"by Deborah Calderwood" (23), 2009
Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia
Acrylic and colored pencil on gessoed paper
21" x 15"
Photo: courtesy CB1 Gallery
Deborah Calderwood's childhood drawings are filled with forget-me-not creations like stick figures with boxed heads, amicable characters aptly named "furballs" whose bodies are made up of frantic pencil swirls, complete with wide lopsided eyes and mischievous smiles. The simplicity of the pen and charcoal renderings belies their sophistication as the works communicate a clear sense of authorship. Each drawing bears Calderwood's cursive signature that she has laboriously perfected. Additionally the images are often accompanied by text that functions like a dialogue bubble, giving voice to the character that appears next to it. Calderwood's juvenile hand often misspells the words in her drawings; in one case, the artist meant to proclaim "viola" to her grammar school teacher Mr. "L," but wrote "wala" instead. The imperfections infuse the drawings with a beautiful blend of naivete and breadth.
For his first solo show at CB1 Gallery, artist Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia used the childhood drawings of his wife, Deborah Calderwood, which had been stored away for twenty years in his mother-in-law's home, as his inspiration. Using the characters and text of the original drawings as his template, Segovia creates compositions overwrought with technique. His practice is informed by a high skill set, and so he cuts and pastes Calderwood's amateur renderings amidst faux finishes and heavy-handed acrylic backgrounds. When faced with these works the viewer is confronted with near sensory overload, as it requires a visual undressing of the painting in order to separate Calderwood from Segovia. The complex painterly methods he references are in disaccord with the subtle sophistication of the young artist.
"By Deborah Calderwood" examines the love between a husband and wife, the relationship between past and present, and the fragility of authorship. While the premise of the show is straightforward in its desire to reclaim a past he never knew existed, Segovia also wants to engage in his wife's creative past and share in an artistic dialogue decades apart. Perhaps the show would have been more successful had Calderwood's original drawings be displayed alongside the works that inspired them; then the whimsy and assertiveness of the 11-year old's work might have better understood, rather than drowning in Segovia's freely brandished technique. If the originals had accompanied the works, then the title of the show would too change from "by Deborah Calderwood" to Deborah Calderwood, sans the quotation marks. It would simply be the original work of the young Deborah Calderwood that inspired new work by Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia.