Your Heart is Not a Museum
September 12 – October 22, 2009
Post by Katie Smither
If you live in Austin and haven’t jumped on the Domy Books bandwagon, it’s high time you did. Domy Books debuted a second branch in Austin in the beginning of June and people have been talking ever since. Don’t let the name fool you, it is not a “book store”. They do have stacks, racks and tables of books, videos and hard-to-find paraphernalia relating to contemporary art but the place dedicates an equal amount of space to exhibiting artwork in two gallery rooms. A week or so after Domy’s grand opening, I was in another respected local gallery and the staff urgently encouraged me to swing by and see the hip book and art extravaganza. This Saturday, Domy opened Your Heart Is Not A Museum, a collaborative effort by Levi Dugat and Leah DeVun, in it’s main exhibition space.
Your Heart Is Not a Museum supplies everything a viewer needs to walk away thoroughly satisfied and completely perplexed. With beautifully executed graphite drawings, this duo provides the merge between successful execution and conceptual gravity.
Levi Dugat represents the idea of self-portrait as an interrogation of self, quite apparent in a series of images that seem to celebrate and antagonize the man depicted. In several of his pieces, fluid script in the drawing or the title address the subject and his existence; seen in the drawings Your Heart Is Not a Museum, Calm Me Waving At Angry Me, Old Me Waving At New Me, among others. Dugat’s ideas seem to revolve around complicated relationships of time, experience, change, knowledge, wisdom and a search for wholeness. Both, as an individual, but also as part of a group or partnership.
Leah Devun’s work encourages a similar reaction; a middle ground between getting lost in technique and getting lost in narrative. Her Diamond Drawing Series, a collection of several meticulously rendered images of diamonds faceted to varying degrees, interested me most. The decision to further abstract the content from any sort of environment or narrative opens doors for the viewer’s mind to actively participate in the dialogue presented by the artist. Because the drawings are diamonds, and only diamonds, all the emotional, cultural, sociological and aesthetic, baggage of “diamond” comes to the surface. There was something humorous and beautiful, yet tragic, about her drawings.
Levi Dugat and Leah DeVun have accomplished something special in this show: presenting their ideas while holding them at a distance. The distance is in the uncertainty and vagueness we onlookers experience when trying to figure out what it all means. I think I know what they might be trying to tell me, I think it’s important and poetic, but I’m not positive. I can’t celebrate this accomplishment enough; it allows their work to resonate on many different levels with many different kinds of people and about many different issues. Regardless of the multiple interpretations of their work, it’s safe to say there is a sincerity in the subject matter that conveys honesty and a desire to collectively sift through the ambiguous nature of life within themselves and with the viewer. I can’t wait to go back and see the drawings when there is less of a crowd, because I know there is more to find inside Dugat and DeVun’s shades of gray.