Heyd Fontenot : Artist

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Eileen With Deer Wallpaper, by Heyd Fontenot oil on cloth, from "Is a Theme Necessary?"
Studio 107, through April 30

There is a place to see pretty art; it's Liz Joblin's office and living room, also known as Studio 107. She runs a gallery part time because she wants to look at good art. She invites artists from other cities to visit and exhibit in Austin. This current show, "Is a Theme Necessary?," is a fine example of her hospitality. A small group of artists, led by Austinite Heyd Fontenot, met last summer and has regrouped for this show. It's not themed, but the work shares a level of quality that is rewarding. There are five artists in this show, none of them scary or pushy, and their work is full of visual gems.

Heyd Fontenot's large piece in the show is titled Eileen With Deer Wallpaper. It's stellar, in a dreamy, homey kind of way. Eileen, clothed only in panties, is posed twice in the composition. Her gaze is directed straight out at the viewer and is she cute. Her flesh tones are lively pink and her hands are graceful. In a seated pose, she points her toes and touches her lips in a coy manner. These little angels have identical faces and inviting postures. What the narrative is is much less clear and possibly more interesting. The wallpaper ground that they inhabit is a dreamy tableau of beige clouds, starbursts, colorful spots, and frolicking deer. All of these elements are stylishly combined; a limited palette, the minimal deer are just shapes, silhouettes, and the dots are flat and decorative. The overall feeling is borderline Asian, with loose strokes and immaculate balance. The technically astute quality is making these seemingly unrelated parts feel whole and finished. They emerge as dreamlike narrative, where you know that the girl is not really in the room with you, but the nude is perhaps winking at you from another subconscious dimension, like advertising but for what? It's a happy, cozy memory, accessible and cute as heck.

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