Drawing doesn't get a lot of respect in the hoity-toity art world. For whatever reason, curators, gallery owners and critics often stereotype it as too simple, too basic, too childish even to merit serious consideration. Aspiring artists might spend much of their time doodling in the margins during boring middle school history classes. After that, though, they're expected to quickly graduate to oils and acrylics. If they use drawing for anything, it should be merely to sketch out ideas to be finalized in other media.
Hooey! Drawing can be simple and even childish, but it certainly doesn't have to be. A new exhibit opening this week at the Yale Art Center features work by five regional artists—David Fleet, Lynn Johnson, David Nakabayashi, Larry-Bob Phillips and Trevor Lucero—who use drawing not as a preliminary medium for trying out new ideas but as an artistic end in and of itself.
I first heard about the exhibit from Johnson, an art instructor at TVI, who stopped by my office with a stack of papers and a cigarette lighter. “You want to burn one?” she asked. At first, I thought she was offering me drugs, but I soon learned that she'd made a series of invisible drawings using lemon juice and similar substances. By carefully running a flame under the surface of the paper till it browns, a secret image is revealed. Johnson will be torching more of these drawings at the opening reception this Friday.
Lucero, you might recall, operated a gallery space at 500 Second Street for a couple years. (The building is now occupied by Orpheum Art Space.) He's currently teaching art at UNM. Phillips is one of the operators of the Donkey Gallery, an alternative gallery space on south Fourth Street. His recent work is psychedelic—his multicolored lines look like they're melting on the page. The other two artists in the show are colleagues of Johnson from El Paso.
One of the coolest aspects of the opening reception is that all the artists will be doing demonstrations and “on site” drawings throughout the evening. All of the drawings created on the spot will be priced under $75.
“It's ideal for someone who can't afford a larger work but likes an individual artist,” says Marissa Glink, owner the Yale Art Center.
You should see a little bit of everything here, from the grotesque to the absurd to the political to the sexy. And just because this work is in pencil and ink doesn't mean it's work in progress.
“It's nice to see all these artists coming together with such a variety of drawing techniques and themes,” says Glink. “It should be a really fun show.”