What happens to tchotchkes when they are no longer favored? With the few that I’ve decided to keep and the items chosen from the family estate, I have placed them in unexpected and odd locations. Hopefully I have avoided the bric-a-brac look that is so commonly associated with antique malls and held in huge disdain by interior designers. But I’m pretty sure that things will be continually shifted, and that I will never be satisfied with their placement. That’s just the way I am. Always insecure with the decisions made the day before.
Isabelle Scurry Chapman in the lobby. Birds of Lint adorn a corner of the lobby. Displayed against bright red walls, they have a lot to compete with. But they manage to hold their own as part of the Beasts and Bunnies exhibit at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary (The MAC).
Chapman’s artist statement. These birds are made from recycled materials and things I find in living. This project is about being present… to my life, the birds that I see, the materials that float through my visual field, and my response to them. Birds in my work represent spirit, soul, a part of me that is connected to all living things. “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul” (Emily Dickinson) are words that seem to fit what I am looking for as I weave laundry lint, sticks, seeds, bits of nature, thread, buttons, and other found objects into whimsical birds.
Call and Response, 2011. Collaborative installation detail.
Beasts and Bunnies in the main galleries. I couldn’t help but start my visit backwards and clockwise. The suggested path was to start in the large gallery and work my way around counter clockwise. But with all the tick-tocks, whirling, shadows, and landscape features, the collaborative installation in the square gallery was begging me to wander through it first before moving on to the larger gallery. This installation is an indoor winter wonderland, but with spots of bright yellow, and the sound of creature activity, I could feel that spring was being promised. Since it’s impossible for me to capture the complete experience with photos and words, I strongly suggest you visit the show physically at The MAC. But first, read on. I have more to offer about this show.
Another unknown relation discovered in the family home. Lucy Ann Philips Sharpe was a distant relation on my paternal grandmother’s side of the family. Born in Birdville, Texas on December 25, 1852, she married Henry Laurens Sharpe on August 21, 1873 here in Dallas. She lived a long life before passing away at the age of 88 in Weatherford, Texas. But it’s her divinity that we are most interested in. As an annual Christmas tradition, she made batches of it and mailed them to her ten children. That’s right. Ten. Ten living children. So she was able to continually charm her husband, and this is why I have dressed her in pink.
I don’t recall ever having visited Birdville or Weatherford. And I certainly can’t say that I’ve ever tasted Divinity. But Lucy’s daughter Jimmie Harris sent my father this Christmas recipe after the two had connected during my father’s research on his family’s history. Buried for fifteen years in piles and piles of stuff, it is now being published for the digital world. I can’t say I plan to cook this up, but perhaps, those of you who love to experiment in the kitchen, can advise me whether this recipe promises to be tasty. But something tells me it could stand some additional fancy touches.
At The MAC (The McKinney Avenue Contemporary)
January 8 through February 12, 2011
Opening Reception with the Artists:
Saturday, January 8, 5:30–7:30 pm
Helen Altman, Frances Bagley, Celia Eberle, and Margaret Meehan in the large and square galleries. This group exhibition brings together these four artists to investigate “the animal” both literally and metaphorically. Helen Altman, Frances Bagley, Celia Eberle, and Margaret Meehan have all worked using animal imagery and share a similar sensibility. Through sculpture, painting, photography, works on paper, and video these artists each push and prod at the boundaries between nature and culture as well as the assumed distance between animal and human behavior. In addition to individual works by each artist, the exhibition will feature a collective installation titled Call and Response.