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T H E A U S T I N C H R O N I C L E
JULY 25, 2014
a u s t
i n c h r o n
i c
l e
. c om
Artist websites and map:
ArtistsandGalleries.com
Canopy, 916 Springdale Road Austin TX 78702
More than 40 Artists and
Galleries at Canopy
Healing
36" x 36"
Diana Greenberg
Inés Batlló
Emily Galusha
Terri McGee
Lynne Brotman
Jenn Hassin
Andrew Saldaña
Karen Woodward
Chun Hui Pak
Modern Rocks Gallery
Daniel Arredondo
Maria Montoya Hohenstein
Peggy Weiss
Hollis Hammonds
Stephen Paul Connor
Diana Greenberg
Visit us at OPEN Canopy
Friday Aug.1st, 6:00 - 9:00 pm
Saturday Aug. 2, Noon - 6:00 pm
THE ARTS
reviews
All’s Well That
Ends Well
Dougherty Arts Center,
1110 Barton Springs Rd.
www.7towerstheatre.com
Through Aug. 3
Running time: 2 hr., 25 min.
In an intimate setting that is
neither grungy gold à la Salvage
Vanguard Theater nor slick black
Cadillac like the Long Center’s
Rollins Theatre, 7 Towers Theatre
Company presents one of the
Bard’s underdog comedies.
All’s Well That Ends Well
isn’t
among the most celebrated in
Shakespeare’s comedic oeuvre,
perhaps because it’s generally
considered a tragicomedy, and
thus there’s some gray area that
may take audiences by surprise.
Setting this piece during World
War I, director Christina Gutierrez
incorporates period-appropriate
radio broadcasts to set the mood
and help audiences understand
the setting and relationships
between France and Germany
(Italy in the original). Against this
backdrop of war, Helena (Sara
Cormier) wishes to marry Bertram
(Trace Pope), who’s been raised
as her brother. However, since she
lacks royal blood, he believes her
a poor match and refuses to have
her. With this, we see the play-
wright revisiting the theme of free
will in the choice of a mate vs. a
wedding that will secure political
alliances and produce royal heirs.
Cormier, last seen as Desdemona
in Austin Shakespeare’s
Othello
(and a dead ringer for Sarah Jessica
Parker), receives the award for
best profile among Austin’s young
Shakespeareans. It’s curious, then,
that Gutierrez and costume designer
Stephanie Dunbar conspired to
make Cormier look so dowdy
(though if she’d been any more love-
ly, perhaps we’d have branded her
errant lover Bertram as just plain
crazy – so foreign to modern audi-
ences is the concept of marriage as
strictly business).
If there is one reason to see
this show, it’s Sam Mercer as
Lavach. Rocking back and forth
on his heels, tracing the lapels
of his ridiculously flamboyant red
suit, he’s the greatest clown I’ve
ever seen on a stage, although it
should be noted that he’s a fool
only at a woman’s service and “a
knave at a man’s.” Gutierrez wise-
ly plays up the character’s bawdy
aspect without muddying the
waters with too much slapstick.
Executing another commanding
performance is David J. Boss as
Parolles. He is, well, the boss.
The moment he takes the stage,
the integrity of the entire cast
is bumped up a notch or two.
Although some scenes make us
wince – as when he is taken a
prisoner and his head covered
with a burlap bag, recalling the
execution videos of terrorists
– comic relief is never too far
behind in this mixed-genre work.
Indeed, much tension is released
and the audience explodes in
nervous laughter when Robert
Stevens’ soldier shouts “Wiener
schnitzel!” in an absurd but excel-
lent moment of German outrage.
Is all that ends well truly well?
Not exactly. As in life, there is too
much middle ground. “But even
the very middle of my heart,”
says Imogen in Shakespeare’s
Cymbeline
, “Is warm’d by the rest,
and takes it thankfully.”
– Stacy Alexander Smith
‘Kasey Short:
5 Plus Hearts’
Big Medium Gallery at Canopy,
916 Springdale, Bldg. 2, #101
www.bigmedium.org
Through Aug. 9
Kasey Short’s solo exhibition sets
up a loose comparison of war and
violence with spectator sport and
other American institutions. The
work is obtuse, though not without
promise. Short is digging into some
unlikely topics here and making inter-
esting connections along the way.
Unfortunately, he also makes some
missteps typical of artists in the grips
of academic scrutiny. Short is enter-
ing the second year of the graduate
program at University of Pennsylvania
and is implementing in this show the
oft-used sleight of hand that replaces
conceptual weight with obscurity and
bewildering symbolism – the postgrad
equivalent of changing fonts to boost
the page length of a high school term
paper. Still, the show’s central points
hold merit, and if viewed as a work in
progress, “5 Plus Hearts” remains of
interest despite its loose ends.
Atrium Stadium
is a set of rickety,
timber-frame bleachers, along with
audio, video, and small sculptural
elements. Combining action-movie
soundtrack from
Bloodsport
with audio
from a pep band, the work quickly
brings to mind our culture’s parallel
fixations with competition, violence,
and domination. The visuals follow
suit, depicting, among other things,
antics performed in an empty parking
lot. Dressed in construction worker’s
attire, the protagonist dramatizes
sports, work, and battle, crawling from
the trenches of one Dumpster to the
next and screaming agony along the
way. The hard hat resembles a sol-
dier’s helmet, the steel-toes resemble
combat boots, and the drill a pistol.
The McDonald arches and other
symbols of corporate America in the
background are pulled into the com-
parison, becoming national banners in
the campy one-man war.
Atrium Stadium
’s elements add up
to something compelling, something
with a few entry points for the viewer.
However, the rest of the artworks
seem so much less powerful than,
and tangential to, the central themes
produced by the large installation
that their inclusion is unnecessary:
hastily glued and painted collages,
quickly considered sculpted ver-
sions of the same, intentionally low-
quality digital prints, plungers made
of clamp lights and copper tubes,
a collection of doorstops, etc. It’s
not that open-ended exhibitions are
a bad thing (in fact, the opposite is
true), but this show goes beyond pro-
ducing a few questions to linger with,
instead obfuscating its own purpose
dangerously close to the cliff edge
of meaninglessness.
But this is where a student artist
who is serious about closely examin-
ing his practice should be, that is,
bravely feeling out the edges of suc-
cessful delivery of meaning to a wide
range of viewers. It is for this reason
that I look forward to seeing what
Kasey Short is up to in a year’s time,
MFA in hand.
– Seth Orion Schwaiger
EXHIBITIONISM
Grim interrogation: (l-r) Trace
Pope, stephen Andrew Cook,
Heath Thompson, David J. Boss,
and robert stevens
C o u r t e s y o f 7 t o w e r s t h e a t r e
Atrium Stadium
by Kasey short