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Middle of Somewhere, An Art Review
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 • Posted October 22, 2008

In The Middle of Somewhere, I caught a gleam in the eye of a familiar face, when I walked in the door of course, but also in the portrait of a painting by Kyle Martin. In The Middle of Somewhere, I saw a remnant of a good time in an abandoned beverage, when I walked in the door of course, but also in the installation by Rex Hausman. The Middle of Somewhere happens to be an inaugural exhibition of art in the middle of Mason, Texas at the Old Mason Warehouse, a new gallery space on Broad Street north of the square.

The Middle of Somewhere is as much a reference to place as it is the title of a group exhibition by The Texas Cannons of Proportion. Rex Hausman, Russell Stephenson, David Almaguer, Patrick Winn and Kyle Martin are fine artists from various parts of Texas who have united in an effort to promote great talent in the Texas Hill Country.

I can sum up my entire experience as visitor of this exhibition with one thought; “What if?!”

It is query packed with curiosity, optimism, and inspiration. It is an examination that leads to invention, discovery and evolution. The entire manifestation of this exhibition is a compilation of experiments, studies and “what ifs.” These individuals are artists, inventors, architects, storytellers, magicians, movers-and-shakers, they are envelope pushers, performers, professors, scientists, and nerds. They are students of life. Their creations are not about the end result, but rather about the process of creating. Each and every piece in this exhibit is the result of a question. Each piece is an answer. Some works of art are still works in progress. Each and every member of the Texas Cannons of Proportion are taking all the knowledge they have and applying it to the big “what if.”

What is Kyle Martin’s big “what if?” Kyle Martin is our resident TCP member and proprietor of the newly established Mason Warehouse gallery space. Since our introduction a few months ago, I have been a fan. His creations are refreshing and yet undoubtedly grounded in modern art history. His paintings are not only larger than life; they are full of life. Kyle has a gift of capturing the human spirit. He does not attempt to paint an exact likeness, or to create beauty. Rather he paints to reveal the character, life and soul of an individual. Because Kyle is a gifted painter, there will be a strong likeness to the models he chooses, but one can not overlook the ultimate psychobiography that is rendered. Kyle’s style is in the same genre as modern artist Chuck Close. To quote art historian Sam Hunter “Close managed not to dehumanize his sitters but, on the contrary, to make them appear quite touchingly human, vulnerable in their exposure, their self-sacrificing trust in the artist, and their entrapment within a suffocatingly limited space. At the same time they also seem aggrandized, projected as they are like movie stars on a giant silver screen.” The same can be said of Kyle’s Paintings. Is Kyle’s big “what if,” What if I go Big?

Russell Stephenson’s work immediately recalls the work of abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock in his dripped and splattered paint paintings. But that would only describe one aspect of one of his painting in the show. One could also pick up on the influences of Vasily Kandinsky who painted music, or the architectural renderings of Eduardo Chillida. Russell Stephenson’s big “what if” is how do I get paint to act three dimensionally? There is a purposefulness in the seemingly randomness of his paintings. Again the intent is not about creating beauty or achieving a preconceived end result, it is about the exploration of the medium.

Patrick Winn is to the TCP, “ the hippie of architecture.” This is an individual who despite his classical education questions institutionalized methods and conventional applications of architecture. The cantilevered contraptions anchored from the walls just the beginning of a body of work he has been pursuing in graduate school. This is Patrick Winn’s big “what if.” Winn has taken materials of the highest quality and has attempted to push structural logic to the edge. As it turns out, this project has led to more questions. This is an artist to watch. We will all want to see what he does next.

David Almaguer’s huge and brightly colored iconic paintings are so simple they are complex. The more he takes away, the more we want to know. Each piece is an autobiographical illustration of images and memories from his childhood. Almaquer started as a graffiti artist on the West Side of San Antonio a.k.a. “the hood.” Envision a kid growing looking for an artist’s voice and first finding it on the sides of commercial buildings. Little do we know he actually has something in common with the “hippie of architecture.” Rebellion. Almaguer’s paintings are however entirely reverential and quite planned. “What if” a painting could actually become a shrine?

Rex Hausman is the ringleader of the group. “What if” said Rex Hausman, “I put all these guys in a room together and let them go crazy?” What you get according to Kyle is “a guy trying to herd cats.” Rex is also an artist in the show and I think his installation is brilliant. Rex’s installation in this exhibit is at first glance outlandish. It is big and gaudy and reminds me of a college dorm room after a frat party. But after a quite lengthy discussion with the artist, I realized that this site-specific installation is really an “homage to life.” Every single detail has meaning and significance to the artist. This piece is one big altar to being alive. It is free, exuberant, and reverently irreverent. It is open to interpretation: yours and mine and his. It is a work that is constantly evolving…like life…It is ephemeral and will one day be dismantled. It is a three dimensional life journal entry. “What if?”

Also represented in the exhibition is Mason’s own Vedel Munoz. Vedel is a guest artist of the TCP. Vedel’s work in this show should be categorized as performance art, however Vedel is mostly classifiable as a graffiti artist. As a Graffii artist, there is an element of risk and there is the exhilaration of getting away with what most people would call vandalism. Graffiti art represents the voice of the unknown and the mark of the unseen. It is an act of initiation and it is a about an individual’s identity being acknowledged. Vedel’s work will be painted over like a parent painting over a child’s scribble on the dining room wall, but we will still know that “Vedel WAS HERE!” Inviting Vedel into the fold of the TCP is in keeping with group’s belief that artist’s should build from each other’s ideas. “ What if” They plant a seed for further developments among artists in Mason?

The Texas Cannons of Proportion have made Mason a venue for fine art. If you want to see more the exhibition will be open Thursday and Fridays 12:00 to 6:00p.m. and Saturday 10:00 to 6:00 p.m. through the end of December. If you do not get to see this exhibit in Mason, then you may have an opportunity to see their work at Blue Star Art Complex in San Antonio (one of my personal favorite art venues of Texas.) The Texas Cannons of Proportion have venerated Mason in a way that no one has done so before. They have brought a sparkle of a dream and dare I say they ask the town a question. “What if?”

Image #1: Site specific installation by Rex Hausman from Middle of Somewhere exhibition at the Old Mason Warehouse gallery space.

Image#2: Painting by Kyle Martin from Middle of Somewher exhibition at the Old Mason Warehouse gallery space.

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