Art: Cards, Cacti, and Garbage

Last week I attended an art opening of one of my neighbors. Marlys Dietrick. She has a show in the Blue Star Arts Complex. It runs through this month at Three Walls Gallery. The show is called “Win, Lose, or Draw.” Marlys had a show earlier in the summer at the Flight Gallery. I provided a tiny audio element to the show. That earlier show had some great work. Drawings of imaginary creatures. And she has continued in this realm. The postcard advertising the show that she stuck in my mailbox (thus saving some postage) displayed two strange critters. Their images were on playing cards. When I snagged that card from my mailbox I really hoped that there would be 52 images in the show, and that there would be, for sale, limited edition decks of cards.

I got my wish. When I pushed into the gallery (the Blue Star is a very chaotic place during First Friday), I saw Marlys, looking glamorous in a black dress — she was talking to a small crowd of well-wishers. I leaned in and saw that there were indeed a few packs of playing cards in little plastic boxes.

I stepped into the space and there were the original pieces. All 52 (well, I believe there was a joker or two, so, maybe there were more). They ran the length of one of the gallery's three walls on a little shelf. I love that she did the original art as miniatures. There was no scaling down. Card-sized originals, turned into card-sized reproductions. I only wish I had $60 bucks for a pack. Limited to, um, I forget — but under a hundred sets. Sounds like a deal (so to speak).

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

She had managed to provided something for each of the three walls. The cards took up one. And on the opposite wall was a very large colored drawing of another of her weird creatures. And on the third wall was a giant chalkboard with three categories concerning the big piece. The gallery patrons could write their own assumptions in chalk, thus defining just what that big critter might be.

I wasn't feeling like spending too much time wandering the galleries. But I'm glad I showed up for Marlys' opening. I also saw Herman Lira. He's helping Urban-15 to promote their up-coming Manhattan Film Festival (still the best annual short film showcase to be found in this town). I took some of the small fliers from Herman and headed home.


I have to get up damn early while working at the Company. I'm a working man. And to those who've never done such, it really sucks. For the next three weeks or so, I will have to make sure I am keeping my timecard consistent. The problem with this gig is that I have to wait two or three weeks to get my first check. I'm hoping this coming Monday will put a check in my mailbox. I'm tapped out. I scrounged up all my change a few days back and fed them into one of those coins-for-cash machines (since banks no longer take coins), and, thus fiscally flush, I have been living on Pik-Nik 50 cent tacos, until I went bust this a.m. Luckily, Deborah was having an art opening this evening for a new photo series. After I fed the last ten nickels into the parking meter near the UTSA downtown campus, I headed to the UTSA gallery to load up on the free eats.

Deborah's series is called Hidden Middens. She roamed around her west-side neighborhood snapping pictures of the garbage that people put out for the municipal pick-up. I suspect she was using her cheapy point-n-shoot digital camera. She printed the images as black and white photos onto canvas; pulled the canvas onto stretchers; and added color with oil paints. Deborah has been working on this process for at least three series that I know of. And, from a technical stand-point, what I particularly like is that she thins out the oil paint until it's almost like working with watercolors. The colors are sedate and vibrant at the same time. The canvases are, as I recall, about 12 x 18 inches. 14 canvases in all. They were hung in a grid. There's a real art to hanging artwork. And the student, intern, or whomever hung Deborah's show had yet to master that art. But the work itself was really wonderful. Deborah told me that UTSA had decided to buy some of the pieces for their collection. Either 8, or the full 14. She was surrounded by her fans and I didn't get the full story. But that's so wonderful! She deserves ever ounce of recognition.

It was actually a two-person show. Ramin Samandari, Deborah's boyfriend, had ten huge black and white photo collages. They, like most of the work I've seen of his, were a combination of striking images, with a ghostly text superimposed. A previous series I'd seen had the poetry of Rumi (in English and Farsi) atop heavily processed and contrasty images. Beautiful work, but it always seemed that the image and the text components were fighting for my attention. These new works seem to merge text and images tighter. Close-up shots of cacti, very strong contrast, and the text (Baudelaire) had the look of quick but neat notations done with a grease-pencil on a glass plate. The text takes a subservient graphic role, representing information — more of a whispered conversation overheard in a crowded room which you have given up trying to understand.

I think both Deborah and Ramin are doing their strongest work I've yet to see from either.

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And the free food was excellent. There were some sort of puff pastry triangles stuffed with goat cheese and brined grape leaves — also a huge fruit plate with three types of melons. UTSA does it right. Well, maybe they should have held back on the fruit plate and used that cash to pay a professional to hang the art.


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