86, April 6, 2007
Rebecca Cohen talks with Mel Ziegler
When Kate Ericson died of a brain tumor in 1995, the collaborative art-making team of Ericson and Ziegler died with her. Two years later her partner moved to Austin with the archive and artifacts from more than a decade of their shared production in tow. He was, in a sense, on a mission to rediscover the artist known as Mel Ziegler.
A decade later, Ziegler, who now shares his life with wife Lisa Germany, a writer, and their twin sons, has reestablished his reputation as a solo sculptor and teacher. Recently he has had the opportunity to examine, with the benefit of time and distance, the impact of his work with Ericson. Due to the nearly five-year effort of curators Bill Arning (MIT) and Ian Berry (TANG), an array of the artists’ collaborative projects have been assembled in an exhibition entitled America Starts Here, which is on view at the Austin Museum of Art through May 6. An impressive hard-bound catalogue with multiple essays and myriad color photographs accompanies the exhibition. …might be good asked Rebecca Cohen to explore the impact on Ziegler of this timely resurrection of Ericson and Ziegler.
Rebecca Cohen: This is a very beautiful show, very seductive…
Mel Ziegler: Thank you. It would be more beautiful if the space was more beautiful. At MIT [List Visual Arts Center] and at the Tang [Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College], it was really gorgeous. In fact it won a first place award from the New England Art Critics Association for Best Monographic Museum Show in the region. Kind of like an art world Oscar for Bill and Ian, so it’s kind of nice.
RC: How important is it for you that viewers go beyond the surface appeal and understand the conceptual basis for the show?
MZ: All of our work allows people to enter on different levels. On one hand, I think it’s very important that you understand or try to understand, so the label becomes really important. It’s not trying to tell you what to think, it’s giving you factual information. There’s a little bit more text than Kate and I would have normally put in, but I felt that this was a little bit different than showing the work in a gallery, an educational thing.
On the other hand, how do you seduce people into seeing something, into wanting to appreciate or even begin to understand it? With all the dry conceptualism in the 70s when Kate and I were studying at CalArts, we were always interested in trying to create work that was very beautiful, seductive and present, very physical. That’s part of the signature of the work. It addresses conceptual issues, but at the same time, it’s not afraid to be beautiful. There were people like Michael Asher who hated us for that because he was so anti-object. He was a major influence on our work, but we took it in another direction from where he was.
RC: You grew up a long way from CalArts—in Campbelltown, Pennsylvania.
MZ: Yes, on a dairy farm. We had 110 head of cattle. Every morning until I left for college, I’d get up and milk the cows before going to school.
RC: What about that experience led you to art school and making the kind of work you do?
MZ: I think there’s always a connection to who we are and where we come from. I think our work is down to earth. Perhaps a lot of that comes from my history on the farm. Appreciating a certain work ethic, acknowledging the contribution of farmers…
RC: Or the contribution of workers at the Museum of Modern Art in Signature Piece. (In 1988, the duo affixed Plexiglas plaques on various functional objects—a door or chair, for example—in MoMA’s Project Room and adjacent areas, identifying each with the first name of a worker who had contributed to the object’s manufacture.)
MZ: Yes, I think that appreciating that work ethic comes from being brought up on the farm.
RC: Did your family attend one of the openings for the exhibition?
MZ: My parents and a couple of aunts and uncles attended the opening at the Tang. My mother once said, “I don’t know what it is exactly, but I know it’s what you enjoy doing.”
RC: I wonder if she related to the domestic images in your work—houses, baby jars, cupboards, dishes. How does your work reflect your more private notions of home? Did the work take the place of a domestic life?
MZ: That’s an interesting question. I have to admit I never thought I’d live in a house. We had an apartment in New York and we had a barn. So the whole notion of living in a house is pretty new to me.
There were several different layers to Kate’s and my relationship. We always acknowledged the fact that we were a couple. When we did handwriting on pieces, it was always her writing and mine, a male/female thing whether or not you could trace it. I don’t know if it was a replacement for a domestic life or not. We never talked about children until right before she got sick. [Our work] was about being able to discuss how important those things are in American culture.
When we lived in Houston, houses became a venue for us to be able to work. We painted houses to make a living and discovered ways to make art out of that, to find a private home owner to let us do something. This social interaction, finding someone who would let us do something with the house, paint it red or whatever, was part of the work. It was acknowledging pragmatics. We liked this way of engaging people who weren’t interested in art, people who didn’t know anything about art. It stuck with us.
RC: When were you and Kate married?
MZ: We were never married until she got sick, and then because of logistics. We had been together for seventeen years, and doctors started calling me “the boyfriend” and were looking to her parents to make decisions. It was a very bittersweet time for me. We had a wedding cake and everything. It was kind of a diversion, a way of not having to think about what we were going through. One day everything is fine, the next they’re telling you, you have three weeks to live. We knew in days it was terminal. But we had seventeen months to talk about the work, the future, time to spend together. Everybody says “husband and wife” and, in essence, we were.
RC: Did your working relationship make the work stronger or did it make your relationship more challenging?
MZ: We were best of friends, we were lovers. We were collaborators. It was a really good partnership. That’s rare, I think. We lived art. We thought about it all the time. Talked about it all the time. Woke up drinking coffee and talking about art. Went to bed talking about art. That’s what we did. We were together all the time, we were rarely apart. I realize in terms of arts collaboration, I’d never find that again.
RC: It must be hard to go from having that constant dialogue with another person as a basis for your work to relying on an internal monologue. Do you use other people now to fill that void?
MZ: That was the hardest thing for me. I not only lost Kate, I lost my career when she died. People saw us as an entity. I had a couple things lined up for us to do, and so, after taking some time off to straighten out my head, I contacted them. And I got this letter from a German museum curator saying, “I wouldn’t do anything with you, I don’t know who you are.” It just blew my mind. I thought, you’re no longer Ericson and Ziegler, who are you? It was almost like I was just out of graduate school and I could do what I wanted, which was hard…
RC: When did you come to Austin?
MZ: In the fall of 1997. I bought a building and renovated it. It was kind of therapy, I guess. I remember finishing out my space, a 2,000-square foot studio with white walls and an antique desk Lisa and I bought in Fredericksburg and I couldn’t do anything. I was just having this circular dialogue with myself and it wasn’t going anywhere.
RC: Do you sometimes bounce ideas off colleagues or students?
MZ: I probably have talked more with students than with colleagues. I’m not sure why. I was experimenting in the studio with a cabinet filled with red light when Elaine Bradford, a student who was working for me, said it really had to be white light and she explained why. I thought she was right, so I changed it and called the piece Untitled (for Elaine). When she did her [big red] piece at Okay Mountain, it was Untitled (for Mel) because she was trying to comment on something I said in class. If you can’t make it good, make it big. If you can’t make it big, make it red.
RC: The exhibition space Okay Mountain is in your old studio space, right?
MZ: Yes. Half of the Okay Mountain group are former students who I had a good relationship with in class, and so when I heard they were looking, I said why don’t you come over and look at my space and think about renting it. They have a lot of energy and are doing some pretty good things. I have nothing to do with their curatorial stuff. My relationship is landlord, but maybe a little bit more than landlord.
RC: The America Starts Here catalogue is beautifully done. Does the book separate you in some way from your past or reestablish that connection?
MZ: I really wanted this to happen. One, because I promised it to Kate. Also it helped me realize why I wasn’t treated the same [after she died]—I understand it more now. I still think I’m a good artist, that I do interesting work.
But it is closure in some sense. I can look at it as a piece of history now. Kate and I talked about how significant the collaboration was. When you have another mind that comes into play, you realize you didn’t ask all the questions. We really liked that.
RC: Was there a lead dog in your team?
MZ: No. It was an equal collaboration. And we wanted it always to be our full names, not this corporate identity. It was about two individuals coming together. We talked about that before she died, whether or not her name should continue, whether I should continue with Ericson and Ziegler. But I felt it gave more respect to her if I didn’t do that. It wasn’t supposed to be like an architect’s office [even though] there were enough ideas in the idea book that I could have continued to do Ericson and Ziegler all my life.
RC: Are you realizing any of those ideas?
MZ: After she died there really was a shift. I promised I’d never do another house project. I started to experiment on stuff. I started doing all these trailer truck pieces—the truck thing with Ericson Ziegler was probably mine, and it came out with a vengeance after she died. I’d done those pieces before in New York, and so I started doing them again. I was trying a lot of different things. John Baldessari once said, “The best time to make art is when no one is looking,” so here I was in Austin and I could try new things.
RC: Is this the final word on Ericson and Ziegler?
MZ: No. There’s a lot that’s not in the book and the exhibition. There are a lot of projects that never happened that were really fun proposals, drawings that we did. There are books and books of them.
RC: But not all on napkins like the Diana Drawings in the show. (When Kate was ill, the artists routinely visited a nearby diner called Diana’s Place, where they sketched ideas for new projects on napkins.)
MZ: No. They were on very good paper.
RC: Even though I never knew her, I felt Kate’s absence when I saw those drawings. How did you feel about them?
MZ: When Bill and Ian and I went back to that room, I choked up. Kate wanted to work, until the end. She always wanted to be set up with a pen and some drawing paper. Doing the Dianas was about the routine. We’d sit around coffee and draw. And then we’d go swimming. She taught me how to swim.
I acknowledge in the catalogue how emotional it was for me to call up all this stuff. I think it was hard for Lisa, too. I am really happy that two great curators decided to take it on. I don’t think there’s anybody who could have done a better job.
RC: So what’s the next project?
MZ: We have a ranch in Gonzales, about an hour away on the Guadalupe. We just cleared the pad for the barn.
RC: Mel Chin, who met you and Kate when you were all living in Houston in 1979, said you worked with “humility and ambition” which he describes as a powerful combination. What a wonderful juxtaposition of words! Were you and Kate humble but ambitious?
MZ: (Laughter.) I don’t know how to respond to that. I think we were ambitious, hard workers. There was very little to stop us when we were young artists. I was building 70-foot towers and Kate was doing these rock walls with tons of stone in them. In terms of physical labor, we were ambitious. We were just determined to get things done. I try to get it through to my students, you can always figure out ways in which you can make your work.
Dan Boehl & Jonathan Marshall: Warning: Grand Mal!!
Jonathan Marshall and I have been working on a large project of poems/paintings that turned out to be pretty time consuming for both of us. So Jonathan had the idea to work on a smaller project in the meantime. He would do black line drawings, I would use these bad little poems that I harvested from notebooks and emails, and we’d put them in a photocopied book, or zine, as Warning: Grand Mal!! has been called.
Each image is a scanned drawing on an 8 ½-by-11 sheet of paper. The poems were typed on a typewriter, corrected with a correcting tape and scanned. The Photoshop images of the poems look like nasty little fortune cookie fortunes.
The poems and the drawings have very little, if any, connection. Jonathan literally handed me a CD with images that I had not seen before. I popped them into the computer and started pairing them with the poems. The final product was printed at Kinko’s as a run of 100.
Warning: Grand Mal!! is available at Okay Mountain. More at www.kingsotfsea.com and www.jonathanmarshall.net.
Click on images to enlarge
Caitlin Haskell: Not Knowing What I'll Find
We are looking at the first page of a scrapbook made in the fall of 1959. A red paper rectangle and the word “Colorado” float asymmetrically within dilute frames imposed by the residue of postcards once pasted on the reverse. This may be a semiotician’s dream; but there’s a story to it.
The maker of our scrapbook, who does not identify herself as an artist, was ten years old when she drove across the country with her grandparents. She speaks of this trip as the pinnacle experience of her childhood, but recalls that she was only asked to go because her Aunt Jo declined the offer. (Jo wanted to spend the summer with her boyfriend.) Their course began in central Pennsylvania and, after crossing the Midwest, took a southern turn through Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Once in California, they headed north, following the Pacific coast to Washington, and then came back east via Montana and the Dakotas. The whole trip took about two months. The following fall, this scrapbook came into being as a project that could occupy its maker when she was too sick to go to school. Why she began the book with Colorado, she cannot explain. Maybe her memories of Colorado were strongest. Or maybe she didn’t feel like cutting the difficult contours of Ohio, Illinois or Missouri.
Many of the postcards in the scrapbook contain only two or three sentences each, for example: “We went 658 miles Monday. See you next month.” A more verbose postcard begins: “How are you? I’m fine. I’m in or was in New Mexico.” There are also accounts of scandalous adventures and near escapes: “We missed an Earthquake. Bears came up to our car. We fed them though it’s prohibited.” A few postcards even have apocalyptic overtones: “This [water] fall is dry this time of year so they shoot fire down it.”
I inquired why Colorado appeared in the scrapbook as it does and got a question in return. “How else would I have done it?” Did she want me to list alternatives? Before I could she continued, “This is what we learned in geography class. I had trouble when we had to draw the map, but was always better with the big western states. When I had to draw the eastern side of the map, I’d always have an extra state somewhere that I couldn’t label because I couldn’t get the pieces to fit together.” This, to me, sounds a good deal like an artist’s response. I’m reminded of a well-known exchange between Leo Steinberg and the most prominent painter of the shapes of states, Jasper Johns. In this case, however, Johns was asked about painting letters. “Do you use these letter types because you like them or because that’s how the stencils come?” “But that’s what I like about them, that they come that way.”
I suppose that’s what I like about this page—that it came this way—with the printed word in pencil slightly further away from the red rectangle than it should be, with no notation of the capital city, with ghostly rectangles that hover and echo “Colorado’s” form, with red paper rather than any other color paper, and with Colorado, not Nevada or some other shapelier state. My interest in this image was immense when I found it last December and it has been held by the work’s insinuation that this was the obvious way to do something. The page’s naïveté becomes overt through its maker’s calm assuredness that her viewer would understand. Nothing had to be added; and because nothing was, the image gives so much.
Itty Bitty Titty Committee and the Benefits of Lesbian Kitsch
Of all the movies I saw at the SXSW film festival, “Narrative Film” jury award winner, Itty Bitty Titty Committee, was the one that made me most long to become a teenaged lesbian. Considering that I’m straight, male and in my twenties, the sentiment initially came as shock, but it's ultimately one that I believe testifies to director Jamie Babbit’s knack for making provocative feminist themes palatable through ironically campy filmmaking.
Like Babbit’s previous feature, 1999s But I’m a Cheerleader!, Itty Bitty revels in a bubble-gum aesthetic that has long typified the teen romantic comedy genre. Despite the fact that all of the film’s leading characters are lesbian activists, the narrative also seems lifted straight out of an early nineties after-school special: Anna (Melanie Diaz) is an average, withdrawn teen with typical insecurities, trying to make ends meet as a receptionist at a boob job clinic. Ripe for self-discovery and modest rebellion, she gains a new-found sense of empowerment, as well as a new love interest, after catching Sadie (Nicole Vicius) spray-painting, “a woman is worth more than her parts,” on the front window of Anna’s office building. Anna is intrigued. Sadie is flirty. Both are hot. The only problem is that Sadie is already in a relationship with Courtney (Melanie Mayron), an older woman who runs a respectable feminist organization. Nevertheless, Anna gets drawn into Sadie’s ostensibly radical feminist art punk group, “Clits in Action,” or C(i)A. Together, the group carries out a slew of rather lame public art projects loosely inspired by the Guerrilla Girls. Each of their exploits receives musical accompaniment by ass-kicking riot grrrl staples like Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy and Sleater-Kinney, but it becomes a little depressing to see how handily Babbit tames these otherwise ferocious bands by keeping their songs so neatly contained in her candy-coated montages. Anyway, Anna gets the girl, the C(i)A pulls off a major stunt and they all learn about themselves in the process.
Even with its feminist content, Itty Bitty is just as banal as any other comedic teen romance. Making matters worse is the fact that most of the pretty, young Hollywood actresses are hardly credible as lesbian activists and the majority of the jokes could only appeal to lowest common denominators (that Washington Monument is nothing but a giant white dick!!!). But behind Itty Bitty’s flagrant pandering is a fairly well conceived strategy for effecting social change—an issue that also plays out nicely within the film’s narrative. On the one hand, the C(i)A girls gain an infectious sense of being alive by sticking it to society; the down side is that they’re only pleasing themselves. No one else is paying any attention.
Mayron’s character, Courtney, represents the alternative route; she’s seen some real results working within the confines of the existing social system, but has become somewhat of an automaton in the process. The dilemma is expressed most explicitly when the C(i)A joins a group of conservatives in an anti-gay marriage demonstration. Is it appropriate, they ask, for homosexuals to fight for acceptance within an institution that is so inherently oppressive? Can “the master’s tools ever be used to dismantle the master’s house?” Babbit clearly has thought hard about this question as it pertains to her own career as a queer auteur, and she seems to have found an acceptable solution in her penchant for kitsch.
Through its over-wrought adherence to mainstream Hollywood conventions, Itty Bitty draws attention to how incompatible those conventions are with the film’s subject matter, yet still retains the ability to garner mass appeal. Babbit gets to sleep well at night believing that she’s given the indy crowd something to think about, while subliminally edifying the rest of us with politically-charged, but easily consumable cinema. Successful or not, I can admire the attempt to strike such a delicate balance.
Animations at Arthouse
On view through April 22
Arthouse’s Animations follows an ultimately redemptive trajectory, almost a coming-of-age and growing old narrative, that begins by disabusing its audience of burdensome naiveté. The exhibition offers adult-oriented commiseration through four nightmarish claymation films and resurrects the quashed ambitions of erstwhile childhood with a punchy cartoon of anarchic desire and self-exile. And with a cumulative run time of a lean 30-or-so minutes, the audience grows up fast.
Hadycol Christmas captures the moment you realized that your derelict, widowed father has been masquerading as Santa ever since you were born. No, there is no Santa Claus, but the gesture, the spirit of Christmas—kind of like how your Mom is a spirit now—is real. By elucidating the puerile myth, your father allows for a richer, more complex understanding of your own life and reveals alternatively mysterious avenues for you to explore during successive Christmas celebrations. Brent Green’s tender reconsideration of the beloved American myth denudes the mechanics of animation while simultaneously examining the verisimilitude of the traditionally (and heretofore inexplicably) jolly Saint Nick. It manages to preserve and reinvigorate the original magic in both content and form without spoiling any of the fun.
In Green’s melancholic world of static painted backgrounds, animated with squares of cellophane and an active super8 camera, Santa dissembles from the fat-bellied, well-dressed merrymaker of lore into his real world counterpart: a sallow recluse, drunk on Hadycol (10 parts cough syrup, 90 parts whiskey) trying desperately to temper his sadness with the life-affirming objects of his pursuit. His inventions, though well-intentioned, lack the polish and function of the fantasy Santa’s elf-manufactured crowd-pleasers. Consistent with this policy of total discretion, Green betrays the spectacle of the moving image by revealing the tools of his craft: the numbered cells of varying size, scratchy and smudged with fingerprints, the pops of black that separate each still frame where nothing exists at all. These imperfections attest to the craftsmanship of a real person, not a workshop of elf slaves.
One night during SXSW, Green brought a few of his friends, including the Magik Markers and Bitter Tears, to perform live scores to Hadycol and some of his other films. The brassy horned, loose snared, worn-out banjo provided sonic and narrative accompaniment appropriate to the atmosphere of Green’s animated worlds. But one crybaby toddler, too young to enjoy the freaked out acoustic noise of his elders, declaimed the racket with a warbled, “I don’t like it.” Well, just wait until you get into the next room, I thought. Then you’ll really find out what it’s like to be a morally conflicted pedophile without recourse to healthy sexual expression.
A sign just outside warns that the art within might not be appropriate for children. It's true. Nathalie Djurberg stopped believing in Santa a long time ago. Four stations equipped with single personal-sized TV sets and headphones cramped into a comparatively small room simulate the sensation of individual experience of the universally experienced. Everyone probably sets their headphones down on the station, waits alone, jostling each other during the rotation, picks up the headphones from someone who just finished, then enjoys the film. Having the satisfaction of individually watching the films is complemented by the comfort of knowing that everyone else watched it too. Ignorant of the rest of the world, children have the pleasure of feeling unique in their suffering. As a grown up, that pleasure is replaced with the notion that everybody suffers all the time.
The disjunctive relationship between childhood and adulthood informs the thematic development of Djurberg's claymations. Implicit in her decision to animate clay figures is the desire to interact with childhood recollected, if not with actual children. Deftly, she molds her clay into grotesque pubescent girls, doting mama bears and Lolita-style rapists. Djurberg's tales of perverse, youthful misadventure and loathsome adult situations are made all the more so when cast in the traditionally child-oriented medium of claymation. A sort of role-reversal takes place. Djurberg assumes the responsibility of a child animator creating for an adult audience, recounting, as if from a child's callow, impartial worldview, the inexcusable events she has witnessed or experienced. Thus detached, her narratives seem to objectively condemn all of its characters and permit them no opportunity for redemption. The films are short, almost monosyllabic and offer to the newly disillusioned, a world of limitless capacity for devastating disappointment.
Hatched into this world of disappointment from his mother's cloaca and baptized in a shower of his father's urine, Pete sets off as the fast and lovable anti-hero of David Shrigley and Chris Shepherd's Who I Am and What I Want. Immediately recusant to the strict and unimaginative strictures of a polite society which, though happy to greet him, he deplores, Pete proscribes himself to a swampland, an environment that condones his feral whims and in which he finds a suitable companion. Who I Am is based on the drawings of Shrigley, a prolific cartoonist, who has made two other animated videos, one for the band Blur and one for Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and has published tons of books on his own. Throughout the cartoon, first-person narration explains Pete's antisocial behavior, his disgust for the idiots who had a completely blank space to create inside of and instead of doing anything interesting they built commercial dance clubs. The fulfillment of his desires precluded by virtue of mortality's restrictions doesn't upset him as much as the prevailing attitude of a civilization too craven and dull to abide his absurdist bent. So then he moves to a swamp. A "crazy bastard," probably, but at least he doesn't feel like a chump for a civilization that, by Who I Am's estimation, is a far worse hell.
Ending on this comedic note of self-empowerment, a notion reinforced by its pen and ink, anybody-can-do-it aesthetic, this handful of movies, linked by a take-it-or-leave-it/growing-up-in-a-world-that-doesn't-need/want-you motif, Animations delivers on its titular promise without having to exonerate itself later for having misled the audience.
Elaine Bradford: Freaks of Nurture at Women and Their Work
Closed March 31
Elaine Bradford’s exhibition Freaks of Nurture offers all of the pleasures and complexity of a long kiss with a beautiful bearded woman. This exhibition consists of a variety of taxidermy animals covered with colorful crochet sweaters that cling to the animals like a second skin. In her artist statement, Bradford compares her sweater-clad taxidermied animals to the absurdity we might find in a circus sideshow. At first glance, the show is an absurdly delightful spectacle, however beneath these seductive surfaces, there is a lurking and unsettling undercurrent.
Bradford’s use of crochet morphs into whimsical forms that invade the gallery space like tentacles or bizarre appendages. In her sculpture Longneck, she pushes scale and materials by elongating the neck of an antelope. The decorative neck sweater protrudes from the wall as its bands of color coil down onto the gallery floor like a giant python. Bradford uses a camouflage pattern in the bands of color as a “wink” to the hunting culture that contributed to the antelope’s demise. Lying limply on the ground, the antelope’s head is swallowed by the web-like crochet, revealing only vacant glass eyes. This presents an awkward moment. Should I celebrate the fantastic sculptural form or should I mourn this exotic freak?
My favorite freak, Divided Attention, displays a different kind of camouflage. This taxidermied ram sports a second skin that is predominantly white. Like a chameleon, he blends in perfectly with the white walls of his new habitat. The muted palette provides a moment to meditate on his stoic posture and the intricacy of Bradford’s craft. Occasionally, coarse animal hairs push through the soft loops of white yarn as a reminder of the dead animal that lurks beneath the surface. The ram’s horns are covered with seamless crochet extensions that continue to spiral outward and then reconnect with the wall like two sprawled cast nets. These sprawled shapes are accented with red circles that resemble a target or bulls-eye. These crochet bulls-eyes deflect attention from the ram, eliminating him as a potential target. This austere creature ironically hangs on the wall as if he is finally out of harms way.
Bradford’s freaks range from absurdly loud to elegantly strange, each providing a rich viewing experience. Brewing beneath the neatly stitched loops of yarn there is a tangled mess of gender issues and rural nostalgia that both complicate and enrich this experience. Bradford’s sculptures weave form and content in a manner that presents a constant quandary, assuring that the kiss will linger long after the fact.
Daniel Bozhkov: Recent Works and Underground Waterworks at the UNT Art Gallery
On view through May 3
The work of Daniel Bozhkov, a New York-based, Bulgarian artist, is primarily research-focused and site-specific, sometimes spotted with performance, often precluding the gallery system with a specific want for an exterior, cultural effect. He might be considered a philanthropist, or in the case of his exhibition at the University of North Texas (UNT) gallery at the School of Visual Arts (SoVA), an environmentalist. In preparation for his work in Denton, Bozhkov had been in Texas for over a year, researching water tables, cloud-seeding and water-catching systems, sparking dialogues with local specialists and conservationists. Fittingly, the days leading to the opening of Rainmaker’s Workshop coincided with the WaterWays 2007 Conference, an event organized by UNT philosophy professor Irene J. Klaver, Ph.D, director of the Philosophy of Water Project.
In a March 13 lecture to a bemused but mostly captivated crowd of art students and professors, Bozhkov cryptically described his process. What I parsed together was an almost militant, even anarchistic desire to disturb, although anachronistically laced with humanistic interest. He cited infiltration as a primary tactic—he has a knack for blending in with his surroundings—and in Denton, as he installed Underground Waterworks, it seemed effortless. His grizzled, frayed appearance served as effective camouflage as he milled around campus and local streets. In his lecture, he built up his subversive artistic practices with phrases like “smuggling meaning” on the “cultural black market,” a “disruption of efficient systems” and an “asymmetrical war.” He expressed a curious desire to slice culture open on a bias, not to expose grim truths, but those joyful quirks of humanity that are today often passed over. And when he reached his conclusion with “the artist’s responsibility is to be irresponsible,” the outdoor installation’s quirky environmentalism began to make some sense.
The exhibition consists of two parts: Recent Works, which has traveled to UNT from Arthouse in Austin (a curatorial collaboration between Diana Block and Regine Basha), and Underground Waterworks, a garden installation described by Bozhkov as a self-contained “biosphere.” While the indoor portion indexes the artist’s oeuvre, the installation punctuates it, demonstrating Bozhkov’s practice by referencing a specific chronology of past works.
It could be argued that Bozhkov's portfolio functions as a self-contained object, in the artist’s words a machine of "self-referential simulacra.” Bozhkov’s art demands and assertively supplies a striking connection, unusual in many ways, between artist, viewer and the culture that lies between them. But Bozhkov’s philanthropy is neither force-fed nor easy to swallow. His audience is circumstantially requested to research his past to understand his present. Fortunately, the Recent Works exhibition supplies this information. And so, from a “crop circle” in the likeness of Larry King in rural Maine that engages an unsuspecting media, to edible pictograms describing forgotten Turkish words on the streets of Istanbul and a study in art conservation through a fresco at a Skowhegan Wal-Mart, we are brought, curiously, to Underground Waterworks.
The installation sports a design meant to advertise Bozhkov’s latest fascination with water conservation. It was born, in conjunction with his research, out the accompanying production for the Arthouse show, Cantata for Twelve Choirs and Several Salamanders. Cantata featured several choral renditions of the spiritual “Wade in the Water” at the Sunken Gardens at Barton Springs for a captive audience of humans and an endangered species of reptiles. Cantata is referenced in a looped recording of blues singer Malford Milligan that is piped out a hidden speaker, providing a conspicuous link between past and present. A reservoir on the SoVA building roof pours into a large tank, supplying a regenerative irrigation system and feeding a series of plant beds and a small gurgling pond. A dumptruck—“caught in the timecode,” as the artist describes, depositing wide variety of North Texas perennials—functions in this case as Bozhkov’s stamp of irresponsibility. Students returning from a particularly moist Spring Break find an overgrown mess of plant life tumbling from a rusted vehicle outside the art building, and either inflected with controversy or approval, their dialogue—Bozhkov’s primary goal—smartly activates the piece. Conversations occur regularly in passing or at the benches that conveniently surround it.
As nature once again takes over during this rainy April, I can imagine a smiling and inquisitive Bozhkov, now back in the northeast, wondering exactly how the city of Denton is responding to his subversiveness.
Robert Rauschenberg: Cardboards and Related Pieces at the Menil
On view through May 13
Jeff M. Ward
The earlier works in Robert Rauschenberg: Cardboards and Related Pieces are made from found boxes, unfolded and hung flat against the wall. Shape is the strongest formal element of these pieces. They become maps; their shipping labels denoting towns. Unsurprisingly, the Menil-owned National Spinning / Red / Spring (Cardboard) looks not unlike the state of Texas. Large pieces like Radiant White / 952 (Cardboard), in which Rauschenberg placed deconstructed boxes end-over-end for more than a dozen feet, are continents. These works have the clearest metaphor in the show: highfalutin’ art, which purports to carry content, is analogous to everyday cardboard, which actually carries contents. But there is only so much Rauschenberg can do with just a deconstructed box, and this tightly focused exhibition highlights the artist’s rapaciousness more than this audacious metaphor.
As early as the first year in this three-year survey, which covers the period from 1971 to 1973, Rauschenberg crushed, strung-up, colored and arranged boxes to make increasingly painterly works, that is to say the works that emphasize image over shape. Though his initial interventions were few, boxes that are colorfully printed, marred by staple pricks and tire tracks or bound-up in multi-box clusters look increasingly like images rather than painting/sculpture objects per se. He even pictures cardboard via lithography and ceramic cast prints. The cardboard becomes less overt as Rauschenberg adds a limited palette of tarpaper, wood, metal and other detritus in a series parenthetically titled Venetian. The last works in the show, however, are the biggest derivation.
Each called Untitled (Egyptian), the most recent pieces in the show, from 1973, are arranged the cardboard as freestanding boxes, parallel to the wall like altarpieces, but the cardboard is obscured. The surface is covered with sand or masked in a mummy's fabric bands. The real wower is the florescent green and orange glow produced by the gallery's lighting reflected off the works’ day-glow painted backside. After the predominantly monochrome cardboard, these final works seem awesome, but they also make the most dismissive use of the cardboard. In a show that uses the material as its delimiter, these works seem to be less successful. Rather, they appear indexical of an artist’s restlessness.
Surely Rauschenberg is a tireless maker of things, and perhaps the Egyptians are more representative of his style. In this context though, it is the most cardboardy cardboards, although they lack material eclecticism, that still seem as iconoclastic as Rauschenberg’s multi-media Combines from nearly two decades prior. These explorations between painting and sculpture exist, as he famously said, “in the gap between art and life.” To do this, the works combined art and quotidian materials as well as their different significations. The Egyptians, conversely, seem like a pose; they don’t really mine the content or the aesthetic of the cardboard. They mark the moment when the look of Rauschenberg’s work became a “look.”
Matthew Sutton: The Kudzu Project at GoGo Art Projects
On view through August 1
H. David Waddell
In The Kudzu Project, GoGo Art Projects’s inaugural solo show, Matthew Sutton presents a work that rides the line between science fair project, window display and conceptual, minimalist sculpture. Kudzu is a weed-like vine that was imported from Japan and introduced to the United States during its Centennial Exposition as decoration. The plant was embraced during the New Deal era as a way to help the economy by reviving the soil. The plant turned out to be an uncontrollable nuisance, engulfing and destroying anything that enters its path. The government’s delayed reaction caused an expanding problem, and today the Kudzu plant covers a good portion of the Southeastern United States.
Sutton’s vines stem from two plexiglass planters placed between Conner’s second-story window and the backdrop wall. The piece can be seen from Connecticut Avenue. Lights hinged from the ceiling remind us that this is a window display to be seen during the day and also at night. Subtly attached to the wall, a camera reminds us that this is process art, constantly being documented.
I am interested in the possibilities of these vines enveloping objects in the gallery. Allowed enough time, it could swallow desks, cabinets, even art. I experienced Kudzu for the first time this summer while driving through Virginia. Kudzu’s gripping control over the land is haunting and unbelievable; it drapes over trees in clumps, silhouetting these threes like an animal swallowed by a boa constrictor. Sutton’s piece will never reach these emotive heights, but The Kudzu Project reminds us that nature can still be powerful and we cannot always control our creations. Sometimes, the ideas that we implant become bigger than we first suspect. We can use our imagination to see this vine destroying a gallery. I associate the subject of this work with Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors or Otik from Jan Svankmajer’s Little Otik.
Each time one visits The Kudzu Project, the work will have changed. Hopefully a love affair among this project and returning viewers will spark. Conner should hold an event on the day this vine is ripped from the gallery and thrown into the trash. The reaction from the audience would be a barometer to see if Sutton transformed this vile entity into cuddly Kudzu. While the gallery might not allow the weed its full maturity and beauty, young artists are receiving exposure and a nurturing environment through GoGo Art Projects. Conner and Sutton have both planted the seed that GoGo Art Projects is full of potential, opening experimental avenues for art within Washington D.C.
Gilbert & George: Major Exhibition at the Tate Modern
On view through May 7
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It doesn’t get much clearer than that, does it? Gilbert & George have certainly followed their own path in the field of contemporary art. As their biography—a document as straightforward and dry as the title of the exhibition—attests, Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore met forty years ago in 1967 at St. Martin’s School of Art, then a hotbed of minimalist and conceptual artistic production. The two began collaborating shortly thereafter and assumed the moniker Gilbert & George. Major Exhibition marks the first major London retrospective of their work in well over fifteen years.
It should be noted that Gilbert & George produce works in series, specifically designed for the first space (gallery or museum) in which they are exhibited. At the Tate Modern, Major Exhibition is laid out in chronological order through a number of galleries; a room is dedicated to each group of works. The great strength, then, of this exhibition is that it brings together works long since disseminated through the art market. Some series like THE NAKED SHIT PICTURES, in which the naked artists squat, bend and stand alongside florescent brown turds the size of people, or THE NEW HORNY PICTURES, collections of sex workers advertisements (like Charbel’s above) lined up in neat grids, make a different kind of sense when viewed within the context of the series. Turds become intricate and complex surfaces, much like the microscopic surfaces of semen, piss and sweat (some of Gilbert & George’s other interests). The turds and the hustler advertisements are signifiers of the human body and its effects. But more importantly, instead of staring at a single two-dimensional photographic grid, the viewer’s body becomes part and parcel of a three-dimensional environment of grids. Welcome to the world of Gilbert & George. Instead of being shocked by the artist’s naked bodies appearing in a single picture, the viewer runs the gamut of their lives; in other words, the viewer sees the artists naked not only at 20 but at 30, and 40, and 50, and even 60 years of age. In effect, the artist’s lives are on display, and even the most casual viewer has to acknowledge the ageing and sexualized bodies so meticulously presented.
Gilbert & George’s creative output has flummoxed art historians and critics for the same reasons that artists like Andy Warhol and Cary Leibowitz (AKA Candyass) have. Seemingly, their work is all about surface. Indeed, Gilbert & George have been dedicated to the idea of “Art For All” for decades. Surface is important, surely! But what about the replicative processes the viewer never sees? Until very recently, Gilbert & George used photo enlargers and hand dyes to make all their pictures. If a photograph panel has multiple colors, as many of them do, Gilbert & George cover the part of the photograph that doesn’t need dying in a rubber “condom” adhesive (Gilbert & George’s word). Rinse. Repeat with a different color. For all of the bold, bright, easy surface material, there are hours of tedious methodical labor. The same could be said for Warhol, whose early silkscreens were as much about the process of replication as they were about the Campbell’s soup cans.
Perhaps the key to Gilbert & George’s practice lies in their early work, presented in freestanding vitrines at the Tate Modern. Curiously missing, by the way, are the early paintings of the artists standing in natural settings! For their magazine sculpture of 1969, Gilbert & George lounge, smiling on the grass; George smokes a cigarette. They are both wearing tidy suits with pink roses inserted into their lapels. Attached to the surfaces of their coats are the words “GEORGE THE CUNT” and “GILBERT THE SHIT.” There is a remarkable playfulness that permeates works such as these. This humor gets lost as Gilbert & George become hip to computer technology. Their latest pictures produced through massive amounts of Photoshop-ing lose the material integrity earlier works once had. Still, for the experience, Major Exhibition is an immersive, in-your-face, and utterly exhausting gesture. Americans take heed.
WALKER ART CENTER DIRECTOR TO LEAVE HER POST IN NOVEMBER
After 16 years of visionary leadership, Walker Art Center director Kathy Halbreich has resigned her position and will leave the Walker on November 1, 2007. While an international search for her replacement is underway, Halbreich will continue to guide the institution, along with a transitional management team.
CURATOR ELIZABETH DUNBAR ASSUMES ROLE AT ARTHOUSE
Arthouse at the Jones Center has named Elizabeth Dunbar as its first full time curator. She began her duties on April 1st. Since 2004, Dunbar has served as Curator at the Kempner Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri. “Elizabeth has a phenomenal record of organizing exhibitions of excellence focusing on emerging artists. Her curatorial work is nationally recognized and sets the bar very high for us. Arthouse looks forward to bringing her expertise and community spirit to Central Texas,” says Executive Director, Sue Graze.
RAYMOND D. NASHER DIES AT 85
A March 20th article in The New York Times chronicles Raymond D. Nasher’s life and passion for collecting. The Dallas philanthropist, whose collection is housed at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas and was the benefactor of The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, NC, died Friday, March 16, 2007.
Opening and Ongoing Exhibitions
Stale Mate of the BoozeFox or Boldly Going Nowhere: Drew Liverman, Scott Eastwood and Jules Buck Jones
Opening reception: Friday, April 13, 10 pm
This exhibition will be the first and last, dramatic reconstruction of the eternal stalemate between the nefarious Boozefox and the U.N.N. Sans Lucas. Despite the many attempts by critics, prophets, poets and historians to adequately depict this endless struggle for the hearts and minds of planet earth's inhabitants, a sufficient account has yet to materialize. In 1987, out of desperation, the BFIC proposed the creation of a functional scale model of the event in order to provide a window into the conflict. Now, 20 years later, thanks to a generous grant from the LLAP and FUB foundations, Mass Gallery will present the results of this decades-long collaboration.
Joseph Phillips & Jared Theis
d berman Gallery
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 12, 6-8 pm
d berman gallery presents new work by two artists working in the Austin area, Joseph Phillips and Jared Theis. Both artists creates fantastical worlds—one from clay, the other on paper. Theis’ complex sculptural environments are mysterious archeological and biological dwellings influenced by natural forms as well as the mathematics of music. Phillips creates fantasy amusement parks and other outdoor spaces and exposes and explores their substructures in delicate gouache drawings.
No American Talent 3: The Common Deceit of Reality: Basim Magdy
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 21, 7-10 pm
The Common Deceit of Reality, produced in conjunction with independent curator, Regine Basha, is Cairo-based artist Basim Magdy’s first solo exhibition in Texas and includes an installation, Med Pools and How We Got Ourselves to Look for Big Foot Heaven, made especially for Okay Mountain. Magdy’s creatures and half-breeds run amok and re-appear throughout his highly colored works on paper and immersive sculptural installations. In many ways they are counterfeit stand-ins for dangerous alter-egos, proxy heroes and fallen heroes and the failed dreams of progress and civility. The exhibition expands into a series of disseminated images called, A Cunning Plan inserted into three different publications this spring: Artl!es, Art Papers and The Okay Mountain Reader. ArtPaper’s May/June issue, which includes a six-page spread by Magdy, will be launched at the opening and editor-in-chief Sylvie Fortin will be present. In conjuction with his exhibition at Okay Mountin, Cairo-based artist Masim Magdy will give a free talk at The University of Texas, Art Building, Room 1.110 on April 18th at 5 pm.
Michael Sieben: Smile Forever
Art Palace Gallery
On view through Monday, April 28
Fueled by nostalgia, Michael Sieben's work deals primarily with a loss of innocence. Autobiography plays heavily into Sieben's first solo exhibition of drawings, painting and sculpture. Combining the aesthetic languages of skateboard graphic design and children's book illustrations, Sieben works in a style he refers to as "soft-core gore." Monsters tread a fine line between sweet and grotesque, and security cameras are there to record it all. The title of the show refers to, on one hand, smiling in the face of adversity, and on the other, the loss of privacy in our contemporary digital age, where cameras, security, television and otherwise, are constantly recording our images. Between these two poles, we might as well smile forever.
Eastern European Painting
Lora Reynolds Gallery
On view through Saturday, May 5
The artists in this exhibition, Slawomir Elsner, Adrian Ghenie, Serban Savu and Wojciech Zasadni, have emerged from a generation that experienced the hold of communism, its subsequent disintegration and transition into a democratic society. Drawing from this distinct set of circumstances, the work by these artists is inspired by one of the most momentous periods of transition and development in European history. Curated by critic and curator Jane Neal.
Aki Nagasaka: Yellow Labyrinth
Women & Their Work
On view through Saturday, May 12, 2007
Yellow Labyrinth is a solo exhibition by Austin based artist, Aki Nagasaka. Using yellow fabric to seamlessly slice the white box of the gallery space from the floor to the ceiling, Nagasaka transforms the gallery into an ephemeral experience, a literal and metaphorical yellow labyrinth. To fully experience this installation, you must walk through it; each step reveals a different perspective. Rather than lose the viewer in a maze, Nagasaka aims to provide a space for thoughtful reflection and wonder.
March 24-April 25
Gallery artist Rosalyn Bodycomb's fourth solo exhibition, Sleuthing features paintings and monotypes. The Texas artist now based in New York continues to marry painting and photography in anxious landscapes and city scenes. Bodycomb was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship this month based on the work opening at Mulcahy Modern. The artist was also awarded a $25,000 Joan Mitchell Foundation award in 2006, and The Dallas Museum of Art recently acquired Bodycomb's work for their collection.
Commerce Street Artists Warehouse
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 14, 7-10 pm
Inspired by The Who song of the same name, Goin’ Mobile is an on-the-road inspired traveling exhibition that investigates the literal sense of travel—point A to point B, beginning to end, start to finish, back and forth, one ways and dead ends. Goin’ Mobile ventures in every direction to guide the viewer on a trip to those familiar and unknown places along our traveled and explored routes. Featuring the works of Adam Blumberg (New York, NY), Min-Tse Chen (Beijing, China), Mark Hogensen (San Antonio, TX), Michele Monseau (San Antonio, TX), Tao Rey (Miami, FL), Mark Schatz (Houston, TX) and Ethel Shipton (San Antonio, TX), the exhibition is curated by Unit B Gallery Director Kimberly Aubuchon.
Houston Center for Photography
Opening reception: Friday, April 27, 6-8 pm
In an ambitious view of where photography is headed, three-dimensional installations, video and cell phone imagery take their place among more than 25 lens-based works in this exhibition featuring an international cross-section of artists, including: Carlos and Jason Sanchez, Anne Katrine Senstad, Juliane Eirich, Ken Fandell and Janet Biggs. The exhibition, curated by Madeline Yale, Program Director and Interim Executive Director of HCP, kicks off with a panel discussion on the mediated image in contemporary art at the University of Houston on April 24.
Aurora's Media Archeology: Below-Fi
Domy Bookstore, Aurora Picture Show and The Orange Show
April 19- 21, various times
Curated by Nick Hallett, Aurora’s Media Archeology takes over Houston for three nights from April 19-21 at three unique venues. Get ready for three mindbending days of audiovisual kinesis featuring hackers, benders, builders and overall enthusiasts of the analogue aesthetic. These artists invent their own instruments of sound and light, and find new uses for technologies of the past to create future-forward entertainment. Performances include Bruce McClure and Ray Sweeten (Thursday, April 19 at Aurora Picture Show, 800 Aurora St.); Dynasty Handbag and Nautical Almanac (Friday, April 20, 8:30pm at Domy Bookstore, 1709 Westheimer); Tristan Perich and Quintron and Miss Pussycat (Saturday, April 21, 8:30pm at The Orange Show, 2402 Munger St.). Visuals by Mighty Robot.
Where Are the Ducks When You Need Them?: New Works by Daniel Johnston
On view through Friday, April 13
Daniel Johnston is primarily known for his music, but in recent years he has become increasingly known for his artwork. In his drawings and paintings, Johnston explores themes of the Everyman, unrequited love, the prevalence of evil in the world, redemption, Christianity, comics and myth. His cast of recurring characters includes: Joe the Boxer/Everyman, a many-eyed demon, cat-people, Captain America, the Devil, a frog named Jeremiah the Innocent and his muse "Laurie."
On This Site…
Unit B Gallery
Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 10 pm
Gary Sweeney has created a large real estate sign that will be on view in Unit B Gallery's yard from April 6-May 4, 2007. Also on view in the gallery is Paperwork. Curated by Catherine Walworth, the exhibition features the works of Joseph Gray, Sachi Komai, Rhonda Kuhlman and Michael Velliquette.
Hana Hillerova: Thought Forms
Open First Friday, April 6, 9 pm
Hana Hillerova's new installation explores the forms and spaces between the physical and the astral by playing with the concept of “thought-forms” discussed by Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater. The 19th century theosophists and clairvoyants saw thoughts as a producer of two effects: "a radiating vibration and a floating form." Sala Diaz now has regular opening hours: Thursday-Saturday from 2-6 pm and First Fridays from 9-11 pm.
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
Opening Friday, April 6
Monumental Drawings, curated by Barbara MacAdam, Deputy Editor of ARTnews, is an exhibition focusing on ideas of scale and perception from eight internationally exhibited artists, including: Mike Bidlo, Annabel Daou, Nancy Haynes, Ryan McGinness, Creighton Michael, David Rabinowitch, David Remfry and Daniel Zeller. Katie Pell’s The Best That I Can Give You but Only Half of What You Deserve, opens the same night in Blue Star’s Gallery 4.
Triangle Project Space
On view through Saturday, June 2
In several usages in information technology, a glitch is a sudden break in function or continuity, sometimes of a transient nature, with varying degrees of seriousness. The exhibition GLITCH at Triangle Project Space includes the work of Minerva Cuevas, Yang Fudong, On Kawara, Jorge Méndez-Blake and Fernando Palomar.
Karen Sanders: the ground under my feet
vtrue Art Space (formerly i2i gallery)
Opening Reception: Friday, April 13, 6-9pm
Karen Sanders’ move to South Texas a year ago led her to examine her own relationships with community, society and the world. Mostly, her images frame a relationship between herself and the earth. This exhibition of photos features the process of her explorations that the rhythm, pattern and landscapes of South Texas’ wide openness have forced.
Pablo Helguera: The Witches of Tepoztlán (and other unpublished operas)
Enrique Guerrero Gallery, Mexico City
On view through Monday, May 7
The project, which includes a published book and exhibition of video documentary, four dioramas and works on paper, revolves around the “biographies” and “works” of four opera composers who, according to the artist, “are so deeply forgotten in history that their very identity and their works could be questioned as having been entirely fabricated”. They include Enrico Camorelli (1868-1904), Mona Kassem (1995-?), Anselmo Jiménez de la Rueda (1593-1674) and Richard Pryce (1915-1978). Both the exhibition and the book narrate and analyze the birth of these masterworks, all of them apparently misunderstood in their respective times. Making use of the characteristics of these four, dissimilar operas, of obscure background and dubious authorship, the exhibition components act as a four-part fugue corresponding to the three areas of the opera genre: lyrics/text, scenery and music.
Fuse Box 2007
Festival Pass: $40
Refraction Arts presents the 3rd annual FUSE BOX Festival. FUSE BOX is three weeks of happenings, new experiments, screenings, happy hours, dance, music, performances and art. FUSE BOX also offers a series of workshops, informal chats, and talk-backs. This exchange feels essential to us. As much as we want to present evocative and innovative new work we are equally interested in sparking dialogue. We want to help improve the discourse between artists of different disciplines as well as between artist and audience (both on a local and national level). So! We encourage you to take a risk. See something you know nothing about. Talk to strangers. Go to a workshop. Engage with a world-class artist. And then take a step back and allow yourself to imagine "what if?" A downloadable version of our program is available online. Reservations for performances and events can be made by calling (512) 927-1118.
Friday, April 13, 2007 - 7:00 pm; Saturday, Aprli 14th, 2007 - 2:30 pm; Sunday, April 15th, 2007 - 6:00 pm
ten pounds to the sound + refraction arts presents For Forms. Curated by avant-percussionist Chris Cogburn, For Forms assembles five artists, each a unique voice within their respective media, in collaboration over the course of three nights with each performance focusing on a specific orientation and parameter (solos and duos, familiar and unknown groupings, same media/mixed media). For Forms aspires to make explicit the assumptions of how form is produced and witnessed (eyes, ears, body, breath, page). Embracing risk and the moment, the work both questions and expands the choices and approaches employed during collaborative meaning and action. Performing artists include: Jen Bervin: poetry, visual art (NYC), Joshua Beckman: poetry, electronics (NYC/Seattle), Maria Chavez: turntable (NYC), Chris Cogburn: percussion (Austin) and Scott Heron: dance (New Orleans).
Austin Fine Art Festival
Republic Square Park
Saturday, April 14, 10-5 pm; Sunday, April 15, 11-6 pm
Art After Dark
Saturday, April 14, 7-10 pm
An Austin tradition, this artfully fun and family friendly art festival is an exciting art buying opportunity. Celebrate the arts while shopping the original artwork of 220 local, national and international juried artists. Surrounding Republic Square Park in beautiful downtown, the outdoor art gallery and festival also features live artist demonstrations, kid’s art activities, interactive art installations, Grammy award-winning musicians, live performances and delicious cuisine. Stay late on Saturday night, when the Austin Fine Arts Festival will be transformed into Art After Dark, an exclusive evening of art buying and cultural celebration with 15 of Austin’s top restaurants and wine suppliers and live performance by White Ghost Shivers. Tickets for the daytime festival are $8 per person and $65 per person for the Art After Dark event. Tickets maybe purchased online.
Concrete Poetry: A Brazilian Revolution of the Word
The University of Texas, Calhoun Hall, room 100
Sunday, April 15, 2 pm
Join Kenneth Goldsmith, a poet and professor of writing at the University of Pennsylvania, for this engaging talk on concrete poetry. Developed during the 1950s in Brazil while the rich visual language represented in the exhibition was being formulated, concrete poetry spread to other Latin American countries, North America, Europe and Asia, to become one of the most influential poetry movements of the 20th century.
Classic 1960’s home of Hallie and Steve Smith
Thursday, April 19, 7-9 pm
Join Women & Their Work for the long anticipated spring splash, Making Waves, featuring an original performance by the H2Ho’s, synchronized swimming with a 21st Century Edge. Enjoy drinks and delectable hor d’oeuvres from renowned P&K Grocery poolside while the H2Ho’s turn Hallie and Steve Smith’s pool into a spectacular spectacle. Tickets are $100 and all proceeds benefit Women & Their Work’s Art Education Outreach Programs in AISD underserved schools. For information and tickets call 477-1064 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I Heart New York Art Ball
Austin Museum of Art, Laguna Gloria
Saturday, April 21
New York City comes to Austin as Laguna Gloria is transformed into The City That Never Sleeps! Art Ball celebrates the home of MOMA, The Met and groundbreaking artists featured in AMOA's spring exhibition, Radical NY! Join us in SoHo for the silent auction amid artists at work and street performers. Enjoy a romantic horse-drawn carriage in Central Park before production...then boogie down at Studio 54. Tickets can be purchased online at AMoA’s website.
Three Three Three First Avenue
Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas (CADD) is pleased to announce the CADD ARTFAIR featuring the city’s foremost art dealers. CADD ARTFAIR, the organization’s first event, will take place May 18, 19 and 20 at Three Three Three First Avenue. Exhibitors include: and/or gallery, Art Prostitute, Conduit Gallery, Craighead-Green Gallery, Goss Gallery, Holly Johnson Gallery, PanAmerican ArtProjects, Gerald Peters Gallery, Road Agent, Valley House Gallery, Marty Walker Gallery and Barry Whistler Gallery.
Artist Talk: John Rubin
Lawndale Art Center
Wendesday, April 11, 6:30 pm
Artist Jon Rubin visits Houston for the first time on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 to give a gallery talk at Lawndale Art Center about his collaborative project with the Aurora Picture Show, the exhibition Never Been to Houston. Contributors to this exhibition were asked to search through their daily life for clues to a foreign place, for the possibility that somewhere else exists right under their nose and that, like some clunky form of astral projection, you can travel to other lands without leaving home. For viewers in Houston, it's a chance to witness an unusual mirroring of their globally projected image. In the end, Never Been to Houston is an experimental, virtual travelogue to the city that the New York Times opines "refuses to assume a simply identity." Jon Rubin is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores the social dynamics of public spaces and the lives of ordinary individuals. He has exhibited video, drawings, installations and public projects internationally including at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico; The Rooseum, Sweden; Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Germany; Nemo Film Festival, Paris and The Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle.
Warhol Screenings in the Park
Saturday, April 14, 8:30 pm
Aurora Picture Show and The Menil Collection join forces to present a free screening in the Menil Park at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, 2007. The free screening will consist of two rare films of Andy Warhol at work: Andy Warhol Paints Mao and Andy Warhol Mops Hammer & Sickle. Although notoriously private about his silkscreen techniques, Warhol allowed himself to be photographed at the Factory painting a large Mao, 1972; and working with a brush, his bare hand and a sponge mop on Hammer & Sickle, 1977. Both videos show Warhol adding color and texture in specific areas on the canvases before silkscreening the final images. The screening corresponds to the current exhibition at the Menil, Andy Warhol: Three Houston Women, featuring Warhol’s silkscreen portraits of three of Houston’s leading arts figures: Jermayne MacAgy, Dominique de Menil and Caroline Wiess Law. While there will be chairs available under cover, film patrons may also bring blankets to sit on. Water and popcorn will be provided.
Materiality to Hyperreality: Appropriated Media in Contemporary Art
University of Houston’s Rockwell Pavilion, MD Anderson Library
Tuesday, April 24, 7 pm
Held in conjunction with the Houston Center for Photography’s exhibition Antennae, the panel discussion moderated by Stephan Hillerbrand will address the topic of the mediated image in contemporary art. Panelists include: James Harithas, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Peter Kennard, Cat Picton Phillips and John Sparagana.
Music of Note: San Antonio’s SOLI Chamber Ensemble
Monday, April 16, 8:00 pm, Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
Tuesday, April 17, 7:30 pm, Trinity University’s Ruth Taylor Recital Hall
San Antonio's SOLI Chamber Ensemble presents Music of Note: SOLI Commissions 1994-2004. Compositions included in these two nights of performances are Portraits II for violin, clarinet, cello and piano by Elisenda Fabregas; Cycles & Myths for violin, clarinet, cello and piano by Timothy Kramer and Trio in Red for clarinet, cello and piano by Aaron Jay Kernis. General admission for both concerts is $15. Contact Stephanie Key at SKEYSOLI@aol.com or (210)930-3931 for more information.
NeoAztlan iParty II
vtrue gallery (formerly i2i gallery)
Friday, April 20, 9 pm
NEOAZTLAN, a contemporary art, music and culture publication, has released its third issue. The new issue includes interviews with musician and curator Carl Michael von Hausswolf and painter Nate Cassie, as well as reviews of musicians Anja Garbarek and Nouvelle Vague. The NeoAztlan iParty II will include guest DJs Kate Green, Unit B Gallery's Kimberly Aubuchon, artist Nate Cassie, artist Beto Gonzales, Flight Gallery's Justin Parr and a few others to be announced.
Carving the Curve: Dances for A Sculpture Garden
San Antonio Modern Dancers Co-Lab
Saturday, April 7, 12 pm and 1 pm
The San Antonio Modern Dancers Co-Lab (MoDaCoLa), a choreographer’s collective dedicated to creating new works and new audiences for modern dance in San Antonio, performs contemporary dances created for several of the 100 large-scale sculptures featured in the 5th Annual Sculptors Dominion International Outdoor Sculpture Invitational held on the beautiful grounds of "Villa del Carmen" at 11354 Vance Jackson, San Antonio, Texas April 7-29. Dance performances take place April 7 at Noon and 1 pm . Suggested donation for Sculpture Invitational is $20.
Call for Entries
Chicago Underground Film Festival
Deadline: June 1
The 2007 Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF) has issued its call for entries. CUFF presents a wide range of work exploring the many definitions and interpretations of the concept of "underground". From alternative music, films and political agitprop to high camp and formal experimentation and everything in-between. We like films that go beyond expectations and genre, films made with passion, obsession and drive. The festival is dedicated to work that defines or defies all genres (especially experimental, narrative, animation and documentary) and admits 16mm, 35mm, mini-dv and DVcam exhibition formats. Founded in 1994, the Chicago Underground Film Festival is an annual event dedicated to the work of film and video makers from around the world with defiantly independent visions. Our mission is to support and promote innovative films and videos that dissent in form, technique, or content from the "indie" film/video mainstream and to create a community for makers and audiences of adventurous work that entertains, pushes boundaries, challenges viewers and transcends expectations. Unlike many other "independent" film events our goal is not to imitate old guard, market-driven festivals such as Sundance. Instead, we seek to create our own particular niche by presenting an accessible, user-friendly showcase for avant garde and cult cinema. Festival dates are August 22-26, 2007 and the screenings will be held in Chicago, IL. The early deadline is May 1, 2007 ($30 Entry Fee), the regular deadline is May 15, 2007 ($35 Entry Fee) and the late deadline is June 1, 2007 ($40 Entry Fee). The festival will also accept proposals for curated programs.
Call for Exhibition Proposals
d.u.m.b.o art center
Deadline: May 1 and June 1
d.u.m.b.o. arts center (dac) is a non-profit contemporary arts organization, whose mission is to engage a broad spectrum of society in the sensory and intellectual stimuli of emerging visual culture by providing visual artists and curators with the singular opportunity for both on and off-site experimentation, innovation and presentation. (dac) presents a year-round exhibition program in its gallery, produces the annual art under the bridge festival, hosts an annual Artists' Opportunity Workshop and commissions editions, multiples and public space works. The 3,000 sq. ft. space is located in a land-marked building at 30 Washington Street in the historic neighborhood of Dumbo, Brooklyn, New York. (dac) invites artists or curators (individuals or groups) from all levels of experience to submit exhibition proposals for realization in its gallery space from 2008. Proposals must be original to (dac) and may not have been realized in other venues. (dac) is particularly interested in proposals, which harness the space's potential, take an innovative, experimental approach to exhibition making and/or are site responsive. Proposed exhibitions can be solo, two-person, or group and are open to all visual arts media. Proposals should not exceed 2,000 words, must include name(s) of applicant, contact information and if applicable at the time of writing, a list of artists. All interested applicants are required to visit the physical gallery space and pick-up a gallery floor plan from the front desk. Proposals must be e-mailed to (dac) no later than June 1, 2007 to email@example.com. Subject line: Exhibition Proposal 2008. Please do not include attachments or support material. An independent panel of three curators and (dac)'s Executive Director will review all submissions and compile a shortlist. Additional support materials (images etc.) will be requested from applicants of interest to the panel. All applicants will be notified by mid-June, 2007.
Call for Submissions
Contemporary Art Month, San Antonio
Deadline: May 19
Listings are now being accepted to be included in San Antonio’s 2007 Contemporary Art Month Calendar. The sign-up form is available online on the CAM website and listings can be paid for through CAM’s paypal account.
The Menil Collection
The Menil Collection is seeking a Drawings Curator, dedicated to the organization, research, interpretation and expansion of the museum’s collection of drawings. The Curator will be intimately involved in the development of a Drawing Center/Institute, a collecting and an intellectual undertaking. The Drawing Center/Institute will build on existing strengths and continue the dialogue with important artists and collectors, providing a link with scholarly research, publications and exhibition programming and the museums’ archives and conservation program. The initial focus will be on building the collection primarily in areas of modern and contemporary drawing. This position reports to the Director. A Master’s degree or Ph.D. in art history required, with expertise in Modern and contemporary art. The successful candidate will have excellent communication skills and the ability to work effectively as a team member. A minimum five years experience as a curator, as well as experience organizing exhibitions and supervising staff are essential. Reading and/or conversation skills in at least one European language is strongly desired. Salary and benefits competitive and commensurate with experience. Please send curriculum vitae, letter of intent and writing samples to: Human Resources, The Menil Collection, 1511 Branard Street, Houston, Texas 77006; fax 713.525.9444. Application materials may also be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. EOE.
Call for Papers
Social Theory, Politics and the Arts Conference
Deadline: May 25
New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council invites paper and panel proposals for the 33rd Conference on Social Theory, Politics and the Arts (STPA) being held on October 11-13, 2007 in New York City. STPA brings together researchers, students, policy makers, artists, foundation staff, and managers of arts institutions and advocacy organizations to explore key trends, practices, and public policy issues affecting and shaping the arts around the world. Conference participants are drawn from a broad range of disciplines including, but not limited to, sociology, political science, management, economics, law, urban planning, art and art history, museum and curatorial studies, education, and policy studies as well as managers and artists in the visual, performing, written and multi-media arts.
This year’s conference is organized around five central themes: Artists, Activism and Social Change, Leadership in, of, and through the Arts, Sustaining Cultural Industries and Organizations, Role of the Arts in Bridging Ethnic, Cultural, and Regional Differences, Local and Regional Revitalization through the Arts.
Email Jason Franklin, STPA 2007 Conference Director, at email@example.com for Submissions forms and with any questions.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Curatorial Fellowship
University of Houston, Blaffer Gallery
Deadline: May 15
Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston is pleased to announce the inception of the biennial Cynthia Woods Mitchell Curatorial Fellowship, a twenty four-month fellowship for young curators who wish to gain experience working within a University-based, non-collecting contemporary art museum. The initial fellowship period will run September 1, 2007–September 1, 2009 with a possible twelve-month extension. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Curatorial Fellow will work with curatorial staff on a variety of projects related to the Blaffer’s exhibition program including research, writing and exhibition development. Qualified applicants will have familiarity with contemporary art and an M.A. in art history, critical or global studies, museum or curatorial studies or related field. Non-US citizens must demonstrate proper visa status to work in the United States. Competitive annual salary, generous fringe benefits and travel/research budget. To apply please include the following materials: A one page letter stating your interest, including a brief statement on what you hope to accomplish during the fellowship. One additional short writing sample (350 word max), Resume and the contact information for three professional references.
Applications must be sent via postal mail only to: Blaffer Gallery, The Art Museum of the University of Houston, ATTN: Cynthia Woods Mitchell Curatorial Fellowship
120 Fine Arts Building, Houston, TX 77204-4018. Questions regarding the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fellowship should be addressed to Terrie Sultan at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Austin Art in Public Places Program Seeking Panel Applicants
Deadline: April 20
The Cultural Arts Division’s Art in Public Places (AIPP) Program is seeking a visual arts professional and a design professional for the Art in Public Places Panel, a standing subcommittee of the Austin Arts Commission charged with making recommendations regarding the Art in Public Places program and related issues. Members of the AIPP Panel are individuals possessing a visual art background, including professional artists, designers, academic instructors or museum professionals. All individuals must reside in Austin and possess knowledge of contemporary art. Appointed for 2-year terms, Art in Public Places Panel members meet once a month to make specific recommendations regarding art selection processes for eligible city construction projects and reviews proposed artwork donations to the City of Austin. Panelists review information from program staff, project managers, artists and community representatives to ensure that the Art in Public Places Collection includes high quality works of art that represent the broad range of media, styles, and cultural sensibilities that contribute to Austin's distinctive ambiance. A panel member may also serve on artist selection panels for specific projects. The Art in Public Places Panel participates in a yearly planning retreat to help provide oversight and guidance for program’s goals and operations. AIPP is part of the Cultural Arts Division within the City of Austin’s Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office. Interested persons may download the application form. The deadline to submit application materials is 5:00 pm, Friday, April 20, 2007, to City Hall, 301 W. 2nd Street, Suite 2030.