TRANS/ACTION @ Guadalupe Gallery

Lyle Rosdahl

Unfortunately this exhibit at the Guadalupe Gallery is just about finished (June 25th). But there is still time. In its interest:

Trans/Action consists of four artist: Kimberly Aubuchon (San Antonio, TX), Margarita Cabrera (El Paso, TX), Máximo González (Distrito Federal, MX) & Ester Partegàs (New York, NY).

The gallery statement of the exhibit says:

TRANS/ACTION presents four artists’ investigations into economics, corporate models and current marketing practices. These artists take a fresh look at how we view money as an indicator of value, power and love.

In some cases artists have assigned a new aesthetic value to the visual imagery of logos, currency and brand elements. In other works, the artists have taken common corporate marketing practice and offered alternative creative transactions based not he buying and selling of art. In all cases the artists of TRANS/ACTION highlight our culture’s growing preoccupation with materialism and consumerism.

Cabrera’s folkart work includes a video of her workspace, which conveys her focus on the process of creation (work) as well as the utility of that creation. Even her more conceptual pieces like Arbol de la Vida (Pala/Shovel) are linked to the nitty-gritty of an everyday manual labor life. Lovely work.

The pieces that most directly address the statement above are Partegàs’ defaced black and white photos. They feature shoppers (shopping bags recur throughout her work including Shopping Heads, which was also displayed and is one of a series [the only one at Guadalupe Gallery]) whose heads and faces have been obscured by spray paint and/or overlayed with ads (made up?). Impersonal and humiliating, these photos indicate what is really important.

González’ shredded and woven peso rugs (Untitled, Magma XX-I & three called Weave in Progress), hang intentionally unfinished on the walls, creating patterns in their incompleteness that ruminate on both the physical (visceral — though this money is out of circulation, it still somehow stings to see it all cut up) and immaterial nature of monetary systems.

The coup de grâce, though, belongs to Aubuchon (director of Unit B) whose piece entitled 500 Stieren Street, Unit B recreates the studio (which is actually a room in her house dedicated to showing art). And I mean that it has walls and a door and on the walls inside the room inside the gallery there is excellently curated art (like one of my favorites from a couple of artists, Matt Irie & Dominick Talvacchio, who I got to see talk at Palo Alto College years ago and who’s Potentialities #1 is a sheet of college ruled notebook paper with all sides “torn” from a metal spiral spine). Different video installations showed at interval throughout the exhibit on a small TV. The entirety, tucked away at the back of the gallery, is a loose recreation of the actual Unit B and questions, rightly so, the boundaries between gallery and living room (even: behind the installation around a wall in the gallery a backyard replete with charcoal grill and chairs).

500 Stieren Street, Unit B

500 Stieren Street, Unit B

Unit B @ Guadalupe Gallery

a sketch of the interior layout and a list of brilliantly curated art

From her artist statement: “Aubuchon becomes a Texas version of Gertrude Stein, mixing high art with sofa chats; and intellectual discourse with backyard bonfires and cold beer.” [Is there anything better? Absolutely not.]

The installation is more than a singular effort (as so little really is) and Aubuchon gives credit where credit is due: Chad Dawkins curated the art work; Amy Austin interior decorated; Jeremiah Teutsch drew the the faux windows and doors. And “all the while the artist drank beer and played basketball in the backyard.” I love this refreshing modesty, honesty and self-deprecating humor.

If you haven’t had a chance, check it out. Well worth it. And don’t forget the Unit B at 500 Stieren Street.

I didn’t get frisked, but that’s all right: a review of The (new old) Esquire

Lyle Rosdahl

The Esquire

Once you could walk into The Esquire at 155 E Commerce and get frisked and then buy a shirt that said “I got frisked at The Esquire.” Those days are long gone. No frisking anymore. In fact quite the opposite greeted my friend Forrest and I when we went in for drinks last Friday evening. A comely (to put it mildly) woman asked if we wanted a booth or a table or to stand at the bar. After she dropped us off she sauntered back to the door. Wait staff aside, they’re all pretty people — or at least trendy: I counted no less than three pairs of suspenders– the place looks largely the same.

The Esquire

“We still have that local color,” The Esquire owner Chris Hill laughs when I suggest that there may not be any more knife fights on a Friday night. Remnants of times past. When I had ducked in quickly for a Dos XX and a shot of tequila on Battle of the Flowers people still came all the way down the newly refinished bar to look for the crumby, mercifully gone bathrooms. The place has certainly been gussied up. Reupholstered booths, re-stained wood, excellent old-timey light bulbs in which the corkscrewed filaments glow golden giving off a diffused dimness. “We get folks in who want to remember the past,” Hill said. And it appears that they can. A bar rail runs along the length of the wooden somewhere in excess of 80 feet and you’re meant to put a foot up and lean on the counter. An old cigarette machine dispenses some kind of trinkets. Even the flat screen TVs showed a loop of The Way Things Go (1987), a Rube Goldstein-like obstacle course powered entirely by chemical reactions. The second time back a loop of Jillian Mayer’s Scenic Jogging played over and over. An intriguing short of a woman running along a street while on and behind her a projection of a field and other pastoral pictures play out.

The Esquire

The hours of operation extend from morning until night (11am until 11pm Sunday through Thursday and until 2am on Friday and Saturday), which is nice to know (who doesn’t hear the calling of that pre-noon brew every now and again?). And the menu has changed for the better. That is, no more cheap beer (remember the shot of tequila and tall boy Lone Star for something like $2.50?), but that’s traded out for a variety of Texas microbrews on tap including 512, Ranger Creek and Live Oak (all but two beers on tap are Texan beers). Prices range from $5 – 6. That’s really the going rate anymore but it made me just a little teary-eyed and nostalgic. The tasteful, tasty and undoubtedly beneficial for the state’s economy Texas Micros have taken over the low-brow, swill of the conglomerate. Now that happy hour extends until seven, you can go in early and get a half a liter of Live Oak Hefeweizen, a delicious summer wheat, for just $3.50 (or get a Fireman #4 or another Big Bark Amber, another Live Oak beer for the same price). Three cocktails round out the happy hour. The food is pricey but looks good. For $5, the Chili Salt Fries, though a little overdone, went well with the cumin aioli. Most entrees (sandwiches and salads) are between $8 – $10. It’s not a cheap stop, but it is an good one and one you must make.

The Esquire

I’ve held my midnight vigil and gotten over it: The Esquire is dead! Long live The Esquire!