Soon after getting hired as the preparator at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary in Dallas more than two decades ago,
I met an artist freshly returned from a stint in New York, accompanied by a refreshingly perplexing body of work that caught me off guard with a wry smile and a relentless persistence.
During the course of installing Ludwig Schwarz’s first solo exhibition at The MAC (along with the artist and curator Tom Moody),
we wedged a jam box inside the gallery wall playing a loop from the band Boston’s Feelin’ Satisfied, which inquired, then promptly suggested: “Oh are you feelin’ satisfied, come on let us give your mind a ride.”
Accompanying this muffled aural possession of the galleries were two functionally deficient bed sculptures:
one, a partially crated twin mattress addressing the viewer like a hash brown escaping its paper sleeve (whose title humorously denied the potential spilling of seed en Español);
the second being a barebones metal bedframe placed appropriately on the floor,
with only a flimsy, mattress-sized piece of plywood laid there, not ready to support anything given the chance.
I was confounded and smitten all at once; a feeling that mostly proves elusive both in art and life, even more so at first glance.
Ludwig Schwarz had reeled me in and closed the cooler and we were headed to unknown shores,
OFF THE COURT RACKET even as there were eight or so tablecloth-sized, garishly colored abstractions now lining the walls.
I had tried unconvincingly to get them to wrap the row of paintings tightly around the corner, instead of breaking them up in a standard, formal dialogue on facing walls.
In the smaller gallery, amid a wall of faded, holey “Classic Rock” concert tees on wire hangers,
hung one much-worn souvenir that had been altered with bones from previously eaten chicken drumettes jutting out rhythmically from its bottom edge, like a carnivore’s bizarre fringe.
A lone, off-white rubber ball sat on the floor in the far corner, slowly beckoning a welcoming listener by inserting an unfortunate earworm Sharpie-d in script along its presented belly: “Desperado.”
“Why don’t you come to your senses?” mouthed my radio brain.
Ludwig and I have been fast friends since that time; we have eaten and taken libations together,
played in and watched numerous games of basketball,
pushed musical tastes on one another, watched each other fight for love,
but mostly laughed during pauses at the absurdity of it all.
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