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JOHN ADELMAN + MARGO SAWYER
at Holly Johnson Gallery
by Todd Camplin

Well, it has been weeks since I dropped into the Holly Johnson Gallery. I will want to see the
rule-based works of John Adelman again. And, I am looking forward to seeing the reflective
works of Margo Sawyer.
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I went to Adelman’s opening and talked to him about the new body of work. Thankfully, his
studio wasn’t affected by the Houston flood. Otherwise, we wouldn’t get to see this work at
all. If I remember correctly, Hurricane Ike had wrecked some of his work back in 2008. So, I am
sure he was relieved to be missed this time. We are extremely lucky to see these works on canvas.
I don’t know why canvas has such a cache, but somehow the material just seems to project
an air of seriousness. Pared with the seriously obsessive nature of Adelman’s work, I can’t think
of better material he could be using for his work. I favor works on paper, but this material has
a niche market. Adelman’s canvas works broaden the appeal to traditional collectors. The
current body of work continues to tackle repetitive drawings of nails. The images simulate
pouring out actions or piles of nails. Most the show is chaotic with these dropped nails until
you run into a few of his odes to geometry. One example, Mycose, takes the square format
and repeats it to get a denser surface around the edge of the work.  Instead of nails, Adelman
chooses words to fill his space. Words take on a more rational and logical formation than the
nail drawings. Though, I have seen his word pieces take a random approach. These works
are classic Adelman at his best, but there is an experimental side to him that shows up now
and then. I hope to see a more wild side to Adelman’s art soon. I just hope I don’t have to
travel to Houston to see it.

John Adelman and Margo Sawyer will be showing until December 23rd at Holly Johnson Gallery. I
feel I am in good company because I am also in the stable of artists.
Margo Sawyer has brought not just an art exhibition, but an artwork that interacts differently
with every environment it inhabits. Thus you experience the work through shadow, reflection,
and from what I hear; a presence. To be honest, I have yet to see a show by Sawyer at Holly
Johnson I haven’t liked. Her minimalist sensibility has always attracted my own need for clean,
beautiful shapes and colors. However, this time Sawyer has made a kind of Frank Stella
conversion to Maximalism. He too was interested in line, shape, and form. Stella broke into
wild colors with organic and geometric clashing shapes. Now Sawyer hasn’t gone full-on
Stella, but she has evolved to make a work that takes on Minimalism in small bites and
then she collages them to make maximalist like pieces. Her mirror pieces act as observers
of the large work. A video recording of her show at PLAYhouse in San Antonio, Texas is also
on display. I wonder how this changes the viewer’s perception of the current installation?
John Adelman, 11324 nails (from large coffee bin), 2017. Gel ink and acrylic on canvas,
32 x 32 in.
John Adelman, 38307 nails, 2017  Gel ink and acrylic on canvas,
48 1/4 x 42 in.

Margo Sawyer, Reflect (detail), 2014, Mixed media floor installation.
Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, Austin, Texas.
Photography credit: Paul Bardagjy.