MBG Issue #114: Restraining Order

Issue # 114

Restraining Order

January 23, 2009

share with a friend:

Taryn Simon, Sepia Officinalis, 2008, Mixed-media installation, Dimensions vary, Installation detail. Photo Kimberly Aubuchon. Originally commissioned and produced by Artpace San Antonio.

from the editor

Hello readers, are you reading this? We're pleased to note that you've made it to the 18th word. Words 19 through 43 are even more rewarding: in them we reveal that we've just devoted three whole days to thinking about what you want.We feel fresh and revived after a productive staff retreat, and you are bored, sitting in your office selecting VVork links to send to your friends. Stop skimming Artforum's diary for candid photos of Matthew Day Jackson and consider this: what do you want?

We know It's Complicated but we want to get a little closer to you. Click "send comments to our editors" and drop us a line. In the very near future, we'll be rolling out a comments section, too, for your discursive pleasure.

(For your reading pleasure, try Lane Relyea’s review of Olafur Eliasson: take your time at the Dallas Museum of Art. It’s sharp.)


Olafur Eliasson
Dallas Museum of Art
Through March 15, 2009

By Lane Relyea

Olafur Eliasson, One-way colour tunnel, 2007. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; and neugerriemschneider, Berlin. © 2007 Olafur Eliasson. Photo: Dallas Museum of Art.

The common refrain among critics of Olafur Eliasson's work is that it's simple and yet at the same time spectacular. That is, not George Lucas spectacular but morning-mist-rising-from-a-still-lake spectacular. At once majestic and unassuming. Nature is Eliasson's overriding analogy. His modest palette consists primarily of mixing human perception with space, light, air and water, albeit augmented with frequent helpings of industrial-grade electrical and mechanical jerry-rigging. Also required is a small army of studio assistants, preparators and temp labor to install his work — an army that swelled into an occupying force with the arrival at the Dallas Museum of Art of Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson, a traveling survey of the artist's almost-20-year career.

Nature used to be a bad word in the art world, or at least passing things off as natural tended to arouse suspicion. Artists and writers agreed that the more critical viewpoint sees everything as constructed; that ideology hides biases and vested interests behind a façade of natural inevitability. But these are supposedly post-ideological times, when a technological mindset, frank pragmatism and functionality trump all. Indeed, critics applaud Eliasson for his practical, DIY bent. He leaves the electrical cables and other hardware he uses exposed for all to see; the visual effects he pulls off are easily traceable back to their means of production. This in itself, many argue, endows Eliasson's work with a measure of self-reflexivity, even criticality. He makes us conscious of the mechanisms involved in our acts of perception — this according to many scholarly heavyweights who've hopped aboard the Eliasson bandwagon, including Daniel Birnbaum, Jonathan Crary, Pamela Lee, Anne Wagner, not to mention the show's organizer, Madeleine Grynsztejn.

I frankly don't get it: to me Eliasson seems to treat perception in an exceedingly abstract and aestheticizing way, dissolving formidable institutional settings into tartly privatized experiences divorced from any larger social and historical context. Imagine an arena-rock roadie gone creative, a Dave Mathews Band concert only minus Dave and the rest of the band. Sensation hasn't suffered this much bracketing since the heyday of modernist painting (which, truth be told, when compared to Eliasson's post-medium spectacles looks very much anchored in a historical context, that of its medium-bound tradition: "He wants to be Velazquez so he paints stripes," a young Michael Fried once blurted about his friend Frank Stella, thereby suggesting how the painter's canvases could be used to measure the severe degradation and brutality that modern industrialization and disenchantment had imposed on even the most rarified strata of Western art).

Granted, the mess of the social world does intrude on Take Your Time, but in ways I don't think Eliasson can take credit for. I happened to see the show when it was installed at New York's Museum of Modern Art, where Eliasson's prim geometries and pure hues were little match for the mob behavior Manhattanites robustly assume around art. To "take your time" at MoMA means suffering much pushing and shoving. The white screen stretched taut around the interior of Eliasson's 360˚ room for all colours (2002) was splattered with hand and shoe prints, thus inserting gonzo graffiti-like urban iconography into the artist's otherwise sterile light show. The DMA was comparatively empty during my visit, guards outnumbering patrons three to one, which meant that local visitors, on the average more intimidated by art than their New York counterparts, were even further obliged to tip-toe around the show in seeming deference to the work's overly serious sense of itself.

But social life, and how it’s currently made to accord with strict information-age dictates, seems to seep far more deeply into the crackling circuitry of Eliasson's oeuvre. Indeed, my sense is that it's precisely Eliasson's relation to larger contexts that has made him the reigning darling of the zeitgeist. His art doesn't transcend its circumstances, it certainly doesn't critique them; but it does supply a flattering if distorted reflection of the dominant order of things. Even at its most aloof and abstract, his work is a symptom of its times.

First of all, there's the iconography. Nature might be a favored theme for Eliasson, but he doesn't render landscapes — again, that would mean having to negotiate traditional artistic genres that are too historically and culturally varied (landscapes being conceived differently at different times and places). Instead Eliasson goes straight for the basics of wind, light, water and matter, a kind of universal DNA of creation that seems to transcend place and scale (water as an issue for both global ice flows and interior plumbing; light as a product of solar energy and halogen bulbs) just as it stretches to the outer limits of time. Indeed, some works look prehistoric (Moss wall, 1994; the cave-like Multiple Grotto, 2004; the aerial photographs in The glacier series, 1999), while others look futuristic (the 30-plus yellowish monofrequency lights of Room for one colour, 1997; or the complexly crystalline orb and passageway made of stainless steel and mirrors in Inverted Berlin Sphere, 2005, and One-way colour tunnel, 2007). Nature here serves as a borderless esperanto well-suited for an increasingly international art world, a global language — or rather a language of globalization — that rhetorically dresses up universal aspirations as simple, innocent and inhering. Not unlike Google's simple-as-crayons web design, or Coke’s desire to teach the world to sing.

Beyond iconography, Eliasson's art can be seen as spectacular affirmation of the new conditions that underlie art production and exhibition. Long gone are the days of opposition and stalemate between the artist's studio, with its presumed autonomy, and the recuperating museum, with its permanent collection representing "official" culture. These formerly armored enclosures have been penetrated, their practices and forms dispersed; superseding them today are more temporal, elapsing events, spaces of fluid interchange between objects, activities and people. For the museum looking beyond the audio-tour, interactive video kiosk or lounge-like reading room for ways to make their environs more like electronic entertainment centers, Eliasson is a godsend. Whereas Frank Gehry triumphed in Bilbao by making the museum's monumental exterior seem as ceaselessly mobile as a waterfall, Eliasson bestows the same blessing on the interior, turning on the water hoses, flickering the lights, transforming walls into mutating organisms, covering almost everything in mirrors.

Just as exhibition venues today increasingly rely on residencies and commissions, sites of art production have likewise become more mobile (in this way the art studio follows the trend in capitalist production per se under conditions of globalization – i.e., the change-over to on-demand or "just-in-time" production, to out-sourcing, temporary work teams and other hallmarks of the new economy and flexible accumulation). Eliasson is exemplary in that, instead of production, he focuses on the project, around which a work team is quickly assembled and just as quickly disbanded upon the project's completion. Old-fashioned studio production mirrored the old economy's factory, both aligned with the permanent address and dedicated land line and specializing in the stockpiling of inventory; but today's project-oriented art sides with the cellphone and the mobile operator. (Is it unfair to say that post-studio artists avoid the problems of overproduction – i.e. back inventories of unsold paintings eating up costly studio space?)

Perhaps the artist’s seemless integration of two former antagonists—the individual and society’s techno-institutional leviathan—most recommends Eliasson for the position of court artist in today’s global economy. It wasn't that long ago that cultural leftists considered institutions like museums as basically no different from major media broadcasters, public schooling, even the military, all agents of official propaganda, all part of one big "ideological state apparatus" that assimilated or "interpolated" citizens by dictating the very terms of subjectivity. Today such an implacable, monolithic view of society has faded; our more DIY culture no longer constructs the world for us but rather asks that each of us "do it ourselves." Culture now seemingly resides in increasingly corporate-owned mega-libraries, like natural resources waiting to be mined by enterprising consumers. And a technology and architecture now rise up around the individual's mobile body, an apparatus of cellphones, laptops, iPods, frequent-flyer and other consumer-membership rewards. How fitting, then, that Eliasson so often chooses titles for his works that address the individual viewer directly: Your compound view, Your sun machine, Your windless arrangement, Your inverted veto, Your blue afterimage exposed, Your circumspection disclosed, Your strange certainty still kept, Your only real thing is time, etc. Even the name of the exhibition is a grammatical imperative. Maybe I don't want to take my time. "'Our,' 'my' and 'your' are consumer empowerment words," explains the business section of The New York Times. Similarly obsessed with the consumer, or I mean to say art patron, the DMA’s free brochure for Take Your Time asks the reader, "How has your experience of this space been altered?" alongside a floorplan drawing of the exhibition layout. "Does a particular color linger on your eyes? What do you feel and hear? What does it smell like to you?"

At which point I have a question of my own: is it possible to get a restraining order issued against a work of art?

I can't help but feel that one reason why museums like the DMA accord a relatively young artist like Olafur Eliasson canonical status is because members of their consumer base who otherwise would be suspicious of Web 2.0 or GPS tracking systems or other forms of you-you-you technology still love his art. My parents love Olafur Eliasson for chrissakes, just as they like to rock out to Dave Mathews. But when I show them a picture of a Frank Stella painting from 50 years ago, they look at me like I just shot the dog.

Lane Relyea is Assistant Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University.

Marcelo Pombo
Blanton Museum of Art, Austin
Through February 22, 2009

By Dan Boehl

Marcelo Pombo, Ornaments in the Landscape, and the Museum as a Hotel Room, 2009, Installation View
Blanton Museum of Art. Photo: Rick Hall. All works courtesy Christopher Grimes Gallery.

Marcelo Pombo’s art focuses on that most classical of concerns: the nature of beauty. For his installation at the Blanton Museum Workspace gallery, Ornaments in the Landscape, and the Museum as a Hotel Room, Pombo creates six new paintings and transforms the exhibition space into a conglomeration of beautiful paradoxes. The paintings are beautiful, yet shallow. The space is beautiful, yet impersonal. To talk about this exhibition as it relates to beauty is to talk about two things at once: the paintings themselves and the transformation of the gallery into a “hotel room.”

The paintings are beautiful in the Merriam-Webster sense of beauty: a quality that brings pleasure to the senses. Made by applying a thick obsessive layer of acrylic dots to each surface, the intricate and colorful paintings Pombo builds are nearly sculptural in composition. The dots sprawl and swirl across the wood surface in satisfying colors and patterns. Though his acrylic pointillism is complex, frenetic, candy-slick and instantly appealing, Pombo’s focus on visual pleasure reduces image and art history into a series of easily recognizable forms.

A whisper of a past art historical age rises from each painting. In La pinacoteca de los pobres [Art Gallery of the Poor] (2007-2008), framed Impressionist paintings appear to hang salon style in the air, hovering like ghosts over a concrete and plywood house. The paintings-within-the-painting are recognizable as Impressionist simply because Pombo employs the expressive touches and brushstrokes associated with that movement. They operate like knockoff cologne: stripped of their authenticity, they recall the effluvium of beauty, rather than beauty’s essence.

Pombo adorns all the paintings in the gallery with similarly recognizable art historical forms. Dali and Ernst show up in Segundo concilio de Nicea [Second Council of Nicea] (2007-2008). Twombly and Pollock are present in Pincelada flotante y habitada [Inhabited and Floating Paint Stroke] (2007-2008). Each composition speaks of a different era. Stripped of its historical context, each era comes across like the recent celebrity Louis Vuitton ads, rife with nostalgia and the implication that luxury is synonymous with culture. The patterns in Pombo’s paintings add up to something larger than themselves because we’ve seen them before in blockbuster exhibitions and on desk calendars. They are what we know to be beautiful.

As for the gallery, Pombo effectively transformed the space to capture the transitory and static aesthetic of a nice hotel. He fashioned the gallery to be at once welcoming and aloof, warm and professional by draping the entrances with thick brown fabric, painting the walls a warm yet sterile green, darkening the lights, and appointing the gallery with plush uncomfortable looking furniture. By setting up the gallery as a hotel room, Pombo reduces the museum into a showcase for luxury goods. It’s the place to get a taste of the opulence we as individuals cannot afford for ourselves.

In Ornaments in the Landscape, and the Museum as a Hotel Room, Pombo reduces beauty to artifice, and artifice to pleasure. And it is a simple, reassuring pleasure. Everything looks good, is comfortable, and we don’t have to think too hard. But Pombo doesn’t want us to think, he wants us to be moved. Well wrought and safe, nothing is really at stake, though our hearts flutter so.

Dan Boehl lives in Austin, Texas where he is working on a post-petroleum children's novel.

Mark Flood
Peres Projects, Los Angeles
Through February 7, 2009

By Anna Mayer

Mark Flood, Entertainment Weakly, 2008, Installation view. Courtesy Peres Projects, Berlin & Los Angeles.

It is rare that Mark Flood’s lace paintings are shown alongside his collage works and “broken paintings,” but in the many rooms at Peres Projects’ new Culver City location his modified signs and deconstructed canvases are interspersed with just as many lace works. Much has been made—often by Flood himself—of the considerable beauty and market-friendliness of the lace paintings, presumably in contrast to the so-called uglier, found aesthetic of the mixed media works. What emerges from this collective presentation of several of Flood’s most commonly used strategies is a marked self-consciousness about the market that, in this exhibition, restricts the impact of individual works.

Though the press release for Entertainment Weakly stresses that the show’s works “cover three decades of Flood’s output,” in actuality all the works were made in the last two years. The strategies used, however, are those the artist has employed since the early 1980s. This distinction is important when one considers the effectiveness of those strategies in this decade and going into the next. The art market is no less problematic than it was when Flood started seriously producing visual art in the mid 80s, and certainly painting’s privileged status is still very much intact. However, presented as a whole, Flood’s body of work sets up a dichotomy between beautiful paintings and guerilla-style modifications of found objects. These two types of work paint a picture of an art world dominated entirely by a market interested in consuming only two types of goods: good-looking commodities and critiques of the system that the system immediately absorbs. Though this dynamic is worthy of attention, Entertainment Weakly pits the two “poles” against each other, reducing the work in the exhibition to generic painting versus generic collage, neither one operating beyond its reflection of the market.

It is no surprise, then, that a few fresh installation tricks specific to this 2008 exhibition pack the most punch. Flood has altered the lighting in the gallery in two spots: one small fixture installed on the floor is to be turned on at dusk in order to replace the natural light that fills part of two rooms during the day. In the next room back, another small fixture on the floor powers a fluorescent green bulb that illuminates a number of nearby works. (Rumor has it that the green light was salvaged from a Dan Flavin exhibition that once took place in Houston.) Audible in the back galleries is a Billie Holiday box set playing on a small, worn boom box. The CD player looks as though it could’ve been left by the exhibition’s installation team. In other words, the lights and music are not nearly as seamlessly installed as the more official works in the exhibition.

These add-ons operate outside of the uneasy and restrictive continuum set up by the collages and lace paintings. Given Flood’s affinity for purple prose, I don’t hesitate to wax romantic about this aspect of the show: the supplemental music and lighting he provides were optimistic, fresh and felt as though they might lead the viewer towards modes of viewing other than cynical meta-/market- commentary or stalker queasiness. These installation choices feel the most genuinely punk. It’s as if the light and sound point to the potential of the works they modify, suggesting that, while the light or music components may not (necessarily) be purchasable, the spirit they embody could indeed be transferable.

Anna Mayer is an artist living in Los Angeles.

Taryn Simon, Richie Budd & Lu Chunsheng New Works 08.3
Artpace San Antonio
Closed January 11, 2009

By Katie Geha

Lu Chunsheng, Still from The first man who bought a juicer bought it not for drinking juice, 2008, HD film, 26 minutes 41 seconds. Originally commissioned and produced by Artpace San Antonio.

Artist residencies are special for a number of reasons. They tend to last for several months, thus providing the artist time to develop or refine a project; they are located in stimulating, often beautiful surroundings; and they allow artists to focus and work freely, unfettered by the usual demands of day-to-day life. Of course, Artpace San Antonio runs an especially impressive residency program, curated by a roster of world-renowned curators and culminating in an exhibition of new work created during the residency. For this most recent round, Hans-Ulrich Obrist invited rising stars Taryn Simon, Richie Budd and Lu Chunsheng to take part in the program. And while all of the artists put the residency to good use by imagining new approaches and experimenting with their medium, the resulting works rely too heavily on show-offy tropes—failed scientific experiments, sparkly doo-dads and heavy handed cinematography—to entice the viewer into an experience that is, frankly, a whole lot of “oh wow” style and not enough meaningful substance.

New York based artist, Taryn Simon, abandoned her chosen media, photography, to create a scientific experiment on the adaptive possibilities of the cuttlefish. In Sepia Officinalis (2008) Simon placed four cuttlefish in separate tanks. She lined three of the tanks with photographs of sand, the cuttlefish’s natural environment, while a black and white checkerboard pattern covered the bottom of the fourth. The experiment: would a cuttlefish, a mollusk known as the “chameleon of the sea,” be able to adapt to a checkerboard pattern? Certainly the project could be read as the imposition of an artificial environment onto a natural element or a meditation on disguise and adaptation, but the poor fish! By early December, a mere month after the exhibition had opened, the two rounds of fish Artpace had exposed to the experiment had already died and the exhibition was closed. At the very least, if the museum had left the tanks empty with an explanation of the fishes’ deaths, the project might have yielded an important lesson on the dangers of artificiality as a life source. As it was, the project failed in its execution (an execution that could have easily been honed during Simon’s three-month residency) and Artpace silenced the failure by closing the exhibition.

San Antonio artist Richie Budd's sculptural installation in the adjacent gallery, Liminal Homeostasis (2008), allowed Budd to sit at the center in command of speakers, mirrors, medical equipment, smoke, snow, blinking lights and even a margarita machine. On opening night, according to the gallery brochure, Budd sat in the structure and, like a modern day OZ, acted as a “neurological disc jockey, commanding sound, lights, and sensory elements.” Yet, what effect does this machine have after opening night? Sitting in the gallery, unmanned by Budd, it seemed like a mere prop of a greater project, a Tatlin-like structure that refused to destroy itself. Alone in the gallery, it failed to communicate.

Finally, Chinese artist Lu Chunsheng created a 20-minute film that revolved around a relationship between a man and his combine. The first man who bought a juicer bought it not for drinking juice (2008) uses compelling cinematography to create an ambiguous story about a man named Stephen (it says so on his work shirt) who is either taking care of a combine or is out in a large open field beating a snake with a wrench. The images are presented with complete lusciousness and overwrought camera work—at times speeding up a sunset or slowing down wheat as it blows dramatically in the wind—the banal subject matter made foreboding only through a soundtrack of ominous music. Chunsheng’s camera slides over wheat being cut by the combine as a tinny horror tune plays in the background; we can only imagine the wheat screaming in agony. The overly self-conscious camera shots create a slickness and an obviousness that overrides any engagement and, instead, feels disingenuous and empty.

It’s difficult to explain where each of these artists failed, why they seemed to get so caught up in spectacle. But it is even more difficult not to consider failure as part of a process that is inherent to any new experimentation and therefore somehow necessary, too. It is important to play with one’s work and a residency program like Artpace fosters and encourages this kind of engagement with art. That is special. If Artpace’s list of alumni (Maurizio Cattelan, Felix-Gonzalez Torres, Annette Messager, to name just a few) are any indication of the success of their resident artists, perhaps Simon, Budd and Lu will find a better balance between presentation and conception in the future.

Katie Geha is pursuing a Ph.D. in Art History at The University of Texas at Austin.

San Antonio Museum of Art
Closed January 18, 2009

By Laura Lindenberger Wellen

Marriage Certificate, ca. 1857, Attributed to Henry Young, Wove paper, iron gall ink, watercolors.
Reading Public Museum, L2008.18.48.

The idea of a volkskunst (or a people’s art) is deeply relevant to our contemporary world and contemporary political consciousness: everyday objects are important visual memorials to people living within more expansive histories of change, as you and I are right now. Almost all of the works in Volkskunst: German-American Folk Art from Pennsylvania and Texas at the San Antonio Museum of Art are decorative and functional. The exhibition, a collection of early German-American folk art, includes a hodgepodge of objects created by self-trained artists for use in the home: a flintlock rifle covered with elaborate metalwork, marriage contracts and birth certificates embellished with fanciful paintings of flowers and birds and huge wooden storage chests painted with mythical animals and elaborate patterns.

The artists never expected their works to be in a museum and the placement feels incongruous. The white walls and expansive space of the gallery overwhelm the preciousness, whimsy, and warmth that make these works so engaging. However, the individual works suggest the ways in which art objects made outside the art world and its aesthetic training illuminate the emotional lives and everyday experiences of their makers. For instance, the exhibition included several amusing oil-on-glass paintings of historical figures—Andrew Jackson, Martin Luther, Jesus, and George Washington, all brightly heroicized (and reminiscent of the current visual fascination with our new President).

The samplers chosen for the show are particularly poignant. Sewn by schoolgirls to learn embroidery, the samplers show an unnerving awareness of mortality. In an 1825 sampler by Elizabeth Martin, she asks the viewer to remember her: “When I am dead and in my grave / and all my bones are rotton / When this you see remember me / Least I should be forgotton.” Another sampler darkly notes that “Death like an overflowing dream sweeps us away / our life’s a dream.” Dark words from pre-teen girls with short life expectancies, learning to sew.

On the one hand, works like these communicate the very conservative and ascetic lives of 18th and 19th century German frontiers-people in rural areas of Texas and Pennsylvania. Their ability to make functional objects that ornament the home as well as the capacity to take pleasure in the slow carefulness of decorative work implies a self-reliant aesthetic that, for me, will always be associated with small-town utility in the face of economic and educational challenges and distance from urban taste-makers. On the other hand, these works are perfect examples of the most contemporary and liberal perspectives on how to live our lives; decorating the objects of the everyday makes them indispensable treasures to be used and kept through generations. The arts of fixing, salvaging, and decorating keep household objects from being disposable, making everyday resourcefulness part of a timely eco-consciousness.

Just as we find the objects in Volkskunst to be invaluable traces of a broader historical landscape today, I expect that future generations, too, will find value in the hand-made products of our contemporary historical landscape – including, and especially, works that evidence our idiosyncratic everyday experiences.

Laura Lindenberger Wellen is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin. She is currently writing about Southern artistic debates and communities during the 1930s.

project space

Hot Iron Press

By Claire Ruud

In an installation at The Front in New Orleans, a longer version of this video played on a monitor in the back gallery where the video was shot. The juicy green paint on the surface of the press still seemed fresh, fans blew overhead and the prints tacked to the walls wavered in the wind. Wandering through the lush astroturf and cloudy pools of water, the video's soundtrack felt by turns sublime and ominous. A refuge from the still visibly recovering city outside... almost.

Hot Iron Press artists Kyle Bravo and Jenny LeBlanc presented Open Peril as part of The Front's Another Prospect exhibition series in New Orleans. In this "printstallation," the pair combines printmaking with dance, wind, and water to create a fluttering watercolor landscape. Open Peril examines the synergistic, destructive, and transformative effect of natural forces on the environment, with an eye cast toward humanity's role in causing, coping with and capitalizing on nature's effects.

...mbg recommends

coming up for air

By The Editors

Teresita Fernandez, In-progress installation of Stacked Waters, 2009, Cast Acrylic, Official unveiling to occur January 31, 2009. Courtesy Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX.

What happens when a museum is short staffed (through no fault of its own, museum directors being in extremely short supply)? No one remembers to check the building plans to make sure none of the walls are concrete. During the installation of a new work by Teresita Fernandez in The Blanton Museum's atrium, installers discovered one such concrete wall and Fernandez's acrylic panels had to be glued, rather than nailed, on. Considering the damage taking down the panels will do to both the work and the wall itself, we’re guessing the installation will be up for quite a while now. Lucky for us, it’s beautiful. From the entrance, Stacked Waters creates the enveloping impression of being at the bottom of a deep, sparkling, blue pool, and, ascending the stairs to the second floor galleries, the feeling of emerging into crisp white air after a long dip. Ultimately, a success.

Also in Austin, don’t miss Matt Stokes’s exhibition at arthouse, these are the days, for which he gathered a slew of Austin punk ephemera and filmed a punk show, only backwards: he took footage of the audience at a concert he organized at the Broken Neck and then filmed a band recording music in response to his footage. If you want to rub shoulders with Austin punk legends, check out Stokes’s artist talk at arthouse at 3pm, Saturday, January 24. (Also look forward to our next issue, where we sit down with Stokes for a heart-to-heart examining the artist's process and time in Austin.)

Later that evening, stop by lora reynolds to see photographs a few art world legends, from László Moholy-Nagy to Gerhard Richter. At 7pm, curator Maureen Mahony will shed light on the show’s premise: the exploration of abstraction in photography.

Further ahead, Viewpoint 2009, a series of annual critics' lectures hosted by UT's Department of Art and Art History, is bringing Leah Ollman (of the LA Times and Art in America) and Phong Bui (of P.S.1 and The Brooklyn Rail) this year. Huge. Their first lectures will be held on Thursday, February 5 at 4pm in the Art Building on campus, Room 1.102.

In San Antonio, check out Kehinde Wiley at Artpace; in Houston, The Center For Land Use Interpretation’s Texas Oil at the Blaffer; and in Dallas, Show #21: Protagonist at And/Or.

announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

Matt Stokes: these are the days
Artist talk Saturday, January 24, 3pm

If you missed Temporary Services' exploration of Austin punk at testsite, Matt Stokes's installation at arthouse probes the legacy of Austin punk scene from a whole new angle. His dual screen film installation flips performance on its head: he filmed the audience first and then asked the band to create a recording in response. Plus, arthouse is showing an array of ephemera Stokes has collected from insiders. Not to be missed.

Photography in the Abstract
Lora Reynolds gallery
Opening Reception Saturday, January 24, 6-8pm

Lora Reynolds brings back independent curator Maureen Mahony, who organized Suspended Narratives for the gallery in 2005, to put together works from the 1930s to the present that explore the idea of abstraction in photography. Artists include Margaret Bourke-White, Harry Callahan, André Kertész, László Moholy-Nagy, Gerhard Richter, Aaron Siskind, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Andy Warhol. Mahony will give a curator's talk at 7pm on opening night.

Adam Sipe: Sun Plays Keys
Opening Reception Sunday, January 25, 12-4pm

SOFA presents works on paper by Brooklyn painter Adam Sipe. SOFA is a new apartment gallery with Sunday afternoon openings and a roster of emerging and established artists. SOFA is less interested in the finished product and, instead, emphasizes experimental and in-process works.

Heyd Fontenot: Business in the Front, Party in the Back
Art Palace
Opening Reception Friday, January 30, 8-10pm

NY Arts Magazine quotes artist Heyd Fontenot, "if there is a radical nature to sexuality, it lies not in its ability to titillate, but rather in its inherent powers of spiritual transformation." Be transformed among Fontenot's latest paintings of "naked people" at Art Palace.

Austin on View

Annette Lawrence: Free Paper
Flatbed Press
Through February 6

More than one person told us to go see Annette Lawrence's Free Paper when it was at Dunn and Brown last year. Now there's a chance to see it here in Austin. Lawrence has transformed all the junk mail she received over the course of one year into thousands of hand-torn strips of paper, neatly stacked on shelves—a meditation on the passage of time and the mundane.

Warren Oates in the Economic Crisis of 2008
Okay Mountain
Through February 21

Dave Bryant asked artists for their "ugly duckling" work for this show, and sometimes it shows. The premise is intriguing, however, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what artists make that they wouldn't normally put in a gallery.

Dallas Openings

Show #21: Protagonist
And/Or Gallery
Opening Reception Saturday, January 24th, 6-9 pm

This group show examines the use of narrative and character in a variety of mediums, including video, multi-media works, painting and photography. Keep an eye out for former Austinite and twin wunderkind Ray Uhlir.

Dallas On View

Drawing In
CADD Art Lab
On View through March 5, 2009

Seems like Texas can't get enough drawing these days. These works have been selected to highlight recent drawing-oriented activity in Dallas galleries, including po-mo drawings that have been cut, sewn and/or suspended in space.

Fort Worth on View

Focus: Ranjani Shettar
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
On View through February 8, 2009

Ranjani Shettar makes sculptural installations that combine industrial and handmade materials. The artist is best known for her stunning suspended works, such as Just a bit more, 2005–06, made of delicate webs of beeswax which recently won wide acclaim in this year’s 55th Carnegie International.

Houston Openings

Highway 71 Revisited: Barry Stone
Lawndale Art Center
Opening Reception Friday, January 23, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Artist talks at 6:00 PM

The ongoing series includes photographs of Stone’s family, strangers under highways, fake flowers, abstracted galaxies made from flour, field recordings and collage. If you're not familiar with this Austin-based artist, you are seriously missing out. Also be sure not to miss openings of Kathy Kelley's In the Space of Absence, Patrick Renner's found sound (Public Music Reconnaissance) (found telephone poles with attached sound-harvesting devices!) and Aram Nagle's Battle Play Set.

Houston on View

Brad Tucker: Tijuana Brass
Inman Gallery
On View through February 21, 2009

In Tijuana Brass, Austin based artist Brad Tucker has erected a sprawling suite of new floor and wall sculpture. Scissor gates, foam blocks, and carved wooden objects together compose an installation for the viewer to navigate physically, optically, and conceptually as a playing field of cultural associations. Don't miss Darcy Huebler's Thought Process, also on view at Inman.

Hedwige Jacobs: new drawings
CTRL Gallery
On View through February 21

Using simple materials (pencils, pens and markers on paper), Jacobs creates drawings that playfully investigate how we live and interact as a society.

San Antonio Openings

Cheryl Childress: ...That's All We Know.
Cactus Bra Space
Opening Reception Friday, February 6, 6-9pm

Cheryl Childress’s first solo exhibition, ...That's All We Know, presents the artist's photographs in conjunction with text exerpted from newspapers and crime testimonies. According to the press release, Childress's photographs stage "petty acts of accomplishment" to explore the thin line between "fantasy and delusion." We're not sure exactly what this means, so you'll have to go find out.

San Antonio on View

Kehinde Wiley: The World Stage: Africa, Lagos ~ Dakar
Through May 3

The World Stage: Africa, Lagos ~ Dakar, organized by The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, opened last week at Artpace San Antonio. Featuring monumental new paintings by Brooklyn-based artist Kehinde Wiley, the exhibition builds upon Wiley's signature examination of figurative painting, drawing global inspiration from contemporary and postcolonial African art and culture.

Nature's Way
Unit B Gallery
Through March 7

Nature's Way explores the relationships that humankind and nature share—paying particular attention to the marks we make and the trails we leave behind, and natures responses to it.

announcements: events

Austin Events

Critique & Discussion
Sunday, January 25, 7-9pm

Nothing beats a good critique. Co-Lab has made the smart move to start a regular, open, informal crit where artists can come and present a piece of work. This Sunday, Jade Walker of the Creative Research Laboratory will be present as a guest discussion leader.

Viewpoints 2009: Leah Ollman and Phong Bui
University of Texas at Austin, Art Building 1.102
Thursday, February 5, 4pm

Viewpoint 2009, a series of annual critics' lectures hosted by UT's Department of Art and Art History, is bringing Leah Ollman (of the LA Times and Art in America) and Phong Bui (of P.S.1 and The Brooklyn Rail) this year. Huge. Their first lectures will be held on Thursday, February 5 at 4pm in the Art Building on campus, Room 1.102.

Dallas Events

Artist Talk: Kevin Bewersdorf
Thursday, January 29, 6 pm

New York- and Austin-based artist Kevin Bewersdorf will talk about his web-based and photographic work. After seeing him last week at Austin Film Society, it seems that this Mike Smith-protégé needs some cheering up. Maybe a popsicle?

New York Events

Artist Talk: Michael Blum with Regine Basha
New Museum
Thursday, February 12, 7pm

Artist Michael Blum speaks with our very own Regine Basha. Blum’s work Exodus 2048 is installed on the fifth floor as part of Museum as Hub: Be(com)ing Dutch at a Distance. The multipart project presents an “Imagined Future” in the year 2048, in which the state of Israel has dissolved and the Van Abbemuseum serves as a temporary camp for Israeli refugees. The project’s “what-if” scenario addresses the role of the host and the refugee far into the future. In the context of the New Museum, the U.S.’s own particular history in relation to emigration and its strong relationship with Israel are reflected.

announcements: opportunities


Montehermoso 09 Art and Research Grants
Centro Cultural Montehermoso Kulturunea
Deadline: March 13th, 2009

The Centro Montehermoso Kulturunea will offer grants to support the production of thirteen projects in the categories of Art Project Production, Curatorship, Research and Film Scripts. Eight Art Project Production grants will fund artists to produce work to be exhibited at the Centro. One grant in Curatorship will allow a curator to produce an exhibition involving four contemporary artists at the Centro. Three Research grants will be awarded to develop research projects related to Contemporary Art. One Film Script grant will be awarded for the development to a script.


Arizona State University

Arizona State University Art Museum is looking for a new director (join the club). ASU is seeking a transformative Director who will engage the university and the broader community in Arizona in a dialogue about art and creativity, and who will champion the unique contribution that a contemporary art museum can make in evolving the model for "The New American University." The ASU Art Museum, which includes the internationally renowned Ceramics Research Center, is one of six units and an integral part of the Herberger College of the Arts, ASU’s fourth largest college with 3000 students. The Museum Director reports to the Dean of the College, and currently manages a $1 million annual operating budget, 19 full time staff, 5 part time staff and 24 students serving in various capacities. For more information visit the Oppenheim website.

Tenure Track Sculpture Position
University of Texas at Austin
A/D January 31, 2009

MFA required. Salary commensurate with qualifications and experience. Start Fall 2009. Candidate should possess a broad understanding of traditional and contemporary sculptural practice and theory, and have a strong record of creative work. A wide range of knowledge in contemporary integrated technologies is welcomed. College level teaching experience beyond TA is preferred. Teach all levels of undergraduate and graduate sculpture and 3D foundations. Excellent communication skills required. Service on departmental and university committees is expected. Please submit cover letter, CV, teaching statement, names of three persons from whom letters of reference may be obtained, 20 slides OR 10 slides and only one 3 minute video clip. Committee will not review additional materials. Applications will only be accepted on-line through slideroom.com at https://utaustinartsearch.slideroom.com. Do not send any materials to the department.

Calls for Entries

SLANT Film Festival
Aurora Picture Show
Deadline: Postmarked by February 23, 2009

SLANT, Aurora's annual film festival of short films, seeks works by Asian American filmmakers. For the ninth year, Slant will showcase an eclectic mix of the best in emerging Asian American cinema. All genres are accepted. For more information, see these details.

Artist-designed Roller Derby Flyers
Alamo City Rollergirls

Alamo City Rollergirls are accepting submissions from artists for their 2009 season flyers. Send roller derby-themed images (300 dpi, 1/4 inch border, no text) to Billie Midol at foxfab1.yahoo.com. Subject line should read: I GOT YOUR ART!!!

Video Program
Deadline: February 20, 2009

Glasstire is looking for videographers for regular gigs on their site. Send a video walkthrough of an art exhibition, (maximum length 2 minutes in .mov or .flv format,) to info@glasstire.com. You may appear on the video, interview subjects or do voiceover (or any combination thereof). The subject matter and commentary are at your discretion. Exhibitions in Texas preferred, but not required. For more info, see glasstire's open call.

Call for Exhibition Proposals

Unsolicited Proposal Program
Proposals Accepted: February 1 - February 28, 2009

apexart will accept exhibition proposals online only, and will select two proposals as part of their 2009-2010 programming. Submissions are limited to one page (600 words) explainting the idea behind the show. apexart does not accept images, catalogs, CV's or other support materials. Visit apexart's website for full submission guidelines.


Rijksakademie Residency
Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten
Deadline: February 1, 2009

The Rijksakademie has extensive technical facilities, a library and an art collection. In addition, the Rijksakademie offers residents basic facilities such as a studio, assistance by technical specialists, a work budget and mediation with accommodation and grants. There are some fifty studios where resident artists work for one to two years on research, experiments, projects and production. Resident artists pursue every medium and technique: painting, drawing, graphics, photography, sculpture, video, film, sound and digital media. Here's the online application for residencies in 2010.

More from the Archive