DORF

I want to tell you why I love DORF: Tension is my watchword in 2019. The United States is experiencing raging growing pains (hopefully out of adolescence), climate change is likely to destroy us all, and we are split between our digital and natural lives. Rather than choosing nihilism or blind optimism, I’ve decided to nestle my creative life in the tenderness between. I will keep you posted on how that works out. But DORF, perhaps inadvertently, already resides successfully in this societal-emotional interspace. Sara Vanderbeek and Eric Manche, both artists themselves, have opened their garage door and backyard to viewers. The exhibitions so far staged have all been crisp, vibrant, and strong. And the ease with which the art interjects itself into the communal aspect of the openings—always present, never secondary—makes it a triumph over many more formal and casual settings alike. Austin is a town in which you can wear shorts to virtually everything. This, of course, is borne of the hot weather and of the informality of the culture. Sometimes this relaxed stance can manifest badly in art shows, either in the work itself or, conversely, as failed emulations of more established art cities. In the DORF space, however, I see a rejection of condo culture and rising rents, but one that is subtle and simply baked in. The artwork meanwhile has all been both substantive and undeniably alive. There is an underlying tone of what I would call joyous dread, ultra-informed but intoxicated, in the unrestrained palettes and disquieted themes. Austin’s artistic voice is changing and there is a lot of cracking still going on. But, for me, there is an already sophisticated melody coming from Lewood Drive; the warbling hum of the city, cradled in the careful hands of some easy-going pros. -RSM