MBG Issue #121: What’s Yr Take on Cassavetes

Issue # 121

What's Yr Take on Cassavetes

April 24, 2009

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Kalup Linzy, Video Still from Keys to Our Heart, 2008, Digital video, black & white, sound, TRT: 24 minutes 18 seconds. Courtesy the artist and Taxter & Spengemann, New York.

from the editor

In the face of adversity, Austin artists and art institutions—from the most DIY to the most established—are rallying. We’re envisioning coalitions, alternative economies and creative synergies that might transform the worst of time into the best of times.

These tough times call for even tougher conversations. (As if the financial crisis isn’t already hard enough to stomach.) Like Obama’s administration, we have to look for programs that aren’t working and radically re-envision them. Rather than replicate the same old models, Austin’s art institutions need to pool their resources, each one focusing on what it could potentially do best.

At testsite, we’re looking at a host of new projects for the Fall taking advantage of Austin’s preexisting strengths: a participant-led seminar program, a new video works series and an apartment gallery project. By scaling back the number of exhibitions we host every year, we plan to redirect our resources toward creating spaces thoughtful conversation and community. Nothing’s firmed up yet, but we’re working on it.

Major changes are necessary at Austin’s largest institutions, too. First up, the Austin Museum of Art. It’s widely agreed that the downtown space, with its drab, office-lobby galleries, is depressing. Money has been poured into three costly attempts to rectify this situation with a new building. We can’t afford to continue this pattern. AMoA’s greatest strength is its beautiful campus at Laguna Gloria. AMoA should abandon its attempts to revive its downtown space and focus its attention there. Exhibition space is limited there, but the site has a rich history. Given these things, AMoA should consider becoming a non-collecting institution supporting site-specific installations by contemporary artists, or even better, artist residencies.

AMoA’s other big contribution to the community over the past decade has been its New Art in Austin triennial. The resources AMoA puts into this exhibition could be productively put toward supporting the Texas Biennial; there’s no need for two regional -ennials in this town. The Biennial, meanwhile, needs to continue moving away from the juried group show and towards the curated, city-wide exhibition. The entry fee artists pay to submit work to the Biennial creates a bias toward the amateur; most mid-career and established artists won’t consider participating. And the Biennial’s crowded salon-style hang doesn’t flatter the work.

Meanwhile, The Blanton provides an outstanding collecting institution for a mid-sized city like Austin. The largest university museum in the United States, it boasts solid collections in American & Contemporary Art, Latin American Art and Prints and Drawings. Generally conservative in its taste and collecting with education in mind, it provides a solid art historical base for the community. Latin American Art, where the museum has traditionally been the most adventurous, should continue to be its top priority.

Arthouse, then, is becoming the primary venue for international contemporary art, with a bias toward Europeans. A residency program is in the works there already. If AMoA started a national residency program, Arthouse could focus primarily on bringing international artists to town. Arthouse could also eliminate its New American Talent, contributing those funds, its exhibition space and its connections to making the Texas Biennial an event worthy of national attention.

Other productive reorganizations are possible as well. For example, E.A.S.T. and Art Week Austin might consolidate. Galleries might mount more video and performance exhibitions in conjunction with the Fuse Box Festival. East side organizations—Art Palace, Big Medium, Co-Lab, Okay Mountain, the Pump Project—might coordinate occasional Saturday bicycle tours of their spaces. In short, there are tons of opportunities for synergy. Now, at our most exhausted, we have to push the hardest.

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


Andrea Giunta

By Claire Ruud

León Ferrari, Untitled, 1983, Oil, pastel, ink, and pencil on white polymer panel, 41 3/4 x 41 3/4 inches, Collection Ruben Cherñajovsky, Buenos Aires. © 2009 Fundación Augusto y León Ferrari. Archivo y Colección. Photo: Adrían Rocha Novoa.

Andrea Giunta has been a scholar of León Ferrari’s work since the early 90s. She curated his retrospective at the Recoleta Cultural Center in Buenos Aires in 2004, and recently contributed an essay on his work to the catalogue for Tangled Alphabets: Mira Schendel and León Ferrari, now on the walls of MoMA. In anticipation of the exhibition, I invited Giunta for a cup of coffee at Fluent~Collaborative talk about her history with Ferrari.

Giunta joined the Department of Art History at UT Austin this fall, and is the author of Goeritz/Romero Brest: Correspondencias (2000) and Avant-Garde, Internationalism, and Politics: Argentine Art in the Sixties (2007). Her book Postcrisis, a compilation of essays on art in Argentina after the economic crisis of 2001, is forthcoming in Spanish.

…might be good: Do you remember the first time you saw León Ferrari’s work?

Andrea Giunta: Yes. In 1989 I remember seeing La civilización occidental y cristiana [Western-Christian Civilization, 1965] installed in the center of a spiral staircase surrounded by windows at the Centro Cultural Recoleta, and it was very striking. But it was the second time I saw his work, in 1992 at the National Library, that I decided I had to meet him. León’s piece in the show was an homage to the condom: he had made tree-like forms out of wire, and hundreds of condoms were hanging from the branches. On a political level, the piece protested the Catholic Church’s statements about AIDS—that the only protection from HIV was abstinence. But what struck me were the formal qualities of the piece. The way the light played through the transparent latex elevated this object of religious contempt into something so beautiful.

…mbg: So when did you first meet him?

AG: After I saw that piece, I called him, and he said, "Come in the morning.” When I arrived, he asked, “Would you like something to drink?” And I said, “Well, I guess so.” So he brought out a bottle of holy wine. So there we were, drinking holy wine at ten in the morning. That visit, I was immediately struck by his intelligence and sense of humor.

…mbg: What was the reception of Ferrari’s work like in Argentina at the time?

AG: In the early 90s, when I began to research his work from an art historical point of view, it was difficult. Many people thought that I shouldn’t be working on León whose work, they said, was not art but politics. Since then, Ferrari’s reception has changed dramatically. After the 2004 retrospective, everyone wanted to exhibit and collect his work—not just the drawings, but even his most controversial work, the excrement series, everything.

…mbg: You curated that retrospective at the Centro Cultural Recoleta. When did you decide to start working on the project?

AG: Really, the project began in 1997, but institutional parameters kept getting in the way of putting on a complete retrospective. Over and over, the project was halted because the institution did not want to include large portions of León’s body of work. Finally in 2004, it became possible.

…mbg: What had changed by 2004 that made the institution willing to host the retrospective?

AG: By that time, León’s work—including the most controversial work—had received more institutional recognition outside Argentina. It had been exhibited here at UT in 1999, at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in 2001, and at the Museum of Fine Art in Houston in 2004. Luis Camnitzer also facilitated the growing reception of León ’s work by arguing for its centrality to the development of conceptualism. This international context made it easier to exhibit the work in Buenos Aires.

…mbg: But even in 2004 you met a huge amount of resistance and controversy once the show opened.

AG: Yes, it was very hard.

…mbg: Would you do it again?

AG: Even in the midst of it, I never had doubts about what I was doing. If I could go back, not knowing what would happen, I would do it again. But I would not repeat the show for the sake of the scandal. I never imagined there would be so much scandal. For example, when the exhibition traveled to Sao Paulo, I edited it, and for many reasons, the exhibition was smaller.

…mbg: The censorship of the retrospective received a lot of press. What did the controversy obscure about Ferrari’s work?

AG: The press was just interested in scandal, that’s all. The controversy actually introduced a whole new audience to León’s work—an audience beyond the usual circle of academics and collectors. He was like a pop-star in Buenos Aires after the exhibition. Walking down the street, people would stop him and ask for his autograph. But now, since the retrospective, the press has become much more attentive to the aesthetic qualities of León’s work.

…mbg: In this conversation, we’ve been distinguishing between Ferrari’s “controversial” work and the rest of his artistic output. What do you see as the connecting tissue between these two parts? Can we understand all of it as one unified body of work?

AG: I consider it to be one body of work, even though León disagrees with me and sees it as two. Even the works that are apparently based on beauty are controversial. For example, take Noah’s Ark, a wonderful drawing based on a rewriting of the Biblical story of the Flood. In his version, all the men die, but the women survive by making floating devices out of their breasts and buttocks. Then Satan cuts the penises off all the men and puts them into one big tree. The women go into the tree and copulate. God is looking from the heavens, unable to do anything to stop life from reproducing. As with this example, many of León ’s rewritings of Biblical stories are based on an enduring love for life. For him, Eve is the goddess of knowledge; she was the curious one, not Adam. León often says that we have to give homage to Eve because she was the first revolutionary; she sought after knowledge.

…mbg: So similar themes run throughout Ferrari’s body of work. What about formal qualities?

AG: León’s most controversial works aren’t just controversial because of the content, but also because of their formal articulation. In La civilización occidental y cristiana, for example, it’s the formal choices that make the piece powerful: the proportional relationship between the two objects involved, the way it’s installed hanging from the ceiling so that you can walk all the way around it.

…mbg: Ferrari stopped making work around 1965 and then he started again about ten years later. Have you talked to him about why he began making again?

AG: That’s a question even he can’t answer. He just couldn’t avoid it. He’s told me that when he started making art again, he did it in secret and didn’t tell anyone. The abandonment of art was something that marked many people of his political and intellectual generation. Many artists never went back making art; they couldn’t. That’s why he couldn’t tell them that he had gone back.
In the late 60s, he wasn’t making drawings or wire sculptures, but he did participate in political exhibitions like Homage to Vietnam (1966), the exhibition for Che Guevara (1967) and Malviendo Rockefeller (1969), usually contributing collages of news stories. The first drawings I’ve seen are from 1975 and are completely abstract. At the end of 1976 he went to exile in Sao Paulo. After the drawings, he moved into wire sculptures. Slowly he started showing work again, his first exhibition was in 1978.

…mbg: Did he know Mira Schendel while he was in Sao Paulo?

AG: He knew of her, but they weren’t working in the same artistic circles. They may have been in some of the same exhibitions at some point. Putting them together at MoMA, I think, is more of a curatorial intervention that will open the work to new and interesting approaches.

…mbg: What do you think the pairing will do to León’s work?

AG: I think it will be a powerful aesthetic approach. One big work from the excrement series was selected for the exhibition. I am curious to see the public reaction to it.

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

Interview: Roundtable: Criticism in Austin

By Claire Ruud & Kate Watson

Top, L to R: Lee Webster, Dan Boehl, Katie Geha, Laura Lindenberger Wellen, Eric Zimmerman
Bottom, L to R: Katie Anania, Kate Watson, Lauren Hamer, Allison Myers, Claire Ruud.

At the end of March, seasoned L.A. critic Leah Ollman joined ...might be good's relatively young staff writers to discuss art criticism. We talked more about the practice than about the theory of criticism, though the two are deeply enmeshed. Of course, many critics have weighed in on the topic before us. So while the subject isn't new, the context is specific: young writers working together in Austin, a mid-sized city with a DIY attitude.

Katie Geha (KG): I’ve been wondering what kind of criticism helps a community grow. Is it being very critical, or is it being a cheerleader, or something else?

Mary Katherine Matalon (MKM): I came out of a really snarky tradition in New York, where in a certain crowd you just kind of lampoon everything you see. That certainly doesn’t work for me now, but the problem is figuring out how to be critical about a show, but do it in a way that’s not just snarky.

Eric Zimmerman (EZ): Personally, I’ve been having a really hard time with criticism, lately, because I’ve come to realize that within such a plural art world, the plurality starts to relativize everything, erasing any opportunity for making judgment. But then there are all these calls for critics to make judgment, so how do you make a judgment when everything is relative? [Laughter]

Dan Boehl (DB): Also, how much should a review actually contextualize a show? Because, if I talk to an artist or a group of artists for a long time I slowly begin to like stuff that I wouldn’t ordinarily like or start to dislike stuff that I liked at first. A part of that plays into what it means to be part of the fairly small Austin community and cover shows by people that you know. When you’re writing, you know that on Friday the review will come out and then on Saturday, you’re going to see this guy at an opening and have to stand in a room with him.

Leah Ollman (LO): The question about relationships with artists is just definitely harder in a small community. It’s a question you have to ask yourself constantly, in every situation. When you’re talking to an artist and they’re explaining the work and context, it’s natural to get sucked in more and more. You’re seeing the work through their eyes. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s something that you have to always keep in check. In those situations, the work has to be a reality check for you. That’s where your response has to start and end.

In terms of having relationships with artists, only you know the nature of your relationship. Are you able to adopt a critical position with this person you are writing about? If you feel like you really can’t, then you know the answer: you can’t take that assignment. When you read what some of the established critics have to say about this, it’s really amusing. You get the same range of answers that you get when you ask the question, “Can critics collect art?” There are some people who say, “Absolutely not! This is totally inappropriate and compromising.” People on the other end of the spectrum who say, “How could you not? You live for this.”

Lauren Hamer (LH): But that relationship with the artist can, perhaps, be just as much of a document of the work of art, insofar as the encounter between writer and artist serves as that first point of historical contact. In having access to that artist, you have access to that story in a way another critic doesn’t. You might be able to write something, which maybe sacrifices some objective distance, but would also offer a particular kind of record for the future.

Claire Ruud (CR): This conversation is reminding me of one of the questions Leah posed to us in preparation for this discussion: is all criticism autobiography? You’re talking about maintaining some kind of critical detachment. But how do you make autobiography and critical detachment part of the same practice?

KG: If criticism is autobiography, what is the value of criticism? How is it construed by the reader as a success or not a success?

EZ: How does criticism become a judgment, if autobiography is the rubric of the judgment system?

DB: There’s a sort of history of criticism in which critics are the go-between. But the attitude that critics will translate art for the public has sort of disappeared, I think.

LO: Museum educators got that job.

DB: Yeah, yeah! But now we critics are on that fence. Where are our loyalties? Towards our own voices and our own opinions or are we beholden to a more austere position?

LO: Critics, for the last couple of centuries, have valued that voice and haven’t necessarily seen themselves as objective. I just despise the word “objectiveobjectivity” I don’t think there exists such a thing and it really has no place in a discussion about criticism or about art. I think it all boils down to the individual’s voice. That’s where your responsibility lies—in telling your experience.

LH: Actually, I’m very interested in poetry at the moment, and this seems related. Can criticism exist as a creative enterprise?

LO: I think that criticism is a parallel field to poetry. It’s intensely personal and it doesn’t even have to look that personal to be that personal. It gets complicated when you say “autobiography,” “subjectivity,” “personal perspective.” You can write very seriously and very straightforwardly, and it can still be very personal. You can take any work of art or show, and if you can clear out of your mind all the things you already know about it, the back-story that you may have been privy to, something’s going to emerge that’s particular to you. That’s what’s of value to me and that’s what makes the act autobiographical.

KG: Yeah, often I’ll read critics because I feel like I “like” them. Even if Anthony Lane wrote about a movie I haven’t seen or heard of, I’ll still read the review because I know I’ll have fun.

LO: Well, you’re reading it for the voice. Ultimately that’s what makes it interesting to read.

LO: A couple of you have mentioned thinking about what kind of criticism serves the community, and I’d say definitely not cheerleading. You’re not going to be able to really enlighten anyone if you’re only pointing out part of the story, and you’re not doing the artist any favors by not giving them serious critical attention.

I read something recently about the importance of negative reviews. The writer pointed out, what percentage of what you see do you think is kind of superficial or not that interesting—most of it, right? Then you look at the reviews, and ninety percent of them are positive. So what gives? Why this huge discrepancy? Why isn’t the balance more accurate? A negative review offers a reality check.

KG: When I write negative reviews, I do so with much more of a sense of responsibility, and it’s much more difficult that writing a positive review.

LO: I think an ambivalent review is absolutely the hardest thing to write. It’s not hard to write about something you feel passionately about. Just a month or two ago, Christopher [Knight] assigned me to write about KAWS [I feel better leaving this more vague, since there isn’t supposed to be any public distinction between what I choose to review and what I’m assigned.] Very popular artist. So, I went to see the show and it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t good, but it was just eh. Some things were appealing, but mostly it was formulaic. It ended up being really hard to write about.

MKM: So, in a situation where you’re writing something that’s very popular like that, and very marketable, what power do you think you have as a critic?

LO: You know, I never really know. There’s really no quantifiable way to access assess it. As Kate was saying, it’s important to create a record of something. It may sound overblown, but sometimes I think about what someone maybe one hundred years from now looking back will think. They’ll look back and say, “nobody said anything bad about this work?” I feel like that kind of writing is historically urgent and necessary.

Kate Watson (KW): As critics, we have a responsibility to be witnesses and to actively record what’s going on. If nobody is talking about this work in a written form, there will be no record of it in the future.

LO: In terms of accessing assessing what kind of power or influence a critic has today, I do often hear from galleries, usually when it’s a positive review. “So many people came into the show talking about your review,” or something like that. So, people are paying attention.
Now that it’s hugely common for museums to show contemporary art, the curator does have some of the power that critics used to have. In a sense, artists are now skipping over a phase that used to be about development and filtering. They’ll go straight from grad school to a show at a museum.

LH: What do you think about that cycle?

LO: It’s completely due to our culture’s obsession with youth and novelty. And I don’t think it serves anyone. It doesn’t serve the artist because the artist gets rocketed to the moon before—I can’t carry that metaphor. [Laughter]

KG: Let me go put my space suit on.

LO: But yeah, it’s just too much too fast.

LH: Hasn’t criticism sort of enabled this cycle in a way? What is a critic’s greater responsibility in this relationship?

DB: I think the market has sort of hedged out the critic in this situation.

LO: The critic does have some responsibility here. So many of the shows I go to are those of recent MFA’s. I find myself often very torn when I see some of them. You know, it’s at a well reputed gallery; obviously someone has plucked this person straight out of their grad school studio and is investing in their future and sees a lot of promise. But maybe the work is not very evolved. Maybe its promising, but just doesn’t have the depth or complexity or substance that Iwant to see—do I write about that?

It’s hard to come down on the artist because it’s the system that has put them there. On the other hand, some artists recognize the system and resist it. One angle I’ve used in reviews is to take on the system and couch criticism in terms of the gallery or the museum curator behaving inappropriately, rather than the artist.

KW: This issue is particularly interesting in terms of the make-up of our community in Austin. A lot of what we write about is very young artists, young galleries. Because of the nature of being in a university town, it’s something we need to be thinking about.

CR: This conversation seems to point back to the value of negative reviews. What’s the difference between a review written in a way that opens up dialogue and a review that smacks people down and then we get a bunch of angry letters to the editor? [Laughter]

LO: Negative letters to the editor aren’t exactly a bad thing. If you don’t twist your readers a little bit, it means either you or they are getting too complacent. Letters mean that people are really engaged and care.

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.


Erick Michaud
Art Palace, Austin
Through April 29

By Sean Ripple

Erick Michaud, Blue Sky Hotel, 2009, Cedar, Wood Burning and Found Floor Tile, 7.5 x 7.5 x 13.5 inches. Image courtesy the artist and Art Palace Gallery, Austin.

Trapped in a mill town, driving the deserted main drag in loop at night, Metallica’s Harvester of Sorrow plays over and over. Chain stores and chain restaurants, an Exxon and a business front with the words “Dead River” pass your window. Trapped in a mill town, driving the deserted main drag in loop at night, Metallica’s Harvester of Sorrow plays over and over…

This fragmentary scene playing on a small cruddy television opens The Gates of Dawn, Erick Michaud’s solo show at Art Palace. For all the line drawings of skulls and storms and swords and hotel facades burned onto axes, baseball bats, and blocks of wood, it’s this soundless video, subtitled with lyrics to the Metallica song by the same name, that most effectively pulls you into the spooky late teenaged headspace evoked by the overall exhibition, which is sort of the main point of exhibit: to share a sense of the spooky with you.

Madman’s Womb and Stormbringer, both 2009.

The Gates of Dawn is akin to a character study; the objects in the show—two videos, a readymade sculpture, and morbid pyrographic line drawings on a variety surfaces—act as the remains of a departed life. Pulling from his life experiences growing up in icy Madawaska, Maine, a town whose primary industry is paper production, Michaud’s exhibition is an autobiographical phantom laid bare for our inspection.

The influence of Mike Kelly is a pervasive force in the exhibition. Michaud directly references Kelly by including his Phaidon Contemporary Artist Series book in the ziggurat inspired stack of cinder blocks and books, and found objects sculptural tower Babel, in the main gallery. Elsewhere, the placement of speckled gray vinyl tiling—the kind of tiling found in high schools, institutions and industrial complexes the world over—makes a nod to Kelly’s Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction series. By openly proclaiming Kelly’s influence, Michaud works to expose the role of emulation in an artist’s quest for recognition. By other turns however, it feels as though Michaud has not yet fully digested Kelly’s influence and assimilated it into his own practice.

Taken individually, many of the pieces in the show conjure very little internal drama. For instance, two paintings entitled Night, an all white and glitter painting entitled Snow and the painting Blue Night # 2, with their flat displays of color, seemed to be just that, flat displays of color. However, read as stand-ins for weather conditions and scene settings for the objects and sculpture situated nearby, they offer more. Still, these relationships are casually orchestrated so that the impression made on the viewer is slight.

In Harvester of Sorrow, the word SOLO appears on the screen in sync with the digitally clipped squawk of the first note from a guitar solo playing as part of the audio track of another video in the main gallery. Though there are only a few instances where little syncs like this occur (the sound of crickets filling every room, the scenes set by situating paintings and objects to work like dioramas), these little syncs were what got me to pause and ultimately to care about the isolating sense of nostalgia experienced by the haunted life portrayed. These intimate places—spaces where one’s own experiences begin to feel detached, like limb from body, from one’s sense of self—let us into the midst of Michaud’s ghost story.

Sean Ripple is a multimedia artist and writer based in Austin.

Kalup Linzy
Fusebox Festival at MASS Gallery
April 23 - May 2

By Lee Webster

Kalup Linzy, Video Still from Keys to Our Heart, 2008, Digital video, black & white, sound, TRT: 24 minutes 18 seconds. Courtesy the artist and Taxter & Spengemann, New York.

Grab a paper fan and fix a tall glass of lemonade, for Kalup Linzy spins a sordid story. One of his latest, The Keys to Our Heart (2008), is as pretty as a Hollywood classic, told with the conviction of a Lifetime movie, and the moral voice of a Harlequin novel. Linzy pulls from all these genres in this half hour video work, for a tale that is one part social critique to two parts sound and fury.

Linzy has made a name for himself as the one man production house behind the epic and episodic works All my Churen and da Young and da Mess. Linzy’s brand of video art combines a deep investment in the art of narrative storytelling with the glorious bastardization of all its conventions. With titles twisted from daytime television, much of Linzy’s previous work parodies the TV dramas of the white, affluent and troubled. Linzy’s stories follow the lives of the Southern, black, and equally troubled. Plots take a turn for the worst and characters border on fulfilling uneasy stereotypes, but Linzy keeps it light. Linzy’s work passes censors of decorum and slips into the institutions of an art world that is normally loathe to be reminded of systemic racism and poverty, due in no small part to his sense of comedic timing. His videos are biting, but they’re also funny as hell.

Kalup Linzy, Video Still from Keys to Our Heart, 2008. Courtesy the artist and Taxter & Spengemann, New York.

Created for this winter’s Prospect.1 in New Orleans, Linzy locates The Keys to Our Heart in the vague past of the Crescent City, sometime after World Way II and before women’s lib. The look is more polished than Linzy’s soap stories, shot on video in high-contrast black and white, mostly against the plain interior walls of apartments with vintage detail and the austere exteriors of the courtyards outside. Here Linzy weaves a parable from the lives of four friends in an entangled love quadrangle. Linzy himself plays the puppet mistress who uses the guise of a consoling confidant to end her best friend’s romance and provoke the ex-beau into a new tryst. All characters of the fairer sex are vocally resigned to their archetypes in this twisted morality play: the Princess, the Queen and the Sweetheart, or alternately the Bitch, the Queen Bitch, and the Hoe. And the gentleman? A low down dog.

The satire in The Keys to Our Heart is clearly there, as it hits you like a theatrical slap to the face. Gender and racial stereotypes are its aim, but the significance is convoluted along with the love affair. Linzy’s work begins to reveal that contemporary stereotypes follow the old archetypes of black and white femininity But Linzy resurrects these ghosts only to seal them to their fates; they never have a chance to challenge fully our social memory and stereotypes. And so he’ll have us waiting anxiously for the next episode…

Lee Webster is an artist living and working in Austin.

eekabeeka: Billy & Mary Kirkland
Austin Art History Lesson II

By Rachel Koper

Edition of three announcement cards for Steve Brudniak exhibition at eekabeeka in 1999. Courtesy archives of Steve Brudniak.

This piece is part of a series documenting the independent venues, artists and mentors who have contributed memorably over the years to DIY and the growth of the visual arts in Austin.

Billy and Mary Kirkland have been living artfully in Austin since their arrival here in 1992. They are both primarily self taught artists, and they ran the radical gallery eekabeeka on South First Street from 1996 to 1999.

...might be good: When you were a kid, what did you want to be?

Billy Kirkland: I don't remember anything specific. I just remember being free. That's what I still want to be. Free.

...mbg: How did you get your first art show in Austin?

BK: I first showed at Alternate Current Artspace, which was located on South First. In 1992, South First was colorful, to say the least. The tenant in the space next to Alternate Current was a small engine repair shop, whose owner also ran a prostitution ring out of it. I remember one morning a man was found dead in the dumpster at the car wash across the street near Fletcher.

David Pratt, who looks like a hardscrabble character out of a Cormack McCarthy novel, was one of the proprietors of Alternate Current Artspace. At our first meeting, he invited me to submit work for "Post-Apocalyptic Pagan De-Constructivism", a group show that he was organizing with Susan Maynard, his partner in crime. He didn't know me from Adam, but there he was, enthusiastically encouraging me to participate. Alternate Current attracted an eccentric, carnivalesque mélange of aging hippies, social outcasts, punks, poets, cowboys, straights and artists. It truly felt like home.

...mbg: What other Austin artists did you look at when you were new to town?

BK: Early on, the artists I quickly identified with were David Pratt, Susan Maynard,  Scott Stevens, Dixon Colbourn, Phillip Trussell, R.J.Oehler, and David Elliott.

That list quickly expanded to include Jasun Huerta, Paul Beck, QuaQuaVersal, Robert Mace, Roy Tompkins, Mack White, Graham Reynolds, Marc Silva, Tony Romano, Steve Brudniak, Scott Rolfe, Mike Krone, Sharon Smith, Sydney Yeager, Donna Bruton, The Amazing Hancock Brothers, Tina Jaillet, Lust for Jadies, Michael Sieben, Grady Roper, George Zupp, Chris Williams and many, many more.

...mbg: Sometimes I think you guys should open another gallery. What were some of the challenges of running your space? Can you describe some now closed art venues?

Mary Kirkland: For me, the fun outweighed the hard work of having a gallery. Opening another gallery in the future is not completely out of the question for me. Alternate Current was a very unique and eclectic art space that can never be duplicated. They inspired us to open eekabeeka. I think it was the best gallery in town and created an art community in South Austin that I haven’t seen since. The Artplex (located next to D Berman on Guadalupe) was another great place where artists could rent space and connect with other artists. It is unfortunate that it burned and is still sitting vacant. It was/is a three story building that was broken up into studios and galleries on the first two floors. The smell of oil paint was heavy in the air when you walked in. You would find all types of artists holed up in those studios doing what they do. When we had eekabeeka there, it started as one small studio space, but we later expanded it into the studio next door. One of our favorite group shows we did, “Liquor, Drugs and Jesus”, was done there. We coordinated our openings with other studios and galleries in the building and those nights were always exciting.

...mbg: Why did you open eekabeeka Gallery?

Fronts of two eekabeeka postcards announcing Majdi Hadidi and Paul Beck exhibitions, both 1997. Courtesy archives of Steve Brudniak.

BK: We opened eekabeeka because we didn't know any better. We wanted to participate in the cultural life of Austin and make a contribution to it. Our first venue was the cheapest, centrally located, commercial space that we could find. It was a small, one room office space. We had a restroom down the hall that was shared with the rest of the building. It was co-ed and it had no doors. One of our neighbors, who lived in his office, had removed the doors to discourage people from using it as a place to get high. Since we were just off the drag, we thought we would attract an audience from the university. That never happened and that kind of soured me on the university. Our audience was mostly friends of the artists we were showing. We soon tired of the location and found a place on South First that, in retrospect, was our favorite spot. It was a small house, next door to the building which housed Alternate Current Artspace. We all shared the same landlord, a wonderfully idiosyncratic businessman by the name of Mike Poulson. He once ran for mayor of Austin. Mike is still a great supporter of oddballs and artists.

The last location where we were open was on East 7th Street, in Bruce Dye’s old Holy 8 Ball space. At that time, it was a very sketchy area; drunks and druggies hanging out at all hours, up and down the block. We didn’t have a well thought out arrangement with Bruce, who lived in a small office in the gallery. We sublet the use of the main gallery space from him and he got to use it on our off hours, for his own photography work. He partied a lot in it and would sometimes pull his motorcycle apart in the middle of the gallery to work on it. Tension between us quickly ensued. That situation, coupled with the continuous drain on our finances and new, higher priority demands on our time, convinced us to halt gallery operations. We had intended to open it again in the future, but the hiatus has stretched out to the present.

...mbg: What do you miss the most about eekabeeka being closed?

BK: It's like quitting smoking, it's been over ten years since we closed the gallery and I don't miss anything about it. When we closed, the withdrawal was hard, thoughts about starting it up again lingered on. Now, I enjoy making my own art. It's obvious to me that there is room for new voices, for more gallerists, in Austin. The latest space to spring up that I like is Domy Books. Russell is very enthusiastic about what he does and it is infectious.

MK: I really miss the excitement of running a venue that offered artists an opportunity to show their work with no commercial pressure. We gave Paul Beck the keys to the gallery and said to him “have at it,” not knowing what he intended to do. It seemed like there was an electricity in the air. I remember one artist asking me “What is the budget for my show?” and all I could think was “Budget? What budget?” Ah, the little things. To me eekabeeka was more about getting the art out there for people to see and experience than anything else. We put a lot of elbow grease into it.

Rachel Koper is an artist, curator and writer in Austin.

New Jerseyy
Basel's Alternative Spaces, Part I

By Quinn Latimer

Clinch/Cross/Cut, New Jerseyy's first real exhibition, ran during Art Basel last year (June 3 - 8, 2008). Swiss artist John Armleder and his students at the Braunschweig Academy of Art in Germany turned New Jerseyy into a boxing club. Courtesy New Jerseyy.

In the weeks ahead, as Art Basel inches ever closer, Quinn Latimer will take a look at the less commercial side of Basel’s year-round art scene: the experimental art spaces that regularly mount shows in storefronts, apartments, backyards, and on the local radio waves. If you’re in town for Art Basel, these are spaces you shouldn’t miss.

New Jerseyy, Basel, Switzerland

While the US is famous for the oddly aspirational names of some of its smallest towns— East Berlin, Pennsylvania; Lebanon, New Hampshire; and, of course, Paris, Texas—I didn’t expect to find a New Jersey on hand when I recently moved to Switzerland. Unimaginative me. Spelled with a slurry and superfluous extra y, New Jerseyy is a year-old alternative art space in North Basel run by independent curator Daniel Baumann and local artists Tobias Madison, Emanuel Rossetti, and Dan Solbach. With a DIY approach that elegantly synthesizes the scrappy and the suave, the foursome have thus far staged an intriguing mix of contemporary art, film, text, music, and boxing by artists both national (John Armleder, Tobias Kaspar, Pamela Rosenkranz), and international (Isa Genzken, Justin Beal, James Lee Byars). In Basel’s small but aggressively prolific art scene, New Jerseyy has quickly taken on an outsize role, functioning as both an exhibition space with a notably inspired program and as an artistic and social-networking zone, where the region’s artists exhibit, collaborate, socialize, and plan for the next thing. It is also an artistic experiment in and of itself. As Baumann notes, “The special thing about New Jerseyy is that we use it to think about the exhibition space, to play with the language of the institution and the gallery; everything is always doubled here.”

Weirdly, “Dirty Jersey”—the States’ pet name for its own New Jersey—is an altogether fitting tribute to its Swiss incarnation too. New Jerseyy’s small glass-paned storefront looks out on a construction site of faintly apocalyptic proportions, which is at marked odds with the rest of Basel’s disarmingly picturesque environs (picture narrow streets of pastel shutters, climbing wisteria, and 15th-century homes near the bottle-green Rhine). The construction site is the result of a many-decades-long project to connect the Swiss highway system, via an underground tunnel, with that of its neighbors, France and Germany (both of whom are minutes away), as well as of a sprawling future “campus” for pharma giant Novartis. But the massive construction—which has often been compared to Boston’s Big Dig—is not only a notable backdrop for New Jerseyy, it is also the reason for the gallery’s very existence.

Since 2001, Baumann has been the director of Nordtangente-Kunsttangente, the arts directive organized by the Swiss government and the local Basel canton to revitalize an area that has lost myriad businesses and residents during a decade of jackhammering, scaffolding, and a crane-enhanced skyline. In the years before he founded New Jerseyy, Baumann inserted numerous aesthetic interventions into the construction chaos, including an auto-centric film series in the nearby motor tunnel (films included Easy Rider, Two-Lane Blacktop, and Vanishing Point) and a long, psychedelic mural by Franz Ackermann visible from the busy roadway. New Jerseyy itself was born after Baumann kept noting an empty (and not likely to be rented) storefront near the construction zone; after he picked up a few copies of Used Future, an art zine that Madison, Rossetti, and Solbach began producing in 2005, at local gallery-cum-bookstore Stampa, he decided to ask the three much younger artists (all born in the ’80s) to help him run the gallery.

New Jerseyy’s first real exhibition, Clinch/Cross/Cut, which ran during Art Basel last year, came about when the Jerseyy team asked Swiss art sage John Armleder if he’d like to do something there. He passed on their request to some of his students at the Braunschweig Academy of Art in Germany and they promptly turned New Jerseyy into a boxing club, complete with bags, gloves, weights, and a team schedule, which had the participating artists boxing and jogging on alternating evenings from June 3 through June 8, with a night off in the middle for the gallery opening. Since those athletic beginnings, the gallery has staged shows from Dagmar Heppner’s cool Venetian blinds installations accompanied by texts by seminal Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann to a number of all-inclusive group shows—including last winter’s drolly titled drawing extravaganza The Line Is a Lonely Hunter, which featured more than 60 artists (Hermann Nitsch, Mai-Thu Perret, Betty Tompkins, Andro Wekuahung) hung haphazardly salon style.

In the scope of its exhibitions and the artists it shows, New Jerseyy can recall young New York institutions like Reena Spaulings (Jerseyy recently mounted a show of work by Carissa Rodriguez, one of Reena’s directors) and the recently departed Rivington Arms. However, within Basel itself New Jerseyy’s meaning is twinned: it both provides a new experimental format for international exhibition-making and collaboration, and an unchanging, concrete, and very local (but not in the least provincial) space for monthly shows, screenings, and performances that are the fruits of those curatorial labors. As the artworld has become increasingly cosmopolitan and air travel surreally easy, there has been in recent years a reluctance to put down roots in one city alone (see the “Easyjet generation”); it’s the counterpoint to this that Baumann finds reassuring in New Jerseyy’s nascent existence. “It’s a return to the real world, perhaps; making something in a specific place,” Baumann says.

The construction site that is not only a notable backdrop for New Jerseyy, but also the reason for the gallery’s very existence. Courtesy New Jerseyy.

During Art Basel this year, New Jersey will be featuring a new work by the sweetly anarchic Norwegian artist Ida Ekblad (who is currently included in the New Museum’s Younger Than Jesus triennial and tends to appropriate imagery—Easy E, Jessica Simpson, the American dollar bill—that strikes a certain pop-culture tenor). She will be painting New Jerseyy’s front windows while leaving the interior gallery empty. This quickly and wittily solves a number of problems, not the least of which is keeping the gallery open and staffed during Basel’s busiest week of the year, when there are plentiful fairs, parties, and shows to attend. The novel solution—which will turn a visit to the gallery into an easy drive-by—is emblematic of New Jerseyy’s game approach to curatorial matters—make it smart, make it sly, make it work. As Baumann allows, smiling, “New Jerseyy isn’t pretentious but it is ambitious.”

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.

project space

Margot Herster

By Dan Boehl

Margot Herster is less interested in making pictures than in the social role photographs and video play in modern society. Her change in attitude was simple: there are too many pictures in the world, so why make more? Instead she focuses on the way images reveal the social and physiological patterns of our lives, the places where media starts to blend with community and self-identity.

In 2005, around the time Herster was becoming disenchanted with pictures, defense lawyers were granted access to detainees in at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. These lawyers were faced with a very big problem: their clients didn’t trust them. The detainees, from countries like Yemen, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain, thought the lawyers were spies sent to trick them into confessing crimes. In order to prove to their clients that they were in fact there to defend them, the lawyers traveled to their clients’ homelands. They met their clients’ mothers and fathers, brothers, wives, and children.

The lawyers made pictures and videos of themselves standing with the family members as, in the videos, the family explained to their sons that the lawyers could be trusted. The lawyers, in an effort to drum up public support and interest for the plight of the detainees, (they are just like us after all: they have kids, miss their wives, and want to see pictures of the fields they knew as teenagers) released the pictures and videos to the press. The news outlets mostly ignored the lawyers’ efforts. But the images and videos did serve their primary function. Like letters of introduction, they created a bond of trust between the detainees and lawyers. It’s these pictures and videos that Herster uses in her work.

During a recent residency at the Gottesman Libraries at Columbia University, Herster adapted her series of Guantanamo images after you’ve been burned by hot soup you blow in your yogurt (2005-2009) so that it could be displayed in the library’s catalogue and archive spaces. To do so she used a section of wall over an ornate exit to display a loop of a large family huddled for a portrait. She converted the building directory listings into an exhibition catalogue. The library catalogue computers were loaded with archived images for visitors to browse. Four digital picture frames were put in the library stacks, where the screens showed images from the detainees’ homelands and text quoting the fears of their families.

In the classic sense, the images in the Gottman Library catalogue function as portraiture, marking the gatherings of families. In one picture, a detainee’s young son is wearing a New Jersey Nets jersey. Nothing could be more American. But for an American viewer, these simple portraits take on a heavy political context simply because most of the family members are dressed in burkas. This is perhaps why the media largely ignored the images. Media, especially the visual, moving-picture based media, are not in the business of humanizing foreign prisoners of war.

The media reports news, but news outlets have only one part in writing history. In effect, Herster uses her installation at the Gottesman Library to speed up the interpretation process by exposing the images to a live, thinking, and learning audience. Placed in a functioning library in a renowned university, the library loans the plight of the detainees an aura of academic truth, becoming an instant part of the library collection. History, collected and cataloged by the archivist, is written by the academy. With an air of erudite distance Herster treats the images as artifacts, rigorously cataloging them for posterity like a museum registrar. But at the same time, the images are humanizing, shown with the photographer’s eye for narrative connection. And in this way Herster walks a fine line between art and artifact, exhibition and archive.

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

...mbg recommends

Fuse Box Festival 2009
April 23 - May 2

By Kate Watson

L to R: Erika Blumenfeld, Method Gun, Reggie Watts. Courtesy Fuse Box Festival.

Ok, so you know that Fusebox exists. Maybe you’ve even shared a jovial high-five with the king of the Fuse, Mr. Ron Berry. Then you look at the website and your mind gets blown. Your heart starts to palpitate with that same creepy feeling you get when your body and mind get smashed by a certain other spring festival we hold dear to our Austinite souls. So here goes, we’re gonna break it down for you, feed it up to you like a mama bird spitting in your mouth. If you spend half the year feeling cranky that there’s nothing much happening in our fair hamlet, here’s your chance to live it up.

Here are our top picks:

Friday, April 24:

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm, Austin Ventures Studio (Ballet Austin)
Pierre Rigal & Aurélien Bory
Additional performance @ 9pm

Inspired by Darwinian theory and science fiction, érection tracks the evolution of man from primitive life to homo erectus in forty-five spellbinding minutes. Directed by founder of the acclaimed CIE 111, Aurélien Bory, a pioneering figure in the French contemporary circus, érection melds body movements with images and sound to create a stunning visual environment that gives us a glimpse into infinity. This event is free, and sponsored by local art momma Julie Thornton’s new project, testperformancetest.

8:00 pm - 9:30 pm , The Off Center
The Method Gun
Rude Mechs

Yes, we know. You’re skeptical of anything “theater.” But what theater company lists the films of Cassavetes and the writings of Susan Sontag as inspiration in their show’s program? This original performance explores the life, ethos, and techniques of actor-training guru, Stella Burden, as recounted through the eyes of her students. The show includes: guns, pendulums, "Streetcar," physical danger and… penises.

Sunday, April 26:

1:00 pm - 8:00 pm, The United States Art Authority @ Spider House
The Exquisite Bee
Austin Video Bee

For FuseBox 2009, AVB has developed a method for a city-wide round of "exquisite corpse" on video. The collective provides the camera, sets, props and costumes, you mold the story. On Sunday April 26th, AVB will transform the US Art Authority into a studio lot where their sets will serve as a backdrop to the movie you create. The end of your cinematic invention will be the starting point for the next set of auteurs, and so on. Make sure to come back on Saturday May 2 @ 7:30pm, when the Bee hosts a premiere of the finished masterpiece.

Reservations required - email here. Very few slots remain!

Thursday, April 30:

9:00 pm - 10:00 pm, The Long Center for the Performing Arts
Reggie Watts
No man on Earth is like Reggie Watts. He is a tornado on a stage, hypnotizing his audiences with improvised music and absurd comedy. Reggie is classically trained pianist and jazz singer, and one of six Americans in possession of full vocal range (ten octaves of tone plus 300 distinct vocal styles).

Saturday, May 2:

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm, Lora Reynolds Gallery
Practice Practice Practice
curated by Michael Smith & Jay Sanders

This exhibition takes the punchline of a joke as its starting point, as the included artists each uniquely address some aspect of "practice." Works in the show exemplify a wide range of artmaking approaches, from literally employing practice in the development and refinement of a final form (or foregoing any sense of a final form altogether) to thematic considerations of practice, or through processes such as repetition, imitation, comedic structuring, or other maneuvers which challenge or drastically alter their own given realities.

7:30 pm - 9:30 pm, The United States Art Authority @ Spider House
The Exquisite Bee Premier
Austin Video Bee
This evening will be the premiere of the finished masterpiece, shot last weekend by participants and put together by the collective.


Salvage Vanguard Theater
Conceived and created by Ant Hampton, with Joji Koyama and Isambard Khroustaliov

Five participants (each receiving different instructions via their earpieces) talk together with a televised character whose role flicks uncannily between spiritual and marketing guru. Revelling in the absurdities of marketing technique and group therapy, Hampton, Koyama and Khroustaliov reverse the awkward history of consumer research by allowing their audience to create their own animated therapist - by means of a focus group!

Reservation required: GuruGuru requires 5 participants for the piece to run. Make an appointment here.

Moving Light: Spring 2005
Erika Blumenfeld
Salvage Vanguard Theater

Art and science are a sexy duo. In Moving Light: Spring 2005, Blumenfeld documented the 93 days between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice, the days in the year that comprise the season known as Spring. At the exact moment of civil sunset on March 20 (equinox), Blumenfeld recorded a two-second exposure of the sun onto a single sheet of film. For the subsequent 92 days she documented the sunlight at that exact same moment onto separate sheets of film. The resulting 93 images were animated in sequence to produce Moving Light: Spring 2005.

announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

Practice Practice Practice
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Opens May 2

See ...might be good recommends.

Jennifer Remenchik
1305 Position
Opening Reception: April 25, 6-8pm

Jennifer Remenchik is an Austin-based installation artist. It's still a mystery what she's showing at 1305.

A Legacy of Change
Mexic-Arte Museum
Opens May 1

A Legacy of Change features artwork from Mexic-Arte's permanent collection, highlighting the genesis and evolution of the museum and artwork.

Austin on View

Birth of the Cool
Blanton Museum of Art
Through May 17

See Katie Geha's review of Birth of the Cool in Issue # 119: The Dirty Cheap Made This City.

No American Talent 4: Bayanihan
Okay Mountain
Through May 23

Bayanihan, the fourth installment of our international “No American Talent” series, is a new show of artists from the Philippines curated by Mountaineer Tim Brown. The title refers to a term with many meanings—Bayanihan can be a place, like a town, state or nation, but it can also be a spirit of community shared between people that literally means “being a hero to one another.” In this show, we present a varied group of 9 emerging artists who address this complex word and the relationship they share with their families, their city, their country, and each other.

Megan Geckler: Straddle the line, in discord and rhyme
Women and Their Work Gallery
Through May 28

Each of Geckler's site-specific installations are unique and are created in direct response to the space and its architecture. They are crafted on-site and are never duplicated. The work remarkably resembles Austin's very own wunderkind Becca Ward, and we're feeling a little protective of our own...but hey, what do we know.

Spencer Fidler: Fault Lines
Art Palace "Project Room"
Closes April 29

Printing life-sized gold figures on Japan paper, Spencer Fidler conveys the sense of falling bodies and geological fault lines in a series of over-sized etchings.

Dallas Closings

Show #22: YTMND
And/Or Gallery
Closes April 25

In recent years, relatively massive online communities have formed that make art embracing limitations of current internet technology. The YTMND (You're The Man Now Dog) community makes simple websites that consist of a tiled image or image sequence, a sound loop, and sometimes text formatted in a specific way. Each piece in the show is simply a website, selected from the 500,000 websites that the YTMND community has created so far.

Enjoy Paul Slocum's presence in the Big D while you can...

Dallas on View

Susan Kae Grant, Paul Greenberg & Kate Rivers
Conduit Gallery
Closes April 25

Susan Kae Grant's shadow pictures are eerily playful. For her show at Conduit, she has transformed the entire gallery through an installation of large scale digital images, cast shadows and "psycho-acoustic" sound. Like a haunted house for grown-ups.

Meanwhile, Paul Greenberg presents a series of panoramic views of museum interiors, focusing on the museum guards who inhabit each gallery. Finally, Conduit's project space displays collaged nest forms by Kate Rivers.

Fort Worth on View

Focus: Rosson Crow
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Through May 17

What's going on between The Modern in Fort Worth and Deitch Projects? A few weeks ago Nicola Vassell, a director at Deitch gave a talk at the museum, and last weekend The Modern opened the first ever solo museum exhibition given to Rosson Crow, an artist included in Vassell's show Substraction last year. Now that she has a museum show under her belt, Deitch can snap her up and sell...

Houston Openings

Sterling Allen: The ABC Project
Optical Project
Open Reception April 25, 6-8 PM

Mr. Allen's everywhere these days, and we couldn't be prouder. Fresh off the boat from its illustrious Volta premier, Art Palace brings Sterling Allen's ABC Project to Optical Project. The project features 26 creepy-cute alphabet sculptures, from which Allen is generating a six-painting phrase that will read: "big fjords vex quick waltz nymph" (get it? It's got every letter!). Don't miss our hometown boy.

Katrina Moorhead: a darkling plain
Inman Gallery
Opening Reception, April 24th, 6 - 8pm

a darkling plain will be Moorhead's second solo exhibition with the gallery and her first since winning the 2007 Texas Art Prize. Moorhead's practice, encompasses drawing, sculpture and installation present tableaux that reconsiders our relationship to nature, to a richly-layered past, and to a precarious present. The work explores the unusual collision of geological destiny and human desire, in a poignant presentation which underscores the duality of simultaneous discovery and loss.

Houston On View

Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave
Menil Collection
Through June 21

This exhibition will be the first mid-career survey of the critically acclaimed painter’s work to be mounted in the United States. The show will include approximately 65 paintings and 25 drawings and will be installed thematically in order to emphasize the serial nature in which the work was conceived and realized.

Houston on View

Robert Rauschenberg: The Lotus Series
Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery
Through May 9

The Lotus Series were Rauschenberg's last original prints before his death in May 2008. Don't miss these stunning works.

San Antonio Openings

Dave Bryant: Don't Get Caught
Sala Diaz
April 24 - May 24

Not a clue about this one, but if you know Dave and you know Sala Diaz, you know it's gonna be a wild ride. Sala Diaz, will you ever get a website? What's the deal?!

Rex Hausmann: Revisitation
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
Opening Reception, April 30 6 - 8 pm

Constructed for Blue Star, REVISITATION is currently Rex Hausmann's largest and most ambitious work-to-date. A wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-ceiling riot of thought and colour inspired by The Last Supper, this maximalist tableaux represents the artist as both circus ringleader and its own human cannon ball.

Gregory Elliot
Cactus Bra Space
Opening Reception April 30, 6-8pm

George Elliot, a sculptor with a 30 year career under his belt, has spent much of that career in Texas. The press release doesn't say anything about his work, so you'll have to go to the opening to find out.

announcements: events

Austin Events

FUSEBOX 2009!!!
April 23 - May 2

See Kate Watson's ...mbg recommends for a digestible menu of events.

Austin Woman's Film, Music & Literary Festival
The Long Center, Austin Hostel International, Hot Mama’s Espresso, and Cafe Mundi
May 28th to 31st, 2009

Women’s, Film & Performance Arts Festival includes films and performances by female artists of diverse backgrounds and cultures in a three day event to raise proceeds for the Media Arts and Literacy Institute (M.A.L.I.). M.A.L.I. uses media and other forms of communication to challenge stereotypes, cultivate expression and teach media literacy in order to promote cultural interaction in the arts. For more information, please visit: www.blowinupaspot.com.

Art Week Austin
April 22 - April 26

A collaborative effort, Art Week Austin is a series of citywide visual art happenings produced both by Art Alliance Austin and partner organizations. In 2009, Art Week Austin expands from daily Art Talk Austin events to include daily happenings across the city promoting emerging talent from a variety of disciplines including art, architecture, design, performance and more.

announcements: opportunities

Call for Entries

Exhibition Proposals
Art League Houston
Deadline: May 15, 2009

Art League Houston is accepting exhibition proposals for its 2010-2011 season. From these submissions, Art League Houston will select four to six major exhibitions for the main gallery and the adjacent project space. Priority will be given to proposals that include the creation of new work. Complete submission guidelines may be found here. Contact Sarah Schellenberg at sarah@artleaguehouston.org for more information.

Calls for Entries

Call for Artists
First Night Austin
Deadline: May 15, 2009

First Night Austin is a major festival of the arts to be experienced by the whole community in welcoming the New Year. It is unique among Austin’s urban festivals in that it celebrates the downtown cityscape by programming performing and visual arts IN and ON the fabric of the city – building lobbies, storefront windows, church sanctuaries, hotel ballrooms, plazas and parks, street corners, balconies, courtyards, theaters and museums. For full application and details go to www.firstnightaustin.org.

Call for Entries

Aurora Picture Show's 12th Annual Extremely Shorts Film Festival
Aurora Picture Show
Early Deadline: May 1st, 2009; Late Deadline: May 10th, 2009

Aurora Picture Show's 12th Annual Extremely Shorts Festival features three-minute or shorter films and videos by artists, filmmakers, culture jammers, students, moms, security guards, and anyone with a camera and a vision. This year’s juror is Bill Arning. Mr. Arning was the Curator at the MIT List Center in Boston, MA and will be the new Director of the Contemporary Art Museum of Houston beginning in April.

Find guidelines for entries at the Aurora Picture Show website: www.aurorapictureshow.org.



The SculptureCenter seeks a curator responsible for organizing exhibitions, educational and public programs, and for coordinating all aspects of program presentation. The Curator reports directly to the Executive Director and, as part of the management team, will participate in all aspects of organizational operations including strategic planning, capital planning, fundraising and external affairs. The successful applicant must possess exceptional knowledge of contemporary art and culture, proven experience organizing exhibitions and contemporary art projects (preferably internationally), superb writing and public speaking skills, excellent organizational ability, an entrepreneurial attitude and willingness to work as part of a team.

To apply, send cover letter, resume and two curatorial statements (for projects realized or unrealized) to Mary Ceruti, Executive Director.

Associate Director
The Greater Denton Arts Council

The Greater Denton Arts Council (GDAC) seeks an experienced professional to serve as Associate Director. The GDAC has an active temporary exhibition schedule, strong educational/outreach programs, and it is home to the nationally recognized craft competition and exhibition, Materials: Hard & Soft.  The Associate Director is responsible for managing exhibitions from development through installation, including creating production time lines, budgets, and other exhibit documents. The Associate Director ensures exhibits and outreach projects are coordinated and managed effectively. He/she oversees exhibit design and operations, exhibit preparation and exhibit maintenance. For complete information including minimum requirements and job description, visit: www.dentonarts.com or call 940-382-2787

Visiting Assistant Professor of Art
Texas A&M;International University
Deadline: May 1, 2009

Texas A&M International University seeks faculty responsible for teaching undergraduate courses in Ceramics, Design II, and Sculpture. Faculty will be expected to participate in student advisement, to engage in professional activity, and to provide institutional and community service. Additional duties include, but are not limited to, assisting in the scheduling of classes, ordering supplies, and maintaining studios, equipment, and the art gallery. The candidate should hold an MFA in Ceramics and should be able to teach Sculpture as well as 3-D design foundations (Design II).

Applications must include: (1) Cover letter; (2) CV; (3) Artist Statement and Teaching Philosophy; (4) undergraduate/graduate transcripts; (5) three letters of reference; (6) 20 slides/digital photos of recent work and 20 images of student artwork. A self-addressed, stamped envelope should be included if return of images is desired. Send application to:

Nicole Foran, Assistant Professor of Art
Department of Fine and Performing Arts
Texas A&M International University
5201 University Boulevard
Laredo, Texas 78041- 1900

Managing Director
Video Association of Dallas
Deadline: May 29, 2009

The Video Association of Dallas is seeking a managing director to oversee a 20-year old non-profit dedicated to supporting independent media in North Texas. Key responsibilities include fundraising, grant writing, and budgeting, as well as coordinating signature events such as the annual VideoFest, the 24-Hour Video Race and the Best of Fest Tour. A college degree in film/television/video production, public relations/communications, graphic design or nonprofit management or equivalent experience required. Salary is $21,600 annually.

Please submit a resume to Bart Weiss, VAD President, at bart@videofest.org.

Public Programs Coordinator
Amon Carter Museum
Deadline: May 1, 2009

Under the supervision of the Head of Education, the Public Programs Coordinator develops and implements a broad range of public programs and resources designed to assist visitors of all ages—including adults, children, and families—to experience and understand the Carter’s collections and special exhibitions. A bachelor's degree in art education, art history, art, or related field is required as well as a minimum of one year museum experience. For more information, please visit: www.cartermuseum.org.

Curatorial Assistant, Asian Art
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

 The Curatorial Assistant in Asian Art provides assistance to the Curator in Asian Art, performs various duties in collection management and exhibition curation. The Curatorial Assistant also assists with research and writing grant proposals. Applicant must have a broad knowledge of Asian art history (China, Japan, Korea, India, Southeast Asia, Tibet and Himalayan Art) and must be fluent in Chinese or Japanese (Reading, Writing and Speaking). Minimum of B.A. in Art History required; M.A. in Art History with emphasis on Contemporary Art and Asian Art (China, Japan, Korea or India) preferred. For more information, please visit: www.mfah.org.


Tobin Fund Curatorial Internship in Theatre Arts
McNay Art Museum
Deadline: May 18, 2009

The McNay Art Museum is offering a ten-month internship in curatorial work beginning fall of 2009 with a $20,000 salary. The goal of the internship is to help individuals interested in embarking on a curatorial career by providing significant experience in one or more areas of specialization, including work with the permanent collection and with temporary exhibitions. Applicants should have a master’s degree in theater history or art history; have good written and oral communication skills; computer skills; and a reading knowledge of French, Italian, German, or Russian. For more information visit: www.mcnayart.org.

The Semmes Foundation Curatorial Internship
McNay Art Museum
Deadline: May 18, 2009

The McNay Art Museum is offering a ten-month internship in curatorial work beginning fall of 2009 with a $20,000 salary. The goal of the internship is to help individuals interested in embarking on a curatorial career by providing significant experience in one or more areas of specialization, including work with the permanent collection and with temporary exhibitions. Applicants should have a master’s degree in art history; have good written and oral communication skills; computer skills; and a reading knowledge of French or Spanish. For more information, please visit: www.mcnayart.org.

Chinati Foundation's Internship Program
Chinati Foundation
Deadline: May 4, 2009

The Chinati Foundation's Internship Program provides hands-on museum experience and engaged directly in all aspects of the museum's daily activities, working closely with staff, resident artists, visiting scholars, architects, and museum professionals. Intern responsibilities include giving tours of the collection to a diverse range of visitors, office administration, preparing exhibition spaces, buildings and grounds maintenance, archiving and research, and production assistance on museum publications. Typically internships last for 2 months, working 35-40 hours per week. Chinati offers interns a modest stipend of $100 per week and a furnished apartment on the museum campus. To apply for an Internship, please send a statement of interest, resume, at least one letter of recommendation, and requested months for the internship to:

Ann Marie Nafziger, Education and Public Programs Coordinator
P.O. Box 1135
Marfa, TX 79843


Visual Arts 2009 / 2010
Fundación Marcelino Botín
Deadline: May 8, 2009

The Foundation Marcelino Botín awards Visual Arts Grants for study, research and the undertaking of individual projects in the sphere of (non-theoretical) artistic work. Applicants for study grants must be between 23 and 40 years old. There is no age limit for the research grants. Grants cover a 9 month period and must be initiated by the end of 2009. For more information visit www.flundacionmbotin.org.

Texas Filmmakers Travel Grant
Austin Film Society

The Austin Film Society will set aside $10,000 annually to establish a travel grant program for Texas filmmakers on a rolling, year-round basis. The program is intended to help offset travel costs for Texans whose work is invited to prestigious film festivals and events around the world. Eligibility is based on the festival or event that the film has been invited to, not on the film itself. For information on eligible festivals and events, please visit the Austin Film Society website at: www.austinfilm.org/for_filmmakers/texas-filmmakers-travel-grant.


Public Programs and Education Fellowship
Brownsville Historical Association
Deadline: May 1, 2009

The Brownsville Historical Association seeks applications from undergraduate and graduate students for a paid fellowship in Public Programs and Education to oversee and coordinate public programs for the Brownsville Historical Association from June 2009 through May 2010. The fellow will organize, schedule and implement public program activities (lectures, workshops, walking tours, book signings), coordinate the publication of promotional materials and assist in related marketing strategies. He/She will work alongside the Executive Director and Curator. The fellow will gain valuable hand-ons experience operating the Programs/Education department for a small museum, historic house, cemetery center and research center. For more information visit: www.brownsvillehistory.org.


Women in Film, Dallas Scholarship
Women in Film, Dallas

Every year, Women In Film.Dallas is devoted to offering two scholarships to female college students and applicants studying film, television, or video production in the North Texas region. A $1500 college student tuition scholarship and a $3500 college student project grant are awarded to talented ladies who will be honored at the our Chick Flicks Short Film Festival. For guidelines and application, please visit: www.wifdallas.org


Artist Studio Program 2009-2010
Lawndale Art Center
Deadline: May 29, 2009

The Lawndale Artist Studio Program is part of Lawndale's ongoing commitment to support the creation of contemporary art by Gulf Coast area artists. With an emphasis on emerging practices, the program will provide three artists with studio space on the third floor of the Lawndale Art Center at 4912 Main Street in the heart of Houston's Museum District. Artists have full access to their studios 24 hours a day, seven days a week, access to visiting artists, writers and curators; and will receive a $500 monthly stipend for the duration of the program together with an initial $1500 materials budget. Works produced during the program will be exhibited at Lawndale Art Center during May 2010. Lawndale Art Center will work with resident artists to create additional exhibition opportunities during the residency. For more information contact the Lawndale at askus@lawndaleartcenter.org.

Lawndale Artist Studio Program
Lawndale Art Center
Deadline: May 29, 2009 by 4pm

The Lawndale Artist Studio Program is part of Lawndale's ongoing commitment to support the creation of contemporary art by Gulf Coast area artists. With an emphasis on emerging practices, the program will provide three artists with studio space on the third floor of the Lawndale Art Center at 4912 Main Street in the heart of Houston's Museum District.

Artists have full access to their studios 24 hours a day, seven days a week; access to visiting artists, writers and curators; and will receive a $500 monthly stipend for the duration of the program together with an initial $1500 materials budget. If accepted, artists are expected to present a workshop or presentation to the general public and the local arts community to share their practice or explore a related topic.

Works produced during the program will be exhibited at Lawndale Art Center during May 2010. Lawndale Art Center will work with resident artists to create additional exhibition opportunities during the residency.

For eligibility requirements and guidelines, please visit the Lawndale Art Center website: www.lawndaleartcenter.org.


Stealing Horses: the Invention of Possession
Anhoek School, Marfa, TX
June 1-13

The Anhoek School is a pedagogical experiment offering graduate level courses for women in cultural production (aesthetic, political and critical). It aims to forge an institution that takes generative risks and doesn't ruin our desire to learn together. As it stands, tuition is based on barter and readings are often down loadable PDFs. By June, the school will have concluded two workshops and will begin the first class in Marfa, Texas. In Marfa, students will spend the mornings gardening and their afternoons in class. Food from the garden will be prepared for a shared lunch before the afternoon meeting or field trip. The work in the garden will be guided by Farmstand Marfa's Sandra Harper and will serve as their tuition barter. More detailed descriptions of the mission, name and coursework are available at www.anhoekschool.org.

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