from the editor
While you recover from yesterday’s festivities, enjoy an abbreviated issue of …might be good from our editors.
Last weekend, the East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.) took over 78702 and beyond, with a whopping 151 studios and galleries participating. E.A.S.T. brings out all my insecurities as an Austin arts writer. The pressure is on to “discover” hot artists, to be perfectly up-to-date and to assess the cultural moment with perspicacity and intuition. But, as it turns out, my first big “discovery”—the photographer Barry Stone—is decidedly behind the curve. You might remember Stone from The Fifth of July, his two person show with Anna Krachey at Okay Mountain last summer. There, the installation did a disservice to both artists, whose unique and compelling voices got somewhat muddled in the pairing. This time around in Stone’s studio, the work cohered into an evocative monologue.
Stone had a wide variety of work—mostly photography—up in his space at Okay Mountain Studios. One that particularly caught my attention was Ann and Mae Under Highway 71, Austin, TX 9.29.2007 (2007), a color photograph of his wife and daughter standing alone under Highway 71. Part of series of photographs about Highway 71, this work reveals the sense of isolation the Stone family experienced moving back to Austin, a city known for its car culture, after six years in pedestrian-friendly Brooklyn. For me, the piece conjured up Dorothea Lange’s iconic Migrant Mother (1936), because in both images the children lean into their mother and turn their faces away from the camera.
An elusive sense of place and narrative characterizes the landscape Ann and Mae inhabit, as it does in most of Stone’s images. Each one has a quiet specificity—the side of an old building, a deserted traveling carnival, a hand reaching up to pull on the dead branch of a tree—that intimates private meaning and invites personal interpretation. Describing his work, Stone highlights this interplay of meaning. He notes, “I assemble groups of images which create different associations. These associations function like language for me… More prosaically, I use pictures to ward off alienation and to create a personal sense of place.”
Later on the tour, at the Pump Project, I particularly enjoyed a set of delicate watercolors by Erika Jaeggli, another artist who relocated to Austin in 2007. Each image in the series depicts a child wearing a different mask. While Jaeggli considers herself primarily an oil painter—a medium she fell in love with working with John Currin at Columbia University—she turned to watercolor for this series because of its frequent use to depict children. The watercolors are soft and sweetly toned, but the masked children are somewhat eerie. In one, a chubby Mickey Mouse-like mask and a frilly dress appear to swallow a little girl; in another, a mask with a somewhat sadistic grin eclipses the face of a little boy wearing a jacket emblazoned with the phrase “U.S. Army.” In a few of the works, the children’s hands are mere stumps, as if they’ve been stripped of agency or somehow stunted. In short, the works are a beautiful yet disturbing reflection on a familiar theme: the masks we wear and the roles we teach our children to play.
Of course, my explorations of E.A.S.T. last weekend were nowhere near comprehensive. In fact, asking around after the fact, I began to wonder how many of Austin’s curators, critics and serious collectors explored beyond their usual haunts. Fortunately, Andrea Mellard, a curatorial associate at the Austin Museum of Art, made it a priority to see a lot, and in the next issue of …might be good, she’ll reflect on what she saw. In addition, you’ll find coverage of Sasha Dela at Women and Their Work, Austin, Justin Boyd at Art Palace, Austin, Adi Ness at Light & Sie, Dallas, Cinema Remixed & Reloaded at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, and Mark Flood at Peres Projects, Los Angeles… and much, much more.
Until then, enjoy the rest of your long weekend and the plethora of holiday parties to come.
Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good.
Fairfax Dorn & JD DiFabbio
By Kate Watson
Michael Meredith and MOS, Rendering of Ballroom Marfa's drive-in movie theater and music hall. Courtesy Ballroom Marfa.
During my visit for the Marfa Sessions, I had an opportunity to sit down with Ballroom Marfa Co-Founder Fairfax Dorn and JD DiFabbio, Director of Development for the Ballroom, and pick their brains about the state of the arts in the wild creative outpost we lovingly call Marfa, Texas.
…might be good: What initially brought you to Marfa?
Fairfax Dorn: The landscape initially brought me to Marfa. I was originally trained as an artist so like the majority of artists who choose to be here, I was inspired by the desert. I had been living in New York and needed a change. I moved to Terlingua first and then to Marfa a year later.
…mbg: And you just stumbled on the space that now houses The Ballroom?
FD: Virginia stumbled upon it first…Virginia Lebermann is Ballroom Marfa’s cofounder and president. We met in New York City ten years ago and we’ve always loosely talked about having a space or doing something together that was very different than anything else we knew of in terms of art spaces. You know… “how can we make it different than a museum or a gallery?”. Virginia came out to West Texas around the same time I moved from NYC in 2002. Virginia spotted the building and knew it could become something very special.
…mbg: How long had it been vacant?
FD: Not very long. The building has always remained fairly active. Prior to Ballroom Marfa, it was a commercial gallery, a grocery store, car repair shop and a gas station but was originally built as a dance hall and theater.
JD DiFabbio: Someone in the neighborhood said they had basketball courts in here and of course it was originally a ballroom.
FD: So we’ve kind of taken the space back to its roots, to its original purpose. It was built in 1927 as a ballroom for the community and that’s how we came up with the name—there’s a record of it being called the Queen’s theater and someone told us it was once called the Queen’s Ballroom, but we were drawn to the name “Ballroom” and what that means—bringing people together through the convergence of the arts and empowering the idea of community.
JD: And what’s interesting is that from the outset Virginia and Fairfax conceived of it as a multidisciplinary space. The three disciplines could have their own programs and staff and organization…
FD: We want our programming to reflect an equal investment in film, music and visual art, without emphasizing one over another, thereby creating a cross pollination of people as well. Our goal has always been to remain an exploratory space of culture; staying open and free to everyone - for art to be tangible in their lives in one way or another—film, music and the visual arts.
JD: And that’s been important to draw in different parts of the community, for example people who wouldn’t necessarily come to a gallery space in general but would come to a concert. Once they come to a concert, that opens up that door for them to come to the gallery.
…mbg: And the drive-in movie theater you’re working on opening is a perfect example of that kind of encounter. Could you tell me about the progress on that new project?
FD: With the economic crisis, the project will take longer than expected to realize. The project has been in the works for over four years. In 2004, Josh Siegel (film curator at MOMA) came through and he posed this question, you know, “don’t you all have a drive-in theater… (it being) a small town Texas?” And we said no, we don’t. Though Marfa did at one time. The following day, Virginia and Vance Knowles, our Director of Music and Film said, “maybe Ballroom should build a drive-in!” Josh had no idea that he had sparked this thought in our minds until he returned to New York City when we asked him to help organize the inaugural weekend.
…mbg: The idea of a drive-in theater truly sparks the imagination—it’s just a fascinating piece of American history.
FD: It truly is. And it transformed from this simple idea to something far more wonderful and complex when we introduced the idea of design, taking the concept to a completely different level. Currently, we’re working with Michael Meredith (Associate Professor of Architecture at Harvard University) and MOS who designed an extraordinary structure that serves the dual purpose of being both a drive-in and a music hall with the screen and the bandshell being attached to one another. More recently, we have introduced the idea of using renewable energy by way of using solar and wind energy so it’s functional while being off of the grid. Now it’s more than just a drive-in, it’s an environmentally conscience performing arts center.
JD: It has become this visual and sculptural representation of our mission statement. It’s something for the community and a place where we can present even more multidisciplinary work.
FD: The programming options are endless. It’s a perfect extension of our mission; now it’s just a matter of finding the funds to realize the project.
…mbg: So in terms of the programming, what will be the focus?
FD: Right now we’re focusing on seasonal programming. Every year we’ll work with a curator from a roster of international institutions to organize a program – beginning with Josh Siegel – and we’re talking to other institutions such as the Pompidou and the Tate. Curators will have a chance to explore their institutions’ archives and then present the work at the drive-in. We will also invite individual artists, writers and directors to come and either screen their video work or their films, or have them curate a program as well. We will present music performances throughout the entire season.
JD: And with anything in Marfa, there really is always an x-factor—for example, how many people do you think will come out for the inaugural weekend? There’s no way to reference anything that you’re doing. So the first year will really be a testing ground and will be really experimental, which is exactly how it was with the gallery.
FD: With the Ballroom, the first year, we had four large shows. And then we learned, ok, we couldn’t do four shows. We’re out in the middle of nowhere—it doesn’t make financial sense for us to do four shows. So we went from four to three to two, so we learned pretty quickly what worked.
JD: Plus the way that information and “buzz” disseminates out of Marfa, you want to have four months for people to plan to travel here. If you go home and talk about the show, it’s not like your friends can say, “oh I’ll do that next Saturday.” You have to give yourself time to be here…
…mbg: …which is also one of the best things about the place.
JD: The location keeps us protected—the pilgrimage here keeps it from becoming overly touristy.
…mbg: I guess that leads to me to ask about how you’ve seen Marfa change since you’ve arrived here.
FD: I believe Marfa started to change right before I got here in 2002. The Marfa Book Company, Maiya’s restaurant and the Lannan Foundation had all just recently established themselves, showing signs of the town’s vitality and possibilities. It is not the easiest place to make a living but there has been a clear relationship between art and tourism within Marfa, which has helped the city’s economy. It is great to witness other people moving to Marfa with their own dreams of creating something new. I believe this keeps the younger generations connected to Judd, which is the primary reason (in addition to the landscape) why Marfa is Marfa.
FD: Overall, it hasn’t changed that much—we still face the same challenges that were here five or six years ago, in terms of there being no pharmacy or full time doctors. Marfa’s modest population and infrastructure remains the same, which presents a challenge for the town’s growth.
JD: Before, visitors came here to see the Chinati and Judd Foundations specifically, now because of these changes and media coverage Marfa is known to a broader audience. People travel to investigate the evolving concept of Marfa.
FD: People want to have this rural art experience, especially living in this technology-laden world; coming here can be a welcome break from the over-stimulated, over-populated urban life. The moment you enter this culturally stimulating community, you are immediately a part of it.
JD: Even if it’s for a short amount of time.
…mbg: Does that ever become exhausting?
FD: Both exhausting and exhilarating. Obviously, as a full time resident, my experience is very different than most as we have to make many things happen with very limited resources. Ballroom has a responsibility to serve the community in Marfa as well as the international community of art, music and film.
JD: You can come here and be very isolated but it’s also amazing to be plugged in and invested in this community because everything you do has a huge impact in this microcosm, so it’s really satisfying to be an active part of expanding and refining and…
FD: …and shaping the community. We’re very lucky to have an opportunity to do that.
JD: To make that leap and say that this is the town where I’m going to make my life is a huge step.
FD: Living in Marfa gives one an opportunity of creative entrepreneurship, to be a pioneer, and to reinvent one’s own world.
…mbg: How transient does it feel?
FD: It’s quite transient.
JD: It seems like it comes in waves—it seems like it’s gotten younger and younger. And the length of time you stay seems to correlate with age. But if you’re twenty and you’ve just graduated from art school and you’re not sure what your next step is, a year in Marfa could be fantastic.
JD: Furthermore, people are always coming in from all over the world and it stops you from becoming jaded. Because there are always people coming for the first time, you can always remind yourself what it is that drew you here in the first place.
…mbg: So can we talk more about what the future holds for the Ballroom?
FD: We have a number of music events on the horizon, including Japanther, Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band, YACHT and Billy Joe Shaver. We typically develop our exhibitions two years ahead of time. Right now we are organizing our first major benefit and auction for May 2009, and Alicia Ritson, our Associate Curator, is developing an exhibition of emerging Mexican artists for our fall 2009 show. We’re very focused on the present—of course the Drive-In is a major project but we also need to secure core support to ensure Ballroom is alive and well in ten years. We’re constantly working on fundraising. My hope is for Ballroom to continue working with emerging and established artists, curators, musicians, and filmmakers in presenting new ideas that have international relevance – the kind of projects that hold the power to inspire the creative spirit.
JD: There is a huge capacity for Marfa to transcend the box that Texas institutions sometimes find themselves in. Many wonderful institutions bump up against this idea of a regional space. The Ballroom, from the very beginning, produced shows that allowed us to have an international focus.
…mbg: It’s a challenge being in Texas. You really want to focus on what’s happening regionally but because of the physical distance from a major international art center like LA or New York, you really want your audience to have access to and get excited about seeing new work. Marfa feels like a destination in that sense.
FD: But even though Marfa is remote, because of all the great foundations and new projects we manage to stay very culturally connected. That’s what’s so amazing and intense about this place—the opportunities to have genuine interactions with writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers and art connoisseurs from around the world. Throughout the year people are coming here, flying here, driving here, which is a humbling experience. Though the landscape is vast, the experience is intimate— this is why experiencing art and culture in Marfa is so different from anywhere else.
Kate Watson is Coordinator of testsite and an assistant editor at ...might be good.
Rapture in Rupture
Through January 11, 2009
By Kate Watson
Lauren Kelley, Wild Seed, 2008, Stop-motion animation and digital video with sound, Approximately two minutes. Courtesy the artist.
“The world is mixed up—should it surprise us that the art of our times would be mixed up too?”*
What will we say about this cultural and political moment ten years from now? Each morning we hit snooze on our clock radios, dreamily welcoming the day as the latest news stories quietly ring in our ears, breaking the latest bank collapses and terrifying numbers to us as gently as possible. Corporations fail, markets crash and perhaps our gulf neighbors will never rebuild again after the devastation of another fall hurricane. Yet the gentle word “Obama” continues to shimmer in our minds and somehow all is not yet lost.
During the greatest and darkest cultural moments, we close our eyes and tell ourselves to remember—remember where we were when we “heard the news” so that one day we might tell our children. But how else do we make it through these heady and uncertain days? Specifically, how do artists remember and catalog difficult times and how do they contribute to an historical snapshot of an era? Rapture in Rupture, featuring Lauren Kelley, Shiri Mordechay, Mindy Shapero and Nicolau Vergueiro, offers one solution to this question—don’t try to find answers, just continue to make, explore and question. These four emerging artists explore one genre of current production— “…a resurgent strain of art making defined by a rather ramshackle aesthetic along with a deliberate, even defiant openness and resistance to easily digestible meaning.”
When times get tough, artists get messy and bold. Galleries crumble, art fairs bleed, collectors buy safety and the youngest in the economy suffer most. An artist’s securest approach is to work small and two-dimensionally, to think “collectible.” The artists currently featured at Arthouse offer the opposite. They work with courageously huge “canvases” and make tender, bold images from materials seemingly found lying around the home and the studio—Nicolau Vergueiro trumps all with his wild list, which includes latex, wool, velvet, silk, ink, copper, Magic-Sculpt and cheesecloth.
Shiri Mordechay, who was born in Israel and raised in Nigeria, has a much shorter list of materials—chiefly cutout paper collage, delicately bound with hair and string—but renders gorgeous images with the hand of a master. Violent palettes explode with human and bestial corporeal landscapes; the most glorious moments in Mordechay’s massive paper installations occur when the images literally leap off of the page. Three-dimensional cutout apes swing drunkenly in space; landscapes completely fall away, leaving a cascade of images dangling and animated.
Houston-based Core fellow Lauren Kelley emerges as the brightest star in this mesmerizing exhibition with Wild Seed, a brand new minute and a half stop-motion animation. This video marks a new direction in Kelley’s work. Although she continues to construct playful yet elaborate dioramas for her surreal melodramas, this piece is tinged with a much greater solemnity than previous work. Kelley has abandoned her Barbie dolls in favor of tiny, topiary animals. Apocalyptic chaos descends on this peaceful environment and the characters are left powerless in the eye of the storm. At the climax of the piece, a viscous slime descends on the pristine, orderly world turned upside down.
For a video that spans less than two minutes, Kelley is doing some heavy lifting. Made after surviving the difficult period of time in Houston after Hurricane Ike, Wild Seed is a meditation on control, on humanity against nature. Maps of projected flooding due to global warming rang quietly in my head as I watched the piece—Houston will most certainly be lost in our battle against rising sea levels. Our deeply human desire to create complicated, organized landscapes (whether they be topiaries or skylines) will most certainly fail. Earth will prevail.
Mordechay and Kelley beautifully exemplify the mission of Rapture in Rupture—make now and ask questions later. Devour inspirational material; work big and work messy. The “whys” of this vulnerable historical moment have not yet come into focus, but the visual results of these hyperactive and courageous explorations are one luscious delirium after another.
*All quotes taken from Elizabeth Dunbar, “Rapture in Rupture” (Arthouse exhibition brochure, 2008)
Kate Watson is Coordinator of testsite and an assistant editor at ...might be good.
The New York Graphic Workshop
Blanton Museum of Art
Through January 18, 2009
By Katie Anania
Luis Camnitzer, Topical Change of a Word Sequence 2, 1969, Index cards, glue and marker. Luis Camnitzer Collection. Courtesy the artist and The Blanton Museum of Art.
The New York Graphic Workshop once mailed out a manifesto in an edition of boxes, each of which included the printed text of the manifesto and a single cookie. Unable to accept food, Argentinean customs sent the box back to Luis Camnitzer and he kept that box for forty years. He still has the cookie.
The archival nature of the exhibition of work by the New York Graphic Workshop (NYGW) at The Blanton Museum could probably prompt a reading analogous to that cookie: moldy objects from the clutches of dead files and enthusiasts; objects that espouse theories of printmaking concurrent with the dematerialization of art in the 1960s and 70s. But actually, the Workshop’s contribution to conceptual art—and the exhibition on view at the Blanton that supports it—reads like a brightly unearthed index that points to both a fresh, interrogative output and the relative inadequacy of art history to contain crucial moments like this.
Keep in mind that NYGW is a quiet and nearly monochromatic show. In the NYGW’s mode of printmaking, its three cardinal members—Argentine Liliana Porter, Uruguayan Luis Camnitzer and Venezuelan José Guillermo Castillo—maintain a spare visual vocabulary to steer the viewer toward the recognition of printing processes (as opposed to the material outcome of these processes) as visible arguments. Works like Liliana Porter’s Shadows (1969) argue for a more inclusive conception of printmaking—one in which any object can become a print, as long as an impression is being made onto some surface and can be somehow repeated. The work consists of cast shadows of human figures against one wall. The source of the projection is invisible, so we see the result of the process but not the impulse behind it. Shadows questions the relationship of the original matrix to its printed copy—a theme that weaves throughout much of the work in the exhibition.
Located in the Blanton’s relatively compact front exhibition space, the show cycles through NYGW’s works on paper as well as their late-60s installations and non-object-based projects. A fair number of early photo etchings are on view, plus cases of ephemera that identify one of the group’s major modes of visual argument: missing or itinerant works. We can view a mailed flier from their Hanover Transit Safe Deposit Box exhibition, in which the group exhibited “new work” inside a locked safe deposit box at a 57th street post office. The deposit box exhibition received no viewers despite the aggressive mail and paper advertising campaign associated with it.
Reception of this show may depend on whether you find public gestures like this to be humorous or alienating. I felt that the warmth and intimacy of the projects came through despite (or perhaps because of?) their overly aggressive populism rooted in late-60s revolutionary political rhetoric. Kinships with more visible figures from the European cannon like Joseph Beuys, Blinky Palermo (whose 1967 gridded print Flipper is eerily similar in grammar and argument to José Guillermo Castillo’s 1969 Untitled) and Dieter Roth are clear but go largely unmentioned.
A question faced by curators Ursula Davila-Villa and Gábriel Pérez-Barreiro was how to present such obviously overlooked information without becoming pedantic in their display. The exhibition works feverishly to efface didactic content with jokes, devoting one wall to the group’s amusing hoax, The Trepadori Project. The NYGW members invented Juan Trepadori, an artificial artist born in Paraguay in 1939. Trepadori, rumors circulated, was a self-taught artist who had volunteered to donate a portion of the proceeds of his work to a scholarship fund to send Latin American students to the Pratt Institute. In reality, Trepadori never existed and it was the members of NYGW who produced those prints under his mantle and successfully managed the scholarship fund.
One can discern the simultaneous hermeticism and populism in the work that’s similar to concurrent international projects; think of collectives like Superstudio, whose Hidden Architecture proposed in 1970 to seal an architectural project inside a box for all eternity. Davila-Villa and Pérez-Barreiro’s nearly decade-long endeavor to expose the NYGW’s work and polemics is well-articulated and extremely generative, and opens up larger historical vectors unconsidered by American museums. After touring the exhibition, the exclusion of this group from the master narrative of contemporary and conceptual art feels like a ragged, gaping hole.
Katie Anania is a curatorial researcher at Fluent~Collaborative and an assistant editor at ...might be good.
The Vortex, Austin
November 6 - 8, 2008
By Claire Ruud
Gretchen Phillips, Tim Mateer and John Perkins of Meat Joy. Courtesy the artist.
Gretchen Phillips’s Manlove, by turns tender, funny, intimate and political, premiered last week at The Vortex. Phillips is a career musician and lesbian icon in Austin since the 80s; today it’s easy to pick out her signature silvery-white crest of hair out in a crowd. With Manlove, she continues her experimentation with performance art, interspersing tunes from her new album with narrative and projected images. The resulting performance takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster—something along the lines of Lisa Kron’s 2.5 Minute Ride—through the personal and the political. Manlove was unbelievably timely. Arriving two days after the presidential election, the performance provided a space for performer and audience to share mixed feelings: celebration and hope, alienation and regret, with the emphasis squarely on the former.
Variously a member of Meat Joy, Girls in the Nose and Two Nice Girls and The Gretchen Phillips Experience and Phillips & Driver, Phillips has worked across musical genres—from punk rock to lesbian folk to disco. But her first official foray into the performance art world occurred in 2007 when she created the performance Don’t Stop Believing for the Rude Mechanical’s fourth Throws Like a Girl festival. That performance followed a similar format to Manlove, but this time a more focused theme (tagline: “How sweet it is to love men when your investment is limited”) created coherence and flow that was just nascent in Don’t Stop Believing.
Like many other queer performance artists, Phillips draws on personal history, but the premise of Manlove is fresh: a lesbian’s relationships with (mostly) straight men. She structures the performance around a series of men in her life, some of them surprising. Dad, Jesus, little brother Caleb and president-elect Barack Obama made an appearance in that order through images, text and song. Phillips began each chapter by opening a black binder to the appropriately tabbed section and reading from it a pre-written script about the man in question. Photographs projected behind her created the effect of flipping through a family album while a friend tells stories about the people pictured in its pages. Each episode culminated in a song, now enlivened by the preceding stories and images.
Manlove pokes fun at the stereotype of the separatist lesbian; early on Phillips confesses to the audience that she “needs her Vitamin M” and sings an old country classic, “Almost Persuaded,” with a lesbian twist. The original is a straight woman’s first-person account of the temptation of infidelity. In Phillips’s rendition it’s about heterosexuality. She sings, “I was almost persuaded to let strange lips lead me on. Almost persuaded ... but thirty years of lesbianism made me stop and go home.” As Phillips sings, “strange lips” gains a double meaning: these lips aren’t just strange because they’re not her lover’s, they’re strange because they’re a man’s. The love song becomes a funny yet poignant riff on the pressures of a hetero-normative world—in a world that “persuades” heterosexuality, gay men and lesbians are almost, but not quite, persuaded.
Each of the men Phillips discusses serves a symbolic function: Dad gives Phillips life through a passion for music, Jesus offers the potential for a good and abundant life, her little brother elicits Phillips protectiveness—a good man hurt by the demands of masculinity—and the president-elect embodies the hope of alliance and a revolutionary response to a broken world. But throughout the performance, Phillips complicated each figure’s symbolic import through the revelation of her messy emotions surrounding him. For example, images of her brother as a child accompanied stories about their relationship and his ongoing battle with addiction as a teen and adult. Enriched by her preceding stories, Phillips’s song, “Your Drinking,” expressed so much tangled emotion. Together, images, stories and song both revealed and supplemented one another’s inadequacies of expression.
Each chapter of the performance evoked a jumble of gratefulness, pain, sadness and joy, and every time these feelings risked overwhelming the audience, Phillips leavened her sincerity and openness with humor, sarcasm and self-mockery. In this way, she worked her way into the audience’s affection, enabling her to draw us further into her sentimental journey—further than a jaded 21st century crowd is usually willing to go. In addition, the freshness of Obama’s victory, provoking in us a desire to let go of cynicism, embrace hope and work toward change, had most likely primed the audience for such a performance.
Phillips makes an astute yet endearing performance artist. She’s refreshingly real, without abandoning those critical moments of self-reflexivity. In a moment when artists and audiences seem more nostalgic than ever for the 70s and 80s, her stories and music offer fascinating glimpses at lesbian feminism and Austin’s rock and punk-rock scenes. It remains to be seen how well Manlove’s earnestness will translate into larger venues and for audiences less familiar with Phillips’s iconic persona. But here in Austin where Phillips enjoys a large cult following, the performance, so well-timed with the presidential election, felt refreshing and invigorating.
Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good.
By Claire Ruud
Artist Vijai Patchineelam cites Henry Miller when he talks about his work: “To sing you must first open your mouth. You must have a pair of lungs, and a little knowledge of music. It is not necessary to have an accordion, or a guitar. The essential thing is to want to sing. This then is a song. I am singing.” Patchineelam is painting. Right now, he is painting in a portable storage unit in the parking lot outside of The Creative Research Laboratory. His large paintings, black, white and grey oils on paper, lie on the ground and hang on nails around the small space. Patchineelam paints on the floor, straddling one corner of the work and sweeping a large brush back and forth over it. The resulting works display a heavy diagonal of grey or black paint, and are often torn, smudged and footprinted around the edges.
Patchineelam, this year’s Iberê Camargo artist-in-residence in Austin, is a young artist from Rio de Janeiro. The backbone of Patchineelam’s practice is daily routine and time in the studio. “Most important,” he explains, “is to keep working, to hit hard, to keep this constant going.” The meaningfulness of Patchineelam’s work develops out of routine and consistency. In fact, Patchineelam received his residency in Austin on the basis of a proposal that resists the accepted order of production: idea, production, result. He claimed no plan beyond “to paint,” (paper and paints, he points out, are much cheaper here than in Rio), and promised no results beyond painting. In effect, Patchineelam’s proposal collapses the first and last phases of production—idea and result—into process; production itself becomes both the impetus behind and the product of the work.
Moonwalk (2007) embodies Patchineelam’s process-oriented practice. The artist placed a bucket of white paint on one end of the studio and a temporary wall of lockers at the other end. As he walked back and forth between them, his oversized brush dripped paint in his path, creating a wide swath of puddles and footprints in the intervening space. Patchineelam explains, “the paint and the wall are point A and point B, but what interests me is what happens in between.”
Much of Patchineelam’s earlier work is in photography because, he explains, “Early on I realized, if I want to work as much as I need to work, I need to work cheap. I got into photography because I could work almost constantly without spending too much money.” But an early group of photographs, Frame Series, from 2005, illustrates Patchineelam’s ongoing interest in the idea of painting. In these works, Patchineelam hung a black frame in front of a white backdrop and threw objects from the studio—an old canvas, a chair, a brush—in front of the frame. Capturing these moving objects in a still photograph, Patchineelam discovered, created the effect of swaths of paint on a canvas.
The boundary between the space of the canvas or picture frame and the artist’s studio is an ongoing theme in Patchineelam’s work. In Frame Series, the studio setting is apparent, from the stage-like backdrop behind the frame to the warehouse lighting overhead to the canvases stacked against the wall in the background. The studio is not only visible within Patchineelam’s photographs, it also invades the frame within the frame. Objects gathered haphazardly from those lying around the studio catapult into the frame, illustrating the studio’s encroachment upon the work. In fact, many of Patchineelam’s photographs picture installations or actions occurring within the studio, but in a gallery, Patchineelam only exhibits photographs. The installations and events, he insists, are intimately wrapped up in the space of the studio and cannot be seen without it.
In his most recent paintings, Patchineelam maintains this attention to the presence of the studio within the work. He appears more interested in what happens to the paper as he moves around within the studio than he is with the stroke of his brush. He loves the effect of dog-eared corners punctured by nail after nail as he moves a painting around the walls of his studio, of a fold or a tear created by accident or of the smudges of his own fingers and feet around the edges of a page. This may be why Patchineelam leaves his paintings lying helter-skelter over the floor and hanging two or three to a nail on the wall: he’s waiting for the studio to rub off on them.
Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good.
Austin On View
Rapture in Rupture
On view through January 11, 2009
Rapture in Rupture, exploring the affective content of work by artists Lauren Kelley, Shiri Mordechay, Mindy Shapero and Nicolau Vergueiro, may serve as an Austin counterpart to Damaged Romanticism at Blaffer Gallery in Houston. Perhaps these exhibitions speak to our zeitgeist, in which brokeness seems inseparable from beauty and pain intimately linked to hope.
Benjamin Butler: Dark and Leafless
Lora Reynolds Gallery
On View through January 10, 2009
New York-based painter Benjamin Butler comes back for a second solo exhibition in Reynolds' gorgeous new space.
Bert L. Long: My Daily Bread
Opens December 5, 6-9 pm
Internationally known Houston artist Bert L Long Jr. presents his earlier paintings and self made frames alongside his latest body of work entitled, "My Daily Bread". Working in a variety of mediums, the artist has gained national and international recognition throughout his career for his thought provoking art.
Dallas On View
Take your time: Olafur Eliasson
The Dallas Museum of Art
On View through March 15, 2009
This exhibition gathers works from major public and private collections worldwide and spans Eliasson’s diverse range of artistic production from 1993 to the present, including installations, large-scale immersive environments, freestanding sculpture and photography. What better way to get over your turkey hangover than to see this epic show?
Gael Stack: Recent Paintings
Opens December 6, 2008 6–8 PM
Stack is currently the John & Rebecca Moores Professor of Art at the University of Houston where she has been a faculty member since 1980.
Joshua S. Goode: Beside You In Time
Opens Saturday, November 29, 7- 10 PM
In ArtStorm’s first custom made installation, Texas-based artist Joshua S. Goode creates a monumental sculptural construction for ArtStorm’s back yard and a site-specific installation for the interior galleries. Also on view are corresponding drawings, prints and collages.Music at the opening reception will be provided by local experimental band The They.
Houston on View
Mequitta Ahuja, Cory Wagner and others
Lawndale Art Center
On View through January 10, 2009
Five solo shows are currently on view at Lawndale: AJ Liberto and Jesse Robinson, Cory Wagner, Ann Marie Nafziger, Mequitta Ahuja and Emily Sloan. We're especially looking forward to Wagner's Personal Panopticon and Ahuja's Flowback. After Foucault, Wagner's panopticon seems somewhat overambitious, but we're willing to hold back judgement until we've seen it. Ahuja just finished up a residency at the Core Program and her work is an evocative investigation race, gender and sex. We can't wait.
San Antonio Openings
Ben Marlan: Imaginary Landscapes
cactus bra SPACE
Opens December 5, 2008, 6-9pm
New York artist Ben Marlan creates vistas that are born out of his love of bright or saturated colors and simple, peaceful forms. The trees, hills, sun and other features of the landscapes become living creatures, moving around, conversing and relating with each other, and the viewer. Curious, indeed.
New York On View
Trenton Doyle Hancock: Fear
James Cohan Gallery
On View through January 10, 2009
Houston-based Trenton Doyle Hancock is well known for evolving his absurdist narrative of the battle between good and evil executed across a wide variety of media that includes painting, collage, sculpture, print and the performing arts. The artist's densely layered works incorporate text, drawing, collaged paper, plastic, felt, fur and paint to create a collision of symbols and visual tropes that evidence Hancock's singular vision and distinctive means of storytelling.
Call for Entries
Call for Proposals: Moving Walls 16 Documentary Photography Exhibition
Deadline: December 5, 2008
The Open Society Institute (OSI) invites artists to submit proposals for consideration in the Moving Walls 16 exhibition. The exhibition will feature artistic interpretations of the obstacles society erects--obstacles such as political oppression and racism--and the struggles to tear down these barriers.encourages artists to submit documentary photographs that coincide with the issues and geographical areas that are of principal concern to the institute. For guideline information please Click Here.
The Center for Fine Art Photography Presents: Perspectives
Deadline: December 9, 2008
The Center for Fine Art Photography requests photographic submissions for its exhibition, Perspectives.
Juror: Paula Tognarelli, Executive Director and Curator of the Griggin Museum of PHotography, Winchester, MA. Monetary awards range from $500-$100. All selected photographers will be included in the Center's online gallery and in the Center's 2008 Exhibition Collection CD, which is distributed to selected galleries, collectors, design houses, and corporations world wide. Also, the Center will provide mounting for selected images. For more information Click Here.
Norman Public Arts Board: Request for Qualifications and Concepts for Public Art Project
Deadline: December 15, 2008
The Norman Public Arts Board (PAB) of Norman, Oklahoma seeks an artist or team of artists to create a permanent, public, outdoor artwork for the center island of the East Main Street Roundabout, located on East Main between Porter/Classen and NE 12th Street at the intersection of Main, Acres, and Carter streets. The installation should embody a theme representative of central Oklahoma. The style of the sculpture may be traditional, architectural, figurative, or contemporary and may be of any material. For more information please Click Here.
The Visual Arts Society of Texas Presents: 41st Annual Visual Arts Exhibition
Deadline: January 2, 2009
The Visual Arts Society of Texas (VAST) welcomes entries for their annual spring exhibition of visual art. 2-D and 3-D works, such as painting, drawing, photography, textiles, sculpture, jewelry, and metalworks, are eligible. Installation works are not accepted. Juror: Dan Piersol, Deputy Director for Programs and Chief Curator of COllections and Exhibitions at the Mississippi Museum of Art.
Best of Show award: $1000. Total cash and merchandise awards: over $10,000. Please Click Here for an entry form and additional information.
The Target Gallery Presents: Reclaimed
Deadline: January 13, 2009
Influenced by artworks such as Marcel Duchamp's "ready-mades" and Robert Rauschenberg's "combines," the organizers of Reclaimed seek submissions from artists who recycle, reinterpret, and transform everyday common objects into works of art.
Jurors: Steven and Linda Krensky, Owners of Light Street Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland. Cash awards for "Best in Show" and "Honorable Mention." Please Click Here for entry form and additional information.
5th Alexander Rutsch Award and Solo Exhibition for Painting
Deadline: February 6, 2009
Organizers of the 5th Alexander Rutsch Award and Solo Exhibition for Painting, sponsored by Pelham Art Center in New York, seek entries for this juried competition. Applicants must be United States based artists of 19 years of age or older. Entry Fee is $25. Award: $5,000 cash prize and solo exhibition at Pelham Art. Center for the winner. Please Click Here for entry form and additional information.
Pen and Brush Galleries Presents: First Response: Artists Imagine . . . America
Deadline: January 15, 2009
Due to the recent election of Barak Obama as United States President, many wonder, "How will Obama's election change our world?" Intrigued by this titillating question, Pen and Brush seeks submissions from women artists whose artwork is a creative response to Barak Obama's presidential election. All media will be considered. All artwork must be for sale. Curator: Jerelle Kraus, former Art Director of the New York Times. Please visit www.penandbrush.org for more information or Click Here for an entry form.
2009 MAP Fund Grant
Deadline: January 20, 2009
MAP provides project-specific funding to playwrights, choreographers, directors, composers, and performers experimenting in any performance tradition or discipline. MAP seeks to especially support work focuses on issues of cultural difference or the concept of the "other" based on class, gender, generation, ethnicity, or formal consideration. MAP only supports projects that contain a live performance. Please Click Here for eligibility requirements and guidelines. MAP awards $1 million to a maximum of 40 projects each year. Please visit www.mapfund.org for more information.
Faculty Openings at Parsons The New School for Design
Open Until Filled
Parsons The New School for Design seeks applicants for full-time faculty positions. Applicants must hold terminal degrees in their respective fields and/or equivalent professional standing. A letter of application describing related experience and interests for the position, as well as a Cirriculum Vitae, must be submited online at http://careers.newschool.edu
The following links will lead you directly to a description and a list of responsibilities and requirements for each position:
Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability
Assistant Professor of Fine Arts / New Genres
Assistant Professor of Illustration
Assistant Professor of Design Studies
Start Date: July 1, 2009
Curatorial Assistant, Asian Art
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Open Until Filled
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston seeks a Full-Time Curatorial Assistant in Asian Art. A B.A. in Art History is required and an M.A. in Art HIstory with an emphasis on Contemporary Art and Asian Art (China, Japan, Korea, or India) is preferred. Applicants with a minimum of one year of museum experience in a curatorial or research area are desired. Please Click Here for more information.
School Programs Coordinator
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Open Until Filled
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston seeks a Full-Time School Programs Coordinator. The School Programs Coordinator works closely with members of the Education Department to provide programming and curriculum resources for K-12 teachers and students and develops school partnerships and other initiatives that position the museum as a center for teaching and learning. Applicants must have a B.A. and M.A. in Art History, Education, or the Humanities. Applicants with 2 years experience in museum education or teaching is preferred. Please Click Here for more information.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Open Until Filled
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston seeks a Full-Time Collection Photographer to document and photograph various aspects of the museum's permanent collection, exhibits and events. Applicants with a BFA in photography and a knowledge of art history are preferred, as well as photographers with a combination of technical study, apprenticeship experience, and on-the-job training. Candidates must have a minimum of 5 years of work experience in photography and experience utilizing professional digital camera systems. A portfolio of work is required. Please Click Here for additional information.