A good balance between flat, stylized, fantasy, collage and realistic elements, is found in acrylic, ink and paper works by Vietnamese-American artist Denise Duong at JRB Art at The Elms. Called “Hello, Goodbye,” the narrative show depicts scenes of a fictional couple during the Dust Bowl, the French Resistance, the present and leaving Vietnam for America.
A farmer steers two attached, darkly silhouetted agricultural vehicles in front of a pastoral scene and vintage ads for more efficient tractors in the Oklahoma City artist's “You, Me and Abundance.”
Even more directly related to the Dust Bowl is “The Strength of Life,” a collage of a banjo-picking farmer and his family, standing in front of a row of old windmills and ominous clouds of dirt.
A French man and woman “Opt for the Outdoors” by riding their bicycles to the country, packing picnic goodies, and their dog in a basket, oblivious to, or choosing to ignore, the World War II bombers overhead.
Another work portrays a family, listening to the “Fruitful Banter” of an old-time radio in the kitchen.
Referring to Duong's Vietnamese ancestry is the show's title work, “Hello, Goodbye,” which depicts a family riding a boat past palm trees and green, terraced hills, perhaps leaving their native land behind.
More abstract and contemporary is her collage, “Expand My Mind to the Unfamiliar,” of a woman perching, precariously, atop a ribbon-draped structure on the beach, tended by her husband.
Combining new and old nicely, too, is “No Matter Where I Am,” a collage of a young lady with an exaggerated, spiky, Statue of Liberty-like headdress who sits on top of a rickety stand of chairs, while her husband serenades her with a Victrola in the forest.
Full of inventive and whimsically appealing work, Duong's show is recommended during its run.
— John Brandenburg