Fort Works Art hasn’t been open since March. And Rambo Elliot wanted to show her hometown crowd her range, all that she could do as an artist. She was more than a one-trick pony, more than just singer Leon Bridges’ official photographer.
So for my Texas, her upcoming exhibition at Fort Works Art, Rambo took over all of the empty gallery spaces, upstairs and down. And she built what amounts to a “Welcome to My World” installation. It’s stocked with ornate furniture, a weathered front porch like the one she grew up on in Oklahoma, vintage phones, portraits of friends and musicians and fashion models in big gilt frames, oriental rugs, a short video and her own personal soundtrack.
Plus, there’s some mulch to stand in and selfie yourself. So it’s more than your typical gallery show. Think quirky furniture showroom or elaborate stage set. If you’re familiar with Rambo’s work from her extensive Instagram account, you know what we’re talking about.
Starting in 2015, with her black-and-white photos of her friend Bridges, Rambo consciously framed him as a classic soul singer. He — and Rambo’s photos — look like everything has stepped out of a classic film noir or it’s straight from the jacket cover of a ’50s jazz LP: broody and sexy with touches of grit, whimsy and flash.
But in the years since those images hit Rolling Stone and The New York Times, Rambo has gotten color-drenched fashion shots into Vogue and GQ (often with a wheat field or an old barn in the background, keeping things Texas funky). She’s worked with brands like Stetson and the Kimbell Art Museum. She directed Bridges’ music videos and her own short film, The Bridge, about mental health care.
So there’s lots of old-school Hollywood glamor here, off-the-wall and on-the-wall playfulness and some down-home family snaps.
You’ll want to stick around awhile to examine things.
Fortunately, there are all of those couches.