MBG Issue #104: Trimming the Fat

Issue # 104

Trimming the Fat

August 22, 2008

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Andy Warhol, Princess Caroline of Monaco, 1983, Polacolor ER; 4 1/2 x 3 3/8 inches. Collection University of Houston. Gift of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Courtesy Blaffer Gallery. (detail)

from the editor

This issue has become, somewhat informally, an issue largely dedicated to arts institutions. Two interviews offer a director's point of view on two recently established Texas art institutions, The Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas and The Landmarks Public Art Program at UT Austin. A review by Rachel Cook urges Austin's graduate students to break the mold with their annual summer show at the Creative Research Laboratory and a letter to the editor from Eric Zimmerman calls for increased participation in public dialogue on the arts in Austin. Further afield, Lillian Davies's review considers the curatorial limits on exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

On another note, recently, I’ve noticed that, although New York curators can’t seem to get enough of eco-art right now, environmental issues lag far behind as a curatorial theme in Texas. Perhaps this has to do with our state’s attitude towards big trucks and offshore drilling. The only two exhibitions I could come up with that fit the bill won’t occur until next year, both in Houston: Texas Oil: Landscape of an Industry (Blaffer Gallery, January 17 – March 28, 2009), which presents the L.A.-based Center For Land Use and Interpretation’s look at the Texas oil industry, and Solutions (Diverseworks, March 6 – April 18, 2009), a show whose premise sounds like a more hopeful sequel to the New Museum’s After Nature.

This observation prompted me to take a look at the curatorial premises that will be most popular in Texas during the Fall 2008 Season. Here’s what I’ve noticed: exhibitions of video work are still cropping up everywhere. In addition, quite a number of events will look back on the 1960s and 70s and a cluster of exhibitions take perception as their theme.

Video/New Media

RESET/PLAY: Contemporary Art and Video Games at Arthouse, Austin, curated by Marcin Ramocki and Paul Slocum. I’ve heard that visitors may be able to play Katamari Damacy on a Playstation 2 in the gallery—exactly the type of risky yet productive curatorial chances we can count on Slocum and Ramocki to take with this exhibition. (September 5 – November 2, 2008)

Hubbard/Birchler: No Room to Answer at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, curated by Andrea Karnes. The exhibition presents works video by this Austin-based artist-duo from 1991 to 2008. Their most recent video, Grand Paris Texas (2008) debuts with this exhibition. (September 14, 2008 – January 4, 2009)

Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image since 1970 at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, curated by Andrea Barnwell Brownlee and Valerie Cassel Oliver. As film and video become increasingly accepted into the canon of art history, this exhibition will provide an opportunity to assess the ways that gender and racial identity have inflected artists’ uses of these mediums. (October 18, 2008 – January 4, 2009)

Mary Lucier: The Plains of Sweet Regret at the Amon Carter Museum, Dallas. Mary Lucier, recognized as a pioneer of video installation, presents a video installation that, by all accounts, is a haunting engagement with loss, transformation, melancholy and anticipation. (November 15, 2008 – February 15, 2009)

Vera Weisgerber at Sala Diaz, curated by Hills Snyder. Snyder will bring video artist and photographer Vera Weisgerber to San Antonio for her first solo exhibition in the United States. (December 5, 2008 – January 11, 2009)

Retro circa 1970

Celebutants, Groupies, and Friends: A Photographic Legacy from the Andy Warhol Foundation at Blaffer Gallery, Houston, curated by Rachel Hooper, Mike Guidry and Elspeth Patient. The Blaffer's press release suggests the artist's Polaroids "offer rare, intimate glimpses of Warhol’s life." I wonder whether the dated aesthetic of the Polaroids and the retro celebrities they picture creates nostalgia and affect in viewers that makes us feel like we are getting a more intimate glimpse of Andy than we are. (September 13 – October 18, 2008)

Celluloid for Social Justice: The Legacy of 1968 in Documentaries, The University of Texas at Austin. This film series introduces the conference “1968: A Global Perspective.” Although not overtly art-related, the screenings will offer an opportunity to see an array of acclaimed documentaries on everything from Billie Holliday to Langston Hughes to the Black Panthers. (Screenings occur Mondays through Thursdays, September 15 – October 9, 2008)

The New York Graphic Workshop: 1964-1970 at The Blanton Museum, Austin, curated by Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro. This exhibition will present the conceptual artwork and prints created by Luis Camnitzer, Liliana Porter and Jose Guillermo during the time that they worked together as The New York Graphic Workshop. If you have a yen for youthful Marxist idealism, check out this show. (September 28, 2008 – January 18, 2009)


Imaginary Spaces at The Menil, Houston. Inspired by a series of installations organized by John and Dominique de Menil in the late-1960s, this exhibition explores the ways that artists have approached the idea of space, whether hypothetical, utopian, invisible or visible. (August 22, 2008 – March 1, 2009)

Reimagining Space: The Park Place Gallery Group at The Blanton Museum, Austin, curated by Linda Henderson. This exhibition offers the first close look at the artists involved with the Park Place Gallery during the 1960s—artists inspired by, among other concepts, visionary theories of Buckminster Fuller, Space Age technologies, science fiction, and the psychology of expanded perception. (September 28, 2008 – January 18, 2009)

Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson at The Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn. Coming from San Francisco and, most recently, New York, this acclaimed retrospective offers a look at Eliasson’s engagement with perception, optics, light and landscape, among other issues. In Dallas, the exhibition will include a site-specific piece created for the DMA. (November 9, 2008 – March 15, 2009)

Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good


Joyce Goss, Goss-Michael Foundation

By Claire Ruud

Tim Noble & Sue WebsterThe Joy of Sex, 2005, Lithographs; Set of 40 prints; Edition of 25, 16 3/8 x 11 ¾ inches. Courtesy Goss-Michael Foundation.

Joyce Goss is Director of The Goss-Michael Foundation, a Dallas-based foundation established in 2007 by Kenny Goss and George Michael for the exhibition of their collection and the support of the Dallas arts community. Ever since the Foundation received a feature in the 2007 Holiday issue of The New York Times Style Magazine, we've been wondering whether Goss-Michael is a vanity project or a non-profit committed to the community. So, on a recent trip to Dallas, we met with Joyce to get the inside scoop on the Foundation's mission and upcoming projects.

…might be good: In 2005, Kenny Goss opened the Goss Gallery—a commercial gallery—in the space we’re sitting in now. But two years later in 2007, this space became The Goss-Michael Foundation. Can you tell us about the motivation behind this transformation?

Joyce Goss: Kenny opened the former Goss Gallery in May of 2005. He wanted to bring a new, edgier art to Dallas—an art that Dallas and the surrounding areas had never really had access to before. Kenny and George Michael were traveling a lot internationally, and they slowly became involved in collecting. Particularly, they became very interested in YBA artists and began to focus on collecting their work. Since they live part time in London, they were able to build relationships with many of these artists.

The Goss Gallery was very successful, but Kenny and George realized they were less interested in running a commercial gallery and more interested in sharing their rapidly growing collection with Dallas. They live here on a part-time basis and it’s Kenny’s home town, so they really wanted to invest here as well. So they decided to convert this space to the Foundation.

…mbg: So the primary focus of the Foundation is to present Kenny and George’s collection to the public?

JG: Yes, but with a particular focus on education. Kenny and George have a niche by collecting YBA artists. The Dallas metropolitan area museums have great collections, but they don’t really cover British art, especially the YBA’s who captivated the art world during the 90’s. They want their collection and their desire to educate to work in tandem.

In addition to having exhibitions, we also offer scholarship programs. Last year we initiated our first scholarship program with scholarships for two young artists, one for music in George’s name and one for visual art because of Kenny. This year we awarded four scholarships.

…mbg: When did Kenny and George start collecting the YBA’s?

JG: Definitely within the last few years, but I’m not actually sure when they purchased their first YBA piece. But over the last several years they’ve become good friends with Tracy [Emin] and Damien [Hirst].

…mbg: How did you become involved with the Foundation? Do you have a background in the arts?

JG: Well I’m still learning. Kenny’s my brother-in-law, so there’s a little family nepotism. I got a finance degree at UT Austin and I was in the mortgage business for twenty years. When Kenny started the gallery here, he intended it to become a family business, but he also really wanted something that would grow into a world class institute. Even the Foundation has a business side, and requires someone who is financially-minded, so Kenny thought I would be the natural person for this position. I don’t have an art history background at all and that’s why we have a curator [Filippo Tattoni-Marcozzi]. He actually lives in Germany, but he creates a lot of our exhibitions. We have several staff members that have a background in art history, so every project is a collaborative effort.

…mbg: What have been the major differences between running a gallery and a non-profit?

JG: Obviously with a commercial gallery you need to make money to stay in business. As a non-profit we have more budgetary constraints. The Foundation is partially funded by the Platinum Trust, which is the biggest trust in the UK. But we are pushing to raise more money because we want to expand our scholarship program. We did our first state scholarship this year. Within the next couple years, we want to expand to $400,000 in scholarship awards, probably nationwide.

We also need to overcome the public misconception—due in large part to George’s status as a pop-star—that the Foundation has a lot of money. Kenny and George are obviously extremely generous, but there’s only a certain amount that they can contribute to the Foundation. The artists have been very generous helping us raise money. For example, Tim [Noble] and Sue [Webster] designed a beach towel and are allowing us to sell them and have given us the copyright. So any money we raise from the towels will go to the scholarship fund. And Tracy Emin is going to work on a special edition print that we can use so that all proceeds go to the Foundation.

…mbg: It sounds like you’re juggling two objectives at the Foundation. On one hand, you are collecting and presenting work that can be somewhat edgy—for example, Tim and Sue’s The Joy of Sex (2005). On the other hand, your primary focus with these scholarships has been high school students. I’m interested in why, given the type of exhibitions you do, you feel it is particularly important to reach out to such young students.

JG: Well, it’s true that the current exhibition of Tim and Sue’s work is edgy. And this is the edgiest show we’ve done by far. That’s part of the reason that we chose to display this work in the summer, when most kids are not in school and probably are not going to be touring the museums. The Goss-Michael Foundation is rather conservative because of all our students. So we ask all youngsters that come in for their I.D.’s. Otherwise, I won’t let them in.
In general, teachers love the fact that we’re here as an educational resource. We’re building a library that’ll have a lot of periodicals and books that cover a lot of the artists we represent. We already have a lot of books from the U.K. that are not readily available here in Dallas. And we are going to start the artist talks, so in the fall I believe Sarah will be able to give a talk that students will be invited to. We really want them to be able to come and see what makes the artist really tick.

…mbg: Why are the YBA’s particularly important to Dallas?

JG: It’s obviously part of Kenny and George’s passion and their collection. We’re working in tandem with other Dallas-area collectors like the Rachofskys, the Hoffmans and the Roses. They all have wonderful collections and have made generous donations to DMA. But the YBA’s were not well represented by any of their collections, so the Goss-Michael Foundation really provides the missing link in the whole picture.

…mbg: To me, it seems that the public awareness of YBA is already relatively high, so I’m wondering why Kenny and George didn’t choose to work with some lesser-known emerging artists.

JG: Working with emerging artists is in our long-term plans. Kenny and George’s collection may have started out with YBA’s, but I think it will evolve. We have plans to build our own building for the Foundation and in that building, we’ll host residency programs for some of the YBA’s and possibly local artists as well.

…mbg: What is Tattoni-Marcozzi’s role in shaping the Goss-Michael collection?

JG: He’s constantly paying attention to the art fairs, but we also have an art advisor. In general, Kenny and George’s art advisor helps them assemble their personal collection and Filippo creates the exhibitions at the Foundation.

…mbg: Where is Kenny and George’s art advisor based?

JG: She’s based in the U.K. and right now they’re continuing to focus on collecting YBA’s.

…mbg: So far, your curator has only organized single person shows. Are you planning on doing any group exhibitions?

JG: We probably will. It’s just that we’re such a young organization. This is only our third exhibition. These one-person shows allow us to show the core of the collection.

…mbg: Let’s turn our attention to your scholarship programs. It sounds like you have big plans for the program.

JG: This year we offered our first Texas-wide scholarship and we sent out announcements to all the art teachers in the state. Ultimately we’ll do a national scholarship as well, but next year we are focusing on expanding the Texas scholarship.

...mbg: Will you expand the program to the college level?

JG: Quite possibly, if we have the funds. For Kenny and George, although they want to showcase the collection, they’re primary goal is to educate and give back to the community.

…mbg: What does your programming look like this fall?

JG: Well since we’re still kind of limited on space, it’s going to be on the smaller side, but we hope Sarah [Lucas] is still going to do something for us. Also Michael Craig-Martin, a friend of Kenny’s who basically helped start this whole thing, has said that he would like to come to Dallas and do a lecture for us.

…mbg: You mentioned buying property and building a space. Do you have a time frame on that project?

JG: Yes. Our goal is to have the property secured within the next several months. We’ve already met with the architects and have a plan in the works. The actual building process will probably be about two years from start to finish. When the building is completed, we’ll probably do a really big group show and publish a Foundation catalogue. In addition to exhibition space, we’ll have our library and classrooms and perhaps a sculpture garden.

…mbg: Does the Foundation have a board of directors?

JG: At this point, it’s George, Kenny, my husband and I and our attorneys in London. But we will expand and we already have people in mind that we’d like to ask. But as yet we’re still in our infancy stages.

Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good.

Andrée Bober, Landmarks Public Art Program

By Claire Ruud

Tony Smith, Amaryllis, 1965, Painted Steel, 135 x 128 x 90 inches. Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Anonymous Gift, 1986, 1986.432a,b. Image courtesy of Landmarks.

Last week in the Life Science Library, while her team installed a piece from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's loan to The Univeristy of Texas at Austin, Andrée Bober, Director of Landmarks, talked with ...might be good about the role of the public art program on this university's campus. During our conversation, I learned, disappointingly but not unexpectedly, that UT Austin will be assembling a rather conservative public art collection.

…might be good: What were the events that led up to the establishment of the new public art program, Landmarks, at the University of Texas at Austin?

Andrée Bober: Landmarks has its origins in conversations that began around 2005. Leading up to that point, the University had been engaged with Peter Walker Partners Landscape Architects, working to reconstruct Speedway and the whole East Mall. That effort, like all of the architectural construction that occurs on campus, conforms to the Cesar Pelli Master Plan from 1999. I was not involved with the conversations during that time, but my understanding is that Peter Walker was thinking about the Speedway and East Mall projects as a defining part of the entire campus and questioning how the new construction would support the Campus Master Plan. From what I’ve reconstructed, Peter suggested that the University had been doing a really good job of following its Campus Master Plan in terms of the spatial orientation and the architectural character of the buildings, but it had been very building-focused. Peter pointed out that the University should give greater attention to the spaces in between buildings—those patches of grass, those big corridors and gateways—the spaces that really begin to create a sense of place and experience for people walking around the campus.

Out of those conversations, the university realized that one way to address those concerns was to develop a public art program. Pat Clubb, the Vice President for Employee and Campus Services, forwarded an initiative in 2005 to develop a policy for public art on campus. The policy—Art in Public Spaces—set a goal to devote 1-2% of the construction cost from all major renovation and new construction projects on the main campus for the acquisition of public art.

When the University adopted that policy it was an exciting moment: it was the first time in the University’s history that there had been any kind of a push for ongoing support of public art at UT. And so Landmarks was born. I came on board shortly after that policy was put into place, and my job has been to develop the architecture of the program and to define its curatorial scope.

…mbg: Why was Landmarks established as a separate program from The Blanton Museum?

AB: The Landmarks Program operates in the College of Fine Arts, alongside the Blanton. If you look at other public art programs at other universities, they are often closely associated with museums, but they’re typically separate entities from the museum. The reason for this separation stems from a difference of mission and a difference in the way those missions are carried out. At UT, there’s certainly a lot of coordination and collaboration with the Blanton. For example, there’s an upcoming project—we haven’t announced it yet—in which Landmarks is going to install a monumental outdoor sculpture to coincide with an upcoming exhibition at the Blanton.

…mbg: What is the selection process that the University has established for public art?

AB: Any proposal for the placement of public art in the campus landscape begins with the Subcommittee for the Review of Artwork, lead by Ken Hale. That subcommittee predates Landmarks by a few years. It was put in place to respond to requests made by the general public (or from deans or other university officials) for works of art or monuments on campus. The Subcommittee makes recommendations to a committee called the Faculty Building Advisory Committee. From there, the proposal goes to Pat Clubb’s office in Employee and Campus Services, and then to the Facilities and Space Council—that’s the President’s committee—and from there certain proposals may be reviewed by the Board of Regents for final approval. That’s the official process for any proposal. Landmarks is simply one of the entities creating proposals and sending them to the University for review through this process.

…mbg: And you have your own advisory committee?

AB: Landmarks has its own advisory committee. It’s made up of student, faculty and staff representatives. On a project-by-project basis, the committee may also include other expert professionals in the field and individuals who are associated with a particular project—for example the architect of a particular building or the staff and faculty most affected by the site. We really try to keep an open, transparent process.

...mbg: Who are the core people on your committee?

AB: Sarah Canright from Studio Art; John Clarke from Art History; Mirka Benes from Landscape Architecture; the Art History graduate student is Amanda Douberly; and a UT museum curator is also included—that seat is currently held by Annette Carlozzi from the Blanton. So with Annette’s participation, the Blanton remains closely involved although our organizations remain separate entities.

…mbg: What is the Public Art Master Plan?

AB: When I started to develop Landmarks, we approached Peter Walker and asked if he would develop a Public Art Master Plan. He very generously consented to create a plan as a pro-bono contribution. The plan is not meant to be prescriptive, but it’s designed to create an inventory of opportunities across campus and establish guidelines for criteria that we’ll want to consider for any public art project we might propose. By following this plan, the University will build consistency and cohesion in its public art placement over time.

...mbg: So how do the Met sculptures fit into the Master Plan.

AB: With the Public Art Master Plan in place, I began looking at our campus and thinking about an appropriate curatorial scope for this program. There seemed to be no compelling reason to narrow that scope thematically or to one movement or era of art history. That was one consideration, and the other was economic. Resources aren’t infinite and I realized we would have to be smart and resourceful. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that we should follow the model of other successful campuses that work with artists of our time. Eventually, with patience and consistency, such programs develop an art-historical perspective within the collection. That’s what lends depth to the collection and the kind of cohesiveness that our campus should strive to achieve.

So how do you start? My concern was that if we just chose an artist and commissioned a work, chose another artist and commissioned another work, then we’d end up with what I often call “Spray and Pray.” You put one piece here and another one there, and hope that over time they all begin to make some kind of sense. Our challenge in building a campus collection is that we needed to start from some kind of foundation. The difficulty has been that in terms of 20th century pieces, there are few examples and the quality has been rather uneven.

So I began to imagine the possibility that we might borrow some group of works, bring them to campus and have that group serve as a foundation for the Landmarks’ curatorial scope. I learned that the Metropolitan Museum of Art had a collection of sculptures that they’d exhibited in the past, but that they were no longer able to show because of a lack of space. So I approached the Metropolitan and pursued the opportunity. People on campus seemed enthusiastic and people at the Met seemed enthusiastic, so it was a very happy marriage. Now with these works coming to UT on long term loan, we have precisely that art historical perspective from which we can begin to build our own collection.

…mbg: So you’re imagining that this group of works will remain on campus for ever?

AB: We intend them to be here indefinitely, however the terms of the loan agreement are for five-year renewable periods.

…mbg: What kind of an art historical foundation would you say the loan creates?

AB: Well, all of the pieces are sculptural. I would say that’s the biggest difference between this group of works and Landmarks’ scope because the Landmarks collection should be broader. But the group does provide a very deep representation of major artistic trends that are happening in the second half of the 20th century. The earliest Met sculpture is from 1948 and the latest is from 2000. Because these pieces provide important examples from this 50-year period of time, they represent many of the major artistic trends that occurred during this vibrant era of art history. In these works, one can see the vestiges of Surrealism alongside major examples of Abstract Expressionism, Feminist Art, Minimalism, Conceptual Art, Post-Minimalism, Pop…

…mbg: When I hear that the University loaned 28 works from the Metropolitan, I imagine that must have been very expensive. And I wonder why you decided to borrow these works rather than spend the money on commissioning works by emerging artists.

AB: Well it might surprise you to know that the cost of this loan to us was very reasonable. The Met did not charge us its typical fees for labor, mount-making, borrowing of the work, or insurance. They waved these for us because of the long-term nature of our arrangement. Moreover, because the costs for UT are only for transportation, installation and ongoing maintenance, the overall cost is commensurate with a typical museum exhibition that would last about three months. And we wouldn’t have been able to purchase work of this quality and rarity. It really is a privilege for us to be able to have them here on campus and extraordinary that we were able to realize the project with such little expense.

…mbg: I’m worried about how the students will treat the works—vandalism.

AB: I am too. But I worked with the Met team to choose pieces that we felt were of a durable enough construction and material to be on display 24/7. We also carefully considered placement of the works—traffic patterns, exposure and so forth. We wanted these pieces to have the greatest possible public visibility and to be in places where the landscape and architecture would complement them and vice versa. But we were also thinking about whether placement would invite some kind of problem. Many of the pieces have camera surveillance; some of them have vibration alarms. You hope that people realize that it’s a privilege to have these objects and, as they become part of the landscape and identity of the campus, people will want to protect them.

But we’re not being Pollyanna about this. Things happen. Even in museum galleries or in storage, works of art can get damaged. For that reason, we have a conservator on call. Fortunately for us, the Metropolitan’s attitude is that it is better for these works to be in circulation with the risk of something happening than to be locked up in storage.

…mbg: One last question about Landmarks and then I want to hear briefly about your background. In Landmarks’ mission statement, it says that the public art on campus will convey the University’s “standards and ideals.” Can you explain how these works might convey the University’s standards and ideals?

AB: As a leading research institution, the University has the responsibility (and privilege) of introducing people to ideas and to standards of quality about ways of thinking and being. Artistic representation provokes criticism and dialogue about ideas. But moreover, certain works of art have, over time, proven to be of greater quality and enduring resonance. For the university to take a position and say, “we are about understanding those distinctions and bringing to our campus the best quality art that we can,” supports the institution’s standards and ideals in the broadest sense.

It’s true that there are a lot of different kinds of public art programs. But I think that for The University of Texas at Austin, it makes sense for the public art program to be about the best quality it can be.

…mbg: What do you mean by quality?

AB: Well, that can be tricky. I think it’s important to encourage audiences to experience works of art, to find their own personal meanings, resonances, and to express their ideas and opinions. This creates teachable moments about the nature of art and why it is a meaningful cultural endeavor. But it’s also important to distinguish between casual engagement and connoisseurship, especially here at the university level. Identifying quality in visual art is a skill that comes from a great deal of critical examination. When you’ve spent your entire life looking at and thinking about art, you’re better prepared to make judgments about quality.

The reason why Landmarks operates in the College of Fine Arts is because the college is principally concerned with the examination of the history, meanings and the appreciation of works of art in all its forms. I worked with several experts in the college to develop a whole set of selection criteria for public art projects. These have to do with the formal qualities of the work, its artistic and art historical merit, the reputation of the artist, the appropriateness of the work to the site, and the relevance to other works in the collection. Some people might be surprised to learn that among experts who have spent their entire lives looking and thinking about art critically, there is a good deal of consensus about which works are of greater or lesser quality.

I often like to use wine as a good analogy. I love just about any Barolo, but I’m no sommelier. In my mind, the question of which vintner or vintage I prefer is a matter of personal preference, but I’m hardly prepared to build a critical defense for my judgment. A great wine critic could, and I suspect that the independent opinions of other informed critics would result in considerable overlap.

…mbg: So what’s your background? Where are you from?

AB: Well, I’m originally from Beaumont, Texas, and I did my undergraduate work in Art History here at UT. Then there were years where I practiced painting conservation, studied arts administration at Columbia, and worked on several administrative and curatorial projects for different museums. Most recently I came from Cincinnati, where I was Deputy and then Interim Director for the Contemporary Arts Center there. I was at the CAC for five years, leading the project to build Zaha Hadid’s first American building. After two years of long-distance marriage to my husband Jonathan Bober [Curator of Prints, Drawings and European Paintings] at the Blanton, we finally managed to share a roof.

…mbg: What are your particular interests in Modern and Contemporary art?

AB: That’s a really good question and one that nobody has asked me since I founded Landmarks. I tend to be most drawn to experimental work. It’s an interesting process for me to identify and understand my personal interests, but to see them apart from what the curatorial scope of Landmarks is and ought to be. Certainly, my personal interests inform my ability to lead Landmarks, however, these aren’t necessarily appropriate a university public art program, and I know that. I have developed a curatorial scope for UT that is appropriate for it as an academic institution. Does that make sense?

…mbg: Yeah, it does, and it sounds extremely difficult in some ways.

AB: Well, it’s actually not because the things I like tend to be rather challenging and experimental. Experiments are extremely important, but a lot of experimentation gets lost over time. The works of art that have real resonance and continue to engage people over time become the canon of art history. The curatorial scope for the Landmarks collection at UT is and should be more aligned with artistic achievements that are tried and true, that demonstrate quality over time. This is not to say that the University shouldn’t look forward; it should and it must if we want to remain current and continue to build a relevant collection. But it shouldn’t be a risk taking institution. That’s the role of a great kunsthalle.

Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good.


Creative Research Laboratory, Austin
Closed August 16, 2008

By Rachel Cook

Amuse-Bouche, Installation Shot. Photo: Ben Aqua. Courtesy Creative Research Laboratory.

Tiny morsels in your mouth, or literally a mouth amuser, an amuse bouche or amuse gueule are served in fine dining restaurants to excite the taste buds before ordering the meal. Amuse-Bouche is a perfect title for a summer group show: take a small number of artists and offer a tiny morsel of their work to whet the viewer’s appetite for more. Organized by graduate students from the Art History Department at UT Austin, this show continues the tradition started in 2002 in which the graduate students of the Departments of Art and Art History collaborate on a summer exhibition. This year, each of eight curators selected one artist to present. A few problems have arisen with this shift in organizational format. Essentially, the curators have created eight solo shows that must exist within one curatorial premise and must co-habitate a single gallery space. As a result, Amuse-Bouche falls short in both curatorial concept and installation.

Trimming the fat, so to speak, from past years of all-inclusiveness might at first seem like a good idea. But in this case, it leaves the curators with too few pieces to play with in terms of placement in the gallery. The installation lacks balance and the space seems almost empty in pockets.

In addition, much of the work tastes a bit bland to me. Jonathan Aseron’s colorful mixed media wall painting, Robert Melton’s ambiguous videos, Sonya Berg’s series of paintings in muted colors and Teruko Nimura’s hanging sculpture of organic forms all blend together with the feeling of same-ness. As a group none of them appear to be offering anything new. For example, Nimura’s sculpture is reminiscent of a whole slew of 70’s female artists and yet the artist doesn’t present anything that is substantially new with her forms, colors, shapes made from these feminine fabrics.

As for the rest of the show, a few pieces deserve further investigation and some provide curious flavors, but it might be too early to judge whether these artists will continue to push in a productive direction. Joshua Welker’s geometric sculpture, Joseph Winchester’s optical videos, Michael Coyle’s ambiguous small sculptural and text based work, and Kristina Felix self-portrait video shorts are works that merit further investigation. Welker’s work is an intriguing investigation of shapes as themselves. Both works in the exhibition deal with the shape of a pedestal. Untitled in Plaster (2008) actually looks more like a disheveled mille-feuille or an opera cake with the layers of plaster being replaced by puff pastry sheets than a pedestal, while Untitled in Plexiglas (2008) looks more like a speaker sound system than an “exploding pedestal.”

Michael Coyle’s work also raises questions that peak interest and borrows from art history in sly fashion. Searching for Just the Right Feeling of Incompleteness (2008) presents two even stacks of white letter paper, on one stack a mass of pink eraser shavings and on the other a small figure carved out of the same material. The shavings not only allude to the creative process of carving, but also suggest associations to the fragility of life or even death by cremation. Coyle appears to be pulling Tom Friedman’s work, Untitled (Eraser Shavings) (1990), from the Rolodex of art history. But Coyle puts a decidedly dark twist on Friedman’s sense of humor.

Another work that has potential is Kristina Felix’s video, a spoof on the Wedding and Celebrations: Vows column from The New York Times Online, which presents videos of couples describing their relationship from the initial meeting to the proposal. Felix inserts herself into the place of the bride-to-be and repeats the woman’s words from each video. The work appears to be the seed of an attempt to critique gender and heterosexual monogamy. But because Felix only inserts herself as the female voice, she ends up simply recreating a skit. Why, I wondered, doesn’t she insert herself as the male voice, too? She has further to go in order to speak productively to gender roles and relationships.

Despite the few standouts that seem to have potential, much of the work seems to fall into this murky, cloudy category of sameness. Then againm the exhibition was envisioned as a mouth amuser, so perhaps much of the work functioned in exactly the way it was intended, creating various flavors and sensations and inspiring a yearning for a bit more. However, the curatorial model for the CRL summer show still needs to be tweaked. Given the space’s name—a Creative Research Laboratory—and given the collaborative premise of these annual exhibition—a collaboration between graduate students from the Departments of Art and Art History—these exhibitions should be breaking more rules than they abide by; they should be a laboratory for new and creative exhibition models.

Rachel Cook is an artist, writer, and independent curator currently living in Austin. She is currently working on a show for DiverseWorks in 2009 entitled “Now that I’m by myself,” she says, “I’m not by myself, which is good.”

Sharon Engelstein: Blow Job
Sunday L.E.S., New York
Closed August 10, 2008

By Elizabeth B. Zechella

Sharon EngelsteinSoft Head, 2008, Vinyl and forced air, 9 x 14 x 16 feet. Image courtesy of the artist.

Blow Job, an exhibition of new work by the Houston-based sculptor Sharon Engelstein is not overtly related to the act of the same name. However, given the title of the exhibition and the forms with which the viewer is confronted, spicy sexual associations are inevitable. The title of the show references the mechanics behind Soft Head (2008), the canary-yellow, vinyl sculpture that is currently wedged in the storefront of Sunday, a gallery on the Lower East Side of New York. Soft Head, the show’s piéce de resistance, is the result of a collaboration between the artist and a company that manufactures air blown inflatable figures. Under normal circumstances, the company might produce chuckling Santas or buck-toothed Easter bunnies for annual appearance on a suburban lawn or rooftop. But in this case, with Engelstein’s direction, the company has created an inflatable sculpture in which biomorphic appendages sit atop and around a wide base of bulbous spheres. The shapes of the appendages vary from single and double breasted cylinders to more phallic forms. Although this site-specific piece adopts the scale and medium of its commercial counterparts, the boxed-in environment of the storefront allows the viewer to ambulate only partially around the sculpture. The blow of the fan provides an aural experience while the viewer peers around and over Soft Head’s hills, cracks and crevices, discovering burgeoning penile surprises and smooth tumorous protrusions.

Representing a different method of artistic collaboration, the exhibition also includes five “rapid prototypes,” small-scale, monochrome sculptures that are physical manifestations of three dimensional computer-generated models. Made of plaster powder and binder (which resembles the texture of sandstone and the color of milky limestone), these “rapid prototypes” consist of shapes both created by the artist and taken from digital image banks like Clip Art. For example, in Sliders (2008), a suspended staircase connects two egg-shaped forms, and a classic playground slide hangs mid-egg, creating a surrealistic combination of abstract and distinctly recognizable imagery. Another “rapid prototype,” Ambiguous Paws (2008), consists of a wobbly body of petrified, hole-less donuts with a set of cartoonish animal paws attached to the bottom. While this combination of recognizable and unrecognizable imagery makes the“rapid prototypes” visually compelling, ultimately these works leave the viewer with a number of unanswered questions concerning the artist’s process and the relationships between juxtapositions and between medium and content.

On the other hand, Engelstein’s drawings, which depict single views of her sculptures (not all of which are in the show) have a precision and elegance that the sculptures generally lack. These unique ink-jet prints do not function as preparatory drawings or as two-dimensional translations of the 3-D works; rather they are crisp, multi-perspective renderings in super-fine black ink that stand in their own right as compelling independent works, while also adding depth to the sculptures. The majority of the drawings on view feature fantastical anthropomorphic characters, such as a camera-headed cyborg and a blob masked as Darth Vader. Each ink jet print is a constellation of connecting dots and lines; varying degrees of density create form, shadow and line and an overall diaphanous effect.

Kit Bank (2008), for example, is created from two disparate parts. A four-footed, squatty globe with a neck sprouting from the top serves as a base for a larger puckered sphere. Directly above the neck, gracefully draped over the top curve of the sphere, is a set of feline ears. Or perhaps, in keeping with the connotations of the title of the show, it's a disembodied set of spread legs. Where the discrete elements overlap, the hairlines build upon each other to become more active and excited. In this way, the drawing makes visible the mechanics, structure and striated layers of its medium.

From an inflatable manufacturing company to computer programs, all works in the exhibition are created by the artist and a machine. Perhaps this collaborative act alludes to the title of the exhibition more directly than one might initially think.

Elizabeth B. Zechella was most recently an editor at Phaidon Press where she focused on the forthcoming book, Salon to Biennial: Exhibitions That Made Art History (Fall 2008) by Bruce Altshuler. She is almost sure of her next step, but not quite.

Traces of the Sacred
Centre Pompidou, Paris
Closed August 11, 2008

By Lillian Davies

Bruce NaumanThe True Artist Helps Reveal the World by Revealing Mystic Truths, 1967, Neon tubing with clear glass tubing suspension supports, 59 x 55 x 2 inches. Courtesy Centre Pompidou.

Like an Attali Report, but Different at the Kadist Foundation last month suggested the power of the Foundation’s independence from government funding. Its freedom from economic and political restrictions appeared to enable the Foundation to present an exhibition critical of France’s government and social structure. This month, Traces du Sacré (Traces of the Sacred) at the Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture, provided an opportunity to test the hypothesis that government-funded institutions tend to present more diluted, less provocative exhibitions.

Part of the former French President Georges Pompidou’s cultural agenda, The Georges Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture was established on January 3rd 1975, less than a year after his death. Construction of Italian architect Renzo Piano’s monumental design had begun in 1972, during Pompidou’s administration, and was ultimately completed in 1977 while President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, a more liberal leader, was in power. An official symbol of French artistic production and a major venue for international exhibitions, the Center hosts a program of solo and group shows while also housing the National Collection of Modern Art.

This summer, Alfred Pacquement, Director of the National Museum of Modern Art, together with Jean de Loisy and Angela Lampe, curated Traces du Sacré, a veritable blockbuster featuring 350 works by almost 200 international artists “from Goya to Jonathan Monk.” In the catalogue, Pacquement poses the question: “In a ‘disenchanted’ society where art may resemble no more than an object of entertainment, where culture is mediatized, economically evaluated, and often ends up consumed like a product – and where the artists themselves channel these phenomena into their art and sometimes take part in them – do traces of the sacred remain in artistic creation?”*

Pacquement suggests that the systems of religion and the language of the sacred could offer means of salvation from dominant social, financial and media networks. Seemingly aligning his agenda with that of the Kadist Foundation, Pacquement claims to present art that resists social, financial and media influences. But whereas the Kadist Foundation exhibited sharp politically reactionary work in Like an Attali Report, but Different, Pacquement defers to a more general theme. And ironically perhaps, it was the Pompidou’s huge budget and extensive marketing campaign that initially defined Pacquement’s response to this question to the public. Promoted through a city-wide advertising blitz and mobilized by a network of international sponsors, the platform for Traces du Sacré seems to rest squarely on the “phenomena” that Pacquement disparages.

However, the ambitious scope of the exhibition also reflects an earnest consideration of the status of the sacred in artistic creation, brave in its investigation of one of the few remaining taboos in contemporary secular society. Ideologically transcending matters of material and finish, Pacquement’s embrace of the sacred seeks to elude the dominant commercial model that often defines the art world. Navigating an exploration of the sacred from within a society whose politics are so fervently secular, Pacquement is also steering away from the French political and social status quo.

Setting a wide and often ambiguous stage for a consideration of the sacred, Pacquement and his team broke Traces du Sacré into twenty-two different categories, including “Sacred Dances” and “Apocalypse.” Terminology gets especially tricky in the “Spiritual Paganism” section, although a mask by DADA founder Marcel Janco is a playful (if not comically misinformed) inclusion. The show opens with Bruce Nauman’s spiralling neon text, The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (1967)—an appropriate indictment of expectations. Of course artists that were explicit in their attention to the spiritual in art—Wasily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian (and his follower Theo Van Doesburg), Frantisek Kupka and Oskar Kokoschka—are well represented in the show. But the premise is complicated by the inclusion of artists who have not necessarily placed themselves within a discourse on the sacred. For example, in the first gallery, Damien Hirst’s black fly-covered triptych, Forgive Me Father for I Have Sinned (2006), is a stronger example of the artist’s strategies of self-promotion and the commercialism of the Brit Art phenomenon. While Hirst’s title references Christianity’s language for divinity, the work feels more superficial than sacred.

Essentially functioning as a survey show, the exhibition sweeps across key moments in post-Enlightenment Europe. Edvard Munch’s 1906 portrait of Friedrich Nietzsche, which hung opposite Hirst’s work, appropriately echoes the composition and colors of Munch’s The Scream (1893). Picturing Nietzsche with a furrowed brow and dark locks cutting through a wavy ochre sky, Munch depicts his heavy and exhausted body as it leans against the railing of a dramatically foreshortened stretch of bridge. Meanwhile, Christ and Buddha (c.1880), a painting by French artist and member of the Nabis group Paul Ranson, juxtaposes the darkened silhouette of a seated Buddha with a radiant rendering of the crucifixion. The canvas is further embellished with dark green palm fronds and a half of a deep blue visage, the long undulating earlobes betraying the artist’s references to Eastern sculpture and hinting at the rise of Orientalist painting in late 19th century Western Europe.

With broad strokes, Traces du Sacré draws in rarely seen works, but also evinces serious gaps. Robert Smithson’s little known religious-themed paintings are featured: Jesus Mocked (1961), a red and black figure on canvas, and Green Chimera with Stigmata (1961), a featureless face framed by stigmata-marked upraised hands. Nearby, an entire room of the show is dedicated to Swedish artist Hilma af Klint’s deeply meditative abstract canvases from the early 20th century. But despite the strong representation of Klint’s work, many of the show’s glaring omissions are female—Ana Mendieta, Wangechi Mutu and Chiho Aoshima. Their exclusion also reveals the Euro-centric agenda of the exhibition, almost entirely overlooking work from Asia, Africa and South America.

Just following the opening of Traces du Sacré, the outspoken French critic Olivier Cena assessed the exhibition as “conceptually weak and extremely confused. On a surface which appears very exiguous, divided into small rooms, three hundred works are piled up, as in the living rooms of the 19th century.” Lamenting the absence of “mystical artists” like Fred Sandback and James Turrell, Cena predicted that “one will be especially astonished by the presence, on such a topic, of so many inanimate works.”** Perhaps the real fault with Traces du Sacré lies in its over-ambitious claims on the scope of presentation and breadth of audience. These aims are embedded in the original mission of the Pompidou Center, and are maintained today by cultural leaders including Alain Seban, President of the Pompidou Center. Seban recently explained that through Traces du Sacré, “the Center assumes its fundamental mission”: inviting artists to “open sensitive paths to the largest possible audience for a more intimate comprehension of the issues of our time.” With a charge to address a wide audience on major topical issues, the Pompidou’s political position inhibits the creation of specialized or unorthodox exhibitions.

However, the curators of Traces du Sacré seemed to have backed away (if only slightly) from this universalist approach, finding a more modest end to the show with Jonathan Monk’s Sentence Removed (Emphasis Remains) (2000). Producing an opening for individual interpretation in an otherwise somewhat didactic exhibition, Monk’s gesture (and the curators’ generous presentation) invites viewers to pursue a personal interpretation of the sacred. Beyond merely witnessing studies of the sacred, the audience ascends from its role as spectator to that of thinker, interrogator and perhaps ultimately, instigator of radical thought. A red neon spiral mirroring the baseline for Nauman’s statement in Mystic Truths, Monk’s work relies on the traces of the sacred, and quietly recalls the words of French poet René Char, “it is only the traces that make you dream.”***

*Writer’s translation throughout.

**Oliver Cena, Telerama no. 3045 (May 20, 2008).

***René Char, Oeuvres complètes (Complete Works), Paris: Gallimard (1983).

Lillian Davies is a writer living in Paris. She is a regular contributor to Artforum and Editor in Chief of Uovo Magazine. She earned her B.A. in Art History at Columbia University and her M.A. in Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art, London.

to the editor

Eric Zimmerman

Dear Claire-

I appreciate your questions and comments regarding the sustainability of Austin's artist run spaces in this past issue of ...mbg [From the Editor, Issue #103]. As a participant in the blogosphere dialogue you mentioned I think these are important things to be asking at this particular juncture. In response to your open questions I would venture to say that Austin will always have these "grass-roots" types of spaces. These are what this city's art community is best at organizing and supporting. Any transformation of this scene into a more professional and established art center does not have to come at the expense of the D.I.Y. If I can be idealistic, we should strive towards a diverse mix of exhibition spaces and practices with the hope that they can all coexist beneficially with one another. Of course this is easier said than done, but what we have to gain by doing so numbs any pain of potential sacrifices. I do have a sense that this sort of transformation, if it were to occur, would only push these artist run spaces to grow, take themselves more seriously when appropriate and maybe attain some of that institutional memory that could be so beneficial on a number of levels.

Recently, and more frequently, I have bemoaned the lack of "dialogue" here in Austin. This dialogue can be organized around many subjects and take numerous forms. For me, dialogue is about having conversation about art and ideas in an open and productive way, whether in a small group at a bar, on a blog, through criticism, etc. We should temper the cheerleading, be skeptical, and talk critically about our artists, exhibition spaces and the overall health of our scene. But just as importantly, we should also be talking about the bigger ideas and issues that surround art as a whole. Both are critical for the scenes growth.

However you happen to define the "dialogue" I see a part of it happening right here and now and ...mbg certainly has something to do with that. For me, the question seems to have shifted away from defining the dialogue as a single monumental entity and to whether or not one wants to participate in the dialogues that are currently happening. Why this shift? I was recently read a quote from Andrea Fraser that stated, "Every time we speak of the 'institution' as other than 'us', we disavow our role in the creation and perpetuation of its conditions." This had particular resonance with me and made me realize the importance of taking responsibility–and maybe to a certain degree, ownership–for my place in the art community. Whether or not to participate is an important question as it represents an acknowledgment of that responsibility and place within the scene. The consistent willingness to ask difficult questions of Austin's art institutions and "scene" is invaluable to the growth of this cities visual art community—a willingness that I appreciate tremendously. It seems to me that Austin is at a point where thoughtful criticism and questioning still has value and even the potential to effect positive change. Sadly, the number of those outlets is few and the will to engage these questions is perhaps better in theory than practice. I for one prefer the latter.


Eric Zimmerman

...mbg recommends

Fantasy Road Trips

By Kate Watson

Cory Arcangel, Beat the Champ (Sega Genesis Championship Bowling: Dana) 2008, installation with hacked Sega Genesis game controller, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Team Gallery, New York, NY.

As August in Texas continues to rear her ugly head, here are some fabulous distractions that will take you around the world, back in time, or at least into a comfort-laden parallel universe reminiscent of your parents’ basement.

Break out your best “roaring 20’s” outfit for Space in Early Twentieth-Century Cinema at Menil Park on August 23rd at 8 PM. Bring your cheapest boxed wine and revel in this marvelous (free!) program filled with rare, Dadaist films. Peter Mowris, University of Texas Research Fellow-in-Residence at The Menil Collection, will lead a gallery tour at 6:30 p.m before the screening of relevant works in the collection.

On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy. RESET/PLAY, opening September 6th at Arthouse, is a virtual who’s who of artists working in that formidable “post-game artistic sub-genre.” This show promises to be way better than all those hours you wiled away in the dark mastering Street Fighter II.

Elaine Bradford & Seth Mittag officially dock their magic ship at Art Palace on September 6th from 8-10 pm for Fictitious Realities/Realistic Fictions. This two-person show is a fascinating duet—both artists play with themes of domestic Americana with a remarkably light touch.

Cut the Cord! From Up Here Everything Makes Sense! at Okay Mountain is all exclamation marks and we certainly appreciate the enthusiasm right around now. Described on the website as a free form video mix tape, the tasty and abundant offerings procured by Austin’s own Erick Michaud couldn’t be better timed. Make sure to sneak off to the “screening room”—the Mountaineers have wrangled all of the air conditioning in the whole place and directed it to this spot.

Chocolate: A Photography Exhibition (opening September 6th) at the San Antonio Museum of Art sounds a bit silly but in all likelihood promises to be quiet the sensuous diversion. The images in this show might inspire some home experimentation, but we’ll stick to the experts for now.

If you just can’t get enough of those spectacular pint-size Chinese gymnasts on television but can’t afford the steep airfare to the Big Dumpling, don’t despair-- Mike Osborn: On Location, Beijing at Houston Center for Photography promises to be stellar. Mike’s technicolor images truly capture the surreal urban landscape of China’s capital city and are the perfect antidote to these long Texas days. Opens September 12th from 6-8 PM.

announcements: news

Austin News

Blanton Set to Open New Building on November 16

In celebration of the opening of the Blanton's second building, the Blanton Museum will hold an afternoon of live music, art activities, film screenings and architectural and gallery tours. Among the events scheduled for the public opening, Jed Perl, noted art critic for The New Republic, will present a special lecture celebrating Antoine Watteau and Perl's new book, Antoine's Alphabet.

Artists Chosen for the Outdoor Component of the 2009 Texas Biennial

Artists Ryah Christensen (Austin, TX), Bill Davenport (Houston, TX), Sasha Dela (Houston, TX), Buster Graybill (Huntsville, TX), Ken Little (San Antonio, TX), Colin McIntyre (Austin, TX) and Jill Pangallo (Austin, TX) have been selected to create temporary outdoor installations for the 2009 Texas Biennial. Group exhibition artists will be announced on September 1, 2008.

Graham Reynolds & Peter Stopschinski's Golden Hornet goes Non-Profit

Since 1999, Graham Reynolds & Peter Stopschinski's Golden Hornet Project has presented new compositions by more than 30 composers. The Golden Hornet has recently gained 501c3 status, and its new board of directors includes Director Dana Friis-Hanson of the Austin Museum of Art.

United States Art Authority Closed

A matter of days after ...might be good Editor Claire Ruud mentioned The United States Art Authority in last month's From the Editor, the gallery announced that it would close due to permit issues with the City of Austin. The owners say they are hopeful that issues will soon be resolved and they will be able to resume operations in the future.

announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

Opens September 6, 2008
Guest curated by Paul Slocum and Marcin Ramocki, RESET/PLAY is an exhibition attempting a critical exploration of contemporary art inspired by video games. Questioning the history, control mechanisms, political and art-historical implications of electronic games, RESET/PLAY assembles a formidable group of international artists who made a significant impact on this growing post-game artistic sub-genre. Artists include Cory Arcangel, Michael Bell-Smith, Brody Condon, Alex Galloway, JODI, Guthrie Lonergan, Kristin Lucas, Joe McKay, Michael Smith, and Eddo Stern.

Where Are We Going?: Contemporary Artists Address the Issues of the 21st Century
Austin Museum of Art
Opens August 30, 2008
Where Are We Going? addresses how artists are exploring key issues facing civilization at the turn of the 21st century. Featuring painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking and video from AMOA and local collections, this exhibition is organized as a counterpart to Modern Art, Modern Lives, an exploration of key themes and issues from the late 19th and 20th century in paintings and prints from local collections. The pair of exhibitions prompts viewers to consider how artists engage with the aesthetic and cultural issues of their time. Where Are We Going? probes personal and political conflict, our relation to the environment, globalization, and the search for meaning in an often chaotic world.

Elaine Bradford & Seth Mittag: Fictitious Realities / Realistic Fictions
Art Palace
Opens September 6, 2008
This double-exhibition features work by Elaine Bradford (whose 2006 show at Okay Mountain was excellent) and Seth Mittag (whose computer drawings come highly recommended by Bill Davenport).

I'm Watching My Stories
Gallery Lombardi
Opening Reception September 13, 7-10pm
I'm Watching My Stories features work by, among others, Eric Uhlir, of recent acclaim in the Austin Museum of Art's 20 to Watch: New Art in Austin. Also included in the exhibition are Hector Hernandez, Enrique Martinez and Mindy Kober. The work by these artists often shares a clean illustrated style, humor and extensive narratives. Will this show offer a part two to Kelly Baum's Siren's Song at Arthouse in 2007? The premise—the story—is strikingly similar.

Austin on View

Cut the Cord! From Here on Up Everything Makes Sense!
Okay Mountain
On view through September 20, 2008
This exhibition is more like a screening: videos by included artists play one after another on a single screen. Curator Erick Michaud put the "play list" together as he would a mix tape, allowing for a natural flow to form as one work leads into the next. Including the work of artists like Alexandre Singh and William Wegman, it's bound to be good.

Cynthia Camlin & Marianne Green
d berman gallery
On view through September 20, 2008
It's worth going over to d berman just to see Cynthia Camlin's gorgeous watercolors. The artist's most recent paintings, exhibited here, turn to landscapes of glaciers and icebergs. Camlin explains, "Each composition is built through the incremental accumulation of small geometric shapes of transparent color, which add up to spatial trajectories and recessions, opening up windows into the white gesso. For me, the incremental and unpredictable process of constructing these compositions becomes a metaphor for organically growing forms in nature, where erratic, unprecedented forms emerge from finite and predictable elements."

San Antonio Openings

Jessie Amado
Sala Diaz
Opens September 5, 2008
We're not sure yet about the scope of this exhibition of work by artist Jesse Amado, but we're sure you should check it out.

Chocolate: A Photography Exhibition
The San Antonio Museum of Art
Opens September 6, 2008
Chocolate will feature the work of four conceptual artists who use chocolate as a source material for making photographs: Frédéric Lebain, Priscilla Monge, Vik Muniz, and Chuck Ramirez. Lebain, from Paris, creates monochromatic chocolate-colored still life photographs by spray-painting obsolete technological objects with chocolate and photographing them against chocolate-colored backgrounds. Monge, a conceptual artist from Costa Rica, photographs pieces of chocolate that she has embellished with Catholic imagery. Muniz has received international acclaim for his Pictures of Chocolate—a series in which he replicates well-known images from art history or popular culture in chocolate syrup, and then photographs them. San Antonio artist Chuck Ramirez works in a photographic style derived from commercial advertising to investigate social, economic, and identity issues. His recent series of empty chocolate boxes calls attention to desire and gluttony, while also pointing to economic disparities revealed in the brand of chocolate one consumes

Houston Openings

Imaginary Spaces: Selections from the Menil Collection
The Menil
Opens August 22, 2008
Artists and writers have long been intrigued with the idea of constructing imaginary space. The exhibition is inspired by a series of installations organized by John and Dominique de Menil in the late-1960s-that dealt with spatial constructs: from hypothetical and utopian environments to invisible cities to earth art projects. See also the video program occurring in conjunction with this exhibition.

Mike Osborne: On Location, Beijing
Houston Center for Photography
Opening Reception September 12, 2008, 6-8pm
Mike Osborne's large-scale photographs, exhibited at HCP, not only document a slice of Beijing’s society in preparation for the 2008 Olympics but also show the city's place in the world as a society on the cusp of enormous changes. The artist will speak about his series prior to the opening reception at 5:30pm, September 12, 2008. Austin based artist Mike Osborne is the recipient of one of two HCP Fellowship Awards in 2007, which granted him a cash award of $2,000 and a solo exhibition at the Houston Center for Photography. This year´s selection was juried by Anjali Gupta, Editor-in-Chief of Artlies magazine, and critic and video producer and Rachel Cook, artist, writer and independent curator.

Dallas Openings

Aaron Parazette: Surf Trip
Dunn and Brown Contemporary
Opens September 6, 2008
Surf Trip features new work by Houston-based artist Aaron Parazette. An avid surfer, Parazette’s paintings are heavily influenced by his origins in coastal Southern California. His recent work reveals scrambled words taken from a surfer lexicon, bright distinct colors, and meticulously sharp edges. Parazette begins constructing each painting by composing words on the computer. He selects a word which he then bends, stretches, and jumbles into a composition that often leaves the work convoluted. After composition and color are manipulated on the computer, the finished design is hand transferred onto the canvas and then painted into a strikingly flawless surface. Surrounding each letter there is a double pinstripe delicately painted around its edge. These various layers of colors create an energetic frame between foreground and background, remembering the 1960's paintings of Frank Stella.

announcements: events

Austin Events

What's Past is Prologue: Inaugurating Landmarks with the Metropolitan Sculptures
The AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, Amphitheater 204
September 12, 2008, at 3pm
Valerie Fletcher, Senior Curator of Modern Art at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will introduce the Metropolitan sculptures recently loaned to The University of Texas at Austin and explain their art historical significance. Since these works on loan from the Met will form the foundation for the future of the Landmarks program's commissions and acquisitions, it will be worth it to come along and get a feel for the direction UT's public artworks program is going.

Night of the Boho Coco: An Evening of Words and Music
Domy Books
August 30, 2008, 8-9:30pm
Night of the Boho Coco will be an evening of words and music with Austin poets Christopher Savage, Jeff Daily, Erin Vaughan, musician Chris Daily and artist/poet Josh Rios. It's hard to say what this performative reading might entail, but to get an idea about what might occur, check out a recording of the chant poem  Ubiquitous Fire Water posted on Savage and Daily's blog.

Houston Events

Space in Early Twentieth-Century Cinema
Menil Park
August 23, 2008, 8pm
Aurora Picture Show and The Menil Collection team up to present a screening in the Menil Park in association with the Menil Collection's exhibition Imaginary Spaces: Selections from The Menil Collection. The screening, entitled "Space in Early Twentieth-Century Cinema," will consist of early 20th-century film shorts that experiment with the abstract depiction of space in cinema, including Fernand Leger's Ballet Mecanique, Rene Clair's Entr'acte, Hans Richter's Ghosts Before Breakfast, and Viking Eggeling's Symphonie Diagonale. It's a rare opportunity.

Fort Worth Events

Tuesday Evening at the Modern: Robert Wilhite
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
September 2, 2008, at 7pm
For his recent exhibition The Bomb at the Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas, Robert Wilhite created a life-size, beautiful, and delicate but clearly ominous wooden replica of the atomic bomb known as “Fat Man.” He explained his approach to such content in an interview for the online publication The Daily Breeze: “I wanted it to look like it could blow away. Not heavy because the subject matter is so heavy.” Wilhite’s experiences, as well as the work he has produced through a patient and persistent practice, are the subjects of his Tuesday Evenings presentation, The art of the art.

Tuesday Evenings at The Modern: Paul Slocum
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
September 9, 2008, at 7pm
Paul Slocum is an independent artist, curator, and musician living in Dallas. Since 2006, he has been the director of And/Or Gallery in Dallas, an art space focused on new media work. His band, Tree Wave, makes music and video using reprogrammed obsolete computer and videogame gear. For Tuesday Evenings, Slocum presents the multifaceted art practice that has resulted in work that has brought him national and international critical acclaim as an artist, as well as local respect and appreciation for his promotion of and contribution to contemporary art and music in the Metroplex.

Austin Events

MASS Gallery Artist Talk and Screening: Jesse Butcher
Mass Gallery
Wednesday, August 27th 2008, 7pm
Jesse Butcher will give an artist talk about his current show, on view until August 27th. MASS will then screen Sleepaway Camp (1983).

San Antonio Events

Southwest School of Art & Craft Public Talk and Workshop: Zoë Sheehan Saldaña
Southwest School of Art & Craft
Gallery opening August 28, Talk September 12
Zoë Sheehan Saldaña will exhibit mixed-media works containing photography and comment on social issues such as domestic violence and the effects of consumer culture. During her time in San Antonio, Saldaña will present a free talk entitled Photographic Interventions on Friday, September 12 at the art school and teach a weekend-long, PC-based workshop at the school that will explore how the tools of digital imaging have irrevocably altered our relationship with “photographic truth.” To register or learn more call 210.224-1848.

announcements: opportunities

Calls for Entries

Contemporary and Experimental Video Art
Third Video Festival Cairo
Deadline: September 15, 2008
The Contemporary Image Collective (CiC) and Medrar for Contemporary Art are sending out an open Call for Submission to the THIRD Video Festival hosted at CiC in 2008. Initiated by the Cairo-based artist initiative Medrar for Contemporary Art in 2005, this festival continues its focus on providing a platform for sharing and discussing newly produced high concept / low budget experimental videos. Based on a call for works by emerging artists, the festival program takes the format of a concise series of video screening on the rooftop of CiC accompanied by talks/discussions with active video-makers and curators to tackle some of the key themes and issues presented in the works. With this festival, the organizers seek to trigger a dialogue about the possibilities and limitations of this particular use of the medium of video today. Please click here for further information about the Video Festival and application details.

Applications for the International Prize for Performance
The Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea of Trento
Deadline: August 31, 2008 at 12pm (Italian time)
The Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea of Trento, in collaboration with Centro Servizi Culturali Santa Chiara of Trento and with the support of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio of Trento and Rovereto announces the fourth edition of the International Prize for Performance. The prize is open to young artists, or groups of artists, of all nationalities who were born after January 1st, 1973. The organization will select 12 (twelve) artists to present their projects during the final evenings on October 10th and 11th, 2008 at the Teatro Sociale of Trento. The first prize is fixed at 5,000 euros. There will also be minor prizes awarded. For further information, please click here.

Calls for Artists

Keyholder Residency Program
The Lower East Side Printshop
Deadline: September 2, 2008
The Lower East Side Printshop, New York, offers free year-long studio residencies for emerging artists. Residencies begin October 1, 2008. The Keyholder Residency provides artists with 24-hour access to a large shared studio with professional printmaking facilities in order to develop new work and foster their artistic careers. Keyholders work independently, in a productive atmosphere alongside other contemporary artists. They are not required to have any printmaking experience; basic instruction in printmaking is available for new Keyholders at no cost. Participation is limited and competitive. Artists without a studio space are encouraged to apply. For details and application guidelines visit the website at http://www.printshop.org.


Grants for Arts Writers
Creative Capital and Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program
Deadline: September 22, 2008
The Arts Writers Grant Program recognizes and supports individual writers working on contemporary visual art through project-based grants ranging from $3,000-$50,000. Writers who meet the program's eligibility requirements are invited to apply for grants in the following categories: articles, short-form writing, and blogs/new and alternative media. (Please note that the program also funds book projects; however, the deadline for applications to this category has already passed.) For guidelines and eligibility requirements, please visit www.artswriters.org.


Real Community is Real Art: A Texas Workshop on The Arts and Urban Development
Art in Public Places
September 19 & 20, 2008
Join an open conversation with local and national colleagues who are working to celebrate neighborhood cultures, build community solidarity, and create quality housing accessible to all. Take away new tools, ideas and contacts to help you with your own efforts to shape the future of Austin. Highlights and Participants include: Project Row House, Third Ward, Houston; Rural Studio, Auburn University (AL); Music and BBQ at Kenny Dorham's Backyard (East Austin);
Panel Discussion and Workshop at the Mexican- American Cultural Center (Austin). Cost: $50: Saturday Panels and Workshop; $15 Saturday Student and Senior rate; $10: Friday Film Screenings/ "The Blue of It All" party. Scholarships for community members are available for the Saturday Workshop. For more information, contact TWTXRealArtWorkshop@gmail.com.

Employment Opportunities

Curatorial Assistant
McNay Art Museum
Open until filled
The curatorial assistant will report to the Chief Curator/Curator of Art after 1945. Qualifications include a Bachelor's degree with a concentration in Art, Art History or related fields. Please direct all inquires, via email, to rene.barilleaux@mcnayart.org.

School Programs Coordinator
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Open until filled
A part of the education department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the School Programs Division is the liaison between the museum and elementary through high public and private schools, and state and local teacher and education organizations. The School Programs Coordinator works closely with other members of the Education Department to provide engaging programming and curriculum resources for K-12 teachers and students, while developing school partnerships and other initiatives that position the museum as a center for teaching and learning.

Curator of Exhibitions and Collections
Art Museum of Southeast Texas
Open until filled
The curator of exhibitions and collections for the Art Museum of Southeast Texas (AMSET) is responsible for the research and development of exhibitions, interpretive programs for exhibitions, and the care of collections of fine and folk art from 19th-21st centuries. The curator researches, develops and travels exhibits in house from the permanent collection and from collections on loan, develops the long range schedule of exhibitions with the executive director, installs exhibitions, sets the agenda and attends acquisition committee meetings, provides information to the public relations and education departments, research materials for upcoming exhibitions, writes catalogue essays and exhibition text panels and program grants. The curator is also instrumental in the design of exhibition publications such as catalogues and gallery guides. A Master’s degree in art history or a Master of Fine Arts with a strong art history background, a basic knowledge of museum operations, experience packing and caring for works of art, excellent writing skills, time management skills and public speaking skills are required. To apply, send cover letter, resume and three professional references to Lynn P. Castle, Executive Director, P.O. Box 3703, Beaumont, Texas 77704-3703.

Graphic Design/Web Manager
Austin Museum of Art
Open until filled
The Graphic Design/Web Manager will design and produce printed and electronic collateral to support exhibitions, programs and events at AMOA’s Downtown and Laguna Gloria locations. The Graphic Design/Manager will report directly to the Director of Marketing & Public Relations, but will work on a daily basis with every other Museum Department. Click here for complete job description and application information.

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