gouache paint, which beading here and thinning there, allows the idea of his act of repurposing to show through, leaving visible only hints of the original picture. In this way, Haleâ€™s cagey constructions do not interact with the found imagery of their substrates, but forget and float above them, like a fresh idea that replaces a fading memory. Though his process is of building and construction, his cages are images, not sculptures. They model shadowing that ranges from illusionistic to arbitrary; they engage in an inexact perspectival recession; they hypothesize untenable shapes. They are cages that would hold no contents, but may hold your attention.
Frameworks: Complex Cage, 2011, Collage and gouache, 12 ¼” X 9 ¾”
TOM DRUECKER In his most recent series of intaglio prints, Tom Druecker remains faithful to the visual specifics of his source imagery, while paring it down to two abstracted elements: a heavy, black linear form and the contrasting, off-white ground that surrounds it. Many viewers will find the linear figure element unfamiliar, yet everything about it suggests intentionality. The plate-tone of the paper’s surface reveals black brush strokes in areas where Druecker’s soap-ground plate treatment ran thin. Those ghostly strokes resonate with and reinforce the central shape, tracing gentler iterations of the same manual process by which the central linear image emerged—itself swept out of the plate’s white ground by the artist’s brush. The forms themselves are so carefully specific that they suggest meaning without making any obvious gestures toward representation or symbolism. Druecker titles these works according to their respective source imagery: each title gives the full name and dimensions of a Formula One racetrack. The artist’s linear forms would seem to refer to those racetracks by synecdoche, selecting and extracting one visual element of each track and reproducing it to scale to perform the act of reference, yet does this reference occur? Or is there something about these forms that withstands our impulse to see them as referential, insisting that we instead take their positive formal qualities at face value?
clockwise from top left: Circuit of the Americas 5.516km/3.422mi., 2012; Nurburgring 4.556km/2.831mi., 2012 Silverstone Circuit 5.901km/3.667mi., 2012; Circuit de Monaco 3.328km/2.094mi., 2012 Intaglio, soapground, sugarlift and aquatint, 24” X 18” each
MARK GOODMAN In 1982, the city demolished its two-story, forty-year old Woolworth’s building at Sixth Street and Congress Avenue to make way for a new thirty-two-story skyscraper, and Mark Goodman began photographing downtown Austin. He covered the city’s original square mile on foot, carrying a lightweight camera with a wide-angle lens and a tripod. Over the next two years, he shot thousands of frames, moving, as he says “to the beat of the street.” Shooting construction sites, walls, fences, empty lots, and alleys, he captured recognizable landmarks as well as views that no longer exist. In 1986, Goodman showed fifty-seven of these black and white photographs in a solo show titled Capital Improvements at the Austin History Center. This year, three decades after he shot them, the artist has incorporated thirty-six black and white original photographs printed from these 1982–1984 negatives into a book of the same title: Capital Improvements: Austin, Texas Original Square Mile, One American Center. The book takes Goodman’s photographic project as a point of departure for a larger historical undertaking. Here, the artist not only details in writing his photographic venture, but also collects and presents his own research on Austin’s past, including vintage postcards, maps, illustrations, quotes from illustrious Austinites, and excerpts from bygone local newspapers. This is not the first time Goodman has spent decades working on a single project. In 1999, he put out A Kind of History: Millerton, New York 1971-1991, chronicling a project wherein he invested twenty years in photographically acquainting himself with one small-town community.
Northwest corner, Congress Avenue and West Sixth Street, looking north, toward the foundation site for One American Center, Austin, Texas, 1982 [From the 2013 deluxe limited edition book, CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS * AUSTIN, TEXAS * ORIGINAL SQUARE MILE * ONE AMERICAN CENTER * 1982-1984]
LAWRENCE McFARLAND From Lawrence McFarland’s “Searching” series, the image reproduced in this catalogue is Thunderstorms Moving In, Top of Moki Dugway, Route 261, Utah. Like a diary entry, the title refers to the weather, the location of the artist and his camera, and the path he traveled to get there. The Moki Dugway is a series of switchbacks climbing steep terrain excavated by a uranium mining company in the 1950s. As part of Utah’s Route 261, this length of road falls along the Trail of the Ancients, a cluster of archeological sites in Utah and Colorado preserving historical Native American construction and artifacts. Importantly, McFarland’s photograph includes neither views of the man-made
dugway, nor any explicit reference to the ancient tradition of spiritual and humanist significance in this area. Rather, it captures natural phenomena in a moment of artistic inspiration. The idea of genius loci is central to McFarland’s oeuvre. In art and architecture, genius loci refers to the “spirit of the place,” a quality belonging to a specific point on the globe that stimulates human response, and the auratic patina that centuries of human response confer upon that site. McFarland’s non-didactic approach in exposing sites of rich historical significance allows the viewer to experience his or her own reaction to the powerful visual phenomena that continue to provoke a palimpsest of cultural construal.
Thunderstorms Moving In, Top of Moki Dugway, Route 261, Utah, 2001/2012 (Searching), pigment ink on archival paper, 32" x 10"
BRADLEY PETERSEN In Compound Interests, Bradley Petersen exhibits six new works in oil, each canvas equally modest in size, supporting imagery that has supplied the artist’s visual subject over the past several years: fruits, flowers, fungi, and other floral phenomena. Handled differently, the objects Petersen paints—an apple, a lily, tulips, and oranges— could constitute a traditional still life. However, here, in his overripe tableaux, the artist crowds the picture plane with their corpulence, so that no one object can be shown whole, but all objects are cropped where they meet the edge of the canvas. This has the effect of coding each object, not as symbolic or meaningful in itself, but as a contributor to the work’s overall composition. Similarly, no one painting in this series feels complete unto itself, but together, this group of works offers separate and complementary glimpses of the same darkly verdant object-scape. Look for the light source in Petersen’s semi-nocturnes, and you will find many separate elements that seem to glow, as if their own volumes produce visual energy. The shapes these volumes take offer carnal suggestions, but lyrically and in luminous jewel tones. Here is a non-naturalistic environment that suggests metaphoric interpretation, like a place one might visit in a dream.
Leeway, 2013, Oil on canvas, 22” X 30”
SUSAN WHYNE Painter Susan Whyne’s recent “Stability Ball” series evokes a simple irony of the human condition: transience and inconstancy are the only enduring constants in life. Staging implausible scenes with the sundry accouterments that surround our terrestrial bodies (ex: furniture, clothing, jewelry, and objets d’art), the artist proposes a contemporary, graphic memento mori. In Plumes and Flames (shown) Whyne complicates her round “portal on the world” with the suggestion of a surreal narrative. In the lower half of the work, an abstract linear thread vacillates between material presence, where the female figure clutches it from atop her stability ball; formal compositional device, where it leads the viewer’s eye from the figure’s clutch to the foreground; and indexical plot device, where it suggests the path the figure’s feet have traveled from the foregrounded fire back to her exercise ball. The artist’s medium, mat acrylic on paper, further engenders this language of narrative illustration. The spherical or circular field, in which the artist arranges these elements, adds to the instability of the piece. Within the tondo, any horizon line feels more arbitrary and unstable than it would within a rectangular frame, where the verticals and horizontals of the frame’s shape would offer parallels and perpendiculars for it to align with. In Whyne’s “Stability Ball” series, a circular framework subtly draws into question even basic physical laws—gravity, for instance.
Perpetuity / Stability Ball series: "Plumes and Flames", 2012, Mat acrylic on paper, 52 ½” X 40 ½”
THELMA COLES For this exhibition Thelma Coles shows sculptural metal works that span the past couple decades of her career. An “hourglass” shape pervades these works, serving as a framework wherein the artist can propose material metaphors for the emotional and physical sensations of inhabiting one’s own body. Coles performs this metaphor in metal by sculpting objects with contrasting inner and outer characters. In Alliance (1993) the artist has woven thin copper wire into a mesh cocoon-like sleeve, surrounding a harder, denser nucleus in the form of a caged trumpet flower. Both in this piece and in Coles’s wall pieces a single linear element bisects the hourglass vertically, imitating a spine. For the artist, the human spine is like a lightning rod for emotion and sensation. She invites the viewer’s eye to travel up and down her sculptures’ backbone to grasp the works’ content. In With the Flow II (shown) this “spine” is a strand of delicate jewelry chain directed steadily downward by a heavy, pointed metal plumb bob. When the hinged silver compact is shut, a deep v-shaped window reveals this vertical crossing a series of horizontals in thin chain. The plumb bob at the spine’s terminus protrudes from the locket’s exterior like a vulnerable coccyx. The solid, shiny exterior contrasts with the sinewy strands it conceals. This small piece, only a few inches in length, makes its personal message portable and literally graspable.
With the Flow II, 2006, Silver and red brass , 2 1/2" x 1 3/8" x 3/4"
DON HERRON Don Herron shows a group of his most recent works in Compound Interests: eight lidded vessels in a variety of shapes, sizes, and glazes. As Herron sculpts these works, he sketches possibilities for their constituent parts and performs several test throws, so that a satisfactory vessel might gradually evolve. The shapes of these vessels are the artist’s own invention, yet in them one sees classic ceramic types—an amphora, an urn, a seed pot. The untitled work reproduced in this catalogue, with its ovoid body swelling at the shoulder, would appear to be a contemporary take on the classical neck amphora. Herron editorializes, fashioning faux metal hardware to bolt on “wings” where a functional amphora’s handles would be, topping it with a lid (another wing there), and glazing it in a gradient color scheme that evokes the sunset on a sloping horizon. There is a playful irony in the half-hearted trompe l’oeil of these “mechanical contrivances,” as Herron calls them. The clay does a poor job of aping the look of man-made bolts and mounting brackets, yet in the “wing” attachments, it succeeds in looking crafted by natural processes. Bring these elements together atop a ceramic form with precedents in the bronze age, and you have a tidy musing on the ancient and ever-evolving relationship between artist and nature.
Untitled, 2013, ceramic, 24" high
Thelma Coles. Professor Studio Art: Metals M.A. 1978 San Diego State University, San Diego, CA Teaching in the Department of Art and Art History 1978-2013 Tom Druecker, Lecturer Studio Art: Printmaking M.F.A. 1993 University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX Teaching in the Department of Art and Art History 1997-2013 Mark Goodman, Professor Studio Art: Photography B.A., 1970 Boston University (Anthropology) 1970 Workshop with Minor White Teaching in the Department of Art and Art History 1980-2013 Ken Hale, Marguerite Fairchild Professor in Art Studio Art: Printmaking M.F.A. 1973 University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana Teaching in the Department of Art and Art History 1973-2013
Don Herron, Associate Professor Studio Art: Ceramics M.F.A. 1973, Tulane University, New Orleans, La. Teaching in the Department of Art and Art History 1974-2013 Lawrence McFarland, William and Bettye Nowlin Endowed Professorship in Photography Studio Art: Photography M.F.A. 1976 University of Nebraska Teaching in the Department of Art and Art History 1985-2013 Bradley Petersen, Associate Professor Studio Art: Drawing and Painting M.F.A. 1975, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia Teaching in the Department of Art and Art History 1977-2013 Susan Whyne, Associate Professor Studio Art: Drawing and Painting M.A. 1974 San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA Teaching in the Department of Art and Art History 1977-2013
I would like to thank the eight artists of this exhibition, who so generously invited me into their studios. Ken Hale in particular has shown me remarkable trust and encouragement in this and other projects. Thank you also to Judy and Laura at Gallery Shoal Creek for being in constant contact. - Jeannie McKetta, B.A., B.F.A., M.A, University of Texas at Austin
On behalf of the exhibiting artists I would like to thank Judy Taylor of Gallery Shoal Creek and her assistant Laura Harrison for all that they have done to make this exhibition a reality. In addition I would like to thank Doug Dempster, Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Jack Risley, Chair of the Department of Art and Art History for their support in underwriting the catalog. Finally, I would like to thank Jeannie McKetta (UT PhD Art History student) for her brilliant writing and her thoroughness in communicating with each of the artists and keeping us all on track. - Ken Hale
G A LLE RY
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