MBG Issue #117: comic book literati and professorly UT-types

Issue # 117

comic book literati and professorly UT-types

February 27, 2009

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William Cannings, Kink, 2008, Steel and paint, 48 x 38 x 16 inches. Courtesy the artist and Texas Biennial.

from the editor

“The Texas art world.” In anticipation of the 2009 Texas Biennial, opening in Austin next weekend, we’ve been hearing this phrase bantered about. But what does it mean?

Maybe the Texas Biennial actually brings a Texas art world into being. Outside of the Biennial’s boundaries, this world may not exist, or may exist quite differently. The production of the Texas Biennial, understood in this way, is a generative (rather than reflective) act that allows the curator and his team to conceptualize, and to a certain extent actualize, a Texas art community.

In a very different format, the East Austin Studio Tour also gives us an opportunity to come together and examine the “big picture” of what is happening in our local art spaces and studios. Once a year, Austinites who never come to openings flood the east side and often walk away with a massively new perspective on the creative energy in our fair city. DIYers meet designers; comic book literati and professorly UT-types pump from the same keg for an entire weekend.

Many of the same people organize both the Biennial and EAST, which makes sense—both projects are tirelessly ambitious and are rooted in an essentially democratic, open approach. In this issue, we hear about their vision and approach in two conversations: one with the Biennial’s Director Xochi Solis, and the other with Shea Little, Joseph Phillips and Jana Swec. We applaud the organizers for their ongoing efforts and are thrilled that these projects seem to be staying put in Austin for the foreseeable future.

One of the best things about these events is the conversations they spark. In preparation for the Biennial, we’ve certainly been asking ourselves big questions. How do we conceptualize the art world/communities we’re involved in? What works for us about the Biennial? What doesn’t? If we were organizing a large scale art event in Austin, how would we structure it?

Now we know you’re having these kinds of conversations, too, over raspberry infused vodka at Rio Rita or Lone Stars at the Longbranch. If you have thoughts you’d like to share, (we’d sure like you to share them—we want to foster this kind of public dialogue), please send them our way and we’ll publish your responses in our next issue.

Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good and Associate Coordinator of testsite.

Kate Watson is Coordinator of testsite and Associate Editor of ...might be good.


Xochi Solis: On the Texas Biennial

By Claire Ruud

Curator Michael Duncan & artist Jules Buck Jones in the artist's studio.

The 2009 Texas Biennial officially opens in Austin a week from today. In anticipation of the event, ...might be good talked to director Xochi Solis about the choice to have a single curator oversee the entire biennial, the biennial's new temporary outdoor installation program, and her vision for the roll of the biennial in both Austin and Texas at large.

...might be good: This year, for the first time, a single curator is overseeing the entire Biennial. Why is Michael Duncan the right guy for the job?

Xochi Solis: In our brainstorming sessions for the Texas Biennial of 2009, we kept circling back to the general feeling that there was a need for a stronger focus and a more linear approach to the curatorial practice of our project. With this in mind, we immediately came to the conclusion that a guest curator would help us gain a fresh perspective and a single, more effective voice that could move the Biennial in whole new direction. Then, as if we were looking for our ideal love connection, we started piecing together the characteristics of our ‘dream curator.’ After much consideration and taking into account advice from respected individuals within the Texas art community, we had a nice short list of people to approach, with Michael Duncan our top choice.

...mbg: So what were the characteristics on the list for your dream curator?

XS: Because of the extremely ambitious and independent nature of this project, we knew we needed someone easy-going and open-minded, someone who could roll with the punches. We needed a person that could be compassionate to our growing pains, but also push us to see the bigger picture and provide us with the input to take us there as an organization. Regarding Texas specifically, we wanted someone who would understand that Texas’s art communities are unique and who would embrace and dive into that world.

...mbg: You’ve begun a new program of outdoor projects this year. Why are these an important addition to the Biennial?

XS: For 2009, the Texas Biennial has partnered with the City of Austin’s Art in Public Places program in order to significantly expand on what the Biennial has been capable of in years past. The co-curator of this project, Risa Puleo (Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Blanton Museum of Art and an Art in Public Places panel member) really wanted to take on the challenge of bringing a wider range of contemporary artists to transform traditional parkland spaces. We sought to overcome the stigma of public art only appealing to a certain type of artist. We wanted to open it up to a broader group and encourage artists who might not normally apply for a public art project.

...mbg: It sounds like you’ve tried to push the envelope on the “typical” public art project. What would you say is unusual about the public art projects chosen for the Biennial?

XS: I think the diversity of mediums and backgrounds of the seven participating artists really says a lot about how we have “pushed the envelope.” I sat in on the decision making process and I was extremely pleased that both Risa and Michael seemed to be on the same page. Together, they chose work that could both harmonize with the unique landscape of Austin and challenge its uses.

...mbg: How did you decide to structure the four solo shows in this year’s biennial around region—North, South, East & West?

XS: In our early brainstorming session we wanted to achieve a wider, yet more focused approach to the collection of artists that would be represented. This may seem like a contradiction, wider but more focused, but we really wanted to get out in the state and search for artists living in the far reaches of Texas and discover them in their natural habitat, so to speak. The simplest way to tackle the geography of Texas was to pull out a map and start making dividing lines along the cardinal directions, and hence North, South, East and West. Once that was done, we opened up the challenge to Michael Duncan, as this was his sole chance to choose artists not based on their submissions and his single opportunity to go off road and discover his own artists. This also gave us a reason to hit the road and really see the eccentricity of Texas, visit the sunsets and tumbleweeds, the tangle of highway overpasses and huge industry to bustling hip college towns to little bleeps of communities along empty county roads. We dove into the odd and wonderful ways artists in Texas synthesis their world by simply visiting them in it. It was really remarkable and I think gives the 2009 edition its flavor. We documented the majority of our studio explorations with video and have had the pleasure to share them with everyone through our website. After you watch a few of them, you begin to be aware of what exactly makes the Texas art community so distinct.

...mbg: Can you put your finger on this? What does make the Texas art community so distinct, do you think?

XS: I think that Michael had the freshest perspective on this when he said, “…Texas seems largely a self-contained world and that’s what’s good about it. Like LA in 1991 – when I first started writing about art – Texas is teeming with artists making work for themselves first.” We are a very isolated community, choosing to seek information and travel beyond our boundaries when necessary and desired, yet always arriving back home to synthesize that information and produce. At least that is one way I see many of the artists we visited— others seem captured by a University tenure or the drive to lead spaces in otherwise secluded environments. I find a lot of kindred spirits in Texasartists who double as community leaders, striving to create a space they feel is the best for them to be in.

...mbg: What’s the next step for the Texas Biennial, as you look forward to 2011?

XS: I hope that the Texas Biennial continues to grow larger and envelope more and more of the Texas art world. In my experience I have thoroughly enjoyed working with a guest curator and hope this is a tradition that can continue. Also, I hope (especially with our travels to more places in Texas) that the Texas Biennial will be hosted in a variety of venues all over the state. I think that having Austin as a hub has proven to be an enriching experience for our city, as well as for people like myself who enjoy the challenge of nurturing rising projects. The Texas Biennial is imbued with the spirit of artists creating the community that they want to be a part of. It is that spirit that I hope endures.

Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good and Associate Coordinator of testsite.

Shea Little, Joseph Phillips & Jana Swec: On the East Austin Studio Tour

By Andrea Mellard

EAST 2008, Catalogue cover image. Courtesy EAST.

After the East Austin Studio Tour at the end of last year, Andrea Mellard, Curatorial Associate for the Austin Museum of Art, sat down with event co-organizers Shea Little, Joseph Phillips and Jana Swec to reflect on its purpose, potential and future.

Andrea Mellard: Did you model E.A.S.T. after any other studio tours?

Joseph Phillips: Mainly, we saw things in other studio tours that we wanted to avoid. These people sell tickets?! No, we're not going to do that. We'll keep it free, we'll keep it open.

AM: How would you describe the purpose of the tour? Sometimes there are artists selling work during the tour. I see people who don’t live in East Austin and the tour gives them a reason to explore the neighborhood. I might see artists coming together to make an installation just for the studio tour. Artists are also in their studios talking about the work that they make. So there are a lot of things going that weekend. What are the most important aspects for you?

JP: Everything you just mentioned really. Austin is different from other cities—the galleries are a lot more open and accessible. But this tour is still totally a different atmosphere, and it takes that level of openness and approachability up a notch.

Shea Little: For me the greatest component of the tour is the educational side of it. I think the broad spectrum of the tour is a great place to educate the general public on art. They get to differentiate between different types and qualities of work. Maybe that leads to them asking more questions.

Jana Swec: I like the fact that we are not picking and choosing artists. It’s meant to be a studio tour, not a gallery show.

AM: What can the experience of artists opening up their studios for the tour offer artists who are struggling?

SL: Education. Artists get to sit there and talk about their work, describe it, and that process will really teach any artist about their work, about what a person sees when they see the work, and hopefully the artists get some sort of feedback from being on the tour.

JP: Any opportunity for artists to see their work among other work that is being made around them, and to realize their part in the larger conversation is important. I see many peoples' work getting stronger.

AM: I’m not going to suggest that it is the role of E.A.S.T. to stop East Austin gentrification, but do you think the tour can address these issues in any way?

SL: We definitely know that we are playing a role in that. Most artists hopefully realize what they are doing when they move over here. I think it’s about being aware of it and trying to engage with the people who are already here, to help in some way to not make a friction boundary between the two communities.

JP: Originally we didn’t want to do ads in the tour catalogue. So we said let’s just do art-related organizations, just art galleries, and that didn’t bring in enough money.

JS: We never went to the big developers and asked if they were interested in an ad, they always came to us. “We’ll pay whatever, we’ll take two pages.” Well, that could get us another 2,000 catalogues. The people who are criticizing don’t realize what is involved and that we have gone to mom-and-pop shops.

SL: It is such a hard thing because the beginnings of gentrification really do have some huge impacts on the community like cleaning up crack houses and getting law enforcement in the area and road work. But then it certainly snowballs, pricing out families that have lived there and eventually artists will get gentrified themselves. I’ve talked to artists who have lived on the East side for a long time and they certainly go and invite all their neighbors. It is up to each artist to invite their neighbors and encourage them come out and experience art.

AM: With the seven East Austin Studio Tours behind you, can you tell a story of a moment when you realized that this what you aspired to do had come to fruition?

JS: Last year we worked with the Yellow Bike Project and they launched 100 bikes at Café Mundi. I came across one pack of bikers and they had the map we designed on the ground in front of them and they were figuring out what route they wanted to bike.

SL: There is occasionally an after party and I occasionally have the strength to go it. It’s always thrilling to see how excited artists are.

AM: What are your plans for the future of the tour?

SL: Our model is an all-inclusive arts event on the East side. Now that we have more studios than any tour-goer can handle in one weekend we need to figure out ways to extend the tour over two weekends or extend the actual weekend to three or four days. Right now we’re talking about doing a monthly tour of a small group of studios that would rotate throughout the year. Like every third Saturday of each month the tour would have ten studios on the tour.

JS: An ongoing frustration that artists on the tour have is that they’ve never been able to see the other studios on the tour. So one thing we’ve thought about recently is that if we still have the main event in the fall with 150 studio locations and then throughout the year have ten studios open their doors each month it would give a chance to the other artists to go to those studios. It like the idea of creating a buzz on East side year round, that there is always something going on monthly with these studios.

SL: I think the idea of focusing a lot of attention and energy and excitement on that one weekend really bands together the community a little bit. All the stuff we do seems to be about building community.

Andrea Mellard is Curatorial Associate at the Austin Museum of Art.


Francesca Gabbiani: Houseguest
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
Through May 24, 2009

By Quinn Latimer

Paul Klee, Die Hexe mit dem Kamm (The Witch with the Comb), 1922, Lithograph, UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum. Gift of Mrs. Saidee Grunwald. Image courtesy Hammer Museum.

Like a spell, Ted Hughes’ lines unspool in liquid white letters across the gallery’s russet-colored walls: “Once was every woman the witch / To ride a weed the ragwort road: / Devil to do whatever she would: / Each rosebud, every old bitch.” As a preamble to the witchy new show curated by Los Angeles-based artist Francesca Gabbiani at the Hammer Museum, Hughes’ 1960 voodoo curse “Witches” is perfect: the prints and woodcuts and illustrated books that follow, dating from the 14th century to the present, are a menagerie of sorceresses, whores, tarts, frights, opium-eyed royal highnesses and the macabre landscapes (poisonous plants, ravens, unsettling waters) such hussies keep.

Conceived by Gabbiani, whose own works on colored paper are an inspired blend of ominous architectures, sinister exteriors and spooky, sorcery, horror-film theatrics, the exhibition took on an absurdist, decidedly feminist bent. The artist clearly luxuriated in the masterful graphic works she gleaned from the Hammer’s impressive Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts—works by the likes of Albrecht Dürer, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, José de Goya y Lucientes and Jan Muller—and her tight focus on such dark themes brought not only their darkness but also their silliness to light, adding an abundant humor to the fear-filled proceedings. As melancholia, sloth, rape and death were hammered out in skillful cross-hatching again and again, I entered—with pleasure—the gruesome, artful and altogether art-historical fairy tale that Gabbiani had wrought.

The artist hung the works in a kind of round robin, with Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione’s 17th-century etching Melancholia, or Circe Turning Ulysses’ Men into Animals, starting things off. Two engravings by the Flemish artist Pieter van der Heyden quickly follow: Desidia (Sloth) and Ira (Anger), both from1558. Each comprises an extraordinarily landscaped vision of hell: trees bent, mouths agape, figures distorted, demented and undone. Moving on from such horrors, I quickly I found relief: a wonderful 1544 woodcut by Hans Baldung Grien called The Bewitched Groom, in which an old groom lies supine on the floor, a horse’s heart-shaped ass floating above, while a frightful old woman (the blushing bride?) shakes a lash at him. It’s the funniest, most surreal work on view, giving the hellish landscapes all around a more dreamy run for their money.

Since much of the work dated from the middle ages, a few more recent pieces stood out like bits of bridling modernity, eternal themes flawlessly intact. Marc Chagall’s Magician and Bridge, an engraving from 1923, and Paul Klee’s Die Hexe mit dem Kamm (The Witch with the Comb), a lithograph from the year before, were made even more evocative by being sandwiched between Dutch woodcuts from the 1500's (Hendrick Goltzius’s Demogorgon in the Cave of Eternity and Dürer’s St. Michael Fighting the Dragon, from 1511). The two female artists included— Käthe Kollwitz and Vija Celmins—also contributed some of the most contemporary works. The soft shapes of Kollwitz’s Tod greift in Kinderschar, from 1934, depict death in a dense black cape with its hands coming to grip on a group of children. Celmins’ work, from 1994, is less narrative but no less haunting, with its troubled ocean surface offering not meditative relief but something infinitely more sinister; stylistically, her woodcut’s extraordinary detail coupled with its enigmatic moral plays counterpoint to the much earlier works—expertly wrought yet parable-laden—that surround it.

With the works on the walls a constant monochrome (but for one odd Art Nouveau–inspired inclusion by the Czech artist Alphonse Marie Mucha), color was relegated to the center of the gallery. There, a number of table vitrines offered richly illustrated botanical books. The open pages were deliberate, delightful, and a bit deranged. Here were plants that poisoned (mushrooms), drugged (poppies), or both, along with a beady-eyed, black-bodied raven from Audobon’s “Birds of America.” A rash of “Local Poisonous Plants that are Most Harmful to Humans,” published in Berlin in 1798, sat near a detailed rendering of a cannabis plant drawn by Leonhart Fuchs in Basel in 1542. With their lush color and pointed polemic, the illustrations gave the autumnal room a bit more buoyancy.

As I left the gallery, my eyes fell again on Hughes’ poem, writ near the door. “Bitches still sulk, rosebuds blow, / And we are devilled.” The harm of his words, their damaging spell, had been broken by Gabbiani’s game use of them. So it was too with many of the historical artworks on view. Her reclamation—indeed, her celebration—of them had softened the blow of their fear, paranoia, and recriminations. In its place, Gabbiani’s own subversive enthusiasm for the malevolent and the magical took hold. Like a witch herself, she has feted with infinite good humor what she herself would have been burned for. And for an exhibition ostensibly about fear (in both its meanings: fright and awe), the good cheer it imparted was a surprise—and a revelation.

Quinn Latimer is a writer based in New York and Basel, Switzerland. Her poems have been featured in the Paris Review, Boston Review, and a recent Best New Poets anthology from the University of Virginia Press, and she has written about contemporary art and literature for Frieze, Modern Painters, Art on Paper, ARTnews, and Bookforum.

Fritz Henle
Harry Ransom Center, Austin
Through August 2, 2009

By Lee Webster

Fritz Henle, Tutwiler Refinery at Night, Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1949. © Fritz Henle Estate. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center.

I came across the word I’d been searching for in the glossy bound exhibition catalogue: kulturlandschaft, cultural landscape. One of those wonderfully enjambed German words which puts a definition to a vague impression. With the exhibition Fritz Henle: In Search of Beauty, The Ransom Center shows just that, the kulturlandschaft of the middle part of the 20th century as seen through the commercial and art photographs of one of the most prolific freelance photographers of the era. It seemed appropriate that I should find my word there, in the coffee table version of the show, since the whole time I was at the exhibition I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d seen most photos before in similar books. Not surprising, as Henle’s style is iconic of mid-century American photography. Like its coffee-table incarnation, the exhibition offers a smattering of images from each of Henle’s bodies of work—travel documentary, corporate commissions, fashion, freelance assignments, portraits and nudes—while never sinking its teeth into any particular one, sending me off wanting a more thorough investigation of one or two of the more compelling themes and less of the yawningly familiar.

As it hurries through Henle’s career, the show skips over the details of some intriguing projects. As a German émigré on the eve of World War II, Henle was sought after for his outsider’s perspective as well as his keen eye. During this period, he was sent on assignments photographing a nation at war abroad, documenting poverty in the American South, and capturing the eccentricities of Manhattan, the city he had recently made his new home. The exhibition text offers a glimpse of a man whose adaptive abilities rivaled his creative ones, and the few photographs and bits of ephemera from these projects are compelling but too few in number to paint a dynamic picture of Henle and his unique position in the United States during a time of international turbulence.

Further into the exhibition some strange and beautiful photos of oil refineries glimmer with chrome and electric light. Henle produced these photographs working for the United States Steel Corporation and later for Cities Service, a vast empire of oil production. Henle spent years as a photographer for Cities Service, traveling to the furthest out oil derricks and refineries to photograph the industrial landscapes and workers and, according to the wall text, enthusiastically proclaiming, “there are terrific pictures wherever you look!” These pictures capture a fascinating moment in American industrial history: the fall of the steel and the rise of the oil. I could never tire of these strange landscapes, but again, the exhibition left me with more questions than answers about this unusual and fruitful collaboration between artist and corporation.

The breadth of Henle’s successes is stunning and his work en masse conjures a bygone era of artistic autonomy in commercial production. However, the exhibition remains an homage, without delving deeper into the back-story of one of the most prominent image makers in modern times. What I hungered to see more of were the juicy details, the social and economic transactions that produced the iconic images of the 20th century, the ones I’ve thoughtlessly flipped passed on many a coffee table before.

project space

Cheryl Childress

By Allison Myers

Cheryl Childress's solo show at Cactus Bra, San Antonio, closed last week. The work on the walls there was a few years old, though, so ...might be good caught up with Childress to see what she's up to these days.

One of the charms of the photographic medium is its ability to engage the visually imaginative with the perceptually real. When an image resembles our day-to-day reality, deviations from what we normally see are especially jarring. Playing with bits and pieces of our perceptual world, Saint Louis artist Cheryl Childress likes to shake things up a bit. Using pinhole photography and a Holga (inexpensive medium format camera with a lo-fi aesthetic), Childress makes images that examine sensory experience and imagination by creating unfamiliar visual worlds. Though her main body of work is shot on a professional grade medium-format camera, Childress began to employ these less precise techniques in 2008 with the series Phenomenological Find and …everything but the squeal. In these series, Childress uses subtle narratives and a rich visuality to explore the line that traditionally separates the real from the imaginary.

For the series Phenomenological Find Childress used a Holga, taking an entire roll of film as a single frame. Sporadically advancing the camera, she produced a giant composite image from multiple exposures. Childress then pulled single frames out of the larger continuity to create the images—appropriately titled Excerpt I and Excerpt II The resulting photographs are subtly disorienting; twinned suns and pairs of identical trees compose a world so like, and yet so unlike, our own. Moreover, this process of excerpting evokes the way we normally experience the world—through snippets and memories that we, individually, piece together.

In the series …everything but the squeal, Childress extended her investigation by employing a pinhole camera. Instead of using a lens, pinhole cameras work by allowing an extremely restricted amount of light to make a direct image on film or light sensitive paper. The idea of making an image directly from the light of the world resonates with Childress, as it reinforces the connection between photography and the “real.” What is really appealing, however, is the fact that the image only arises from an extremely limited vantage point. Referencing Eric Renner’s book on pinhole photography, Childress cites a story about how Inuit tribes, for centuries, have made use of pinhole glasses for avoiding snow blindness. By restricting their view of the world to a tiny pinhole the Inuit people could walk in the snow again as the light was manageable. But, as Renner describes, “without protection, people saw strange things, saw too much, too wide.”* “The possibility that a different visual realm exists,” Childress said, “but is too strong or too dull for our eyes to see is fascinating to me.”

By playing the photograph’s capacity to mimic what the human eye sees against its ability to twist or distort, Childress examines what it means to construct a visual world. Her exploration is a poignant one. And, it seems, has just as much to say about how we experience the world as it does about how we represent that experience.

*Eric Renner, Pinhole Photography: Rediscovering a Historic Technique, 2nd ed. (Boston: Focal Press, 2000), 13.

Allison Myers is pursuing an M.A. in art history at The University of Texas at Austin.

...mbg recommends

Texas just keeps getting BIGGER
Austin & Beyond, This Week

Mimi Kato, End of Journey, 2007, Giclee print, 24 x 68 inches.

A Biennial

Shine those boots and polish those buckles. The Texas Biennial arrives in Austin next weekend (March 6-8), with opening events all over town. Here’s the schedule of events, including maps to help you find the venues and sites.

A Pavilion

Ambition: Gavin Morrison’s got it. In a lecture at The Modern Fort Worth, the TCU curator will propose a hypothetical Texas pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennial in 2011 (also the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Texas). Seriously. Tuesday, March 3, 7pm at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

A Symposium

Curating Contemporary Art” brings together curators from both coasts and somewhere in the middle (Dominic Molon of MCA Chicago, Christian Rattemeyer of MoMA, and Bennett Simpson of MOCA) to talk with respondent Anjali Gupta. Saturday, March 14, 10am at the Freed Auditorium, Museum of Fine Art Houston.

A Trip to San Marcos

Alyson Fox, Mimi Kato and Misako Inaoka, three artists whose work addresses issues of identity and culture, come together to exhibit sculpture, drawings, paintings and photographs that artfully blur the lines between their artistic studio practices. The gallery doesn't have a website, but you can find it on the Texas State campus in the Joann Cole Mitte building.

A Magazine

Cantanker Issue #7: Identity came out yesterday, and you already missed the party. But you can still get your hands on a copy of this artist-run magazine by contacting cantanker@gmail.com.

announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

Lisi Raskin
Blanton Museum of Art
March 6 – June 21, 2009

Lisi Raskin explores our culture of anxiety, which is rooted in the Cold War and resonates with our current cultural and political climate, in Armada. This exhibit includes sculptures based on the forms she found at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), a storage facility for military airplanes and aerospace crafts located at Davis–Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona.

Texas Biennial: Wide Open Group Show
Women and Their Work
March 6, 2009, 6-8pm

Thirty-one artists present an array of artworks, from installations to paintings, for the Texas Biennial. Exciting and Eclectic.

Texas Biennial: Big Tall Group Show
Mexican American Cultural Center
March 6, 6-8pm
Also eclectic.

Texas Biennial Solo Shows:
William Cannings, Lee Baxter Davis, Jayne Lawrence, Kelli Vance
Okay Mountain, Big Medium, Pump Project & MASS Gallery
March 7, 12-5pm

William Cannings explores the effects of compressed air on permanent materials, such as aluminum and steel in his sensuous sculptures at Okay Mountain. Lee Baxter Davis's prints and drawings are intricate explorations of, to use his words, "the conflict between observed biological facts and certain metaphysical models of paradise, or the reality of death and concept of immortality." Jayne Lawrence's creatures at MASS are somehow magical in quality. And Kelli Vance's oils on canvas are erotically forboding. PLUS go see the temporary outdoor projects installed around town.

Otis Lucas
SOFA Gallery
March 8, 12-4pm

The collaborative artist duo, Otis Lucas (Patrick Xavier Bresnan and Ivete Lucas), documents in a multitude of media the recuperative efforts to rebuild a community after the devastation of catastrophe. The artists spent a month in Cameron, Louisiana working with the Mennonite Disaster Service to rebuild homes for victims of Hurricane Ike. The photographs, sound pieces, and videos detail with startling frankness the post-disaster landscape, and provide an intimate view into a Mennonite community of rebuilding volunteers.

Creative Pollution
Dougherty Arts Center
March 10, 2009, 6-8pm

In this group show, artists reinvent direct marketing schemes, such as advertisements on billboards, television, and readio, to create interactive, visually stunning, and captivating works that repurposes the mundaniety of daily visual pollution.

Jennifer Remenchik: Autolove
March 1, 2009, 7-11 PM

Do you love your car? Do you love it as much as artist Jennifer Remenchik loves hers? In Autolove Remenchik explores her love for and dependence on her car on an emotional and tactile level.

Caroline Wright: I Do Not Know What it is I am Like
Bay6 Gallery
March 7, 2009, 7-10 pm

Borrowing from the title of a Bill Viola film, I Do Not Know What it is I am Like features a variety of new works by Austin-based artist Caroline Wright. The line got stuck in the artist's head and became the underlying theme to a variety of works exploring the emotional qualities of landscape and the non-linearity of the working process.

Austin on View

Leslie Mutchler
d berman gallery
Through April 11, 2009

Leslie Mutchler's collages, digital drawings, recycled paper and coroplast installations investigate consumer desire for an organized lifestyle. Using catalogue glossies from Crate & Barrel, Ikea, Pottery Barn, and others, she creates a hybrid-form of organization.

Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury
The Blanton Museum of Art
On view until May 17, 2009

The Blanton Museum of Art presents Birth of the Cool, a blockbuster show encompassing the painting, architecture, furniture design, decorative and graphic arts, film, and music that launched mid–century modernism in the United States and established Los Angeles as a major American cultural center.

Lordy Rodriguez: States of America
Austin Museum of Art
On view until May 17, 2009

Take a road trip with Lordy Rodriguez and witness his remapping of America. Rodriguez's decade-long project explores the addition of five new states that have saturated our geography--the Internet, Hollywood, Monopoly, Disney, and Territory. States of America is curated by Eva Buttacavoli, Director of Exhibitions and Education at the Austin Museum of Art.

Dallas Openings

Todd Eberle: America
Light & Sie
February 28, 5-8pm

The exhibition begins with the American flag and presents an image of Eberle’s grandparents next to a full scale mock-up of the Oval Office created for the Clinton Library in Little Rock, AR and a picture of a lunch plate from inside Air Force One. The exhibition ends with three images: a pastoral landscape from Connecticut, a bronze statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse and Wynton Marsalis playing his horn with a surreal New York City Landscape as a backdrop. How does Eberle get from here to there? You'll have to go find out.

Dallas on View

Richard Patterson
Goss-Michael Foundation
On view until April 30, 2009

YBA Richard Patterson currently lives and works in Dallas. While it's beyond us why anyone would move from London to Dallas, we feel blessed to have Patterson around.

Mike Osborne: On Location Beijing
Holly Johnson Gallery
On view until March 21, 2009

Mike Osborne’s new photographs present Beijing’s transformation in almost theatrical terms focusing on the city in the final months before the Olympic Games.

Olin Travis: People, Places and Vision
The McKinney Avenue Contemporary
On view until March 28, 2009

People, Places and Visions explores four decades of Olin Travis' paintings beginning in 1916. Olin Travis, who was Dallas’ first artist to complete his degree at a major art institute and founded two art schools, made artworks that investigate nature and the self through a variety of mediums and genres.

Houston Openings

Diverse Works
March 6, 2009, 6-8pm

In this group show, artists present artworks that interpret the warning signs that signaled the demise of previous cilizations, addressing our relationships with process and change.

Pioneers of Contemporary Glass: Highlights from the Barbara and Dennis DuBois Collection
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
March 7, 2009

This exhibition explores the origins of the studio glass movement through works by its innovators from the United States, the Czech Republic, Germany, Australia, Italy, Finland, and Sweden. Pioneers of Contemporary Glass will reinforce the idea of international artistic collaboration and community, as well as educate viewers about the diverse artistic possibilities of this unconventional medium.

Houston on View

Claire Fontaine: Call + 972 2 5 839 749
galería perdida
On view until March 22, 2009

Claire Fontaine is a politically-charged Paris-based art collective who claims that love, love as found in a collective, allows us to unite and rise against fear and governmental terror. Through Claire Fontaine's works of appropriated and altered found objects and visual culture, they hope to simultaneously subvert and call attention to these cultural and political realities of today.

San Antonio on View

Kehinde Wiley: The World Stage: Africa, Lagos ~ Dakar
On view until May 3, 2009

In The World Stage: Africa, Lagos ~ Dakar, Artpace showcases nine paintings by Kehinda Wiley that place everyday people into pictorial conventions found in Western art history. Wiley represents persons in poses based on public sculptures that celebrate Nigerian and Senegalese independence from colonial rule and uses patterns based on traditional clothing worn by West African women.

Jon Lee: JL050209
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
On view until March 1, 2009

Artist Jon Lee presents minimalistic prints and works on paper.

50 Years of Print Masterpieces
McNay Art Museum
On view until June 7, 2009

Prints by big-shots, including 19th century artists such as Francisco Goya, Edouard Manet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre Renoir, and Winslow Homer, and 20th century iconic prints by Jim Dine, Ed Ruscha, and Richard Diebenkorn.

San Antonio Openings

UTSA Satellite Space @ Blue Star
March 6, 6-9pm

Apparatus brings together the work of three artists, Dylan Collins, Andries Fourie and Donald Henson, who explore the correspondences between mechanical systems and the human body's operations.

San Marcos Opening

What isn’t it
Texas State University Gallery
March 10, 5 - 7pm

Alyson Fox, Mimi Kato and Misako Inaoka, three artists whose work addresses issues of identity and culture, come together to exhibit sculpture, drawings, paintings and photographs that artfully blur the lines between their artistic studio practices. The gallery doesn't have a website, but you can find it on campus in the Joann Cole Mitte building.

announcements: events

Austin Events

Artist Talk: Diego Pérez García
Blanton Museum of Art
March 12, 12:30pm

Diego Pérez García began his career as a photojournalist before turning his attention to artistic practices. His artwork reconstructs Mexican mythology and legends through a socio-cultural lens. In Mexico myths are valued as a tradition of private and collective events, memories and utopias, and as a contemporary artist living and working in Mexico, Pérez García has dedicated himself to exploring the rich history of his homeland, shaped by its tradition and religion. Reflecting on the nation as a historically established whole (and the strong contrast between the development of metropolitan and rural regions) is an important process to the artist. He focuses on the dissonance between fantasies and status quo, using everyday incidents or findings as a point of departure for his work.

Day Camp
CampCamp @ The Vortex
February 28, 4pm

CampCamp presents Hadassah Hill [aka Axon D'Luxe], the "Brooklyn-based queer femme cultural producer and stage veteran." Her recent performance work weaves narratives that ask the questions: what is it about science that rules us? And how do we queer the subject that seems immune to subjectivity?

No Idea Festival 2009
Blue Theater
February 26 - 28 at 8pm

Warning: free improv is not for the faint of heart. Chris Cogburn organized the first No Idea—a free improv music festival—in 2003, and since then, the festival has just kept on growing. This year, in addition to Austin, the festival is going to more cities than ever: San Antonio from February 16-21, Fort Worth on February 24, Houston on March 1 and New Orleans on March 2.

Houston Events

Curating Contemporary Art
Freed Auditorium, CORE Program, MFAH
March 14, 10am

Curators Dominic Molon (MCA), Christian Rattemeyer (MoMA) and Bennett Simpson (MOCA) speak on a panel with respondent Anjali Gupta (executive director and editor, Art Lies ).

Quilting Bee-hemoth
Lawndale Art Center
February 28, 12-5pm

Artist Kevin Curry invites everyone to work on his 800 square-foot-and-counting quilt, which will eventually cover the entire outside of a house in Houston. Cut, sort and sew the fabric provided, or bring your own for inclusion in the piece.

Dallas/Fort Worth Events

Gavin Morrison: Cowboys on the Lido
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
March 3, 7pm

Raise a glass (of Lone Star, preferably) to Texas! Gavin Morrison considers a hypothetical Texas pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennial in 2011 (also the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Texas), asking, "What would it mean for Texas to be presented in this context and at a time where nation-states and cultural identity are often subject to continual negotiation?"

Curator's Talk: Nicola Vassell
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
March 10, 7pm

Nicola Vassell, a director of Deitch Projects in New York, got plenty of attention from the New York Times earlier this month. For this lecture, Vassell presents DARK ART: A New Conversation with Abstraction, proposing that “a new and grittier form of abstraction permits us to theorize that a younger generation of painters, consciously or not, is producing ruggedly electric paintings that tell somber and vicious tales . . . making a statement on the sociopolitical inevitability of a world gone mad.” Wow.

Woman Body Image: Half Lives of the Cyborg Manifesto 25 Years After
March 7, 2009, 10-3pm

In this symposium scholars explore Donna J. Haraway's 1985 article, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century," a document in which Haraway calls for an embracement of the psycho-corporeal transformations that ensue from technology, the way in which those technologies emancipate us from old mythologies of “human nature” and interpolate into patterns of ecological destruction and the violent matrix of the military industrial complex.

San Antonio Events

Soy Cuba, 1964
March 5, 2009, 6:30-8pm
Admission: Free

Soy Cuba, 1964 by Mikhail Kalatozov, shot in a documentary film style, portrays four vignettes describing social unrest in Cuba and the rise of the Cuban revolution.

Roller Derby: First 'Bout of the Season!
The Rollercade
March 15, 7pm
Admission: $12 at the door

Last month, the New York Times Magazine suggested that rollergirls from bigger cities like Chicago and New York are going to dominate the native Texan sport from here on out. Are we gonna let em? Las Tejanas vs. West Texas Roller Dollz. The Rollercade. 7pm. Be there.

announcements: opportunities

Calls for Entries

Film Competition
Austin Film Festival
Deadline: June 3

Submit a film in any of the following categories: Narrative Feature, Narrative Short, Animated Short, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short. There's a $45 entry fee. Winners will be announced at the Austin Film Festival October 22 - 29, 2009.


Post-Academic Institute for Research and Production Fine Art, Design, Theory
Jan van Eyck Academie
Deadline: April 15, 2009

Artists, designers and theoreticians are invited to submit research and production proposals to become a researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academie. Every year, 48 international researchers realise their individual or collective projects in the artistic and critical environment that is the Jan van Eyck. Artists, designers and theoreticians at the Jan van Eyck Academie work alongside each other and establish a cross-disciplinary exchange. Submit independently formulated proposals for research and/or production in the departments of Fine Art, Design and Theory or participate in one of the following research projects: After 1968: What is the political?; Circle for Lacanian ideology Critique; Design Negation; ExtraStateCraft; Imaginary Property; The Cross-Cultural and the Counter-Modern. Visit the Jan van Eyck website for more information.


Sharadin Art Gallery Residency
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Deadline: June 12, 2009

Accepting proposals from artists, craftspersons and designers for the production of a temporary, site-specific installation for The Sharadin Gallery exhibition space. The residency will occur January 11-29, 2010, and the artwork will remain on view from January 29 – March 5. The selected artist (or artist team) will be awarded $10,000. The award must cover all material and labor costs associated with the production of the work, all travel expense to and from our site, all incidental costs, meals, and all artist fees and honoraria. The university will provide housing along with a group of Kutztown University students to assist with the physical production of the selected proposal. For more information and to apply visit the Sharadin Gallery website.

Visual Artist Residencies
CORE Program, MFAH
Deadline: April 1, 2009

The Core Program awards one- and two-year residencies to highly motivated, exceptional visual artists who have completed their undergraduate or graduate training but have not yet fully developed a professional career. Visual artists must submit an online application. There is a $10 application fee, which is paid online by credit card. For more information see the online application instructions.

Critical Studies Residency
CORE Program, MFAH
Deadline: April 1, 2009

The Core Program awards one- and two-year residencies to highly motivated, exceptional art scholars who have completed their undergraduate or graduate training but have not yet fully developed a professional career. For more information see the online application instructions.


Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art
Bass Museum of Art, Miami
Open until filled

The Bass Museum seeks an enthusiastic, motivated and experienced Assistant Curator of contemporary art. Working closely with the Executive Director/Chief Curator, the Assistant Curator manages all administrative responsibilities of the department including organizing special exhibitions, installing permanent collection galleries, securing acquisitions, initiating and participating in public programs, writing and coordinating texts and publications; and touring original exhibitions. Requirements: MA in arts-related field; 3-plus years of related curatorial experience including organizing exhibitions of national and international contemporary artists (solo and group exhibitions); traveling exhibitions; a track record of permanent collection acquisitions; strong research, writing, and public speaking skills; and significant contacts in the field. Please submit cover letter and resume to: Elisa Alonso, Executive Assistance, Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park Avenue, Miami Beach, Fl 33139. No emails or phone calls please. Only those chosen for interviews will be contacted.

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