Nov 8, 2011

EXHIBITION | Dogs & Monsters | Yard Dog Art Gallery

Yard Dog Art Gallery, 1510 South Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas.
I spent my first two years of college at St. Edward's University on South Congress in Austin, Texas. It's a weird street that definitely fits Austin's reputation as a weird city. Plenty of vintage clothing stores, hip little food trailers, and interesting thrift shops. After living there for 2 years, I thought I had seen it all, but I was surprised to see something I had never seen before while driving through town. Tucked in between the famous Austin landmarks Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds and Uncommon Objects is a small art gallery by the name of Yard Dog, and I decided I wanted to check it out for my next blog entry.

John Langford, Gram Parsons. Print mounted on wood, 16" x 10.5"
I'm not great at eyeballing an area's square footage, but it'd be an understatement to call Yard Dog Art Gallery small. It's no bigger than your average garage space, and there is so much art crammed into such a small room that I couldn't help but feel like if I moved an arm or a leg too fast, I would knock something off it's bearings. It wasn't what you'd picture when someone says the words "art gallery;" there were no snobby art curators, no tables with fancy finger-food, and no crowds wandering the floor and analyzing the art. In fact, my gal and I were the only people in attendance, besides the lovely woman checking her Facebook behind the gallery's humongous Apple computer.
John Langford, Don't Be Afraid. Mixed media painting, 24" x 24"
The exhibition that is currently showing at Yard Dog is Dogs & Monsters, which is artwork by John Langford and Walter Salas-Humara. These guys are not only great artists, they are also musicians who, while in Austin to showcase their art, are also playing some shows at another famous Austin landmark, the Continental Club. Walter paints mostly dogs, while Jon paints, according to the Yard Dog website, "whatever interests him." Jon seems to be interested in mostly older musical artists, as his work consists of prints of people like Otis Clay, Gram Parsons, and Eddie Floyd. A few of Langford's pieces have monsters and strange creatures in them, such as the work shown above, Don't Be Afraid. This led to the decision to name their exhibition Dogs & Monsters.
Walter Salas-Humara, Blue Dog Stub Tail. Acrylic paint on canvas, 24" x 20"
I was most intrigued by Walter Salas-Humara's artwork, which consisted almost completely of paintings of canines. It was simplistic and engaging, but also undoubtedly raised the common question asked about artists like Salas-Humara: How is this considered artwork if my 6-year-old could do it? The work consisted of only a few colors, and the dogs had little-to-no definition and could almost be considered cartoons. I don't understand why such simple artwork like this garners not only my attention, but often the attention of the masses. It reminded me of the website Exploding Dog, which has avid followers who are known to tattoo the artist's work on their own bodies, despite the fact that the artwork looks like anyone could do it. I saw that some of Salas-Humara's work was being sold for up to $250, and my first reaction was, I could do that! How is that guy making money off artwork that is so simple? Then it hits me. I didn't do that. That guy had the vision, and he did it. It doesn't matter if you think a 6-year-old could do it, because all you're really admitting is that you can't come up with a way to be creative and make a living off of it. Art is about having faith in the things you create despite how simple or intricate they are, and there's nothing artistic about criticizing someone for following through on their creative visions.
Walter Salas-Humara, Green Dog. Acrylic paint on canvas, 20" x 16"
In all honesty, I probably wouldn't invest in either of these artist's work. It's not that I don't think they are talented, in fact I believe quite the contrary. But, it's not work I would want in my collection, especially with all the other art work inside Yard Dog that I found much more interesting.


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