MBG Issue #159: Shape Becomes the Story

Issue # 159

Shape Becomes the Story

December 17, 2010

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Eric Zimmerman, So Long To The Good Old Moon (detail), 2010, 12 page BW newspaper. Courtesy of the artist. (detail)

from the editor

This holiday season finds us taking stock more soberly. The passing away last week of Peter Marzio, the longtime Director of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, tallies another huge loss to the Texas art community. As the year draws to a close, we honor his legacy and accomplishments, along with the work and spirit of recently deceased San Antonio artist Chuck Ramirez and Chicago-based critic Kathryn Hixson, who was completing her PhD dissertation at UT Austin. Their contributions and visions have made a lasting impact on the art world at large.

On the national radar, the controversy over the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s film A Fire In My Belly from the National Portrait Gallery exhibition Hide/Seek rages on. Last week, following my letter from the editor, Fluent~Collaborative released a powerful statement by Dan Cameron, artistic director of Prospect New Orleans and curator of Wojnarowicz’s retrospective at the New Museum in 1999. Critics have sounded off admirably about the issue, as well, from Blake Gopnik’s moving statement in the Washington Post, to Frank Rich in the New York Times and Christopher Knight in the LA Times. In an even bolder move, the Warhol Foundation threatened on Tuesday to cut its funding of $375,000 to the Smithsonian if Wojnarowicz’s work was not reinstated in the NPG exhibition. The foundation’s president, Joel Wachs, stated in his letter to Smithsonian Director Wayne Clough: “Such blatant censorship is unconscionable. It is inimical to everything the Smithsonian Institution should stand for, and everything the Andy Warhol Foundation does stand for.”

If the recent political changes in power precipitate another culture war, as the Wojnarowicz controversy seems to foreshadow, we already have some courageous front-line soldiers in high places. I witnessed this personally last night at the Glassell School at the MFAH, where two silent versions of A Fire In My Belly were screened to a packed house. The Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston co-sponsored the event, which was followed by a panel discussion between CAMH Director Bill Arning, MFAH Curator of Photography Anne Tucker and Station Museum Director Jim Harithas. Arning, along with his interlocutors, made a powerful case for the museum’s civic function to sustain discourse regardless of potential fallout, quoting artist and former Akron Art Museum director John Coplans: “A good curator who is not on the verge of being fired is not doing his or her job.” While the panelists’ credentials as culture-war veterans is in little doubt, it was inspiring to see the local turnout of supporters ready to champion artistic freedom and scholarship in an era where the public sphere grows ever more diffuse.

And so we may approach the new year with sustained focus on the work ahead of us, but not without hope and renewed commitment to cultural production. Here in Texas, we can look forward to a number of contemporary art events in 2011 that are sure to shake things up. We are particularly excited about the Texas Biennial, curated by New York-based art historian and art lawyer Virginia Rutledge, which has just released its list of artists and expanded list of venues for April, as well as AMOA’s New Art in Austin: 15 to Watch, opening in February. Huge congratulations are due to the recipients of Idea Fund grants and last week’s winners of the Austin Visual Arts Awards. We look forward to seeing new work by these talented artists!

To finish out the year, …mbg’s last issue of 2010 situates Texas and its artists in a larger geographic constellation. The Artist Space includes a conversation between Chelsea Beck and New York-based artist Erin Shirreff. Our review section features coverage of shows stateside and abroad. From Paris, Virginie Bobin covers the solo exhibition of Tomo Savic-Gecan (an artist featured in testsite 06.2) at Jeu de Paume, while Ali Fitzgerald muses on Austin-based J. Parker Valentine’s work at Supportico Lopez in Berlin. From this side of the pond, I discuss the work of Estonian artists on view at Unit B. Also keeping local, Michael Bise discusses the conceptual conceits of Weasel at Inman Annex in Houston, while Lee Webster addresses literal wildlife in the works of Anthropogenesis at the VAC in Austin. And finally, Lana Shafer covers former Austinite Eric Zimmerman’s anticipated solo exhibition at AMOA.

With that, we hope you enjoy this issue and your holidays. We at …mbg will take a short hiatus, but will return on January 7th with a lineup of fresh content, including a project by New York-based Bryan Zanisnik. Until 2011, we wish you a festive season and New Year!

Wendy Vogel is Editor of ...might be good.


Eric Zimmerman
Austin Museum of Art, Austin
Through February 13, 2011

By Lana Shafer

Eric Zimmerman, Neil Armstrong, 20 November 1956, 2010, Graphite on paper, 11 x 14 inches. Collection of Jenny Schlief and Gene Morgan.

Eric Zimmerman’s exhibition at AMOA, We Chose to Go to the Moon, is particularly prescient at this juncture in American history when partisanship and a flailing economy threaten our nation’s progressive future. Central to the exhibition is America’s history of exploration, industry, and innovation—particularly the duality of progress and failure. Utilizing a vast array of artistic media and historical references Zimmerman’s work incorporates realistically rendered graphite drawings, audio, sculpture, and text related to the exploration of space and other frontiers. Also on display are two artist’s books and a newspaper that reproduce historical texts, iconic images, diagrams and writing by the artist.

Curated by AMOA’s Assistant Curator Andrea Mellard, Zimmerman’s drawings are installed in groupings echoing the form of celestial constellations. Smaller drawings are paired with larger compositions, which themselves juxtapose seemingly disparate images into a poetic dialogue. One work includes Clint Eastwood as the gunslinging Josey Wales (borrowed from a 1976 film still) alongside representations of Pieter Bruegel’s Tower of Babel (1563) and Albert Bierstadt’s sublime landscape Yosemite (1868). Other drawings reproduce American icons such as Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis in flight and notorious entrepreneur Cornelius Vanderbilt. The smaller drawings are more intimate, not only in scale but also in subject. Paired next to Vanderbilt’s portrait is a drawing of George Eastman’s (the inventor of Kodak roll film) suicide note—adding a touch of humanity to the science and business worlds. These intimate works appear to orbit the larger pieces as they relate to each other as signs of American progress.

Zimmerman also features several sculptural elements: a pedestal upon which sits a stack of newspapers, a vitrine containing small sculptures and collectibles and a reading desk after a 1925 design by Russian Constructivist Alexander Rodchenko. Highlighting the power of journalism, the newspaper includes a letter by Thomas Jefferson as well as President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 speech at Rice University affirming America’s commitment to the space race (and the origin of Zimmerman’s exhibition title). The vitrine displays geometric sculptures constructed from pictures of the first lunar landing from a Life magazine spread, a further deviation of journalism, alongside cassette tapes, records, and a postcard all referencing the moon landing. An audio installation permeates the space with a compilation of music, sound and spoken word—ranging from JFK’s oration to Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage” from the 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon.

In his public gallery talk, Zimmerman noted that his drawing of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific genius behind the atomic bomb, embodies the paradox of progress and failure due to his destructive, albeit brilliant, invention. This duality is presented in Zimmerman’s work through historical symbols of Manifest Destiny, the Wild West, scientific advancement, and the final frontier. However, in an art museum the dichotomy also references the modernist paradigm of progress and a postmodern refusal. While Zimmerman employs pastiche through his appropriation of images from varied sources, he recontextualizes their meaning to produce a network of new associations. It is important to note that Zimmerman also chooses to meticulously render his subjects in pencil rather than to simply re-produce them photographically. The presence of the artist’s hand, and the immense amount of time it took to execute each drawing, creates a formal link between space, time and image. Nonetheless, the viewer’s experience is also essential. The reading desk is meant to be used, the books and newspaper meant to be held and perused, the audio to be heard. These tangible formats call attention to the way history is recorded and understood, how our collective memory is formed and maintained, presenting an open-ended query to the way historical artifacts can be powerfully re-presented in an age of easily accessible digital information.

Lana Shafer is a freelance writer and art historian based in Austin, Texas.

Visual Arts Center, Austin
Through December 18

By Lee Webster

Anthropogenesis (exhibition view), 2010. Courtesy of the artists. Photo by Ben Aqua.

Anthropogenesis, broadly speaking, is the scientific study of the origin and evolution of the human species. It is used more specifically by philosophers to denote the evolutionary moment when Homo sapiens branched off from the rest of the animal kingdom and became defined by the abilities we presume to be uniquely human: self-consciousness, language and reasoning. This small group show in the Center Space, the student curated project room at the University of Texas’s new Visual Arts Center, has been one of the freshest and most compelling shows of the VAC’s inaugural season. Curated by Ariel Evans and Lauren Hamer, the show features work by six contemporary artists exploring the anthropogenic moment, as well as the meeting of animals and humans in a contemporary world.

Anthropogenesis walks a fine line. Many of us suffer a real weariness of animal imagery in contemporary art. A few years ago galleries across the United States experienced a deer overpopulation problem that eventually spilled over into popular culture. Now deer can be seen gracing the t-shirts of the hip, and with them, everywhere. Cats, deer, coyotes and owls have all landed in the t-shirt animal kingdom. A few of these animals pop up repeatedly in Anthropogenesis, making it all the more commendable that these artists use animal imagery towards visually interesting and uncharted territories.

Jill Pangallo’s “What’s Sexy For Summer,” a six-page magazine spread published in Art Lies this past summer, shows the artist and her cat photographed snapshot style against a plush black background modeling trends that sound entirely unwearable in the summer heat, or just plain unsexy: pantyhose, birthday hats, visors, bears and camouflage. The spread’s introduction is a first-person sermon expounding on the importance of “being sexy,” à la amateur YouTube channels offering beauty tips via instructional videos. Riffing off Internet memes from cats to webcam girls, Pangallo’s piece establishes a tongue-in-cheek tone that gives the show a sense of self-awareness and understanding of the glut of animal imagery we see in every popular forum, from Facebook to the mall.

Jules Buck Jones catalogues animals using systems that reference taxonomy and scientific classification, but seem to have a logic and language all their own. Of Jones’ pieces featured in Anthropogenesis, the most compelling is Pa-Hay-Okee (2010), an 8-foot circular painting that connects drawings of animals from a platypus to a duck with lines that conjure celestial constellations. The associations and relationships, at least to the casual viewer, are opaque, and provoke thoughts on how and why human systems are created and imposed on the natural world.

Jonathan Keats’ The Honey Bee Ballet, 2006-ongoing, turns the tables. Here, the animals are the artists, with logic and systems invisible to most of the human world. The ballet, “conducted” by Keats through planting flowers that alter a bee colony’s pollination path, is viewable to humans only through a map that documents the planting locations and calendar.

What stands out as the most successful, delicate and humorous treatment of anthropogenesis is the poem “Big Beautiful Eagle” by S.E. Smith. In thirteen stanzas written plainly on white notecards, an eagle, an osprey, rabbits, men and women are caught in impressionistic vignettes of life in “the piney woods,” or sitting on barstools philosophizing on the form that love takes, be it a woman, a dead rabbit or a fish. Smith carefully illustrates what parts of us may be more animal than woman or man, and what parts are something else entirely. At their core, the works in Anthropogenesis are seeking the same revelation, what separates us from animals. But as Smith describes in the stanza below, classification is a science of vagaries and variances more than answers.


An eagle and a rabbit are one.
An eagle and a rabbit and a woman
are two things, though. Somehow

a woman is always a woman
no matter how many eagles
are involved.”

Lee Webster is an artist living and working in Austin, Texas.

Unit B Gallery, San Antonio
Through January 1, 2011

By Wendy Vogel

Jaan Paavle, The Face of God, 2004, Video. Courtesy of the artist.

The word KUU, Estonian for moon, conjures metaphoric associations from long winter nights in the Baltic Region to the recent economic difficulties of the former Soviet state. In reality, the title of the exhibition at Unit B organized by Artpace’s Riley Robinson alludes to a much cheekier reference (literally): the bare bottom of Jüri Olaver in the video Medium Waves, Long Waves (2007). Olaver is one of four Estonian artists currently featured in the San Antonio artist-run space. As the title suggests, the videos and photographic work in this concise show are linked through their exploitation of humor, a tactic that elevates their seemingly vernacular subject matter to absurd or poignant ends.

Medium Waves, Long Waves serves as the show’s sculptural anchor. Installed in Unit B’s far corner, the work is a repurposed Soviet-era radio, painted a funky metallic fuchsia, in which the dial has been replaced by a digital video of Olaver mooning the camera while perching on a rock in the sea. A pun linking radio waves, ocean waves and the artist’s long black trench coat “waving” in the wind to expose his backside, the piece creates a visual equivalent to illicit foreign broadcasts from the days of Estonia’s political oppression.

It is not for mass appeal alone that Olaver chose to enact such a rock-n-roll gesture for his video. Popular music was a cornerstone of Estonia’s fight for independence from the USSR in 1991 -- so much so that it was dubbed the Singing Revolution. Jaan Toomik, the best-known artist in the exhibition and a former Artpace resident in 1997, claimed in an interview that “during the Singing Revolution you started to identify with this land and nation.” He rightly accords music and sound design a pride of place in his visually arresting video-performance works, four of which are on view. Dancing With Dad (2003), a video in which the artist frenetically boogies down to Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child next to his father’s tombstone, transforms the metaphor of “dancing on someone’s grave” from mockery to homage. Waterfall (2005) draws a simple parallel between man and land, in which Toomik has synched the sound of the waterfall to be heard only when he opens his mouth while standing in front of one. Seagulls (2004), a trance-enducing work of just a few minutes’ duration, adeptly mines the theatricality of a frustrated attempt to communicate with lush visuals. Toomik plunges into a deep aquamarine pool with a weighted belt on, and filmed from the pool’s floor, attempts breathlessly to sing through a plastic tube to a barely-audible acoustic guitar melody heard from above.

Jaan Paavle’s and Paul Rodgers’ works turn their attention to the documentation of quotidian life. Paavle’s video The Face of God (2004) focuses in close-up on the faces of country dwellers and to the misogynist jokes they tell while taking grisly action -- slaughtering a sheep. Though aiming for the sublime, its choppy editing of methodical, mortal action falls short in comparison to the other video works’ punchy brevity. Ühislinn, translated as “Common City,” is a text and photography project by British-born Rodgers that was commissioned to celebrate Tallinn’s (Estonia’s capital) designation as Europe’s Cultural Capital of 2011. Rodgers has staged semi-fictional scenarios from his postwar British childhood around Tallinn, which he photographs with a dispassionate eye reminiscent of August Sanders’ “types” and accompanies with a book in which he has penned short story captions for each image. His most effective photographs capture his droll sculptural interventions, such as a rejected “public sculpture” of a man spitting water in a town square, a black valise slung over a park bench reading “this is not a bomb” to assure public safety, and a mysterious tongue-shaped bar of soap in a public restroom. The same bar of soap is installed in the “flesh” on Unit B’s sink (and has, not surprisingly, gone unused)."

KUU offers a snapshot of some of the most celebrated artists in Estonia. Working across media, their refreshing work elicits comparisons with generational peers in the post-Soviet constellation working in conceptual veins, from Croatian Sanja Iveković’s feminist interventions to Czech artist Martin Zet’s photo-performances. Even when the artists’ politicized daily lives may be the implicit content, their open-ended works retain a wryness, lightness of touch and accessibility for even casual art enthusiasts. But for those who seek more, particularly to Toomik’s work, they will find a depth and pathos not easily lost in translation.

Wendy Vogel is Editor of ...might be good.

Inman Annex, Houston
Through January 8, 2011

By Michael Bise

Brina Thurston, Harm, 2007, Single channel video, ed 5, 3 minutes; looped. Courtesy of the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston.

Weasel, an exhibition curated by Kurt Mueller and Chelsea Beck at Inman Gallery’s Annex Space, purports to once again lift the wool from the viewer’s eyes. Beck and Mueller create an analytical framework around an exhibition that includes Joe Zane, Eva and Franco Mattes (aka 0100101110101101.ORG), Jim Nolan and Brina Thurston by commissioning not one, not two, but four different press releases authored by the Austin writer S.E. Smith.

Each press release is designed to highlight and reaffirm aspects of the curators’ theoretical intentions behind Weasel. Judging from these essays, the impetus behind the exhibition is to first implicate the viewer and then make them aware of their participation in the deceptive yet consensual act of making and viewing art. The most revealing and convoluted of the four essays opens with the famous snatch of dialogue from Shakespeare’s Hamlet between the main character and the duplicitous spy Polonius. In the exchange, Hamlet points out a cloud and proceeds to expose Polonius’s spinelessness and dishonesty by claiming its resemblance first to a camel, then a weasel, and finally a bear. In a servile effort to maintain Hamlet’s trust, Polonius agrees, like a true politician, with each radically different assertion.

It is in this dialogue, and the author’s possibly conscious misinterpretation of it, that we are able to recognize the curators’ understanding of the viewer in relation to the works on display. In the essay, Smith writes: “Hamlet conduct[s] Polonius through a meditative trance of representational receptivity in which the cloud both see above them transforms at Hamlet’s will.” A more accurate interpretation of the dialogue is that Hamlet is fucking with Polonius to reveal him for the corrupt idiot he knows him to be. Much of the work in the exhibition functions in this way as well. While curators Beck and Mueller and essayist Smith claim that the exhibition’s “intention...is not to frustrate but to tease–doubly, to play upon art-going conceptions and to tease out the inherent hopes with which one approaches a gallery wall,” an encounter with the works themselves made me feel like I was simply being fucked with.

The problem with much of the work is that it is too easy to see the cracks and fissures in the facades that are meant, if only for a moment, to jolt the viewer out of their “idealized aesthetic experience.” While Joe Zane’s fake neon sign depicting his last name, complete with electrical outlet, and his blown glass vase of flowers are the most flagrantly fraudulent, Brina Thurston’s video is the most obviously manipulative. In the three-minute video Harm (2007) we see what appears to be a miniature poodle on a pink blanket looking happy, innocent and dumb. What we hear, on the other hand, is a woman’s voice hurling a slew of obscenities and degradations at the hapless pup. The intended effect is shock and repulsion, hopefully activating that part of our brains that causes us to cry when we see that Sarah McLachlan-scored ASPCA commercial. The ASPCA commercial, however, is much more sophisticated and successful because the animals’ reactions and facial expressions are perfectly in synch with the syrupy music. But anyone knows that when a dog is being yelled at, as it is in Thurston’s video, it will run, snarl, cower, or do something other than calmly and placidly endure the harangue. Though the manipulation technique is exactly the same (a decontextualized image is overlaid with a soundtrack carefully designed to elicit a specific emotional response), the ASPCA commercial accomplishes the not insignificant task of crashing the viewer’s limbic system even as their cerebral cortex’s bullshit detector is on full alert. Unfortunately, Harm’s spell is broken before the incantation can even leave Thurston’s lips.

Eva and Franco Mattes’ single channel online performance titled No Fun, recorded on the social networking site Chatroulette, depicts a split screen where one side displays a real time image of a man, presumably having committed suicide by hanging, in an apartment made to look like a dingy hovel. The other side of the screen shows the reactions of people who have happened upon the scene via the website, which allows participants to randomly pair up and have web-based conversations and interactions. Either through selection and editing or because of human nature, the young people who happen upon the hanged man invariably behave in the predictably vulgar manner Larry Clark has trained us to believe is the essential nature of anyone under the age of thirty. Conceived as an online experiment, the work does not survive its move from the Internet to a flatscreen monitor at Isabella Court. While the deception is plausible in the relatively unpoliced Wild West of the World Wide Web, the performance loses its power when it becomes a $10,000 editioned video in the polite space of the commercial gallery.

I’m not afraid to admit that, through a kind of willful obliqueness, Jim Nolan’s formalist assemblages of plastic sheeting, folding stools and socks effectively prevented me from interpreting them as either weasels, whales, or bears. Enigmatic but oddly specific titles like P.S.F.U. and 12 apostles/market fluctuations (both 2005) seem to indicate some concrete interpretation that never quite materializes. In this way, Nolan’s sculptures seemed closest in spirit to Hamlet’s manipulation of Polonius. So, taking my cue from the exhibition’s organizers, I decided to view Nolan’s objects as Hamlet might: lighter than air with meanings and titles infinitely but meaninglessly malleable.

In light of the recent furor surrounding Wikileaks, which I skeptically support, I continued to ask myself when viewing the exhibition, to what end are we being deceived? The art-viewing audience is certainly one of the most intellectually sophisticated publics in our society. The often unacknowledged reality is that anyone who has read this article, viewed Weasel or read Hamlet with any curiosity has already had the scales lifted from their eyes over and over again. I’m conflicted by Weasel because I am skeptical of the organizers’ and the artists’ motivations. At what point does a genuine desire to reveal hidden truths become a cynical manipulation? When the truths revealed become trivial, or worse, nonexistent, the viewer becomes little more than a mark used to bring a sophisticated con game to its predetermined conclusion. I don’t believe Weasel is quite so cynical, but like many contemporary works and exhibitions, it comes dangerously close to intellectual nihilism. As I left the exhibition, I felt a little more hopeless than when I walked in.

Michael Bise is an artist living and working in Houston.

Tomo Savić-Gecan
Jeu de Paume, Paris
Through February 6, 2011

By Virginie Bobin

Tomo Savić-Gecan, Preparatory and positioning image for the film Untitled, 2010, 2010. © Tomo Savić-Gecan. Photo by Jasenko Rasol.

Drinking water from Bergen Kunsthall, Norway, has been turned into ice cubes.

This typewritten sentence, printed on small sheets of paper, is the only documentation of a performance by Croatian artist Tomo Savić-Gecan that happened at Jeu de Paume in Paris during the FIAC (International Contemporary Art Fair) on October 23. A rather perplexed audience gathered in the great hall conscientiously to drink the melting ice cubes in rum cocktails, while being congratulated by curator Elena Filipovic for physically contributing to expanding the in-between space in which his work occurs. The performance was conceived as a counterpoint to one of two much more complex and challenging pieces produced by Savić-Gecan for his first solo show in France, Untitled, 2010. The text printed on a wall near by the entrance of a small, empty white cube reads:

Two identical exhibition rooms have been built, one in Jeu de Paume in Paris, France, and the other in Bergen Kunsthall in Bergen, Norway.
Upon entering the room in Jeu de Paume, each of the visitors affects the dimensions of the room in Bergen Kunsthall;
conversely, upon entering the room in Bergen Kunsthall,
each of the visitors affects the dimensions of the room in Jeu de Paume.

Tomo Savić-Gecan deals with the imperceptible and the non-presentable. He works in situ, but his work cannot be situated. It negates the possibility of experiencing an artwork in a single space and time. As Filipovic points out in the excellent text she wrote for the catalogue, the visitor entering one of his pieces may not see anything, or even be aware of the piece. He or she has a different perception from a person who, in another space, will experience a resultwhich he or she may not notice eitherprovoked by the entrance of the first visitor. This physical experience is also distinct from that of the final receiver, who will read the work’s description in a gallery or in a book. For example, the visitors of the 2005 Venice Biennial found out that

During the 51st Bienniale di Venezia each entry of a visitor to W139 Center for Contemporary Art in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) changes the temperature of the water in the Spordiklubi Reval-Sport in Tallinn (Estonia) by 1°C.

However, unlike conceptual art, the sentences that document and represent the artworkall of them untitled, in order to avoid triggering any fantasy of a narrativedo not replace the artworks. They are constitutive of it, as are the host institutions, the spaces, the complex technical devices and the visitors who activate them. Thus the work happens in the different relations at stake between them, without being “relational”, as the community it produces doesn’t share an illusion of connectedness in the here-and-now.

More specifically, Untitled (Jeu de Paume / Bergen Kunsthall) questions the hegemony of the white cube as the “perfect” space for reception of art by hijacking its so-called neutrality. Criticizing the ideology of the gallery space has been a topos for artists and theoreticians ever since the release of Brian O’Doherty’s seminal collection of essays, Inside the White Cube. Savić-Gecan’s second work in the show takes the idea further, displacing it to the territories of image and representation through his first-time use of the film medium. The artist placed his camera in front a damaged screen in a disaffected open-air cinema in Zagreb, now invaded by weeds and shrubs, right where the projector used to be.

Nothing happens in the film, yet it records more than the invisible passage of a single time: behind the screen, Savić-Gecan installed a copy of another “white cube”, namely a room from the former Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art. For an exhibition in 2002, the artist had blocked the access to the original room in Zagreb with a glass wall, thus exposing the white cube itself. In 2010, for another exhibition, he built a concrete wall instead, making the room invisible. In the meantime, the building had been returned to a family that was expropriated by the Socialist government to create the museum. No one saw the “installation” of this reconstitution in the open-air cinema, and neither the history of the room nor the room itselfthe view of which is blocked by the screenare actually visible in the film. Yet this loaded absence is fascinating and the piece acts as a “developer”, drawing on the metaphor of projection implicit in Savić-Gecan’s works. Although never vain, his oeuvre runs the risk of being reduced to an accumulation of witty self-reflections on Art and its milieu. Here it reaches another dimension, and unfolding the multiple narratives hidden behind the “untitled” becomes a collective affair in the true sense.

Paris-based Virginie Bobin works as a project coordinator for Les Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers research and residency art center by day and as an independent curator by night.

J. Parker Valentine
Supportico Lopez, Berlin
Through January 15, 2011

By Ali Fitzgerald

Jessica Parker Valentine, The perfect landscape (exhibition view), 2010. Courtesy of the artist.

In writing about J. Parker Valentine’s work I recall a recent trip with a journalist friend to interview a beer visionary and master malter in North Berlin. As he combed around a batch of slowly gestating whiskey and I lost myself in its surging, retreating shapes, I was reminded of an associative practice that I perfected in front of a lava lamp in a smoky dorm room. Valentine’s work at Supportico Lopez leaves me equally glassy-eyed. Her pieces throb with association, are insistently open and demand a visual pluralism that brings to mind the more insightful critiques I had in grad school, the kind that disavow innate artistic hierarchy and focus on unearthing images at a slower, less determined pace.

In the Supportico Lopez space, which is located below street level in a charming and only slightly moist basement, Valentine nods coyly to the aesthetics of pedagogy, tacking elegant exercises in pattern and mark onto a large gray board. Alongside these drawings, Valentine includes photos of cacti, as well as a highly saturated video of a man skinning a deer (dog?) that reads as both instructional and disturbingly sexy. Across the room, large MDF panels are propped against each other in a lazy, knee-high labyrinth. This gesture seems especially well-suited to curious viewers who want to camp between the shapes and tease out some meaning from the moody graphite.

Valentine’s work clearly recalls de Kooning, more specifically late de Kooning, when beatific senility had softened his aggressive hand in favor of a more sparse sincerity. With her own gently assured line, Valentine steers viewers through an exposed but deftly constructed world in which spatial relationships assert themselves mysteriously, if at all.

I went back to Supportico Lopez a second time in search of specificity because I was afraid this review would too closely resemble my old dream diary (purchased around the same time as my lava lamp). This time I brought my journalist friend Sabrina, who gave shape to the shapeless, literally calling out images and forms as she excavated them:

“There’s a mouth.”

“See? That’s an animal head.”

“Those are definitely teeth.”

“That’s lipstick.”

Judging from Sabrina’s catalogue of images, there is something wild, sexual and even sinister happening in Valentine’s work.

Or, there’s something wild, sexual and sinister happening in Sabrina.

I think if Valentine’s installation at Supportico Lopez exalts one thing, it’s the joy inherent in multiplicity of meaning. Like a good, meandering critique it revels in mystery.

Ali Fitzgerald is an artist and comics writer living in Berlin. She contributes regularly to the PBS blog Art:21 and recently started a visual travelogue for The Huffington Post.

project space

In Conversation with Erin Shirreff

By Chelsea Beck

Chelsea Beck had the pleasure of catching up with Brooklyn-based artist Erin Shirreff after viewing her two recent exhibitions: Still, Flat, and Far in the Project Space at the ICA Philadelphia (September 15 - December 5, 2010) and the group exhibition Immaterial at Ballroom Marfa (on view through February 20, 2011).

Chelsea Beck [CB]: I want to start by talking about your project for Triple Canopy, Shadow, Glare (available for download here). It is described on their website as “light shifts in a visual field,”
the “visual field” being the screen of a computer. I love how this program mimics something so familiar and ultimately annoying: glare! Can you describe your thought process for this project?

Erin Shirreff [ES]: Well, for the last few years I’ve been thinking about different kinds of attention—how it seems to change dependent on the medium we’re experiencing as viewers. A good example is screens in museums: people gather around videos and adapt to that condition of viewing almost immediately, maybe because of their familiarity with computer and TV screens or something about an implied “beginning” and “end” of the aesthetic experience. It’s a sensation of easy absorption that momentarily affects your sense of time. That absorption can happen when viewing a painting or sculpture too of course, but it seems to arrive a lot differently.

So when Triple Canopy commissioned me to do a project for the web, I thought about screens and how working at your computer was its own unique viewing scenario—and how it was also a situation in which time sort of evaporated. I wanted to make a project that was very much about the experience of working at a desk and staring at a computer.

CB: In your videos intended for larger, public screens, I am aware of your role in animating the moving image. You light still images in different ways, re-photograph them, and then piece the new images together—it’s actually a very physical, hands-on process. For Moon (2010), recently on view at both the ICA Philadelphia and Ballroom Marfa, you were the only person who actually experienced light moving across an ersatz moon in real time when you were working in your studio, while the viewer gets what is essentially a time-lapse composite of the event. In Shadow, Glare, however, since it is essentially made by coding a software program which effects whatever one might be viewing on their computer’s desktop, there is no “real time” other than how the viewer experiences the program each time the application is launched. Your touch as the maker and narrator is less present, but the overall experience of viewing the work is quite intimate. (Fig. 1)

ES: Yeah, I like the one-to-one relationship that happens in Shadow, Glare. Sometimes it is so subtle that it goes without notice, then other times I’m looking at my screen and I see an imaginary visual halo. I’ll think the program is running but it isn’t. The screen takes on a strange, seemingly very thin physical dimension.

I want the images in the recent videos I’ve been making to have a physical dimension too. I use HD for these videos because the clarity afforded by that format reveals the particular texture of, say, a glossy photograph, which bounces light off its surface in a way that a matte photograph doesn’t. That detail helps create the visual oscillation that I hope happens for viewers as they watch the videos: being in the space of the image, and then pushed out onto its surface.

CB: Yes, the videos seem to engage with the limits of our technological and material perception. Distortion becomes a material itself. It's amazing how you build that into the video in such a conscious way. You go so far as to represent an afterimage, like the light and heat that gets caught in your eye after looking at something bright.

ES: The kind of light and the angles I was using to shoot Moon created these cheesy effects, like lens flare, at times. You can apply these effects in post-production using Photoshop, but here they were actually happening by chance in ways that I didn’t anticipate.

CB: Your sculptures are very subtle as well. They quietly react to their environment.

ES: The sculptures commissioned for Ballroom Marfa are called Untitled (Shadows). In some ways, they’re born out of my experience working on Shadow, Glare. I had been making these “shadow” shapes on my computer for the program that I hoped would be allusive but also pretty abstract, then I went back down to Marfa and that’s all I could see. I’m always bowled over by the incredibly intense light there. Even the signage in town takes advantage of it: the lettering of the City Hall sign is raised off the surface of the building and is more legible as shadow. The four new sculptures I made at Ballroom are a lot flatter than ones I had been making up to that point. I wanted them to be more like silhouettes.

CB: I can understand them as planes of light and shadow. But I also like thinking of them as fragments or shards of architecture that come from something very large and abstract—something so substantial that we can only comprehend in pieces, and even then, only vaguely. (Fig. 2)

ES: I see the ones at ICA as more architectural. I was thinking about the Ballroom forms as shadows against the wall that were pulled upwards into space and set askew, hardened, and then leaned back. But both groups of sculptures have very simple contradictions in them that I like: they are each fairly large and heavy but also delicate and shallow. They are discrete objects but seem partial. They have nondescript modern profiles, yet the ash/plaster surface looks rock-like, lending an appearance of relics. (Fig. 3)

CB: They have a very strong relationship to the body and to the gallery space. They have this really casual posture but also are really uptight.

ES: Super uptight!

CB: How did you start using compressed ash to make the sculptures? What does that material mean to you? The surface appears both zoomed out and zoomed in, and also a bit dulled. The prints also had this same kind of psychically used quality.

ES: I do like the idea of making something out of remnants of other things. For instance, one of the sculptures at the ICA is made from the remains of a maple tree. That is cool to me. It makes me think about how gypsum is made up of tiny ancient sea creatures. But I digress… The blooms of ash on the surface come from hand-packing the material into the mold (the blooms are all handful amounts).

The prints in the show are all on non-archival newsprint. I wanted to give the images a physical, and I guess temporal dimension. They have a familiar tactile texture but the newsprint really locks them into the past. I’m interested in the prints for what they depict, but also as documents––as objects themselves. The ICA exhibition title Still, Flat, and Far refers to the properties a form takes on when it is flattened into a picture or video. ‘Still’ and ‘flat’ might be obvious, but ‘far’ was the quality I was interested in exploring the most, in all its emotional, psychic and philosophical aspects.

CB: At the ICA I started to think about how memory distorts things over time, similar to the way light does. Were the images in the show things that you collected over time or for the exhibition specifically?

ES: The series is called Markers (2010) and they are little representatives of the motley crew of images I've amassed in my studio over the years. I collect and keep them because they are resonant for some reason, I often don’t know why. The ones I picked for the show create this strange open-ended narrative about landscape and building and melancholy. (Fig. 4)

CB: I don't know whether this is because I know you or not, but you seem to be so present in the work at the ICA. The prints especially seem to reference the limits of your own personal experience with memory and the passing of time. A printed image does not age in the same way our memory of an image does. You make that disconnect physical. In the course of retaining a memory, it becomes something very separate and distinct from the actual event.

ES: I love that you think that. I feel very present in it too - exposed, actually - but I would assume a lot of people wouldn't get that impression. I think that in a lot of ways, the camera helps me negotiate the world. It severely limits and affects what you experience, but being able to view something, separate it, and regard it…that is a relationship to experience that I respond to, or rather, that process helps me respond to experience.

CB: Let's talk about Marfa. Did the vastness of the landscape and Judd or other southwestern land art legacies impact your thinking while you were fabricating your work out there? I know you have spent a lot of time in the desert.

ES: You know, someone was talking to me about my work in relation to land art the other day, and maybe it’s surprising, but I was genuinely mystified about why they would talk about that in relation to my work. I mean, I rarely think about those dudes. If their idea was to go out into the world to make art, my idea is very much to take a picture from the Internet, go to my studio, black out the windows and shine a light on it.

CB: So why do you use images of such monumental objects as James Turrell’s Roden Crater, Tony Smith’s Die, the moon, and the United Nations building? (Fig. 5)

ES: All of those things exude a strange affect of blankness. I respond to their quality of muteness/indifference. Smith's forms are huge, blank, hollow things that have a generous aspect to them in the sense that they are radically inexpressive—pure math forms that adhere to this rigorous geometry. From the vantage point across the East River, the UN building is this big blank face. Roden Crater too, from a distance, is a lump in the landscape, formed forever ago, hyper ordinary, but also awesome in the real sense of that word.

CB: So it is a formal connection to these things and not necessarily a narrative?

ES: It’s a formal connection in the sense of how you and I use the word formal. Not just shape, “end of story,” but rather in the sense that shape becomes the story. There is no explicit political statement in the UN video for the viewer, for example. I do wonder how we can look at, relate to, or understand art or architecture from the past. I wonder what has changed in the physical experience of viewing these things now that we are, as a culture, more image-oriented. But I hope these ideas are conveyed by the works’ affect on a more experiential, visceral level.

Chelsea Beck, recently co-curated Weasel at Inman Gallery Annex. She lives and works in Houston, TX.

Announcements: news

Texas News

Arthouse 2011 Texas Prize Winners Announced

Arthouse at the Jones Center announces the three recipients of the 2011 Texas Prize: Jamal Cyrus (Houston), Will Henry (Houston), Jeff Williams (Austin). Visit Arthouse's website for more information about Texas Prize and the jurors for 2011.

Texas Biennial Artists Announced

Congratulations to all the Texas artists that are to be included in the 2011 Texas Biennial! The full list of names can be found here.

Austin News

Austin Visual Arts Awards

he Austin Visual Arts Association handed out their second annual awards to visual artists. Winners were selected by a panel of local arts professionals.

AVAA Art Awards 2010

* Artist of the Year—2D: Lance Letscher
* Artist of the Year—3D: Jade Walker
* Artist of the Year—Photography: Santiago Forero
* Artist of the Year—Early Career: Carlos Rosales-Silva
* Artist of the Year—New Media: Ryan Hennessee
* Collectors Circle Award: Ken Hale
* Art Patron of the Year: Mike Chesser
* Lifetime Achievement Award: Don Snell
* Service to the Arts Award: Robert Faires
* President’s Award of Excellence: Edward Povey

Houston News

Peter Marzio

Fluent Collaborative is sad to announce the passing of Peter C. Marzio, Chief Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Marzio served the institution for nearly 30 years and contributed countless acts towards the museum and the Houston community.

Marfa News

Chinati Foundation Director Steps Down

Friday, December 31 will be Marianne Stockebrand’s last day of work as director of the Chinati Foundation. Her retirement marks both a triumphant and poignant moment in our history. Seventeen years ago, Donald Judd asked Marianne to come to the United States, to Marfa, to run the museum where he had devoted so much of his creative energy. Soon after, Judd was diagnosed with Lymphoma and he died three months later.

Marianne came anyway. In the beginning, things were very hard. But under her leadership Chinati grew up and became the locus for Judd and his vision.

At the forefront of Marianne’s goals was that the collection and the buildings be cared for and maintained with sensitivity and the highest degree of professionalism. Much has been accomplished since 1994, yet conservation remains a constant challenge, given the grand scale of Judd’s plan and Chinati’s enormous campus.


The Idea Fund Announces 2011 Grantees

The Idea Fund, a re-granting program administered through Aurora Picture Show, DiverseWorks ArtSpace and Project Row Houses, and funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, announces the 2011 The Idea Fund Grantees. The ten Texas-based artists or artist groups will receive $4,000 ($3,500 for the awarded project, plus $500 seed money for future work) to create and showcase projects in the coming year.

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

L Nowlin Gallery
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 15, 6-8pm

A curatorial collaboration between L. Nowlin Gallery and Austin Photography Group, Storytelling is a group exhibition featuring the work of close to 40 Texas photographers. The work explores and interprets the narrative; an important element in human connection and communication.

Erin Curtis
Champion Contemporary
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 20, 7-10pm

Paintings by Erin Curtis.

Amanda Ross-Ho
Visual Arts Center (Vaulted Gallery)
Opening Reception: Friday, January 28, 2011, 6–9 pm

During the course of this evolving on-site work, Amanda Ross-Ho will invite viewers to become participants in an ongoing examination of the boundaries of the white cube, the direct and indirect products of creative expression, and the connectivity of the visual world. Her site-specific installation will transform the Vaulted Gallery into an active worksite dedicated to producing three basic elements: blank stretched canvases, simple hand-built ceramic vessels, and handmade paper. Ross-Ho collapses the life cycle of the creative process through the performative act of embedding the gallery with the energy of production. The three manifestations of the ‘empty’ space produced—canvas, vessel, page—will create an environment that both formalizes the ability for massive potential and serves as witness to mass activity.

Natasha Bowdoin
Visual Arts Center (The Arcade Gallery)
Opening Reception: Friday, January 28, 2011 6–9 pm

The Daisy Argument by Houston-based artist Natasha Bowdoin is the third incarnation of a project that documents her transcription of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Over the past few years, Bowdoin has used language as an organic material to explore the unpredictable presence of words. Her site-specific installations are composed of an ever-changing number of components, including drawings and phrases carefully cut from paper that are re-appropriated with each new exhibition.

Austin on View

Devon Dikeou
Domy Books
Through January 13, 2011

The exhibition is about connections—how they are made, where they lead, or don’t, and the value of those connections, plus the various ways those connections are made, or conversely lost, destroyed, outdated. The works examine this through my practice of differentiating the contexts of the artist, viewer, and critiquing viewing contexts—gallery, store, museum, office, street, magazine—and elsewhere.

Advancing Tradition: Twenty Years of Printmaking at Flatbed Press
Austin Museum of Art
Through February 13, 2011

Imagine a place where artists Terry Allen, Michael Ray Charles, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Melissa Miller, James Surls, and Julie Speed, among others, collaborated with master printmakers to stretch the limits of their practice and the media. That place has thrived for twenty years in the form of Austin-based Flatbed Press, an active laboratory for innovative printmaking.

New Works: Eric Zimmerman
Austin Museum of Art
Through February 13, 2011

New Works exhibition series introduces fresh contemporary art by innovative artists. Eric Zimmerman’s painstakingly rendered small and large-scale graphite drawings, functional sculptures, and archival sound works consider the history of American exploration and industry, progress and failures.

Dan Rushton
Champion Contemporary
Through January 15, 2011

Presenting new and never seen before works at Champion, Dan Rushton's paintings are visceral compositions in vibrant hues that encompass otherworldly meditations on life, growth, and decay. Rushton employs an exacting collage technique in his works that involves the layering of multiple swathes of painted paper to create both seductive and jarring imagery. Don't forget to check out Chris Sauter's Exploding Silos in the Project Room.

Jason Middlebrook
Through January 16, 2011

For his Arthouse commission, New York-based artist Jason Middlebrook transforms detritus from the building’s renovation into sculpture, dining furniture, and other functional objects, all of which combine to evoke the history of the Jones Center and its longstanding importance as a gathering place for the Austin community.

10th Anniversary Group Show
d berman gallery
Through January 22, 2011

d berman gallery is celebrating our 10th anniversary this year! To cap the year, we’re having a giant, rollicking 10th anniversary group show…. with a little bit of everything fabulous.

Tony Feher

For his Arthouse commission, New York-based artist Tony Feher has activated and transformed a typically overlooked architectural space - the void between the ceiling and supports - through a carefully considered deployment of everyday objects.

Austin Closings

Mequitta Ahuja
Through January 2, 2011

Also on view at Arthouse, Automythography II (2010). Enamel and glitter on paper. Located on the first floor gallery. Check out her interview with Wendy Vogel in Issue #157.

Ryan Hennessee
Through January 2, 2011

Commissioned specifically for Arthouse’s second floor video projection screen, Austin-based artist Ryan Hennessee has created a looping video animation that cleverly reimagines and collapses the past, present, and future of 700 Congress Avenue.

James Sham
Through January 2, 2011

Close Caption, a witty video that addresses issues of language, translation, and mistranslation via DJ Kool’s song “Let Me Clear My Throat,” inaugurates Lift Project, a series of short video works shown in Arthouse’s new passenger elevator. Part of LIFT Projects, located in the elevator.

American DREAM
Women and Their Work
Through January 6, 2011

Without ever revealing a face, photographer Lupita Murillo Tinnen creates powerful portraits of undocumented students. The obscured faces suggest the invisibility of their personal plight and the precariousness that their undocumented status creates. Using the students’ rooms as a lens to view their Americanized identities, Tinnen creates poignant images of lives constantly threatened by joblessness and deportation. Tinnen puts a human face on the statistics and titles each image with the student’s academic interest and the age they were brought to the U.S. This work is presented against the backdrop of pending legislation: the Development, Relief & Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that would provide a pathway to citizenship.

Drawn Together
grayDUCK Gallery
Through January 9, 2011

grayDUCK gallery is pleased to present work by artists Allen Brewer and Pamela Valfer who both draw their inspiration from the discarded, forgotten and the ignored.

San Antonio on View

IAIR 10.3: Henning Bohl, Roy McMakin, Adam Schreiber
Through January 9, 2011

Berlin-based artist Henning Bohl's work is an investigation of the language and structure of painting. He often pushes his vividly hued paintings into the realm of sculpture through collaging curled paper onto canvas or utilizing canvas supports in unconventional ways. Roy McMakin's woodwork defies categorization. His skillfully designed tables, chairs, and sofas fit as easily into a domestic space as they do into an art exhibition, and the degree of an object's functionality is often determined by the environment in which it resides. Adam Schreiber is an Austin-based photographer who mines the potential meanings of cultural artifacts and abandoned corporate spaces. Concerning his philosophy, Schreiber states that he is "more interested in how the medium of photography invents something than how it records something." Curated by Michael Darling.

James Castle
Lawrence Markey
Through January 28, 2011

Exhibition of handmade books by James Castle. Castle was a self-taught artist, born profoundly deaf, who created drawings, collaged objects and books with consummate dedication throughout his lifetime.

San Antonio Closings

Unit B Gallery
Through January 1, 2011

Unit B is pleased to present KUU, a group exhibition featuring recent works by Estonian artists, Juri Ojaver, Jaan Paavle, Paul Rodgers, and Jaan Toomik, organized by Riley Robinson (San Antonio, TX). The four artists working primarily in video and sculpture, have all in some way made observations on the change (or sometimes lack of change) to the Estonian psyche and society during recent years

Matthew Ronay
Through January 2, 2011

Matthew Ronay's art occupies a space where illustration, tableau, sculpture, and installation all intersect in harmonious indifference to one another. Since 2004, his arrangements of discreet, colorful, mutated objects have evoked wild manifestations of surrealist imagination and hallucinogenic visions, with distended narratives designed to provoke or even outrage viewers through their irreconcilable compositions and outrageous imagery, such as drooping anuses skewered on a pole. Indeed, like Dada and Surrealist artists earlier in the 20th century and American Funk musicians of the 1970s, whose work employed metanarrative, metaphor, provocation, and fantasy as devices for addressing human behavior in times of social upheaval, Ronay's work has been a manifesto of the spirit, screaming back at us with pieces that suggest that fear, pain, and violence have replaced pleasure in a society increasingly indifferent to war and terrorism.

Houston on View

Benjamin Patterson
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Through January 23, 2011

Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of FLUX/us is a retrospective of the artist’s career, which now spans nearly fifty years. Emerging in the early 1960s with work that fell under the rubric of Fluxus or Neo-Dada, Benjamin Patterson co-organized the first International Festival of New Music, which debuted at the Staatsmuseum in Wiesbaden in 1961. One of the last surviving members of that constellation of artists whose works were featured at the festival—John Cage, Dick Higgins, Emmett Williams, Philip Corner, David Tudor, and Nam June Paik, among others—Patterson helped to revolutionize the artistic landscape of the times and usher in an era of new and experimental music.

Houston Closings

Emilio Perez and Myungjin Song
CTRL Gallery
Through December 23

In More Reasons Than One, the intrigue of Emilio Perez' paintings lies in their ability to so successfully, and beautifully, contradict themselves. They are as flat as maps yet as voluminous as a volcanic plume; as still as stained glass yet as full of movement as churning river rapids; as exuberantly sensuous as a Baroque masterpiece yet as analytical and detached as a Lichtenstein brushstroke painting. Myungjin Song's solo show, Being in Folding, will be her first US gallery exhibition. Since earning her MFA from Hongik University in Seoul, Song has developed an immediately recognizable style of painting that combines ambiguous allegorical narrative with a tendency towards flatness and an obsession with chromium oxide green.

Kirsten Pieroth
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Through January 2

Berlin-based artist Kirsten Pieroth plays with the materials and histories of everyday objects—books, maps, bottles, maps, and furniture parts. Looking for loose connections and unexpected possibilities in and between commonplace things, she uncovers new opportunities for transformation and communication.

Inman Annex
Through January 8

Weasel features work by Maurizio Cattelan, Mads Lynnerup, Eva and Franco Mattes aka 0100101110101101.ORG, Jim Nolan, Brina Thurston, Karla Wozniak and Joe Zane. Curated by Kurt Mueller and Chelsea Beck.

Sigrid Sandström
Inman Gallery
Through January 8, 2011

Three different videos by artist, Sigrid Sandström, will be screening in the North gallery.

Yuko Murata
Inman Gallery
Through January 8, 2011

Yuko Murata, born in Kanagawa, Japan in 1973, lives and works in Tokyo. Over the past ten years, Murata's practice has focused on small oil paintings, deceptively simple in both subject matter and execution. Spare landscapes rendered in a muted palette or (usually) solitary animals predominate her imagery. Lively, considered brushwork animates the surfaces of these intimate works: a view in raking light reveals the rich expressive strokes.

It's better to regret something you have done...
Art Palace
Through January 8, 2011

Art Palace presents, It's better to regret something you have done..., featuring the works of Jillian Conrad, Nathan Green, Kara Hearn, Jim Nolan, Linda Post and Barry Stone. While each artist explores an individual path with their work, together they create a shared dialogue around the punk rock sentiment that it's better to regret something that you have done than to regret something you haven't. The keen wit that unites these artists showcases the gallery's affinity for presenting unconventional work and sets the stage for the fresh perspectives and projects slated for the coming year.

James Drake
Station Museum
Through January 9, 2011

James Drake’s videos, drawings, sculptures, poetry, and installations reflect his understanding of Man’s place in nature and the presumptions and the psychological struggle that often result in tragedy. In his works of art, James Drake’s personal journey across the harsh desert of self-reflection reveals the starkness of the political and social unrest afflicting Man.

Dallas Openings

Mike Osborne
Holly Johnson Gallery
Opening Reception: January 8, 6-8pm

Mike Osborne's Papers and Trains brings together two distinct but subtly interconnected photographic projects. Press Pictures revolves around the newspaper production process while Underground focuses on the subterranean waiting areas of a German metro system.

Dallas on View

Erik Parker
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Through February 6, 2011

Erik Parker has described his work as “fragmented samples of our culture.” His complex fantasy portraits elicit the poignant, melancholy, grotesque, psychological, provocative, and almost always comical and surreal, baggage of our time.

Dan H. Phillips
Webb Gallery
Through February 6, 2011

The art & craft of Dan H. Phillips. The show includes paintings, drawings, furniture, and early American installation. Check out this youtube video and don't forget to check out the ceramics upstairs by CW Block.

Dallas Closings

Art + Object
Marty Walker Gallery
Through December 23

Marty Walker Gallery presents Small Works: Art + Object -a small sculpture invitational featuring strange and fantastic small art objects from a selection of 16 stellar artists. This assembly of sculpture debunks the trend that “bigger is better,” and by working within a small format, these artists have created a mess of random creatures and fascinating objects that demonstrate the power of big ideas imagined in scaled-down and accessible forms.

Todd Camplin
Holly Johnson Gallery
Through December 24

Todd Camplin has been working with abstracted text since 2003. His recent work borrows words and phrases from greeting cards, poems from friends, and quotes from other artists. The ink drawings on paper are built up with layer upon layer of abstracted texts. From afar they appear like multi-colored geometric abstractions yet upon closer inspection one can see compressed letters and phrases creating a completely new narrative.

Vernon Fisher
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Through January 2, 2011

Vernon Fisher: K-Mart Conceptualism is a survey of the artist’s entire career to date, incorporating paintings, sculptures, and installations from the late 1970s to the present, from both public and private collections in the United States and Europe.

Marfa on View

Ballroom Marfa
Through February 20, 2011

Ballroom Marfa is pleased to announce the opening of Immaterial, an exhibition that will focus on the physical and psychic tensions between form, color, and space across varied visual and structural mediums. Curated by Executive Director Fairfax Dorn, the exhibition seeks to examine the metaphysical aspects of artistic production through a selection of artworks that challenge the use of material and space, formalism and abstraction. By using the exhibition as a forum to contemplate process-driven practices, Immaterial will consider art's potential to transcend conscious states through a plurality of visual languages

New York Openings

Teresa Hubbard & Alexander Birchler
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Premiere: January 8, 2011

Premiere of Melies, the most recent film by the photography and video artists, Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler. The work explores the residue of cinema and social terrain around the site of a mountain in the Chihuahua Desert in West Texas named Movie Mountain. According to local residents, this mountain near the border town of Sierra Blanca is named Movie Mountain because a silent film was shot there in the early 1900s. Searching for the origin of the mountain's name, the artists embarked on a journey traversing the landscape of early silent-era film production.

New York Closings

Peter Saul
Haunch of Venison
Through January 8, 2011

A survey of Peter Saul's work-- check out this interview with Peter Saul and Irving Sandler and Phong Bui here.

Announcements: events

Houston Lectures

Cliff Owens
Glassell School of Art at MFAH
Friday, January 7, 6pm

Lecture by Cliff Owens.

Frazer Ward
Glassell School of Art at MFAH
Thursday, January 27, 7pm

Lecture by Frazer Ward.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Entries

Vox Populi Gallery
Deadline: December 19

This festival is to be screened at Vox Populi Gallery, Philadelphia. The screening will take place on Friday, January 7, 2011. Juried by Rachel Cook. Files will need to be sent electronically via yousendit.com or another file-sharing site to the gallery by the 19th. Email any questions to director@voxpopuligallery.org

17th SESC_Videobrasil Art Festival
Universe in Universe
Deadline: March 10, 2011

The 17th International Contemporary Art Festival SESC_Videobrasil will be held in September and October 2011. As suggested by its new name, a deep, intense model shift marks this edition when compared to previous ones. Aligned with the nature of contemporary artistic practices, the new competitive exhibition expands its ability to soak in diverse manifestations, such as video, installations, performances, book-objects, and other artistic experiments. For more information and how to apply, click here.

Call for Volunteers

No Idea 2011
No Idea

The festival is taking place the last weekend in January 2011 in Austin, Texas. Exact dates and venues are in the process of being confirmed. This is our initial call for volunteers. We are needing assistance with publicity (online and print) and general logistics (housing, driving, stage manager and venue set-up). Please get in touch if you are interested in helping out in any way.

Contact Chris Cogburn at:
512. 826. 3689 (cell)

Call for Proposals

Art in Public Places: African-American Cultural & Heritage Facility
Austin Art in Public Places
Deadline: January 10, 2011

The City of Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP) program of the Cultural Arts Division, Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services Office (EGRSO) seeks to commission a professional visual artist to create a work of art for the African-American Cultural & Heritage Facility Art in Public Places project. The goal for the public art is to showcase a work of contemporary public art that honors the cultural heritage of the African-American community in Austin. To read the complete Request for Proposals, please click here.

Call for Applicants

Duke University Experimental and Documentary Arts MFA
Duke University
Priority Deadline: January 30, 2011

Duke University welcomes applications to its MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts (MFAEDA), a new program and the first-ever Master of Fine Arts at the university. For the inaugural class of Fall 2011, applications will be accepted until all spaces are filled, with priority given to those candidates applying by January 30, 2011. The MFAEDA is a unique initiative that couples experimental visual practice with the documentary arts in a rigorous two-year program. Building on the University’s existing strengths in historical, theoretical and technological scholarship, the MFAEDA offers a distinct learning environment that sees interdisciplinary education as a benchmark for innovation. The program’s curriculum blends studio practice, fieldwork, digital media authorship, and critical theory, culminating in the completion of a thesis paper and an MFA exhibition. The central home of the program is The Carpentry Shop, a state-of-the-art facility in a former industrial building that once housed the university’s carpenters and cabinet-makers. Please click here to apply.

Fellowship Opportunities

Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowships in the Humanities
Harry Ransom Center
Deadline: February 13, 2011

The Harry Ransom Center, an internationally renowned humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, annually awards over 50 fellowships to support research projects that require on-site use of its collections. The fellowships support research in all areas of the humanities, including literature, photography, film, art, the performing arts, music, and cultural history. Click here for applications and guidelines.

Employment Opportunities

Chairperson of Film/Video for the School of Art & Design at Pratt Institute
Pratt Institute

The newly re-organized Department of Film/Video at Pratt Institute seeks exceptional applicants for the position of Chairperson. The ideal candidate will bring the vision and experience necessary to assume the academic and administrative leadership of the department and build upon the current BFA program. The Department is located on Pratt's historic 25-acre Brooklyn campus in the culturally diverse neighborhood of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. This administrative appointment carries a twelve-month per year workload and a three-year contract that may be renewed. The responsibilities of the chair will include: oversight of budget and course scheduling; curriculum development, program reviews and assessment; recruitment of faculty and students; participation in fundraising and development; and establishment of linkages with relevant professional organizations and leading practitioners.

To Apply: Review of applications will continue until position is filled. Please submit your cover letter, CV, and the names and contact information for three professional references electronically to:
Chairperson Search Committee: Film/Video
FVChair@pratt.edu – Use subject line A&D Film/ Video Chair

Associate Curator
Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania

The Associate Curator will: Work directly with the Director and Senior Curator to research, develop and produce museum exhibitions, publications, and programming. BA in Art History or related field is required; MA in Art History or Curatorial Studies is preferred. Three to five years related experience or equivalent combination of education and experience. Applicants are required to submit an application, cover letter, and resume through Penn’s Online Employment System at https://jobs.hr.upenn.edu/.

Associate Director: Desert Initiative
Arizona State University Art Museum
Deadline: January 3, 2011

Arizona State University Art Museum in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts seeks an associate director for a multidisciplinary contemporary arts initiative focused on desert issues in relation to art, science and other interdisciplinary spheres. Bachelors degree in a visual arts field and seven years of related administrative arts management experience, including four years of supervisory experience; OR, Eleven years of administrative arts management experience, including four years of supervisory experience; OR, Any equivalent combination of education and/or experience from which comparable knowledge, skills and abilities have been achieved. To apply, go to www.asu.edu/asujobs click "Staff" then keyword search "Desert Initiative".

Assistant Professor of Intermedia
Arizona State University
Application Reviews: January 20

The School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University seeks an exceptional Intermedia artist/practitioner/theorist who engages with the public sphere to fill a full-time tenure-track appointment at the Assistant Professor level beginning Fall 2011. Required Qualifications: Master of Fine Arts degree, or equivalent terminal degree, and strong evidence of professional activity in the field.

Instructions to Apply:
Please submit a letter of interest, addressing creative research, teaching and work experience. Include curriculum vita, evidence of both teaching and creative work in the form of a digital PDF portfolio, and three letters of references with contact information to:
Arizona State University
Chair, School of Art Search Committee, Intermedia
c/o Natalie Pinkelman, Specialist to the Director
School of Art, PO Box 871505,
Tempe, AZ 85287-1505

Residency Opportunities

John Michael Kohler Arts/Industry Residency
John Michael Kohler Arts Center
Deadline: Friday, April 1, 2011

Arts/Industry is undoubtedly the most unusual on-going collaboration between art and industry in the United States. Hundreds of emerging and established visual artists have benefited from the Arts/Industry program at Kohler Co. since its inception in 1974. Participants are exposed to a body of technical knowledge that enables them to explore forms and concepts not possible in their own studios as well as new ways of thinking and working. Artists-in-residence may work in the Kohler Co. Pottery, Iron and Brass Foundries, and Enamel Shop to develop a wide variety of work in clay, enameled cast iron, and brass including but not limited to murals and reliefs, temporary or permanent site-specific installations, and functional and sculptural forms. For more information and to apply, click here.

Rijksakademie Residency
Deadline: February 2, 2011

The Rijksakademie Residency in Amsterdam is an artists’ institute for emerging, professional artists from all continents. It is more than a residency. It has extensive technical facilities, a specialized art library and art collections. In addition, the Rijksakademie offers basic facilities such as a studio, a work budget and mediation with accommodation and grants.

New York City is Yours
3rd Ward
Deadline: December 17

This is your chance at a 3-month New York City residency, a $5,000 cash grant and access to the resources to help you create a body of work that is larger than the city itself.

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