By Kathleen Vanesian
By Amy Silverman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Jim Louvau
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Benjamin Leatherman
By New Times
By Becky Bartkowski
Medina's show is also very much about collaboration among artists and the importance of constructive criticism that forces an artist to literally go back to the drawing board and approach a well-worn subject in a fresh new way (gee, sort of sounds like the aim of valid art criticism, but I digress). Painter Sue Chenoweth's painting/drawings are a perfect example of the power of appropriate criticism. Known for her visually complex, multilayered paintings that roil with competing ideas, Chenoweth was prodded by a preshow critique rendered by Gregory Sale, who encouraged her to sort through her teeming thoughts and concentrate on just a few. The four paintings Chenoweth produced with Sale's criticism in mind are nothing short of exceptional.
The elasticity involved in the very concept of drawing is brought home by the work of several performance artists in the show, who have given a literal twist to the making of drawings. For Los Angeles-based Angela Ellsworth, drawing can embrace mark-making with one's toes, as she did in 469 Kicks. Ellsworth's methodology consisted of dipping the toes of her combat boots into powdered charcoal and, Tae Bo style, vigorously kicking heavily pearlized paper she affixed to the wall of her apartment -- much to the chagrin of her upscale neighbors, who became impatient with her wall banging when they discovered that she wasn't building something functional and was merely making art. The artist also "drew" portraits of friends by sewing their images in black thread on fragile paper napkins (a not-so-subtle reference to the traditional housewifely chore of cooking and feeding), without benefit of any preparatory drawings.
Another performance artist, Mary Kay Zeeb, took more than conceptual risks in Droppings("I don't draw," the artist admits, "but I'm really good at drawing people out"). During a visit to New York, she left photocopies of her own headshot in random places in Manhattan, printed with the invitation to "draw on me and return to me." To date, four people have responded, and one explained that it was against his upbringing to mar or deface photos of people, though his heavy scrawling on the back of Zeeb's photo ended up embossing her face. Ryan McNamara, a native Phoenician now living and working in New York City, collaborated with unknowing bar patrons who dared to illegally dance with him in several bars there (legally speaking, dudes can't dance in Big Apple dives without getting a ticket), creating Excuse Me While I Bump Your Holster With My Illegal Dancing. McNamara had strategically placed gun targets on the floor, which became randomly scuffed and "drawn" upon as the artist and participating cohorts boogied away.
As usual, teeming hordes of art types and fashionistas showed up for the opening of "You STILL Draw Like a Girl," cramming 6th Street Studios to party and preen rather than look at the art. I'd suggest everyone return to actually take a real look at what's on the walls, not at the people in attendance. By the way, when good art like that appearing in Medina's exhibition is available, why, oh why, should I have to tolerate or encourage the bad stuff?