Rebel art
500X's burgeoning talent is a needed youthful injection

Janet Kutner Art Critic of The Dallas Morning News
Published: January 20, 1990

It's a whole new ballgame at 500X Gallery this season, and the increased vitality that is charging through the artist-run space is reflected in an unusually provocative four-person exhibit. The gallery has been struggling in recent years, and nine of the 15 artists who currently are members of the co-op are new this year. Most of the 15 studied at the University of North Texas, long known as a breeding ground for emerging talent. The artists in the present show, which opened last week, are dealing with ideas as much as content. Despite their formal training, all are rebelling against convention.

The artists are Jimmie Hudson, David Lamb, David Szafranski and Kevin Young. Ms. Hudson and Mr. Szafranski are clearly the more developed talents, but the other artists' works also reflect searching points of view. All are pushing materials and concepts to their limits.

Mr. Szafranski's mixed-media constructions also deal in social commentary, and they, too, have ironic overtones. But they also are very, very funny.

Mr. Szafranski first burst on the local art scene during the 1984 Republican Convention, when a competitive show at D-Art featured his piece 20,000 Randomly Thrown Dice
an image of Ronald Reagan that was made up of 20,000 dice. At that time, Mr. Szafranski had had no art training and was working full time as a chemical engineer.

He says that he'd always gone to gallery shows when he lived in Minneapolis and Chicago, and that he started doing things on his own after moving to Dallas. When the company he worked for went out of business, he decided to go back to school, at first toying with the idea of getting a master's degree in business.

But the art "was getting out of hand,' he says, and he realized his only hope of working at it full time was to pursue a graduate degree in that area. He painted while at North Texas, but after receiving his MFA in 1987, he reverted to mixed-media constructions.

The Cause of
                HemorrhoidsHe brings an analytical mind and obsessive tendencies to his work, along with off-the-wall humor. The current show includes another dice feat: a wall piece depicting the floor plan of a typical suburban home, with rubber bath toys occupying the appropriateor not so appropriatespaces in the house.

A dog is in the garage, a lamb in the bedroom, a mouse in the kitchen. But there's also a weasel in one bedroom and a little girl in a closet.

Many of Mr. Szafranski's works have sexual implications, and this piece is no exception. The title, The Cause of the Unfriendly Vagina (taken from a book of feminist writings) appears around the border, sparking reflection on "squeezable toys,' not to mention the activities that take place in typical suburban homes.

He's also showing his now-infamous piece, The Cause of White Lies, which was in his summer exhibit at N. NO.O (North Number Zero) Gallery. The piece consists of a clothesline strung with oversize jockey shorts decorated with photocopied iron-ons of the brides' pages in newspapers, a male underwear model and a long list of porno movie titles.

Perhaps the funniest piece is The Cause of Hemorrhoids, a caged rubber doughnut like those used by recovering surgery patients. The viewer can activate the baseball inside the doughnut's hole by pulling a chain
evoking vivid thoughts about the hazards of baseball players' spending too much time on the bench, or viewers' spending too much time in the bleachers.

Exhibition information "New Works by Jimmie Hudson, David Lamb, David Szafranski and Kevin Young,' through Jan. 28 at 500X Gallery, 500 Exposition Ave. Hours are 1-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday and by appointment. Free admission; call 828-1111 or 824-7108.

Copyright 1992 The Dallas Morning News Company