Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tracy Hicks at the MAC

The McKinney Avenue Contemporary offers several art exhibitions a year in a large space it shares with the Kitchen Dog Theater in near north Dallas. Exhibitions have been of uneven quality -- a gorgeous, lyrical exhibit of David Reed's abstractions a few years back, for example, and a moving retrospective of paintings and sculptures by the late Scott Barber not so long ago suggest something of the place's potential.

But there have been a number of clinkers like the visually unintelligent exhibit of banal photo constructions by the otherwise very smart David Byrne a a while before the Reed show. As a visual artist, Byrne's a good musician. Yeah, I'm aware of the Talking Heads' RISD provenance, but he obviously got his show because of his musical fame, not the visual power and poetry of his work. An early Heads lyric snippet: "All my pictures are confused..." Right you are, David!

This afternoon we drove to Dallas to see the work of Dallas artist Tracy Hicks at the MAC, and true to form it was uneven. I've worked with Hicks in the past. Back in the 90s when I was the pet art writer for the Arlington Museum of Art and Hicks organized a group show there, he and I exchanged numerous emails and I toured his studio as we discussed an essay I was to write for the show's catalogue.

His offerings at the MAC consist of two installations: "still/LIFE" in the modest project room, and "Global Warning" in the largest rear gallery. The topic is ecological decline and species extinction, but I found looking at his rubber cast frogs and cast resin bottles visually pleasant enough (at least in some instances) that the message didn't really matter. Also, I have to say that (his scholarship notwithstanding) a plethora of thermometers scattered about and inserted into assorted cast laboratory-associated forms comes up short as a poetic way to address what we are doing to this planet.

A room full of bottled and jarred rubber frogs glowing in the dark under UV light on the other hand -- well that's something to see.

No comments: