Archive for July, 2009

Old Weird America at the Decordova

Its raining pretty steadily today so I decided to head out to the Decordova to see this show that looked interesting called “The Old, Weird,  America” I go to the Decordova every so often because its a pretty low-key environment and they generally have pretty decent shows, but nothing that blows your socks off. So I was expecting more of the same.

Well, I has happily surprised. The show took up every gallery space in the museum, a sprawling, well spaced show with some bigger names (Kara Walker) with some that I was unfamiliar with. The conceptual basis of the show was folk in contemporary art, a liberally applied theme that tied together the work nicely.

The work was, on the whole very strong. Margaret Kilgallen’s installation was great, as was Matthew Day Jackson’s, and though I didn’t stay for the whole Kara Walker video, I’m sure it was great as well. Special mention, though, must be made for the painting in the show. Aaron Morse’s colorful wilderness/hunting scenes (reminiscent of Aimee Belanger) were outstanding. As were Barnaby Furnas’ takes on Civil War battles, again with outstanding color. And Eric Beltz’s luscious pencil drawings of unfortunate scenes of the founders of the USA.

I have to admit, I’m kind of a sucker for this type of work that combines whimsy, lyrical, and humourous subject matter and visuals, with an undertone of serious, “important,” material. But then again, who isn’t. I kind of felt like I was in Williamsburg, with all these hipsterish oldtimey/new works. It  left me with just the slightest hint of, I’ve seen this before. But let me stress that it could have been done so much worse and fallen over into art school kitch so easily.

I was all smiles leaving on the way home, only to realize, upon reading the material that the show was actually put together by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. I knew it was too good to be true. Nonetheless, I think it was an incredibly successful show and everyone should go see it, certainly a coup for the Decordova.


From the desk of A. D. Jacobson.