by Joe Nolan
An artist's work builds on itself — piece by piece, show by show — and every season of innovation is inevitably followed by a period of reflection, renewal and starting over with new perspectives and intentions. Native Tennessean Patrick DeGuira's Signs, Patterns, Animals exhibited at Vanderbilt University's Sarratt Gallery last fall. The show featured a number of the monochromatic text paintings he'd debuted in his 2011 show When Past Becomes Afterwards at Zeitgeist, but it also included older work, so the whole thing felt like a mini-retrospective. Whether that show was a purposeful summary or simply a piecemeal presentation that matched recent efforts with old favorites, it feels like a good time to find out more about where DeGuira may be headed next.
The artist will be speaking tonight at Watkins in room 804 at 9 p.m. When I previewed the Sarratt show for the Scene, I talked about DeGuira's commitment to craftsmanship as well as his penchant for personal subject matter. He also — admirably — jumps between media as his impulses demand, and while there is always meaning to be found in the work, it's not always clear exactly what personal meaning the work holds for DeGuira. This presentation will likely offer some insights along those lines.
I'm not exactly sure what might be on the artist's agenda, but I did a little snooping on his website, and I think I've found a clue. The site's main categories list an option for “lecture.” Clicking through, I found a slide show of work by other artists that one could readily connect to DeGuira's aesthetic, including an all-black Ad Reinhardt painting and Richard Prince's humorous text painting “He Ain't Here Yet.” The Joe Scanlan installation photographs in the slide show demonstrate the same kind of colorful, minimalist ordering that often informs DeGuira's constructed spaces. DeGuira currently works at Watkins as a Career Services Coordinator, and it seems plausible that he might have made these slides available early for students to preview before his talk, and there are certainly insights to be gleaned here about his creative influences. Take a peek and get a leg up on what will likely be a lively presentation.