MBG Issue #166: Style vs. Substance

Issue # 166

Style vs. Substance

April 1, 2011

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Emily Ng, Fluent Gradient, 2011, Photoshop gradient created à la Cory Arcangel. (detail)

from the editor

This week our critical community was dealt a disheartening blow. On Wednesday, March 30, the Texas-based journal Art Lies announced that it will cease production and publication of its quarterly printed publication and online content, effective as of May.

The role that Art Lies has played in forging a dialogue about contemporary art made and presented in Texas is immeasurable. Since 1993, Art Lies has grown from a grassroots staple-bound bimonthly publication based in Houston to a quarterly printed publication and online platform with national and international reach. Throughout its expansion and transformation, it has remained committed to thinking about Texas in concert with art being created elsewhere. These efforts to foster exchange have also led to the development of the Art Lies Distinguished Critic Lecture Series and Guest Editorial Contributor Program. In rethinking the way Texas art is presented discursively, Art Lies helped shaped the state’s profile and identity as a place where contemporary art thrives. Personally, I knew of Art Lies well before moving to Texas and have been proud to contribute to both its print and online formats. It has helped build a critical conversation that has impacted …might be good, from its editorial vision to our readership.

With the sobering news of Art Lies’ hiatus, it seems a good moment to reflect on the state of criticism and arts funding at large. Art Lies is not the only organization whose finances have been jeopardized by the recent decrease in public arts funding, nor is it the only print publication whose costs have proved too exorbitant due to the rise of digital media. Now is a moment where we can think positively and critically about the advantages that other formats may provide. Professional specificity has already become fluid since the 1960s, as funding has become scarcer and changes in the modes of art production have taken place. Hybrids like the curator/critic, artist/gallerist, and on and on, have become the norm. Collectively we can also reimagine and destabilize the conceptual boundaries of what can be presented in print vs. online journals, alternative vs. mainstream spaces, and exhibitions vs. other kinds of programming.

At the same time, we must choose our battles and fight for the integrity of our arts institutions. These institutions include the places where criticism is produced. Outside of this column, this issue of …mbg reflects these concerns. In addition to this week’s reviews of exhibitions in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, we play host to conversations with a variety of art producers and mediators. In our Interviews section, Rachel Adams talks with Katie Geha about the importance of DIY spaces and the Austin art ecosystem at large. I interview Virginia Rutledge, curator of the 2011 Texas Biennial, about the curated exhibitions and her choices that highlight the existing statewide arts infrastructure. Finally, Michelle Handelman contributes to our Artist’s Space with her own words on the events that have unfolded in response to her work at Arthouse, including the panel discussion “Inflammatory Images and the Politics of Sex” that took place on March 24.

As always, we encourage your thoughts in response to the content presented here. What do you think about the state of the arts in Texas? How can we enrich the critical feedback loop? What conversations do you hope these recent events will generate?

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


Katie Geha

By Rachel Adams

Barry StoneHum (installation shot), SOFA Gallery, Austin.

Austin has a rich history of DIY spaces. For this issue of …mbg, we asked Rachel Adams, the Curator of Public Programs at Arthouse, to conduct an email interview with Katie Geha, who runs SOFA Gallery from her Hyde Park apartment. In their conversation below, Adams and Geha discuss the challenges and pleasures of running an apartment gallery, the role of alternative spaces and the Austin art world at large. 

Rachel Adams [RA]: What were your thoughts on starting SOFA? Were you already living in this apartment?

Katie Geha [KG]: I moved to Austin to start the PhD program in art history at UT in 2008. Before that, I had been working for the past three years as the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Ulrich Museum. After about a year here, I just started to feel like…well, as much as I love books and talking about ideas with other art historians, I missed the collaborative effort of organizing shows and doing studio visits and talking with artists about the art that they’re making.

In 2009 I moved into my own apartment in Austin. When I was looking for places, I definitely had an apartment gallery in mind. For instance, I was pleased that this particular apartment was not on the end of the building, so there were fewer windows and more wall space. I also knew I didn’t have the resources to create any kind of fancy white-cube gallery, so the apartment itself, my living space, needed to be part of the concept.

RA: Is this the only alternative space that you’ve run or worked with? What is your history with these types of spaces?

KG: This is the first apartment gallery I’ve ever run. I got my Master’s degree in Chicago, and that city has a really rich history with these kinds of alternative spaces. It was a regular occurrence to go to an opening at someone’s apartment on any given weekend, and my friend Stacie and I talked about starting a space, so it was a concept that was always in the back of my mind.

RA: As someone who now works at a non-profit and once ran an apartment space, I’d like to know where your funding comes from? Is SOFA a commercial gallery?

KG: SOFA is first and foremost a side project. I try to keep this in mind so that I don’t get taken over by it. I have lots of ideas and there are many times where I think, “Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s go big!” Then I have to remind myself that those ideas cost money and time, and that I have a dissertation to write or a class to teach or books I’d like to buy. All of the funding comes from my pocketbook. I have a long-standing babysitting job on Friday afternoons, and that money goes to the project.

SOFA isn’t exactly a commercial gallery. Works are always for sale, and I love the idea of pricing works at a range in which graduate students or young professionals might be able to purchase something. Owning art is this really special, exciting feeling—like buying a great pair of shoes times 100. At the risk of sounding hokey, my hope is to invoke in people that feeling. Making money, of course, would be wonderful but it was never the goal.

RA: What are the support systems for SOFA? I am interested because in my experience, I have found that spaces like these are usually a labor of love.

KG: I have good friends who come to all the openings and occasionally buy a piece or write a review of a show. My friend Travis Kent is very much an advisor in terms of installation. He also helps paint the walls and hang the clip lamps. My friend Stacie Johnson runs an alternative space in Bushwick and we talk on the phone regularly about programming and logistics or send one another suggestions for shows. It’s basically a one-woman show with lots of help from friends and the art community.

RA: I haven’t been in Austin for very long, but it seems that there are a few galleries in people’s homes: Co-lab, testsite and SOFA. Do you know of any more to come? Do you think Austin needs more spaces in general? What are your thoughts about the city and its art community?

KG: I don’t know of any new ones on the horizon, but whenever someone talks about how they like SOFA, I always encourage him or her to start a space. It’s so easy! When I first started I would spend $50 tops on each exhibition, and maybe 12 people would come and sit around my living room. It was so small in the beginning, like a speakeasy.

As far as the art community in Austin, I sometimes feel disappointed that there isn’t a stronger market. Mostly this makes me sad, because when a community doesn’t buy art (i.e. support it) it feels like the community doesn’t value art. I don’t know if this is necessarily true, or if the connection between admiring and supporting through money has just not been made. But I feel lucky that there are these amazing people, like Sean Gaulager at Co-Lab, Russell Etchen at Domy Books, Sonia Dutton at Champion and Laurence Miller at testsite who are willing to keep spaces going despite this lack of market. During the Italian Renaissance it was a citizen’s civic duty to be a patron and to support the arts. Those were the days!

RA: Austin has a small but enthusiastic community with such a range of people—collectors, artists, curators, students of all ranges and disciplines, and amazing professors. And yet, if there isn’t the support, both financially and in terms of an audience, how do we expect to thrive? That is sort of rhetorical, but do you have any thoughts?

KG: That's a really good/hard question. I think the way artists and people who run small spaces thrive in Austin is not really through monetary gains, not really through the support of collectors. (Of course this is not true for everyone, but the BIG collectors in Austin? I don't think they know my name.) I feel like we thrive because we have interesting ideas, make good work and genuinely like and respect one another. It's through conversation and collaboration where the support comes from. Not having funding means having to be creative, hence, the alternative space.

RA: You work with a variety of people, both from Austin and from other cities like Chicago, LA and New York. This was obviously a conscious choice. Can you talk a little bit more about your choices, and perhaps other programs or spaces that inspired you?

KG: I wanted to exhibit Austin artists, but I didn’t want the programming to get too hermetic. I thought it was important to introduce Austin’s art community to artists from other regions. Also, since this is my apartment, I often just think about whom I would want hanging around my space. When I work with an artist, we’re in my apartment a lot—there’s always a meal involved and a lot of time just sitting in my space talking about the exhibition. A big part of the project, really, is inviting people into my home.

RA: Let’s talk about this word “alternative”—as in alternative gallery and alternative space. What does that mean to you? Is there another word that you would rather use?

KG: I’ve often heard people refer to SOFA as a salon, like the French salons of the 17th and 18th centuries. Back then a salon was a gathering of like-minded people that often generated amusement and education through conversation. I think this is an apt way of thinking about my project.

Part of the fun for me is playing hostess. I can’t make art at all, but I am very good at bringing people together, making a meal, and asking questions. I guess if you wanted to be academic about it, one could align the project to relational aesthetics. Another interesting part of the project is what it’s like for me personally to live with certain works of art. I often feel like I’m hanging out in the artist’s psyche for the duration of the show. This is usually a good thing.

RA: Do you consider the artists you show at SOFA differently than if this were a more commercially-driven space or a museum? What interests you about the context of placing these artists in a domestic space?

KG: I think I would show any of the artists that have exhibited here in a more commercial space or museum (in fact, I’ve shown several previously at the Ulrich). In many ways, it’s just another space to show art. However, I’m very explicit about how the space is my apartment and not a clean white space. The artists and I generally work to create an exhibition that responds specifically to my apartment, or at least to the idea that it’s a domestic space.

RA: Do you have a collection yourself or are you happy to always have a rotation of work?

KG: I definitely have a small collection. My bedroom is filled with art!

RA: Upcoming shows?

KG: Kara Braciale, an artist from Boston whom I knew in Chicago, will be showing some really beautiful woven paintings in April. I can’t wait to see those on my walls.

Rachel Adams is currently the Curator of Public Programs at Arthouse.
 She received her MA in Exhibition and Museum Studies from the San
 Francisco Art Institute in 2010. She is the co-founder of Lloyd Dobler 
Gallery, an apartment gallery in Chicago, which she directed from


Franco Mondini-Ruiz
AnArte Gallery, San Antonio
Through March 30

By Chad Dawkins

Franco Mondini- Ruiz, Bedtime Stories, (installation view), Hand crafted iron bed frame with assortment of sculptures, mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.

The title Ginormous is fitting for this show by the artist Franco Mondini-Ruiz—fitting not in the sense that AnArte Gallery is full of large pieces, but more in the sense that the space is filled with an excessive amount of stuff. Ginormous is a quantity here, not a quality. The gallery is filled with paintings, drawings, ceramic sculptures and piñatas mimicking the signature orange box of luxury brand Hermès.

Naturally, every object is for sale. There are so many items in the space that much of the work on paper is piled on tables. Small canvases are stacked face-up on shelves, their edges painted different colors, to be bought in bulk. There are paintings for sale on the bathroom walls. A large metal sleigh bed frame occupies the center of the space on which rows of trashy-kitschy ceramic objects and copies of Mondini-Ruiz’s artist book are set out for sale. As the pieces sell swiftly and are removed, each one is replaced with a seemingly identical artwork. It’s all inexpensive, too; prices start in the single digits. With all this selling going on, it becomes difficult to see the market value of the goods moving out the door. That is the point. It’s like K-Mart at Christmas.

To understand the situation, one must understand the artist in question. Mondini-Ruiz quit his law profession to pursue artistic endeavors. Over the past two decades he has constructed a reputation as an artist interested in commerce, playing with the boundaries of highbrow and lowbrow art. For example, in the 1990s, he reopened a defunct botánica where old stock (charms, trinkets and flora associated with the mystic arts of preservation and magic) was paired with the artwork and presence of Mondini-Ruiz and other artists. The collection became a cultural landmark in recent San Antonio art history. These days, he is notorious for throwing extravagant parties and dealing cheap art. His visual style is a pastiche of late Baroque, affected painterly gestures, trashy kitsch and cast replicas of treats like cakes and cocktails. Though Mondini-Ruiz and others have attributed examinations of class, race and sexuality to his work, ultimately, he is an unapologetic hustler most often known simply as Franco.

Mondini-Ruiz’s fast-food culture mentality and personal branding as a fire sale artist comes with drawbacks. Most notably, the artwork is heaped in piles to be rifled through, like junk or last season’s clothes. It is impossible to take these works seriously as exclusive objects. It’s a collection of untheorized, hasty dreck. People eat it up. Perhaps the overarching conceptual basis of Franco’s projects is to play with the viewer’s understanding of commerce in relation to art, but the setup is always the same: have a big opening with a huge party, cheap art and drunk buyers, sell and repeat.

Is this a calculated sendup of Claus Oldenburg’s The Store? In the 1960s, Oldenburg highlighted the divisions of labor in the capitalist society. He brought the roles of art production and trade into focus by disrupting the established system. Mondini-Ruiz’s lack of progression on this model leaves the outcome of the situation to be that a lot of people buy lots of stuff and it makes them happy. But one must ask: Is it an effective critique of consumer culture to make more consumers?

Chad Dawkins is an artist and critic based in San Antonio.

Shane Tolbert
Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston
Through April 16

By Wendy Vogel

Shane Tolbert, (Installation view).

Shane Tolbert’s hand-dyed fabric paintings at Devin Borden Hiram Butler possess undeniable visual appeal. Merging the loaded tropes of gestural abstraction and radical monochromes, with nostalgic references to tie-dye and the reappropriation of “craft” sprinkled in, they hit all the right notes. It’s like he raided a vintage store of art-historical references and emerged with some stunning and inventive combinations. But the critic’s responsibility is to pick apart the dyad of style vs. substance, and after viewing Tolbert’s paintings, I was left wondering: are these works simply trafficking in radical chic?

Tolbert’s exhibition is his first solo show after graduate school at University of California Santa Barbara, and the last for the Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery as such. (The pair of gallerists announced on March 10 that they would part ways.) The artist creates his paintings subtractively by bleaching fabrics he dyes himself or purchases in commercial locations such as the Los Angeles garment district. The influence of Southern California can be read more notably in Tolbert’s indebtedness to the political motives of ‘70s feminist artists. Tolbert writes in an artist statement that he is fascinated by “the intersection between the domestic process of making these paintings and their heroic presence as art.”

These same questions preoccupied artists like Miriam Schapiro, who started the Feminist Art Project at CalArts with Judy Chicago and reclaimed “women’s work” such as quilting, sewing and pattern-making from a low-art ghetto to a high-art mode of production she called “femmage.” While this legacy still holds powerful sway, the radical potential of this strategy has undergone revision by younger artists engaged in craft-based practices. Artists like Allison Smith and Sabrina Gschwandtner rewrite the psychic impact of craft histories through social participatory projects like Notion Nanny or the Wartime Knitting Circle while Travis Boyer’s recent Indigo Girls dye-vat events celebrate skill-sharing and conjure queer communities.

In his painstaking production, Tolbert’s work aligns more with the work of young process painters. Sergei Jensen’s constructions mobilize frayed edges, sewing-machine mistakes, and use bleach as a mark-making tool. Tolbert’s stress on the manual manipulation of his panels through ironing, cutting and sewing also bring to mind the recent “folded” paintings of New York-based artist Tauba Auerbach, which were a highlight of the 2010 Whitney Biennial. But where Auerbach deals with the slippages in the language of two-and-three dimensions (she spray paints in trompe l’oeil gradations to give a heightened sculptural effect to her folds), Tolbert’s work remains mired in mixed metaphors. He scatters Twomblyesque scrawls across store-bought and hand-dyed fabrics (Untitled, 2011) without a clear critique of either the sweatshop labor of textile production or of Twombly’s poetic gestures. In two other paintings (Black & Tan and Arc, both 2010), store-bought panels that recall Blinky Palermo’s Stoffbilder are sewn to the bottom of fabrics that the artist has bleached. As a commodity critique, Palermo’s gesture of refusal—stretching purchased fabric and presenting it as a monochrome—was scathing. Here, however, it reads as a reference emptied of content.

While Tolbert is moving swiftly and is building a great repertoire of technique, I remain skeptical that in attempting too much, these works say too little. One of the exhibition’s smallest works, Visions of an Epileptic, is most revealing of this breathless approach. The tie-dyed fabric, worn through in sections by excessive squeezing or folding, is hastily stapled to the too-big stretcher. It’s the equivalent of rocking your mom or dad’s cool leather jacket that you haven’t yet grown into. Tolbert nonetheless has the chops and intelligence to make rigorous work. I hope he embraces the growing pains over sartorial slickness.

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

Robert Lazzarini
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Through April 5

By Charissa Terranova

Robert Lazzarini, Payphone, 2002, Anodized aluminum, stainless steel, Plexiglass and silk-screened graphics. Courtesy of the artist and Fort Worth Modern.

Though artist Robert Lazzarini staunchly claims that his distorted guns, brass knuckles and blown-out safe are not a commentary on American culture, they might as well be, especially because the mesmerizing replicas of .38-caliber Smith & Wessons are being shown in Texas. This smart and acute FOCUS exhibition is rich with suggestion and allusions, but the theme of mass shootings seems particularly timely as Texas legislators prepare to approve a law allowing students to carry concealed firearms on university campuses. Lazzarini admits his work is illustrative of the omnipresence of violence in American culture. Though his work is about dumb, everyday objects, his work is neither dumb nor everyday, and he is not a propagandist.

This is sculpture that works as painting historically did. It plays with perception, offering up a unique strain of trompe l’oeil in three-dimensional form. In keeping with the game of fooled eyes, Lazzarini plays with truth, reality and the convention of verisimilitude in art. He meticulously crafts sundry common objects to scale and out of their original material. He sends the specs of the original object through software, skews it in quasi-anamorphic fashion, and then creates a mold.

An eerie example that is at once both real and something other, Safe is a work in two pieces: the putty-colored body of a safe and its blown-off door laying on the floor. From color to scratch marks, the details of the safe suggest a real-life burgled safety deposit box. However, long, focused looking brings dizziness from the off-kilter proportions. Walk one gallery over in Lazzarini’s show and a series of five distorted guns mounted on the wall in a row are even more vexing. The walls of the straightforward gallery architecture have been canted, heightening the tight-knit effect of distortion and, more poignantly, the perceptual vertigo and nausea of the viewer.

There is a profound force of resistance at the core of Lazzarini’s work. Viewers begin to realize that these objects are not simply anamorphically distorted like the skull in Hans Holbein the Younger’s painting The Ambassadors (1533) or the 18th-century architect Jean-Jacques Lequeu’s twisted column. As with usual cases of anamorphic rendering, there is no manner of correcting the distorted perspective in Lazzarini’s work. One cannot rectify their perception by simply moving to the right spot in the gallery or by straining one’s neck. His objects are beautiful, created with finesse and intended for delectation. They invite scrutiny. Yet theirs is a beauty that resists close inspection, for upon approach the head spins with dyskinesia fueled by an unsettled stomach.

More than an admonition of “look but don't touch,” these objects tell of a beauty that is critical of the act of looking. They are difficult in a way that brings to mind Theodor Adorno’s negative dialectic: they resist simple consumption in order to set in relief the complexities of the very problematic of production, consumption, and the subject-object relationship that is the kernel of art viewing. Lazzarini deploys distortion in the making of what are usually easily recognizable objects in order to impede simple and direct visual acts. In turn, this causes the viewer to think twice, thrice and more about the politics of constructed visionand the sometimes-lethal objects that are at its generative base.

Charissa N. Terranova is Assistant Professor of Aesthetic Studies at The University of Texas at Dallas. A freelance curator and scholarly critic, she has recently completed a book-length manuscript entitled Automotive Prosthetic: The Car, Technological Mediation, and the Conceptual Turn in Art, 1951-Present.

project space

Michelle Handelman’s work on view at Arthouse, Dorian, a cinematic perfume, recently ignited a debate on queer imagery in contemporary visual art and institutional self-censorship. For this issue’s Artist’s Space, …might be good invited Handelman to share her thoughts on the controversy and the March 24th panel at Arthouse, “Inflammatory Images and the Politics of Sex,” that was organized in response to it.

Being asked to cover a panel that’s happening because of an action against my own artwork feels a bit like writing my own obituary, both triumphant and defeatist. After all, was this panel necessitated by the actions of the institution or by the provocative content of my own work?

My video installation Dorian, a cinematic perfume opened to the public at Arthouse on Feb 2nd. Two weeks after the opening, I received a call telling me that a board member objected to my piece running while the teen programs were operating, and that my piece was now shut down during those program times until another solution could be found. It was never clear to me just exactly what they found offensive for teens, or why teens were allowed to view it during gallery hours outside the teen program. However, it was very clear that this was not a curatorial decision, but rather a board decision, and that I, the artist, was not invited to the conversation. Quite simply, a decision was made, and I was informed of it. In the weeks that followed I had the opportunity to speak with several board members who were not in agreement with this action, and one of the things I had hoped to get out of this panel was simply some clarity on the situation. Who exactly did object? Why? And why wasn’t I consulted?

But the real story is never revealed in the public discourse. Language is coded; panelists are coached; and proof of this comes in its wake, as several audience members who spoke out at the panel came up to me afterwards to privately voice the “real story.” The real story gets pieced together during private phone calls, casual hallway encounters and dinner conversations while the panel functioned as a decoy, a kind of institutional camouflage. If it sounds a little psy-ops, it is. While the panel is an attempt at transparency, in the end it reveals very little about what actually happened.

Co-organized by Elizabeth Dunbar, Curator and Associate Director of Arthouse, and Noah Simblist, Associate Professor of Art at Southern Methodist University and Curatorial Fellow at UT’s Visual Art Center, the panelists included Noah, myself, Andy Campbell, PhD candidate in the Department of Art and Art History at UT Austin and lecturer at TSU in San Marcos, Texas; Rose Reyes, Director of Austin Music Office; Ann Reynolds, Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at UT Austin; and kt shorb, director, performer, writer and founder of the Generic Ensemble Company.

“I think that this notion of discourse and the overwhelming hunger and interest from the public to earnestly engage with difficult subject matter was huge,” stated Simblist after the panel. But Campbell added, “I felt that the panel ended up being akin to the theremin that Armen Ra plays in your video—we approached but didn't touch ‘it,’ nevertheless a sound was made.”

What was this "it" from which we were protecting “this phantom teen, who comes with a phantom parent,” as Campbell so succinctly phrased? The "it" was sexual content, and in this case, specifically queer sexual content. The mere fact that this panel took place clearly illustrates that sex is still very pathologized in our society, that no one knows how to talk about sex and that American culture teaches children to fear their own bodies and sexual responses. This is what needed to be talked about, but sadly never was.

During the panel, Dunbar was in the most precarious position of all, as she was there not only as the curator who chose and supported the work, but also as an administrator of Arthouse suporting administrative decisions that were made in response to her curatorial choices. She opened the talk by posing the question, “What do you consider inflammatory images?” Reynolds immediately questioned the whole premise of the panel by responding, “This language of ‘inflammatory images’ is a masculine construction that prevents us from actually talking about the specifics of content." shorb opened the conversation even more by adding, "It's about resistance and tension … By simply making the marginal visible, one comes up against resistance and attack."

As I watched the panelists and audience members slowly peel back the layers that kept us from the truth, it was clear to me that few in this room felt satisfied with the conversation. When Dunbar explained that Arthouse had no objections to the fact that Dorian depicted gay culture, but that they only objected to the sex, Campbell shouted from the far end of the table, "But it is gay sex!"

Again, the invisibility was visible. The refusal to name what “it” was.

Simblist brought up how it’s inevitable that when an institution grows, its status as an “alternative” contemporary art space is lost and that it must serve a much wider demographic of funders. He questioned if this is the moment that Arthouse finds itself in. After the panel he said, “The goal for me was to make a private conversation that invoked a public actually public … The most that could have been gained was an honest debate between those from the community, including members, board, staff and beyond. Unfortunately, those who objected most strongly to Handelman’s content did not come or participate in debate”.

One audience member asked why the piece was shut down if there were no complaints. When Dunbar responded, "We have learned from this. In retrospect Arthouse would have done things differently,” artist, board member and UT Professor Teresa Hubbard immediately raised her hand and asked, “What has Arthouse learned?”

There was talk about Arthouse doing more public outreach and public education, but oddly nothing was ever mentioned about involving the artist in these discussions and strategies. There was no talk about the general notion of artists’ rights, regardless of any kind of content or censorship issues which seemed to completely contradict the point of inviting me to the panel in the first place.

An analogy is often made that an artists’ artworks are like their children. When you find out one of your children has been shut down, silenced, it feels like a deep violation of human rights. shorb voiced what was in my opinion, the most important point of the entire evening, invoking the many queer teens who have committed suicide in recent years: “It is deeper than just a fear of difference. People are afraid of the sameness they'll find … There's a fear of the self who is mirrored in someone who is such a freak."

For me this not only represented the entire reason we were sitting there, but also summed up what is systemically wrong with American society. I can only hope my work plays some part in changing this.

Michelle Handelman is a New York based artist who makes confrontational works that explore the sublime in its various forms of excess and nothingness. Using constructions of video, photography, live performance and text, she challenges the viewer to confront their own identity while drawing from her own personal experience. She is an Associate Professor in the Film/Video Department at The Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.

Announcements: news

Houston News

Sad News from Art Lies
March 30, 2011

Dear Art Lies Members, Readers and Friends,
It is with sincere gratitude for your support over the years that we announce that Art Lies will cease production and publication of our printed journal and website content as the organization enters a period of hiatus and reflection beginning in May 2011. We look forward to completing our scheduled projects for spring 2011, including publication of the print and online editions of our upcoming issue, No. 68, “Architecture Is Not Art,” featuring Mary Ellen Carroll as Guest Editorial Contributor, and production of a special print-on-demand edition and public panel on April 16 in collaboration with the 2011 Texas Biennial.
The Board of Directors’ decision has not come lightly. Print criticism, an increasingly precarious enterprise with the advent of digital media, has come to a crux in recent times. We have been fortunate to maintain a consistent and uncompromised output, responding to the changing dynamics of our field and readership with a diversified media presence. Today, facing the nationwide decrease in arts funding, our efforts have proven financially unsustainable.
We are proud of the distinguished organization Art Lies has become over the last seventeen years. To think of how we began as a local, grassroots photocopied publication and grew to produce an internationally circulated, multiplatform journal with a unique voice speaks to the hard work and dedication of many individuals over nearly two decades, including our contributors, Editorial Advisory Board, staff, advertisers, vendors and stakeholders.
We are proud to call Texas our home and are gratified to have played a key role in contributing to the growth of our local and regional art community. Through sixty-eight printed issues and related programming, we elevated recognition of Texas as a place where significant contemporary art is not only produced but also written about and discussed eloquently and professionally. We brought national attention and leading-edge ideas to Texas by inviting notable critics to Houston via the Art Lies Distinguished Critic Lecture Series, and by inviting eminent arts professionals to our pages via our Guest Editorial Contributor Program. Through commissioned writing and projects, we helped cultivate writers that we believe are the future of art criticism in this state and beyond.
Your recent and encouraging generosity is allowing us to publish our spring/summer 2011 issue to the standards you have come to expect from Art Lies. We hope to see you at our Issue No. 68 / Bon Voyage Party! Please look for details on our website and in coming email newsletters. Our website will remain accessible during this period, and if you wish to contact us or purchase back issues, we will accommodate those requests through the website or by contacting our office.
During our upcoming period of reevaluation and reimagining, we look forward to engaging with each of you—we welcome your thoughts and ideas regarding what Art Lies can and will become. We are extremely thankful to you all.

Art Lies Board of Directors and Staff
Media inquiries: Please send to Kaylan Tannahill, PR & Marketing Coordinator at ktannahill@artlies.org.

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Events

Art City Austin
2nd Street District
April 2-3, 2011. Saturday, 10am to 6pm & Sunday, 11am to 6pm
Admission: $8 for adults, FREE kids 12 and under, FREE admission if you park your bike at the free Mellow Johnny's Bike Valet

Reflecting our city's vibrant creative energy, downtown Austin's art festival is set against streets, plazas and green spaces where the award-winning Austin City Hall rests on the banks of Lady Bird Lake. A gateway for many, a beloved tradition for others, Art City Austin is a temporary art utopia where curious and delightful discoveries await.

Art in Practice Panel Discussion
The University of Texas at Austin
April 26, 6:30pm-9pm

Art in Practice provides guidance and insight into the professional world to students preparing for careers in the arts. The featured panel guests are Andy Campbell, Mike Chesser, Arturo Palacios, Deven Dikeou, Wendy Vogel, and Elizabeth Dunbar. This edition of Art in Practice is presented in conjunction with the course “In and Out of the Studio” (ART 382), taught by Risa Puleo. This presentation is open to the public.

Houston Events

Design Fair 2011
Lawndale Art Center
Through April 3

Design Fair 2011 features vintage modern objects of the 20th century as well as cutting edge contemporary design. The best in design for furniture, glass, ceramics, lighting, books, metalwork and fashion will be for sale to collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Menil Community Arts Festival
The Menil
Saturday, April 2, 11am - 5pm

The Menil Collection museum and a group of surrounding non-profit arts organizations come together to host a free afternoon of art and entertainment that will extend across the Menil “campus” from West Alabama to Richmond Avenue. Highlighting the diversity of the Menil neighborhood arts community the festival will include films and performances, from chamber music to literary readings, performances and workshops.

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.

Fort Worth Events

Dan Cameron
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
April 12, 7pm

Tuesday Evenings at The Modern presents a lecture by Dan Cameron, a renowned curator of contemporary art known for his enthusiasm and activism will talk about how contemporary art can help restore a city’s self-image following a major catastrophe, and in the case of a city as heavily dependent on tourism as New Orleans, provide an important economic boost through a cultural sector that is rarely looked to for economic development in his presentation Reclaiming a City through Art.

Marfa Events

Chinati at Sunset
The Chinati Foundation
April 2, 7-8pm
Admission: $10

The Chinati Foundation invites everyone to an evening viewing of Donald Judd's 100 works in mill aluminum and 15 works in concrete. Admission is $10, free for museum members and local residents. Reservations are not required.

Announcements: events

Austin Events

Art in Practice Panel Discussion
The University of Texas at Austin
April 19, 6:30pm-9pm

Art in Practice provides guidance and insight into the professional world to students preparing for careers in the arts. The featured panel guests are Andy Campbell, Mike Chesser, Arturo Palacios, Deven Dikeou, Wendy Vogel, and Elizabeth Dunbar. This edition of Art in Practice is presented in conjunction with the course “In and Out of the Studio” (ART 382), taught by Risa Puleo. This presentation is open to the public.

Five x Seven Art SPLURGE
May 12, 7:30-10:00pm
Admission: $150

Five x Seven is an annual art sale and exhibition benefiting Arthouse exhibitions and educational programs. Hundreds of emerging and recognized contemporary artists with strong ties to Arthouse or Texas create unique works of art on identical 5 x 7-inch boards. Five x Seven artwork may be purchased for $150 each(or $100 for Arthouse Members. With over 1,000 works to choose from, this is a fantastic way to build or add to your art collection. All pieces are displayed anonymously - only when you purchase a work of art will you discover who created it.

Five x Seven: ART SOCIAL
May 13, 8-11pm
Admission: $30 for general admission, $125 for 5-pack of individual tickets

Night two of the annual Five x Seven exhibition will continue the sale of original works with an Art SOCIAL. Music by The Black and White Years, food by Frank and Pie Fixes Everything, and drinks by Trumer Pils will be on hand. Admission is free to all participating artists.

There is so Much Mad in Me
Austin Venture Studio at Ballet Austin
April 22-23 at 8pm-9pm and April 24 3pm-4pm

Driven by extreme emotional states and voyeuristic urges Faye Driscoll’s There is so much mad in me explores shifting states of mob-consciousness as choreography. Nine powerhouse performers slide from one extreme to the next revealing parallel universes lodged within familiar states of mind. Driscoll devises multi-dimensional dance dramas that engender complex experience by blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, arousal and disgust, fun and violence, spectacle and authenticity. She strives to create new forms of theatrical experience aimed to provoke feeling, stimulate the senses and activate the mind. The result is often under-the-skin, hysterical, awkward and devastating.

Art Week Austin
Art Alliance Austin
April 27- May 1

Art Week Austin is series of dynamic collaborations developed to encourage discussion, exploration, and the celebration of Austin's creative community. 2011 marks a unique opportunity for cross discipline collaboration with the convergence of several art happenings in spring 2011 including AMOA's triennial New Art in Austin, Texas Biennial, ON SITE/New Work and the Fusebox Festival. Special exhibitions, art talks, collaborative public art projects, temporary installations, public art bike tours and art-focused think tanks taking place throughout the week are produced both by Art Alliance Austin and partner organizations.

Fusebox Festival
April 20- May 1

Fusebox champions innovative works of art across a variety of different mediums. The festival acts as a catalyst for new ideas, new artistic models, and approaches to help us better fully engage with the issues that define contemporary life.

Houston Events

Seth Tobocman
Domy Books
April 22, 8pm
Admission: Free

Presentation and signing with Seth Tobocman's newest release "Understanding the Crash" of which he says, "I always knew that Reaganomics would lead to a disaster for this country. My parents and grandparents had made it clear to me that FDR's reforms were what got us out of the Great Depression. So in 1980 I was sure that supply side economics would result in a collapse followed by a struggle in the streets. Well, I was off by 30 years, but here we are."

Fort Worth Events

Alex Hubbard
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
April 19

Tuesday Evenings at The Modern presents Alex Hubbard, a Brooklyn-based artist who upon completing the Whitney Independent Study program in 2003, hit the ground running with an extensive national and international exhibition record, including the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Ingenuity and humor are essential components of the actions Hubbard triggers that explore transformations between states of order and chaos ruled by their own capricious logic. For Tuesday Evenings, Hubbard shares the work of his ever-flourishing career.

Dallas Events

Dallas Art Fair
April 8-1o

More than 6,500 guests attended the second annual Dallas Art Fair in 2010. Located at the Fashion Industry Gallery – adjacent to the Dallas Museum of Art in the revitalized downtown Arts District – the 2011 Dallas Art Fair will feature over 70 prominent national and international art dealers and galleries exhibiting paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, and photographs by modern and contemporary artists. The exhibition space comprises approximately 55,000 square feet within a mid-century modern building in the heart of downtown Dallas. It includes an adjacent promenade next to a private park located across from the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center.

Wish! Art Auction
Dallas Contemporary
May 12, 7-10pm and May 14, 7-11pm

Tickets are running out for Wish!, Dallas Contemporary's annual art action and premier venue for discovering new artists. Get tickets while they're available.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Entries

The 8th Vevey International Photo Award
Festival Images
April 15

Open to all artists, and professional or student photographers. An amount of CHF 40,000 (around EUR 30,000) is awarded for the development, realization and presentation of the winning project. There is also the potential to win other prizes and receive exhibitions proposals.

2012: Transgressions and Extremes
New Art Center
Through September 1

2012: Transgressions and Extremes is conceived as a multimedia exhibition of contemporary artists exploring various aspects of the popular mythology related to the cultural and existential significance of the year 2012. The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive promotional and marketing campaign in print and online media. Up to 15 artists will be selected for participation in the exhibition. All participating artists and All applicants will be listed on our website with their personal web links. For more information, please click here.

Call for Artists

A Book About Death
Wilo North Gallery
Through April 25

Phoenix based artist Patricia Sahertian has organized A Book About Death exhibition for May, 2011. This new exhibit will feature postcards from around the world and will have an added feature: small mementos. For more information click here.

Austin Art in Public Places/ Request for Qualifications
Austin Art in Public Places
Deadline: April 25, midnight

Artists interested in being considered for a public art commission for the City of Austin must register through the Application System for Art in Public Places web-based Artist Registry. ASAPP! is the City’s main resource for commissioning public art and is open to artists nationwide. All professional artists, with a consistent body of work in any visual art media, are eligible to apply.

Lawndale Artist Studio Program
Deadline: May 16

The Lawndale Artist Studio Program is part of Lawndale’s ongoing commitment to support the creation of contemporary art by Gulf Coast area artists. For more information click here.

Fellowship Opportunities

Vera List Center for Art and Politics Fellowships
Deadline: April 11

The Vera List Center invites applications for 2011-2013 fellowships. Two fellowships will be awarded, each spanning ten months and tied to the Vera List Center’s focus theme for 2011-2013. For more information click here.

Volunteer Opportunities

Art Alliance Austin
Art City Austin
April 2-3

Art Alliance Austin's flagship event (formerly the Austin Fine Arts Festival) is always a popular and exciting volunteer opportunity, but this year's fair will offer chances not only to experience something new and exciting - participation will mean making history. Register to volunteer here.

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