back Review by Cathy Fox from her Blog www.artscriticatl.com
Atlanta Artists Marcia Cohen and Tom Ferguson in the Spotllight
by Catherine Fox
Marcia Cohen and Tom Ferguson are long-time Atlanta artists whose
Commitment to their art has never depended on the growlight of public
attention. Serendipitously, simulataneous exhibitions - she at the
Museum of Contemporary Art of Geogia, he at Eyedrum Art & Music
Gallery - offer an opportunity to see what they've been up to.
.... Tom Ferguson's 40-year retrospective, though fascinating, is
a mess from a curatorial point of view. There's too much stuff in
not-enough space, sometimes arranged chronologically, sometimes not.
But it's also oddly appropriate too.
For Ferguson, art-making is less a career than a yoga practice - a
vehicle to get him to a state of consciousness. His willingness to go
where intuition leads him, including forays into political cartooning,
music, writing and, recently, iMovies, resulted in the meandering path
That said, the man has skills. He is a fine draftsman, painter and
colorist. His range encompasses the feather light touch of the pen to
impasto as thick and scrumptious as cake frosting, laid down in
complex, mutli-directional strokes. Add an observant eye and morant
wit, and you've got yourself plenty to chew on in this show.
Among the most memorable works are the fictional portraits, a series of
heads created between 1984 and 2000. Kin to the caricatures of his
political cartoons, his people sport exaggerated features - elongated
chins, hair on end like Don King - emphasized by their poses in profile
or three-quarter view. His satire of recognizable typse, such as the
chic committe woman, the pompous philosophe, is amusing, but the real
enchantment of these paintings is their imaginative color variations
and sensuous surfaces.
This is Ferguson's 1985 solo show at the High Museum. The gridded
arrangement emphasizes the abstract qualitites of paint and line. (tf
note: you can see this image under the category Heads from the main
Ferguson applied the same approcah to everyday objects. One such piece
is the graphite drawing of a pencil set in a slathery nest of tar-black
paint. Sort of a cross between Jim Dine and Susan Rothenberg, it
succeeds in turning something ordinary into something worth
contemplating, thus sharing the consciousness he seeks for himself with
Ferguson changed direction in 2000. He turned to multi-figured
compositions often drawn from his daughter's drawings and his
sketchoboks and thinned paint to an aquesous consistency, which he
applied to a bevy of objects rather than stretched canvas.
Perhaps it's for wont of editing, but the display of these
paintings has a desultory air, as if he went off in too many directions.
Nevertheless, Ferguson's skill and range is impressive. It's hard to
believe that he's giving up painting to pursue other interests. One
more reason to see the show and attend his talk and tour at 4pm Sunday.