issue # 72, June 30, 2006 Austin, TX

I. Austin: Ursula Dávila-Villa Interviews Yoshua Okón,    Hitten Switches at Okay Mountain, Creative Music    Workshop’s Little City Little Series: Tetuzi Akiyama and    Kurt Newman & Daphane Park’s The True Originals at    Volitant Gallery
II. San Antonio: Chris Sauter: Pioneer at Finesilver Gallery     & Janaki Lennie at Sala Diaz
III. New American Talent: A Review of Arthouse's New      American Talent 21 & Interviews with NAT Artists      Rebecca Ward and Meggie Chou
IV. Elsewhere: Robyn O'Neil: As They Fall at

V. Readers Write Back:
A Letter from Hills Snyder, Ebony      Porter Writes from Australia & Lora Reynolds Reports      on Art Basel
VI. Announcements: June 30 - July 13, 2006

I. Austin: Ursula Dávila-Villa Interviews Yoshua Okón, Hitten Switches at Okay Mountain, Creative Music Workshop’s Little City Little Series: Tetuzi Akiyama and Kurt Newman & Daphane Park’s The True Originals at Volitant Gallery

Ursula Dávila-Villa Interviews Yoshua Okón

“For some La Panadería represented a gallery space. But for me, for over eight years it represented a life-project.” — Yoshua Okón, 2005

Yoshua Okón is a Mexican artist living and working in both Mexico City and Los Angeles. His work can be characterized as a series of sociological experiments executed for the camera (and the artist). Through his videos, he blends staged situations, documentation and improvisation to question habitual perceptions of reality, morality and power . While living in Mexico City during the 1990s, Okón co-directed the gallery La Panadería (1994-2002). The space began as a collaborative project between artists of a 90s generation in Mexico City. La Panadería was envisioned as generator for new ideas and dialogue and provided an exhibition space for contemporary art in Mexico.

On June 22, Ursula Dávila-Villa spoke with Yoshua Okón while he was visiting Austin for Artistic License, a series of conversations with contemporary artists at the Blanton Museum of Art. Excerpts from this conversation follow.

...might be good
: Let’s discuss your perspective of what was the 90's in Mexico, specifically what were the implications for your generation and the place of La Panadería in the context of these years?

Yoshua Okón
: For most of the artists that are part of my generation, the 90s were years of rapid changes, and most of the time it was difficult to adapt to this situation. It is important to mention that we experienced first-hand the new living conditions that came with NAFTA. For many of us the idea of selling our work was not part of the picture in the early 90's, much less the possibility of exhibiting our work in national museums, and even less showing in international art spaces. What resulted from this atmosphere was a communal desire to create and find circuits to exhibit, discuss, and engage with other artists, critics, etc. By the end of the 90's the situation [political, economical, and social] was so different that it was difficult to “catch-up” with the new set of relationships. Mexico was now on the spotlight of the international art community. La Panadería served as a platform for new ideas and a space for dialogue, at a time when there were very few spaces that engaged with contemporary art in Mexico… By the end of the 90s the institutional culture was already changing, La Colección was up-and-running, new and old galleries were looking for “new talents” and began attending contemporary art fairs, and Gabriel Orozco returned to Mexico. I think that the climax of this frenzy moment came with the P.S.1 exhibition [P.S.1, Mexico City: an Exhibition about the Exchange Rates of Bodies and Values , 2002].

: You mentioned before that leaving Mexico after La Panadería closed was beneficial to your artistic practice, but the years in Mexico and the intense work towards the gallery space became more than just an art project; it became a life-project for you. In retrospective and in relation to La Panadería, could you briefly describe the positive and not so positive results of the 90's transformation in Mexico?

: What I find interesting about the 90's [in Mexico City] is the context… There were artists as individuals, but there was also a whole cultural dynamic... [I see] Art as a social practice. Artists do not exist in isolation. People, places and situations can be abstracted from their original context when analyzed within a historical framework. But in the everyday practice these [interactions] occur more organically, and artists do not exist in isolation, on the contrary we are part of a social and artistic context. La Panadería provided this [organic] context… [La Panadería] found a significant audience within a younger generation of artists [some from the late 90s and others from the early 1990s] … it also attracted some individual artists from the 70s [generation] that shared a sensibility with a younger crowd… Something important [for my generation] is that due to the lack of an international art context within Mexico, [at the time] when we started La Panadería, we were really focused on the process and not the results of our collaborative efforts. This has been different for a younger generation. [Younger] artists are used to immediate rewards and thus [they] are more focused on the result rather than the process. During 2000-2001 Mexico was on the spotlight of the international art market and there was a major interest for Mexico from international institutions. But there was [also] a sudden sense of anxiety and the collaborative efforts between artists were lost, changing into a constant competition… for a couple of years there was a persistent need for results and not a careful consideration of the process and the context.

: You have been living between Mexico City and Los Angeles for the past few years. You briefly mention before that you are excited about the present conditions within Mexico. What is your vision of the present situation in the city?

: Lately much of what happened during 2000 and 2001 has been digested by the Mexican art world and the “new” conditions and dynamics are part of the every day practice. There is a new context and we are learning how to operate within this structure. Another important thing is that young generations of Mexican artists [most of them are still in art school] have now understood that as an artist you have to work hard every day, and that most of the time there is no immediate reward… There’s good energy and new dynamics are occurring in Mexico… the anxiety of the early 2000s is not so present [anymore]. The glorification of the 90's is over and there are interesting things happening in the city.

: Some years have passed since you stopped working in a context of constant collaboration, like you did in La Panadería. With the recent publication of the book La Pandería, 1994-2002 I feel that you had the opportunity to examine the project from the outside and re-evaluate what La Panadería meant for you and for Mexico. Do you see the possibility of engaging again with new projects based on collaboration, and if so, where would you envision these possibilities?

: I am really excited and interested in spending more time in Mexico and exploring the possibilities of collective and collaborative projects. In other words, to engage with projects that can exist outside the market’s logic… I do not see the ‘artist’ as a unique individual that works in confinement inside the studio. I am more interested in understanding our position as artists as members of a community where we are influenced by our surrounding context and thus we are part of a constant dialogue – local and international… I have been seriously thinking how, where and when to invest energy in a new space based on collaboration. Self-consciously I have not done this in LA. First because [when I left Mexico] I needed to step away from La Panadería since it had been a nine-year long collaborative project. Los Angeles provided me with space to engage and think about my individual work. On the other hand, every time that you commit to collaborative endeavors there is certain degree of responsibility and commitment involved. In my case, I was never certain if LA was going to be a long-term situation or not, and therefore I couldn’t commit... I frequently travel, as we all do in this field, but I do see Mexico as a possible place where I can [again] invest energy and work with others in new projects based on collaboration.

: Let’s talk about the idea of collaboration and authorship in your own work. An interesting characteristic of your videos is that the projected images of individuals performing for the camera invite the audience to think about the actors as well as the person behind the camera, in this case you. Let’s take Poli IV (which is part of the series of Mexican policemen performing different activities for the camera and is on view at the Blanton Museum of Art) for example. At first one wonders about the policemen and the portrait he constructs of himself by dancing a silly routine and playing with his baton in front of the camera. But as one engages with the work the question of who is behind the camera comes to the forefront and challenges the audience’s experience when facing the video. How do you perceive collaboration and what is the level of compromise you take while working with the actors? Also, and related to this, what is your position towards the idea of authorship?

: Well, I do see my videos as a collaborative work between the actors I hire, and myself. I normally come to them [the actors] and offer a “package”: an economic remuneration in exchange for a performance. But whenever I work with them there is a high level of improvisation. The camera glues together the different levels of creation that come from different ends: the actors’ and mine. Here is where I see the collaboration; it is like a pin-pong table. I throw an idea and something else comes back… it is a constant process of negotiation. I normally start with a clear vision of what the result might be, but there are no expectations on what the process should be. Sometimes the actors go further than I expect and those are the moments where I think that the creative energy comes from both sides… In terms of authorship, [I think] the cinema industry has a structure that has adopted the idea of collaboration and direction successfully through credit lines. Unfortunately this is not the case in the art world. There is always the need for the “creator” and the need for an individual author… Galleries, press, and historians normally search for one voice… the idea of collectives has come and go and it has not been completely absorbed by the system… Through my work I intend to question and deconstruct these structures. The work is self-reflective, and problematizes the idea of the “author” as an individual artist by evidencing the process of collaboration between the actors and myself.

: The concept of power is implicit in your work, and it is intertwined between different realms of social interaction: the power of money, the power of class, the power of structures and institutions. This is a complicated set of relationships. Could you address this in greater length?

: The people that I work with are not necessarily aware of the collaborative process taking place in order to create artwork (though some are, but it might not be important for them). They are just playing by the rules [of capitalism] as we all do in the everyday life… [Situations] when by investing time and work one can receive a monetary compensation occur everyday… the same goes for the monetary compensation I offer to the participants of my videos… But what happens when the finished video is shown or is acquired by a museum, or a gallery in which I appear as the author? One of the intents of the work is to evidence how the everyday transactions and the power-relationships we all engage with have some degree of implicit exploitation, and that we all play this game but we might not realize this.

: You talked about exploitation, transactions, and power. While discussing these concepts through your work, you bring to the audience’s attention the reality of social interactions. This might seem a cold analysis of the present situation we face as members of any given community. On the other hand, at the beginning of this conversation you also mention the roll of improvisation in your work, and how creativity normally comes from both ends –actors and yourself –adding an organic layer of interpretation. What is your understanding of the relationship between these two constant characteristics of your work?

: I would like to reference Santiago Sierra. His work has a direct relation to Marxist theory and evidences how economic transactions determine almost everything. Through my work I argue that, though I embrace this idea [Marxism] by making it apparent, I also think there are other factors that serve as motivation to perform any duty [in this case performed for the camera]. Normally persons are more complex, their motivation goes beyond an economical reward. This is how we operate in our everyday life. The actors that collaborate with me find enough elements that serve as motivation. It may start as an economical reward, but as the projects evolves more things come into play, like illusion, or the freedom to be someone else in front of a camera… It feels like a game, the process is very lucid. As adults we always perform in a certain way everyday. Facing a camera creates a sense of illusion. The camera allows an imaginary reality, where we can explore aspects of our selves through fiction.  

Ursula Davila-Villa
completed her MA in Museum Studies at New York University in 2005. In recent years, she has collaborated with The Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, El Museo del Barrio, Art in General and with artist Cai Guo-Qiang at Cai Studio in New York. She currently lives in Austin and works at The Blanton Museum of Art as Assistant Curator of Latin American Art.

Hitten Switches
at Okay Mountain

On view through July 1, 2006

Corinna Kirsch

Okay Mountain presents Hitten Switches, a traveling exhibition showing the products of a collaboration between Michael Sieben of Austin and Travis Millard of Los Angeles. Over the span of a few years, Sieben and Millard sent drawings back and forth to each other via the relatively old-fashioned postal service. Along with this project, the gallery exhibits works that were, for obvious reasons, not created through the pen-pal relationship: paintings on wood and a mixed-media covered wall.

There are no labels or tags to attribute an author to the works. Also, none of the works are titled. This anonymity gives a clue to one goal of the collaboration: a non-hierarchical structure between the artists. The inherent inadmission of labels makes a difficult task of deciphering who’s who and what’s what. Even if you do figure out the subtle differences between the two, it does not matter. The gallery's presentation emphasizes the repetitive qualities of the collaboration by hanging the works identically, one after the other, along the walls in a series.

The materials are simple: various ink pens, house paint and pencil. Although done fairly inexpensively, the process of creation belies the materials with an emphasis on stylization through intricately detailed characters. This emphasis on even insignificant features through stylization governs an authorial care for the figures presented in the works. The characters are mostly human, usually grossly overweight and sometimes with skeletal faces. Many works have text to accompany the characters, attracting attention to the works’ humor, but since there is no narrative chronology, each work is presented as a singular episode and stands on its own.

The humor is created through the juxtaposition of puns and pop-culture references, i.e. "You discussed me" and "You the man." The plight of these characters, caught somewhere between living and dying, wearing skeletal faces and gazing with a sort of drunken lethargy, like their objects of visual attention, are not that important at all. For many figures, their gaze does not fall upon anything within the image, but on to something only they can see beyond the picture frame.

Millard uses pencil, adding ghostlike detail to such works as the free-standing wall planted in the middle of the gallery floor, forcing you to creep up within inches of it. The presentation of the flat cartoons enlarged from their hand-size scale on the gallery walls, onto this structure, accentuates Sieben and Millard's characters as essentially two-dimensional. Regardless of their scale, and even when they wrap around the corners of the wall, their presence remains glued onto the surface as two-dimensonal entities. This sculptural addition is unnecessary since the installation already emphasizes the drawings' flatness as two-dimensional objects framed on the wall.

The second part of the show is of the artist's book, found inside a first-class envelope given to the first 300 visitors. Although supplementary to the show, the book provides a more fitting context for the drawings. Rather than presented as distant images, trapped behind frames, flipping through the pages adds to the recognition of the time spent layering ink on top of layers of ink.

Corinna Kirsch likes pop-up books, European revolutions and Lee Hazelwood.

Creative Music Workshop’s Little City Little Series: Tetuzi Akiyama and Kurt Newman
A review of Akiyama and Newman's June 9 Performance

Dorothy Meiburg

If there’s an icon for the explosion of bourgeois pop in the twentieth century, it is the guitar. Easily portable, playable, and, most critically, amplifiable, the guitar lent itself to the club culture that sustained the music. Still omnipresent in today’s aural landscape, guitars so often supply or double melody lines that we’re accustomed to giving them priority in our listening.

Surprising, then, that the original free improvisers – near-ascetics who defected from the ways and means of commercial pop in the sixties – should have retained this most mainstream of instruments as a prominent voice for their new ideas. Was it really possible to divorce the guitar from all the musical idioms it had come to symbolize?

From the inception of the new form in the 60's, guitarist Derek Bailey was central to the development of free improvisation. Schooled in jazz and rock idioms, Bailey explored the palette of sounds and actions that were neglected by his era’s music. Free improv movements arose concurrently in jazz, so the need to distinguish the form that Bailey and others practiced gave rise to a theory-addled name: non-idiomatic free improvisation. The decision to eschew received forms opened the door for more genuinely collaborative, non-hierarchical relationships between musicians in performance. In free improv, there’s no “I’ll play the melody, you back me up.” Instant composition requires musicians to prioritize only the directives they perceive from immediate events.

Though every performance of non-idiomatic free improv is technically unique, patterns do emerge. In its skittish avoidance of idiomatic material (be it rock’ n’ roll phrasing, bebop bass patterns, romantic chord progressions, and really anything else that can be pinpointed and named) the approach risks becoming a signature sound unto itself rather than an aesthetically liberating mode. It’s worth asking whether today’s non-idiomatic free improvisers are doing much that Bailey and his colleagues weren’t already doing in the sixties. If you’re playing straight-up guitar, for instance, the range of possibilities is finite, and a given performance will often span that range; the effect is something like an aural anatomy of the guitar.

Nonetheless, the philosophical and collaborative advantages of an orthodox approach to free improv have not diminished with time. Austin’s Kurt Newman is a practitioner of this approach, and in a performance sponsored by the Creative Music Workshop at Little City on June 9, his ornery-sounding plunks and whees contrasted nicely with silvery passages by the evening’s guest star, Tetuzi Akiyama. Their acoustic duo produced hybrid ideas in the manner of engaged conversation between dissimilar people. Free improv makes this kind of conversation possible.

Lately, some free improvisers have reintroduced the idioms of the past as subjects for new work. Akiyama hails from Tokyo, where he has been a major figure in experimental music for years. Known for a subtle music, full of space and silence, he represented an alternative to Tokyo Noise. However, in 2003, an Akiyama LP surprised everyone. Don’t Forget To Boogie is an homage to the guitars of American blues rock (even snatching its title unaltered from a 1966 Canned Heat album). Akiyama’s paean to the mode benefits from sheer enthusiasm as well as the openness and appetite for exploration that characterize free improv. Experience in working outside of received forms keeps Akiyama from relying on cliches; his repetitive bass figures feel hypnotic, not just groovy. Beneath the glow of Little City’s monumental Sun-Ra portrait, Akiyama looked blissful during the solo electric guitar set that closed the evening. A slight figure under a battered fedora, the guitarist swayed gradually to the left in the course of a musical phrase, then returned to his moorings. There was a lyrical quality to his playing: he seemed to base his phrases on the duration of a breath, as a singer would do. Long, deliberate melodic architectures spanned the waves of bass. If the last set’s hour and a half of shimmering sound erred on the side of excess, the hepcats weren’t complaining.

Dorothy Meiburg lives in Austin where she writes essays and poems and works in a public library.

Daphane Park’s The True Originals at Volitant Gallery
On view through August 12, 2006

Cord Bynum

Daphane Park’s The True Originals, a series of twelve mixed media works now showing at the recently opened Volitant Gallery, presents a cast of fairy tale characters as diverse as the artist’s wide range of experiences and influences. As a student at Indiana University and, later, the University of Texas, Park embarked on a series of travels that led her from the suburbs of Indianapolis to the jungles of Central and South America and the Etruscan ruins of Italy. Park’s extended immersions within a variety of cultures and natural environments inspired her to explore such topics as Mayan cosmology, shamanism, map-making, natural history, Greek and Roman mythology, and utopian philosophy. Considering Park’s adaptive lifestyle and evolving bricolage of interests, it is no surprise that she presents The True Originals as a mythological “meditation on transformation.”

Park’s mythical order consists of an array of fantastic mutant hybrids often adorned in stylish vestments such as flowing robes, corsets and other haute couture items. Formed from various components of human, zoological, and vegetal anatomy, the resulting creatures suggest a bizarre evolutionary amalgamation of biological structures and synthetic embellishments—perhaps not too dissimilar from nature’s own eclectic process. Park’s written descriptions of each creature (provided for the viewer) assign a level of agency to the character’s transmutations, and, overall, she posits her creations as heroic individuals striving to attain communal harmony—or at least communication—within a perpetually fluctuating mythological biosphere. The accessible, quasi-poetic supplements generally help to delineate her imaginary universe, if only by offering insight into the conceptual impetus behind each character.

One interesting creature, Shape Shiftress (2005), features a makeshift head of furry petals and anemone feelers set atop a body of eight cylindrical limbs—roughly resembling tube worms—that emerge as legs from a pattern of sleek dresses. Whereas the dynamic forms of Shape Shiftress convey an impression of movement, many of the other works capture the creatures in frozen tableaus set amid loosely defined landscapes or the unseen depths of the ocean. As one of the most detailed and “finished” works, The Good Listener (2005) depicts a somewhat endearing fur-ball creature endowed with a large human ear and a feather tail as it stands atop a crusted, fissuring surface suggestive of volcanic topography and its brewing transformation. Other characters, such as Heldra (2005), a “Bold Beauty” with a mane and breast formed from octopus tentacles, display an adumbrated, unfinished state of becoming. Park’s collages of glossy, photographic images detailed with both fine and coarse brushstrokes of paint literalize the assimilative process of her work and offer an array of textures. However, some pieces, such as Eryxsimona (2005), fail to achieve an exciting or cohesive fusion and remain unconvincing. Park’s most successful works place the figures upon simple, ambiguous backgrounds of mottled or blended color. In Dragon Blaster (2005), the flowing red drapes of a bird-headed creature cut a sharp but fluid form across the monochrome parchment paper—like ink poured into water—to create one of the most striking images of the series.

In line with Park’s exploration of transformation, the various aquatic life-forms imagined in her visual and poetic schema highlight the metaphorical significance of water as a pervasive substance in constant flux and communication. In discussing her work, Park writes: “We are a part of the constant cycle of water moving through, in and around the planet and through our bodies and back. We too have the power to transform, evolve, transcend, change our condition and care for the world that provides.” Park’s poetic idealism may fall on deaf ears for cynical viewers, but the artist’s evident affection for her characters suggests a whole-hearted embrace of the transformations that life—especially a life of travel, contact, and exchange—provokes. With such a mixed bag of creatures and effects, one has to conduct his or her own travels to search out the select characters within Park’s universe that possess the resonance and animation to achieve—or even approach—a status of mythical proportions.

Cord Bynum studies art history at The University of Texas at Austin.

The Blanton Museum of Art
The University of Texas at Austin
MLK at Congress
Austin, Texas

tel. 512.471.7324

Okay Mountain
1312 E. Cesar Chavez, Suite B
Aiustin, Texas

Volitant Gallery
320 Congress Avenue, Suite 100
Austin, Texas

tel. 512.236.1240

II. San Antonio: Chris Sauter: Pioneer at Finesilver Gallery & Janaki Lennie at Sala Diaz

Chris Sauter: Pioneer at Finesilver Gallery
On view through August 26, 2006

Kurt Dominick Mueller

Chris Sauter’s first full-scale solo exhibition at Finesilver San Antonio seems long overdue. Up for harvest, viewers encounter an accomplished field of work, in a range of media, thoughtfully-sowed and masterfully cultivated. Taking as its locus San Antonio’s Guenther dynasty and that family’s legacy, Southtown’s looming white castle, Pioneer extends Sauter’s Farm to Market theming and gives it the expansive treatment of his Big Bang show at Galerie Valérie Cueto, Paris. At Finesilver, Sauter assembles powerful sculptures, photographs, drawings and a video projection. But a disparate, dispersed installation, which spatially rhymes with his open plains topic, leads one to believe that Pioneer may run dry.

The presumed link is in the narrative: the trailblazing tale of Carl Hilman Guenther. Reopening his Fredericksburg mill on the San Antonio River in 1854, a sesquicentennial later his influence is broady spread: seven generations of children, baking-mix products in 22 states, a Sheraton and a touristy breakfast joint in his former home. This is perfect fodder for Sauter who frequently explores the symbiosis of nature and culture, the networked distribution of power and landscapes of time. And all the more so in this case, as Guenther’s parapet-crowned mill literally towers over the artistic real estate of Sauter’s hometown.

Likewise, it is the Pioneer Flour Mill— as a form and an image—that plays a starring role. In Divide and Conquer (Guenther Family Tree) (2006), a model version is surrogate dad, cleaving into a constellation of miniature silver silos. Each is both a child and a commercial threshold, a point plotted and poised on a map of a metastasizing dominion. Photographic works make this villain/hero two-facing even more apparent. Manifest Destiny (2006) depicts the tower at night, like a prison watchtower, and Manifest Destiny (Ivory Tower) stalwart beneath cloud cover. Beyond the dichotomy, both images also attest to a pervading steadfastness, best captured in Empire (2006), an eight-hour projection of the mill under heavy skies. Taken from a view that absents any sign of urban San Antonio, the image reads timeless. A persistent if not permanent fortress, it comes into the present through slight billowing of an American flag.

Pioneer , though, is much more than a critical portrait of Guenther A&M, and by extension not a telling of another familiar agrarian superpower. Sauter is digging deeper, into a pan-historical cross-section of circuits of supply and demand, civilization and spoil, good and evil. Subsequently, the beginnings go ancient: the family tree, but also wheat testicles, an Empire-like glittery drawing of hill-top kingdom-come, and, even more poignantly, a dining room table set surfaced with the topography of ancient Mesopotamia. In mapping what is present day Iraq, the tabletop smartly elides political didacticism, inviting all to break bread, to share implication as being descendents from the same cradle.

Similar collapses—of time, scale and address—occur in Plow Flag (2006). A sculptural tour-de-force, it reprises Sauter’s other trademark act through an immense, draped American flag. Excising strips of the stars and reassembling them into a plow, which is then set at tilling the stripes, Sauter beautifully places an agricultural metaphor to the contemporary partisan terrain. It is an affecting statement of self-consumption, remedial and hopeful, but also limited by a rectangle of self-containment.

Entrenched in the past and a seemingly fixed present, very few things in Pioneer go somewhere beyond their gallery presence, however strong: A single wheat power line structure looks abandoned on one of the wooden bench pedestals. The lone exception is an odd photograph, Crops (2004), that zooms in on an exurb development spurting up amongst America’s real power crop: corn. Otherwise, trapped in a historicist prism, Sauter’s mythic-biological ruminating comes off in Barney-esque blocks, but without a filmic map to hold it all together. For an exceptional show so much about connectivity, Sauter’s Pioneer, at best, charges individual parcels of space; but also runs the risk of isolation.

Kurt Dominick Mueller
is an MFA student at The University of Texas at Austin.

Janaki Lennie
at Sala Diaz

On view through August 20

Anjali Gupta

In recent paintings by Houston-based Janaki Lennie, the urban landscape is filtered through the antediluvian lens of the sublime, which produces images that are disquieting but by no means entirely dystopian. Lennie constructs a hybrid realm—one neither wholly natural nor artificial—and positions the viewer as both potentially omnipotent and, in a way, impotent. These works are not about revelation but acceptance, and the artist does make a strong visual case for the latter.

In his seminal work A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, (1757), Edmund Burke represented human encounters with the sublime as potentially terrifying experiences. Painters, specifically those who employ landscape, have long explored the rift between human beings and the natural world. Such references are evident in Lennie’s two small suites of work currently on view at Sala Diaz. A hyper-realistic magic hour palette, however, lends her landscapes a decidedly contemporary and cinematic feel, as if we are viewing the architectonic bone structures of the urban world for the first time. This phenomenon is heightened by a careful skew in perspective, which adds to an overall hallucinatory effect: we are privy to neither the foreground nor the horizon line. Wide fields of slightly acerbic hues—muted, off-key greens, beiges and mauves—dominate each small canvas. Compositional elements—power lines, street lamps and tree branches—hug the edge of each painting. Without positional reference, the overall effect is a liminal perspective, much like staring at the sky while lying on the bed of a truck plowing through the smog-filled streets of Houston at dusk.

A second series of paintings depicts small groups of anonymous human figures traipsing (rather than floating) upon barren fields of snowy white. Here the artist plays just as much with scale as perspective. The figures are minute, isolated in a small portion of the frame yet each outstretched limb is discernible, as is their deliberate formation. The only clues Lennie lends in terms of perspective are the carefully placed shadows of each figure, which position them temporally rather than geographically, imparting the series with the same unresolved ethos as her landscapes. And while the unresolved positioning of the viewer is somewhat in keeping with traditional notions of the sublime, the celestial seems more than metaphysically distant in Lennie’s work. The works feel illusory yet synthetic. In the landscapes, the sun itself is shrouded in otherworldly colors, its light diffused by anodized haze. This suggests that the artist is not merely rearticulating the art historical past: rather, she is hinting at a mediated present—one in which beauty can be found in the least likely of places regardless of circumstance.

Anjali Gupta is the Editor of Artlies.

Finesilver Gallery
816 Camaron, No. 1.2
San Antonio, Texas


Sala Diaz
517 Stieren
San Antonio, Texas

tel. 210.535.1079

III. New American Talent: A Review of Arthouse's New American Talent 21 & Interviews with NAT Artists Rebecca Ward and Meggie Chou

A Review of Arthouse's New American Talent 21
On view through August 20, 2006

James Bae

We all think we know what juried exhibitions contain. Ponderously long, exacerbating titles. Works that look like other works, reinvested with youth’s magic horn playing over well-meaning, though essentially fruitless impositions of “but, but…” Regardless, New American Talent begins well enough. Vertices of colored duct tape intermittently broken by lines of white adorn the front window alcove of Arthouse, a Daniel Buren-esque opening to the 21st variation of this annual exhibition. But the opening panache of NAT 21, Tape 5 (2006) (see above image) by Rebecca Ward, certainly an artist of early promise, also supplies the show’s warning coda: at times resplendent with the marks of talent, the show is equally ballasted on the flipside by products of sheer banality. Mark the opening word of NAT 21’s title.

One can also replace the word “new” with “eidetic,” an impulse of pure visual manufacture, that, in this show comprised (mainly) of younger artists, can tellingly inform a viewer which established artists are on the kens of those exhibiting just as much as the inherent creativity resident in each of the younger artists themselves. Visually, Ward’s work has an immediate reference to that of Glaswegian artist Jim Lambie’s, who’s painstakingly fabricated Zobop floors and steps are the paterfamilias of this color-and-tape devotee. This, however, is the NAT 21 at its proscribing best. One can clearly see the artistic indebtedness of Zobop, though Ward clearly has struck upon a strategy that suits her talents best: the shift of veridical movement of the viewer to modulate the performative element of the piece itself. The draping, three-dimensionality of her tapes hanging in tangents define an architectural focus, a latticed juxtaposition limning Lambie and the spatial manipulations of Olafur Eliasson. There’s enough separation from both artists, however, to keep a continuing eye on her work.

As in other juried shows, there are hits and then there are misses. The ethic here implies derivation as a necessary evil, for works that are almost there; but not quite. Tom Hollenback’s Sluice (2005), a plexiglass and steel freestanding work, resides somewhere in between Dan Graham’s glass pavilions and a rejected commission by Olafur Eliasson Studio. Add in some elements of uber-Juddian Minimalism for context, and you have what amounts to a rather nice looking closet for Mobelform. The long shadows cast by Minimalism and its conceptual reiterations play a substantial role in NAT, with some of the strengths of the show coming in the forms of these variations on a theme. Christine Lee’s Indecision (2005), a small concrete, paper, and tape pseudo-architectural structure resting on the front room floor like a miniature, double-ended grand piano, and Rebecca Holland’s Pink Sheets, Large (2005), two 47 by 47 inches of transparent plates of cast sugar leaning against the gallery walls, have quiet strength. There is something also in the Teutonic austerity of Polly Lanning Sparrow’s Recto-Verso (3 configurations) (2006) and Andrea Myer’s Mirror (2005), two works utilizing fabric, acrylic, and wood elements, the hallmark of European dishabille, against the floor and walls to some interesting effects. You can imagine these works being shown somewhere like Daniel Buchholz’s gallery under larger names.

With the inclusion of multiple videos in the NAT 21, curator Aimee Chang states her view that the bastard son of art is indeed not dead. The cumulative effect of the medium on display suggests that the field is simply being slowly killed by those with access to low-grade DV cameras, downloaded editing software, and a fortuitous gleam in their eyes. With focus in the art world changing more to “films” than “videos,” these are surely videos. Out of this mix, the interesting matter is the seemingly archaic production methods of the better works. Tim Harrington’s The Flood, a black and white short of paper cutouts, is strangely reminiscent of a Murnau film crossed with a Kentridge-like dream. Cat Clifford’s stop-motion, black and white film, It took him twice as long to walk his fence line; he wrote poems ( 2005), where flying birds create and erase (and ultimately defining) the visual field of the work, again not unlike Kentridge, is the melancholic high point of the show. Other videos are not quite as strong. David Herbert’s Iron Man (2005), shows the artist air-guitaring in trefoil editing to the Black Sabbath classic. It’s funny, it’s gimmicky; it’s been done before. LA Couple’s Brunch, Dinner, Popsicle (2005), detailing the construction of a two by four platformed eating area and –voila!– the subsequent eating of food by the artistic duo, is like a public service announcement for why Fluxus shouldn’t be taught to undergraduate art students. Traci TulliusSimmer Down 2, a back and forth shot on a barge floating by a hazy Statue of Liberty, with the dialogue of a person on the brink of cloistered imbecility, almost makes up for the lack in the rest of the NAT 21 video ensemble, though this is asking too much.

Two-dimensional works can often be counted upon to be highlights of any show, and the case stands in NAT 21. Following a patter of discovered and scrutinized forms of retrievalism of myths practiced by recent artists, Tim Harrington’s Adam and Eve Against the Animals and Jonah and the Whale (both 2005), small, breathily watercolored tales of the more ignominous moments of allegorical identity, are rife with humor of a dark kind: society being one scatological leap from being thrown back into a Hobbesian State of Nature. A campy cohort to Harrington are Karen Leibowitz’s paintings, Reviving the Bird (from the Phoenix Series) and Study for “Fueling the Fire,” Turning Away (both 2005). The former shows a woman in tribal garb about to reincarnate a peacock-ish bird, seemingly more inebriated than after-lived, with a white substance in a golden spoon; the latter shows the literal incarnation of a fiery bird leaping from a flame, like an eagle from the hood of a 1987 Trans-Am. This is over the top schmaltz, not without brilliance. Hope is the artist is in on the irony of the affair. Photography is surely a weak point of the show, with much on display too apparently like Becher school photography (Christoph Gielen) or Jeff Wall outtakes (Benajamin B. Stern). The winner, however, for the Most Unwarranted Imposition of Random Japanese Women enacting Random Events in Photographs of Gentrified Los Angeles goes to Phil Chang’s Mayumi, Leaving A Fingernail Imprint, Echo Park, Los Angeles ( 2005) and Ami, Fogging a Window, MacArthur Park, Los Angeles ( 2005). What, Yoko Ono was booked for the week?

This forced strangeness in Chang’s work is a nadir of the show. However, aesthetic strangeness of a quieter vain can be found in the works of Lori Nelson, Adrian Esparza, and Ashley Blalock, in various ways. Nelson’s Teen Fiction (2006), an image of a young woman smoking (or exhaling steam?) in a forest, the palette underlined by dark hues and an unsettling, Nabis-style mottle, radiates with unresolved, psychological tension. With the simple use of string and nails and basic geometric sqaures and rectangle, Esparaza creates a deconstructed German flag of sorts with a focal point in Hot Spots (2005), a brilliantly matter of fact piece. Crafted out of a small crochet, the double self-portrait effect of Blalock’s Shadow Self (2005), with light streaming through the negative open spaces of the knitting, incorporates matters of self, replication, and insinuation of woman’s craft in one of the show’s most calmly erudite and disquieting works.

With question of quantity over quality in the affirmative for the former in NAT 21, an iron will is needed to offset the possibility of waning interest. As is art, however, not everything is meant to please, subjectivity being dependent on one’s own catalogue of senses: a viewer must rely on their own choices to inform what interests them, and what does not, and move on. Kurt Dominick Mueller, who manipulated the exit signs of the Arthouse space in his Four Modified Exit Signs (Stay/Here/Fora/While) (2005) gives the show such a reminding joinder; the countervalue is you can also leave when you want. This might be a strategy worth keeping in mind. Like Meggie Chou’s Incubation Machine No. 2.1 , (2006) what you see is what you get –even when you are not quite sure what it is. Is it a fostering of nature, or the delimiting of it, much like the question of whether arts education is leading to artistic homogeneity or a crop of budding young artist? At some point, looking at Chou’s mobile structure of potted, tube-fed young plants, I thought of both Andrea Zittel and the hydroponic inventiveness of young Rhodes Scholar, Bill Clinton. You ask me what Chou’s work is, and I can tell you I don’t know. I like it, and find it one of the finer pieces in the show. But if you ask what this show actually means for the future, I can only tell you that I didn’t inhale.

James Bae could be described as a traveler.

An Interview with Rebecca Ward
Conducted June 28, 2006

…might be good: You have two installations currently on view—one at The Donkey Show in Tape and Float, the other at Arthouse as part of New American Talent 21. Though your materials are largely the same in both installations, and though both works deal significantly with the play of two and three-dimensional forms, you really seem to be addressing two very distinct problems in these installations. Would you agree with that assessment?

Rebecca Ward: The two installations naturally address two very different sets of problems. While working, I expected the outcome of the pieces to have more similarities, simply because I was producing them at the same time. On the other hand, the results are drastically different based solely on the architecture itself. Pre-existing lines dictate a large part of my work, and that's why the two spaces achieved such different results. The Donkey Show piece ended up being defined largely by the space itself because I found the structure and framework of the house interesting and played off of those elements. Conversely, at Arthouse, my work was able to define the space in ways that windows, walls, the ceiling, etc. couldn’t.

: Sure, but The Donkey Show installation still strikes me as the more challenging project of the two. First, since you’re working with white tape on a white wall at The Donkey Show, there are very few parts to complicate or compromise the piece, which is to say that there are no “distractions” or diversions within the installation. In the Arthouse installation, for example, one could consider the way you’re working with color, or the way that you engage the world outside the gallery with your use of Arthouse’s Congress Street window or other smaller components. Not so at The Donkey Show, where the viewer is left with a concentrated, decidedly perceptual encounter that is experienced as a cohesive unity.

RW: I don’t know that The Donkey Show piece is more challenging, but making a piece that was completely white was something I always wanted to do. I did it with a bit of hesitancy because I feel that color is crucial to way I interact with an environment. However, I couldn’t see large amounts of color working at The Donkey Show. I wanted it to feel less intrusive and I think white is more inviting. Making an installation with one color, the viewer is forced to examine the work in a different way. It becomes more about line, geometry, illusion and form. I find that color is somewhat distracting from these elements. This is not necessarily a bad thing; I still prefer to use color in my work. However, I wanted a piece that would focus solely on issues that didn’t relate to color. I wanted the interaction to be less of an aesthetic endeavor and more of challenge for a viewer moving through the space.

What I particularly like about white on white walls is that it is subtly disorienting. Watching people run unexpectedly into the tape at The Donkey Show was really nice. On the other hand, the Arthouse piece is easy to look at. Although I used mostly white tape in that piece with some gradation of color, it makes a nice “window display.” However, I wanted this piece to be something engaging for the public passing by on Congress Ave. Color is essential in this respect. How else was I supposed to grab people’s attention? It had to be more powerful.

…mbg: Another way that I’ve thought about the differences between these installations comes down to an observation that may be too reductive, but I’ll throw it out there for you to refute. The Arthouse installation strikes me as a three-dimensional space upon which you have applied two-dimensional elements (i.e. line and color), while The Donkey Show piece strikes me as the creation of a three-dimensional space through the interplay of two-dimensional elements. I’m not just talking about people walking into tape, I’m talking about a flat surface taking on a third dimension through your use of line. Does that sort of a distinction get us anywhere?

RW: I’ve heard people say The Donkey Show installation exerts more of a physical and spatial force on them. I’ve wondered if this could be a result of my engagement with The Donkey Show’s existing architecture. Initially, I thought that the space at Arthouse was less interesting architecturally than The Donkey Show’s. Perhaps this is true considering peoples’ hesitancies to enter into my work at Arthouse. I see people looking at the work from outside or from the entry way inside Arthouse, but I don’t see people moving around it like I do at The Donkey Show. So, yes, The Donkey Show piece seems better suited for interaction and I think its size makes it more spatially engaging. The Arthouse piece, on the other hand, is more static. I called that piece easy to look at before because a viewer can derive pleasure simply by looking at it and experiencing the sensations that it has to offer. I don’t think this makes it less interesting, though. This sort of direct perceptual beauty is something that is also very important to me, in addition to the more complex issues one may experience interacting with the work at The Donkey Show.

…mbg: To what extent do you know how a work will turn out when you begin an installation? How much do you know through your preparations and your initial conception of the project? How much comes into being while you are working?

RW: I would say that I understand a good two-thirds of an installation before I begin it. I can make an endless amount of sketches and still have a hard time grasping what the three dimensional outcome will look like. For example, with the Arthouse piece, I knew that I was creating two triangular prisms. But the twisting of the lines created in the triangular space was difficult to visualize. There are always the unexpected challenges that come with a space. I started at Arthouse wanting to cover the entire window. However, when the suggestion was made that duct tape might not be the best thing to leave on glass in the Texas heat all summer, I made some revisions to my design. The outcome was better, forcing me to interact with the positive space of the wall and negative space of the entryway. It allowed people outside to view the entire piece.

…mbg: As an artist in Austin, what’s it like working with pictorial content that is not readily identifiable and that is also not expressionist in nature? I can’t think of many other artists around here who work in such a perceptually-driven manner.

RW: It gets some interesting reactions. People generally like it or they don’t. I feel that more often than receiving criticism or having a conversation about my work I hear that a piece is “nice” or that it is “successful” – whatever that means. I guess not everyone knows how to respond to my work because of its lack of symbolic content. But I find myself wanting to know more about what people are thinking as they experience the work. I suppose a good deal of criticism comes from those who see it as a merely a design piece. People know how to respond to an aesthetically-pleasing design, but I think it’s more difficult to talk about my work. There’s a great deal of conversation to be had about art that is based solely on an immediate experience rather than being based on a previous one.

…mbg: Well, what’s next, Ward?

RW: A big polypropylene maze project with the kiddies at The Children’s Museum. That will be for First Night Austin, which is a long way off (January 1, 2007). Hopefully, I will have something sooner than that though.

An Interview with Meggie Chou
Conducted June 27, 2006

…might be good: Your piece in New American Talent is titled Incubation Machine No.2.1. What is an incubation machine and how do your incubation machines function?

Meggie Chou: An incubation machine is an incubator, like scientists might use for incubating eggs or cell cultures. My incubation machine differs in that I’m not starting from zero with my plants. I’m growing them hydroponically but not from seed.

…mbg: Is there a specific duration for the plants in the incubation machine? Will the plants that are on display now ever leave the incubator?

MC: I prefer for the plants to remain permanently in the incubator.

…mbg: What would happen to the plants if the incubation machine were turned off?

MC: The plants I am growing are fairly indestructible, but they do have basic needs: light, water, and nutrients, without which they will die.

…mbg: Is there a reason why you’ve chosen the Wandering Jew as the flora component of this work?

MC: I considered many different kinds of plants on the basis of their appearance and their suitability to the hydroponic system I made. Visually, I find the Wooly Wandering Jew very attractive. It looks fairly exotic to me, which is odd since it grows like a weed in front yards around Austin. I also like its means of self-propagating. It doesn’t have an elaborate root system. It reproduces by cloning itself. New plants shoot out from and remain connected to older plants. For this reason, it is incredibly easy to transplant. This was helpful for me since this project was my first experience with hydroponics. Basically, if you have one plant and want two, all you have to do is cut the plant in half and stick it in the ground, or the “grow rocks” in this case.

…mbg: How do you think this work comes across in a large group exhibition like New American Talent?

MC: As diverse as all the work in the show is, I feel like there are very strong undercurrents. There is a real personal sensibility to a lot of the work and also an emphasis on touch. Many of the pieces are also very funny. I think my piece is similar in those respects.

…mbg: Prior to making incubation machines you were working on “Suicide Projects.” How do these bodies of work relate to one another?

MC: I think that regardless of the “topic” of my pieces, I’m working on the same ideas. First of all, I’m working with mechanical systems to refer to essential life functions. My suicide machines were much more about fantasy, but they did have functioning elements that relied on pumps and circulation: mechanical analogs to processes like breathing and the flow of blood and bodily fluids. My Incubation Machine literally circulates 50 gallons of nutrient-filled water to the 24 plants I’m growing in the gallery. This is a question of function—it allows the plants to grow—but for me it also refers back to those same bodily processes. The bandages, the milky IV fluids, and the hospital carts also make the work more human. I like the idea of deliberately confusing plant, animal, and machine. A final connection between my incubation and my previous works comes through my touch—my way of constructing sculpture and using material. My pieces always look kind of like toys.

…mbg: Any upcoming projects you’d like to share with us?

MC: Another Incubation Machine—hopefully larger but more self-contained and private.

700 Congress Ave.
Austin, Texas

tel. 512. 453.5312

Read about Rebecca Ward's and Kurt Meuller's work in Tape and Float on

'Bout What I Sees

IV. Elsewhere: Robyn O'Neil: As They Fall at Praz-Delavallade

Robyn O'Neil: As They Fall at Praz-Delavallade
On view through July 23, 2006

Charlotte Cousins

An owl greeted me as I walked into As They Fall at Praz-Delavallade, its head turned almost backwards in that uncanny self-possessed way of owls. Perched on an impossibly slim bare branch and beautifully rendered in pencil, its eyes seemed to observe me without judgment or even interest from within the small box-like white frame. This omniscient figure from With one deep sigh, she understood seems a fitting gatekeeper for the world that Robyn O’Neil’s art evokes, one in which surreal imposing landscapes only just concede to the shrubs, branches, birds and middle-aged men that populate them.

The fifteen drawings in As They Fall, all dated 2006, vary in size from the monumental Ordinary men have hearts that hunt these sacred sprouts no matter the hour, for they need this calm and They ran fast from this, and will now reach for something great to the small drawings with usually shorter titles, such as His brain now softened and A world with no one. (The works are not labeled in the gallery, only on the gallery's website or by requesting an unnumbered list at the desk.)

In Ordinary men…, O’Neil creates a dramatic composition that manipulates the viewer’s perspective. A large decaying tree sprouting orchid blossoms and round fruits like fungii dominates the extreme foreground. Behind the trunk the ground apparently drops off suddenly, yielding to a bowl-shaped expanse of snow over which lines of men are placed like garlands. In the far distance, mountains are framed by a night sky. The progression from tree to high horizon , from deep charcoal through blank paper white to deep charcoal, can feel vertiginous for the viewer, especially as I crouched to identify what all the little men were doing so far down below. O’Neil’s now familiar track-suited men walk, run, crawl (or is it pray?), chat and fall in long lines of pilgrimage toward the tree. I was oddly reassured to find two on either side of the composition, at roughly the same longitude, each grasping a flower in an outstretched hand.

In No matter how rich our blood, this massive earth rises above and provides us no wings, men tumble and dive through the air from a towering stone mountain. Recalling both the story of Icarus and images from September 11, the image leaves the viewer uneasy, despite, or perhaps because of, the remote expressions of some protagonists.

If O’Neil’s drawings sound melancholy, they can be, but heavy-handed they are not. She introduces poignant and enigmatic elements to her compositions, producing visual ambiguity often reinforced by her titles. He could travel no more depicts a man, back to the viewer, taking a leak next to a tree that has grown a loop in its trunk. A Falling Stump seems to be a floating log and in He was gone, two bare feet stick out from a pair of trousers, one cuff in tatters. Equally, her mastery of her medium, pencil and paper, allows her to create dramatic chiarascuro effects and varied textures—backlit mountain ranges, star-lit skies and rough oceanscapes, that seduce the eye into extended looking. As others have acknowledged, some of O’Neil’s drawings have a filmic quality, their staging and lighting suggesting a narrative that precedes and succeeds each still. But even as she presents compelling possibilities for the viewer, carefully, she leaves conclusions open.

Charlotte Cousins studies art history at the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently doing research for her dissertation in Paris, France.

28, rue Louise Weiss
Paris, France 75013

V. Readers Write Back: A Letter from Hills Snyder, Ebony Porter from Australia & Lora Reynolds Reports on Art Basel

A Letter from Hills Snyder
Received June 23, 2006

Dear James Bae,

Re: "there is, it seems, nothing consequential to see north of the Finesilver Gallery on Camaron"

Thanks for your San Antonio story in ...might be good issue #71. I would recommend to you the Kevin Rutherford show currently at i2i at 2110 McCullough. Also, the McNay Art Museum has good programming (the recent Pre-Raphaelite show comes to mind) including the Artists Looking At Art series on Thursday evenings. There are a couple of venues on the west side that readers of …mbg might not know about: Arbor House ( 837 Arbor Place) and Gallery C ( 1426 W. Craig Place).

I can't say I blame anyone for missing things in San Antonio - the scene simply changes too quickly for any one visitor or resident to have a complete overview at any given moment.

All the best ointments and cadavers,

Hills Snyder

On June 29 James Bae responded, "Thanks, Hills. Points taken."

Ebony Porter from Australia
Received June 24, 2006

Living inside the patchwork of rural Australia, it didn’t take long for me to crave art and its accompanying dialogue. The farmers throughout the Yorke Peninsula, located in the southern area of the country, are artists in their own merit, engraving patterns across the land and shaping earthworks that morph and change through the seasons. But to find an artistic dialogue that escapes the weather patterns, one must travel to the city. Depending on what part of Australia you live in, this can take days. How then, do contemporary art spaces sustain themselves in a country whose population equals that of New York City and whose landmass equals the size of the continental United States? On the driest continent in the world, there is a thirst here for contemporary art.

During a recent visit to Adelaide, Austin's sister city, I found the Contemporary Arts Centre of South Australia (CACSA), an old Victorian house renovated into a sophisticated gallery space. Founded 60 years ago as the Contemporary Art Society, it contributes substantially to the local and national arts industry. CACSA’s exhibitions extend not only from Mantelli's vision but also from the eyes of invited curators, both international and from around the country, selected by Mantelli and CACSA's director, Alan Cruickshank. With a range of curators entering the space, a fluidity of critical voices allows CACSA to pursue constant growth.

Their most recent exhibition, Where Angels Tread, organized by the Sydney-based curator Blair French, brought work into Adelaide from artists all across Australia. In a country this size, it is important that contemporary spaces include a national spectrum of artists and not just those from the region. Many Australians living between Adelaide and Perth (about the distance from Houston to Los Angeles) may never travel to the larger eastern cities to see contemporary art like you would find in Sydney or Melbourne.

But how is CACSA different? Its Project Space, for one, is an alternative venue that provides opportunity for young and emerging curators to present work next to CASCA’s main gallery. The simultaneity that unfolds between the practices of the experienced and inexperienced makes it feel truly contemporary. How do young curators advance their careers without an open door toward experimentation? Through proposals by young curators seeking to bring their ideas into fruition, the established and the up-and-comers cross-pollinate within a single establishement. Given the contrasting qualities of the two galleries, I imagine an enriched conversation develops; one that is integral for both sets of curators, experienced and inexperienced alike. For the curator familiar in working solely with galleries and museums, where does their exposure to something more grassroots come from? For the emerging curator with limited contact to opportunities to work with recognized spaces, where does the inlet that leads to a strong current begin?

Energized by all levels of experience and opportunities, CACSA has ignited other curiosities about Australian art. It leaves me to believe that here in the land down under, contemporary art is practicing high atop experimental horizons. COO-EE for that!

(By the way, coo-eee is an Australian Bush call!) 

Lora Reynolds Reports on Art Basel

Austin was well represented at Art Basel this year. In light of this we asked Lora Reynolds to share her thoughts on the event.

I thought that the whole fair (the main Art Basel fair) looked fantastic. As always, it was huge and required a great deal of time to see everything. I thought that one of the best booths was Matthew Marks Gallery, which had an amazing Robert Gober sink sculpture with little girl’s legs that was reportedly acquired by MoMA (full disclosure, I used to work there). There was a fantastic Richard Prince carved and burned wooden joke multiple at Two Palms that I acquired. There was a fantastic NEW Vija Celmins drawing at McKee – a black spider web on white paper (the only one she has done like this so far). It is very very rare to see new work by her and this drawing was gorgeous.

There were beautiful new Hiroshi Sugimoto photographs at Koyanagi – they were actually the early diorama images (two different ones) blown up very large – and very gorgeous.

There was a fantastic Kehinde Wiley painting at Deitch Projects.  

Not sure what else to tell you.  There were rumored to be far fewer Americans this year, most likely because next year will be huge with Documenta and Venice, etc.

Thanks for the update, Lora!

To write to ...might be good email us at:

VI. Announcements: June 30 - July 13, 2006

Tonight! Head down to San Antonio for the official launch of Contemporary Arts Month 2006! Austin art spaces testsite, Art Palace, The Donkey Show and Okay Mountain will join 500X (Dallas), duchamp ta mere (Portland), Polvo (Chicago) and Jack the Pelican (Brooklyn) at Johnson Courts/Motel 3 4302 South Presa for The Bungalow Project. In addition to exhibitions by each of these spaces, artists and bands will perform throughout the night. For more info about CAM and its events, ckeck out the CAM Calendar online.

1. Openings (and Closings)


Closing July 1: Hitten Switches, drawings by Travis Millard and Michael Sieben at Okay Mountain

Opening July 6: Dougherty…. Closing July 6Ismlessness Conrad Kofron & Vincent Martinezat Gallery Lombardi

Opening July 8: Active Disappearance, photography works by Anna Krachey, Andy Mattern, Adam Schreiber, and Bryan De La Garza at Okay Mountain

Opening July 8: Summer Group Show, new work by gallery artist, Conrad Bakker,  Karen Breneman, Benjamin Butler, Francesca Gabbiani,  Ewan Gibbs, Jim Torok and Editions by, Uta Barth, Vija Celmins, Gerhard Richter, and Ed Ruscha at Lora Reynolds Gallery

Opening July 8: Making It Alone, individual work by graduate students in the Department of Art and Art History at Creative Research Laboratory

Closing July 8: Summer Group Show, HEAT, work by artists Robert Dale Anderson, Cynthia Camlin, Sandra Fiedorek, Faith Gay, Sarah Greene Reed, Christopher Schade, and Steve Wiman at d berman gallery  

Closing July 8: Bearer of Light, featuring photo-mosaics and video works by Jessica Lutz at Volitant Gallery

Closing July 12: Summer Fling, curated by Ali Fitzgerald at Art Palace

Opening July 13: Shots & Strokes, photographs and paintings by Chad Trudgeon, Mike Sartor, and Lana Frantz at Gallery Lombardi

Through: July 30: Tape and Float, new work by Rebecca Ward and Kurt Mueller at The Donkey Show

Through August 20: New American Talent: The Twenty-First Exhibition at Arthouse

San Antonio

Closing June 30: Devil Girls from Mars, paintings by Sabra Booth at ROBOT Art Gallery  

Opening July 6: New Works: 06.2 International Artist-In-Residence, featuring Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger, Do-Ho Suh, and Luz María Sánchez at Artpace

Opening July 7: Yokai Zyukkei - scenery with monsters, by Mimi Kato at Joan Grona Gallery

Opening July 7: Bunnyphonic at The Cactus Bra Space Through August 26: Pioneer, works by Chris Sauter at Finesilver Gallery Texas and Beyond

Closing July 1: Liliana Porter at Sicardi Gallery, Houston Through July 22: New Collages, by Rex Ray; I Was an Inflatable Sun, by Michelle Martin-Coyne and New Work in Cut Paper, by Michael Velliquette at Conduit Gallery, Dallas

Also, San Antonio-based artist Dario Robleto’s work is currently featured in Ahistoric Occasion: Artists Making History at MASS MoCA through March 2007. Robleto has two other shows coming up: Fear and Tenderness in Men opens September 8 at D’Amelio Terras Gallery in NYC and Chrysanthemum Anthems at The Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina opens September 24.

2.  Events Special Event July 1, 7 pm: Live music by Prom Night, Sigma Prime, Mugsy Flows and Sound Owner at Gallery Lombardi Music July 5: A Time to Shred, featuring minimalist avant-shred phenomenon The Long Telegram’s Kurt Newman and Nick Hennies vs. Chris Cogburn and Carl Smith at The Parlor (100 B. W. North Loop, ATX) 

Screening July 13: Luke Savisky premieres D/x, a live projection piece using multiple projectors, along with highlights from indoor and outdoor installation works. Part of the Alternative Technologies Screening Series at Harry Ransom Center

Workshops: A series of monthly artists’ workshops beginning this June and running through September, visit Austin Art in Public Places Program for more details.  

3.  Calls for Entry  
Deadline: September 1st, Artpace Open Call Guidelines are available for their 2008 Residencies at Artpace  

4. News
DiverseWorks’ Executive Director, Sara Kellner, has resigned. Kellner plans to start her own business with a focus on organizational consulting, project management and grant writing.

Also, The Menil Collection is please to announce the appointment of Franklin Sirmans to the position of Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Sirmans will assume his new post on September 5, 2006.

Image Credit: Rebecca Ward, Tape5, 2006.
Colored Duct Tape. Dimensions Variable.
On view at Arthouse through August 20, 2006.

...might be good's Editor is Caitlin Haskell. Risa Puleo is ...might be good's Assistant Editor. Many thanks to Jamie Wentz, Rebecca Roberts, and all of the contributors to issue #72.

Look for our next issue on July 14.

Fluent~Collaborative is a speculative non-profit initiative established to increase awareness of new developments in the contemporary visual arts and the ideas and issues that inform contemporary culture. We are a place where a critical and creative mix of visual, media and performance artists join authors, filmmakers, musicians, architects, poets and other diverse communities outside of the arts to enable a new awareness and sophisticated discernment of changing thought and culture around the world.

..might be good is a contemporary art biweekly produced by Fluent~Collaborative that reaches over 4,000 international subscribers via email and at our website: An independent voice based out of Austin and San Antonio, with a team of writers covering exhibitions from Paris, France to Marfa, Texas, …might be good encourages close looking, smart writing and brave thinking about art.

Situating itself between an
exhibition space, an open studio, a temporary residency program and a private home, testsite explores new ideas in contemporary art through the initiation of collaborations. An artist and a writer are invited to create an experimental project that develops out of conversation, fruitful exploration and healthy doubt.
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Fluent~Collaborative | PO Box 49130
Austin, Texas | 78765-9130 | USA
t 512.453.3199 | f 512.453.3486 |