I like to keep my eyes open for clustering of artists in a common area. I enjoy going on open
studio tours, like the White Rock Lake tour. And for a while I kept hearing about the Valley View
Mall encouraging artists and galleries to open up in abandoned stores. So I thought I would finally
take the plunge this weekend and see this colony of artists.

As I ventured into gallery walk night, I was struck by a garish sign for Gallery at Midtown & Artist Studios.
Maybe it was the font or the very busy background, but it was truly a sign of things to come. After walking
into every gallery and studio, I was completely underwhelmed by so many places filled with one boring
cliche painting after another. Most of the spaces were packed full of amatuer art with salon style
hangings. Decorative abstracts were a dominant theme in many of the galleries. I guess the somewhat
keystone gallery had one or two artists I thought were effective in projecting a unique voice, style, and
technique; however, because these works were surrounded by trainwrecks I just couldn’t pay enough
attention to hone in on the particular artist, medium, or even size. I found it too distracting an
environment to appreciate better art pieces.
Slant Gallery had a mildly interesting show of Frida Kahlo inspired work. Rita Barnard’s Small Gallery
had a quirky Cowboy and Indian show. I ended up spending more time there, if partly to avoid
going back out and seeing more noise on the walls. It is possible, in time, the mall will bring in more
talent that will raise the level of art. However, doom and uncertainty looms for this artists colony as
there are plans for redevelopment of the mall.

I had to cleanse after the mall and what better place than an opening at Valley House Gallery.
I was not disappointed by the drawings and sculptures of Michael O’Keefe. His small figure
drawings reminded me of Giacomo Balla’s Futurist paintings of moving bodies. The sculptures
were in a Modernist style, smooth heads. O’Keefe’s large drawings look looser than the small
drawings. He appears to have taken a free form approach that allows the figure to emerge
from his process of drawing. I felt the work was elegant, with a thoughtful and skillful look to the
Modern past. O’Keefe’s show will be up through February 15th.  
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A TRIP TO THE VALLEY by Todd Camplin