Catherine Allen at 5&J Gallery

Basic Points of Attraction is on view by appointment at 5&J Gallery at Charles Adams Studio Projects (CASP) until June 14th, 2018.

Oil painter Catherine Allen hosted her (surprisingly) first solo exhibition, Basic Points of Attraction at CASP 5&J Gallery in Lubbock this Friday.

The paintings of corporate buildings crumbling in on themselves, rows of low-growing crops, and distorted cookie-cutter housing developments hold to a photographic reference. Still, the concise compositions and painterly exploration with carving, spackle-like layers, and sudden slicks of pitch-black that edge and bisect the canvas affirm that yes, these have to be paintings.

The artist statement says the overlapped images are derived from points of attraction and finding new things in the area in which Allen was born, raised, and still lives: Midland, Texas. Though the effect is that of a surrealist landscape with a sudden mirage of a sleek, alien building, it is not unusual to be driving along the oil field roads and happen upon an elaborately and expensively designed oil corporation office in what seems to be the middle of nowhere. Empty houses seem to serve as a reminder of the past and present looming threats to West Texas: housing crises, the dust bowl, and the cruel and extreme swings in the oil and gas-driven economy.

The paintings range from 2016 to 2018, beacons of impending economic change (spoiler alert: recently established tariffs may be the same kind of stressor that caused the Great Depression). Allen’s locative work seems hyper aware of both the large arc and the very cyclical booms and busts of her region, as evidenced by really well-painted wealthy developments collapsing under too-quickly laid foundations.

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