MBG Issue #153: For the art enthusiast in the grip of serious seasonal ennui

Issue # 153

For the art enthusiast in the grip of serious seasonal ennui

July 30, 2010

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Minerva Cuevas, Detail, Crossing of the Rio Bravo, 2010, Action, string, lime, water, brush, metallic bucket, historical documents, postcards, map, petrified wood, petrified dinosaur bone, tire piece, pavement paint, rocks, compass, flowers. Photos by Erika Blumenfeld. Photography © Fredrik Nilsen.

from the editor

I find it difficult to write this, my final letter from the editor. Most of all, I want to express how much I’ve appreciated the writers, artists and curators with whom I’ve worked, the readers who’ve read …might be good and the visitors who’ve come to testsite. Collectively, you have taught me a tremendous amount about how to participate in an emerging scene like Austin’s. The reflections that follow condense the wisdom of my peers into a few concise points. It’s nothing new to you; you are the ones who’ve modeled these ideas for me over the past four years. They bear repeating not as prescriptive advice, but rather as a reflection of this community at its best. I’ve been deeply shaped by you, and these are the practices, attitudes and strategies I’ve learned here that I want to take with me now.

(1) Be Relevant

Understand the art scene close to home—both the work being made and the institutional models being used—in relationship to the larger art world. Yes, this includes New York and L.A., but also cities more like ours whose models may be more productively translated into our own community.

(2) Be Irrelevant

Do something to stretch your mind outside the same-old-same-old art world conversations. Read history books, poems, or graphic novels. Become an expert on horror films from the former Soviet-bloc. Spend a lot of time in antique stores in the middle of nowhere.

(3) Find a Mentor

My working and personal relationship with the director of Fluent~Collaborative, Laurence Miller, has probably been the single largest factor in my growth as a curator and arts administrator. Find someone.

(4) Be Critical

Self-criticality and critical thinking (not negative, but challenging) about art work and art institutions are essential to change and growth.

(5) Be a Mentor

The fact is many of us will have to leave Austin for jobs eventually. Once you’ve been here for at least two years, you know the ropes much better than the new arrivals. Find someone who’s just arrived (and thus has a good chance of having a longer shelf-life here than you do, and who will be taking up the mantel as one of the long-timers when you leave), and share your experience and knowledge of the history, institutions, successes and failures with them.

(6) Be There

Be at openings. If you didn’t go to the opening (or if you didn’t really see the work at the opening), go back for open hours.

(7) Be Organized

Whether short-lived or long-lived, the meetings of peers in which I’ve been involved have been the most energizing activities in which I’ve been engaged. Start a reading group, or a research cluster on a topic of mutual interest or a crit group. Getting together to shoot the shit is important, too, but what I’m talking about here is being invested in one another’s intellectual transformation.

(8) Be Collaborative

Easier said than done, I know. However, no institution can be truly vibrant in a vacuum all its own. The success and sustainability of every artist-run space, every commercial gallery and every museum depends on the success of all of them.

These are the things I want to take with me. It is this experience here in Austin that has led me to the next stage of my own journey: business school. This step could be the subject of its own essay, one I’ll be better prepared to write after I take the plunge in August. More importantly now, …might be good is about to enter a new phase, too. After a month’s hiatus, the journal will return early this fall under the leadership of a new editor. It’s exciting to bring a new voice and vision to the magazine, and can’t wait to see where it goes. testsite, too, will continue under the guidance of Laurence Miller and Mike Chesser. The current show, Michael Krumenacker’s Your Hair Is Mine, will remain up through August, followed by an exhibition of drawings by Mary Walling Blackburn in September and testsite 10.2: Roberto Tejada & Rob Verf in November—an outstanding line-up.

In closing, I want to reiterate my appreciation for the writers, readers and artists who have contributed to …might be good, testsite and Austin at large during my time here. I can’t say it enough: thank you. You made my time here a pleasure.

Claire Ruud is Associate Director Emeritus of Fluent~Collaborative.

In lieu of Claire's departure, please also read, A Letter From the Director


Cordy Ryman
Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin
Through September 4

By Eric Zimmerman

Cordy Ryman, Blue Brick Brace, 2010, Enamel on wood with Velcro, 86 pieces, 87 x 12-3/4 x 63-1/2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Lora Reynolds Gallery.

Nestled in the ninety-degree space between floor and wall, Cordy Ryman’s playful Blue Brick Brace (2010) is a quiet eye grabber. The sculpture’s construction foregrounds materiality. Forty-four blocks of wood stretch seven feet up the wall in two parallel rows that total just over twelve inches wide. Seven of the blocks on the top of the column are left raw while the remainder are hastily painted with thick turquoise enamel. Sometimes, the enamel forms hardened drips on edges of the blocks, and often, it subtly masks the seams between parts. At the juncture between floor and wall, a mitered joint transitions the columns into a five-foot stretch onto the floor, the final seven blocks of wood again left raw.

With its L-shaped construction, Blue Brick Brace becomes a tool for seeing and framing the space in which it sits. The vertical section draws our eyes to the height, color and texture of the walls while its horizontal partner towards the sleekness of the concrete floor. The point of connection between the two emphasizes the small gap between the floor and floating gallery wall, the place that, in our homes, is typically occupied by molding. Playing with the architectural space of the gallery through object placement and material manipulation is not a new idea, yet in this instance Ryman does so with a reserved exuberance that is persuasive in its formal beauty and directness.

Ryman’s attention to detail at the transition between wall and floor collides with the slap-dash application of paint and the inconsistency of the overall construction to great effect. Mitered, not simply stacked, this simple joint is a smart tactical move on Ryman’s part. Along with the contrast between the smooth horizontal wood grain of the raw blocks and the slick, lumpy plasticity of the painted ones, such details add up to a palpable playfulness that alternates between the serious and the flippant.

The artist’s historical lineage is clear-ranging from Constructivism to Judd and capitalizes on the contemporary resurgence of abstraction. Blue Brick Brace conjures Carl Andre with its tile like pattern, and Tuttle with its even-handed embrace of the shoddy, garish and simply elegant. Ryman has learned his historical lessons while fitting perfectly into a contemporary abstraction that is all about play, unabashed visual pleasure and the formal games that can be teased out of materials.

If, like Judd, Ryman’s interest lies in having us, through repetition, notice the subtle differences between surfaces, lighting conditions, space and materials, then this particular piece succeeds. It is foremost a beautiful modular object that occupies the specific, albeit generalized, space between wall and floor. Yet Ryman’s sculpture raises a critical question about the resurgence of abstraction. Are contemporary abstractions practitioners aiming to merely visually stimulate, or are they attempting to take up some of the perceptual and material questions raised by their forbearers? If abstraction, and Ryman’s piece in particular, tells us anything, it’s that the starting point lies in specific objects and the results of actively looking at them, noticing their subtleties and listening to what they say.

Eric Zimmerman is an artist and writer who lives and works in New York.

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

By Alison Hearst

Installation view, In Lieu of Unity, Curated by Alicia Ritson. Courtesy of the artists.

For the tens of thousands of art tourists annually descending on Marfa, a full-on immersion in all things Donald Judd and a journey through the climactic highs of minimalism are the top priorities. Consequently (and likely unintended by Judd), the big box of minimalism has often overshadowed Marfa’s cultural and physical proximities to Mexico. Exhibitions have rarely broached Marfa’s relationship to Mexico or featured works by Mexican or Mexican-American artists—a rather shameful omittance for a town just 60 miles north of the border. At last, Alicia Ritson’s In Lieu of Unity at Ballroom Marfa delicately bridges this gap with socially minded works by ten artists and one artist collective. All of the featured artists either live in or have emigrated from Mexico. Current conversations regarding the Mexico/US border unpack a myriad of divisive, hot-button issues, such as immigration policies, recently built border fences, racial profiling in Arizona and vicious drug wars in Juárez and beyond. In Lieu of Unity smartly forgoes a narrow, propagandistic approach to these topics, offering more comprehensive and considered dialogues. Manifested are poignant examples of interpersonal collaborations and interventions that shed light on and attempt to rectify the multitude of crises and disparities affecting the border. With a forward-looking, albeit un-utopian, spin, In Lieu of Unity prompts solidarity from the viewer, ultimately underscoring how communities can be forged regardless of man-made borders.

The exhibition’s spacious installation allows the well-chosen works, which include videos, installations and sculptures, to interact without tuning each other out. Located outside in Ballroom’s courtyard is Eduardo Abaroa’s installation Eighty Prepositions in English and Their Spanish Equivalents. Abaroa uses language—English and Spanish prepositions—to prove how such organized societal systems are arbitrary and only ostensibly divide or unite communities. Attached to a chain-linked fence, Abaroa has matched all eighty Spanish prepositions with their English translations. On the ground below are makeshift illustrations of the prepositions, like under/bajo, crafted from found objects (such as wood pieces, clothing and dolls) that were collected from Marfa and Mexican border towns. The vignettes are at times literally illustrative, but sometimes vague, revealing the ambiguity of language and how easily communication becomes lost in translation.

Pedro Reyes, Palas por pistolas, 2008-present.

In the main gallery, Minerva Cuevas’ two works, Crossing of the Rio Bravo and SU-US-US (both 2010), document Cuevas’ interventions in the Big Bend region where Mexico and the US are bisected by the Rio Bravo, or the “Rio Grande” as it’s known to northerners. In Crossing of the Rio Bravo, Cuevas has installed her documentary photographs and the relating objects (such as a bucket and paintbrush she used and flowers and rocks from the region) alongside an antique US map. Pinned to the wall, the map depicts Texas in precise detail; a bright, white void stands in place of Mexico. The regional relics interject traces of the border—a potentially transformative site—into the gallery; the artifacts also remind viewers of the territory’s similarity to Marfa, despite what the map sets forth to instruct. The photograph SU-US-US illustrates where Cuevas painted “SU” onto the region’s terrain; “su” means “yours” in Spanish, but could also be read backwards as “us” or “U.S.”—a clever play on desire, territory and ownership. Cuevas’ limestone markings will eventually fade, laying bare the ambiguity of physical borders and also their ability to shift over time.

Also transplanting traces from border regions into the seemingly innocuous context of Marfa are Margarita Cabrera’s Space In Between and Teresa Margolles’ Irigación (both 2010). Cabrera’s collection of cacti are each formed from US Border Patrol uniforms. The cacti species are those indigenous to the US-Mexico border, where agents wearing such uniforms are also found. Cabrera, together with nine women who have recently immigrated to the US, collaborated to produce the plants, which are emblazoned with traditional Mexican embroidery illustrating the women’s autobiographical immigration scenes ranging from family portraits to border fences. For Margolles’ work, she visited Juárez and laid dampened cloths on drug-related murder sites. Detritus and human remains adhered to the cloths, which were then diluted in 5,000 gallons of water. In the piece’s video component, an irrigation truck is seen distributing the water along Highway 90 in Marfa. In this way, Margolles literally transplants these horrors to sleepy Marfa, suggesting that such crimes affect, or should affect, those living beyond Juárez. Margolles’ act also touches on the fact that the dead are victims of cartels essentially battling to supply the US’s insatiable need for illegal drugs. Like Martha Rosler in her well-known Vietnam and 9/11-era works, Margolles is essentially bringing the war home.

An exhibition highlight that offers measurable solutions is Pedro Reyes’ Palas por Pistolas (2008 – present). The project centers in Culiacán, Mexico, where cartel activity and gun-related murders are high in the nation. For the project, Reyes’ offers food stamps in exchange for guns and weapons, which are then melted down to form the metal tips of shovels. In turn, each shovel assists in planting one tree—substituting death for life. In the exhibition, the project manifests itself in the form of a live, potted tree installed next to a shovel (here it’s number 1,527). The tree will be planted in Marfa at the exhibition’s conclusion.

Other works, such as Paulina Lasa’s Untitled (2010) and Reyes’ Capula 18 (Dodecahedron) (2010), set up situations encouraging visitors to physically navigate and relate to one another. Untitled is an array of gold rings attached to interconnected strings of yarn; while wearing the rings, groups must weave among each other in order to navigate the gallery space. Reyes’ piece is a multi-colored steel and vinyl dodecahedron form suspended from the ceiling; visitors are encouraged to sit together within the swing-like form.

While these works emphasize literal physical interactions, the strongest works are those with more overt political agendas and those emphasizing connections on both sides of the Mexico/US border specifically. Indeed, In Lieu of Unity does a great job in igniting conversations regarding the Mexico/US border in the context of Marfa, but the relative obscurity of didactic texts in the gallery may cause some of the messages to fall on deaf ears and quash potential dialogues amongst many gallery visitors. The works and issues on hand are complex and need to be teased out a bit more—particularly for those viewers unfamiliar with the artists and those unacquainted with the issues at stake. The works bearing information, such as Margolles’ and Reyes’ pieces, are immediately affecting; others are, too, once illuminated.

Alison Hearst is the Curatorial Research Assistant at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and a co-founder of Subtext Projects.

Condensations of the Social
Smack Mellon, Brooklyn
Through August 1

By Katie Anania

Mierle Laderman UkelesInstallation view, Touch Sanitation Performance, 1977-1980. Courtesy of the artist and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, NY. Image courtesy of Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Etienne Frossard.

Anyone who’s ever become fascinated with an exhibition for the wrong reasons will sympathize with my interest in Condensations of the Social, the current group show organized by Sara Reisman at Smack Mellon in Dumbo. Reisman’s curatorial premise argues for the revolutionary potential of pedagogically and socially inclined contemporary art, for its ability to “create new possibilities for persuasion.” Among other things, the show promised a re-installation of Merle Laderman Ukeles’ 1978-80 performance Touch Sanitation, in which the artist set out to shake the hands of all 8,500 sanitation workers in New York City, saying “Thank you for keeping New York City alive” to each. To me, Laderman Ukeles’ blending of dogged seriality and tender intimacy would make Touch Sanitation the pièce de résistance of any survey or group show, and Condensations of the Social was no exception. So, full disclosure: this work became the screen and the barometer through and by which I judged all the other works, which I don’t think is what Reisman wanted to happen.

The common tie among the featured artists was their interest in making “the social” more knowable but less quantifiable. Watching Laderman Ukeles’ videotaped interviews with the sanitation workers, who unburden to Laderman Ukeles their stories of inhuman treatment by New York’s businesses and private citizens, prompts the viewer to think not about garbage but rather about the garbage workers themselves. Following a similar logic, Miladen Miljanovic’s video I Serve Art features video images of Miljanovic’s period of decompression after Bosnian military service. But the difference between the two works—one that made Touch Sanitation more problematic and thus more generative—is that Laderman Ukeles’ stubborn subject-position penetrates each scene. Her spotless hot-pink t-shirt against the drab uniformity of crowds of “san men”, her bright blond coif that serves to underscore her whiteness (and thus irremediable difference from her interviewees)—these things, when seen on film, really trouble the idea that artistic intervention into “the social” can never be completely successful.

Let Knowledge Serve the City (2010), a collective installation by the Art and Social Practice MFA students at Portland State University, was less quirk-rich; in fact, it felt like an over-enthusiastic paean to local commerce. The work included a wall-length chalkboard and typed paper notices that detailed upcoming tutorials at the gallery on organic gardening, the story of a nearby community bicycle shop, and directions to a handmade clothing store several blocks away from the gallery. While these entities might effect very real social change in the area, I challenge artists to find a way of mapping neighborhoods like this without the resulting visual material giving off the air of a scaled-down social networking site. The eight-page reader that Reisman assembled to accompany the exhibition, which included the students’ responses to questions like “Why do you think artists are turning to pedagogical practice now?”, was more effective at making the students appear as intellectually sophisticated as they probably are.

Condensations of the Social also made it clear that Laderman Ukeles’ work is enjoying a reassessment because of recent debates about globalized labor. Several of the participants, Mary Mattingly and the Portland MFAs in particular, made work that manifested concerns about where labor was coming from, who was doing it, and how ethically it was being obtained. Overall, this was a productive attempt to historicize recent turns in contemporary art that otherwise feel unctuously hokey or utopian, and Touch Sanitation muscles through as an absolute theoretical centerpiece.

Katie Anania is an art critic and doctoral student in Art History.

Ed Ruscha and the Internet
Route 66 and the Internet Superhighway

By Dan Boehl

Ed Ruscha, Pay Nothing Until April, 2003, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches.

I was 22 in 2000, the year I saw Ed Ruscha’s retrospective at the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in DC. At the time I had no real grasp on the concepts of authorship or appropriation, but because of my interests in image and language, Ruscha’s Sin (1967) (gunpowder on paper), blew me away. I drew it in my notebook. Then I drew other paintings: Smash (1963), City (1968) and Sea Of Desire (1983). I understood neither the work nor my fascination with them. Something about the mixture of design and text appealed to me, but because the disembodied words seemed to serve no useful function, that is, they were not trying to sell me anything though they looked like they should be, the work baffled me. It was not until very recently, when I began using Google reader to look at hundreds of images a day, that I realized that Internet mash-up image culture’s use of appropriation of public imagery owes much of its style and composition to Ruscha’s work.

On Ruscha’s maiden drive from Oklahoma, he experienced the dying west; the west as a space rapidly disappearing into Post-War boom. There were the gas stations and dinners, of course, but more effecting to Ruscha’s work were the homespun billboards coaxing travelers to stop and rest awhile. Eventually the western frontier gave way to the design and advertising frontiers of the 60’s, where empty spaces filled with the accoutrements of the time, and each item, let’s say Ovaltine or a can of Spam, was presented to consumers as the necessary addition to their modern lives in the spreads of Good Housekeeping or on prime time television.

In 2000, the Internet probably looked to me a lot like Route 66 to Ruscha in 1956. Though businesses created savvy commercial pages, most websites looked like those DIY road signs that Ruscha passed on his way to LA: Geocities and Angelfire websites cobbled together with low-res jpegs and gifs. And as years later, Ruscha was painting the slick, commercial paintings for which he became known, in 2010 the Internet has become a place where image reigns supreme, mixing high design with cool exuberance. The 60’s sold us on the notion of image as affluence, and so have the 00’s, but by way of the Internet, a frontier that is filling up with the ubiquity of public imagery.

Ed Rushca, City, 1968, Pastel on paper, 23 x 29 inches.

Route 66 presented a powerfully empty landscape where the ads promised to take care of travelers’ needs, but the larger advertising landscape was being filled with corporate images focused on better living through modernism. Ruscha appropriated both the landscape and the lingo of corporate advertising to cast a light on the incongruity between these two competing cultural forces. In essence, his work overlays the promise of economic progress with the ideal of the American frontier. In in this way, Ruscha anticipated the internet’s use of American image culture without being explicitly drawn from advertising.

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.

Work of Art
Bravo TV
Wednesdays, 10/9c

By Wendy Vogel

Still, Work of Art.

As the mercury climbs higher, even the most assiduous urbanites head to the beach (or the pool) to beat the heat. The art world is not immune to the summer vacation mentality, either. Museum exhibitions generally stretch over the languid months of June, July and August, while galleries mount easy-breezy group shows in anticipation of slower sales. For the art enthusiasts in the grip of serious seasonal ennui, however, Bravo TV has stepped in to fill the void…with some guilty-pleasure eye candy. The network masterminds behind the reality competitions Project Runway and Top Chef, along with executive producer Sarah Jessica Parker, bring us Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, and with it, a heaping spoonful of snarkworthy fodder to tide us over until September.

What do we make of the Work of Art, and what does it tell us about our field from an outsider’s perspective? Mostly, that it’s a crapshoot. From the outset, the show presents a very antiquated and muddled idea of what an artist is and what he or she makes, and does. We are presented with fourteen contestants, repeatedly introduced as “aspiring” artists. Beyond the fact that this terminology is a throwback to a pre-MFA degree era where curators and critics were expected to “anoint” artists out of the midst, it is a label that is clearly not applicable to most of the contestants. Though there are a few who have no formal training (most notably, the brooding Erik Johnson—we’ll return to him later), there are others who have thriving, legitimate mainstream artistic careers. Trong Gia Nguyen, John Prato and Nao Bustamante are hardly unknowns; not coincidentally, these artists were among the first to be voted off. As for the remaining participants, many have MFAs from top institutions. According to Bravo, they’re still aspiring, though, since they all have day jobs. Got it, guys? If you don’t make your living through art sales alone, you’re not a real artist. (By that same logic, I’m an aspiring critic.)

This counterintuitive logic is also extended to the challenges. The artists are repeatedly encouraged to think outside the box and to push themselves to work in different mediums—as long as these mediums were well-accepted by 1965. Furthermore, like the designers and chefs of the other shows, they are asked to work on specific assignments, à la art school. Whether these assignments culminate in a cohesive body of work is to be seen. Beyond these restrictive parameters, we learn that the artists cannot work in video; performance, apparently, is also shaky ground. While the Midwestern insomniac heartthrob Miles Mendenhall scored big for sleeping on his piece (a concrete asshole) during the second week’s challenge, Nao Bustamante, an early favorite for her sharp wit and larger-than-life personality before and during crits, was dismissed for creating a performance for the “Shocking Work of Art” challenge. Or rather, according to my favorite judge, critic Jerry Saltz, because she was a performance artist who created (bad) performance art that reminded him of other (bad) performance art by artists such as Paul McCarthy. Such syllogisms are as commonplace as the references to other artists are infrequent. I assume they are mostly edited out for general audience appeal, because if there’s one thing general audiences hate, we learn, it’s art-school snobbery.

The revulsion toward art-school “pretension” is thinly veiled through the first few episodes, yet it is increasingly voiced by the underdog, the populist contestant Erik Johnson. In the introductory episode, chainsmoking Erik explains that art literally saved his life: painting became the primary source of recovery from a devastating brain injury he suffered in his early 20s. From then on out, Erik is positioned the Everyman: if not the narrator, then certainly as the “authentic” candidate mediating between the audience and the other artists, who Erik repeatedly calls “actors.” On Episode 6, Erik goes down in flames. He is paired with Peregrine, Miles and Jaclyn, all of whom he has lashed out on previously (especially Jaclyn, the show’s version of a contemporary Hannah Wilke, who won the previous week for a piece strikingly similar to an early conceptual work by Laurie Anderson.) Seething with rage at Miles, Erik lambasts him and the other “art school pussies” for thinking they can show him a thing or two. In his exit interview, Erik affirms that he doesn’t need art school or art history to make it. This wild ambivalence about art positioning and art history, then, is thrown into sharp relief, especially in light of the show’s structure and grand prize.

There are moments of illumination on this show, yet most are overshadowed by the Work of Art’s Baudrillardian pretense of art-world legitimation. For those who are not in the know, the winner of Work of Art receives a $100,000 prize and a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The latter prize deeply disturbs me. While we are told, at multiple intervals throughout each episode, that a Prismacolor will donate the cash prize, the museum’s interests should be responsible to more than private entertainment benefactors. Yes, Work of Art’s winners are supposedly determined by a respectable (if not academic) panel of judges, including Jerry Saltz, project space Salon 94 proprietor and art advisor Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and gallerist Bill Powers. But more importantly, during the final credits a clear scrolling disclaimer states, as in other reality shows of this type, that certain decisions of the judges can be overridden by the producers’ will. In other words, what gets shown and legitimated by an encyclopedic, world-renowned museum is not determined not through a curatorial vetting process that is beholden to historical knowledge, connoisseurship and the public interest, but through pure corporate sponsorship.

A simulacra, indeed, and one that is ripe for institutional critique. The first outraged response, surprisingly, came internally, from Brooklyn Museum trustee Martin Baumrind, who quit his post as a result of Bravo’s partnership, the last straw in what Baumrind sees as a troubling trend toward ingratiating populism at the museum. And so, while I’ll continue to watch the episodes of Work of Art posted on the Internet, it certainly won’t stand in for critical discourse. But it will certainly give me something to chew on while I wait for our regularly-scheduled fall season of gallery programming to kick off.

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

Announcements: news

Houston News

Anjali Gupta leaves Art Lies

Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief of Art Lies Anjali Gupta has announced her plans to leave the organization in order to pursue independent projects. Editor-in-Chief of Art Lies’ quarterly journal since 2004, Gupta was named Executive Director of the organization in 2008. In addition to her manifold contributions to Art Lies, Gupta’s writing has appeared in periodicals, including tema celeste, Art Papers, Art Asia Pacific, artUS and Public Art Review, as well as numerous gallery and museum catalogues including American Art Since 1900 (Blanton Museum of Art, 2006). She has edited a number of books, among them the award-winning monograph Thomas Glassford: CADÁVER EXQUISITO (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2007). Gupta is currently a member of the Andy Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital Writer’s Initiative Planning Committee.

With Gupta’s departure, Elizabeth Murray, Art Lies’ Assistant Director, assumes the position of Interim Director. Since 2008, Murray has served as the organization’s chief financial and operations officer, auditing and restructuring Art Lies’ fiscal system, developing Art Lies’ intern program, and launching membership initiatives including subscription drives and organizational donor history refurbishment. Through an associate position with the accounting firm Robert Camp Business Group and freelance consulting engagements, she has helped develop financial strategy for several Houston-area businesses, arts professionals and arts organizations, such as BOX 13 ArtSpace.

Art Lies’ Associate Editor Kurt Mueller, who has worked with the organization since 2006 and was Guest Editorial Contributor of the journal’s Winter 2009 issue, assumes the role of Interim Editor. Mueller, a critic, curator and artist, was a Core Program critical studies resident at the Glassell School of Art of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2008–10. He received his MFA from the University of Texas in Austin in 2008 and his BA from Harvard University in 2002. Mueller has contributed criticism to Art Asia Pacific, Art Papers, Flash Art and Frieze and curated exhibitions at numerous Texas venues, including the Blanton Museum of Art and the Glassell School of Art. Public Relations/Marketing Assistant Lauren Adams will continue to manage advertiser relations, and Harry Dearing, Membership and Administrative Assistant, will handle the day-to-day operations of the organization. Art Lies enjoys strong support from public and private grantmakers, in particular, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts since 2008, The Houston Endowment, The Brown Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts since 1998, the Texas Commission on the Arts and The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, both since 1997, as well as our members and subscribers.

(from the press release)

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

Domy Books and Okay Mountain
Opening Reception: Saturday, August 7, 7-9pm @ Domy Books and Okay Mountain

Organized by Andy Coolquitt, Domy Books and Okay Mountain team up to throw together a potluck of artists. 88 features: Jamie Panzer, Jill Thrasher, Kal Spelletich, Nic Maffei, Regina Vater, Sheelah Murthy, Steve Jones, Teresa Hubbard, Theresa Houston, Lance Letscher, Bob Anderson, Bogdan Perzynski, Carollee Schneemann, Elisa Jimenez, Luke Savisky, Peter Glassford, Sawad Brooks, Julia Maffei, and the list goes on. Check it.

Austin on View

15th Annual Young Latino Artists: Consensus of Taste
Through August 29

Mexic-Arte Museum, the Official Mexican and Mexican American Fine Art Museum of Texas, presents the 15th Annual Young Latino Artists (YLA) Exhibition: Consensus of Taste. Curated by Claudia Zapata, M.A. in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin, this exhibition features the current visual artwork of artists from the past fourteen YLA exhibitions. American art critic Clement Greenberg's paper “Can Taste Be Objective” suggests there is a “consensus of taste” in which disputed taste eventually is agreed upon by all parties. The curator utilizes this concept to showcase past YLA artists' current work and their development into professional visual artists.

Cordy Ryman
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Through September 4

Rooted loosely in minimalism and abstraction, Cordy Ryman's paintings and sculptures address elements of architecture with rich texture and a unique color palette. His intuitive and spontaneous process is propelled and determined primarily by the characteristics of his media. Manipulating materials such as wood, metal, Velcro, Gorilla Glue, staples and scraps from his studio floor, Ryman's assemblages convey his hand in physical and humorous ways.

Sam Sanford
Sofa Gallery
Through August 22

Sam Sanford’s recent paintings and videos are just as much about outer space—celestial bodies, the desolate surface of the moon, the Apollo space landing—as they are about inner space—the human yearning for grand revelations, the psychology of the spacefarer, and the view of Earth as a tiny and fragile world. Central to Sanford’s exhibition is the tension between material phenomenon and cosmic mysticism—the human search for the spiritual unknown within a scientific world-view.

Faith Gay and Raymond Uhlir
d berman gallery
Through August 21

d berman gallery is pleased to present two Austin artists with a unique sense of color, design, and narrative. Faith Gay applies her signature treatment of vivid colors, repetitive shapes, and sense of whimsical delight to an exploration of reclaiming and reconfiguring found materials from daily life as well as from her own previous work. Raymond Uhlir creates personal mythological vignettes which combine the bold visual aesthetics of vibrantly colored cartoon worlds and the compositional elements of traditional allegorical painting. Artist talk July 24th @ 1pm.

Cody Ledvina
Okay Mountain

Causes from small and big events are worth looking at. When looked at long enough it becomes increasing clear that it happened because it had to. Not like in a Calvinist way but just in the way that things are just supposed to happen. In this particular case a lumber yard is created as an embryonic form evolving into a WNBA team by means of profit margins. After branding the WNBA team GOD multiple other causal episodes occur.

Carole McIntosh Sikes
AMOA at Laguna Gloria
Through August 23

Carole McIntosh Sikes's recent paintings are lucid, rhythmic abstractions of nature that capture such moments as the vertigo of looking upward through an arbor at a crystal blue winter sky or the minutia of a simple pile of sticks. McIntosh Sikes was the first woman to earn a MFA in painting and printmaking at the University of Texas at Austin and has been an integral part of the Laguna Gloria Museum since its inception.

Austin Closings

Chris Jordan
Austin Closings
Through August 15

In Running the Numbers, Chris Jordan takes statistics that are too big for the mind to grasp and makes them shockingly beautiful for the eye to behold: 2 million plastic bottles used every five minutes… 380,000 kilowatt hours of electricity wasted every minute. By fusing image and information into epic photographs, he asks us to consider our roles as global citizens.

Sunyong Chung
Austin Museum of Art
Through August 15

AMOA's New Works presents Sunyong Chung. Known for her functional ceramics, Chung pushes into new territory with two monumental sculptures. A nine-foot circular solid covered in porcelain tiles and a suspended pendulum of steel and paper explore the cosmic, the earthly, and the everyday human experience.

San Antonio on View

David Shelton Gallery
Through August 21

A group exhibition including work by Judith Cottrell, Jonathan Faber, Sara Frantz, Dan Sutherland and Vincent Valdez.

On the Road
Through September 5

On the Road takes its title from the legendary book by American poet and novelist Jack Kerouac, who recounts his eventful road trips across the United States in the late 1940s. The exhibition investigates the mythology of the American motoring adventure as it began to develop in the early 1920s, with the advent of immense expansions of the highway system, particularly in the West of the country. On the Road also features an impressive and historical selection of artists including, Robert Adams, Ant Farm, John Baldessari, Walker Evans, Robbert Flick, Mary Heilmann, Roger Kuntz, Danny Lyon, Catherine Opie, Allen Ruppersberg, Ed Ruscha, Stephen Shore, Alexis Smith, Kon Trubkovich, Andy Warhol.

Houston on View

Seth Alverson
Art Palace
Through August 21

Using memory and haunting imagery as catalysts for his self-reflexive paintings, Seth Alverson distills the most essential elements until they are heightened to a level of transformation. This transformation occurs through the act of painting by placing intention on the images, and in turn helps us find rationality in futility to apply meaning in our everyday.

Houston Closings

Gerard Baldwin
Domy Books, Houston
Through August 5

In sixty years as an animator Gerard Baldwin has made over 600,000 drawings. Although most of the drawings have disappeared, evidence of Baldwin's art can be seen on television every day. Hundreds of animated films have been shaped by his hand, including (but not limited to) The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, The Smurfs, Yogi Bear, Mr. Magoo and The Flintstones. He is the recipient of numerous awards including eight Emmy nominations and three Emmys.

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.

Andrea Dezsö
Rice 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.

Fort Worth Closings

Wish You Were Here
Fort Worth Contemporary Arts
Through August 2

Wish You Were Here features photographs, installations, and sculptural objects that contend with diverse notions of distance, such as temporal distance and nostalgia, emotional and physical distance, relational distance and long-distance collaboration.

Dallas Openings

The Living Room
Center for Creative Connections
Opening Reception: July 27

This summer the Center for Creative Connections (C3) moves into the Museum’s fourth-floor Tower Gallery as construction begins on a new C3 exhibition and other renovations that will debut on September 25. While the first-floor location is closed, Susan Diachisin, The Kelli and Allen Questrom Director of the Center for Creative Connections, invited visiting artist Jill Foley to create a dynamic installation for the Center’s “temporary home away from home.” “In The Living Room, I wanted to create a space at the DMA that felt like home as well as a retreat,” noted Foley. “I feel that in much of my work I am trying to escape from the art world while being part of it, so it seems appropriate to have a domestic and inviting retreat within the Museum’s gallery.”

Dallas Closings

Dallas Contemporary
Through August 8

Curated by Regine Basha, Seedlings brings together nine emerging artists to the newly-renovated cavernous space of the Dallas Contemporary. Each artist investigates ways nature or natural systems have informed human industry and the evidence of a hybrid process of productivity. Through a reconsideration of methodologies of artmaking, the works focus on the possibility of collaborations with nature, degrees of interconnectivity, mimesis and its discontents, and entropy as an ecstatic state.

Texas Exhibitions

Felix-Gonzales Torres
Through December 31

In celebration of its 15th anniversary, Artpace presents the first-ever U.S. survey of 95.1 Artpace alum Felix Gonzalez-Torres' billboards in a yearlong, state-wide exhibition of 13 seminal works sited in Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and San Antonio. Major underwriting for this special exhibition is provided by the Linda Pace Foundation, with generous in-kind support from Clear Channel Outdoor.

Announcements: events

Sam Sanford
July 25, August 8 & August 15, 7pm

SOFA hosts events in conjunction with Sam Sanford's Can't Go Back.

Sunday, July 25th: 7-8pm, TALK: Artist talk with Sam Sanford. Sam will lecture on the Apollo program and scientific cosmology

Sunday, August 8th: 7-8pm, WORKSHOP: Sam Sanford leads a workshop on hoaxes and myths of the outer realm

Sunday, August 15th, 7-9pm, MOVIE SCREENING: The Disclosure Project Witness Video - compelling first-hand testimony of pilots and radar operators of their encounters with extra-terrestrial spacecraft and more

Bring a beer, bring a friend.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Entries

2011 Texas Biennial
Texas Biennial
Deadline: August 31

Big Medium is happy to announce the 2011 Texas Biennial open Call for Art. As an independent survey of contemporary art in Texas, the 2011 Biennial is an opportunity to investigate current art-making in Texas and promote the incredible innovation happening within our great state. We are also please to announce New York based art historian Virginia Rutledge as this year's curator. In the same independent spirit as years past, the 2011 Biennial will encourage a dialogue amongst artists, curators, writers and art lovers alike that will echo throughout the run of the 4th Biennial exhibition and beyond. Starting May 21, 2010 and running until July 21, 2010, the Texas Biennial will be accepting submissions from artists living and working in Texas via www.texasbiennial.com. All entries will be digitally submitted online and artists of all medias are encouraged to apply.

Cantaker Magazine
Deadline: August 31

The Ambiguous Object investigates questions of space, perception, projection, and meaning. The project will include work in all mediums that uses ambiguity to allow viewers both the literal and physical space to observe and imagine. Selected work will be featured in Cantanker’s full-color annual art catalog, Issue 11 and in a group exhibition in October 2010. To submit, click here. Entry fee required.

Call for Artists

An Exchange with Sol Lewitt
MASS MoCA & Cabinet
September 15th - October 15th

This is a call to those who share an affinity with Sol LeWitt's legacy as a conceptual artist, to those who knew him and those who did not—to anyone who has ever wondered, "What would Sol LeWitt like?" Your gift to Sol LeWitt can take the form of an image, an object, a piece of music, or a film. Books, ephemera, and other non-perishable items (e.g. wine) are also welcome. Other ideas may be discussed with the curator. All contributions will be exhibited at either Cabinet or MASS MoCA. For further information, please contact Regine Basha at exchangelewitt@gmail.com

Call for Entries

Métamatic Research Initiative
Métamatic Research Initiative
Deadline: September 1, 2010

The Métamatic Research Initiative is launching a call for entries to commission six individual art works in line with its mission. The initiative welcomes proposals from visual artists working in all disciplines. The Métamatic Research Initiative's mission is to stimulate research into ideas stemming from the work and philosophy of the French-Swiss artist Jean Tinguely (1925-1991). Specifically, the research initiative focuses on Tinguely's exploration of the relationship between the artist, the art work and the viewer as expressed in his Métamatic sculptures. The call for entries is part of a broader effort of the initiative, in which funding will be given to both academic and artistic research activities, ranging from educational projects for young people to the commissioning of individual art works. More info here.

Grant Opportunities

The Idea Fund
Workshops in August and September

DiverseWorks, along with Aurora Picture Show, Project Row Houses, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, is proud to announce the return of The Idea Fund for 2010-2011. This innovative re-granting program provides cash awards to 10 Texas-based, artist-generated or artist-centered projects that exemplify the unconventional, interventionist, conceptual, entrepreneurial, participatory, or guerrilla artistic practices that occur outside of the traditional frameworks of support. Workshops for the fund will be held in August and September with the call for applications to shortly follow.

Andy Warhol Foundation: Curatorial Research Fellowship
Andy Warhol Foundation
Deadline: September 1, 2010

The Foundation’s grantmaking activity is focused on serving the needs of artists by funding the institutions that support them. Grants are made for scholarly exhibitions at museums; curatorial research; visual arts programming at artist-centered organizations; artist residencies and commissions; arts writing; and efforts to promote the health, welfare and first amendment rights of artists. For more information and guidelines to submit, follow this link.

Employment Opportunities

Executive Director, The Center for Contemporary Arts, Abilene
The Center for Contemporary Arts
Closing date: August 19

The Center for the Contemporary Arts, a non-profit 501(c)(3) visual arts organization, seeks a dynamic individual with demonstrated leadership, long-term vision and enthusiastic interest in the arts for the position of Executive Director. The Center’s Executive Director serves as the organization’s Chief Administrative Officer, overseeing personnel, daily operations and fiscal management of the Center. The Director is responsible for implementing all policies as established by the Board of Trustees. A Bachelor’s degree in an arts or business-related field, plus two years of relevant professional experience is required. Candidate will need to be able to operate and manage QuickBooks. Prior experience in a gallery or museum, major gift solicitation and/or arts education is desired. Minimum of 3 professional references will be required. For more information click here.

Residency Opportunity

New Life Residency
Wooloo.org Team
Deadline: August 15, 2010

New Life Residency is the world's first non-visual residency program for artists. The residency is organized as part of Manifesta 8, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, and will take place this fall in the Region of Murcia, Spain. For one week each, five artists will be selected to live and work in a dark, visually distorted exhibition space. To support them in their life and work for the week, the artist will collaborate with a local Murcian assistant who is blind. Click here for more information.

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