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Explore the Avant-Garde This Weekend at Conduit, Ochre House

From “Table Scrappin’ Vol. 1,” Chuck and George

This weekend plays host to a number of art openings and performance events, but one that intrigues me most comes from Conduit Gallery. Three successful artists – well, actually, two individuals and a pair of collaborators — are showing.

The exhibition going up in the Project Room within Conduit has a little something extra whimsical about it.  Table Scrappin’ Vol. 1 from Chuck and George is the brainchild of artists Brian K. Jones and Brian K. Scott.

Collaborators since their University of North Texas art school days, the Brians, as they are sometimes fondly called, will create their most ambitious installation to date in the Project Room. But before we get into their installation, you have to hear the story of how “Chuck and George” were born.

It was a cold November day in 1990. Sitting in a booth at Jim’s Diner,  Jones and Scott were  eating lunch and painting each other’s portraits on saltines. They named their crunchy, salty babies, Chuck (Jones) and George (Scott).

From “Table Scrappin’ Vol. 1,” Chuck and George

They were inspired by longtime art collaborators, Gilbert & George. But Jones and Scott created the pseudonym Chuck and George by  pairing the names of their imaginary friends and muses.  I mean, who doesn’t want to go back to their childhood dreams of safety and fun, all of which involved playing dress up and wearing a “mask.” That way we are still a part of the story, but we’re separate, and safe: a concept extremely important to the Brians.

These days, Chuck and George are still sitting at the table with the past and the present, having a chat, eating crackers, drinking, playing a game (cheating at that game), saying one thing, hearing another. And now we have, Table Scrappin’ Vol. 1, which brings the duo’s black and white drawings to life by recreating the two-dimensional narrative space in a three-dimensional life-sized diorama.

Full of hand-carved masks, kitschy wallpaper, and constructed living room furniture, the world that Chuck and George have made for us is definitely unique and promising of a whole lot of fun.

Sharing the gallery space at Conduit is work from James Sullivan and W. Tucker. Sullivan’s newest exhibition will feature large-scale figures molded from straw and plaster, large-scale cast iron sculptures and What Remains, an ongoing sculptural project that investigates a process of collecting, forming, and re-forming objects. Austin-based artist W. Tucker’s drawings tell two stories; one is of the materials he works on — found materials such as book covers, slatted wood blinds and drawer fronts,  and the idiosyncratic cast of characters he draws.

Also opening on Saturday, just down the street, is THE BEST at Red Arrow Contemporary. The exhibition features one graduate student from each of the Master of Fine Arts/Ph.D. programs here in Dallas/Ft. Worth. Each student was hand selected by Red Arrow to be featured in this exhibition as a representation of Dallas and its upcoming talent. The work selected ranges from works on paper, installation, video and glass.  The artists selected are: Hiroko Kubo (TCU), Derek Rankins (UNT), Kim Brewer (TWU), Jesse England (UTA), Nicolas Cladis (UD), Travis LaMothe (SMU), and myself (UTD) .

 

The Ochre House’s “Dreams of Slaughtered Sheep”

If you’re looking for a little bit of theater in your evening, check out the latest work from the Ochre House, Dreams of Slaughtered Sheep. A dark, absurdist comedy, written and directed by Matthew Posey, Dreams of Slaughtered Sheep, is the story of Spencerville (Justin Locklear), who works at a slaughter house and fears sleep because he knows he will dream of the ones he has slaughtered. Exploring loneliness and existential crisis, the play is “a momentary emotional mishap brought on by lack of sleep and heavy burdens. All who are plagued by night terrors enter here.” Those are the words of Matthew Posey, a master of wordplay, and if that teaser is any indication, the fourth production of the Ochre House’s 2012-2013 season promises to be as fascinating, inciting, and beautifully strange as their work has become known to be. Plus there are puppets!