Art has many purposes and distinctions. The most significant recurring theme states that There Is Beauty To Be Found In All Things. Houston artist Randy Twaddle has elegantly reminded us to keep looking, with his new work at the Holly Johnson Gallery in Dallas.
Jewel thieves and snipers know that most people rarely look up. Randy Twaddle has. He has fixed his eye on the ignoble. The electrical power lines and transformers that hang high above our heads are the subject of his concern. He has found great beauty where a homeowner’s association might deem blight. His interest is not new. An earlier body of work, Distribution Lines, made this statement with stark abstract beauty. Drawings of the tangled utility lines were rendered in black gouache against bright paper. Simple and distinctive. Curiosity caught the eye and drew the viewer inside.
His marks are literal and representational. I believe an electrical company engineer would stamp an approval. This is not a power grid devised by an artist. Herein lies the charm and curiosity. Like finding the shape of a bunny in a cloud formation, Twaddle lets the viewer engage the work. He has said, ““[The power lines offer] unintentional beauty and lyricism. They have a strong musical association for me, like some trippy score that’s been drawn in the air by an anonymous composer.” To this viewer, I went sailing on the high seas, lost in the elaborate rigging of a brigantine’s mast.
With great success, his New Drawings offer an embellishment of this previous work. Again, the taunt straight lines caterwaul to screaming loops and solid rectangles. The viewer is now further engaged as Twaddle has added depth and chance.
The stark linear power grid of matte black India ink still commands the foreground. Behind it are now layers of great depth. Coffee has stained the paper. The artist may have directed the swirling lines and splashed pools but his hand is never present. Chance has drawn the background in order to confound the fore. Twaddle uses various hues of coffee, from a rich espresso to a dirty grey bathwater.
The fifteen works in the show vary in size. The majority loom large at 16 by 12 inches while a few command to 83 x 60. Scale is not a factor. Regardless of the size, their magnetic power is never diminished.
Randy Twaddle is an artist with the soul of a designer. His New Drawings are proof positive. The work is tasteful, clean and understated. Maybe to his detriment, he has translated his power grid theme to rugs and wallpaper. Only those without a soul would call it décor.
Randy Twaddle: New Drawings closes March 16. The Holly Johnson Gallery is located at 1411 Dragon Street in the Dallas Design District. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.