MBG Issue #161: The Cuckoo Effect

Issue # 161

The Cuckoo Effect

January 21, 2011

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Devon Dikeou, You Can Observe a Lot by Watching (installation view), 2010. Courtesy of the artist and Domy Books. Photo by Carling Hale. (detail)

from the editor

In my previous letter from the editor, I made a case for the connection between editorial and curatorial practice. That weekend I spent some time in Devon Dikeou’s solo exhibition “You Can Observe A Lot By Watching” at Domy Books in Austin. The exhibition’s cornerstone was undoubtedly the back issues of zingmagazine on display, which Dikeou—a recent transplant to Austin—has been editing and publishing since 1995. Subtitled “a curatorial crossing” (the “zing” is a twist on the signage abbreviation XING), the magazine’s format comprises a series of rotating guest-curated projects that span art, architecture, design, fashion, fiction and poetry. zingmagazine takes its inspiration from Fleur Fenton Coles’ pioneering Flair magazine, and like the short-lived publication that was as much known for its groundbreaking design as cross-disciplinary content, zing has played with its format. In addition to both print and online issues (the next issue will appear in both formats this spring), Dikeou has presided over the production of CDs, posters, TV shows and other multiples that her guest curators have proposed. The effort is truly a collaborative curatorial enterprise.

It’s no surprise that with such a keen interest in the connections and interstices between art practices, Dikeou’s other works at the Domy space functioned like set pieces framing interactions between the store’s clientele. A huge vase at the front counter collected business cards; a water cooler provided refreshment and a place for discussion (a throwback to social networking in the days before comment buttons); and magnetized bulletin boards that mimic those in the building lobby of the old Castelli Gallery announce features from each issue (What’s Love Got to Do With It, 1991-ongoing). In a conversation with me, Dikeou even described the impetus to start her art collection in Denver as a way to “make zingmagazine come alive.” Dikeou’s art, however, is not limited to objects that traffic in pure relational aesthetics around the magazine. For those who are curious to see more of her art, or who missed the Domy show (it closed on January 13th), you don’t have long to wait. Dikeou has been selected for the next cycle of Artpace residencies, and I, for one, am looking forward to what she produces.

Echoing the curatorial collaborative spirit of Dikeou’s practice, models of exchange and conversation—and their flipside, thwarted attempts at communication—are repeatedly referenced in this issue of …mbg. In response, I’ve titled it “the cuckoo effect.” As Kyle Schlesinger explains in his review of the Flatbed Press exhibition at AMOA, this metaphor for collaboration comes from the cuckoo bird’s habit of laying eggs in another bird’s nest. Rounding out our review section, Chelsea Beck reflects on Clifford Owens’ staged conversations between performer, audience and camera at the CAMH; I discuss Keren Cytter’s work at Arthouse that weaves a disjointed conversation between inexplicable events; and Wendy Atwell plunges into James Castle’s books on view at Lawrence Markey. We also feature the first installment of a two-part conversation about Artpace’s installation of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ billboards in 2010. And in “…mbg recommends,” Veronica Roberts previews An Exchange with Sol LeWitt, an open-call exhibition featuring submissions created in homage to the famous Minimalist artist.

Extending beyond the virtual page, two endeavors by collaborative teams with Austin roots also deserve a special mention in this letter. Our readers in Houston should head over to Okay Mountain’s outstanding exhibition of new work at the Blaffer Art Museum, which opened last weekend to a great turnout. For those in Austin this weekend, we recommend attending the exhibition opening on Saturday night of The Ambiguous Object at Pump Project organized by the dynamic curatorial duo of Cook & Ruud. Don’t miss the catalog that doubles as Issue 11 of Cantanker magazine.

Finally, I’d like to plug an exhibition and opportunity in Fluent~Collaborative’s own metaphorical nest. Eileen Maxson’s solo show, Cached Curses, opens at our sister project testsite this Sunday evening. We hope that you will join us for the opening or during the run of the show. And last but not least, if you’re an undergraduate with an enthusiasm for contemporary art, we are looking for you. Fluent~Collaborative is seeking unpaid interns to work for testsite and …mbg. More details can be found in this issue’s Opportunities section.

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


Advancing Tradition: 20 Years of Printmaking at Flatbed Press
Austin Museum of Art
Through February 13

By Kyle Schlesinger

Advancing Tradition: 20 Years of Printmaking at Flatbed Press,  (exhibition view), 2011.

Printmakers have always been the bastard siblings of the art world family: the toothless hicks whose interests in ink, paper and the purely technical aspects of their trade make them subordinate to the “real” artists who are primarily engaged in conceptual, political, aesthetic and intellectual problems. The printmakers’ practice is presumed to be inferior because it is situated somewhere between commercial and fine art; because printmakers cannot decide among themselves exactly what it means to make original multiples (or multiple originals?); because they are technicians employed to realize and perfect the prints of real artists who have been somehow coerced into making an edition; and because they cater to amateur collectors who don’t have pockets deep enough to purchase paintings or sculptures. Now nestled in the second decade of the twenty-first century, there is no doubt that ‘print’ is an archaic term and an obsolete medium. One wonders what printmaking could possibly teach us about contemporary art?

Advancing Tradition, Flatbed Press’ exhibition at the Austin Museum of Art, celebrates two decades of innovative printmaking by a team of master printers whose deep knowledge of the history and technique of the craft is engaged in a fruitful dialogue with the concepts and constructions of trends in digital and multimedia art. Museum visitors should not expect to see dark, sterile rooms filled with connoisseurs peeping through monocles at flat prints under glass. This exhibit features a spectacular range of prints produced through traditional methods such as monotype, woodcut, etching, lithograph, and silkscreen, often tweaked to create unique or hybrid effects. They join sculptures, paintings, and an array of tools, artifacts and materials that reveal some of the processes behind the products.

Collaboration is an essential ingredient in the alchemy of printmaking. It’s what Gregg Biglieri likes to call the “cuckoo effect”: one bird lays an egg in another bird’s nest. Near a print by Margo Sawyer, a caption reads, “Among printmakers, there is a saying that sculptors make the best prints.” Produced in collaboration with Flatbed, this print (Index for Contemplation #4, 2001) preceded Sawyer’s related bright, multicolored cubic sculpture on the floor before it. Mastering printmaking takes years of experience and lots of specialized equipment, so few artists who are invited to collaborate with Flatbed possess the skills they need to realize their objectives independently. The exchange of images and ideas in the art of conversation that ensues is perhaps the most compelling variable in the printmaking process—there’s no telling exactly what the outcome will be when a meaningful dialogue gets one out of his or her own head.

The concepts and processes of printing can be rather abstract, but this exhibition strives to demystify the tools of the trade. To enlighten those of us who have no experience with relief printing, for example, a vitrine displays the tools of the trade: roller, block, ball-bearing baren, medium U chisel, small U gouge, and V gouge. The lithography display is equally thorough and suggestive, while the copperplates and helpful gathering of literature at a table in the back make this intimate space a place where one can wander and learn. The exhibit is not chronological, but arranged by shape and color. The towering, yet slender Vine Line Suite: Mason Dixon Line (2000) by Dallas sculptor Linda Rigdway appears opposite Katie Van Scherpenberg’s 22 x 90 inch triptych Furo (2004). Furo depicts a hazy cinematic seascape in or out of time, in or out of focus. A mysterious red stain bleeds into the sand and surf while the boys darting in and out of the frame (taken from a single vantage) appear unfazed. James Surls is an artist from Texas who has been working with Flatbed since 1990. There is a particularly striking correlation between Surls’ Heartland: A Suite of Eleven Gravures (2005), a deluxe artist’s book in the tradition of the livre d’artiste, and Hanging Flower (c. 1990), a large sculpture hanging in the far corner of the first gallery. Bringing a poem by the artist and eleven images together on Twinrocker handmade papers, Heartland is an ambitious boxed edition that echoes many of the motifs and nuances of Hanging Flower (and vice versa).

Part of the challenge of making art is discovering what’s not working and using it to one’s advantage. For all of the charges that might be pitted against printmaking, Advancing Tradition demonstrates how hand and machine can work together with fine papers and textures to make multiples, to move print off the page, and to remind us that collaborations often yield results that no one could have foreseen or accomplished alone.

Kyle Schlesinger’s most recent book is Poems & Pictures: A Renaissance in the Art of the Book 1946-1981.

Keren Cytter
Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin
Through January 23

By Wendy Vogel

Keren Cytter, Cross.Flowers.Rolex. (still), 2009, 3-channel digital video installation with sound, 15 min. 11 sec. Courtesy of SCHAU ORT, Christiane Büntgen, Zurich. © Keren Cytter.

“The screen is not black.”



“The screen is black but the walls are white.”


This flatly delivered exchange opens the third and final five-minute vignette of Keren Cytter’s Cross.Flowers.Rolex (2009). The video departs in significant ways from Cytter’s earlier work, not least because the three-channel, sequentially projected installation is intended for an art space setting—what Cytter coyly alludes to in this reflexive snippet of dialogue. Yet despite leaning on schmaltzy conventions that seem to want to draw the viewer in before pushing them away, Cross.Flowers.Rolex’s experimental, arrhythmic structure keeps viewers at a frustrating emotional bay.

At the age of 32, Berlin-based, Israeli-born Cytter has already garnered international praise for her post-postmodern films, videos, novels, dance and theatre works that bombard the viewer with cinematic and theatrical clichés without delivering any narrative cohesion. Cross.Flowers.Rolex is similarly jumbled—part murder mystery, part infidelity vengeance scenario, part suicide attempt. Against swerving, fuzzy camera work, melodrama and horror commingle in lines spat out by bored-looking professional actors: “My head explodes when I hear the words that come out of your mouth.” “Blood. Sweat. No tears.” “I wish he would jump.” It becomes difficult to determine who (if anyone) has done violence to whom, save for the film’s dénouement where a man plunges from a window. His partner, standing over him, works through the stages of grief in unnatural, rapid-fire succession: “You dumb piece of meat. I guess I don’t miss you. I guess I don’t forgive you.”

In short, moments of Brechtian distancing compose the film’s entire syntax, not just its punctuation. But as the curatorial text accompanying the exhibition states, Cytter constructed her film systematically, reinterpreting three incredible events reported on the Internet in early 2009: a man is stabbed eleven times in five seconds, a man survives two falls from a second-story window, and a woman serves tea after being shot in the head.

Cytter, of course, is far from the first artist to mine sensationalist faits divers to construct a psychological portrait. Even Gustave Flaubert famously lifted the plot of Madame Bovary from a gossipy news bit in a daily newspaper about a petite bourgeoise who poisoned herself. But Cytter does not stop there, nor with the “psychologization of the image” in freeze frame that characterized 1970s postmodern works such as Dara Birnbaum’s stuttering Wonder Women or Jack Goldstein’s short films that mimicked cinematic loops. Instead, she creates a melancholy “docudrama” that doesn’t offer a clear way in, for artists or critics.

Of course, this ambiguity is the critics’ dream, and much ink has been spilled either glossing the surface of her films or decoding the more obvious points of reference. Cytter’s films ultimately have value, however, because in their mingling of fact and fiction, they reflect our shortcomings as viewers and critics. They operate as much inside the society of the spectacle as from critiquing it, a slippery position to occupy. I’m not convinced, however, that I can come up with a pat conclusion to add to the rest. I’ve rewritten this text more than four times now, trying to dredge up the hidden details of the film that remain stubbornly lodged in my subconscious, and I still can’t come up with a proper ending. For Cytter, however, this sputtering out might be the best critical response of all.

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

Felix Gonzalez-Torres' Billboards
Artpace, San Antonio
Closed December 31, 2010

By Leslie Moody Castro, Noah Simblist, and Andy Campbell

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (The New Plan), 1991, Billboard, Dimensions vary with installation. Installation in San Antonio, Texas at Wetmore and Loop 410 for Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Billboards at Artpace, San Antonio, Texas, 2010. Photo by: Todd Johnson. © The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation. Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

In conjunction with the organization’s fifteenth anniversary, Artpace San Antonio organized a Texas-wide exhibition of thirteen billboards created by artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres between 1989 and 1995. Developed with special permission from the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation, this presentation was the first-ever comprehensive survey of Gonzalez-Torres' billboard works in the United States. The billboards were on view throughout 2010 in various locations in the cities of Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio. Major underwriting for this Billboard Exhibition was provided by the Linda Pace Foundation, with generous in-kind support from Clear Channel Outdoor.

During the run of the exhibition, Artpace also facilitated a series of conversations between Leslie Moody Castro, Andy Campbell and Noah Simblist. This material was originally meant to serve as an educational component to the exhibition, but has remained unpublished until now. We wish to thank Artpace San Antonio and education curator Alex Freeman for making this project a reality.

In this issue of …mbg, we are pleased to include two excerpts from the conversation about queer activism in the 1980s and how we might read Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ activist gestures today. In our February 4th issue, we will feature a second installment of this conversation, focusing specifically on the politics of display surrounding Gonzalez-Torres’ work.

Queer Activism: Then/Now

Leslie Moody Castro [LMC]: Why don’t we start with queer activism, specifically in the historical moment when these billboards were made. How you think that translates to the current political and historical moment?

Noah Simblist [NS]: One thing that’s interesting to me is the state of the AIDS crisis then versus now. Obviously it’s different today because people can live with AIDS much longer, so there’s not the same kind of animosity surrounding the disease that there was during the Reagan-Bush era. But at the same time, I wonder what it means for a contemporary artist to make an activist gesture in the way that these billboards were originally conceived, as opposed to them being restaged curatorially in this exhibition. Are they still activist images? Is the activism represented in the original action that Felix Gonzalez-Torres staged; is the activism inherent in the images; or does the activism take place when these images are presented in public spaces?

Andy Campbell [AC]: To me, I feel there’s been a real shift in the center of queer politics, so locating queerness in terms of the activist agenda is very different now. In the late 1980s, the struggle was actually mentioning—verbally discussing—people living with HIV/AIDS in any capacity, whereas now when the big political struggle is the normalization of queers (although I wouldn’t call that agenda a “queer” agenda, necessarily). I share your same question: is the curatorial restaging a blip or rupture of mainstream gay politics now, or does it reify them? Are we normalizing the billboards in the city?

NS: It made me think of this conversation that I heard between Gregg Bordowitz and David Getsy about queerness on Bad at Sports. It was fantastic! They talk about defining queerness by making the choice “yes/and” as opposed to “yes or no,” and I think the billboard project, like all of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work, is often about that. In that sense, queerness does not necessarily have to be about the politics of sexuality. Queerness can also be the approach to questions like: what is an artwork? What is beauty and the relationship between beauty and politics, or the relationship between art and politics? All of these things can be “queered,” and this billboard project is very much doing that. I think it can also help us get outside of this “us vs. them” binary, which was very much a part of the discourse and debate of the ‘80s and ‘90s, where conservatives would lambast “those dirty people, those dirty prostitutes...”

AC: And homosexuals.

NS: Yes, conservatives would say that the dregs of society were getting sick because of their own actions, and that they would perform those actions in “their” spaces, but that “our” spaces were safe and pure and clean. The billboards were a total queering of that notion of “us and them,” in the way that their politics intersected and politicized “our” space. At the same time, this was done in a way that didn’t subscribe to the clichés of what “they” looked like.

AC: I feel like the work is important in a different way in terms of queerness: that it can blend but it can also be a disruption. It’s not an “either/or,” as you said, Noah, it’s more of a “yes/and” thing. How can we aggregate these choices together rather than shutting down a radical voice that seems to be a little bit more unpleasant?

NS: The AIDS crisis has also shifted geographically over the past 30 years. New York and San Francisco became the centers for it in the ‘80s, but now it is much more prevalent in Africa and Asia. I wonder what it would mean for these billboards to be seen in Johannesburg or a township in South Africa.

Pluralism and Activism: Felix Gonzalez-Torres and his Contemporaries

LMC: I know that you were interested in the relationships between Group Material and Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Could you speak about that, Noah?

NS: Group Material was an artist collective in New York that involved up to 20 people between 1979-1996. At any given time the numbers were changing, as people were joining or leaving the group. In the end the main participants were Julie Ault, Doug Ashford and Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Ault and Ashford were the most consistent within the group, along with Tim Rollins. Ault recently published a book called Show and Tell: A Chronicle of Group Material, one of the best documentations of the entire project. Essentially their artistic practice comprised curating exhibitions around various political themes, like the U.S. involvement in Latin America in the 1980s or the AIDS crisis.

The latter was something that Felix Gonzalez-Torres also addressed in his own work, particularly after the death of his lover Ross. I think that he had various ways of mediating the experience of mourning. There are many ways that he used to ritualize mourning, both physically and visually in space. This was something that he needed to do for himself, while at the same time realizing that the personal act of mourning had a communal implication. I think that he was also very aware of the fact that his public mourning had a political implication.

LMC: So he’s dealing with being a homosexual male in public, mourning in public, openly stating that this work is created for Ross while fully aware of the consequences, all amidst the beginning of the AIDS crisis in which the art word is literally dying. There was no advocacy; there were no clinics; there was no knowledge being disseminated to stop this and deal with this issue.

NS: Yes, and the context of the 1980s is so interesting. This is this moment when Reagan had been elected and a wave of conservatism emerged from the country. There were people like Jerry Falwell who were becoming very powerful and acting against perceived subversives who were against patriotism and Christian American values. AIDS was a health crisis affecting a particular segment of the citizenry of the U.S. that was deemed immoral, and so it was ignored. It was ironically an antidemocratic action to ignore it and to pretend that this thing didn’t exist. I think that there were a lot of activists that became very much engaged in reversing silence, in becoming very loud and reversing this erasure by becoming very visually bold. In addition to Group Material, groups like ACT UP with people like Gregg Bordowitz were very much engaged in starting the conversation. I find it interesting that in his solo projects Felix Gonzalez-Torres would take an angle that was so political and bold, by transferring something that is as private as a bedroom, like “Untitled” (1991), into the public space of a billboard. But at the same time he did this using an image that isn’t explicitly provocative.

LMC: Well there is that quote of his: “Two clocks side by side are much more threatening to the powers that be than an image of two guys sucking each other’s dicks, because they cannot use me as a rallying point in their battle to erase meaning.”

NS: But I believe in a kind of pluralism for those different activist approaches. I feel that it is very interesting to have Mapplethorpe’s X Portfolio (1978) and ACT UP and Felix Gonzalez-Torres working at the same time. Because that communicates a kind of diversity that subverts the conservative idea that all homosexuals and artists and intellectuals are communist perverts. It gets away from that kind of universalizing so that you can say that there are lots of different kinds of “perverts!”

AC: And there were many that actively embraced that label of “pervert.” At least those in the kink communities were used to being labeled as perverts by broader gay and lesbian communities by the ‘90s. I think of Catherine Opie’s Self Portrait/Pervert (1994), where she’s got the word carved in gorgeous type across her chest. It’s cutting, sure, but from a kink perspective it’s downright erotic.

LMC: All this pluralism in sexual and activist expression gets away from this very contradictory idea of hegemonizing the other—if that’s even possible. So another thing that I was going to ask you about is the tone of his work. So many activist organizations have so much anger around them, and so much of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work is so quiet that it almost becomes meditative. There is an absence of anger in mourning, which is one of the processes of coping. Do you see any anger in his work?

NS: Along with the rest of Group Material, he would choose artists that were very angry—not that he was personally constructing angry images, but through the kind of discourse that he was involved in with Julie Ault, Doug Ashford, and everyone else that was involved, and through the discourse of the artists that they would invite to participate in the Group Material exhibitions. He would choose artists along with the rest of Group Material that were very angry, like in the AIDS Timeline in 1990 for instance. That same notion of pluralism that we were talking about before also has to do with one’s own reaction to a crisis. So while Group Material gave him the outlet for rowdy anger, I think that his work was able to be more meditative, slow and quiet—it provoked more questions than it necessarily gave the answers to.

AC: I agree with Noah, but I think that openness allows for anger. Even the elegiac stacks and spills hold some anger for me. I get angry looking at it, touching it and taking home, as much as I get sad. Nevermind that half the time I get angry because there’s an overt surveillance of the work—take one piece but no more!—that I think is a disgrace to the legacy and generosity of the work. But that’s a different reason to be angry!

Leslie Moody Castro is the visitor services manager at Arthouse at the Jones Center, and a former graduate intern at Artpace San Antonio. She graduated with her Master's Degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2010 in Museum Education, and worked at the Blanton Museum of Art while earning her graduate degree. Moody Castro has also curated exhibitions at Women and Their Work, Mexic-Arte Museum, and is a co-founder of Co-Lab, Austin.

Noah Simblist is an Associate Professor of Art at SMU and a PhD student in art history at the University of Texas, Austin. His most recent curatorial endeavor, the group exhibition Out of Place, is on view at Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin through March 5.

Andy Campbell is a PhD student in the Department of Art History at the University of Texas in Austin. He is currently writing about gay and lesbian leather communities and visual cultures in the 1970s. He is co-curator of the group exhibition SUBstainability, which opens on January 20 at the Texas State University Gallery in San Marcos.

James Castle
Lawrence Markey Gallery, San Antonio
Through January 28

By Wendy Atwell

James Castle, BOOKS. Courtesy of Lawrence Markey, San Antonio.

A media-saturated commercial culture refines images to a polished transparency, whereas art’s opacity thwarts this seeming clarity, questioning what is taken for granted and what goes unseen and unexamined. The small, delicate books by James Castle on view at Lawrence Markey doubly perform this provocation. The sense of distance and removal that pervades Castle’s art exists not only because the work is exhibited in glass vitrines, but also because the books, made from combinations of letters, numbers, portraits and sketches, speak Castle’s personal language.

Castle, who was born deaf, remained mute and communicated via the art he created. A self-taught, prolific artist, Castle (1899-1977) produced undated handbound books, drawings, collages and constructions throughout his life. Castle chose stove soot mixed with saliva to draw on his books and used a hand-sharpened stick. The found and discarded objects he used to create books, collages and paper dolls were garnered from his parents who were postmasters in rural Idaho. The bricolage of material used by Castle includes soap labels, unfolded matchbooks, used envelopes, bills of sale, comics and other available detritus. This jumble of materials is also reflected in his lettering, a variety of very thoughtfully created fonts, as well as some cryptic lettering with Greek-looking origins.

The careworn edges of these aged, hand-stitched books reveal their handmade origin. Some books are tiny, the color worn off the covers, such as the cover of Untitled (Red Book), which attests to its usefulness to the artist, who was known to frequently carry his books around with him and page through them. The 96 pages in this book include collaged images, found text and portraits. Though rudimentary, the lines drawn for eyes, noses and mouths on Castle’s figures are nevertheless hauntingly charismatic. Some figures remain featureless and ghostly; everywhere Castle’s shading performs a daunting play of light and shadow.

The twenty small books on display are carefully propped open to a particular page or closed to show their covers, beckoning the viewer to do the impossible—turn the pages. A catalog accompanies the exhibition with an essay by Bob Nickas, which allows the viewer this indulgence from a distance once removed. This furthers the sense of detachment which is felt everywhere in Castle’s work, most poignantly because it seems to mirror the artist’s own aloofness.

Though Castle’s visual repertoire isn’t totally inaccessible, it doesn’t allow the viewer to construct a traditional narrative. Untitled (Calendar Castle Jim) is a calendar of six months with drawn numbers that, on some months, count up to 35 days. In Untitled (Three Figures), wavy lines flow horizontally across the pages, miming rows of text, as void of narrative meaning to the viewer as real text must have been to Castle.

Castle’s texts resist meaning. Instead, the way he repeats text, images and numbers produces a empty sensation, like looking into facing mirrors in which one’s image recedes off and way into infinity. Perhaps this is much like the sensation Castle himself must have had. Looking at language from the outside, he was forced instead to create his own. No one will ever fully know or understand the system of meaning that Castle fashioned for himself, but what is evident in his extensive oeuvre is the world it makes for itself, so self-referential and striking in its vision and extensiveness.

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

Clifford Owens
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Through April 3

By Chelsea Beck

Clifford Owens, Photographs with an Audience (New York) (detail), 2008-09, 18 x 20 inches. Courtesy the artist and On Stellar Rays, New York.

Perspectives 173: Clifford Owens at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston kicked off with a riveting, socially sticky performance at the opening called Photographs with an Audience, an ongoing project by the artist that engages the audience in the live construction of a series of group portraits. The performance began with a loaded question: “Do you trust me?” Then Owens popped the Veuve Clicquot. An hour later members of the audience were naked, touching and posing. When the Veuve ran out we began to drink the cheap stuff. A sequence of increasingly intimate confessions, propositions and confrontations had brought Owens to tears. Together we had profiled ourselves: anxious, divorced, immigrants, fathers, friends and Mexicans, among other things.

As one attendee told Owens at the artist lecture the following night, “It was like we were giving years’ worth of therapy for free.” Free for Owens perhaps, because he paid no money to the participants, but there is certainly a psychic debt being paid by the artist in order to activate these scenarios. Owens fearlessly choreographs the slippages that occur between our real-time identity (his unfolding identity, with his art dealer and recent gut in tow, as an artist, male, black, father, increasingly tipsy, late for dinner…) and the rigid construction and consumption of a single moment suspended in time by the photographic medium. The friction between the live experience of an event and the mediation of it is exposed with varying degrees of success and sensitivity in the work on view at Owens’ first museum show.

Politics and Emotion (Gregg Bordowitz), 2006, begins with Bordowitz, the artist, activist, and Owens’ former professor, describing his own experience at one of Owens’ performances. With a screaming red background and a steady close-up on Bordowitz's concerned face, it's a video you want to look away from. The viewer listens to this critique while in a room full of work that may or may not suffer from the same pitfalls. Bordowitz explains that humans are born with hang-ups: the job of the artist is to uncover and play in those pre-conscious emotional and physical states we experienced in our infancy. He goes on to describe a past performance in which the artist seemed to vacillate between states of anger and vulnerability.

Perhaps he’s referring to one of the iterations of Performance with an Audience documented in the exhibition, but the photographs, arranged in esoteric configurations, do not show this wide range of emotions. In fact, they are quite dry, functioning more as formal arrangements of bodies and color. Mostly, Owens appears stone-faced, composed, unblinking, legs shoulder-width apart, ready to be documented in perpetuity. The participants take their cues from him and the camera.

Things get even messier and meatier when Owens collaborates with iconic performance artists in series such as Studio Visits, an ongoing project performed at the Studio Museum in 2005 and at Skowhegan in 2004. In the video featuring Carolee Schneemann, there is a three-way power struggle between the two artists and the camera that is belied by the servile action being performed. Schneemann rubs Owens down with lotion and avoids the camera, hiding in plain view, yet Owens’ reverence for his collaborator and his awareness of his place in the performance art constellation ekes out through his body language and poker face. Despite Schneemann’s subservient actions, it is she who dominates Owens. As in many works on display, Owens directs himself in a submissive role.

Furthering the performance art lineage, Owens re-performs work by influential African-American performance artists, such as Lick Piece by Benjamin Patterson (the original is on view in Patterson’s CAMH retrospective upstairs). Owens’ work participates in this history while simultaneously furthering a critical discourse of its documentation and reception. As the artist pointed out repeatedly during the opening weekend events, his dealer was present and works were available. Performance is a business after all––and business is performance. It’s a rare treat to have an artist publicly measure his own insecurities and bravado as well as those of his audience, while agilely slipping from irony to sincerity within a few simple gestures.

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

...mbg recommends

An Exchange with Sol LeWitt
Cabinet & MASS MoCA
Through March 5 & March 31

By Veronica Roberts

Jackie McAllister, Exchange, 2010. Photograph courtesy of Jaime Permuth.

For this issue, …mbg invited Veronica Roberts to give us a sneak peek of works included in An Exchange with Sol LeWitt. The exhibition, on view at Cabinet magazine’s headquarters in New York (January 21-March 5) and MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts (January 23-March 31), is organized by independent curator and writer Regine Basha. Currently based in New York, Basha lived in Austin from 2002-2008, where she organized independent projects, worked as Adjunct Curator of Arthouse at the Jones Center, and co-founded Fluent~Collaborative. 

In keeping with the two-part nature of the exhibition, …mbg will feature a second installment of coverage for the exhibition. Check back for a review by Roberts in our February 18th issue.

Sol LeWitt began trading works of art in the 1960s, swapping paintings and drawings with artists such as Robert Mangold, Robert Ryman and Dan Flavin. Little did LeWitt realize at the time that his MoMA coworkers (Mangold, Ryman, and Flavin worked as security guards, while LeWitt was an evening receptionist at the museum) would become enduring friends, or that these early exchanges would evolve into a lifelong practice that would result in a collection of more than 3,000 works.

Taking as her cue LeWitt’s generous practice—which began with friends but ultimately included pretty much anyone who asked—curator Regine Basha created the exhibition An Exchange with Sol LeWitt. In her open call for submissions, she invited anyone interested to submit a work of art they thought LeWitt would like. Tributes poured in from around the globe, from people who knew and loved Sol to distant admirers in Brazil and Slovenia. Students from schools across the country responded to the invitation as well, including the School of Visual Arts in New York (where Sol once taught), the Rhode Island School of Design, Indiana University, and an entire class of fourth-graders from LeWitt’s hometown of Chester, Connecticut. The gifts came in every shape and size, such as a small jar filled with remnants of a scraped-off LeWitt wall drawing, a wisdom tooth, a CD of Cedar Tavern Singers (a Canadian “art-ernative folk art band”) singing an extraordinary letter LeWitt wrote to Eva Hesse, and an anagram from Lucy Lippard. Beginning this week, all of the nearly 1,000 works of art that arrived at the offices of Cabinet magazine or landed in Basha’s inbox will be on display at one of the exhibition’s two venues: at Cabinet magazine’s Brooklyn headquarters or MASS MoCA. Below is a preview of a few highlights from the hundreds of works in the show.

Jackie McAllister, a New York-based artist and author in his forties, paid tribute to LeWitt by constructing a cube out of red, yellow, blue, gray, black and white stacked Lego pieces—a playful nod to the primary colors that LeWitt used as the building blocks of color for his wall drawings. Although LeWitt restricted himself to using just the three primaries and black or gray in his wall drawings for two decades, by layering lines and bands of color he was able to produce every hue imaginable.

Leah Beeferman, a 28-year-old artist based in New York, first learned about LeWitt’s work as an undergraduate at Brown University. As she recently relayed to me, the elegant drawing she produced for the show comes from an unexpected source: “Lately I've been very inspired by scientific and mathematical diagrams and patterns. I was hoping to find a pattern that would feel LeWittian but would be based on a mathematical principle.” After consulting with several math-savvy friends, she finally settled on a mathematical pattern of growth known as a “cobweb design” because of the chart’s resemblance to a spider’s lair. “I felt like this combination of order and disorder made via a systematic process—especially one based on lines and geometry—was really suitable as a gift to Sol LeWitt.”

An artist in his forties living and working in Buenos Aires, Daniel Joglar embraces chance and intuition in his work, as his 2006 Workspace exhibition at the Blanton Museum in Austin attested. In this photograph of pick-up sticks, first clenched in a fist and then scattered, Joglar offers a wry nod to the instruction-based nature of LeWitt’s work, although the instructions here seem to be simply to let go.

Lacey Fekishazy’s Learned LeWitter emerged from her experiences helping to realize half a dozen LeWitt wall drawings in the current exhibition at Dia:Beacon. “Engaging and inspiring other artists came naturally to Sol LeWitt” is the first of ten reflections that the 30-year-old artist shares in shaky, all-caps text in the drawing. While the work she did at Dia was grueling—for three solid months her job was to hold a straight edge so that senior drafter Anthony Sansotta could lay down perfect lines—Fekishazy clearly relished the process.

In his fifties and based in San Francisco, Sid Garrison makes colorful abstract square drawings out of colored pencil. Working at a modest scale and within self-imposed limitations, he nevertheless finds ways to make exuberant shapes, patterns and line dance on the page, as seen in this small, pink drawing. Garrison’s work, like LeWitt’s, reminds us that the artistic possibilities of ordinary pencils remain infinite.

One of the unexpected highlights of the show is an anagram Lucy Lippard made, which she presented below the inscription, “LOSS but still LOL from SLO LL.” An acclaimed art critic, curator, activist, and author of more than a dozen books, Lippard (now in her 70s) met LeWitt through their jobs at MoMA—she was a page in the library when he began working at MoMA selling books at a counter before becoming an evening receptionist. After forging a close friendship with LeWitt, Lippard curated a group show at Paula Cooper’s Soho gallery in the fall of 1968 that featured the artist’s first wall drawing.

Veronica Roberts worked closely with Sol LeWitt when she coordinated his retrospective at the Whitney Museum in 2000. She is currently a Senior Researcher for the Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing Catalogue Raisonné, to be published digitally by Artifex Press.

Announcements: news

Austin News

Dana Friis-Hansen Leaves AMOA

Austin Museum of Art leaders have announced that Dana Friis-Hansen, longtime museum director, will be stepping down from his post.

On Friday, Lynn Sherman, president of the museum’s board, said that Friis-Hansen departure was decided on mutually with the board. “The museum has some great opportunities and so does Dana, and it’s a favorable situation for him and for us.”

Friis-Hansen who has been executive director since 2002, could not be reached for comment. He joined the museum’s staff in 1999 as chief curator.

Friis-Hansen’s departure comes at a crucial time. Last month Sherman and other museum leaders announced that the museum would sell the downtown lot on which it had long planned to build. Travis County purchased the lot, on the south side of Republic Square Park downtown, Dec. 28 for $21.75 million.

Sherman said that Jack Nokes, former administrative director of the museum, has been hired as an interim executive director, while a search for a new director begins.

Beginning in the early 1980s, AMOA began efforts to build its own facility downtown. Millions were spent in three separate efforts that failed to see the museum gain a permanent downtown home. Since 1995, the museum has rented space at 823 Congress Avenue. The organization also maintains its original home, the historic estate known as Laguna Gloria.

Texas News

Texas Artist Dick Wray

Texas Artist Dick Wray, a key figure in the formative years of Houston's contemporary art scene, died Sunday from complications due to liver disease. He was 77.

Known for his abstract expressionist style of painting, Wray launched his career in 1959, entering a painting competition at what is now the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont. He took pride in exhibiting his work every year thereafter until his most recent solo show this last May.

That was no small achievement for an artist who spent the overwhelming majority of his career in the city of his birth, which had only the barest of art scenes when he returned from a two-year stint in Europe in the late 1950s. In 2006 he told historian Sarah C. Reynolds his exposure during his travels to such painters as Jean Dubuffet, Karel Appel and Pierre Alechinsky made him realize "how backwards we were" in Houston.

Born in Houston in 1933, Wray attended the University of Houston School of Architecture from 1955 to 1958 before studying at the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1958. He taught at the Glassell School of Art from 1968 to 1982. In 2000 he was named Texas Artist of the Year by Art League Houston.

His work is in more than a dozen public collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his sons Robert and Harold Wray, he is survived by his wife, Beth Collins Wray. He was preceded in death by another son, Victor Wray, and his first wife, Georgeta Wray. Memorial services are pending.

(Excerpted from the Houston Chronicle.)

Austin News

L. Nowlin Gallery Closing in February

Closing Reception: Sat., Feb. 5th, 6-8pm
Gallery closes Feb. 12th, 2011

L. Nowlin Gallery will be closing its doors this February after two years of operation in Austin, Tx. Over the last two years, gallery owner Lesley Nowlin, has presented works from over 50 photographers in 15 exhibitions. A Closing Reception will be held Sat., February 5, 6-8pm to celebrate Austin’s photography and arts community. The final exhibit of the gallery, “Storytelling”, will be on display during the closing and runs through Feb. 12th, the final day of operation. 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.

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

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.

William Hundley
Domy Books
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 22, 7-9pm

Becomes is a survey of recent sculptural and collage-based work of William Hundley. The work has been created with primal intent in which the artist becomes the medium that allows for a dialogue with the nature spirits.

The Tremendous Family
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 5, 7-11pm

The Tremendous Family is happy to announce a collective show highlighting accessibility in the digital age. The Tremendous Family is a collection of collections; a platform to create a unique dialogue through visual works from emerging artists. Obtaining free, intimately sized prints by way of various print on-demand promotional offers has given us the opportunity to present our website's current collection of work.

Beverly Penn & Sydney Yeager
d berman gallery
Opening Reception: Friday, 28 January 2011, 6-8pm

Beverly Penn says, “The Place of my work is the Garden. As a cultivated border between civilization and wilderness, the Garden is a surreal expression of nature tamed, a transformative buffer zone with potential for mystery, exaggeration, and fantasy. Sydney Yeager says of her recent paintings that the “marks which compose the shapes threaten the boundaries of their confining edges.

Rock Hard / Soft Rock
Visual Arts Center (Center Space Project)
Opening Reception: Friday, January 28, 6–9 pm

In the Center Space, graduate students in studio art Olivia Moore and Richard Yanas offer this compilation of works in a variety of media that engage in a lateral slide of associations tied together by a single word: ROCK.

Austin on View

L. Nowlin Gallery
Through February 12

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
Through February 19

Champion is delighted to announce the solo show Ornament of Savage Tribes by Austin artist Erin Curtis. The exhibition is comprised of a body of large scale, free-hanging paintings and mixed-media drawings that reflect an ongoing investigation into architecture, abstraction, and decoration.

Out of Place
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Through March 5

Lora Reynolds Gallery is pleased to present Out of Place, curated by Noah Simblist. The exhibition will include six international artists, many of whom rarely exhibit their work in the US, more often showing in Europe or the Middle East.

Wura-Natasha Ogunji
Women and Their Work
Through February 17

The epic crossings of an Ife head features paintings and videos based on performances by the artist. Ogunji uses physical actions of the body to explore her connections to place, land, history and memory.

Lisa Tan
Through March 27

Lisa Tan’s conceptual practice is grounded in the examination of emotional drives. This exhibition includes works in a variety of media that address romanticism and los through a diverse group of protagonists drawn from literature and film as well as the artist herself.

grayDUCK Gallery
Through February 13

This abstract show explores the deconstruction of words, architecture and information while paying homage to intuition, spirituality and imagination. Exhibiting artists include Ute Bertog, Melissa Breitenfeldt, Jennifer Chenoweth, and Court Lurie.

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

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

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.

Austin Closings

10th Anniversary Group Show
d berman gallery
Through January 22

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.

Keren Cytter
Through January 23

In this three-channel video installation, Cross.Flowers.Rolex, the Berlin-based artist draws on fact and fiction to create a surreal melodrama that preys on media clichés.

San Antonio Openings

Andy Benavides
Sala Diaz
Opening Reception: Friday, January 21, 7-11 PM

The age old search for self. In a society that brands everyone and everything, it seemed appropriate to explore this idea of self at Sala Diaz.

Zine Library
Unit B Gallery
Opening Reception: Friday, January 21, 6:30-10pm

Organized by Emily Morrison and Trouser House of New Orleans, LA. Zine Library features work by 50 zinesters from New Orleans, Austin, and Mexico City. The exhibit aims to connect the art of Zine-making with the impetus for the medium—the Do-it-Yourself movement, intersocial dynamics, and issues surrounding copyright and distribution of printed matter.

San Antonio on View

Steve Reynolds
UTSA Art Gallery
Through February 23

Curated by Catherine Lee. Steve Reynolds: Serial Investigations in Sculpture is an examination of trajectories in the remarkable career of Steve Reynolds (1940-2007), an internationally admired artist especially well known for his tour-de-force explorations in sculpture and ceramics.

San Antonio Closings

James Castle
Lawrence Markey
Through January 28

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 Marcos Openings

Galleries at Texas State University
Opening Reception: January 20, 5-7 pm

The galleries at Texas State University are pleased to announce SUBstainability, a group exhibition co-curated by gallery director Mary Mikel Stump and art historian Andy Campbell, regarding the multiple ways that we are sustained emotionally, mentally and bodily.

Houston Openings

Opening Reception: Saturday January 22, 7-10pm

SKYDIVE is pleased to announce CHUNKS, the first exhibition in the new location at 2041 Norfolk Street. CHUNKS is a group show about playful experiments with things that don't quite fall in the painting or the sculpture category, but could be considered to be CHUNKS. CHUNKS explores the work of emerging and mid-career artists who employ the language of painting in other dimensions, and in a variety of materials, including digital media.

Houston on View

Josephine Durkin, The Bridge Club, Hollis Cooper, Mark Aguhar and Laura Lark
Lawndale Art Center
Through March 12

Josephine Durkin works with a variety of methods to investigate how materials and objects can be manipulated and positioned to function as human surrogates in the exhibition When I saw you last.... In the Mezzanine Gallery, The Bridge Club collaborative presents a new performance and installation work titled Natural Resources utilizing objects coated in either milk or petroleum oil. Hollis Cooper will create a site specific painting installation in response to the architecture of the Grace R. Cavnar Gallery for the exhibition Working Space. In the Project Space, Mark Aguhar's exploration of queer expression and what it means to have grown up gay on the internet in a new series of works for the exhibition M4M. The SNACK PROJECTS gallery will feature the Los Angeles bedroom of Neely O'Hara from the novel and movie Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susan, in miniature, by artist Laura Lark.

Jillian Conrad
Art Palace
Through February 19

Mixing the elements of traditional sculpture--its mass, volume, and solidity--with the possibilities of drawing, Jillian Conrad's work has one foot in the world of objects and the other in the world of the imagination.

Patricia Hernandez
Through February 26

Houston artist Patricia Hernandez challenges the integrity of America’s most collected artist, Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, with an exhibition at DiverseWorks ArtSpace, Parody of Light. Within an installation that includes the interior of a home and a shopping mall, Patricia Hernandez critiques Kinkade’s practice of digitally reproducing his images on questionably “collectible” objects while restricting the sale of his original paintings.

Gabriel Dieter
Domy Books
Through March 17

New work by Gabriel Dieter. Revenge of the World represents four years of collected works that address the tender and fragile parts of humanity with the sincerity of a comedian on death row.

Disturbance of Distance 2
Box 13
Through February 19

Box 13 ArtSpace is pleased to announce the opening of Disturbance of Distance 2, the second in a continuing series of juried exhibitions connecting Houston to the surrounding arts communities. This round brings together artists from the Houston and Dallas areas, curated by Charles Dee Mitchell. Disturbance of Distance 2 features the artists Mary Benedicto, Val Curry, Brian Jones, Daniel McFarlane, Brian Scott, Sunny Sliger, and Bonnie Young.

Okay Mountain
Blaffer Art Museum
Through April 2

For their exhibition at the Blaffer, Okay Mountain explores the methods and rituals held in common by otherwise isolated groups—from followers of self-help messiahs to fundamentalist cults to Fortune 500 companies—who “employ a combination of initiation, insider/outsider mentality, esoteric language, and a hierarchy of progressive advancement to inspire a streamlined, new identity that supersedes the complexities of everyday existence.”

Houston Closings

Benjamin Patterson
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Through January 23

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.

Dallas Openings

Virginia Fleck
Holly Johnson Gallery
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 19, 6-8pm

Virginia Fleck's mandalas are intricately crafted, large-scaled works that reference painting, but are created by collaging pieces of detritus from a consumerist society in a way that exposes the efforts of advertisers to influence the masses.

Ed Ruscha
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Opening January 23

Since Ruscha's first road trip from Oklahoma City to Los Angeles in 1956, the artist has continued to engage the images he has encountered along the roads of the western United States. Consisting of approximately 75 works, spanning the artist's entire career, Ed Ruscha: Road Tested tracks key images inspired by his admitted love of driving. "I like being in the car, and seeing things from that vantage point," Ruscha has said. "Sometimes I give myself assignments to go out on the road and explore different ideas."

Dallas on View

Mike Osborne
Holly Johnson Gallery
Through February 12

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.

Texas Woman's University (TWU/Denton campus)
Through February 10

FREERIDING brings together works by the Art Guys, David Bergholz, Christine Bisetto, Richie Budd, Candy Chang, M. Kate Helmes, Kristin Lucas, Temporary Services, and Lawrence Weiner, and a project organized by curator Daniel Baumann. Each work in the exhibition relates to the idea of exchange

Erik Parker
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Through February 6

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

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.

Jeffrey Charles Henry Peacock
Free Museum of Dallas

Jeffrey Charles Henry Peacock is the collective practice of Dave Smith (Derby, 1972) and Thom Winterburn (Leeds, 1970). In 2004, the Jeffrey Charles Gallery and Henry Peacock Gallery (circa 1998-2004) situated in London’s East End and West End respectively, came together and dropped the ‘and’. A publication produced by the astists–Sic. Sic. Sic.–accompanies the exhibition.

Marfa on View

Ballroom Marfa
Through February 20

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 on View

Teresa Hubbard & Alexander Birchler
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Through February 5

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.

An Exchange with Sol LeWitt
MASS MoCA & Cabinet
Cabinet Closing: March 5 / MASS MoCA Closing: March 31

In addition to encouraging the circulation of artworks through a gift economy that challenged the art world’s dominant economic model, LeWitt’s exchanges with friends and strangers have the same qualities of generosity and risk that characterized his work in general. In the spirit of continuing the artist’s lifelong philosophy of open exchange, and in conjunction with the “LeWitt Wall Drawing Retrospective” on view at MASS MoCA through 2033, MASS MoCA and Cabinet present “An Exchange with Sol LeWitt”—a curatorial project initiated by independent curator Regine Basha.

Announcements: events

Austin Events

Art in Practice Panel Discussion
Art Building @ UT, Rm 1.120
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 6:30pm–8pm

Art in Practice provides guidance and insight into the professional world to students preparing for careers in the arts. Varying topics of conversation range from a nuts-and-bolts approach to gaining valuable job skills, to broad issues relevant to creative culture as a whole. Led by committed art administrators, enterprising gallerists, and established artists, these panel talks engage audiences in constructive exchanges about the multifaceted field of contemporary art.

L. Nowlin Closing Reception
L Nowlin Gallery
Closing Reception: Saturday, February 5, 6-8pm

L. Nowlin Gallery will be closing its doors this February after two years of operation in Austin, Tx.

AMODA Performance Series
Mexican American Cultural Center
Mexican American Cultural Center Saturday, January 29th, 8-10pm
Admission: Admission: $12/AMODA members & students; $15/general

Austin Museum of Digital Art is thrilled to host a group of five New York-based composer/performers. Ensemble Pamplemousse takes a unique approach to modern composition that embraces freedom and creativity. Their process blurs the lines between the roles of "composer" and "performer" as they work together to explore the possibilities of each new work both musically and dramatically.

San Antonio Events

Sala Diaz Fundraiser
Sala Diaz
March 19

Please save the date for a Sala Diaz fundraiser, Saturday March 19, 2011. This time we’ll do it at the compound with music provided by Buttercup and DJ John Mata. We’re calling it The Long Table of Love. With this title we embrace the still evolving social sculpture that is the compound, Sala’s fifteen year part in it and the spirit of our friend and co-conspirator Chuck Ramirez. Rick Frederick will serve as Master of Ceremonies. A number of artists will supply altered bicycle helmets to be auctioned that evening.

Houston Events

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

The Glassell School presents a Core Lecture by Frazer Ward. Ward is an Associate Professor of Art at Smith College whose research interests include performance art of the 1960s and 1970s, the implications of new imaging technologies, and the status of art in contemporary public spheres."

Dark Frames: Animations From Devious and Daring Places
Aurora Picture Show
Friday, January 28, 7:30PM

Animation can be wholesome and charming and good for the whole family. This animated evening will be nothing like that. This program is dark, stormy and full of strange and wry films. The films will range from fictional to documentary to experimental and will feature murder cases from the 1930s, tales of cruising, the darker side of Beethoven’s hearing loss, dragons that grow out of sorrow and much more. Artists include Brent Green, Jen Sachs, Troy Morgan, David Jones and others.

Dallas Events

Dallas Art Fair
April 8-10, 2011

Celebrating modern and contemporary art, the third annual 2011 Dallas Art Fair will showcase paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and photographs by modern and contemporary artists represented from more than 60 prominent national and international art dealers. There are 15 Texas galleries participating.


Feminist Read-A-Thon
Anhoek School

This February Anhoek School is conducting a Feminist Read-A-Thon to help students take courses free of charge and pay teachers fairly for their labor. Anhoek is a nomadic and experimental school with small classes (a limit of seven students per class), and teachers who are invested in challenging the power structures inherent in how people are taught and what they are taught.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Entries

Universe in Universe
Deadline: March 10

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.

Artists Wanted: A Year In Review
Artists Wanted
Deadline: Friday, January 28

Artists Wanted : A Year In Review is an international, all-medium-encompassing open call for art. This is your moment to share your work with the world and have a chance at $10,000 in grants, international publicity and a feature exhibition in Scope Art Show during Armory Week in New York City.

Call for Submissions

Gopher Illustrated
Deadline: March 1

The Gopher Illustrated emerges from the desire to consume hefty, satisfying cultural content that is worth keeping. We welcome visual arts portfolios, articles and chronicles on culture or global topics and works of short fiction. We are also receiving music and video submissions for publication on our website. A themed section for this issue centers on the concept of “Risky Business.” As always, our theme is open to interpretation, so feel free to send Tom Cruise images (why not?), but creativity is also highly appreciated We accept all the above-mentioned formats as entries for the themed section, and these should be sent with subject line “Risk”. For more info click here.

Call for Volunteers

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.

Call for Musicians

In conjunction with Graham Hudson's installation at Arthouse

From February 4th through April 10th, British artist Graham Hudson will transform Arthouse into a monumental sculpture inspired by London’s famous music venue The Astoria Theatre. His installation will include a stage with audience seating made from scaffolding. Arthouse and Hudson seek musicians and bands who are open to creative exploration and experimentation to REHEARSE in this collaborative artwork that connects London’s past with Austin’s present through a multi-layered sculptural and musical experience. Click here for more info.

Call for Applicants

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

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

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.

Residency Opportunities

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

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

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.

Internship Opportunities


Fluent~Collaborative seeks interns! The Editorial Intern will be primarily assisting with the online publication, …might be good. The Production Intern will assist with the preparation and gallery hours of exhibitions at testsite. If interested, please send a letter of interest stating which internship you are interested in and a current resumé to eng@fluentcollab.org with the subject line: “Fluent Internship”. Please note that both internships are unpaid.

Employment Opportunities

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/.

Arthouse Membership Manager
Deadline: February 10

Arthouse at the Jones Center seeks a highly-organized, goal-oriented Membership Manager to build and sustain membership in order to broaden and deepen Arthouse’s annual base of financial support. Membership Manager will prepare and monitor the budget for membership, produce regular reports, process monthly mailings, online membership processing and other outreach campaigns. To apply for the Membership Manager position, please email a cover letter and resume to info@arthousetexas.org.

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