Terry often makes initial pencil drawings in a notebook, which he then consults to draw directly with a Sharpie onto ordinary plywood, then sets about to cut out the repeated scalloped curves, arcs, and puzzled geometries with a jigsaw, only to reassemble them again with glue and exposed wood edges. They are precise but jagged compositions, evoking draperies and tiles, patterns found in nature, and often evoke a homespun look in their lack of precision and curious design choices. The groupings of painted objects are mostly symbolic: the wedding couple, the “death ’til we part” bit, the wedding party, love letters, a family heirloom. It’s charm and camp alike, with plenty of cats and flowers to activate the spaces between. Terry continued to stress the “distance of longing” as he spoke about the artwork and his initiative “to take the romantic gesture head-on instead of talking around it.” I enjoyed the simple, repetitive lines of his reassembled reliefs and went back-and-forth as to whether the assembled narrative of props was totally necessary. I settled on the presence of an honest but hokey awareness, much like a forced, toothy smile at a stranger’s gushing news of their impending nuptials. Back at Terry’s studio space at the Shamrock Hotel, the works hung up and scattered about were less fussed-over and more playful in their palette and overall structure. Pennants, rainbows, canopies, and lunar charts could’ve all played a part in the way in which the prevalent patterns and hues read to a viewer. There was an enjoyable frivolity and absurd joy that rang forth from these less-confined forms, as if the formality of a wedding has finally loosened its bowtie on the dance floor. These works were shown soon thereafter at an open studio event before they were shipped off to the West Coast for their offering at an art fair. However—and most importantly—there was a very recent update from the artist regarding his betrothed and the exciting news of her giving notice at her job; the couple will reunite in Dallas in a month’s time. Now that bit of news really ties up nicely the narrative arc of A Romantic Gesture ringing true. I can almost hear the peal of wedding bells, or at least an imminent choir of meowing cats in an abode shared by a together-again, happy couple. P
Galveston, 2001, Enamel, plaster, and asphalt on wood, 70.5 x 48 inches
SAM GUMMELT PALO PINTO JUNE 1 - JULY 27, 2019 OPENING RECEPTION SATURDAY, JUNE 1, 6-8pm
315 Cole Street Suite 120 Dallas, TX 75207 | 214.939.0242 Ben Terry, artworks from left: untitled (bubblegum), 2019, 21 x 14 in.; untitled (schmeckles), 2019, 21 x 14 in.; untitled (remix), 2019, 21 x 14 in.