6 HOUSTON DAILY VOICE/NOVEMBER 11,1986
John Gutmann's Rhythm
Superlative, Choice of Images Depressing
By Bill O'Rourke
Houston Daily Voice
The Houston Center for Photography,
1441 W. Alabama, is currently showing
works by John Gutmann. His sense of
rhythm is superlative. His use of depth
is intriguing. But I find his choice of
images quite depressing.
His rhythms are most obvious when
we see a row of archers or three friends
One of his more interesting pieces is
merely a menu painted on a window.
The way he catches the window's reflections and glimpses of the darkness
within make this a real study of varying
To a certain extent, the sadness of his
images is a product of his times rather
than his own personality. At the '37
Mardi Gras, the few, simple costumes
17. b\ John Cut
walking in lock step. It is also is very
important to an image he evidently
found quite evocative of his time, just
before WWII—an irregular line of people waiting for something to happen.
There are several of these pictures, from
different items and places, throughout
Another recurring theme is the picture that focuses on someone in the
background. This is especially evident
in the pictures from the 1937 Mardi Gras
in New Orleans. Often the lurking figures have some authority—a pimp, a
father, a national columinist. In one
haunting picture taken on an Indian
reservation. "The Stranger," the
bundled, slightly blurred figure of the
unknown person fills the middle foreground. But, the real focus is on the eyes
of a young girl beyond him as she sizes
up this possible threat.
were all on women. There were a lot ot
depressed faces trying to look happy.
But nearly all of the happy faces he ever
found were very young innocents or prisoners. And why the small preoccupation with poor children's graves?
Also, there is a certain coldness about
his detached viewpoint. Almost all of
his pictures of people were taken from a
good distance. When he did pull in for a
telling close-up, he invariably cut off
The exception to these last two points
is the series he took at Spelman College,
the first college for black women. There
he allowed his lens to finally become
closely involved with faces full of hope
I recommend this show to those with a
taste for gritty reality.
The Center for Photography also has
an installation by Walter Hopps
"The Pimp in the Background," New Orleans, 1937, by John Gutmann
entitled Four Walls. One wall contains
treasures from the Menil Colleciton,
including some happier Mardi Gras
scenes taken by Joshua Mann Pailet.
Another wall was filled by Center
members bringing one picture apiece
during 10 hours on Oct. 14. C. Leigh
Farmer spotlights texture. Gary Faye
has a fascinating character study of an
entertainer. Don T. Rice's kite downed
on a beach is a marvel on rhythm and
color. Stanley L. Moore has a really
funny, well done piece. It's a two-tone
bodybuilder superimposed on a full-
color sheet in raw, marbled beef. Nice!
□ At Missouri Street
The Missouri Street Gallery is celebrating the last exhibition of their first year
with their first exhibition in their new
space. Go back along the side ofthe dental office at 1006 Missouri and you'lll
find a ceramics shop with the gallery
upstairs. Their hours are 10:00 a.m.-1:00
p.m. and 2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Monday-
Their current show is named Shibui.
after the Oriental art of combining arts.
Two or more disparate arts, in this case
painting and ceramics, which might
have been expected to clash are paired
harmonically to form an artistic synthesis.
The ceramics, from which one might
have expected smoothness, are alive
with depths and textures. Many of these
Steve Terry pieces are a very advance
form of coil art. The paintings, even
when they are on Bill Wooten's excellent kimonos rather than the wall have
an inspired flatness. Their smoothness
comes from a beautiful use of line.
The colors used are the same
throughout-gentle and symbolic. The
pottery has colors bleeding out from
between the coils, echoing the paintings' lines.
Ah, but look closely at the lines in the
paintings. Lyle E. Barrett has a very
unique technique. Everything is done
with rubber stamps. The lines are collections of tiny dots. The decorations and
what little molding the pieces use are
done with the larger rubber stamps.
I'd recommend this exhibition to
anyone wanting to be comfortable,
calm, nearly whimsical and adult in the
better sense of the word.
It takes so many people to make a major
symphony orchestra. In the present ceo
nomic climate, touring orchestras can
hardly be afforded by either the orchestras themselves or the local businesss,
individual, or colleges that present
Yet, as Southwestern Bell Foundation's president Gerald D. Blathewick
said, "These artists contribute to the
cultural vitality of our region."
So, in a precedent setting move, that
foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts put in grants of
$100,000 each and are using that pooled
money to assist the presenters in a five
state region to tour two major orchestras for one week each. The orchestra's
involved are the St. Louis Symphony
and our own Houston Symphony.
NEA chairman Frank Hodsoll commended the foundation for "pledging
the first substantive support to make
possible what had become impossible."
Diverse Works Gallery opened "Prisoners of Conscience" this last weekend. It will close Nov. 23 with a live
auction of works by 100 artists. Proceeds from that auction will benefit
Amnesty International Group 23/
Talking about Diverse Works, there
will be a benefit for the gallery itself this
Saturday, Nov. 15, from 3:00-10:00 p.m.
at Allen's Landing. There will be all
sorts of painting and boating festivities
as well s the Shake Russell Band, the
Balalaika Society, Hadrian's Wall and
Houston area Hispanic visual artists
may submit five slides of their works for
inclusion in Houston Hispanic, a juried
show. For more info, call Nicolas Kunel-
los of Arte Publico Press, 749-4768.
Deadline is Nov. 15. ...
Black American artists over 18 who
have exhibited in two or more shows are
eligible to enter up to two works for
inclusion in the Ninth Annual Southwest Art Exhibition. One color slide per
work, a $10 entry fee and an entry form
are due at the Museum of Africa
American Life and Culture in Dallas by
Nov. 15. For info in Houston call the
CACH, 527-9330. ...