MBG Issue #133: Let your freak flag fly

Issue # 133

Let your freak flag fly

November 6, 2009

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Carlos Rosales-Silva, Untitled (Chamberlain Alamo), 2009, Modified Found Objects, 36 x 36 x 19 inches. Courtesy the artist and Art Palace Gallery.

from the editor

Here’s what rocks about Austin: the turnover. You think I’m joking? I’m not. As Art Palace prepares for a move to Houston, heed its director’s warning. In an exit interview with Kate Watson on Glasstire, Arturo Palacios spoke these pearls of wisdom about our city,

For artists, this place is a great incubator, a place to be ambitious and take big risks. For someone like me, Austin is still a place where an Art Palace... can be born, nurtured and can grow without the pressure of a top-heavy gallery system. The potential is great here.

I’m with Palacios. The constant turnover in Austin creates a lot of space for people with ideas and energy to experiment and grow. Art Palace has been good to us, and we’ll miss it. Palacios’s energy and hard work, and the caliber of his exhibitions has been unmatched. Now, Palacios’s move to Houston is right for him and his artists. In addition, it’s opening up the arena for younger, less experienced artists, curators and gallerists to create something new.

By way of eulogy to Art Palace, I offer up some thoughts about its fresh final show in Austin, ONE on ONE on ONE, in this week’s …might be good recommends. As if in testament to Austin’s continuing vibrancy, Palacios gave his closing show primarily to a group of artists we haven’t seen much of yet, but we’re sure to see more of in the future. Definitely make the trip out to see what’s brewing there.

E.A.S.T. is coming up too, this year spanning ten days from Saturday, November 14 through Sunday November 22. Though you may have to wade through a lot before you find what you’re looking for, it’s exciting to see how much this open studio event continues to grow exponentially. In its first iteration in 2002, E.A.S.T. consisted of just 28—yes, 28—open studios. This year, there are over 300 sites on the tour, by my count.

We’re also looking at two hot openings this weekend. Noriko Ambe’s carved artist books grace the halls at Lora Reynolds and booksmart takes a look at the book as a structure of knowledge at Okay Mountain. Also, Teresita Fernández’s exhibition opened at the Blanton last weekend, and all three of the preceding—Ambe, booksmart, Fernandez—will be reviewed in our next issue of …might be good.

In this issue, Katie Geha reviews our very own Michael Smith’s collaboration with Mike Kelly, A Voyage of Growth and Discovery at SculptureCenter in New York, and Michael Bise talks about Hard Edge: Ping-Pong Abstraction at Optical Project, Bill Davenport’s experimental gallery space in Houston. In addition, I explore the possibilities and pitfalls of public art programs at Universities with Mary Beebe, Director of the impressive Stuart Collection at UC San Diego. A year ago, UT Austin’s own public art program, Landmarks, kicked off with the temporary acquisition of some of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s sculpture collection. Upcoming Landmarks projects include James Turrell’s Skyspace in the new student activity center and a to-be-announced project for the new Visual Art Center. As we await the next unveiling in Austin, Beebe’s thoughts on her experience in San Diego offer insight into how public art programs function within universities on both a practical and theoretical level.

Claire Ruud is Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative.


Mary Beebe on Public Art

By Claire Ruud

Do-ho Suh, Fallen StarMock-up. Courtesy The Stuart Collection.

Mary Beebe is the Director of the Stuart Collection, the site-specific art collection at the University of California, San Diego. She’s been there since the program’s inception in 1981. Ever since The University of Texas at Austin started its own public art program, Landmarks, last year, I’ve been dying to pick Beebe’s brain about running these types of programs on university campuses. In October, Beebe was in Austin and I finally had the chance.

…might be good (mbg): Tell me about the logistics of running the Stuart Collection.

Mary Beebe (MB): We have an advisory board that meets every 2 to 3 years, every time we start a new project: Richard Atkinson, Hugh Davies, Patricia Fuller, Robert Irwin, Joan Jacobs, Kim MacConnel, Ann Philbin, Rob Storr, John Walsh, and Ann d’Harnoncourt, before she died. The board consists almost entirely of art professionals, and they recommend artists for consideration. Sometimes, I choose to think about other artists they haven’t recommended, too. Once we’ve selected an artist, we bring the artist to campus and look around for sites that might be of interest to them for their work.

Now, it’s obviously really important to know the long term plans of the University so that I don’t set an artist in conflict with a parking structure or something. Some battles aren’t worth getting into. I know the University isn’t a museum with museum priorities. So, I do a certain amount of pre-proposal clearance with the powers that be to make sure this particular territory isn’t planned for anything.

Then we present the proposal—we pay the artist 10K and expenses for the proposal. The proposals go to the advisory board, and they judge on artistic merit. Then I have to get things through the channels at the University. Supposedly, I don’t have to get approval from the community, though the chancellor gives final approval. But the campus community planning committee and the others in the academic senate all want to have their say. I have to build a constituency, although no one ever told me I had to. But obviously it’s advisable to build a constituency for the works we are considering. That way I don’t run afoul of anyone.

mbg: So let’s put this abstract process into practical terms. Tell me about the current project in the works, Do-Ho Suh’s Falling Star.

MB: Do-Ho came to campus and he had a couple of ideas. One was a garden on a flat bed truck that looked that it had been parked permanently, with a little house in the garden. The other one, the one we eventually chose, was a house that looked like it had been picked up by a tornado-like force and crashed into a building. For at least a year we went looking all around campus for buildings. The best one, we thought, was the one of the earliest building on campus, a really ugly old building, seven stories tall, huge and filled with labs. We thought we had it all figured out.

It was important to Do-Ho that people be able to go into the house and look out from it, and it turned out the scientists in the building had a number of security concerns. They have animals in their labs, so they didn’t want the public to have access to those labs and they thought security would be too complicated. Also, the labs have these chemical wash mechanisms you can pull in an emergency so that some kind of water or chemical de-activator will come down. In the past, they have had trouble with people pulling these mechanisms before a weekend or something and flooding the place. We thought we could address their security concerns, but they were still not convinced.

The chancellor said we had to find a new building, so we started again. Now, we have an engineering building, and we have gotten all the okays we needed. The engineering building is also seven stories high, and it turns out that it’s got these sections of the building that jut out so that you will be able to take the elevator all the way up to the seventh floor, where we will put a door through this glass wall onto the roof of one of these sections. You will then be able to walk through a garden—this kind of combines Do-Ho’s two ideas—and into this house that is perched on the edge and slightly tilted, as if its landing, almost. The house will be one room, furnished, about fifteen by eighteen feet. It might have a TV inside that would be on at night so that, from the outside, you could see the shadowy light flickering through its windows. We haven’t gotten all the details worked out. We do have the engineering worked out, as well as the drainage for the roof garden. Now it’s just up to me to raise the money. I have over half of it, but it’s a hard time to be raising money. I have no idea how long it will take me but I’m determined, and hopeful, that we will get the money before spring of next year. As soon as we have the money we will move forward.

mbg: You’ve been director of the Stuart Collection since the program’s inception in 1981. Did you craft the program’s structure?

MB: No, James Stuart DeSilva and his wife lived near the University. He had made a lot of money in the tuna business, and they had filled up their house with their art collection and didn’t really want to keep buying. But they often walked and bicycled around the campus, and they came up with the idea that it would be great to commission work for the campus. So he talked to a lot of people and worked out a deal. He set up the advisory committee and then he got the University to buy in. So the University pays my salary and that of an assistant as well as some maintenance money, and they give us offices on campus. Then I raise all the money to do the projects.

Because James worked out the deal with the University, he was on the advisory board in the very beginning, along with Jim Demetrion from Des Moines, Pontus Hulten, and Pierre Restany—the later two have since died. I was running a contemporary space in Portland, Oregon, and they called me up. We had shown David [Antin] and Ellie [Eleanor Antin]. We had Allan Kaprow do a happening. We had a small show with Nauman. So those guys knew me. Jim, bless his heart, said to Patterson Sims, who was a curator at the Whitney at the time, who should we ask that hasn’t applied? And Patterson said Mary Beebe. So I got talked into coming down to meet with them and I talked to Jim and I met Pat Ledden, the Associate Chancellor at the University who was sort of the “guardian angel” of the project, and I really liked them. I though, whoa, this is a job where there is no excuse for failure, so I up ended my life and came down. I had some guilt about leaving the PCVA, but we had done a lot of great stuff and it was really a hand-to-mouth operation; I would hold back my salary to make sure everybody else got paid. The idea of regular salary and benefits, along with meeting Jim and Pat, was really nice. So that’s how I landed there in October of 1981.

mbg: It sounds like “public art” was not part of your background.

MB: Not really, no. But I had worked with a lot of the same artists in Portland and that’s what I liked, working with the artists. At first, the Stuart Collection was talking about focusing on the history of sculpture. I didn’t want to be a curator in that way; I didn’t want to just go around and buy things, I wanted to work with the artist. When the collection began, a lot of artists were thinking about site related, site specific, site generated work and I said, let’s go with that. If you hire me, this is what I want to do.

mbg: In Austin, The University of Texas started its own public art program, Landmarks, fairly recently. I get the impression from that program that it’s rather difficult to push cutting-edge art projects through a cumbersome university administration. Art and artists just aren’t the priority, and the massive bureaucracy of a university seems to create a culture of conservatism. How were you able to create a program that would support emerging rather than established artists, experimental projects rather than massive modernist sculptures?

MB: We choose an artist based on their work rather than a particular expectation about public art. Many of the artists haven’t done public work before, and Mathieu Gregoire, who works with me, is really good at figuring out how to execute ideas. He’s an artist himself and very smart. He figures out how to make trees talk or works with the engineers to figure out how to make everything earthquake proof—the technical end of things.

mbg: Have you met with resistance to the experimental nature of the projects?

MB: This was the brilliancy of setting up the advisory board. When the professors, neighbors or whoever says to the chancellor, “how can you call this art,” he – or she - can say, “I don’t know if its art or not, but I have this committee of recognized professionals in the field who have spent their life thinking about this, and they say it’s art.” So it’s not a popularity contest when we choose the work.

In fact, many people’s opinions about the work change over time. I could tell many stories about this, one story is about the Terry Allen piece, Trees (1986). The University has this eucalyptus grove running through it. Many of the trees were cut down to build new buildings. Terry took two “downed” trees, we had them creosoted, he covered them with lead and “replanted” them in the grove with the other trees. Terry invited artists, singers and musicians to contribute music for one tree, and writers to contribute poems and stories for the other tree. And these trees play 24/7 in the grove; there is some silence in between pieces, so you don’t always hear them and the gray lead resembles the bark of the eucalyptus so you don’t always notice them also.

In addition to these two trees, there is the silent tree that’s in front of the library. The library had a huge addition put on in the early nineties, and we removed the tree during construction. After construction, we brought Terry back to decide where we should place the tree and after we decided, I had lunch with the new head librarian and told him that we would be putting the silent tree back in. He said, “well we decided to nix that.” Well, he didn’t have the power to nix the tree. But it wasn’t in my interest to say, “you don’t have the power to do that.” So I just took a deep breath and went into my spiel. At the end, I had him convinced, but he said I would need to convince the deans. I asked him to arrange a meeting and he did. At the meeting the deans said, “it’s an ugly dead tree, and everybody is going to think it’s ugly.” I tried to convince them that ugly was in the eye of the beholder; there are a lot of ways you can think about this tree. You can think about it as a tree of silence, as a tree of dance, of knowledge. But they kept insisting that all it was, was an ugly dead tree. They tried to say it was a fire hazard, even though I told them we had checked with the fire department and it was okay to put it there. I even said it could be thought of as a tree to commemorate all the trees that have been cut down to make books. This gave them a little pause but not much.

Finally I said, listen, our job at the university is to expand definitions and to think of all the different ways that you can think about things. Sometimes it’s all about how you describe something that makes the difference. If you invited someone to your house for roast chicken or Thanksgiving turkey, you would get an entirely different response that if you invited them over for dead bird. And at that point, the dean of arts and humanities threw up his hands and said “I can think of no reasonable objection for that.” And of course there was none, so they said we could put it in for a year, and then we got them to agree to two. Once it was installed, the chancellor thought it looked great, most people thought it looked great, and I never heard from them again. But I learned that you never get angry; you just be persistent, and people respond to that.

mbg: What kind of interaction do the students on UCSD campus have with the work in the Collection?

MB: Students in Theatre and Dance use the pieces as settings for projects sometimes. One class did one-minute performances at each of the Stuart works, and each performance was supposed to relate to the work. A graduate student did an opera performance that involved some of the pieces, so they do get tied into various events. Students have done lots of things to the Sun God [Niki de Saint Phalle, 1983]. It’s gotten a cap and gown for graduation, a black sheath for “A Day Without Art,” headphones and a little box that said “Sony WalkBird.” It got a huge penis one spring day. A guy from the newspaper called me and said “have you seen the Sun God?” I said I had, and he said “Are you waiting for help from the school of medicine to take that down?” I said, “Some students went to a lot of work to put that up! I think we will leave it there for awhile. Would you like to put a picture in your newspaper?” He said no, though, it was a family newspaper.

mbg: When you started at the Stuart Collection, were they many public art programs in universities?

MB: There were some: the University of Washington, Princeton. MIT has a good program that Patricia Fuller runs.

mbg: What about now, are more universities starting public art programs?

MB: Oh yes. I get asked to go talk to people at different places all the time. Wash U is looking for something, also Rice.

mbg: Do you perceive a change in how universities are understanding their relationship to public art?

MB: I hope so. I think they are beginning to understand its advantages, and that it can bring discussion as well as attention to their campus. But these programs make everybody nervous, too, because the universities want to talk about art and beauty, but then when artists start working, the universities say, “Whoa! That’s not what I had in mind.” It’s like what happened in the city of Chicago. Mayor Daly said, “we are going to get this Picasso no matter what anybody things about it.” And people protested, but now the sculpture is their big pride and it’s been made an honorary citizen. The history of public art is: when it’s good, people come around.

Claire Ruud is Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative.


Hard Edge: Ping-Pong Abstraction from Houston Thrift Stores
Optical Project
Through November 14

By Michael Bise

Hard Edge: Ping-Pong Abstraction from Houston Thrift Stores, Installation view. Optical Project, 2009.

Bill Davenport warned me not to take the current exhibition of thrift store paintings at Optical Project too seriously. Davenport founded Optical Project, a gallery in a building he owns and lives in with his wife, the painter Francesca Fuchs, about a year ago. This show, entitled Hard Edge: Ping-Pong Abstraction from Houston Thrift Stores, consists of geometric abstract paintings from thrift stores. In the center of the gallery sits a well-worn ping-pong table. It’s the ping-pong table that Davenport claims as the raison d’etre for the exhibition; he has wanted to host a ping-pong tournament since he acquired the table a couple of years ago. One of the paintings on the wall is a representation of a ping-pong table, which by virtue of its being painted on canvas and mounted on the wall, also manages to be a geometric abstraction. Davenport, known for transforming Inman Gallery into a faux-wood-Styrofoam lodge, has never been one to shy away from a kind of obviousness so ridiculous it ceases to be quite so obvious.

The real interest in Ping-Pong lies not in the intellectual exercise of legitimating thrift store paintings. Rather, the show, and the gallery itself, makes the most sense in the context of their proximity to Bill’s Junk, Davenport’s neighboring junk shop. In Bill’s Junk you’ll find plenty of interesting crap but you’ll also find a bunch of junk handcrafted by a guy who went to RISD and came to Houston via the MFAH’s Core Program—Davenport himself.

The clean white space of Optical Project stands in stark contrast to the folksy clutter of Bill’s Junk, but what is not quite so clear-cut is the question of where the real art is. There are a lot of objects in the junk shop that you might just as likely find in a vitrine at the San Antonio Museum of Art, which owns a variation of a Davenport sculpture that can currently be found next to a rubber band ball at Bill’s Junk. Indeed, a smaller version of Bill’s Junk itself, complete with three walls and a door, has lived the last several months of its life in the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston as a part of the exhibition No Zoning. While some of the art-junk in Bill’s Junk seems to genuinely blur the line not only between junk and art but also between junk and good art, one would be hard-pressed to confuse any of the paintings in Ping-Pong with good abstract painting. In this seeming paradox lies the most interesting thing about the numerous dialectical hairpin turns that lead from Bill’s Junk to Optical Project and back again: the objects that most clearly resemble art (the paintings in Ping-Pong) are the most boring things to be seen at 1125 E. 11th St.

P Amdur, (Untitled), 1980.

Davenport tells me that he has spent much of his life pursuing the idealistic goal of finding a place where the “wall” between high art and art-like stuff made by regular people crumbles and one can become the other. Yet he admits that he has failed in this task over and over again. Ping-Pong, he says, will be the last exhibition for a while that would bring junk into Optical Project. While Davenport seems to be swearing off junk in the gallery, I have no doubt though that we’ll continue to see art on the shelves of Bill’s Junk. It seems to me that Davenport has decided, at least for now, that the traffic of objects between the real world and the art world takes place on a one-way street. You can put art in a junk store with a lot less complication than you can put junk in a gallery. But I also have no doubt that Davenport will keep working on a way around this problem. As I left Bill’s Junk he was making a paper-mache pretzel, the Styrofoam eyeballs glued to his stocking cap bobbing up and down.

Michael Bise is an artist living and working in Houston.

Mike Kelley and Michael Smith
Sculpture Center, New York
Through November 30

By Katie Geha

Mike Kelley and Michael Smith, A Voyage of Growth and Discovery, 2009, Installation view. Image c. 2009. SculptureCenter and the artists. Photo: Jason Mandella.

My first encounter with Baby Ikki, Michael Smith’s ongoing baby man performance piece, was in the atrium of the Blanton Museum of Art. Dressed in a large man-sized cloth diaper and a crocheted bonnet, Baby Ikki toddled through the open space, pointed at objects in delight, and crushed a banana with his hands. Such baby play felt awkward and uncomfortable in the museum setting. People around me laughed nervously as we watched this hairy-legged man inhabit the mannerisms of a young child. I distinctly remember thinking, “Who is dating this man?”

Baby Ikki may have found a more receptive, or at least complicit, audience at Burning Man, the yearly festival of all things psychedelic and, perhaps, all things infantile. In his new collaboration with Mike Kelley at SculptureCenter, Smith presents a six-screen video installation chronicling Baby Ikki’s odyssey in the Nevada desert. The videos are flanked by Kelley’s metal sculptures made to look like quasi-playground equipment that are decorated with his familiar tattered stuffed animals. Kelley’s structures act as formal armatures of play to Smith and Kelley’s more compelling video.

Good natured and curious, Baby Ikki toddles through the desert, plays in a sandbox, watches TV in his RV, takes a nap and dreams of lactating breasts. There’s no bedtime for Baby Ikki and at night he wanders into various tents, does a toddler half-stomp to the house music, and is even dragged on stage for a special dance with three women who gyrate up against his diaper and mug salaciously for the camera. Some of the most telling moments, both about the character Baby Ikki and the nature of Burning Man, are the encounters Smith has with other festival goers. At once intrigued and slightly put-off, these participants dressed as their own personae, ranging from bunny rabbits to costumed men in stilts, engage with Baby Ikki with a bemused look. Let your freak flag fly.

At times the images on the six screens act as competing narratives, and at other times, four of the screens synch up to create a rest in the chaos. There is a quietness and sweetness when Baby Ikki walks alone in the desert, four screens portraying the baby-man as a lone wanderer looking for his own particular trip. Placed in this context of a tribal community, Baby Ikki seems even more like a cast out character. He is not a participant in the various drum circles; rather, he is an interloper as he self-consciously reflects the carefree festival goer—a reminder of the base nature of their chosen realities.

Katie Geha is pursuing her Ph.D. in art history at The University of Texas at Austin.

...mbg recommends

Art Palace Gallery
Closing December 5

By Claire Ruud

Sonya Berg, Playground, 2009, Gouache, graphite, toner on paper, 5 1/4 x 9 1/2 inches. Courtesy the artist.

ONE on ONE on ONE, now on Art Palace’s walls, is a fitting swan-song for Art Palace because it is a return to the gallery’s scrappy roots. Arturo Palacios, the gallery's founder and director, gave each of nine artists one week and one wall to present new work or re-contextualize old. Only three of the chosen artists, Sterling Allen, Nathan Green and Jules Buck Jones, hail from his tried-and-true set. As far as I know, among the rest only one, the photographer Barry Stone, is represented by a commercial gallery. ONE on ONE seems to be a dry run for a few candidates as Palacios thinks about replenishing his stable on the eve of his move to Houston.

Fresh standouts include Sonya Berg and Carlos Rosales-Silva. Berg’s small studies of empty, abandoned pools feel melancholy, the stuff of lonely, eerie dreams. Her one large-scale oil, graphite and charcoal drawing of the same subject feels unfinished in places. She’s honing in on expressive subject matter that feels more relevant than her earlier waterfalls and generic bodies of water. Once she figures out how to translate the energy of her smaller studies onto the larger canvases, I’ll be eager to take another look.

Meanwhile, Rosales-Silva shows the best work I’ve ever seen by the artist. As a rogue student might carve dirty words into his desktop, Rosales-Silva has etched the sentence, “IT’S ONLY CALLED A MASSACRE BECAUSE YOU FUCKIN LOST, BABY.” He’s also removed one of the table’s legs, and upon desktop he’s placed a crumpled tin model of the Alamo chapel. With this piece, and with the diptych on the wall behind it, Rosales-Silva attains a balance between the visual simplicity of earlier two-dimensional works—statements from Hollywood films embossed in gold on paper—and the evocative materiality earlier sculptural installations—a hatchet stuck into a tree stump covered and surrounded by a neon sand mandala, for example.

Both Berg and Rosales-Silva are young artists still in the thick of mastering their media and figuring out what they want to say. In ONE on ONE, they rose to the challenge Palacios put before them, building my anticipation to see where they go next. I look forward to seeing their work again a year from now, perhaps at 3913 Main Street in Houston, where Palacios will be setting up shop.

In the back room, some of Art Palace’s inventory hangs salon-style. While the hang may simply be a smart business decision—an attempt to move some old inventory and make room for new—in the context of Palacios’s impending departure, it was also something more. The walls of the back room serve as a scrapbook that reminds me of all the shows I’ve seen in this space and how much Palacios has done for Austin artists, collectors and even young critics like me.

Palacios was upbeat when I visited the gallery this week. During its five years in Austin, his gallery has supported a number of emerging artists through the critical early years of their careers; it’s largely due to the gallery’s presence here that talents like Sterling Allen, Nathan Green, Jonathan Marshall, Erick Michaud and Eric Zimmerman didn’t have to skip town in search of greener pastures after graduate school. Now, works by these artists deserve higher price tags than Austin’s market can currently bear, and Houston’s more robust art scene beckons.

Claire Ruud is Associate Director of ...might be good.

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Opening

Noriko Ambe
Lora Reynolds
Opening Reception: Saturday, November 7, 6 - 8 PM

Utilizing twenty art monographs from artists such as Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Tom Friedman, Ambe has meticulously cut hundreds of varying shapes and lines into each page of each book, creating intricately controlled biomorphic and sculptural fissures. Immersing herself in the body of work encompassed by each monograph, Ambe evaluated the nature of her connection with each artist and specific works – this aided in her decision of what to subtract and what to reveal.

OK Mountain
Opening Reception: Saturday, November 7, 7-10pm

booksmart, a group exhibition featuring works by Joshua Callaghan, Gareth Long, Neva Elliott, Heman Chong, Anthony Romero, William Hundley and Erick Michaud, deals with artistic outputs that re-order, deconstruct, or alter the book as a cultural system, either for critique, humor, formal investigation, or all three.

My Wicked Twisted Sense of Love
Women & Their Work
Opening Reception: November 19, 2009 6-8pm

In My Wicked Twisted Sense of Love, artists explore the nuances of personal relationships, from communication to solitude, the fear of dying alone and emotional indifference. The work in the show is an exaggeration of normal human desires projected into the quest for love and companionship. The artists are living and working in countries across the globe, including Mexico, the United States and Scotland.

Pablo Vargas Lugo
Blanton Museum of Art: Workspace
Opening November 14, 2009

Pablo Vargas Lugo's WorkSpace project, Eclipses for Austin, explores solar eclipses as important collective rituals. Total eclipses of the sun provoke astonishment, anxiety, hope, joy, and fear and compel those who witness them to question their place in the world. For Vargas Lugo's WorkSpace project, 350 people gathered in the stands of UT 's Darrel K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium to stage ten solar eclipses that will occur in Texas over the course of the next 340 years.

Tony Fitzpatrick
Slugfest Prints
Opening November 14

Tony Fitzpatrick's prints and drawing collages, accompanied by his own witty commentary.

Austin on View

Teresita Fernández
Blanton Museum of Art
Through January 3, 2010

Contemporary American artist Teresita Fernández is widely known for her immersive installations and evocative large-scale sculptures that explore the cultural fabrication of nature. Characterized by her deft ability to transform common materials like steel, graphite and glass into forms and images reminiscent of the natural world, Fernández' works bring idea and experience into poetic tension. Meticulous, subtle, and always surprising, her sculptural scenarios offer viewers unique opportunities for contemplation and discovery.

Drawn Toward Light
Blanton Museum of Art
Through January 3, 2010

Light is an essential element of visual experience and the means by which we see and begin to perceive the world around us. A special complement to Teresita Fernández: Blind Landscape, Drawn Toward Light is an exhibition of works from the Blanton's holdings and local collections that use light as a medium. Having no materiality in itself, light is used is used in sculptural ways and given physical presence by artists Stephen Antonakos, Paul Chan, James Turrell and Leo Villarreal.

San Antonio Opening

Gary Sweeny
Sala Diaz
Opening November 6, 2009

Gary Sweeney is a conceptual artist with a taste for pop imagery.  Known for his humorous installation pieces created and inspired by re used signs, poke fun at everything from politics to local idiosyncrasies.

International Artists in Residency: New Works: 09.3
Opening November 19, 2009

Native Los Angelino Mario Ybarra, Jr. creates artworks that can be considered historical and anthropological in nature. Adriana Lara is a Mexico City-based artist and co-founder of the curatorial collective Perros Negros. Her practice de-emphasizes object making in favor of a conceptual reimagining of artistic production and the exhibition space. El Paso artist Adrian Esparza produces artworks from low-cost and recycled materials such as t-shirts, serapes, posters and ceramic figurines.

San Antonio on View

Jeffrey Wisniewski
Artpace: Hudson ShowRoom
Through January 3, 2010

Jeffrey Wisniweski's work has posed something of a challenge to critics and audiences since he first began showing publicly at the beginning of the 1990s. Indeed, how are we to account for someone whose work has ranged in scope from a suburban tract house run through a wood chipper and re-deployed as a pile of rubble to large-scale objects concocted from high-tech camping gear and electronic devices? In an effort to reconcile these seemingly disparate projects, Wisniewski's art has been rationalized as an extension of the conceptual strategies of 1970s artists like Robert Smithson, Walter DeMaria, and Gordon Matta-Clark, while also being read as dystopic visions of socio-cultural evolution. history, memory, and the transience of existence.

Announcements: events

Austin Events

Church of the Friendly Ghost Presents: The Weird Weeds
Church of the Friendly Ghost
Sunday November 8, 2009
Admission: $5

The Church of the Friendly Ghosts presents The Weird Weeds with Many Arms, Geoff Reacher, SchnAAK.  Ties-on-heads, shirts off, toilet paper on fire. Fair warning, this town is getting boring, we're here to help.

for E.A.S.T. Handmade Music Austin
Church of the Friendly Ghost
Sunday November 15, 2009 8pm

A social event, DIY music swap meet, music project/performance showcase, and an opportunity to learn about crafting your own music making devices! This monthly series of events at Salvage Vanguard Theater is open
to all kinds of participation, from serious instrument building to casual hanging out and people watching.  Performances by Red X Red M, Douglas/Ferguson/Steve Marsh, Telepathik Friend.

Austin New Music Co-op
New Music Co-op
November 7, 2009 8pm
Admission: $12-15

The Austin New Music Co-op is proud to announce the fourth annual Electrons and Phonons concert showcasing compositions of electronic and electro-acoustic music. This year's program features instrumentation ranging from ukuleles to iPhones and a sonic costume made of paper.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Artists

Border Art Biennial 2010
El Paso Museum of Art
Deadline: January 31, 2010

The El Paso Museum of Art and El Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juarez announces the first juried exhibition to examine and highlight the often under-represented, but vital art and artists from the states on the US/Mexican border.

This call is open to residents of states along the border, both in the U.S. and Mexico. All artwork selected by the jurors will be reproduced in an exhibition catalog.

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