“Bassissimo Rilievo” is part of d berman gallery’s 10th Anniversary
Show. Beili Liu’s untitled piece is part of the current exhibit.
Sydney Yeager’s organically inspired art like “Faltering Codes”
will be part of the final exhibit at d berman gallery.
gallery owner David Berman announced two weeks ago that after
nearly 11 years among the fore of Austin's contemporary art galleries,
he will shutter his Guadalupe Street venue in February and shift
his operations to Wimberley, the Hill Country town 30 miles west
of Austin where he and his wife, painter Ellen Berman, live.
Berman's gallery is one of the few in town whose roster of artists
include the museum-collected and those receiving critical attention
of the highest order: Beili Liu, Lance Letscher, Robert Dale Anderson,
Randy Twaddle and Sydney Yeager, among others.
As coincidence would have it, d berman gallery currently has on
exhibit "10th Anniversary Show," the kind of de rigeur
group show galleries post during the holiday season and in summer.
And yet, while it's hard to celebrate as the gallery downsizes
and moves out of downtown (Berman says he aims to open his smaller,
Wimberely location in March), what is abundantly clear from the
current show is the distinct aesthetic this gallery celebrates
— an aesthetic that made itself loud and clear within the Austin
visual arts scene.
That aesthetic rejoices in line, color, form, pattern, decoration,
texture, tactility and materiality. And greatly guided by associate
gallery director Anastasia Colombo, (she curated the 2003 group
show "Summer Light," which netted an Austin Critics'
Table Award), the d berman gallery proves to everyone that art
that is pretty also can be cool.
Letscher's mesmerizing collages make for the cynosure of that
aesthetic. Graphically evocative and playful, the colorful assemblages
of old paper and books evoke a keen sense of abstraction and yet
are undeniably beguiling in their beauty. Letscher — whose work
is increasingly shown nationally and internationally — wrestles
vintage greeting cards, album covers, advertising pamphlets and
the like into precisely cut and combined motifs. Letscher images
are certainly charming. But they're steeled by plenty of intelligence.
Ditto with Liu's work. Her stunning solo show — with its breaktakingly
lovely sculptural installations made of string — garnered her
an Austin Critics' Table Award last year. And though represented
in the current show by smaller mixed media drawings, Liu's finesse
radiates. Her simple squiggle of lines is elegant.
In fact, line never had quite the home as it does at d berman
gallery. Yes, it's celebrated in the precise draftsmanship of
artists like Malcolm Bucknall, Jana Swec and Joseph Phillips.
But the fluid drama of line is also seen in Jared Theis' stained
porcelain pieces, Beverly Penn's "Individual Botanical"
series of tiny bronze twigs and flowers and especially in W. Tucker's
faux childish miniature drawings.
After the current exhibit, the gallery will close out its Austin
location with a joint exhibit featuring Penn and painter Sydney
Yeager, whose color-filled organically inspired abstractions are
full-on celebrations of the sumptuousness and fluidity of oil
paint as much as anything more cerebral.
And that's typical of what has always been found at d berman gallery
— art unabashedly playful and pretty that doesn't let go of its
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