Introspection's in the Details: Anthony W. Garza at Tiny Park
A solitary tree branch. A rocky shoreline. A bizarre animal-architectural amalgam. A night sky. As evinced from his exhibition at Austin's Tiny Park, local artist Anthony W. Garza depicts all these with understated reverence, via graphite, watercolor, and acrylics. The sum effect is a naturalistic cycle, engaging us and encouraging us to be more aware of the world around us. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor.
Anthony W. Garza | Layers Upon Layers, 2012, graphite on paper, 44 x 58 inches. Courtesy the artist and Tiny Park, Austin.
The mesmerizing Layers Upon Layers is a good place to start. This oversized graphite drawing takes Garza's prowess for rendering lead on paper, like in his 2010 installation Monolith Pass at Austin's Mass Gallery (with Co-Lab Projects), and plunges it into an ecosystem. Here, a weathered rock peninsula, its prehistoric lines exposed to the air, is slashed at and splashed with frozen waves. A frothy rivulet has already cut through the formation, and depending on what lies beyond the composition's cropped right margin, the rocky form may be an island, worn away over millennia by the slow, enduring passage of time.
Anthony W. Garza | Stars #2, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches. Courtesy the artist and Tiny Park, Austin.
The pair of large acrylic paintings Stars #1 and Stars #2, facing each other across the gallery, provides a metaphysical counterpart. Initially, they seem at odds with Garza's finely tuned graphic detail. But look again, use a slow approach from the opposite wall, and Stars #2's gaseous powder-blue layers shimmer against the canvas, as inkier blues and dull browns form cloudy hollows in the twilight. Likewise, Stars #1's circular rotation, bisected by a river of incandescent balls of gas. They are macro views of cyclical creation and destruction, grandly scaled points to Garza's primordial boulders and desiccated tree branches.
Anthony W. Garza | The End of a Dead Tree Branch, 2012, graphite on paper, 25 x 26 inches. Courtesy the artist and Tiny Park, Austin.
Anthony W. Garza | Carcharodon Carcharias, 2012, graphite on paper, 33 x 44 inches. Courtesy the artist and Tiny Park, Austin.
Garza wields an impressive command of light. His organic “still-lifes”—intimate studies of single forms—channel the Texas sun's blanching rays. It's as if that sun obliterated everything beyond the object itself, reducing the background to bare paper. His moody shark “portrait” Carcharodon Carcharias diffuses light into dappled pools, as the predator swims near the surface. Now underline Garza's cinematographic understanding of how light works with this realization: even the most naturalistic scenes, like Layers Upon Layers and its wall-mate Two Close Buds for 6 Million Years, are the product of multiple frames. Garza's imagination joined them into a believable conclusion.
Anthony W. Garza | Temple Eagle Lemur, 2012, watercolor on paper, 51 x 46 inches. Courtesy the artist and Tiny Park, Austin.
I was more hesitant about Garza's collage-y works, rendered in watercolor and described as “adaptation scenarios of life affected by human-made structures”, for they would disavow realism assuredly, right? Yet, they retain a potent lifelikeness despite their heavily hybridized composition, thanks to Garza's expressive brushwork. The three watercolors on view have matter-of-fact titles listing their major components—Temple Eagle Lemur, for instance—though they still do not give up their collaged elements too readily. Or perhaps this is Garza's point, grafting an oryx's spectacular horns onto the lemur's almost canine-like face, its long-haired torso at odds with the eagle's feathered extremities. Then there's the temple itself, or two temples, and a pair of window panels completing this particular “adaptation scenario”. In throwing many elements into one organic/manmade chimera, we seek out naturally the most familiar aspects, thus realizing the humanity within Temple Eagle Lemur's eye, the snuggly texture of its fur, the ferocity of its talons. This rush, this excitement in looking at nature: I believe this is Garza's point all along.
Anthony W. Garza | Two Close Buds for 6 Million Years, 2012, graphite on paper, 58 x 49 inches. Courtesy the artist and Tiny Park, Austin.
Anthony W. Garza has previously shown at Mass Gallery at Co-Lab Projects (http://www.massgallery.org/v1/exhibitions/monolith-pass/) and in the 2011 Texas Biennial (http://www.texasbiennial.org/2011_artists.html). He was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and earned a B.F.A. in Studio Art from Texas State University in December 2005. Garza's solo exhibition at Tiny Park continues through October 6.
Brian Fee is an art punk currently based in Austin, TX. His culture blog Fee's List (http://feeslist.blogspot.com) covers his three loves (art, film, live music) occurring in his other three loves (the Lone Star State, the Big Apple, and Tokyo).