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South Texas Funk . FUNK. It is generally agreed that the term “Funk” grew out of its use as a jazz term in the twenties when it was used to depict a kind of happy/sad, unsophisticated blues. It’s a virtually undefinable term meaning different things to different artists. The dictionary definitions are not very helpful in an attempt to find out what it is all about. Wh 841 asked to define Funk, artists generally answer, “When you see it you know it.” Peter Selz from Notes on Funk. By Jan Butterfield Fort Worth St. Edward’s University in Austin is currently showing a very tough “regional” exhibition entitled “South Texas Sweet Funk,” organized by Dave Hickey of A Clean Well-Lighted Place. Already turned on to a couple of younger artists who are producing what I consider to be a Texas brand of pure Funk, I went to Austin to look at the exhibition. The show is installed in a handsome brick building without proper lighting or hanging walls just kind of wandering around. I liked it that way. Somehow Funk shouldn’t be brightly lit and perfectly installed, on white walls. It should clump in the corner and glower quietly, or even be disregarded or undiscovered or whatever. By its very definition or, conversely, its lack of definition, Funk makes a statement of its own unaided. It is about as “anti” as any normal ART convention, or anything that can be classified as a “movement.” \(Parenthetical note: What was generally defined by critic Selz as “Funk” in 1967 giving it a “birth certificate” as a “movement” had probably already been born and was being reared quietly in the San Francisco underground via people like Wally Hedrick, George Herms, Wally Berman, Bruce Nauman and and blase like Pop; it’s more personal than Dada, and it isn’t “mainstream” or it wouldn’t be Funk. There is a Funk thing growing here which has been coming along quietly for some time. In this vast art wasteland there are just enough people who are sufficiently isolated from all of the precious verbiage and critical nonsense that they can unselfconsciously thumb their noses with great gusto. Miss Butterfield, who will be doing art reviews for the Observer from time to time, works for the Fort Worth Art, Center Museum. She also writes an art column for the Fort Worth Star Telegram. 18 The Texas Observer I A review CALIFORNIA FUNK probably grew out of the “Beat” movement, Jack Kerouac, poetry readings, spontaneous theater and the underground Bohemian culture that turned inward for lack of external support. Here, in Texas with our “vast Western Heritage” and ever increasing Blue Bonnet School there is precious little support for the “other” regional painters of unique vision and facility who haven’t the graciousness and good taste to paint “traditionally.” In a situation dissimilar but akin to that in San Francisco they too have remained underground. There are numerous links and ties within the groups too complex to trace genealogically here the people who produce Funk works write their own brand of country/western music instead of poetry. They also produce some of the freakiest comic book art around. A great deal of this has to do with the fact that they have been left alone their attitude is an honest, open, what-the-hell attitude that doesn’t sell out to anything or anyone. Dave Hickey, who organized the show, did so for a number of reasons. He didn’t just do it. Hickey is a kind of walking authority on all of the ramifications and eccentricites of this regional phenomenon, and he wanted to put a number of people together in one exhibition to see if his theories held up. He wanted to “assemble a body of regional work that would hang together stylistically.” And with a few minor exceptions, it does. In the exhibition notes Hickey discusses briefly his alternate titles for the exhibition “Lyrical Pop,” “Comic Surrealism,” and “Amphetamine Rococo.” Fortunately, he hit upon “SoUth Texas Sweet Funk,” which says it best because it is an inimitably regional exhibition. Regional not in the sense of cowboys and Indians regional of NOW. Because that IS where it’s at not faint imitations of East or West Coast but gut-based statements that have come out of here because it’s TEXAS The whole category of Funk is difficult because the borderlines between Funk and Camp and what Lucy Lippard has termed “Eccentric Abstraction” tend to slip about a bit. But no matter verbal definitions and arguments aside, this is an exciting show. The basic difference between the people included in this exhibition and most of the West Coast people who have been put into the Funk bag is that these people are up, happy, positive, sweet erotic, yes but fun, as opposed to the ugly, depressed, downer attitudes expressed by a large percentage of the West Coast San Francisco people. For instance, here, Barry Buxkamper from Houston works in a purely regional manner with puppies and cows and dead cowboys with bullet holes and cowpatties being shot at. In this exhibition he has a brilliant, blue, shaped canvas baboon, and a large emblematic painting entitled “Perro and Vaca” right off a feed ad from which a giant cow and large-eyed dog stare back at you from the canvas. JIM MORRIS from San Antonio has a purely fun piece called “Fair Game,” with mirrors, target and elephant executed in bright, clear poster colors. Bobbie Moore one of the strangest, sweetest, weirdest people in the show. Remember the plaster ears of corn and cherries that held notepads for the kitchen, and the sweet, bright, pastel mothers that adorned the children’s books of the forties they always wore starched aprons and upswept hairdos and the tiny doggies and bunnies playing in the sunlit kitchens of those mommies who baked pies and cookies all day? Well, Bobbie Moore has done those mommies and they are very strange. She has turned them into sickeningly sweet icons of sexual virtue with a hundred strange overtones all executed in colored pencil in exquisite technique. George Green is less pure Funk \(even “Eccentric Abstraction,” but no matter. His perfectly crafted, smoothly rolling pieces are created out of cheap Tromp l’Oeil bathroom tiles. His shapes are pew-benchish or are arthritic apostrophe’s with mail slots in them waxed and finished to perfection. There are two El Paso artists in this exhibition, Luis. Jiminez and Mel Casas. Jiminez works ‘in epoxied fiberglass’ in this show he has done a soft old lady who melts fluidly into her chair, cat and all benign and terrifying. The works of Mel Casas seem to have come out of a number of different styles Mexican mural paintings, circus posters and that widespread movement called “painting on velvet.” The combination of a number of these sources coupled with ‘a superb paint facility has created some very beautiful and peculiarly interesting works. Fred Whitehead does these strange works with crashing airplanes like the ballpoint drawings on the back of blue notebook covers only much more menacing. His airplane imagery bears some