issue # 74, August 4, 2006 Austin, TX

  I.  Austin: An Interview with Workspace artist Carol Bove,        Coconuts at Art Palace & Wild & Bushy at Volitant        Gallery
  II. Texas: The Art of Richard Tuttle at the Dallas Museum       of Art & Juxtapositions at The Alameda 
Animation Trio: Tabaimo at the Hara Museum of        Contemporary Art, Kota Ezawa at Artpace's Hudson        (Show)Room & A Scanner Darkly at a
Theater Near        You
IV. Elsewhere:  Tomas Saraceno: Air-Port-City at Tanya         Bonakdar Gallery, Yuken Teruya: Waterborne         Islands at Sumida Riverside Hall Gallery & an Indian         Travelogue
V.  A Reader Writes Back: Eric Zimmerman Reponds to         Salvador Castillo's Review of Making it Alone        
  VI. Announcements: August 4 - August 24, 2006

II. Austin: An Interview with Workspace artist Carol Bove, Coconuts at Art Palace & Wild & Bushy at Volitant Gallery

An Interview with Workspace artist Carol Bove

Workspace is an initiative at the Blanton Museum of Art that showcases experimental work by innovative contemporary artists. Currently on view through October 1 at Workspace is New York-based artist Carol Bove’s “setting” for A. Pomodoro, curated by Kelly Baum, the Blanton’s Assistant Curator of American and Contemporary Art. As the title of Bove’s exhibition alludes, the work of Italian artist Arnaldo Pomodoro (b. 1926) figures prominently in the installation. Pomodoro’s sculpture from 1963 is featured in one of two “settings” or “sculpture gardens” created by Bove that narrate moments in the history of twentieth-century art though materials and objects that function as cues. Though not a particularly well-known artist, Pomodoro was active in Italy and California during the sixties and seventies. While he traveled in circles with the Beat poets, Lucio Fontana and Louise Nevelson, his work doesn’t belong to any specific movement or school. Pomodoro complicates a conventional, canonical understanding of art history and, as such, is in keeping with Bove’s own approach, described by Baum as “very personal and idiosyncratic.”  

Minutes after installing
“setting” for A. Pomodoro, Carol Bove and Kelly Baum met with …might be good’s interviewer Laura Lindenberger to discuss the work, its relationship to histories of the twentieth century and how peacock feathers entered the mix.

…might be good: Could we begin by discussing the works themselves – I’d like to have you talk me through them and how they work for you in this space.

Carol Bove: I always feel more satisfied if the piece is being imperiled in a way. It activates [the works] to me – there’s a feather here moving a little bit, or this piece looks like it’s almost about to fall off the edge here. It could almost break. To me, that you can have a sense of pathos for something inanimate is really exciting. … At a certain point I realized I wanted you to be able to enter the piece psychologically and I felt like making the shelf at eye level and putting objects in a tableau invited you to enter it psychologically. When I first put the objects on the plane, I thought, these are sort of temporary placeholders for the real thing I was actually going to put there later, which included a whole bunch of other things. I did it sort of unconsciously and then once everything was on there, it didn’t require so much. … I think about the whole piece as being a chronometer, where this plane is a representation of the twentieth century and the continuity of forms from the historical avant-garde moment to more of a neo-avant garde, going from pre-World War I to post-World War II and into the mid-1970s. There are forms that have a life that spans that whole time and it’s not discontinuous. This plane (referring to hanging bronze rods. On March 2, 2006, at 9 p.m., the rods suspended over the "sculpture garden" aligned perfectly with the stars congregating over the ceiling of the Berlin gallery where the work was being exhibited) is happening in the vertical, it’s built in advance of a celestial situation that’s going to come into alignment with the place and the time of the sculpture, so it’s totally contemporary, totally determined by when the exhibition is and where the exhibition is and our time now. But there’s such a built in obsolescence to that too, which makes it pointedly not work after the alignment. Or if it has some relationship to site-specificity, it’s documentary.

…mbg: In the pieces I’ve seen, you have a lot of books lined on shelves and in different configurations. I was interested in how the books become very tactile objects and whether the content of the books plays into the viewer’s experience of the piece. There are no books here, but I think this work plays on some of the same kind of questions because there’s a real tactility to the objects. They’re very sensual and personal. Could we talk a little bit about touch, how you see your viewer interacting with it, and how you interact with the individual elements within the work?

CB: The books I’ve used have been around for a long time, so you have a sense of this life that they bring to the piece that has nothing to do with my authoring it. They have their own life. And they have also relationships to the viewers; a lot of people within an installation would know of a book and would say, ‘Oh, I had that when I was 16’ or ‘That makes me think of my friend who had it.’ … I like using mass-produced books, which are no longer in circulation because they have that quality of having been circulated and having entered the popular consciousness. With this, it’s different because a lot of the patination is really artificial. I would never do that to a book, like scratch it or put it in the oven to look old; I think I prefer things that have their own life and my authoring them seems a little bit withheld. As for the specific materials, I don’t know how people would interact with them. These pieces are really new. Different materials have a lot of content and for me, the concrete cubes were something I started making for sort of a different project. And I thought that scale was exciting and that a lot of the stuff I had been doing is architectural, but more humanized.

…mbg: When everything is taken out of this space, it feels so institutional and you’ve managed to humanize it. I’ve read that many of your spaces become very domestic. It’s interesting to see how you’re transforming the space into something more intimate and personal.

CB: But it’s totally not domestic. I was thinking about the feelings I associate with the university art museum, which are kind of heavy and a little gloomy. Which I don’t mean in a bad way at all. … For me, it’s a really early art experience—that was one of the first art spaces I would go to was the university art museum at Berkeley and it was a really brutalist, concrete building. I just thought, it was such a cheat that that was the kind of architecture you got in the 1970s. My idea of the present and progress and modernism as a little kid was like, in the old days you got something where they actually tried and there was ornament and this is just so ugly. Now that kind of stuff has really grown on me and I really love that building. I wonder if that’s nostalgia or sophistication. I can’t really separate those two things. [The work is made of] really sensual material and it makes me think about that kind of architecture and minimalism but also prison and paving over the world and the kind of violence of modernity. But then also, the scale [of the work] makes it funny.

…mbg: Hearing you talk about this post-war moment or minimalist moment and your own experiences of the museum as a child—what I find really interesting is how these things collapse and how you work as both a collector and an artist. I wonder if you think of yourself as a collector, as an anthropologist of sorts, as an artist/historian?

CB: Basically not. I don’t see myself as a collector because I don’t collect. I accumulate, but then I disperse. I’m engaged with history, but I don’t think of myself that way. It’s not that I’m not disciplined, but the way that I approach it is really different from art historical discipline.

…mbg: It seems more personal, through experience.

CB: It’s really trusting if I just sort of follow my interests and intuition, then I’ll come up with connections that I wouldn’t if I approached it more rationally or more linearly. Sometimes something appears to me that seems so totally irrelevant and I think I’ll follow that, and it prevents me from anticipating what I might find.

…mbg: The Pomodoro sphere is really a beautiful addition to the installation.

CB: I wanted to put the Pomodoro in the middle of the room. It’s like an eye. Kelly was saying something that I didn’t know, which is that he worked after World War II doing rebuilding in Italy. She was comparing his world being destroyed and recreated at the same time, which has something to do with participating in World War II and then being active in the reconstruction. … I think about the different elements—they’re not specific references to anything, but they remind me of things. Like that reminds me of a Giacometti piece and that reminds me of Anne Truitt and this leaning thing is John McCracken a little bit. John McCracken was one of the first people’s work I saw and, you know when you’re a kid and you’re like, ‘I understand that’s supposed to be art, but it’s so simple.’ That really stuck in my head. … With both of these pieces, I feel like there’s a continuity of forms, both of Constructivism over the twentieth century and of Surrealism. The tonal qualities and the feelings of Surrealism are in the lighting. And the forms themselves are more related to Constructivism.

Kelly Baum: When you were describing the peacock feathers, it was so rich and the objects were so saturated with meaning for you and it kind of epitomized the way materials and objects work for you in general—they’re so multifaceted and the stories are like mythology.

CB: You’re right—

KB: It’s like one idea suggests another.

CB: I would never want to have something just be equivalent, like a one to one relationship. It’s always going to be rambling or dispersed. The peacock feathers—I feel like they have all these different points in history where they have a certain moment of interest and I think about classical mythology—they’re the eye of Hera. In the Metamorphosis there’s this beautiful story about Io and Jove. Well it’s a long story, you should read it… In Symbolism, late-nineteenth century, there’s this re-interest in peacock feathers, and in Surrealism they have this understanding of the eye quality. And then in 1966 there’s a big exhibition of Aubrey Beardsley’s work in London and there’s sort of a fashion for him and he’s crazy for peacock feathers, and there’s a revival of the 1890s stuff in the 1960s. But still, in the ‘60s, there’s a survival of the Surrealist forms and then at the same time, in men’s fashion there’s the peacock revolution; men’s fashion got exciting all of a sudden in 1966 and they called it the peacock revolution. Suddenly the males are more interesting than the females. It was widely in the popular vocabulary, the peacock revolution. But then, personally, my grandmother really loved green and blue and she loved peacock feathers. Her whole fashion sense and her sense of culture was really related to classicism and classical culture, but then she was always striving to be modern. But she was so backwards-looking that she was never engaged in a legitimate avant-garde—but she was always striving. And peacock feathers were always arranged in her house in a way for me that was emblematic her forwards/backwards sense of culture. She died recently and so after she died, I became very attracted to peacock feathers.

KB: I have a question about the driftwood—do they have an art historical reference?

CB: I made seats—that was the first part of this project, the seats. It’s hard for me to say what they are exactly. They feel very modern, they also feel very modernist and they also seem like someone specifically and then they also kind of feel like an abandoned pier—the whole thing feels like an abandoned pier to me.

KB: They seem to have lived—all their experiences are recorded. You like materials that have a story and these definitely do.

CB: Making things out of driftwood has this really nice quality because you wonder where it’s been. It could have come from Guam, or maybe from Queens, how long has it been in the water? I live near the water, so I’ll go down pretty much every day and I’ll check out what’s new –

…mbg: Is that where you found these?

CB: Yeah. I’ll have a collection and one piece will be the one that kind of inspires the intervention. I’ll have to think about that—I wonder what they are specifically. I think they’re a little bit of Mark di Suvero. … Arte povera, Pop art, but then also kind of materialist use of found materials too.

KB: The twentieth century is encapsulated in this gallery

CB: Like a kind of gloss on the twentieth century, but a very personal one.

Coconuts at Art Palace
On view through August 23, 2006

Risa Puleo

My grandmother always told me to remember that I was white, though my skin told a different story. Her genetic argument is that we are Spanish and she is convinced that our family is represented in Velasquez’ Las Meninas. Born during the depression and coming of age pre-Civil Rights and the Chicano Movement, hers is a position taken out of self-preservation. She hates the word "Chicano." She has defined her, and by proxy my, ethnicity so narrowly that the type of beans that we eat—pinto, not black, which are Cuban—is an important distinction.

During the nineties, the height of identity politics, I found myself in college and the middle of exhausting conversations about why I preferred the term “Hispanic” to “Mexican-American,” “Chicano,” or “Latino”. All these terms were boxes to check off on scholarship applications and had no real meaning to my life, or didn’t until I moved to New York and understood for the first time that I was not “white” enough to be white and not “Hispanic” enough to be Hispanic.

I know very well what it means to be a “coconut,” a term thrown out as an insult— brown on the outside and white on the inside—that has come to be embraced by others of my generation with similar experiences. Arturo Palacios, the curator of Art Palace’s newest exhibition Coconuts, is also a coconut. I know this because he is my friend and we make fun of each other for being coconuts. I recount these, perhaps self-indulgent, anecdotes here to point to how very complicated, often irrational and conflicting, designations like “coconut,” “Hispanic” and “white” are. Whiteness does not have to do with skin color and being Hispanic is all about the type of beans you eat.

Coconuts does not attempt to address any of these complexities. Rather, it is a presentation of work by four Hispanic artists, Sam de la Rosa, Michelle Gonzalez-Valdez (aka Bunnyphonic), Rell Ohlson and Josh Rios, who, in keeping with the state of coconutness, don’t make work about being Hispanic. Alright, so why bring up the artist’s ethnicity at all? Especially when there are other currents that holds these four artists together. They all share a wry, dark humor manifested in an aesthetic language that has come to be associated with youth culture. But does this have to do with them being coconuts? The same could be said of work coming out of Williamsburg. It is more likely related to belonging to a certain generation (all of the artists included were born between 1973 and 1981) and the curator’s desire to make a cohesive show. Despite the exhibition’s claim to be “post-identity,” Coconuts is a still a show about identity, just one not that is typically defined as such. Call it an “adolescent impulse” or hipster subculture, this identity is one that has been commercially-marketed, both in mass and art markets, and coded as white.

Rell Ohlson’s drawings, set against a hot pink painted wall that echoes the artist’s palette, present a nexus of pop-color, pattern and shape that builds relationships between graphic renderings of animals, people, landscape and anthropomorphized creatures. One such drawing, North America, reads as a flowchart of cause and effect. A rainbow leads into a scene where a buffalo collapses into the earth causing an underground diamond mine and a spawn of turd-shaped creatures that, in turn, feed a raccoon who lives in a landscape of uprooted trees. Whether an environmental statement is part of the artist’s intention, Olhson’s drawings speaks through form and process over content.

Skulls, Ninja Turtles, lidless eyes, Bart Simpson, Nike swoops, Bob Dylan and Israel are some of the repeated motifs in Sam de la Rosa’s text, collage and drawn work. To access these smaller-scaled pieces, one must circumvent de la Rosa’s plywood construction: a make-shift room that features more drawings inside—more skulls, Ninja Turtles and depiction of a group of pilgrims who stand over a dead Native American—lit by a black light. There is an urgency in de la Rosa’s work, from markers set atop the box encourage views to join de la Rosa and tag it with their own statements and sentiments to calls for Yoko Ono to murder Tom Hanks and Palacios to start recycling.

One could argue that, given the artists’ ethnicity, the political interest in de la Rosa’s and Ohlson’s work is one stemming from activism in Chicano Art that has come to bloom in a new generation. But both artists’ works lacks the distinctly Chicano vocabulary found in the work of contemporary artists working in this vein like Cesar Martinez, Vincent Valdez or Alex Rubio. Their concerns speak broadly to American society, culture and politics rather than to a specifically Chicano culture (though as the term coconuts demonstrates, this culture is not a monolith). One could also argue that the urgency felt in both artists’ works is a symptom of our generation. But, so is apathy, urgency’s slothful stepsister. Youth culture, then, can also not be regard as monolithic.

The most successful work in the show comes from Josh Rios, who in addition to contributing the most conceptually solid installation, presents the most complications to show’s premise. A pair of taloned hands reach down from a cloud painted on the corner of Art Palace’s walls to release lightening bolts at a tableau of hand-sized figures molded from black clay engaged in a variety of sexual acts. Above these figures, Rios presents a set of drawings titled This Would Be Hilarious If It Weren’t For All the Dead Bodies (Border Fence Sex Patrol) that depict parts of a ramshackled fence surrounded by used condoms and broken beer bottles. Taken out of the context of this installation and a set of drawings—five that depict a fur-covered and horned demon who opens moral doors through statements like “you now have permission to have premarital sex”— in the gallery’s next room, Rios’ fences could point to immigration along the US-Mexico border, or any border for that matter. This assumption is easily made. But alongside the rest of his work, the fence becomes a border of personal ethics that implicates the viewer; its destruction, a passage to guilt-free pleasure.

We could also assume that Michelle Gonzalez-Valdez, who dons a piñata’s head and an accordion for her performances as Bunnyphonic, does so in homage to her culture. But more so, her performance on the opening night revealed a preoccupation with childhood. As such, it is fitting that the accoutrements of her performance are specific to the place where she grew up— San Antonio. Perennially trapped inside the piñata (in the Art Palace performance Valdez forewent her standard rabbit regalia to instead assume a chicken’s), Valdez’s alter-ego played a melancholic waltz that waned into dissonance like a music box that has wound down.

Based on the criteria established, Coconuts is a success: it presents work by Hispanic artists that did not necessarily have to have been made by Hispanic artists. But the issues at stake in this exhibition are too complex for me to feel satisfied with this assessment. Why Coconuts if identity is not going to be addressed as such in the show? (And really, who am I to ponder problematic names having named my space The Donkey Show, a symptom of my own affinities with third-wave feminism). To title the show Coconuts puts the artists on display before their work, as was the case with all shows that “figured difference” in the eighties and nineties. In fact, Coconuts uses the same curatorial methodology that most of these shows used: minority artist who address identity, it just inserts a “don’t” into the mix.

These days, we often hear terms like post-ethnic, post-identity, post-multicultural, post-black and post-feminist. I think coconut could be added to this list too. These terms assume that we have addressed issues of identity and can now move on. But even if this were true, which I don’t believe that it is, why would we want to? To my mind, what separates a multicultural moment form a “post” moment is that now, minority groups have the choice to either address identity or not comment on it. This choice is reflected in the name Coconuts and the show. To cite a friend who has had trouble adjusting to Texas because she finds that issues of identity are not discussed here, "Race [or insert identity category here ] is a really interesting thing! Why don't we talk about it?" Perhaps, it’s about finding new and relevant ways of doing so. Like examining white masculinity in the Matthew Barney’s Cremaster series or the liminal space between being white and being Hispanic that is a coconut. What we may find is that we are more diverse than the terms of diversity can hope to encompass.

Risa Puleo is a assistant editor for ...might be good and she coordinates testsite , ...mbg's sister project.

Wild & Bushy at Volitant Gallery
On view through August 13, 2006

Erin Keever

Things that climb during Texas summers: temperatures, theme park attendance and the number of summer group shows described as “hot,” “wild” and “fun." Is it just the nature of the beast? When Volitant touts Wild and Bushy as “anything but neat and tight," “feverish" and “untamed and slippery,” one asks, “Is this really wild?” or trickier, “bushy?” Maybe it's more “mild and mushy?” Predictably, the answer is somewhere in between.

Part of the problem is the somewhat tired yet, in this case, inescapable question of context. Volitant’s super spiffy new downtown space includes 5000-square feet, marble floors, movable walls, a special video room and a print viewing area. Volitant is also housed in a historical landmark, the Koppel Building located on Austin's Congress Avenue. Spacious and polished environs together with some slick work as well as a pretty profuse press statement remind me that “there’s nothing wild about a zoo.”

There are works that measure up to the show’s title, showing a certain degree of "wildness" and still suiting their surroundings. Michael Velliquette pushes the limits of paper to fantastic heights. In his small, low- relief paper constructions, brilliantly colored and intricately cut symbolic shapes layer to create kaleidoscopic visions. Nina Rizzo’s paintings stand up well too. Her painting’s architectural details, stripes and skewed perspectives relay the rough around the edges idea, but without a sense of heavy handedness.

Andy Coolquitt ’s animal orgy Fuck Sheep, demands attention for its ability to exhibit the artists affinities for found objects as well as pornography. Here he takes toy-like eye candy any child would love (in the shape of brightly painted cartoony wooden animals) and adds a bit of sexual content to create something completely absurd, funny and, yet, allusive to possible conversations about, age, taboo, censorship and play.

Problematic works included Reed Posey’s large installation Gollum Glock, Galluballub, Solly Sob and Soddy Sock. While big, bold and fresh, it seems its scale should have been more carefully considered. Its greedy physical presence is lopsided in relation to other works, but then again, this kind of brash approach hits the mark.

Hana Hillerova 's two "Superspace" digital prints were seen as recently as two months ago at Women and Their Work, which calls into question the artist motives for including them in this show. What I liked about them in the W&TW show was how the prints' mechanistic properties complemented the messy handmade feel of her installation … strange that they would appear here.

Some folks have cried “not enough newness” regarding this show. It doesn’t really bother me if things have been seen before (although The Art Guys’ 1996 work is pushing it) as long as somehow the exhibition makes me see them in a new light. I saw some work anew, just not always in better (wilder, bushier) ways.

Erin Keever is a Freelance Visual Arts Critic for the Austin American- Statesman and Adjunct Art History Professor at Austin Community College

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

tel. 512.471.7324

Art Palace
2109 Cesar Chavez
Austin, Texas

tel. 512.496.0687

Volitant Gallery
320 Congress Avenue, Suite 100
Austin, Texas

tel. 512.236.1240

II. Texas: The Art of Richard Tuttle at the Dallas Museum of Art & Juxtapositions at The Alameda

The Art of Richard Tuttle at the Dallas Museum of Art

On view through October 8, 2006

Caitlin Haskell

“[Richard Tuttle] is fascinated by that very moment of transition from one thing or state into another where one has not quite left the one thing and not quite entered into the other.” —Susan Harris, 1991, reprinted in Richard Tuttle Community, 1999

Trying to find a find a more eloquent way to verbalize the idea expressed in the quotation above isn’t easy. Liminal doesn’t do it justice. Transitional also fails. Though they may sound awkward, these words are useful for their evocation of the experience of attending The Art of Richard Tuttle, an exhibition organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that will remain on view at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) through October 8.

Tuttle’s fascination with the sort of flux Harris points out manifests itself in unexpected ways at the DMA. It does so not only within individual works like his Wire Pieces (eight are featured in the retrospective, all from 1972) or his New Mexico, New York pieces in acrylic on plywood (six are exhibited, all from 1998), but also among larger groups of work. For instance, from certain positions in the exhibition, it is possible to see examples of both Tuttle’s two-dimensional canvas pieces (all from 1967) and his three-dimensional low reliefs completed a few years earlier (1964-65). (The canvas pieces have their own gallery, the three-dimensional pieces are dispersed nearby.) Both sets of work hang on the wall, possess similar palettes, share a similar scale and are made of relatively few parts. The juxtaposition of these two bodies of work generates an obstinate question: What is the difference between the pieces that lie flat and the pieces that come off the wall a little more? The answer, once again, is difficult to verbalize. Reasoning that one is three-dimensional and the other two misses the point. Instead, the viewer is left with an answer somewhere between something and nothing. Both pieces could be abstracted into indistinguishable states without too much work, and yet what is lost in the process of abstraction constitutes a difference. To emphasize this difference, however, would be to the objects’ detriment. And so, viewers (at least viewers like me) must be content to have an answer somewhere between something and nothing. It’s more pleasant than it sounds.

Another example of not quite leaving one thing and not quite entering another comes with the Paper Octagonals (all 1970). These irregular eight-sided pieces of white paper, each approximately 54” in diameter, lie almost imperceptibly flat against a white wall. The objects are there—in fact, there are twelve of them—but they aren’t always there. Instead, they actively enter and exit one’s experience of the gallery. Having recognized one of the octagonals, a viewer will know that the piece occupies a certain spot on the wall, but this does not guarantee that the viewer will continue to see it. Moments later, another octagonal might appear where the wall had surely been vacant before.

For something to vanish, however, it first has to come into your mind, and then go out. It is difficult for an undiscovered object to assert itself by surprise. It is still more difficult for a known object to disappear. And yet this happens. Being tricked twice by the same work—once coming, once going—should have the effect of making one feel mentally and perceptually slow. The effect is the opposite, however; a quickening of one’s visual reflexes. Rather than discourage, the experience of the Paper Octagonals creates a sense of satisfaction with life’s surprises. There’s also a bit of relief in knowing that reality isn’t as simple as it sometimes appears. It’s a welcome reprieve to find art that doesn’t behave as it’s supposed to, but not so much as to blatantly misbehave.

A technique that seemed to work well for interacting with the 300-odd works in this exhibition was to ask, “How does this work?” This question effectively breaks the objects into their constituent parts and then lets the works themselves demonstrate how they have been engineered. Works that seem clumsy at first glance later demonstrate an impressive economy of means. One gets led to the realization that components regularly perform at least two roles within a work simultaneously. Doing double duty, these components are rarely graceful, but as solutions to formal problems they are elegant. Titles like This is an Attempt at a Black and White Center with the Black Form Acting Like a Shadow and Trying to Be Like White, Which it is (1972) help confirm this hunch. Likewise, titles along the lines of How It Goes Around the Corner (1996) make the engineer’s “how-to” approach to the works seem not entirely off base.

The DMA does a lot of things right in The Art of Richard Tuttle. Subtle aspects of the work are allowed to remain subtle. More importantly, the hopeful feeling of being on the brink of learning to see anew—not quite having left one way of seeing, and not quite having entered into another—comes through.

Caitlin Haskell is Editor of ...might be good. She studies art history at The University of Texas at Austin.

Juxtapositions at The Alameda  
On view through August 18, 2006

Wendy Atwell

Last night, I came across the vibrating head massager given to us by my father-in-law, who just went into intensive care. How strange, that if he dies, this ridiculous gadget will become something my children remember him by. That’s why Henry Rayburn’s show, Juxtapositions, at the Alameda Theater in San Antonio, made me happy. I’ve noticed chaos lately, because of my father-in-law’s brush with it, and I’ve been thinking about how we impose order and structure upon the world.

Rayburn’s show includes artists and their collections. Many of these artists create assemblage sculptures, like Rayburn himself, also Diane Henry, Henry Stein, Bernice Williams, Marilyn Lanfear and Linda Pace. Other artists, such as Gary Sweeney, Andy Benavides, Chuck Ramirez and Anita Valencia, work with found objects. Theirs are redemptive acts, because they endow useless things with a poetic value.

Sweeney collects letters, and the words that he assembles greet visitors in the form of a quotation from Francis Bacon, “The job of the artist is to always deepen the mystery.” The quotation sets a high standard for the diverse assortment of objects in the show, which not every piece meets. “To deepen the mystery” suggests that the artists’ juxtaposition of collected objects must steer clear of clichés and not follow too closely in the vein of Joseph Cornell, for example. Assemblage, as an artistic medium, can only maintain freshness if artists combine objects in an original, surprising way.

Diane Henry’s contrived, pretty assemblages were hushed by Henry Stein’s work. Stein makes concise, bold oppositions with his found objects, including an Asian goddess perched near the top left of an industrial baker’s rack. Henry Rayburn presented his assemblages of jeweled and confectionary references. Displayed on dark wooden cubes, the small assemblage sculptures give the experience of shopping. Yet with Rayburn’s visual delicacies, the act of looking is fulfilling enough. The strange combination of, for example, a wasp nest clustered with pearl tipped pins or antique doll’s face peering out of a Miracle Whip jar, compel the viewer to look closely. Both thoughtfulness and sophistication anchor Rayburn’s whimsical combinations.

A huge collection of antique measuring devices, set under a large rectangular vitrine, belongs to Lanfear. Though the aging rulers and outmoded tools may still be useful, the context Lanfear creates for these objects suggests their futility. Tiny black lines seem to only measure the mundane and stand to remind us that there remains something much bigger—perhaps immeasurable—for which we will never invent a device.

In a series of works titled La Familia, Ramirez grapples directly with life’s unreason by exhibiting a collection of needles and empty medicine bottles, the accoutrements of treating children afflicted with cystinosis, an incurable genetic disease.

Countering the seriousness of Ramirez’s assembled objects, a sense of play enters into many of the artist’s works. Williams collects Barbie dolls and, for the show, she set them out on shelves and in cars, even sitting down to Chinese takeout inside of a birdcage. Barbies are too eponymous to work with, so the rows upon rows of dolls get boring. More interesting is William’s clear plexi-tumbler, filled with naked unkempt blonde dolls. The piece is an acknowledgement of the doll’s clichéd presence. By jumbling together the Barbies in all of their sameness, Williams teases out the meaninglessness of a single selection.

Valencia’s clear plastic curtain, dotted with a pattern of bottlecaps, rescues the material out of the commonplace. The curtain hangs like a veil in the downstairs gallery. The unexpected use of the caps to create a curtain, with the graphic design suspended in air, looks far better than the more expected grids of painted caps on canvas.

Usually, the sight of piles of junk at a thrift store or flea market overwhelm with their disorder and uselessness. But Pace’s Eye Candy has the opposite effect. Five huge rolling shelves, with seven rows each, contain the colored toys and folderol that the artist collected for her assemblage. The manic sense of organization is as much on display as the objects themselves. The feat of color categorizing thousands of objects and piling them into clear plastic bins may be work, but Pace enlivens the order with playfulness. A Buddha figurine wearing sunglasses stands guard near the red section; orange daisy wreaths trail out of the orange shelves.

Set to romantic oldies music, Benavides made a video inspired by his pink conejito. Transformed into huge paper puppets, the bunnies tumble over one another in a slow reverie. What a pleasure to watch them (and Andy) play.

Wendy Atwell received her Master of Arts in Art History and Criticism from UTSA in 2002. She lives in San Antonio.

Dallas Museum of Art
1717 North Harwood
Dallas, Texas

tel. 214.922.1200

The Alameda Theater
318 W Houston St.

San Antonio, Tx

tel. 210.299.4300


 III. Animation Trio : Tabaimo at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Kota Ezawa at Artpace's Hudson (Show)Room & A Scanner Darkly at a Theater Near You

Tabaimo at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art
On view through August 27, 2006

Justin Goldwater

I’m a big fan of animation. I’m not a big fan of the saucer-eyed shrieking girls, shimmering robots and baroque explosions that pepper most Japanese animation. In my estimation, watching 75% of the pulp that is churned out in Japan is on a par with having someone play ping-pong against your forehead from about a foot away: repetitive, mind-numbing and irritating.

So, it was with more than a little trepidation that I approached Tabaimo's exhibition at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, having been prompted by a good friend with, “It’s animation, you’ll like it.” “Tabaimo” sounded like a company to me, filled with executives and designers with little toy robot models sitting on their desks. She, actually, is not a company, but rather a 31-year old artist who was granted a professorship at Kyoto University of Art and Design at age 26 because of her prolific and astounding body of work. However, having no idea what to expect and not knowing anything of Tabaimo’s reputation, I was ready for transforming spaceships, transmogrifying humanoids or, best-case scenario, tentacles doing what tentacles do best in Japanese animation.

As it turns out, Tabaimo’s practice walks a completely different line. Her animations, in the context of the room-sized installations on view at the small, yet well-appointed, Hara Museum, are a sensory-encompassing experience. The actual narratives are lyrical, languorously paced and as mysterious as ancient poetry. Her animation technique shuffles, slips, twists, melds and bends Edo-period imagery into an amalgam of modern-day scenes and cultural tropes. Imagine the color gradients and linework of Hiroshige’s ukiyo-e woodblock prints in motion, writhing, morphing, twitching, while depicting a modern-day women’s public restroom where various atrocities commence inside the bathroom stalls: a woman aborts a baby out of her nose and flushes it down the toilet where it is spirited away by a sea turtle, for one.

Public conVENience (2006) is arranged in a larger-than-life-sized diorama. The walls swoop inward towards a central screen at skewed perspective. Both “walls,” the ceiling and the floor all contain projected imagery that creates a disorienting illusion of a lavishly illustrated women’s room. Women come and go, check their make-up in the mirrors (one is violently attacked by her sledgehammer-wielding reflection), insects swoop and flutter, faucets drip, toilets flush and refill, while other strange and quiet horrors occur. All at once, Tabaimo indicts a culture that clings to an ancient and systemic subordination of women and the hidden world that witnesses the results of such subtle repression, while mesmerizing her audience in the process. The walls reorient themselves and the “camera” swings and swoops horizontally to come to rest inside a bathroom stall—a different angle on the same scene. The effect is to hypnotize the viewer even further: the blank “fourth wall” facing the panorama was filled with viewers, shoulder-to-shoulder, all rapt…or patiently bored. It’s hard to tell in Japan.

Another installation, Hanabi-ra (2003), is painful to sit through, but probably the most rewarding work in the exhibition. Entering a dark chamber, the viewer is confronted with a tall projection of the back view of a man, standing nude against a stark black background. His back and legs are decorated with richly detailed floral tattoos that snake around his body like, well, snakes, made of flowers. This taboo of tattoos in Japanese culture has been widely commented on. It is pretty much common knowledge that these full-body tattoos are the realm of the Yakuza organized crime families. We are staring at the back of a naked Yakuza gangsta’, a bit chunky around the middle, probably older than most, yet solid, masculine. Again Tabaimo harnesses the faded-yet-rich ukiyo-e color and linework. We watch and watch and nothing happens.

People start to walk out, especially teenagers: “boring shit.” Then, almost too small to notice, one petal falls “off” of one of the flowers in the tattoos and drifts silently down to the ground at the man’s feet. Is it over? More time passes, another petal falls, another, slowly as ever, drifting into small colorful piles as the tattoos diminish in size and shape. This goes on, each petal following a different trajectory and speed, until the man is back to pre-inked skin, standing in a scattered pile of flower petals. Then a finger drifts down to the ground and another, followed by a hand, an arm, until the man is lying in a pile of his own limbs, which turn into scrolls of paper, ultimately blowing away. It is a silent, beautiful piece of hand-made animation that speaks eloquent Japanese without saying a word.

As an American, I don’t pretend to understand the subtleties of Japanese culture—a dense, interwoven web of assumed and unstated social expectations that differ and morph along the lines of an impenetrable social hierarchy. In watching Tabaimo’s animations, a distinctly Japanese voice emerges from which an American can only translate the most fundamental words. Filling in the gaps is a sensory sponge bath of imagery and sound that immerses you in a dark, mysterious vision of modern Japanese society. There’s something haunting and universal that hits you in the gut, hard, regardless of where you were born.

The title of the exhibition, Yoroyoron, combines the Japanese words for “staggering, tottering” (yoroyoro) with “public opinion” (yoron). In a recent interview in the Daily Yoimuri, Tabaimo compares the restroom from her Public conVENience installation to the internet: “I discovered certain commonalities between these actions and my own attitude in using the internet. I know full well something is happening, yet I maintain the guise of an aloof total stranger even as I peer into a 30-centimeter square screen. Untold hands scrawl each respective cubicle with anonymous messages like BBS website postings toward unspecified multitudes.” Comparisons of the internet to a public bathroom rendered in animated pseudo-narrative; that’s got to be universally appreciated at this point.

This won’t be the last time you hear the name Tabaimo. She’s young, dynamic and redefining what it means to make animations as art, not only in Japan, but internationally. Tabaimo has an upcoming solo show at the Cartier Foundation in Paris and her work will be included in the Sydney Biennale. Her future seems bright and full of more personal, hand-made and socially-conscious animation installations. And the best part: no explosions, no tentacles.

Justin Goldwater is Exhibition Coordinator for Okay Mountain in Austin, and he also makes stuff.

a Ezawa at Artpace's Hudson (Show)Room
On view through September 10, 2006

Caitlin Haskell

An enumeration of the mediums in Kota Ezawa’s Hudson (Show)Room exhibition at Artpace begins to convey the nature of the problems the artist addresses in his work. The (Show)Room contains light boxes, a row of five color aquatint etchings, a video projection, a video projection triptych and a slide projector cycling through a carousel of images. From diverse methods of presentation, we find a unity of style: everything is animated, even when it’s stopped.

In conversation with Ezawa last Thursday, the San Francisco-based artist described his work as a type of photographic archeology—a lifting up and removal of all but the most essential elements from photographs, television and video images entrenched in his generation’s visual memory. As he spoke, Ezawa described an extensive “clean-up effort,” where stray bits of surplus information were brushed away to reveal stable planes of color. (See above image.) Perhaps due to my nostalgia for the Poloariod Land camera depicted in one of Ezawa’s color aquatints, I was reminded of a remark Chuck Close made in 1970: “The camera is not aware of what it is looking at. It just gets it all down.” (See Artforum 8, No. 5) The camera gets it down, and Ezawa lifts it back up.

As much as Ezawa’s images have to do with reduction—both the stripping away of information and the crystallization of iconic moments—they are equally about translation. In the artist’s extensive series The History of Photography Remix, for example, viewers encounter photographs and video stills that have been translated into digital animations and are projected as still images. Shifting from photographic to non-photographic mediums transforms the images, which were iconic to begin with, into purer figurations of themselves. But, like photographs, Ezawa’s animations deny their figuration, creating images that appeal to a reality more real than the models they depict.

Ezawa’s time-based animations reveal the most overt difference between photographic originals and their copies. In these works, the pronounced deceleration of the visual elements draws attention to its difference from television. In Ezawa’s best-known work, The Simpson Verdict (2002), the unaltered courtroom soundtrack plays at the speed of life while the figures depicted in the courtroom remain still. But for a few crucial shifts of the eyes and quickly flashed smiles, the work could be a painting. And yet these rare instances of movement—moments when human urges overcome the inertia of stillness—motivate the Simpson trial narrative just as effectively as the voice-over courtroom address.

My assessment of Ezawa’s work may make it seem formulaic. There is a freshness to these pieces, however, that keeps them interesting. As important as Ezawa's source photographs are for what they got down, their visual interest comes when we take some of it back up.

Caitlin Haskell is Editor of ...might be good. She studies art history at The University of Texas at Austin.

A Scanner Darkly at a theater near you

Sally Mauresmo

Ok, so I didn’t read Philip K. Dick’s book A Scanner Darkly. As a snorting, time-traversing sci-fi lover, I have some latent guilt about it. Because of this, I’m starting a support group called “Confessions of a Tired Trekkie.” Come on over and we’ll hold each other and whisper sweet Vulcan into each other’s oversized ears.

Being unequipped with any literary foreknowledge, and only having a cursory understanding of the writer’s (ahem) “vision,” I find myself forced to discuss the movie A Scanner Darkly as just that, a movie. I was skeptical about the film after seeing the previews, which displayed Keanu Reeves’ animated mug talking about brain hemispheres as though they were “excellent, dude.” I also had reservations about a movie that was only animated post-production. Why was the animation necessary? Did the producers want to climb aboard the CGI train as it sputters and whirs with a surplus of mediocre movies on its back?

Don’t worry; the animation in Scanner actually makes sense. Its constant swerving, flickering universe makes accessible a watery world of hallucination and neuroses. I can’t imagine it as a live-action flick. The nervous, trippy animation is a visual echo of the sentiment we are meant to feel: fear. Los Angeles in seven years is a city with no corners, no stops, no stagnation. In a familiar and frightening Darwinian future. It is every man for himself. I’m not going to get all political in this shit, but Scanner’s visual representation of a paranoid and shifty humanity is timely. The disorienting visual effects of the movie made me feel like I was watching Katie Couric spit out the words “World War III,” her canine teeth sparkling as the room starts spinning. In short, it made me queasy.

Unfortunately, Scanner’s convoluted storyline did not excite me in the same way as the frenetic quality of the line work. Sorry Dickie and Linkie. Maybe it was Keanu, who, I am convinced, is chiseled out of granite and old soup cans. And I really believe that the story of Bob Arcter (Keanu’s character and the protagonist) is a sad one. His is a tale that merits an actor with a little more spirit and a little less disdain. Meanwhile, the supporting players, while interesting, are relegated to mere stock props for the sake of one giant conspiracy plot.

The movie’s action orbits around a dangerous drug called “D,” which causes bodily and moral decay in this dark apparition of the future. I think that “D” is much more powerful as a metaphor for something else than as a blatant reference to Dick’s own former drug misadventures. I’m pretty sure we all have our “D,” so as I was watching the film, I didn’t really require the constant affirmation that drugs are bad, they rot your brain, and the government is in on it. I get it, you’ve robbed it of any ambiguity, please shut up now.

There are other things I would have wished for Scanner. I think that the potency of the animation and the pervasiveness of Dick’s vision are lost amid overly glib banter and one-dimensional characters. I wanted it to be a little more Blade Runner, and a little less Minority Report. Blade Runner, also based on a Dick novel, is one of the best science fiction movies of all time. Minority Report, based on Tom Cruise’s winning dimples, is a movie that Spielberg churned out with the grinning enthusiasm that only delusional psychotics have. What made Blade Runner so great was its heart, a certain robotic pathos, and a story arc that was supported by technical innovation rather than overshadowed by it.

If there is a soul to Scanner, it is found not in the shiny actors or the twisted ending, à la M. Night Shyamalan. Rather, it lies in the experience of being enveloped by twitching faces and the atmospheric contortions of a world that is far too realistic. Oh, also, don’t do drugs.

Sally Mauresmo is a tennis
-loving writer from Austin.


Hara Museum of Contemporary Art
Tokyo, Japan

445 North Main Avenue
San Antonio, Texas

tel. 210.212.4900

IV. Elsewhere: Tomas Saraceno: Air-Port-City at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Yuken Teruya: Waterborne Islands at Sumida Riverside Hall Gallery & An Indian Travelogue

Tomas Saraceno: Air-Port-City at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
On view through August 4, 2006

Erin Smith

Tomas Saraceno has high hopes. Elevated dreams. A commitment to lift. Hovering somewhere between wishful idealism and graceful science-fiction, Saraceno’s exhibition Air-Port-City at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in Chelsea, consists of five pieces united by an airy idea.

Throughout the exhibition of four sculptures and a projected photo series titled Cumulous, Saraceno gently chides viewers to consider vaster horizons for communal real-estate. In Ladies and Gentleman We Are Flying in Space, the artist uses a simple black desk and a well-placed magnet to create the illusion of a “flying” screw. With the screw apparently launched in mid-air, the implication is that the desk possesses a magical energy which has set it into orbit. This cheeky miracle is accompanied by the teasing Mars on Water, in which Saraceno places Aerogel on a single sheet of paper to make an ever-lasting, non-evaporating droplet. These pieces slyly toy with our expectations of nature and natural phenomena: in the first, gravity is defeated; in the second, air and water appear to dispense with their normal behavior. In short, nature’s firmest rules become flexible.

By appearing to manipulate the laws of physics, Saraceno emphasizes freedom in the face of them. In the remaining sculptures, Saraceno conceptualizes what he calls “the sustainable occupation of air.” Given his stated project—to create an answer to earth’s imminent overpopulation—the works resonate with a touch of propaganda. In Flying Gardens, Saraceno creates a cellular construction of clear industrial balloons that is held together by a hand-crafted black elastic net accented with Spanish moss and the geometric shapes of produce cartons. The mass gently floats five feet off the ground in the gallery and is anchored by a tether to single rock. An accompanying work of the same title rests benevolently on the ground echoing similar industrial/biological themes. Saraceno’s use of international shipping cartons in these sculptures points to the current situation of teeming globalization, while his arrangement of the materials into organic cooperative forms implies a positive, harmonious alternative.

Compared to our predilection for populating oceans and outerspace with sundry structures, the sky has remained remarkably untouched. The human effort has focused on navigating it, traveling through it and other such dynamic pursuits. Saraceno’s work carries weight, but also gives a wink, that protects it from charges of blithe idealism. With the situation on the ground looking so bleak, we might train the next generation of architects to build on air.

Erin out.

Yuken Teruya: Waterborne Islands at Sumida Riverside Hall Gallery

Mayumi Hirano

In Yuken Teruya’s paper sculptures, corporate logos symbolize humanity’s invasion of nature. For instance, in Notice-Forest (an ongoing project begun in 2003), a series of sculptures made from Tiffany’s, McDonalds’ and other corporation’s paper bags, the silhouette of a tree is very carefully cut from the surface of the bag and rebuilt inside of it. Although I understand that it is almost inevitable that art exhibitions are corporately sponsored, especially in Japan where very few private patrons exist, it seems contradictory that Asahi, a major beer company, has selected Teruya as an artist for its yearly art collaborative project. I was intrigued to find beer mugs, beer cans and hops used in Teruya’s new works. The theme of beer, proposed by the sponsor, was a definite burden upon the artist. Aside from these commissioned works, surely there are works that are unaffected by Asahi’s sponsorship.

One work that seems free of Asahi’s corporate control is Rainforest (2006). In this work, Teruya used a knife to contour the silhouette of a tree from multiple toilet paper cores, again demonstrating his refined technique and attention to detail. Another work that is more Teruya’s than Asahi’s is Towels Swing and Swim (2006). In this installation Teruya has embroidered fish shapes onto towels produced by a sporting goods manufacturer. The towels are arranged to resemble a waterfall. The piece seems to refer to a common theme from traditional Japanese painting, carp swimming against a waterfall. Next to the towel installation, the viewer can walk up two white steps and hear the sound of dripping water.

Among the sixteen works exhibited in Waterborne Islands, Wedding of Mermaids (2006), a kind of homage to one of Teruya’s friends, especially drew my attention. The artist created a video of this friend’s wedding ceremony. The ceremony took place by (more accurately in) the sea of Okinawa, where both Teruya and his friend grew up. The video begins with the entrance of the bridal couple, goes on to scenes of them taking their marital vows, cutting cake, sharing toasts and singing songs with their friends and families. The video ends with an Okinawan ceremonial dance called Kachashi. It is a typical wedding ceremony, except that, in this case, it is performed on the ocean floor. The attendants are wearing scuba tanks on their backs, float in the water and don’t quite understand what the other is saying. They are simply sharing a pleasant moment when finally the bridal couple takes off their oxygen masks for a kiss.

When the camera captured the wedding scene from a distance, I thought of the dugongs (a kind of underwater mammal, similar to a manatee and also known as a sea cow) depicted in You-I (2002, 2005), which were shown on the opposite wall. In You-I, Teruya used Bingata techniques to create a pattern that he applied to various parts of a Kimono. The Bingata technique is specific to Okinawa and, in this case, was used by Teruya to form a camouflage-like pattern of dugongs, helicopters and American soldiers with parachutes.

Okinawa, the waterborne island located at the southernmost point in Japan, has one of the clearest oceans in the world. Coral reefs live there and dugongs enjoy visiting the sea of Okinawa, especially in the area called Henoko. Sadly, the Japanese government is planning to build a heliport for American forces in this beautiful natural habitat. In protest, local residents and others from all over Okinawa have sat on the beach everyday since April 19, 2004. Waterborne Islands recalled the words of Teruya’s mother, a long term participant in these demonstrations: “we are able to continue the sitting, simply because the sea is so beautiful."

Mayumi Hirano is an independent curator based in Yokohama.

An Indian Travelogue

Lyra Kilston

Thinking about my trip to India, where I just spent three weeks, I recall color: ornately decorated gas tanks underneath painted trucks, the black kohl eyeliner smeared around the eyes of babies (for good health), reds of the trees flowering across Northern India, the bright oranges of the fried wheel-shaped desserts, saris in pale greenish-yellow and hot pink. But mostly, I thought about blue—specifically the bright royal-turquoise blue of polyethylene-coated tarps. Familiar to American eyes from our own backyard sheds or camping trips, in India, these tarps signify something else: home.

Flying into Mumbai, the airplane nearly scraped over the acres of slums that line the runways. From the sky, the blue tarps looked like pools. (Haven’t you heard of the legendary swimming pools of Mumbai for that huge leisure class?) Besides seeing things like the results of d.i.y. electrical work (a glut of power lines cut and retied so many times it looked like a tumbleweed stuck on a pole) and congested urban streets without lanes, lights or laws (but with plenty of meandering cows), you see people who make a home out of a scrap of dirt and, if they’re lucky, a blue tarp. Tied to slats of wood or rusting corrugated metal, the bright blue tarps made roofs, walls or in some cases entire houses. The tarp becomes a roof, floor or bed, creating bright, durable patches on the muddy shoulders of roads or along the trash-strewn banks of slow rivers.

Tarps were used as shelters by American soldiers during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and it was during this time that they picked up their nickname “huchi” from the Japanese “uchi,” meaning house. Tarps, which in the United States at least, are imported from China, come in about 10 colors, but blue is one of the most popular as it is the cheapest. My rickshaw driver pointed to an old woman perched beneath a scrap of blue tarp selling about 5 packs of gum on the sidewalk joked, “Very very small store.”

I didn’t see any contemporary art in India, but I did see a lot of what India calls “tribal art.” It’s thriving and completely traditional, two words that would normally seem to create an oxymoron regarding indigenous art in our country. I met one of these artists in a gallery, and he took me around the show, which was done entirely by his family members. He pointed to each work and said “This is my god (a tree), this is my god (a woman), this is my god (a crocodile, a sun, a mountain and a snake…).” I’ll leave the gorgeous adjectives about India to Arundhati Roy.

I recall a heat that made my glasses steam the instant I stepped outside, men squatting and stringing together strands of orange marigolds and pink roses and everywhere the bright color blue of very, very small homes.

Lyra Kilston is a writer living in Brooklyn. She is Editorial Researcher at Modern Painters magazine and a contributing writer for Performa.

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
521 West 21st Street
New York, NY  10011

tel. 212 414 4144

V. A Reader Writes Back:Eric Zimmerman Reponds to Salvador Castillo's Review of Making it Alone

Received July 14, 2006

Dear ...m.b.g. and Salvador,

I am actually quite shocked, and a bit offended, by your review of Making it Alone and its unfair characterization of the art historians, Andy Campbell, Ashley Schmiedekamp, Erika Cole, and Rachel Mohl, who helped to organize the exhibition.

Not long ago I was an MFA student at UT and helped to "organize" a previous round of summer exhibitions at the CRL [Creative Research Laboratory] as well as show in others. Organizing included visiting studios and writing an essay for the catalog. I say "organize" not "curate" because any Ph.D/MA/MFA/Design student who wants to can participate in these exhibitions.  The organizers do not get to choose who, or what, gets shown in these exhibitions. They are tasked with taking any given number of artists and trying to get often disparate types of work to fit together under the aegis of a "curatorial idea". With the work coming before the curatorial premise and no say in how many artists exhibit, it is best characterized as organizing, or, curating in reverse. With this in mind "more cryptic artists" that "demand a more controlled environment (and more space)..." know exactly what they are getting into with these exhibitions. Rather than accusing the organizers of  attempting " to remedy this by giving their work extended narration in the catalog." you should consider that it is the artists who are responsible for working within the context of a particular exhibition and  in the confines of a given space.  The results you see are their efforts and not the organizers, especially in the case of these exhibitions.

However, it seems obvious that you privilege the artist over the art historian.  Rather than being critical of what really deserved it you chose the writers and organizers instead, without the facts, and without even naming them. All things considered, the last thing that ails this exhibition is the organization, installation and very short catalog essays.

Your mis-characterization of the relationship between the artists, writers and organizers is troubling. The spirit of these exhibitions since their inception in 2002 has been to foster a symbiotic relationship between the two departments; not a parasitic one as you suggest in your review. If "the historians seem to be using the artists to "make it" what is the critic doing?
Be careful with those stones.

Eric Zimmerman

VI. Announcements: August 4 - August 24, 2006

1. Exhibitions: Opening, Ongoing and Cleaning Out the House


All Dressed in White

Opening: Thursday, August 3rd, 6-8pm
August 3 – September 9, 2006
Women and Their Work

Filmmaker Diane Zander Mason brings together video works by Vicky Boone and Leslie Belt, Julie Hanus, Marianela Vega Oroza, Shannon Silva, Karen Skloss and Cauleen Smith that explores marriage and all of its obsessions, repulsions and conflicts.

B scene
Friday, August 4, 6 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Blanton Museum
B scene featuring the 2006 National Poetry Slam preview party
Join us for the Blanton's monthly art party featuring music, gallery tours, art-making activities, light snacks, and a cash bar featuring Blantinis. This month: get a sneak peek at the country’s most innovative spoken word artists as the Austin Poetry Slam presents this preview party. Music by DJ Nicknack. Cost: $5 for members; $10 for non-members. Media sponsor: KGSR.

Outside In
Opening Reception Saturday August 5th, 7-10pm

August 5-September 2, 2006
Okay Mountain The work of Elaine Bradford and William Hundley pose similar questions to viewers relating to our perception of the ordinary. By creating unlikely combinations of seemingly ordinary objects and situations, we find ourselves confronted with the unmistakably strange new qualities these resulting forms acquire.

Making It Together
Opening Reception Saturday August 12th, 6-9pm
August 12 - September 2
Creative Research Laboratory
Collaborative works by UT graduate students

Dogs Among Men
Opening reception Tuesday August 15th, 7pm

August 13 – August 19, 2006
Gallery Lombardi
The Furman House Collective from San Marcos featured Artists: Heather Pomykal, Jonathan McFadden, Jeremy White, Dustin Pevey, Ashley Howard, Matthieu Brajot, and Amber Kappes.

duck, duck, GOOSE
Opening Reception Friday August 18th, 6-9pm  
August 18 - September 25, 2006
Volitant Gallery
A solo exhibition of work by Matthew Rodriguez.

The Long Drive South
Opening Reception Friday August 18th, 6-9 pm  

August 18 - September 25, 2006
Volitant Gallery
Group show curated by Andreis Costa including work by Brian Belott, Joshua Blank, Andreis Costa, Lance de Los Reyes and Ginna Triplett

Soul-Journers: Friends, Family & the Fabric of Daily Life

Opening Saturday August 19th, 10am

August 19 - November 5, 2006
Austin Museum of Art
The oil paintings of Austin artist, Lu Ann Barrow will be on view at AMOA in her first retrospective exhibition. Her paintings are inspired by her rich imagination, fine sense of humor, and worldwide adventures. Barrow uses dots and dashes to pattern stylized compositions with a bright palette. 

Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee’s Bend Quilts, and Beyond
Opening Saturday August 19th, 10am

August 19 - November 5, 2006
Austin Museum of Art
Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee’s Bend Quilts, and Beyond
features exceptional abstract quilts by several generations of African-American women paired with three-dimensional found object sculptures by Thornton Dial and Lonnie Holley, fine art prints based on quilt designs, and documentary film about the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. 

Weighing and Wanting
Opening Saturday August 19th, 10am

August 19 - November 5, 2006
Austin Museum of Art
South African artist William Kentridge has attracted international attention for his innovative animated films in which simple charcoal drawings seem to magically come alive to tell deeply personal stories that nonetheless function as broadly allegorical tales for our times.

Summer Group Show

Closing Saturday August 19th

July 8 - August 19, 2006
Lora Reynolds Gallery
New work by gallery artists: Conrad Bakker, Karen Breneman, Benjamin Butler, Francesca Gabbiani, Ewan Gibbs and Jim Torok. Editions by: Uta Barth, Vija Celmins, Gerhard Richter and Ed Ruscha.  

Below the Surface: A Different Order

Closing Saturday August 19th

July 13 – August 19, 2006
d berman gallery
d berman gallery is pleased to present “Below the Surface: A Different Order” with new work by Jeffrey Dell and Marjorie Moore.  

Beast-Footed Feathered Serpents 

Closing Sunday August 27th  

July 16 - August 20, 2006
A collaboration between Jules Buck Jones and Caitlin Haskell.

New American Talent: The Twenty-First Exhibition

Closing Sunday August 20th

June 17 - August 20, 2006
The twenty-first in a series of annual juried exhibitions, New American Talent features the work of emerging national artists working in a variety of media including sculpture, painting, photography and new media.

Austin Graffiti Art from Birth to Present
Opening Saturday August 26th, 6-11pm   
August 22 - September 9, 2006
Gallery Lombardi
Artists: Blake Bermel, Daniel Chairez, Ecka, Kelly Edwards, Robert Herra, Nick Pagano Mark Prellop, Justin Prince, Matt Rodriguez, Jason Schmidt, Tim Scott, Cody Seigmund, Henry Warkentin, and Jeremy Weathers. Curated by Nathan Nordstrom and Rachel Koper.

San Antonio  

A Place In Time

Closing Sunday August 20th

July 14 - August 20, 2006
Tobin Building , 114 Camp St. (210) 533-5762
Curated by Claudia Alvarez Arozqueta from Mexico City, A Place in Time includes work by Mariana Castillo Deball, Mario García Torres, Dr. Lakra, Paulina Lasa, Gonzalo Lebrija, Yoshua Okon and Diego Teo.

Yokai Zyukkei: Scenery with Monsters
Through Saturday August 26th
July 6 – August 26 2006
Joan Grona Gallery

New works by Mimi Kato

Storm Series
Through August 31st

July 7 - August 31, 2006
Robot Art Gallery Paintings by David Alcantar  

Through September 9th
July 7 – September 9, 2006
Triangle Project Space
Work by: John Baldessari, Mike Bouchet, Liz Craft, Jorge Pardo, Eduaro Sarabia, Yutaka Sone, Luis Miguel Suro and Rikrit Tiravanija.    
Houston and Dallas

Plastic Harvest

Closing August 5th

Juy 8 – August 5, 2006 
Moody Gallery
New works by local artist and University of Texas at Austin professor, Dan Sutherland.  

Summer Sucks III: Fast and Hot
Closing Sunday August 20th

July 29 - August 20, 2006
Commerce Street Artist's Warehouse
Summer Sucks is the third installment of a hellacious celebration of the summers in Houston through reckless abandon and contemporary art.

 Kiki Smith: A Gathering, 1980 – 2005
Through Sunday September 24th

July 22 – September 24, 2006 
Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
A Gathering, 1980 – 2005
is the first full-scale major museum presentation of Kiki Smith’s work over the past 25 years. Smith’s art explores the human condition, the body, mythology, and spirituality through a diverse array of materials and methods ranging from traditional craftwork to contemporary multimedia installations.   

New York    

Manic and wasted (fragile flower underfoot)

Opening reception Saturday August 5th, 6-10pm

August 5 – August 19, 2006
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
...a sprawling mess of temporary installations in various media, opening nite artist, band, and fashion performances, hacked-video projections, fake myspace pages and exhibition posters, and a blue-screen video of...a blue-screen. Curated by Randall Garrett with featured artists: Eric Doeringer, Donna Huanca, Robert Moore , Teresa O'Connor, Mariana Kunstfascion, Paul Slocum, Pedro Velez, and Jason Villegas

2. Events:  

The Creative Music Workshop presents: Lines of Flight

Saturday August 5th 2006, 8pm
Little City Downtown
916 Congress Ave., (512) 476-CITY
The Creative Music Workshop is proud to present a night of creative improvised music curated by percussionist Chris Cogburn, featuring select figures in Texas' creative-avant music scene. The night features a trio with Cogburn joined by two of Texas' premiere avant-jazz instrumentalists - trombonist Brian Allen of Houston and Austin's legnedary saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Alex Coke.  

Lawndale’s 2006: The Big Slide Show
August 9th and 10th, 7pm

Lawndale Art Center
Join us as some of the Big Show artists participate in two nights of short, informal presentations of their work . Wednesday August 9, 2006: Suzanne Banning, Chuy Benitez, Chris Comperry, Leah DeVun, Emilie Duval, Keith J R Hollingsworth, John Hovig, Joan Laughlin, D B Mauldin, Steve Nguyen, Lynne Rutzky, Cameron Sands, Karen Smith, Patrick Turk, Lillian Warren, and Dorothy Lam Wong . Thursday August 10: 2006 Julie Brook Alexander, Andis Applewhite, Mary Curry, Leila Dallal, Lisa Marie Godfrey, Allison Hunter, Renate Jones, Karen Lastre, Libbie Masterson and Nicholas Phillips, Gabriella Nissen, Christy Ortiz, Eduardo Ortiz, John Painter, Rob Reasoner, Dandridge Reed, and William Winkler  

Road Agent Ambush

Fridays 5 - 9 P.M. (July 7 – August 25, 2006)
Road Agent
Every Friday evening, Road Agent mounts a different mini-exhibition of new work by a mystery artist whose studio and mind we looted (earlier that week).

A series of monthly artists’ workshops run through September. Visit Austin Art in Public Places for more details.        

3. Calls for Entry, Fellowships, Residencies and Job Opportunities    

Employment Opportunity
Artpace Artpace San Antonio seeks a cutting-edge Educator for a department as innovative and contemporary as the art upon which it is based. Artpace serves as a laboratory for the creation and advancement of international contemporary art. Artpace believes that art is a dynamic social force that inspires individuals and defines cultures. Our residencies, exhibitions, and education programs nurture the creative expression of emerging and established artists, while actively engaging youth and adult audiences. This position is open immediately, is full time, including some evenings and weekends, and offers competitive salary commensurate with experience and benefits. Please submit cover letter and resume to: Educator Search Artpace San Antonio 445 N. Main Ave San Antonio , TX 78205 fax: 210.212.4990 email:    

Twin Oaks Library Public Art Project
Deadline August 30, 2006
Austin Art in Public Places
AIPP is seeking local artists or artist teams (within 100 miles of Austin) to create unique, durable artwork for the new Twin Oaks Branch Library to be built at the site of the former South Austin Post Office at 1800 South 5th Street.      

Pfluger Bridge Extension/Gables Town Lake Public Art Project
Deadline September 1, 2006
Austin Art in Public Places
AIPP is issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to visual artists/artist teams who reside in the United States and are interested in creating unique artwork for one (or more) of the sites located in the area known as Lumberman’s Sandy Beach tract in downtown Austin, Texas.    

4. News

Artpace has announced the resignation of Executive Director Kathryn Kanjo, who has accepted the position of Director at the University Art Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Best wishes to you Kathryn!

Image: Kota Ezawa, Riefenstahl , 2006. Color aquatint etching.
Courtesy of the artist, Artpace San Antonio,
Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA and Murray Guy, New York, NY.


...might be good's Editor is Caitlin Haskell. Risa Puleo is ...might be good's Assistant Editor and is the source of all good ideas published in ...mbg. Many thanks to Jamie Wentz, Rebecca Roberts, and all of the contributors to issue #74.

Look for our next issue on August 25 .

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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