Suzanne Bloom

  • Patrick Clancy

    Patrick Clancy sets rigorous tasks for his audience. Both his wall-size photoscroll 365/360 (The City and the Plowed Field) and the 60-minute performance 365/360 (The Crossroads) possess considerable intellectual density and thus present a challenging degree of viewing difficulty. This factor is relative, of course, to the standard of the “conditioned glance,” i.e., the few seconds that a viewer devotes to each work in a gallery environment, or the general inclination toward passive reception in theater/performance situations.

    Somewhat resembling the format of a photographer’s contact sheet, the

  • Lynn Randolph

    To fathom the meaning of most artworks, a viewer must negotiate the perils of interpreting the works by relying on the assumed intentions of the artist, a process that often involves inherent contradictions, potential deceptions, or false premises. Such pitfalls are likely in the case of Lynn Randolph’s paintings because the insistent, even beguiling presence of her spectrally realistic images seems entirely dependent on an unfailing belief in the power of representation to bear symbolic meaning. This utter faith in representation—a faith that has been questioned often in this century—empowers

  • Forrest Bess

    Forrest Bess has long been more of a legend in the Houston art community than an artistic presence or influence. There hasn’t been a major show of his work during the last 24 years, while tales of his eccentric life and thought continually circulate. The exhibition organized by Terrell James corrected this situation, in part, by bringing to view 25 of Bess’ paintings done between 1934 and 1970.

    Bess died in 1977 in Bay City, Texas, where he was born in 1911 and spent much of his adult life fishing and selling bait to survive. His art career, however, was by no means merely regional. He began

  • Melissa Miller

    When it comes to a good animal act, humans generally seem to be easy prey. Poodles leaping through hoops, grinning chimps tying trash bags, or rearing stallions kicking their hooves against the jagged profile of the Rockies all trigger responses which seem innate. But our responses in situations where animals are given center stage are guided less by biological memory than by sign systems which have a long history. A mythology of the “secret” language of animals has been assimilated and significantly transformed in the course of a long odyssey from nature to culture. Images of animals serve as

  • John Halaka

    What does it mean when an artist inserts himself into the political envelope of Jacques-Louis David’s emblematic painting Death of Marat, 1793, in such a way that we, in turn, are enticed to stand in his place “contemplating revolution?” This latter phrase is the double-edged title of the key work in the series “Prelude to a Pacifist Revolution,” 1985–86, John Halaka’s latest group of encaustic paintings. In Contemplating Revolution, 1986, Halaka excises the body of Marat from the David painting and literally incises it as an ambiguous glyptic image in the middle ground of a horizontal rectangle.

  • Isamu Noguchi

    A long and winding road leads fromIsamu Noguchi’s first formal design for an environmental work, an urban playground entitled Play Mountain, 1933, to the recently completed Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, which he created for the Museum of Fine Arts’ sculpture collection. That ambitious project of 53 years ago exists only as an austere plaster model. Never constructed, it initiated a string of unrealized large-scale outdoor projects Noguchi conceived during the ’30s and ’40s.

    By the early ’50s, however, the pattern of rejection of his proposals had begun to shift toward favorable

  • Bernard Faucon

    With few significant exceptions, Bernard Faucon’s Fresson-process color photographs are reconstructions of an adolescent world in which allegory asserts itself as a natural state of being. These carefully realized moments of imagination seem to contain the secret syntax and memory of all other moments. Photographs have always served as endorsements for the truth of the past; among other problems with this sanguine notion is the fact that the terms of evidence operative in childhood differ, perhaps unresolvably, from those of the adult world. And, when art engages the distinct domain of childhood,

  • Gael Stack

    Much of the substance in Gael Stack’s recent paintings derives from what is spoken or written in the course of ordinary interpersonal experience. Within an entirely visual context, she operates in the manner of a writer—a transcriber of stratified messages. The messages are of the sort received from others (like folded notes passed in school ) as well as those seized from the flux of everyday events. The oral or auditory plane is not the work’s exclusive level of content, but it does offer a surprisingly useful entry into the dense scrawl of words, numbers, hatchings, and cryptic figures that

  • Mel Chin

    It is from the Duchampian model—the subversion of “retinal” esthetics and the fondness for puns, assisted ready-mades, and chance operations—that Mel Chin seems to derive much of the creative energy for his art. Given his sharply intelligent eclecticism, however, one expects and finds other sources, such as Renaissance figuration and classical myth, being tapped by an unpredictable and fluid imagination.

    The first section of Chin’s recent exhibition of 90 works dating from 1974 to 1985 was dominated by “Myrrha,” the mythic theme that in its final form was realized as a monumental sculpture, Myrrha

  • Clyde Connell

    The self-evident character of Clyde Connell’s work, especially the sculptures, tempts us into received categories of response. For example, Adam Simon’s laconic 1984 film on Connell starts from the premise that the “mystery” of nature from which we are historically and technologically alienated is at the center of her art. He, like others, tends to shroud the work in the ground fog of Lake Bistineau, Louisiana, where Connell lives and produces her art, obscuring the objective clarity of the work’s meaning. This notion of mystery is more a function of the mental distance from which we experience

  • Derek Boshier

    This “idle passion,” painting, continues to be surrounded by excessive boosterism which, in its indiscriminate energy, obscures the accomplishments of those who successfully command the medium to tasks beyond the narcotic celebration of painting itself. The task Derek Boshier sets for painting, at least in his most recent, large-scale work, is the assembling of irrepressibly odd actors, props, and settings drawn freely (but not arbitrarily) from the vast cabinet of Western culture as well as from the curious recesses of his private history. The business of the painting is the playing out of

  • Earl Staley

    Earl Staley’s recent exhibition consisted of paintings devoted mainly to Greek myths—the well-known Orpheus and Narcissus stories as well as the lesser-known politico-religious tale of Bellerophon—with the remaining work cast to the ambiguous winds of grotesquerie and nature. It does not seem so long ago that the use of mythological or allegorical themes struck most observers as a risky act of packing one’s art in ancient luggage too worn and heavy for modern travel. During the last decade, however, Staley has consistently put the lie to that stubbornly Modernist notion, and currently he has a