Fort Worth Hot Shots: Nine Artists

Exhibition: Feb 6 – Apr 6, 1997

ArtPace, A Foundation for Contemporary Art | San Antonio is pleased to present Fort Worth Hot Shots, originally presented by the University of North Texas Art Gallery. The exhibition, organized by Dallas based independent curator Sue Graze, focuses on a group of emerging visual artists working in Fort Worth. Creating art in a variety of media including painting, video, drawing, photography, sculpture and installations, these artists have been exhibiting as professionals since the early 1990s, generally in the Forth Worth area. This exhibition begins to identify a burgeoning, exciting contemporary art scene now developing in Fort Worth that fosters new, creative work by promising artists.

Since the beginning of this decade, the city of Fort Worth has experienced a striking urban revitalization. Apartments and loft spaces have been built and renovated in the downtown area. A new street life has emerged, including retail shops and restaurants, as well as theaters and a branch of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Because of this palpable, fresh energy and a sense of welcome, a variety of artists, some graduates of art programs at Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas, have established studios, and opened new galleries and alternative spaces. Moreover, many of the artists included in this show work full or part-time in one of Fort Worth’s three major art museums. Thus, entry level jobs related to the visual arts exist, in addition to the availability and general low cost of studio space in such a significant urban area. All this goes a long way to nurture spirit and drive, especially in the arts. Consequently, the artists in this exhibition and the range of their work begin to acknowledge the relationship between innovative vision and its literal environment.

Abstract painters Keith Lymon and Craig Rember take their cues from a post-minimal art viewpoint. Each employs basic geometry to express very personal attitudes. The patterns of Lymon’s bold, colorful canvases, some rectangular and others circular, are reminiscent of music theory and mathematics. A musician himself, Lymon considers his works emotional improvisations on private formulas he creates relating to the order of colors and shapes. Rember, too, has a formulaic approach to his work, but his is a more strategic system based on replicating abstract patterns he sees on video screens or in the typography of written texts. This process of regenerating and recontextualizing spaces and forms gives Rember’s work a compelling coolness and intellectual rigor.

Mystical light and the presence of memory inform the paintings and drawings of Erik Skjolsvik. His series of abstract works based on the lights and patterns of fireflies present the spiritual power of illumination in the natural world. His diminutive drawings are simultaneously figurative and abstract, expressing the essence of the celestial and soulful in our world.

Brian Fridge’s work also has a celestial quality. Using store-bought globes and obsessively covering them with graphite patterns, Fridge elevates the vernacular to high art. His video of what appears to be dramatic galactic movement is actually made by shooting video footage of ice crystals in a freezer blown by a fan.

Updating the classical artist’s technique of trompe l’oeil painting, Kirk Hayes creates work that combines aspects of contemporary “alternative” comic book images with the self-reflective vision of late Philip Guston paintings. Violence and humor easily coexist in Hayes imaginary world.

Janet Tyson’s mixed media works on paper and glass employ language and image to create visual poetry. Abstracting forms from nature and juxtaposing them with text by Yeats and Joyce, Tyson visually addresses her personal associations with canons of modern literature.

Steven Watson’s elegant black and white photographs have their foundations in the tradition of still life photography. Using a home- made lens, Watson is able to capture incredible minutia of detail through an unusual circular format. In so doing, he actually creates elegant abstract images from banal objects.

Both Etty Horowitz and Erica Grider work within an installation format. Horowitz, in a more formal, architectonic way, expresses aspects of human relationships using found bedsprings, wire and fabric. Grider hand crafts small dolls, or babies as she calls them, from kitchen-scrap materials, fixes them to the wall with pins and tape, and then juxtaposes them with pencil drawn child-like images also done directly on the wall. Her work has a poignant presence that refers to childhood fantasies and haunting memories.