Arts » Arts Stories & Interviews

4 to Know review here, closes tomorrow at David Shelton Gallery


Gallerist David Shelton is taking chances. He has moved his gallery from the affluent northern suburbs to Southtown. His first public show, "Up and Coming: 4 to Know," features Megan Harrison (seen at the McNay in "San Antonio Draws") and newcomers Gabe Bernal, Nicholas Hay, and Corbin Spring. Now, Shelton usually promotes mid-career artists who have a sales record. Even in SA, art galleries are a business. So launching these pups took a bit of moxie on Shelton's part — they're not all even out of college. He did remark, however, that this was an exciting show to mount. I think he meant scary-fun. Opening night was packed.

Shelton's new space is a walkup with a call box, situated in the two-story building next to Liberty Bar on South Alamo. Like his past gallery, it is a clean, well-lighted place.

Two of Megan Harrison's signature works of  mountainscapes hovering over white voids were notable. Distant Ridge, 2011, an over five-foot wide charcoal on paper drawing presented soaring cliffs marked by diagonal striations, like tracers or rocket trails. As always, her drawings are not literal realisms, but use landscape as a framework to hang graphic effects. Unshaped World, also from this year, is a smaller work, revealed a promontory emerging from cloud-like gestures. Close up, a tiny tableau is set into the center of the work, evoking South Sea scenery, perhaps a movie poster scene.


Nicholas Hay's LIke a Wild Buffalo, 2011, and Backwards American Spirit, fucked up with shit all over it, 2011, both use immaculately rendered fonts depicted as if deep type. Their three-dimensionality interrupted by fine shading that intersects the figure and ground with an overlay of yet more type shapes. The first piece adds bars of black in the foreground that add depth to the composition with their contrasting flatness; this function is taken over by black drips that fall nicely from flat top edges in the second piece. Both works skate resolution, are not quite worked out. Or perhaps it's anger, or only youth.


Two faux-bois pieces by Corbin Spring are done on wood panel, and at first appear to have been accomplished with a graining roller. However, even though the pattern seems to repeat, it does not precisely. Corbin has created the effect with  an English candle method--adding a mix of black smoke residue to burnt wood. So, these are carbon pieces. Using metal tape like frisket, he covered areas of panel, leaving the rest to darken. Most effective is untitled vertical work; another horizontal piece, The Issues, wishes to depict Obama engulfed with oil-like miasma. It is ambitious, but doesn't quite work, unless seen from a vantage point approximately 45° to the left of the piece. Strangely, when the other piece is viewed from this place, the quavering water-like op art effect seems to find the off switch. Whether accidental or otherwise, the pair are intriguing.


Several works by Gabe Bernal reveal a young artist who is making a journey from Westside-style vernacular portraiture to someplace else. Chuco, a large portrait in oil of an inked up older gentleman is the most ambitious piece; Unshaped World 1, a modest work in graphite, seemed to attempt a main stream appeal. From the red dot nearby, I suppose it did.


All in all, what is most interesting in this exhibition is the aura of growth, a sort of  'I wonder what they'll do next?' Like sketches, the works by these young artists are tentative, traces of a journey yet unknown.

The show closes tomorrow.

Wednesday - Saturday, 12  - 5 pm, 1115 S. Alamo, Suite 2211, (210) 787-0260,

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