From the Editor

by Wendy Vogel

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       Stan VanDerBeek
      Movie Mural (installation view)
      1968/2011
      Approximate restaging of VanDerBeek’s multimedia installation Movie Mural (1968)
      Dimensions variable
      Courtesy of the MIT List Visual Arts Center and The Estate of Stan VanDerBeek

      In Texas, where we’re unlikely to see temperatures below 90 for a good three months, summer is in full swing. After a whirlwind of semester-end business, parties and galas, I’ve been escaping the heat by reconnecting with my Netflix queue. I’m indulging my addiction to the “dark and cerebral” categories by watching Twin Peaks, and I’m not the only one. A recent brunch with friends revealed that there’s a whole group of us in Houston who have independently gotten sucked into David Lynch’s televised dream world. What has drawn us in, one by one, twenty years later? It’s not only pining for sweater weather, rain and the smell of Douglas-firs. Nor is it just the dramatic work of some of Lynch’s most favored actors, including the flawless young faces of Sherilyn Fenn, Lara Flynn Boyle and Kyle MacLachlan. For me, it’s the way that Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost have crafted a world— a surrealistic, sexy, moody, melodramatic, aestheticized world— where ‘50s styles, including the genre conventions of murder mystery and soap opera, have been masterfully manipulated. They’ve gone down the rabbit hole and come out the other end, ironized by a brilliant mind.

      The immersive or stylized experience, the creation of a visual world, is the impetus for the exhibition From A Life to An Other at our sister project, testsite. A collaboration between Doug Fitch and Dana Friis-Hansen, the show reconsiders Fitch’s ample body of work (the artist works among and across the disciplinary boundaries of theatre, design, architecture and the culinary and visual arts) and its connection to narrative. The domestic environment at testsite becomes transformed under Fitch’s whimsical eye, blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior. Make sure to stop by during the show’s run— the gallery is open on Sundays from 2-5pm and by appointment.

      The question of an all-encompassing visual environment or language runs through this issue of ...mbg. In our reviews section, Benjamin Lima considers Teresita Fernández’ exhibition at the Fort Worth Modern, in which the artist invites meditations on landscape through her monumental graphite-based installation work. Katie Anania writes on Susan Collis’ show at Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin, which looks inward in an obsessive reconsideration of the mark. And finally, Julie Thomson discusses Stan VanDerBeek’s retrospective at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, an ambitious show by a multimedia pioneer who sought to establish an “international picture language” called “The Culture Intercom.” We also feature two interviews with practitioners who establish new ways of understanding cultural and visual language: Wendy Atwell interviews artist Leigh Anne Lester about her drawings of impossibly mutated ecosystems, and Francesca Sonara talks with Erin Gleeson about founding Cambodia’s first contemporary art space.

      On that note, I’d like to end with a heartfelt congratulations to the artists and curators who have been nominated for the Austin Critics’ Table Awards. The awards will be doled out at the Cap City Comedy Club at 7pm on June 6. The event is free and open to the public, so for those who want to salute the people who make your cultural experience richer, head on out to give them your support!

      Wendy Vogel is Editor of ...might be good.

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