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The New American Talent exhibit at the Arthouse curated by Aimee Chang from the Orange County Museum of Art was a bit disappointing. It felt like your average MFA exhibition full of emptiness and suburban angst. I understand that curating a juried national exhibition for emerging artists is a daunting task and is very much limited by those artists that actually apply to be in the show. Many young emerging artists with excellent work do not seek out to participate in these juried shows or perhaps were not prepared professionally for the business side of promoting their work. I have often come across emerging artists who do not know how to prepare an artist resume and an artist statement. I think professional development and basic business skills is something that is very much lacking from the curriculum in most art departments across the country.

Nevertheless, there are still some outstanding artists that make it worth the trip to the Arthouse. Among those works is Enubus #2 by Neil Bernstein, a delicate hanging vintage horse wrapped in a gauze-like fashion and dipped into resin with World Trade Center ash. The work represents memory, absence and loss. Despite the fact that the work was not displayed properly, the lighting was off and it was placed next to a large steel and Plexiglas standing sculpture, it still drew you in and it reminded me a bit of Dario Robleto’s memory-work which incorporates bones and human hair. Karen Liebowitz, another Los Angeles-based artist, masterfully executed an impressive Baroque-like painting, Reviving the Bird. In a time where contemporary work is less involved with process and more involved with concept, it was refreshing to see this exuberant piece.

Another surprise was Phil Chang, an artist based out of Los Angeles. His piece Mayumi Leaving a Fingernail Imprint, Echo Park, Los Angeles was a beautiful and intriguing portrait. I have to say his model was excellent, almost iconic. Chang, an MFA graduate from Cal Arts had an impressive resume with international exhibits, among those El Salvador, of all places. High Five, a hybrid work proposed by Hunter Cross, was very promising. The work involved covering 5 rooftops in downtown Austin in a fuchsia color tarp. Then Google Satellite Maps would take a snapshot of the buildings and it would remain online for users to enjoy till the next Satellite photo is updated. The tarps would be a temporary installation till the photos is taken and then the project would exist on the Internet for some time. I like the real-life photos combined with the capability of satellite imagery. It’s a very original idea. Last but not least, I enjoyed the mixed media on plexi by Jonas Criscoe, an MFA from RISD and now an Austinite.

I didn’t get a chance to see the video art at this exhibit. The work was displayed on TVs that were placed lower than eye level and in parts of the gallery where it didn’t comfortably allow for leisure watching, since my neck isn’t well after getting whiplash a couple of weeks ago I decided to pass on these, but I did notice many of the video artists were from New York.

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