MBG Issue #145: Ravenous for Content

Issue # 145

Ravenous for Content

April 9, 2010

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Santiago Forero, Housewife, 2008, from the series I want to live in America, Digital print, 34 x 44 inches. Courtesy the artist and The Station Museum, Houston.

from the editor

There are rumblings that around this time next year, a coalition of art organizations may be kicking off a city-wide extravaganza the likes of which we haven’t seen in Austin yet. In late spring 2011, the Texas Biennial, the Austin Museum of Art’s New Art in Austin triennial, the annual Fusebox Festival and Art Alliance Austin’s annual Art Week will collide. Arthouse’s New American Talent could join the fray, too. Will it be mayhem or rhapsody?

With all this on the horizon, a bunch of us are bringing Dan Cameron, the Founding Director of Prospect New Orleans, to town to pick his brain. In 2008, Cameron orchestrated the vast Prospect.1 across New Orleans’ entire cityscape, from the Contemporary Art Center to abandoned buildings and fields in the Ninth Ward. Celebrated for its cultural and economic impact in the wake of Katrina, the biennial has since encountered “fund-raising and administrative difficulties,” as the New York Times put it, and Prospect.2, originally scheduled for 2010, has been pushed back to 2011. These adventures, both the smooth and the rocky, uniquely position Cameron to offer his wisdom and experience regarding cultural and economic impact.

On a related note, this year's Fusebox Festival is right around the corner. (Check out their jam-packed schedule of performance art.) In his review in this issue, Dan Boehl criticizes the model of cultural production promoted by SXSW, and I think Fusebox offers a strong alternative. Like SXSW, Fusebox thinks and works on an international scale. But unlike SXSW, Fusebox is committed to sustained partnerships with the artists and arts organizations right next door, too. In other words, Fusebox maintains both an international perspective and a commitment to the physical community in which it resides.

Also in this issue are two features that approach the relationship between politics and aesthetics from different angles: Wendy Vogel’s review of the five solo shows currently at The Station Museum and my interview with painter Carl Palazzolo, whose show at Texas Gallery opens today. It’s an old (but endlessly worthwhile) question, in what manner and toward what end will aesthetics and politics coexist in art? No one's proposing a singular answer. We just keep asking the question.

Claire Ruud is Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative.


Carl Palazzolo: On painting the memory of desire

By Claire Ruud

Carl Palazzolo, Traces of Absence #7, 2009, Oil, acrylic, inks, pencil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches. Courtesy the artist and Texas Gallery.

In anticipation of his solo show opening today at Texas Gallery in Houston,  ...might be good sat down with Carl Palazzolo a few weeks ago to talk about his most recent body of work.

…might be good [mbg]: You have a show opening at Texas Gallery on April 9—that’s actually my birthday—

Carl Palazzolo [CP]: Oh really, what does that make you?

mbg: Aires. What are you?

CP: Scorpio. When I mention that to people who are into that stuff, sometimes they kind of recoil or make the sign of the cross. [Laughter]

mbg: So you’ve been working on a new body of work for this show.

CP: Yes, I did the primary body of this work in Maine, where I have a studio. I paint very slowly, I asked my New York dealer, Lennon,Weinberg, if they could wait another year for a show so I could do this one first, and they, generously, said yes.

mbg: You paint very slowly?

CP: Well, the paintings take a long time. Technically, they’re about building up lots of layers. The way I paint is, in a way, wildly conventional. My approach to the canvas is one which probably hasn’t changed since the 15th century. They’re easel paintings, implicitly about labor and patience and honing your sensibility. That's why I believe painting is an old person’s activity. As long as you’ve got your mind, and even then—I mean look at de Kooning, his last paintings were beautiful. From soul to canvas. You just get better.

mbg: Tell me a little bit about this body of work.

CP: My work has always been about memory and loss, but the imagery has shifted over the years. In the 90s, I did a body of work based on one of the John Singer Sargent paintings, The Daughters of Edward D. Boit, that hangs in the Boston Museum of Fine Art. The Sargent painting fascinated me, the idea of this Edwardian gentleman of uncertain sexuality painting those young girls as if they were objects. The girls in that painting seem to be of no more importance to the artist than the vases are. All were painted with equal brilliance and equally exquisitely. That imagery was of the moment—I spent 8 years on that body of work—and then I moved on to imagery drawn from 1960s Italian film. To be perfectly prosaic about describing it, the imagery in this recent body of work includes numbers, falling rose petals and an image that fits the specific mood of the painting. But throughout, the bottom line is reference to memory and loss. I don’t have signature paintings in the way that some other artists do. But, I find that imagery which I've used in the past and thought I was done with has a way of returning. That plurality has become more accepted today, but before the 80s, you had to be able to read someone’s work from a mile away.

mbg: Were you consciously resisting that pull?

CP: Absolutely. When I was studying in Boston, it was a hotbed of color field painting and Greenbergian theory. There were so many rules: if you painted shapes, they’d better be on the edges; use these colors, and so on. I definitely resisted it (the arrogance of youth). In addition, it helped that I studied with a brilliant painter who was not of the Greenberg school, diametrically opposed, in fact. His name was Jan Cox and was a member of the COBRA school from the Netherlands. There's actually a museum devoted to his work in Brussels.

My early work was as an abstract painter. Then, in 1990, I did the Sargent paintings. That was the first time I used recognizable imagery. I was already showing in New York, and people told me I shouldn’t do it — people who I probably should have listened to. But I didn’t see the work as that different from my abstract work. In terms of looking, abstract paintings and representational paintings are both about creating an intense rectangle, a term I heard Brice Marden use once. If something is good, it's good.

mbg: When you say, “if something is good, it’s good,” what does that mean?

CP: I found the argument about abstraction versus realism an arcane one. I’m a painter, and if there happens to be a recognizable image in this painting, that shouldn't narrow one’s relationship to the painting. Intellectually and emotionally I was still the same painter, except maybe more mature. This is going to sound cranky, but I am so tired of irony. I think a lot of bad art gets swept under the rug of irony. I appreciate earnestness and sincerity.

…mbg: So who—

CP: Don’t ask me to name names. [Laughs]

…mbg: No, I was going to ask you who does sincerity really well?

CP: Catherine Murphy. Joan Mitchell. Jasper Johns. In my work, you can see that I owe a big debt to Johns. I’ve often found myself at dinner parties defending his work to other painters, painters who I respect. I think it’s because the work is so naked. Yet, at the same time hidden and obtuse, and for a period unfashionable, ironically, because of it "nakedness". Alice Neel, June Leaf, Sylvia Mangold and Joe Zucker—there’s an example of sincere to the point of perverse. He’s so cool. I actually just saw Francesca Fuchs at Texas Gallery; her paintings are massively quirky, pale and barely there. I see an honesty and a sincerity in her work. It seems to me she’s out there trying to make the most seductive—yes I said it—beautiful—yes I said it—paintings she can make. In addition they interest me because I think the work involves itself with memory as subject.

mbg: Yeah, modernist paintings are supposed to seduce, but where is the space within today's social practice and politics for the individual aesthetic experience? How do we relocate it in this new terrain?

CP: Well, from my perspective, I never stopped looking for it. There was a period where, in terms of the ebb and flow, I was definitely out at sea. I find that now, that boat is coming back to shore. People, it seems to me, are searching for the balm of beauty more frantically because it's rarely showcased. But you’re right, that’s a communal question. Unfortunately, when you’re walking around Chelsea, you don’t get a lot of answers yet.

mbg: We’ve talked a little bit about how memory and loss have been recurring themes in your work. I’m wondering, though, how the questions you’re asking have changed over time.

CP: answering that is a little bit like nailing Jello to a tree. One doesn’t start the adventure of painting and say “this is who I am as a painter,” because one doesn’t know. You start doing the work and, over time, you winnow through the imagery and the technique that comes most naturally to you. Again, an argument for painting as a mature activity. Looking back, even when I was an abstract painter, the colors tended to be autumnal. In the last group of truly abstract paintings I did, I was thinking about the late afternoon light in Monet’s haystack paintings, and that triggered thoughts about regret. Then in the next show, I found that a lot of the energy was derived from the memory of people close to me who had died. This is all stuff that’s better examined if I were lying on a divan talking to someone with a pad. [Laughs]

mbg: Carl, I have one last question, really the core question here. Why do you think memory and loss have been so central to your work, from such a young age?

CP: Texas Gallery recently asked for an artist statement for the show, and I said in it that the common denominator is always the memory of desire. And trying to identify what in my genetic makeup attracted me to loss is a subject I'm reluctant to put into words. For one reason I don't want to trivialize the number of AIDS fatalities I've been witness to as a talking point. But how do you deliver the power of the experience? Visually I've found it seeds a desire, most recently a desire to give a specific identity to the fallen in nature. As metaphor, a rose petal seemed to me one apt reference for fragility and the temporal, the poignancy of a spent light bulb another. An endless procession of the named, or in this case, numbered objects of love made specific, made concrete. Passage as poetry. I hope.

Claire Ruud is Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative.


Temple of Booom
Okay Mountain Gallery, Austin
March 19 to April 17, 2010

By Dan Boehl

Temple of Booom. Courtesy Kellie Bowman, STO, and Okay Mountain Gallery.

During South By Southwest, the streets fill with thousands of tribal tourists ravenous for content. As an Austinite, I maintain a prickly relationship with the festival and the people—the Williamsburg tribe wearing their frilly plaid and the California tribe distinguished by their unblemished black T’s—who descend upon us during the most temperate weekend of the year. Part of my problem is that SXSW perpetuates the idea that Austin is a great place to live but the festival doesn’t actually raise the standard of living. People come, spend, trash the place and leave, depositing no culture and contributing little to the local artistic scene. The city is reduced to a venue showcasing foreign mediocrity and talent. Businesses, bars and galleries would be stupid to not capitalize on the frenzy, but they help perpetuate the image of Austin as little more than a stage with decent climate control and a crappy sound manager. There isn’t much we can really do about that, and in the end it doesn’t matter because the whole thing is pretty fun.

Temple of Booom at Okay Mountain is no exception. Kellie Bowman and STO, the artist-curators of the Cinders Gallery in Brooklyn, came to Austin with a folder of drawings, a list of showcase bands and plans for creating a lot of art in a short amount of time. A large stage and two murals dominate the show. The papier-mache altar-like stage, created by STO, resembles an Indiana Jones/Goonies/Pirates of the Caribbean movie set. There are skulls and jewels and candles. Fat flies buzz around the bones. The stage menaces and delights like interior Mexican restaurant décor. Just as a church is the community of worship, this altar framed the SXSW events at OKMT, but after the revelry and without people there, sweaty and slammed together, the stage looks like leftovers.

The same goes for the two murals. On the east wall, two Hindu-looking figures commune over a pile of leaves. On the west wall, worshippers kneel, facing outward as supplicants to the gallery space. The west mural is the more interesting of the two, as the supplicants expect something from the viewer before whom they kneel, and that something is likely to be gruesome and ecstatic. Next to the supplicants are a man and a woman composed of painted leaves. The figures act as a Voyager Golden Record pointing to our humanity in a simple and touching way. Out of everything in the show, this simple duo is the best thing going, for a moment elevating the mural from a set piece to a comment on human communion. The two figures, as transient as leaves, tell us that the reason we come to the festival, the reason we come to worship, is for each other.

Temple of Booom. Courtesy Kellie Bowman, STO, and Okay Mountain Gallery.

A lot of work went into creating Temple of Booom, and the volume of paint and papier-mache show it. But the show has a dashed-off feel, unsubstantial and underdone. In one of the SXSW ironies that leave me feeling pretty empty, it occurred to me that the OKMT Collective makes better murals, and its gallery is attached to a piñata shop of greater visual appeal than Temple of Booom. So the SXSW attendees who came for the OKMT SXSW showcases saw a foreign product of lesser quality than we see here every day as locals. But at least it was fun.

Charif Benhelima, Santiago Forero, Suha Shoman, Ed Wilson, Martin Zet
The Station Museum, Houston
Through May 30, 2010

By Wendy Vogel

Martin Zet, Images from the series Saluto Romano, 2005-2006, Digital print, 21 x 28 inches. Courtesy the artist and The Station Museum, Houston.

Remember the poster in Fox Mulder’s office? The FBI operative played by David Duchovny in The X-Files had a fuzzy picture of a UFO on his wall, and the image was superimposed with a caption that became the show’s tagline: I WANT TO BELIEVE. His proclivity for investigating the paranormal made him the mockery of his colleagues, who gave him a cramped basement office and a meticulous, razor-sharp partner in Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Like Fox Mulder, I also believe—not in the paranormal, but in art that critically broaches political content without falling victim to proselytizing or sentimentalism. With that in mind, I headed to the Station Museum, whose current installations were united in their address of “serious subjects, such as war, occupation, immigration, concentration camps, spirituality and self-exploration.” But with just a few exceptions, what unfortunately lacked among these artists was a Gillian Anderson-esque filter for their artistic output: the distance and reflection needed for the works to speak critically, and the subtlety to leave them open for interpretation.

Though billed as five solo exhibitions, it is impossible not to forge connections and comparisons between the international artists, all of whom utilize highly recognizable political subject matter and some form of documentary address in their work. They are equally united in a personal relationship with their subject matter, sometimes to their downfall. In this show, the artist’s emotional connection and personal politics trump critical vision most notably in Suha Shoman’s videos, Bayyaratina and Stop for God’s Sake (both 2009). Both concern the Israeli occupation of Shoman’s native Palestine and use PowerPoint-style effects to illustrate particular narratives. Stop for God’s Sake couples appropriated, gratuitous media imagery of Israeli and Palestinian attacks with religious imagery and quotes from the Qu’ran, Bible and Torah and is accompanied by swelling operatic music. The final image, a black screen with white text stating “Who started it? Who shall end it?” is startlingly trite. Instead of a critique of the media, the work becomes empty propaganda in its own right. Charif Benhelima’s work, though more complex, also falls victim personal indulgence through unnecessary curatorial “artiness.” His project, Welcome to Belgium, was originally conceived as a book featuring black-and-white photographic portraits of refugees and guest workers alongside quotes from official political documents. The photographs themselves display a compositional rigor and a deep engagement with the refugees, especially the touching portraits of Héléna Benjouira, a young Tunisian single mother battling poverty and drug addiction. But the images are nearly overpowered by a bizarre installation of text. Snippets of laws that outline the rigid governmental policies regarding refugee and citizenship status function awkwardly in the exhibition space. These text fragments are used as contextual captions, but are silk-screened too low on the wall. The text from a 1964 guest worker pamphlet is printed directly on the floor. The experiential nature of an overall immersive visual experience is, here, unsuccessfully translated from the book to the white cube.

Ed Wilson’s work, a series called The Architecture of Death, also traffics in sentimentality and the language of memorial. This installation shows Wilson’s transformation of black-and-white photographs he took at concentration camp sites into expressively rendered steel reliefs. Although it calls to mind the approach of 1980s Neo-Expressionists such as Anselm Kiefer, this work does not take an ironic or formally innovative approach. The sculptures, if seen without the accompanying photographs, come dangerously close to romanticizing the German landscape in a way that does not bear witness to the history therein. Evacuation Sites 12, 13, and 14, (all 2007), however, shallow reliefs of eerily empty rooms with a single hanging light bulb, mimic the tone and spatial rendering of landmark modernists such as George Grosz, to more subtle effect.

The two remaining artists show a richer engagement with the histories of conceptual art and media critique, respectively, leading to the most cohesive bodies of work in the show. Czech artist Martin Zet’s Saluto Romano (2005-6), a holdover from the artist’s survey show at the Station in the fall, is a fifteen-photograph series in which the artist has inserted his body into landscape and architecture as a rhyming formal element or site-specific addition. Some images, such as the one depicting the insertion of his thumbs-up gesture in the foreground between the columns of decaying Roman architecture, are a light-hearted homage to tourist pranksterism. In other photographs, the artist slumps himself against a tree, presses his nose to the divide between a marble surface and plastered one, or lays himself out like an L on the side of a woolly rug. These gestures, sometimes poetic and sometimes pathetic, recall VALIE EXPORT’S photographs inserting her body into urban architecture in the early 1970s, or even Bruce Nauman’s early videos. Zet’s personal connection to these sites, articulated in a statement about his search to define “freedom” in a changing post-communist landscape, situates his appropriated body-art gestures in a contemporary context.

Santiago ForeroThe Riot, 2009.

Santiago Forero’s photographic series, I Want to Live in America, features eye-popping digital prints of exaggerated staged tableaux based on media stereotypes. Forero, a Colombian artist of extremely short stature, casts himself as an adventurer in the series Action Heroes, of which two prints are shown. In The Riot and Vietnam (both 2009), Forero is alternately a jihadist and American soldier, staged in tightly framed environments that recall the packaging and advertisement of action figures. Broadway (2008), a staged portrait of a Latin American gang in orange hoods beating a white man with a cowboy hat while a member of their gang films the episode on a hand-held camera, provides an ironic twist on the type of fear-mongering against Latin American communities promoted by conservative media outlets such as FOX News. Unfortunately, Forero’s documentary video, The American Southerner (2004), does not hold up as a finished work in comparison to his photographs. The video, comprised of short interviews with recent immigrants from El Salvador, Argentina and Mexico, frankly express the subjects’ disillusionment with the American dream, but by juxtaposition the piece threatens to turn the irony of Forero’s photographs into explicit moralizing.

Indeed, with the exception of Zet’s installation, the moments of interest in this show are overwhelmed by didactic presentation. While the issues addressed by these artists are worthy of dialogue, the exhibition could have been the site of a deeper and more nuanced conversation. Topical subject matter and critical reflection do not have to be at odds; when they come together, they make true believers in art’s power to envision social change. Even more sweeping curatorial gestures, such as the topical installations juxtaposing art and contemporary “cultural artifacts” by the collective Group Material in the 1980s and ‘90s, exemplify a strategy that promotes dialogue between art and media representation. This type of curatorial thinking can replace the populist tactics that promote the status quo, or, in the worst case, condescend to the viewer.

Wendy Vogel is a Critical Fellow in the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

One Swallow Doesn't Make a Summer
Installation locations: 210 Guadalupe, 416 W Cesar Chavez, 117 Lavaca, 233 W 2nd, Republic Square Park at 4th and Guadalupe
Premiering at Art Week Austin: April 20, 11am

Using vacant storefronts within Austin’s 2nd Street District as a platform, One Swallow Doesn’t Make a Summer brings together new and site-specific artworks to offer a variety of perspectives on the shifting cultural and economic landscape of this neighborhood and its relationship to a larger nation-wide experience. (From the press release.) Artists include Justin Boyd, Paul Druecke, Mads Lynnerup, Leslie Mutchler, Carlos Rosales-Silva, Barry Stone, and Jeff Williams, as well as the collaboratives Circulatory System, Nancy Douthey & Jacinda Russell, Michelle Marchesseault & Virginia Yount, and Skote. For more information and the full press release, please contact: cookandruud@gmail.com.

Marina Zurkow
Women and Their Work
Opening reception: Thursday, April 22 at 10am

Using vivid animation, Marina Zurkow creates a colorful cast of characters who inhabit a drowned world. In the carnivalesque Slurb ( a word that collapses "slum" and "suburb") Zurkow designs a haunting ode to the rise of slime, a watery future in which jellyfish have dominion. Conflating time, this work refers not only to a future apocalypse but to the present world where extreme weather events occur regularly, ocean temperatures are rising, and the seas are increasingly acidic and hostile to most sea life. Few but the indomitable jellyfish are currently flourishing. And as New Orleans reminds us, the deluge is already upon us.

Wura-Natasha Ogunji & Jorge Rojas
Friday, April 9 at 8pm until Saturday, April 10 at 8pm

Artists Wura-Natasha Ogunji and Jorge Rojas engage in a 24-hour improvisatory exchange using raw materials (paper, thread, wax) and sensory elements (sound, light, mirrors) to experiment with new ways of communicating through space and time.

This performance is presented with 2412 (a series of performances that take place over a 24-hour period) and will be live broadcast from Friday, April 9 at 8pm(CST) to Saturday, April 10 at 8pm (CST): http://www.ustream.tv/channel/2412-riff

Sunday, April 11, 2pm: Artist Talk: artists Nicole Vlado, Senalka McDonald, Jorge Rojas and Wura-Natasha Ogunji discuss their experiences performing for 24-hours and the significance of this experience to their artistic practices.

Austin on View

Lance Letscher
D Berman Gallery
Through May 15

d berman gallery is pleased to present Lance Letscher’s The Perfect Machine, an exhibition of new collages and collaged objects by this internationally-celebrated artist, in conjunction with the publication of his uniquely imaginative children’s book of the same name. Works from The Perfect Machine explore notions of locomotion, technology, and the creative impulse at the heart of human nature through intricately composed collages. Book signing with Lance Letscher on Saturday, April 24 at 1pm.

Roy McMakin
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Through May 15

Lora Reynolds Gallery is pleased to announce their second solo exhibition of new sculptures and photography by Seattle-based artist, Roy McMakin.For this exhibition, In and On, Roy McMakin conceived four pieces that meticulously intermingle elements of sculpture and furniture. Each work imbues the artists distinctly minimalist tradition. Two pieces espouse found furniture with McMakin's own sculptures, a more prevalent practice by the artist in recent years. His photographic series, Net Making, also included in the exhibition, skillfully illustrates McMakins relentless attention to detail.

Luke Savisky
Austin Museum of Art
Through May 9

AMOA's New Works exhibition series introduces fresh contemporary art by innovative Austin artists. The upcoming show will feature installation artist, Luke Savisky, who uses light and projection to explores ideas of perception, exposure, surveillance, and perspective. Click here for a video of a previous installation in downtown Austin.

Blanton Museum of Art
Through April 25

See Claire Ruud's review in Issue #141.

Austin Closings

Katy Horan
Domy Books
Through April 22

Domy Books presents Lady Monsters, new work by Austin-based artist Katy Horan. The following is an excerpt from Horan's statement about the show: "In my current work, I create fantastical characters rooted in traditional ideas of femininity. To create these characters, I combine subconscious imagery with external references that include archetypes from folklore and history, storybook illustration, Renaissance portraiture and decorative elements of historical dress. The image is familiar, but mysterious. This invites both the viewer’s imagination and knowledge of feminine imagery and narrative to inform the work."

Kathryn Kelley
Women and their Work
Through April 15

Houston based artist Kathryn Kelley up-cycles and reanimates objects of urban refuse into large fleshy sculptures that often stand in the place of the self. The impressive scale of these pieces creates a theatrical position for viewers who are confronted with gregarious forms, or intimations of the shadowed self. Remnant inner tubes, doors, frames & windows morph & mingle in these ambitious works. Click here for more information about the show.

Houston Openings

Emilie Halpern & Eric Zimmerman
Art Palace
Opening reception: May 8, 2010, 6-8pm

Art Palace is pleased to present new work by Los Angeles based artist Emilie Halpern and Austin artist Eric Zimmerman in their first two-person exhibition of their work. Entitled Cosmos, the exhibition pairs Halpern's striking photographs and sculpture with Zimmerman's painstakingly rendered graphite drawings, etchings, and sculpture. A collaborative work utilizes each of the artist's voices as they read from Carl Sagan's text Pale Blue Dot. The alternating sentences loop endlessly through a pair of Califone tape recorders placed side by side on a circular gold foil blanket.

Houston on View

Andrea Dezsö
Rice University Art Gallery
Through August 8

For her installation Sometimes in My Dreams I Fly, Andrea Dezsö will expand upon a technique she uses to make her distinctive “tunnel books.” Small, handmade books that reveal three-dimensional scenes, tunnel books are created from layers of paper that are individually drawn, cut out, and painted. Each layer is then stacked one in front of another in a collapsible case to create a miniature world with depth and detail that draw in the viewer. At Rice Gallery, Dezsö’s tunnel books will become life-size, with tunnels as wide as six feet. The individual “tunnels” will be placed just behind Rice Gallery’s large front glass wall, creating portals a viewer can peer into but enter only with their imagination. The human scale will be a departure point to another reality. Explains Dezsö, “I want to transport the viewer, as when you pass by a house and look into a window and see a different world from your own.”

Anthony Goicolea
Houston Center for Photography
Through April 25

HCP's Main Gallery features Anthony Goicolea's Related, a web of personal narratives about the Cuban-American's familial, religious, and cultural heritage. The artist strings together a complex series of dialectics denoting his experience of cultural dislocation, assimilation, and desire to maintain ancestral histories.

Road to Nowhere?
Winter Street Studios
Through April 25

Natasha Egan’s selections explore the United States at the close of the “American Century” as the nation negotiates its transition from Cold War superpower to an embattled, economically fragile nation. Ms. Egan says, “The artists in this exhibition address a repertoire of diverse but related themes including politics, surveillance, race, war, and economic insecurity. While the work is oftentimes critical, a quintessentially American optimism is evident.” Ms. Egan’s selections include: Sheila Pree Bright, Jeff Brouws, Tim Davis, Myra Greene, Eirik Johnson, Jason Lazarus, An-My Le, Nic Nicosia, David Oresick, Trevor Paglen, Greta Pratt, Michael Robinson, Jason Salavon, Victoria Sambunaris, Christina Seely, Paul Shambroom, Greg Stimac, and Brian Ulrich.

Leslie Hall and Laurel Nakadate
Art League Houston
Through April 25

Art League Houston and the FotoFest 2010 Biennial are pleased to partner in presenting Medianation: Performing for the Screen, curated by Gilbert Vicario, and featuring the work of media and performance artists Leslie Hall and Laurel Nakadate.

Houston Closings

Mary Magsamen and Stephan Hillerbrand
Spacetaker Gallery
Through April 11

Hillerbrand + Magsamen proudly present four new videos at Spacetaker. Both playful and disturbing, these dramatic and beautiful high definition videos use a domestic landscape to look at the challenges of family dynamics and personal relationships with unique and sometimes surreal perspectives.

Marfa on View

Camp Bosworth
Marfa Book Company
Through May 16th

The Marfa Book Company will host an opening reception for "Ballad of Chalino Sanchez," an exhibition of works by Camp Bosworth. "Ballad of Chalino Sanchez" is a continuation of Bosworth's work, representational sculpture and relief in a variety of woods, in a style that fits, uniquely, somewhere between fine and folk art. The works represent a significant and thematically unified response to the culture, mythic and historical, of the Border, specifically the culture of narco-trafficking and agriculture.

In Lieu of Unity / En Lugar de la Unidad
Ballroom Marfa
Through August 15

In Lieu of Unity brings together artists from Mexico - citizens, residents and emigrants - who have sustained a curiosity about social relations in their art practices. Their focus demonstrates that the nature of existence is contingent not merely on the cognizance of being, but more so on the relationships between individuals and the collectives they form. Through varied perspectives on what it means to be together, these artists relinquish utopian ideas of unity. Instead they favor their own explorations of the underlying systems that influence everyday encounters, such as language, commerce, architecture, citizenship and social mores. The exhibition as a whole can be seen as a collection of responses to social dynamics as they play out in specific locations in Mexico, within the context of Marfa, Texas, and throughout their shared geographic and conceptual borderlands. (From the Press Release)

San Antonio Openings

Wayne Thiebaud
Lawrence Markey Gallery
Opening reception: Friday, April 9, 5:30-7:30pm

Lawrence Markey Gallery is pleased to announce an upcoming exhibition of charcoal still lifes by renowned artist Wayne Thiebaud.

San Antonio on View

Psychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art Since the 1960s
San Antonio Museum of Art
Through August 1

San Antonio Museum of Art mounts an exhibit of psychedelic art from the Op Art of the early 1960s to the abstract and visionary works of today. Curator David Rubin takes the lead in what he calls the first-ever look at the development of a “psychedelic sensibility” in contemporary art of the last 40 years.

Announcements: events

Austin Events

Conversation: Cuauhtémoc Medina and Rubén Ortiz-Torres
Blanton Museum of Art Auditorium
Saturday, April 10, 2pm
Admission: Free

Cuauhtémoc Medina, an internationally recognized art critic, curator, and historian based in Mexico City, and former associate curator at the Tate Modern from 2002-08, joins artist Rubén Ortiz-Torres, a professor in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California, San Diego, in conversation.

Film Screening: Los Olvidados
Blanton Museum of Art Auditorium
Sunday, April 11, 3pm
Admission: $3 members, UT faculty & staff, and students; $5 general admission

Join us for a special film series in conjunction with Manuel Álvarez Bravo and His Contemporaries: Photographs from the Collections of the Harry Ransom Center and the Blanton Museum of Art. This series is presented as part of The University of Texas at Austin’s programming to celebrate the Mexican Bicentennial and will be shown in the Blanton Auditorium.

Artist Talk: Patty Chang
Blanton Museum of Art
Thursday, April 15 at 7pm
Admission: Free

Patty Chang's works confront the viewer with issues of fantasy and identity, including her recent piece, Product of Love-Die Ware Liebe (2009) on the 1928 meeting in Berlin of Hollywood film actress Anna May Wong and the German theorist Walter Benjamin. This special event takes place during Third Thursday, the Blanton's free monthly evening of art and activities.

Admission is free.

Dan Cameron: The Making of Prospect New Orleans
The Carver Cultural Center
April 19, 6:30 pm

Cameron is the founding director of the Prospect New Orleans biennial.

Artist Talk: The Museum as Interface
Blanton Museum of Art
Saturday, April 24 at 3pm
Admission: Free

Aaron Gemill and Angie Keefer of Ex-Corporation present the data visualization project they created for WorkSpace: Anna Craycroft and moderate a roundtable discussion on the museum as interface.

Admission is free.

Conversation: Writing Desire
Blanton Museum of Art
Sunday, April 25 at 1:00pm
Admission: Free

Join catalogue contributors Sarah Bird, Dan Boehl, Kurt Heinzelman, Jim Lewis, and Flint Sparks for a reading and discussion of the Desire exhibition on view now at the Blanton Museum of Art.

Admission is free.

Film Screening: Caroline Koebel
Austin Film Society
Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 7PM
Admission: $6 / $4 for AFS Members

Perhaps best known to the Austin audience as “Booboo” in Spectres of the Spectrum (1999, Dir: Craig Baldwin, DP: Bill Daniel), Caroline Koebel—a recent transplant from Brooklyn—has been exhibiting her experimental films and video art internationally since the early 1990s. Informed by conceptual art, film theory and feminism, her work provokes new modes of aesthetic and critical engagement with such subjects as early cinema, commodity culture, and the maternal eye. Avant Cinema features Flicker On Off, her current series re-purposing big-budget movies as a platform to engage world affairs, including global warming, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, and the Haditha Massacre. Flicker On Off has been presented at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the European Media Art Festival, Scope Art Fair, Video Art Festival of Camagüey, and the Festival of (In)appropriation. Also showing is a survey of titles—in both 16mm and digital projection—selected by the filmmaker for how they interact with Flicker On Off.

Click here for more information about the screening.

Dallas Events

Artist Talk: Kristen Cochran and Peter Doig
The Free Museum of Dallas
April 9, 2010 from 7-9pm
Admission: Free

Artists Kristen Cochran and Peter Doig will be speaking at The Free Museum of Dallas this coming Friday.

Click here for more information.

The Better Block Project
Oak Cliff Art Crawl
Saturday, April 10 from 12-8pm, and Sunday, April 11, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Part installation and part political statement, this project was developed to highlight the city’s restrictive zoning ordinances, which limit our ability to create a truly livable block. For two days only, the 400 block of North Tyler Street in Oak Cliff will change from a car-centric thoroughfare to a people-friendly environment with the addition of businesses that have been most requested by locals.

407A North Tyler St. across from Oak Cliff Bicycle Company in Dallas, TX.

Sat, April 10 from 12-8
Sun, April 11 from 12-6

with Magic Hat Brewing Co.
Sat, 5-7

San Marcos Events

Artist Lecture: Carolee Schneemann
Texas State Department of Art & Art History
April 20th, 2010 at 5pm

Internationally renowned artist Carolee Schneeman will be giving a talk at Texas State University in San Marcos on April 20th, 2010 in room 2121 of the JCM building (link to campus map with JCM building for directions: http://www.maps.txstate.edu/campus/buildings/jcm.html). The talk will begin at 5PM.

Schneemann's work transformed the definition of art, especially discourse on the body, sexuality, and gender. The history of her work is characterized by research into archaic visual traditions, pleasure wrested from suppressive taboos, the body of the artist in dynamic relationship with the social body.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Artists

Lawndale Artist Studio Program
Lawndale Art Center
Application Deadline: May 28, 2010 at 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 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.

Learn more about how to apply here

PLAND Residency Program
Deadline: May 10th, 2010

PLAND, Practice Liberating Art through Necessary Dislocation, is an off-the-grid residency program that supports the development of experimental and research-based projects in the context of the Taos mesa. PLAND finds its inspiration in a legacy of pioneers, entrepreneurs, homesteaders, artists, and other counterculturalists who – through both radical and mundane activities – reclaim and reframe a land-based notion of the American Dream. While producing open-ended experimental projects that facilitate collaboration and hyper-local engagement, PLAND is a constantly evolving, art-informed rural outpost in the New Mexican high desert. Through project-based residencies and work parties, residents are encouraged to marry survival-based goals with big ideas and experimental methods.

Deadline is May 10, 2010. Learn more about how to apply here

Leighton Artists' Colony for Independent Residencies at The Banff Centre
The Banff Centre
Deadline is ongoing

Located in Banff, Alberta, Canada, The Banff Centre's Leighton Artists' Colony has nine unique studios, each designed by a distinguished Canadian architect. The studios offer a concentrated, retreat environment to professional artists engaged in the creation of new work. Applications are accepted from artists of a variety of disciplines: writers, composers, singer-songwriters, visual artists, screenwriters, playwrights, literary translators, curators, art theorists, and professionals working in theatre, dance and film at the conceptualization or research stage of a project. Acceptance is based on an application/adjudication process.

Click here for information and how to apply.

Artist Residency at the Jan van Eyck Academie
Jan van Eyck Academie
Deadline: April 15, 2010

Artists, designers and theoreticians are invited to submit research and production proposals to become a researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academie. The application deadline is 15 April 2009.

The Jan van Eyck Academie is an institute for research and production in the fields of fine art, design and theory. Every year, 48 international researchers realise their individual or collective projects in the artistic and critical environment that is the Jan van Eyck. In doing so, they are advised by a team of artists, designers and theoreticians who have won their spurs globally.

Click here for more information on how to apply.

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