25 March 2012

tender, immediate, and rich with pathos

Hate to be predictable but there always seems to be something in my Sunday reading that invites a blog post. I work from 2-10 pm at Scholes Library, at the reference desk, usually with some cataloging to do along with whatever comes up. I've cataloged several books, done "add printer" with several people, changed the toner, and decided to look at a few art magazines before supper. The January/February 2012 issue of Art papers has a review by Kate Green of Donald Moffett's recent show at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.

"One of the show's revelations is Mr. Gay in the U.S.A., 2001, a suite of eighteen pencil drawings installed in a small room of their own. A gentle touch is at play in this project, which is based on a court case against Ronald Gay, who was convicted of murder after he walked into a gay bar and fired shots. Gay was apparently tired of receiving flack for his last name. In the work, Moffett presents his visual and linguistic observations of the proceedings on heavy, framed sheets of paper. One page features a sketch of a man's arm accompanied by the words 'turquoise tattoo.' Another includes a set of scales and the phrase 'Lady Justice.' The images are tender, immediate, and rich with pathos for the complicated circumstances that brought Gay to this point.

The most sensual element of the exhibition is Comfort Hole, 2010, a series of eight small monochromatic paintings. In many of these works, blades of white paint stand out three-dimensionally from wooden panels, like hanging patches of heavenly grass. After you tire of trying to figure out the artist's technique, you will marvel at his skill. You might also be amused by the title. The circles that Moffett has punched through these sublime, otherwise pristine paintings are coded references to the holes used in gay clubs for anonymous pleasure. You will walk away from this suite of paintings as you will from the exhibition -- impressed by Moffett's sustained ability to make art that is, in equal measure, visually and socially significant."

I am intrigued by her description of the Mr. Gay series and am dumbfounded by her description of glory holes in the Comfort Hole description.


Sherman Clarke said...

Sorry about the use of "description" thrice in the concluding sentence.

Jason W. Dean said...

Sherman, I love that you are still working the reference desk. Makes one a better cataloger and librarian, I think...