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The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas

The MAC’s Square Gallery Show – Michael Miller: Out of Commerce – is a colorful cartoon-filled room of happiness.  Michael’s work generously reaches out to draw you in and reassure you that whatever you see, it’s O.K.  His technique is loose and repetitive; made decorative with squares of fabric attached here and there.  Miller must be a muscle car aficionado – they appear in several pieces along with cartoon characters like Blondie, the Monopoly guy, Beethoven and bunnies.

Messages in Michael’s paintings are upbeat pop culture phrases that make you leave the show happy. “I give myself the permission to enjoy my prosperous life,” reads one. “I love sharing my wealth – wealth is my friend,” says another.

Michael Miller, Happiness, 2010.

Michael Miller, Happiness, 2010.

Hanging on the wall facing you when you enter the show are 24 smaller works with tongue-in-cheek pithy messages (“Crippin all da Time Cuzzin” and “Bitches With Problems BWP”), cartoon characters like Snagglepuss, and political figures.  One of my favorites is Sarah Palin with a red rose repeat fabric and the admonition “Go Gently.”

The companion show in the gallery next door features artists Trenton Doyle Hancock, Daniel Kurt, Lawrence Lee, Robyn O’Neil, and Jeff Parrot in a heterogeneous variety of styles.  Lawrence Lee exhibits four stylish, humorous, and technically superb drawings with blackface characters right out of vintage Warner Brothers cartoons.  Daniel Kurt’s work Saving Knowledge Stimpy is a delightful “us watching them watching us” experience.  And Jeff Parrot’s textural creations on Belgian linen with oils and wax and gesso are unique and interesting.

Finally, in the New Works Space, Jasmyne Graybill shows Flourish, a show of found object dinnerware enhanced by the artist with polymer clay.  It’s sometimes intrusive – growing like mold, other times it’s a beautiful adornment to a previously beautiful object.  You’ve not seen work like this – pop in and take a look while you’re there.

The McKinney Avenue Contemporary is often one of the freshest spaces in town and the combination of theater, music, and visual art at this fine level is quite an accomplishment indeed.

—KENT BOYER


Michael Miller: Out of Commerce
The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas
January 18 – March 9, 2013
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