ONE on ONE on ONE
Closing December 5
by Claire Ruud
ONE on ONE on ONE, now on Art Palace’s walls, is a fitting swan-song for Art Palace because it is a return to the gallery’s scrappy roots. Arturo Palacios, the gallery's founder and director, gave each of nine artists one week and one wall to present new work or re-contextualize old. Only three of the chosen artists, Sterling Allen, Nathan Green and Jules Buck Jones, hail from his tried-and-true set. As far as I know, among the rest only one, the photographer Barry Stone, is represented by a commercial gallery. ONE on ONE seems to be a dry run for a few candidates as Palacios thinks about replenishing his stable on the eve of his move to Houston.
Fresh standouts include Sonya Berg and Carlos Rosales-Silva. Berg’s small studies of empty, abandoned pools feel melancholy, the stuff of lonely, eerie dreams. Her one large-scale oil, graphite and charcoal drawing of the same subject feels unfinished in places. She’s honing in on expressive subject matter that feels more relevant than her earlier waterfalls and generic bodies of water. Once she figures out how to translate the energy of her smaller studies onto the larger canvases, I’ll be eager to take another look.
Meanwhile, Rosales-Silva shows the best work I’ve ever seen by the artist. As a rogue student might carve dirty words into his desktop, Rosales-Silva has etched the sentence, “IT’S ONLY CALLED A MASSACRE BECAUSE YOU FUCKIN LOST, BABY.” He’s also removed one of the table’s legs, and upon desktop he’s placed a crumpled tin model of the Alamo chapel. With this piece, and with the diptych on the wall behind it, Rosales-Silva attains a balance between the visual simplicity of earlier two-dimensional works—statements from Hollywood films embossed in gold on paper—and the evocative materiality earlier sculptural installations—a hatchet stuck into a tree stump covered and surrounded by a neon sand mandala, for example.
Both Berg and Rosales-Silva are young artists still in the thick of mastering their media and figuring out what they want to say. In ONE on ONE, they rose to the challenge Palacios put before them, building my anticipation to see where they go next. I look forward to seeing their work again a year from now, perhaps at 3913 Main Street in Houston, where Palacios will be setting up shop.
In the back room, some of Art Palace’s inventory hangs salon-style. While the hang may simply be a smart business decision—an attempt to move some old inventory and make room for new—in the context of Palacios’s impending departure, it was also something more. The walls of the back room serve as a scrapbook that reminds me of all the shows I’ve seen in this space and how much Palacios has done for Austin artists, collectors and even young critics like me.
Palacios was upbeat when I visited the gallery this week. During its five years in Austin, his gallery has supported a number of emerging artists through the critical early years of their careers; it’s largely due to the gallery’s presence here that talents like Sterling Allen, Nathan Green, Jonathan Marshall, Erick Michaud and Eric Zimmerman didn’t have to skip town in search of greener pastures after graduate school. Now, works by these artists deserve higher price tags than Austin’s market can currently bear, and Houston’s more robust art scene beckons.
Claire Ruud is Associate Director of ...might be good.