Friday, February 27, 2009

Beauty Knows No Pain

Beauty Knows No Pain opens tonight at the Houston Center for Photography. The exhibition features the work of two friends–O. Rufus Lovett and Leah DeVun.

Borrowing its title from the 1972 documentary by Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt and the slogan of the Kilgore Rangerettes, this two-person exhibition addresses the perception of femininity in contemporary American culture.

Texas photographer O. Rufus Lovett´s celebrated black and white photographs of the Kilgore Rangerettes dance drill team reveal a long-standing tradition of discipline and teamwork towards the achievement of youthful glamour, uniformity, and synchronicity.

Emerging artist Leah DeVun´s color portraits of young Houston girls dressed up as Hannah Montana depict a subset of popular culture fixated on emulating a young female icon. This juxtaposition probes at the varied performative rituals of young American women and girls who, regardless of their socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, desire to embrace celebrity and femininity.

I first met O. Rufus while working as a photo editor at Texas Monthly Magazine. O. Rufus produces some of the most stunning black and white medium format images. I first came to know of his work in one of his many books, Weeping Mary. If you don't already own one of his books consider this one or his series Kilgore Rangerettes on view at HCP.

Although I will be unable to make the opening this evening I did have the opportunity to see Leah's prints a few weeks ago. In the process of proofing the images for my upcoming solo show at Art League Houston I ran in to Leah and her work at Que Imaging. Being an emerging artist and producing my first solo show, it is comforting to know that Leah was going through similar hurdles to get this work together in time. I wish her luck tonight.