MBG Issue #147: A Happy Meal of Art Historical References

Issue # 147

A Happy Meal of Art Historical References

May 7, 2010

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Anna Craycroft, Subject of Learning/Object of Study, Installation view, The Blanton Museum of Art, Austin. Courtesy Tracy Williams Ltd.

from the editor

Editor's Postscript: This week, The Texas Observer and ...might be good embark on a new collaboration. Select ...might be good features will now appear in the Observer's online section "Arts & Minds."

Also, 2010 Austin Critics' Table Awards: Visual Arts Nominations.

I have encountered two reactions to Anna Craycroft’s installation Subject of Learning/Object of Study at the Blanton: (1) disinterest and mild distaste (2) enthusiasm. The former response comes primarily from visitors who encountered the installation bereft of activity, while the latter is expressed most often by visitors who attended events—conversations, lectures, performances—in the space and liked them. Whichever way you felt about it, I think this exhibition is, by design, more about the artist's questions than her answers. The following are some of the major questions Craycroft poses, as I see them:

Craycroft’s installation is extremely paired down, to the point that the galleries are barely distinguishable from spaces dedicated to child and adult education in any museum. What balance can be struck between visual appeal and austerity—the seduction of the object and the rejection of that seduction?

Primary colors and simple geometric shapes create an elementary-school like aesthetic. Visitors are even invited to sit on colorful mats on the floor at some events in the space. What is the relationship between education and infantilization?

Craycroft’s imagery—the shapes and colors, the mats on the floor—fetishizes the visual vocabulary of the Montessori method. Where can institutions look for successful pedagogical models?

The spaces are built for events and gatherings rather than individual viewing. When action—teaching, learning, talking, performing—is the meat of a project, how can the space of action function visually when no events are scheduled?

Craycroft’s installation doesn’t provide answers to any of these questions. That’s what’s frustrating about it. It’s also what makes you think.

I've been thinking: projects like Craycroft's throw a wrench into traditional models of art criticism. Critical language is based on evaluations of formal qualities and (more recently) conceptual coherence. But pedagogical projects allow artists sidestep coherent aesthetic or conceptual theses. The projects often pose more questions than answers. They ask viewers to participate in the process of figuring out whatever the artist is trying to figure out.

I’ve seen few articulations of the criteria on which we might base our discussions of such pedagogical projects. In the pages of …might be good, artist Mary Walling Blackburn proposed beauty and slowness as two possible criteria. Beauty captivates, creates pleasure within the process of learning. Slowness allows deep, thorough, careful transformation over time. Slowness particularly appeals to me as a criterion, and in the e-flux journal, curator and educator Nora Sternfeld proposed a set of related ideas. They provide some of the most compelling criteria I’ve seen: the tedious, the disagreeable, the compromised, the unsound and the beside-the-point and the unrepresentable. In my own experience, these are staples of both teaching and being taught.

I’m not convinced that Craycroft knows upon what criteria she would evaluate her own project. The criticisms I’ve heard of Subject of Learning/Object of Study aren’t exactly unfair; visually, the space doesn’t offer a lot to pull in the viewer, even the explanatory material doesn’t provide an “ah-ha” moment, the exhibition programming is sometimes strangely unrelated to the installation itself. However, these criticisms are also based on evaluative mechanisms that weren't built to handle pedagogy. Are these mechanisms appropriate to projects like Craycroft's, or do we need a different kind of language?

Claire Ruud is Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative.


David Ellis

By Dan Boehl

David Ellis working at the Visual Arts Center. Project commissioned by Landmarks, The Public Art Program of The University of Texas at Austin. Photo: Christina Murrey.

In a joint venture between the Landmarks program and the newly opened Visual Arts Center, UT hosted the New York based artist David Ellis for a month-long residency. Ellis used his time at UT to create one of his stop-motion animated paintings in the VAC’s Vaulted Gallery. He also painted a mural on the building that houses the Austin based collaborative art space, Co-Lab.

…might be good [mbg]: What has been your experience with artists and the community here?

David Ellis [DE]:  Well, aside from Co-Lab I’ve been submerged in the project here. So I haven’t had enough exchange to comment on that, other than the people I met at Co-Lab that night and Sean Gaulager, who runs that space. I really love his direction with that space and it reminds me of spaces I’ve worked in around the country that have a similar bent: artist run, not-for-profit spaces, often where the artist will live in the space itself. These kinds of spaces provide a home and a hub for artists to exchange ideas and meet on a regular basis. It’s refreshing, that kind of small, grassroots thing, people are in it for the real soul of it.

...mbg: That’s kind of what my writing explores here in Austin. We don’t have a real large art-buying community, so everything is based around projects, collectives, locally owned galleries that are trying to scrape by.

DE: Okay Mountain looks like a real good one too. I know a little bit about them from when they were in Miami. They’re explosive.

...mbg: What does your studio look like?

DE: My studio’s in Bed-Stuy on Spencer Street between Park and Flushing right next to the Marcy Projects. It’s a space that, as the direction of my work moves and changes over the months and years I’ve been working there, transforms to be kind of a shop with power tools and work tables. Sometimes I work on sculptural things, and then I pack that up and shift gears and go into a more painterly mode. And it’s also where I record and experiment with sound and music. I wish I could say there’s a clean break between projects, but a lot of times those disciplines overlap and it’s a bit chaotic, a bit of a mad laboratory.

...mbg: Can you talk a little bit about how do those disciplines overlap?

DE: Physically I’ll be working on two or three things at once. The sculpture came out of painting and film came out of painting. The sculptures started ten years ago when I realized that the paintings are basically drums in that they’re this membrane stretched over a frame and when you tap them they resonate. So I wanted to take that further and tune them and make different volumes as resonators and put automated drum actuators on the paintings and turn them into a way to make music.

...mbg: Your bio talks about growing up and listening to music near Raleigh. Can you talk more about what the role of music has been in your work?

DE: I look at musicians and recorded history for cues and answers to some of the questions I’m trying to work out in my own work. My brother’s a musician, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he’s doing. He’s more coming from a Jazz discipline, and the core of what I do comes out of Hip-Hop. But from that vantage point everything can weave through it. Lately, I’ve been working on these record collection pieces which has allowed me to get back to vinyl and I’m going back to record stores again after being kind of MP3-driven for a while. I’m making these pieces called “recollections” that are collections of records that I arrange based on color, more than anything. I’m going through mountains of records. I’m reading liner notes. I’m pulling these things aside and I’m filling in some gaps in that I’m not buying music primarily for the music, but then I’m going back and listening to the music after realizing that this was the perfect cover for the end piece or this is the perfect spine to bridge that gap in the middle, so I buy records visually and then listen to them and work from some of those ideas and themes that run through the music.

...mbg: If you’re buying records visually, do you consider yourself painting musically?

DE: [Laughs] You said it. I like that idea. I don’t know that I’m always that successful but I try to think of it in those terms.

...mbg: You also said that you’re trying to work out some things in your work. What are those things that you’re trying to work out?

DE: I guess how to translate some of the cultural sparks that got me motivated—from music to sports to other artists—and reinterpret those things, the ones that apply to the way I’m seeing the world today, fusing them and then throwing them back out. Trying to put something out in the world that will resonate within a larger world.

...mbg: There’s a lot of political and cultural themes that really resonate with me. Could you talk about how they arise and how you deal with culture and politics in general?

DE: Just to be general, sometimes it feels like the world is constantly ripping itself apart and we human beings on the planet actually are contributing to that. One of the things, hopefully, you can do with music and art is point to another direction that’s patching things up, fixing things, create another path rather than the one that I feel is really ripping this planet apart. I think Mother Nature’s pretty angry right now. Specifically, I don’t really want to get into the politics.

...mbg: Yeah, that’s fair. On a spectrum of optimist to pessimist about modern culture and the world, where do you think you fall?

DE: Oh, man. That’s a good question. I like to think of myself as an optimist, but I think that shifts through time. Sometimes you feel kind of beaten down. But overall, I think what I try to put in the world has some light in it. I think humor is important. It’s important not to take yourself too seriously.

...mbg: That leads into my next question. I recently had a chance to meet Peter Saul. Being a writer I’m really interested in texts, and text-based work. When I asked him about his texts, I asked where the text comes from. He described adding it, then erasing it, and it reminded me of the way you work. Can you say something about how text operates in your work?

DE: Currently, I’m not using text with this body of work. I’ve always loved words. I’ve come from doing graffiti and looking at a lot of graffiti and still having that mode of communication resonate. I like the poetics of words on the side of buildings and trucks. It could even be signage, especially the old hand-painted signs. If you can say it all in one or two words, or a logo, or maybe even a letter, I like those things that pull you in from that angle. I like words that have multiple meanings, and I like the way language can be bent, too. I like what happens in music and spoken word that bends the world. Using words as a place to start, I like to infuse other ideas within the word visually and let that combination of ideas be a new thing, like a new interpretation of the word. Also, taking existing words and fusing them with different ideas, that’s something I’ve played a bit with, too, found words. As much as I use words in my work, I try to push them into a more abstract and less overtly verbal place.

...mbg: More abstract—so where meaning falls apart?

DE: Yeah, you’re hit by the structure of the word, you’re hit by language and fonts and the presentation of the word before the word itself. Words on their own can be misinterpreted. I think oftentimes it’s the feeling behind the word that really carries the day.

...mbg: Like the spirit of the law and the letter of the law?

DE: That’s interesting, I don’t know about that. I think it’s the way the word—where from within the soul the word comes from is what I’m interested in.

...mbg: I’m interested in what you feel is your canvas, especially with your painting, sculpture and video works. When I was watching the videos, you were working on the truck and I wondered whether the canvas was the truck or the frame of the video?

DE: In that case, I think it would be both, definitely. The truck exists, but within that video there are many layers. That truck would go out daily, and then I would paint it, and then it would go out the next day with a different thing on the side of the truck. Depending on the route the truck would take through the city, it’s a canvas on four wheels with an engine, which to me is better than any canvas made of wood and fabric that would ultimately hang on the wall or be in storage. It’s a truck that’s affected by an environment around it. Even if I’m painting over it for a limited period of time for a project like that, the truck itself is ultimately going to get destroyed or painted over or fade at some point in the near future. Both of those capture something that is in flux, or where what you see is just evidence of something that happened at some point, but it’s in motion.

...mbg: I think you’re speaking to this already, but how much planning goes into the work that you make?

DE: It depends. Sometimes it’s months and months of research and sometimes it’s something that’s practiced, more of a freestyle thing that happens in the moment. Some of the sculptural work there’s months and months of research and planning and collaboration that goes into the final result. That really spans the gamut.

...mbg: Can you describe what your work day is like?

DE: I try to wake up with the birds and the sun and do some planning in the morning, take care of some things within my personal life. Usually I walk or ride a bike to my studio, which is like an hour and a half, and that’s a big part of my day, maybe stopping along the way and interacting with people within the communities where I live and work and pulling that energy into the work. Then I work, depending on the season and the time of year and the workload, I work anywhere from eight to sixteen hour days in the studio, and then go back and check some emails—I guess I do emails in the morning too—and then sleep.

...mbg: Do you check the internet throughout the day, or is that something that stays at home?

DE: I like taking a break from it. If it’s important it will be there later.

...mbg: Do you think art should serve a higher cause?

DE: I think art can serve a higher cause. I think art that thinks of itself as serving a higher cause usually falls flat. I think art that comes from a real place within a person who’s responding to the world around him.

...mbg: Are you suspicious of that idea—the idea of the higher cause?

DE: Not necessarily suspicious of the idea, but it’s something that I see it pretty rarely within art. I think I see it within music fairly often. For me it has a way of getting into the viewer or listener getting ideas dealing with higher causes. I think it’s easier to transmit that information through rhythm and song.

...mbg: Do you think the best art is art that anyone can understand?

DE: Anyone is a big world, a big idea. I would say that art is something that anyone can feel and maybe understanding comes later.

...mbg: Do you think it’s more important to feel art than to understand it?

DE: I think you should have both, but I think if the feeling comes first. The message comes from within the music. It’s still the music first. You feel music first before you fully interpret all the ideas within the music.

Dan Boehl is a workshop fellow in the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program. His chapbook Les MISERES ET LES MAL-HEURS DE LA GUERRE is now available from Greying Ghost.


Daniel Barrow
Fusebox Festival 2010, Austin
April 25, 2010

By Katie Geha

Daniel Barrow, Trash Spy 1, 2008, Original drawing from the performance Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry. Courtesy the artist.

Twee: the nauseatingly sentimental phenomenon that has taken the oompf out of indie music is quickly moving into the visual arts (Mark Ryden’s little girls with huge eyes, for instance) and now, with Daniel Barrow’s Every Time I See your Picture I Cry, the performing arts. The term, which originated in England and is baby talk for “sweet” can be used to describe any number of self-consciously cute forms—from Sufjan Stevens and his angel wings to Wes Anderson and his mannered stage sets. Think Precious Moments with a knowing glance. It is often overwrought with emotion, pathetic for pathetic’s sake, and, in the case of this performance, transparently manipulative.

Using an overhead projector and transparencies to slowly scan drawings across the light, Barrow tells the story of a loser who has bad eyesight and is creating a phonebook that dedicates a detailed information page to each person. It’s his art, he says, while he criticizes every aspect of life and wallows in the cruel nature of the world. Throughout the story, largely comprised of small vignettes, he rummages through his neighbor’s trash, looks over the stalls in public bathrooms, and weakly pulls at his penis hoping for something larger. Barrow delivers the story in an affected This American Life voice. “We are all in pain,” he says. “I don’t care,” he says.

Daniel Barrow; Photo: Sonia Yoon.

And why should we care? The most redeeming quality of this clichéd story of a loser is the visual choreography of Barrow’s hands, which move each transparency in relation to another. The images show slightly surreal drawings in pastel colors and work like the frames in a comic book, creating visual cues and pushing the narrative along. Some of my favorite images depicted floating hands, hands that mimicked the actual hand of Barrow moving the transparency along. The movement of these images, and especially the short video montage at the end, displays a craft and ingenuity that the narrative is sorely lacking. Without the story, the moving drawings, with the tinkling music in the background, would create an immersive, dream-like experience––an engagement that would allow for a broader interpretation. However, this story kept telling the audience what to think and how to feel. Pure didacticism with nothing to say.

One could argue that Barrow’s brand of navel-gazing is entirely intentional: a type of mannered twee that pulls all the sickeningly sweet shots, even going so far as to cheaply recall Helen Keller as a metaphor for blindness in the world. In fact, there is one point in the performance where the protagonist states, “I’m not trying to manipulate you.” Pointing out your contrivances, however, doesn’t make them any less empty. Any protestation to the contrary does nothing to rescue a story, that in the end, adds up to little but forced affect.

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

Ben Jones
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Through June 6, 2010

By Wendy Atwell

Ben Jones, N.D.A. Video Painting 2, 2009, Acrylagouache on canvas with digital video, 72 x 92 inches. Courtesy The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Just around the corner from Ben Jones’s installation of animated paintings at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth hangs Frank Stella’s Silverstone (1983). In contrast to Jones’s busy, bright and alive paintings, Stella’s formalist struggle with painting appears quaint. Movement and gesture in formalist painting, if present, is frozen. The index of time and space is locked into the image, inviting contemplation of the artist’s movements. But painting with light, as Jones does, activates time and space, literally. Viewers may still fall into a quiet, contemplative zone but it’s a mesmerizing, fantastical experience that feels very different from gazing at static images.

Jones’s video paintings are installed in two rooms that flank the central gallery space, which contains the other components of the exhibition: three ladders, a painting and a dog bench. In MS Video Painting I and MS Video Painting 2, the images at first appear to be complex animations of geometric shapes and morphing figures. (“MS” stands for “Magical Saints,” the elfish characters that appear in Jones’s work). Yet after a few moments of watching, it becomes apparent that the projected images are moving over a series of painted canvases rather than a blank white screen. This fusion between painted canvas and projected image fascinates the eye, but with too long of a look, the paintings suck the viewer in to a dizzy, overwhelming world. Bridget Riley’s pulsing stripes may induce a seasick sensation, but combined with Day-Glo colors and moving images, this effect is squared.

FOCUS: Ben Jones at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Installation view.

Jones blends together a Happy Meal of art historical references, including Op and Pop art. The one static painting in Jones’ exhibition, a Day-Glo scene painted over in rich velvety black, offers a particularly serendipitous reference to Andy Warhol (the exhibition Andy Warhol: The Last Decade is also visiting The Modern right now). Some of Warhol’s iconic paintings are black images, silkscreened and painted over Day-Glo colors. The use of Day-Glo remains an attention grabbing, look-at-me tactic. Yet Jones replaces Warhol’s familiar pop images with a hand-painted scene from a digital world. Jones builds a complex of three canvases to create a dizzying, claustrophobic space inhabited by a creepy green woman with pointed fingers. The shock factor may be different but it contrasts with the art’s playful colors and this juxtaposition is reminiscent of Warhol’s dire images of car crashes, revolvers and self-portraits.

The central gallery space feels like actually stepping into one of the space of one of the animated paintings in the adjacent galleries. Jones, who is one-third of the artist collective Paper Rad and an animator for The Simpsons, beams the viewer into a digital world. Two walls are painted in broad diagonal gray-and-white stripes. These series of stripes, patterns and shapes recur throughout the exhibition, causing viewers to recognize and reassess their presence in varied contexts. For example, a dog image, painted with the now familiar neon stripes, is repeated in mirror image on the painted backdrop for MS Video Painting 2. Jones takes the elongated shape of the digital dog and transforms it into an actual bench which sits in the middle room. Though it appeared totally functional, the bench was off-limits for sitting, which placed it within the context of sculpture.

Three Day-Glo ladders mounted on the walls also allude to imaginary space. Abstracted and non-functional, these ladders exist for the mind. The ladders’ false three-dimensionality is symbolic of the viewer’s eye and mind crossing into an animated space that is physically impenetrable. Jones’ art holds the tension of this embodied/disembodied experience. Watching The Simpsons in your living room, this mental leap may go unexamined, but standing in Jones’s installation at The Modern, the journey itself becomes an object of fascination. With his many shapes, patterns and mysterious characters, Jones thwarts an easy narrative reading. By resisting narrative and working within the context of a museum, Jones points the viewer instead to the relationship between digital media and traditional painting. Next to the mischievious fun of Jones’s animated paintings, Stella’s painted, swirling, cutout wood surfaces look contrived and dated, records of the painter’s toil, both mental and physical. Meanwhile, Jones’s animated light paintings actually dissolve the constraints of the canvas that so obsessed modernist painters like Stella, giving the work a deceivingly light easy appearance, even if it is anything but. Perhaps the most fundamental difference is that the labor itself has shifted, in large part, from the physical to computer-based technology.

Wendy Atwell received her M.A. in Art History and Criticism from The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Emergent Behavior
The Temporary Space, Houston
Closed April 25, 2010

By Wendy Vogel

Emergent Behavior: Project for a Houston Biennial, 2010, Installation view. Courtesy the temporary space, Houston. Photo: Keijiro Suzuki.

Emergent Behavior, the group exhibition curated by nine MFA students from the University of Houston, just closed at The Temporary Space. But don’t worry; the whole thing is online. You didn’t need to be there … or did you?

This question is at the root of Emergent Behavior. Billed as a project for a Houston biennial, the project grew out of a semester-long conversation in a course entitled Virtual Curating taught by Raphael Rubinstein. The end result was then articulated in two spaces: a physical manifestation at The Temporary Space — a fitting venue for such an ephemeral project—and a virtual one at www.houstonbiennial.com.

What one actually saw upon entering The Temporary Space was a series of numbered outlines in colored tape on the walls. The dimensions of these outlines corresponded to those on a printed checklist of artworks. The set-up was not unlike “spiking” a theatrical stage — the process of placing colored tape to mark the outlines where set pieces should be placed by stagehands. The theatrical metaphor was fitting. Instead of a receptacle facilitating passive viewing of artworks, the space became a theater of memory for the audience. The installation required viewers to mnemonically summon images of the works and imagine their physical presence in the space. This performative act of recollection implied a certain futility in the curatorial process (and an apt parallel for the theory/praxis divide).

Emergent Behavior: Project for a Houston Biennial, 2010.

This futility was borne out in the “installation” itself. Works overlapped and crisscrossed, corresponding not to curatorial logic or artistic intention, but simply to what fit where. On one small wall alone, for instance, a photograph by Palestinian artist Emily Jacir and a textile/object by Anthony Record directly overlaid a recent painting by Neo-expressionist Albert Oehlen. As one of the curators told me, an installation model was not used: rather, when it came time to “install” the show, the curators simply improvised in the space. Needless to say, with actual objects, the results would be haphazard at best, career sabotage at the worst.

The performative impulse extended to the exhibition’s mediation materials. Another numbered handout given to viewers presented brief curatorial statements on each work. They ranged from the traditional descriptive information, to the poetic (statement #14, on Rachel Hecker’s 2006 painting of an office post-it note entitled Nobody Called: “Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself or someone else can be found within the outskirts of your life”), to ironic judgment (#49, on Jacques de la Villeglé’s Boulevard Edgar Quintet, a décollage from 1987: “Limited shelf life”). This gesture again expressed the irreconcilability of individual curatorial strategies and intentions.

The role of the exhibition-website-as-mediation is clearly upended, as well. The site is the informational hub, with images of artworks presented alphabetically and links to the artists’ websites, encouraging as much associative drift as linear viewing. The themes of the Houston Biennial emerge here, where works by local Houston artists are interspersed with those by their international peers and forebearers. Watercolors that pair a purposely naïve style with macabre subject matter by Cody Ledvina (AIDS, 2010) and Lane Hagood (Modern Ubermensch, 2009) share a sensibility with works by artists such as Mike Kelley, represented with a loose painting on panel of various types wrenched from yearbook photos (Untitled 13, 2008-09). Playful works by Robert Pruitt (Two Sistas, 2009) and James Sham (Close Caption, 2008) examine identity formation, alienation and mistranslation and speak to similar politics of identity in Mamali Shafahi’s collage Wonderland (2,500 years celebration) (2008). Jon Rubin and Andrea Grover’s project Never Been to Houston (2007), which asks non-residents to submit a picture representing their view of the city, resonates with Amirali Ghasemi’s photo installation Choose Your Background (2006-08), where tourists pose in front of painted backgrounds of international monuments.

Of course, these connections only emerge through the viewer’s active participation and website navigation, not through traditional curatorial juxtaposition. In concert with the website, the physical manifestation of Emergent Behavior offers a productive questioning of (virtual) curatorial practice. The installation of overlapping tapelines illustrates the hypothetical apogee of curators’ instrumentalization of artworks. Perhaps this collective gesture is a brilliant sublimation of artists’ fears on the brink of graduation. It equally raises important questions surrounding the biennial model: What would a Houston biennial look like? Could it be done with little-to-no budget? How can artists and curators exploit the “virtual” as an alternative platform in a secondary art capital?

While the format of Emergent Behavior is as much an experimental exercise as a fully finished form (and merits an equally speculative review), it shows a developed critical ambivalence toward the “colonizing” and operatic (“curator as genius”) aspects of existing biennial models. In this respect, the website alone doesn’t function alone. The metacuratorial gesture of refusal — that is, the refusal to limit experience to a prepackaged exhibition — is palpably felt in the exhibition space that lacks a spectacular punch. Only standing within that echoing space, talking about the non-artworks on the walls, cross-referencing handouts and experiences, could one experience the true impact of this absurd attack on the traditional curatorial gesture, and the subtler dig at viewing conventions. Did this gesture expose the theatricality of exhibition viewing? Did the tape outlines of artworks simply become the backdrop for networking among gallery goers? Is this any different from how people normally behave at openings? These questions could only be answered by live viewer participation. In that sense, you had to be there.

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

...mbg recommends

Silvana Lacarra, Jenny Hart, Jill Magid & Mary Walling Blackburn

By Claire Ruud

Silvana Lacarra, Autorretratos, 2007.

Now is the moment to get as much art as possible into your system in anticipation of the leaner summer months ahead. The first of these recommendations has already closed, but we couldn't let it slip by without mention.

Silvana Lacarra
Birdhouse Gallery
Closed May 30, 2010

Silvana Lacarra’s show Surface closed last weekend at Birdhouse Gallery, and the artist returns to Buenos Aires today, with a promise to be back next year. The small show contained a few treasures—in particular Lacarra’s three autorretratos (self-portraits) and a couple of landscape “paintings” made of cut wood. The autorretratos, photographs of the artist wearing a slim, photoshopped dress that appears to be made of wood, harken back to a work from the same year also titled Autorretrato (2007), a table with the same diamond shaped holes through its surface. In the new photographs, the holes appear to be directly through Lacarra’s body, prompting reflections about the body’s surface, solidity, appearance and actuality.

Jenny Hart
Domy Books
Through June 10, 2010

Jenny Hart’s current show, Study Hall, is consonant with a faux-tween aesthetic that’s popular at Domy. Hart’s series of high-school portraits, replete with 80s blow-outs, aviators and an Iron Maiden T-shirt, are more glamorous than the characters in Esther Pearl Watson’s Unlovable, but the portraits, framed with embroidery designs in colored pencil, retain a related adolescent awkwardness and suggest the fraught infatuations of a teenager.

Jill Magid and Mary Walling Blackburn
Blanton Museum of Art
May 8 & 15, 2010

Jill Magid and Mary Walling Blackburn will be in Austin this weekend and next, respectively. Well, kind of. This Saturday, Austin-based performer Stephen Low will perform Jill Magid giving a lecture, fittingly, about people who take on new identities for various reasons. Next Saturday, Austin-based writers Katie Anania and Claire Ruud (yes, that's me) will, in a related move, substitute teach for Mary Walling Blackburn’s Anhoek School. These events are in conjunction with Anna Craycroft’s WorkSpace exhibition, Subject of Learning/Object of Study, which has already brought some excellent programming to the Blanton. (Last weekend’s Cave and Mountain Tour: The Blanton Edition with artist Keith Wilson was a highlight.) Here’s to more to come!

Claire Ruud is Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative.

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

Una Corda
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 15, 7-11pm

Una Corda is a solo performance with music meditating on the spiritual affects and effects of cancer. Through presenting an original, “from-scratch” ritual, Una Corda digs beneath the sentimental and condescending notion of cancer as it exists in the popular imagination and instead explores how cancer effects us as a lived experience—visceral, complex, messy, and unresolved.

Austin on View

Jenny Hart: Study Hall Drawings
Domy Books
Through June 10

"These are drawings based on year-book photos of various students from my high school. I grew up and attended school in the same town throughout my life and went from daycare to graduation with many of the same kids from this farming town. Despite the access FaceBook offers, I have no idea where most of these people are today." – Jenny Hart

Marina Zurkow
Women and their Work
Through May 27

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.

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
Through May 28

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.

Ballads For Approaching Vultures
Okay Mountain
Through May 29

Okay Mountain presents, Ballads For Approaching Vultures, a two person show featuring the work of Scott Eastwood and Skinner. Each artist draws on popular and underground culture, at times employing the aesthetic language of genre horror and fantasy, with emphasis on exploring the exchange of effluence these references have with music. Skinner currently lives and works in Sacramento, California and Eastwood is based in Austin where he is currently enrolled in the MFA Painting program at the University of Texas.

Austin Closings

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.

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.

Dallas on View

Sam Reveles
Dunn and Brown Contemporary
Through June 19

Created over the last two years, the ten new works exhibited in Jaurez Paintings are a direct result of Sam Reveles’ move to El Paso from New York and his reaction to the situation of violence and civil unrest in Ciudad Jaurez. For the three largest works in the show, Mandala Paintings for Juarez I, II, and III, Reveles creates a mandala form as used in Tantric Buddhism “as a means to represent an ideal, an aid to visualize a more enlightened, positive, and peaceful state.”

Houston on View

Emilie Halpern & Eric Zimmerman
Art Palace
Through June 19

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. (From the press release)

Dan Sutherland
Moody Gallery
Through May 29

Moody Gallery is pleased to present Headlands, an exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by Dan Sutherland. In this work Sutherland builds and dismantles imaginary structures that evoke architecture, landscape, and still life, creating complex (and often impossible) spaces replete with allusions to painting's history. Headlands marks Sutherland's second one-person exhibition at Moody Gallery. He has exhibited in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and extensively in Texas since 1991. Sutherland lives and works in Austin and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin. From the press release.

Maurizio Cattelan
The Menil Collection
Through August 15

Contemporary Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan is known for his witty embrace of semantic shifts that result from imaginative plays with materials, objects, and actions. In his work, contradictions in the space between what the artist describes as softness and perversity wage a sarcastic critique on political power structures, from notions of nationalism or the authorities of organized religion to the conceit of the museum and art history. from the press release

Cruz Ortiz
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Through: July 11

San Antonio artist Cruz Ortiz takes over the CAMH for his first museum exhibition with his alien alter ego- the Spaztek, a post-Chicano, post-punk antihero that is part Aztek, part spazz, and part spaceman. With prints, paintings, sculptures, video, installation, and performance, Ortiz's work is speaks about life, love, and the struggle for equality. A colorful two-story siege tower constructed from salvaged bike parts will be installed out on the front lawn of the CAMH too! Perspectives 170: Cruz Ortiz is organized by Toby Kamps, senior curator and will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue.

Marfa on View

Jarrod Beck
Second Floor Marfa
Through May 31

New York-based artist Jarrod Beck is known for a practice that exists somewhere on the edge between art and architecture. In March 2010, Beck began this two-part installation that is now on view at Second Floor Marfa. 2-D works on paper and mixed media works are showcased in the upstairs gallery space with an exterior component that complements these works, extending from the interior space to the "outside world". Do not miss the opportunity to see this show while it lasts and be sure to check out the video too.

San Antonio Openings

This is All Real
Unit B Gallery
Opening Reception: Friday, May 21, 6:30-10pm

Joey Fauerso, Leslee Fraser and Gyan Shrosbree, inspired by the subjectivities and proclivities of the others, bring together their work in a maximalist installation that obfuscates authorship, and decentralizes the art object. This construction is a collection of collections! Art objects are interspersed with other items that any of the artists may covet, collect, or consume. Art is artifice, but this is all real.

Austin Openings

The Archways Project
Opening Reception: Sunday, May 16, 6-9pm

The Archways Project is a one night curatorial initiative that features the apartment complex as an exhibition site. Archways, a complex in the Cherrywood neighborhood, is owned by Roscoe Properties and features large, remodeled efficiency apartments with wood laminate flooring, appliances, and new fixtures and hardware. On Sunday May 16th four Archways efficiencies will be transformed into small gallery spaces displaying sculpture, performance, video, drawing, and painting from over a dozen Texas artists. Click here for more info and artist/curator bios.

Announcements: events

Austin Events

Workshop in conjunction with WorkSpace: Anna Craycroft
Blanton Museum of Art
Saturday, May 15, 2PM

Anhoek School, an experimental project by New York artist Mary Walling Blackburn, meets at The Blanton for a workshop on starting your own school and a speed lecture covering a semester in 45 minutes.

Third Thursday at the Blanton
Blanton Museum of Art
Thursday, May 20, 5 - 9PM

Join us for our free evening of art and activities!
6:30PM Yoga in the Galleries
7PM Blanton Book Club: On Photography by Susan Sontag
*7PM Artist’s Video: Rock My Religion by Dan Graham
7:30PM Tour: Picasso: A Graphic Inquiry
Enjoy an extended happy hour in The Blanton Café featuring a glass of wine and a slice of gourmet pizza for $5.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Proposals

Über Lebenskunst: the Call For Future
Über Lebenskuns
Deadline: May 24, 2010

The two-year program Über Lebenskunst is underway with the Call For Future which marks the start of the joint project of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. This project aims to find groundbreaking initiatives for new models of ecologically sustainable living both in and for Berlin with partners from around the world. Up to 20,000 euros will be awarded to projects that convincingly bring together culture and sustainability and defy odds to put new ecological models for thought and action to the test for the 21st century. Email presse@ueber-lebenskunst.org with any inquiries.

N.M.A.S.S. New Media Art & Sound Summit
Church of the Friendly Ghost
Deadline: May 14, 2010

The Church of the Friendly Ghost has issued an open proposal call for music, performance, and art at N.M.A.S.S. Experimental music, video art, intermedia works, new music, progressive sound, bits, art pop, creative improvised music, graphic scores, alternate controllers, antler fancy, electronic expression, queerness, handmade devices, twee, fidget blip, doom construction, bayou skuzz, jazz, Wii core, glow core, neo fauxie, art damage, art dandyism, other, more, maximum. If you’re smiling by now you might want to submit a proposal to participate. HOW TO APPLY: To propose a piece, performance, or inclusion of your musical group, please submit via email a short resume, work samples, and a brief description of the piece you'd like to do by May 14th, 2010, to: churchofthefriendlyghost@gmail.com

Call for Entries

Frieze Writer's Prize 2010
Frieze Magazine
Deadline: June 25, 2010

Frieze Writer's Prize was established in 2006 by frieze magazine to promote and encourage new critics from across the world.
This year, the prize will be judged by philosopher and critic Boris Groys; writer and novelist A.M. Homes and co-editor of frieze magazine Jörg Heiser.
• Entrants must submit one previously unpublished review of a recent contemporary art exhibition, approximately 700 words in length.
• Entries must be submitted in English, but may be a translation (this must be acknowledged).
• Entrants must be over 18 years old.
• To qualify, entrants may only previously have had a maximum of three pieces of writing on art published in any national or regional newspaper or magazine. Previous online publication is permitted.
• The winning entrant will be commissioned to write a review for the October issue of frieze and be awarded 2,000 GBP.
• Closing date is 25 June 2010.
• Entries should be emailed as a word attachment to writersprize@frieze.com. Please do not send images.
For more info click here.

New Art in Austin
Austin Museum of Art
Deadline: July 29, 2010

The Austin Museum of Art (AMOA) is accepting artists’ submissions for the exhibition "New Art in Austin," which will be on view at AMOA-Downtown from February 26 -May 22, 2011. The fourth in a triennial showcase, "New Art in Austin" introduces emerging and lesser-known artists from Central Texas whose work stretches the boundaries of contemporary art. A statewide curatorial review team will evaluate the work of local artists made over the past three years. Through this exhibition of cutting-edge work in a variety of media, and its accompanying catalogue, the museum seeks to create a dialogue about contemporary art in Austin and attract attention to artists within our community. Click here for Call Details and Application.

Employment Opportunities

The Power Plant seeks Senior Curator
The Power Plant
Application Deadline: May 25, 2010

An employment opportunity exists at The Power Plant for a Senior Curator Programmes. Reporting to the Director, this position is responsible for implementing art and audience development programmes for gallery, including exhibitions, publications, public projects and audience engagement and education programmes. The ideal candidate will hold a post graduate qualification in Art History, Fine Arts, Art Education or a related discipline and have a minimum of 5 years programming and management experience in a contemporary art organization. Please send your resume and letter of interest quoting Job Reference #10F12-EF to:

Human Resources, 235 Queens Quay West
Toronto, ON M5J 2G8 CANADA
Fax (416) 973-1003
E-mail: jobs@harbourfrontcentre.com

Grant Opportunity

The Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program
Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program
Deadline: Monday, June 7, 2010

The Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program supports individual writers whose work addresses contemporary visual art through grants ranging from 3,000 to 50,000 USD. Writers who meet the program’s eligibility requirements are invited to apply in the following categories:
* Articles
* Blogs
* Books
* New and Alternative Media
* Short-Form Writing
For guidelines and additional eligibility requirements, please visit http://www.artswriters.org.

Studio Space Available
3,000 sq, ft. Space Available June 1

Mark and Katherine Fine arts center on the east side has a 3,000 sq, ft., premium space available June 1. Located in the center of a lively community of professional creatives in a remodeled warehouse, the HVAC space has 14 ft. ceilings, concrete floors, track lighting, and an office and storage. The center also includes a tenants' conference room, catering kitchen, and changing exhibitions of contemporary art. A metro station is nearby. For details and pricing, ask for Mark at 512.477.9328, ext. 30 or email mark@flatbedpress.com.

Call for Artists

Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata: Call for Loans
Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata
Deadline: June 1, 2010

MNAE's next thematic show Underground will open early this
summer - they are currently seeking loaned objects (and their stories) that
fit the theme... Archaeological and fossil relics, crystals and guano,
political, mental, and aesthetic undergrounds of all kinds... To loan a
display, drop by with it during open hours or get in touch by June 1. For more information, click here.

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