Hills Snyder’s exhibition “Altered States (Part Two)” opened this week at LHUCA’s John Lott exhibition space. Part two of a three-part series by Snyder, “Altered States" documents his travels to a different selection of towns specific to each Part. Parts one and two of the exhibition show at Flight Gallery in San Antonio and Gallery Sonja Roesch in Houston, respectively. Each work’s name references a visited town—El Dorado, TX; Truth or Consequences, NM; Nothing, AZ; Bummerville, CA; Eureka, NV; Eden, UT; Opportunity, MT; Recluse, WY; Bonanza, CO; and Happy, TX (a few of the town names in Part Two).
Selecting a place whose name suggests a feeling or notion not suggested by the town itself contributes as much to the exhibition as the pieces themselves. Obvious humor aside, towns with explicitly evocative names do some work to negate their own connotations of place (speaking from experience, I feel mostly lonely and confused when I drive through Happy), and naming works after them captures the clear-but-inaccurate description of place. With the economy of Picasso’s “Fragment de Corps de Femme”, Snyder constructs playful, sometimes fevered arrangements of the towns visited, creating spaces consistent with their reference places, but not implying them. His masterful understanding of line is clear in the blended, often continuous horizons unifying vague objects with explicit ones. He’s also unafraid of a mostly empty page—lines often dead-end, leaving a fragment of a shape or never bothering to form one at all.
Taken together with their names, his works present a humorously thoughtful obscuring of real spaces into artificial ones. His spaces are 2-dimensional, a given shape not needing recognition or shading to have the same compositional weight as its shaded, clearly formed neighbor. As with the names, he takes a place, strips it out so it’s only in an isolated state, and simply leaves it at that.
*The author’s opinions are his own. Photos courtesy of LHUCA and/or Facebook images.