Nov 3, 2011

REVIEW | Barry Stone: Darkside of the Rainbow | Art Palace | Houston, TX

Man at the End of the Rainbows, Bailey Island, Maine, 2011, Archival print, 34 in x 51 in

Barry Stone? The Barry Stone? Yes, ladies and gents, I am proud to confirm your suspicions regarding the familiar ring this name might have to you. It is your one and only Texas State photography professor Barry Stone! As a student of Stone's, I was a little hesitant to critique his show, considering he has an influence on my GPA (ha!). But, I was simply drawn to this body of work because of it's title. When I first heard Darkside of the Rainbow was the exhibition title, I may or may not have become extremely giddy! The title references two things: Pink Floyd's album Dark Side of the Moon, and the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz. I may have mentioned in previous posts that my all-time favorite movie is the one I just mentioned. So, you can see where my excitement stems from. For those unfamiliar with the title reference, it's pretty cool.
It's been said that if you watch The Wizard of Oz with the volume muted, while simultaneously playing Dark Side of the Moon, that Pink Floyd's album serves as a soundtrack to the movie. I have never tried it, personally, but it has always intrigued me. Having this knowledge, I can say that walking into the exhibition, I was greeted by something unexpected. Perhaps it was my misunderstanding of what the exhibition would be about. You see, I thought I would finally get to experience this synchronized awesomeness in an art setting (rather than my living room). Instead, I found several pieces of work that reflected the idea of color prisms, as seen on Pink Floyd's album cover, with the slightly mystical and twisted perspective that The Wizard of Oz offers. And this far outweighed the little bit of disappointment I had upon walking into the gallery space!

The venue itself, is rather small. It's about the size of my apartment, actually; very intimate and easy to relate to. Art Palace originated in Austin, but has called Houston "home" for the past few years. Having lived in the Houston area, I was surprised that the row of gallery spaces Art Palace is found in even existed. It is so easy to pass up! When you first walk into the space, you're greeted by an epic-looking chandelier and white walls. There is a small foyer to the left, where art viewers can sign the guest book and check out the first four works of the exhibition. 

Painted Yellow Dress 1, 1948-2011, 2011, Archival print, 24 in x 16 in

The above print captured my attention immediately. My initial association was to The Wizard of Oz aspect of the show. This print correlates directly to the scene in the movie when Dorothy opens the front door of her house and is enveloped in a new magical (and colorful!) world of Munchkinland. Also, I noticed (although it doesn't remain consistent throughout the exhibition) that the first few images followed the general sequence of the film. Beginning with one large, black and white canvas painting, Barry progresses towards more colorful prints and paintings.

If you wind around the corner from the first four works, you enter into the remaining gallery space. It's rectangular layout remains true to the classic gallery image. Here is where you can see several of Barry's smaller prints occupy one gallery wall, while the other three walls only have two to three larger works. Had I exhibited in this space, I have a feeling I would have done it in a very similar way. This is also where the work beings to become more juxtaposing, as the reference in the title of the exhibition suggests.

The Gallant Garnishes of 1760 Years, 2011, Archival print, 34 in x 51 in
Kelly Osbourne as a Rainbow Attending the Funeral of Amy Winehouse, 2011, Archival print on canvas, 24 in x 36 in

This image, directly above, shows the idea of juxtaposition not only in the color palette, but also in the title. When I first read it, I found it pretty humorous and relevant to today's current pop culture. But, the more I thought about it, I realized the truth in the title and how the work went right back to the Pink Floyd and The Wizard of Oz idea. For me, this print alludes to the happiness in dark times, as in the film. But, I also found double meaning in it; it shows how at the core of the brightness and happiness (or let's say success of Pink Floyd), there are darker issues or hidden things yet to be revealed. Needless to say, I had to really interact with this print to fully understand what I thought was being said. I'm glad I did though, because this is the piece I think about when I think of the exhibition. Contrast is found in the title (literal reference), in the color palette (the medium and physical work itself), and in the psychological effect of the work (the mental effect this art has on me).    

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed and happy that Barry's work exceeded my expectations. I was thrilled to see different media, as well. It really showed his versatility as an artist. I really, really liked that I was able to be reminded of the theme of the show, going back to it's title. I walked away with a better understanding of his work, which I wasn't all that sure about when I walked into his class at the beginning of the semester. Oh! Barry's show is on display until November 11, 2011. I highly recommend it!

- Kerri Pearson


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