"Sizzurp and Sensibility"
by Kate Watson
It was uncanny timing this week that Art Fag City posted this amazing documentary about Houston hip hop culture and, well, purple drank. At the time, I was on my way to H-town for a wild weekend art bonanza, which didn't disappoint.
I was lucky enough to hop on the bus for the CAMH's "unzoned Houston," a 3-plus hour architectural tour of the wild and woolly city, run in conjunction with their current exhibition, No Zoning: Artists Engage Houston. The tour, led by Houston architectural guru Stephen Fox, featured two particularly mindblowing pit stops—the home of former wino and folk art king, the Flower Man (see a great documentary about him here) and the condemned house that became one half of Dan Havel and Dean Ruck's new installation, Give and Take. See the incredible installations in the exhibition and then beg (freaky nice) curator Toby Kamps for the addresses of the secret offsite spots.
But the "real" reason I was in town was to catch the opening of Box 13's new exhibition series, specifically two shows by well loved Austinites Anna Krachey and Tim Brown. In the upstairs exhibition space, Krachey's Trophies is an exploration examining where the energy to create and the impulse to shop converge. Krachey is a master collector, and the gems she finds and shares with us are precious.
A little insider's info: make sure to closely examine the photo of the half-charred block of wood shot in faux three quarter-style. Propped up on a stand against a creepy, quilted photo studio backdrop, the block was found by Krachey along with fellow Nohegan (RIP?) alum (and director) Jill Pangallo last summer. The object was recovered from an all-boy church group, who had taken the opportunity to write down all of their sins during their retreat at McKinney State Park and then burn the effigies in a joyful, Christ-laden bonfire. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for us, they didn't burn much of a fire, and Krachey's creepy sin stick is highly legible. The remorseful, guilty prose clearly describes the author's tween regrets about masturbation. Thanks, Anna, for showing us the seedy (yikes, no pun intended) underbelly of Austin's favorite camping grounds. (And if you can't make it to Houston to soak in this fabulous gem, it's coming to Art Palace this summer as part of the exhibition curated by Rachel Cook, I am not so different.)
In the storefront-style space looking out onto the street, Tim Brown stocks his thoughtful, personal installation with actual detritus from his childhood for his exhibition, Generations. Action figures, baseball paraphernalia, childhood photographs and Brown's own stamp collection fill the tiny window display that faces out onto the seemingly deserted streets outside of the gallery: a space that sits on the edge of Houston's heavily industrial and Latino Second Ward neighborhood. Four Spanish phrases advertise Brown's "wares" on the outer window—recuerdos, or keepsakes, cosas para disfrutar, meaning "things for enjoyment," encantos, roughly translated, means "sweet things" and ninez, meaning childhood. I would love to record passersby trying to make sense of this tender, intimate portrait of Brown's childhood.
Pass me the sizzurp. I'll come back and drink your sweet, crazy nectar any old time, Houston.