MBG Issue #167: Continually Disputed Ground

Issue # 167

Continually Disputed Ground

April 15, 2011

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Otis Ike, Baby Boomer 1 from the series Outside the Green Belt, 2009. Courtesy of the artist. Featured in the exhibition Nowhere Near Here at the Houston Center of Photography and Fotofest, Houston. (detail)

from the editor

The blogosphere is abuzz this week with proclamations of Austin’s art implosion. On Monday April 11, news surfaced that Elizabeth Dunbar’s position as Curator and Associate Director of Arthouse at the Jones Center was eliminated in a series of budget cutbacks. Arthouse Director Sue Graze stated that the organization’s “newly revised, board-approved operating budget incorporated reductions to our staff salary line," and that the exhibition programming would be handled by a rotating series of guest curators and traveling exhibitions. The same day, Arthouse staff member Jenn Gardner announced her resignation after ten years at the nonprofit, stating that she strongly disagreed with the concept of Arthouse existing without a full-time curator. Artist protests swiftly followed suit. A Facebook group entitled “Artists FOR Arthouse” invited artists to collectively protest the institution’s decision by using their cards for Arthouse’s annual 5X7 fundraiser as a way to express their discontent, and on Wednesday, Houston-based artist Dario Robleto announced his resignation from Arthouse’s Board of Directors.

I don’t want to use this space to issue sweeping apocalyptic predictions for the Austin arts community at large. However, I do want to express my deep disappointment in Arthouse’s decision to eliminate the full-time curator position. I hold a Master’s degree from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, and without belaboring the point, the notion of the “curatorial” informs what I do.

Some might contend that programs such as Bard’s could precipitate a move toward a rethinking of institutional curator positions in favor of independent curatorial projects. I would argue the contrary. While curatorial practice has changed substantially in the last few decades, with non-collecting kunsthalle-type institutions, biennials, performance festivals and discursive events being just a few of the formats that have expanded the public perception of the ways in which art can be presented, the field of curatorial studies serves to reinforce how curators’ sustained involvement can strengthen institutions, transforming them from the inside out.

Elizabeth Dunbar’s appointment as Arthouse’s first full-time curator in 2007 marked the organization’s maturation. Dunbar brought exciting changes to the Arthouse from the start, through selecting international artists’ works to exhibit in the space and focusing on site-specific commissions. In late 2009, Dunbar’s efforts were rewarded when she was promoted to Associate Director of Arthouse. In a …mbg interview from December of that year, Claire Ruud asked what Dunbar’s biggest challenge would be as Associate Director. She replied: “I think one of the biggest challenges facing me—and one that acknowledges my dual roles as administrator and curator—is how to help Arthouse evolve into a larger organization without losing our creative edge or compromising our commitment to risk-taking.” This statement seems prescient. Considering the controversy generated by Arthouse’s recent curatorial programming of works by Michelle Handelman and Graham Hudson, and Dunbar’s efforts to defend her efforts through encouraging open dialogue about queer imagery and institutional self-censorship, it seems the loss of her position was a very unfortunate casualty of institutional growing pains.

What do curators gain from full-time curatorial positions? For starters, they gain health insurance and stability. Despite the romantic mythos surrounding Harald Szeemann’s intellectual genius and rise to fame as the first independent curator, the most notable independent curators of today are not true freelancers—not even in European countries where the idea of a welfare state lives on. Most “independent” curators, including Maria Lind, Catherine David, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Charles Esche and Hou Hanrou, are or were supported to a large degree by some other institution, whether academia, a position at another art space, a publication (though that is increasingly rare) or a non-art-related day job. Back in 2006, Alex Farquharson charted this trend in a frieze article, using the slightly pejorative term “new institutionalism.”

Arthouse’s elimination of Dunbar’s position is more a symbolic action than anything else, one that speaks volumes about its institutional politics. It says that exhibition curators should be treated the same as short-term contract employees, and not as one of the building blocks of an art institution. But without curators, what bricks does the institution have to stand on? Arthouse has provided one possible answer in its retention of its Public Programs Curator. The role is a relatively new one for the institution that reflects its changing notions of curatorial practice. Without a collaborative effort between curators of both exhibitions and programs, however, it's unclear how the Program Curator's role will play out in Arthouse's future. We hope for a continuation of interesting programming and not a scramble to fill the gaps created by a series of guest-curated shows.

But let’s move from architectural metaphors to the architecture itself. In October of last year, Arthouse opened with a bigger and more spectacular building, nearly tripling its exhibition space. I dedicated an issue of …mbg to profiling the institution and its new building, featuring interviews with some of the artists whose work was first shown in the renovated spaces. In the wake of Dunbar’s dismissal, the question many are now asking is whether Arthouse’s new expansion is trying to capitalize on the “Bilbao effect” as defined by Witold Rybczynski in The Atlantic in September 2002. In other words, without a consistent curatorial vision, will the architecture of Arthouse supercede the importance of the art within, as some have accused Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim building in Bilbao of doing? (For an artist’s response to Bilbao, see Little Frank and His Carp, the hilarious artwork by Andrea Fraser.)

The direction of Arthouse from here on out is an open book, and the Austin arts community wants the best for it. As an organization that has supported the local scene through efforts such as the Texas Prize and the Visiting Lecture series, Arthouse is important to us. While the organization’s commitment to discursive and satellite programs is commendable, we ask for a building that lives up to its potential as exhibition space and as an organization that supports curatorial risk-taking. When reached for comment, Director Sue Graze responded: "Arthouse is committed to curatorial voices. Having the freedom to select guest curators including artists, writers and independent curators who have various interests, expertise and viewpoints gives Arthouse the ability to engage different audiences in multi-faceted ways. We are always nimble and flexible and eager to experiment with new curatorial models."

*In full disclosure, several principal supporters of …might be good, including Fluent~Collaborative’s Director Laurence Miller, sit on the board of Arthouse.

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


Martin Creed

By Charissa Terranova

Martin Creed, Work No. 1190: Half the air in a given space, 2011, Gold balloons, Multiple parts, Each balloon 16 in. / 40.6cm diameter; Overall dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise. Installed at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas.

British artist Martin Creed has become internationally known for his artworks that challenge and delight through deceptively simple means. For the second iteration of the Nasher Sculpture Center’s exhibition series Sightings, Creed has created a body of new work that brings his prankster aesthetic to Dallas for the first time. Charissa Terranova spoke with Creed just before the opening of his show about feelings and (over)thinking.

Sightings: Martin Creed is on view through June 19th.

Charissa Terranova CT]: Do you consider the works in this show a kind of existential conceptualism?

Martin Creed [MC]: [laughs] No, because I’m not a conceptual artist. I don’t believe in conceptual art.

CT: Why not?

MC: Because I think you cannot, or rather, I cannot separate ideas from feelings. Most of the time I feel bad, but I want to feel better, and that’s why I work. Ideas are a way of coping with feelings.

CT: Your work tends to critique the institution, yet it is always institutional. Do you think about institutional critique?

MC: No, not really, not consciously…

CT: What about works like the lights (Work No. 227: The lights going on and off, 2000) and the runners through the gallery (Work No. 850, 2008)?

MC: To me, those works aren’t about the institution, although I could also see why you could view them like that. I want to make work that could work, whether in a toilet or on the street or in a museum. A museum is only a set of some nice rooms that are developed for the presentation of things to look at. It’s like a theatre, but it’s not art.

I think it’s good to show work in a lot of different places, including art fairs, where it’s quite a difficult environment. Hostile environments are a good test. It’s easy to make things look good in an art gallery, in a beautiful space. But whether it looks good or not…

CT: Is not your goal?

MC: Yeah. If someone thinks that my work looks good, to me, that’s great, but it’s not the goal. Because I can’t decide. I can’t say what does look good.

CT: You know this work with emulsion paint on the wall (Work No. 1189, 2011) looks good, though. And you know that installation of paintings (Work Nos. 1187, 1191 and 1192, all 2011) is beautiful.

MC: Yeah, I do, but I didn’t know it would be beautiful before I made it. I can’t say, “I’m going to make a beautiful painting.” How am I going to do that? I don’t know how to do that.

CT: Do you believe in intuition as a driving force in your work?

MC: Yeah. I think you always give yourself away in what you do. So the problem is to try not to get in the way of yourself too much, to try and work with yourself in a way that you don’t trust yourself too much. You need to be careful to stop yourself.

CT: Well, you have a good intuition, clearly. You must have a sense of that. You said that you feel like shit often. But you’re really funny. What about comedy? You must be making jokes about life’s shit?

MC: Things that make me laugh are, for me, some of the best things.

CT: Your work is funny. Like the lights going on and off, those are hilarious. You won the Turner Prize by making everybody laugh.

MC: That’s the same as something looking good. I don’t know how to make something that is funny, because something’s only funny if someone thinks it’s funny. The power is with the people who look at it.

CT: Did you intend for the Turner Prize project to be funny?

MC: I always thought it was quite funny. [both laugh]

It’s stupid. I think work should be more stupid. The problem for a lot of people, me included, is that they try to be too clever when they work. And that’s when thinking is a problem and when ideas are kind of a problem, when you’re trying to communicate an idea rather than just doing something that’s stupid like a child might do.

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.


Barry Stone
SOFA, Austin
Through April 24

By S.E. Smith

Barry Stone, Nikki Sixx and Ink Polygon, 2011, Sumi ink and media on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

Distortion is a prism. A clean tone passed through a distortion pedal explodes into harmonics, and as anybody who has spent some years of their life listening to Sonic Youth would know, these harmonics possess a shamanlike quality. They gloss the material world with an inward glow, one that, like an animal's, is intelligent and aware but difficult to grasp directly. Instead, the wash of noise promotes reverie and a kind of wisdom arrived at by associative thinking.

Barry Stone’s Hum produces in the viewer the meditative quality of taking in a heavy dose of amp-shredding fuzz. Its nine pieces (ten including “Not for Teacher,” Stone’s dirgelike refashioning of Van Halen's “Hot for Teacher” that plays in the background) demonstrate a skilled and subtle resonance, both in their cultural references and in their relation to each other.

The show’s deliberate arrangement is a large part of Hum’s success. Each piece reverberates formally with those surrounding it, even though the works themselves comprise a wide range of media, including photography (which Stone teaches at Texas State University), collage and sumi ink. Hum opens with a triptych of two black-and-white photographs coupled with a full-color pint, on the right starting with a picture of a doorless Camaro, its back seat stuffed with blankets. The image is compelling even without an explicit narrative. Sharp, nearly affectless, full of material but absent of rhetoric-- it gives little away because it has little to give away.

Following Camaro Z28, Spring, TX, Mountain Distortion mirrors its clean lines but repositions the viewer. The photograph is framed as an oval, hinting at filmic keyhole fade-outs and stylized landscape renderings. Mountain Distortion shares a documentary quality with Camaro Z28, Spring TX, but with an uncanny degree of manipulation. It is a distortion, after all, but it is almost impossible to detect how the image of the mountain has been altered. Viewed together, they create a sense of uncertainty. In their correspondences, the two pieces buzz as if subject to a sympathetic vibration.

Hum often references popular culture and art history directly, with a decided bent toward the ’70s (from Judy Chicago to Bruce Dickinson), but these images appear as components of an interior landscape rather than quotations, or heaven forbid, commentary. Stone’s The Dinner Party, Spring, TX is a photograph of the original exhibition poster for Judy Chicago’s much-debated feminist installation. Photographed at an angle, the framed poster is distorted by glare reflecting a window or door in the room where it hangs, making the image of the triangular table seem to melt away or sublimate. What could be annoyingly clever or intellectually opaque about such treatment of these materials is instead personal and oddly warm. “Warmth” might be a strange quality to note in an exhibition that uses cultural references to investigate personal subjects, but Hum proves that a private image system is not necessarily an exclusive one.

S.E. Smith is the founding editor of OH NO magazine. Her work has appeared in Fence, jubilat and elsewhere.

New Art in Austin
Austin Museum of Art
Through May 22

By Michael Bise

Robert Melton, Hungry Heart, 2010, HD Video, Variable. Courtesy of the artist.

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing that New Art in Austin: 15 To Watch at The Austin Museum of Art can be broken down into a gold, silver and bronze medal winner, while much of the rest of the work flounders between sturdy mediocrity and I’m-not-even-trying-failure. Ever the optimist, I’ve chosen to read the successful exceptions as a positive sign.

The standout body of work in the show is Anna Krachey’s series of unmanipulated film photographs that appear on first glance to be the work of a Photoshop geek circa 1999. Red Vs. Green (A Diptych), 2010, consists of two different photographs of a stop sign from the same perspective-- one with a green cast and the other with red. It requires a little patience to realize that the color difference has not come from digital enhancement, but rather from two different colored light sources. Another photograph, Four Corners, depicts a sheet of metallic paper that catches light in such a way that it turns the white ground upon which it lays four different colors on each corner of the paper. The key to the enjoyment of Krachey’s pictures lies in the fact that, although she never gives away her techniques, visual concentration is ultimately rewarded in the revelation that her images exist in the three-dimensional world of actual objects. Krachey’s work can be hit-or-miss, as I noticed from her installation last year at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, but all her pictures at AMOA demonstrated visual intelligence and technical sophistication.

The next gallery over, but a hundred miles away in visual rigor, is Elizabeth Chiles’ series of pedestrian photographs of tree canopies in the cities of Austin, New York and London. The images are so boring, technically mediocre, and conceptually void that juror and Menil curator Toby Kamps resorts to the following statement in his catalogue essay for their justification: “The final photographs in Theatre were made near the Brooklyn grave of Samuel Morse, painter, inventor of the…telegraph code, and pioneer of photography in the United States. [Chiles’] Romantic questions had catalyzed a Romantic quest – to create a group of images that branched (pun intended) into the why-are-we-here questions at the heart of art, science and philosophy.” Chiles’ vague images and Kamps’ mushy reading of them participate in the questionable notion that quality and meaning exist only in the artist’s subjective interpretation, and that precise formal logic or aesthetic system-building as methods of imparting meaning are clubs in the hands of intellectual thugs.

Fortunately, Robert Melton’s three short videos of minor domestic disasters require no supplementary texts. Melton has a real sense of cinematography and his small, richly colored setups seem larger than life and take on a genuinely cinematic quality. The best of the three is Last Resort (2009), which opens onto a scene with a raging but contained circular fire against a typical beige wall. The fire diminishes slowly in size and intensity, and it isn’t until very near the end that we realize that a smoke alarm has been on fire, and that what we assumed was a dying flame is the video being played in reverse. Rather than dissipating the energy, the discovery of the backwards “gimmick” causes us to imagine the fiery chaos that must have occurred just before the video began. We’re able to insert ourselves into the narrative, a key to successful filmmaking. Melton should raise some money, abandon the art world, and make a movie.

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t point out the emperor-with-no-clothes installation that is J. Parker Valentine’s exercise of what Kamps calls an “in-depth study of the morphology of form.” Her work in the AMOA exhibition consists of pseudo-encyclopedic notations in charcoal of abstract and figurative marks that she picked up “examining modernist art in a London conservation lab.” Drawn on brown MDF and paper, the drawing are laid flat, stood upright, curled and occasionally obscured by other objects on saw horse-like tables. Inert and despairingly brown, Valentine’s carefully unkempt installation encourages an essentially text-based reading. Valentine’s found marks, styles and objects seem combined not for their visual effect, but for their historical significance. Kamps argues in his essay that Valentine not only knows how “to tell a compelling story of modernist abstraction,” but that she also manages to “create a living version of it.” Simply looking at Valentine’s installation is an experience of rapidly diminishing returns and offers little in comparison to artists like André Masson, Jackson Pollock or Joan Mitchell, to whom Kamps’ essay compares her. In fact, Valentine’s attempt to categorize the strategies of modernist mark-making fall far short of similar attempts by lesser artists like David Reed or Brice Marden.

If Valentine’s work suffers the fate of visual insignificance at the expense of rhetoric, the visually sumptuous but conceptually hamstrung work of Miguel A. Aragon suffers the opposite fate. A printmaker, Aragon calls his process “burned residue embossing.” Using graphic images of cartel violence gathered from Mexican news media, Aragon strips the images of color, laser cuts them into cardboard, and using ash, puts the boards through a printing press. This process results in a series of snow-white and ash-grey images that hover on the edge of abstraction and representation. Their beauty lies in the evident embossing, the ambiguity of the images and the subtle coloration of the ash after moving through the press. Unfortunately juror and AMOA interim curator Andrea Mellard’s essay (and, I suspect, Aragon’s own discussions of his work) revolves almost exclusively around the content of the source imagery. The artist’s family still lives in Juarez, where the daily fear of cartel violence must be visceral, but the success or failure of his prints has little to do with the barely-visible images. This is not to suggest that the content of the work should be abandoned or that Aragon’s process is in need of revision, but Mellard’s didactic justification of the work does a disservice to its visual strength. As soon as the viewer reads the explanation on the wall label, they cease to experience the power and imagination of the work and turn instead to a kind of pitying sentiment for the artist and his victimized family.

Juror and Director of the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of Texas El Paso, Kate Bonansinga pulls out the big, black Clement Greenberg hat from which she attempts to fish some reasonable explanation for the inclusion of Nathan Green’s work. Green creates small abstract paintings and rickety painted sculptures from wood and other scraps taken from his job as an art handler. In her essay, Bonansinga performs the obligatory rehearsal of Greenberg’s fundamental characteristics of the picture plane and Michael Fried’s ideas about what constitutes theatricality in the visual arts. Bonansinga states that Green’s work, in opposition to these modernist philosophical hallmarks, is essentially anti-modernist. This is perhaps true enough, but it goes no distance toward explaining Green’s simplistic use of color, random composition, or haphazard installation strategy. Green’s installation of garish paintings and semi-sculptural structures recalls Frank Stella’s almost bipolar descent from the rigor of his early Black paintings and the precision and sophisticated color of the Protractor series to the mess of his “maximalist” period. Green takes everything that is undisciplined and slapdash in late Stella, leaves behind the careful execution, and emerges with little more than art historical scraps. Unlike Jonathan Lasker or Tomma Abts, who continue to explore the possibility of rigorous abstraction after the bomb, Green’s work exhibits no need to be taken seriously.

With the notable exceptions of Krachey, Melton and Aragon, our gold, silver and bronze medalists respectively, New Art in Austin: 15 to Watch offers little to visually investigate. What it does offer is a great deal of justification for artworks that, while not egregiously awful, seem a long way from meriting serious consideration in a museum exhibition. More than a few artists in the show take on projects of artists before them and find themselves outmatched. One of the more trivial bodies of work in the exhibition consists of ceramic chimera by Debra Broz. Broz, who owns a ceramic restoration company, relatively seamlessly fuses leopards and birds, bunnies and fangs in what amounts to a slightly sophomoric quotation of Jeff Koons’ ceramic and porcelain sculptures and Meyer Vaisman’s late-‘80s turkeys. Like Broz, Leslie Mutchler also “likes stuff.” She combs Crate and Barrel, Ikea and Pottery Barn Catalogs and collages elements from the consumer objects within into tableaux that recall the Death Star from the early Star Wars films and the circular, revolving hallway from Jupiter One in 2001: A Space Odyssey. As precise as her collage techniques are, and as much as she would like to open a discourse on consumerism, Mutchler’s works in the exhibition do little beyond trading in on sci-fi nostalgia, reminding us of the infinite evil of Darth Vader and the HAL 9000.

One feature of the exhibition that communicates more than any one artist’s work is the tiny, low-to-the-ground table with supplementary reading materials set up in one of the galleries. That this is a distraction speaks volumes about the exhibition's inability to hold the viewer’s attention. The jurors’ reference-heavy essays equally suggest their seeming awareness of the fact that without very narrowly circumscribed contexts, many of the works in the show fail to hold much interest as objects in themselves.

Michael Bise is an artist living and working in Houston.

International Artist-in-Residence, New Works: 11.1
Artpace, San Antonio
Through May 22

By Lana Shafer

Kelly Richardson, Leviathan, 2011, Three channel HD Video with audio, 20 min. loop. Originally commissioned by Artpace San Antonio. Courtesy of Birch Libralato Gallery. Photo credit: Todd Johnson.

A landscape of glowing swamp water, skeletal remains of saber-toothed tigers and an homage to 57 jazz musicians are the subjects of the works in Artpace’s current exhibition of artists-in-residence. Selected by Heather Pesanti (Curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York), the artists in New Works: 11.1 are Kelly Richardson (Toronto, Canada/Newcastle, England), E.V. Day (New York, New York), and Devon Dikeou (Austin, Texas).

Leviathan, a high-definition triple-channel video by Richardson, is a 20-minute loop of footage shot on Caddo Lake in Uncertain, Texas. The video displays the area’s indigenous bald cypress trees in their swamp environment. However, Richardson digitally enhances the composite image by color grading the water with undulating ribbons hued a glowing yellow green and replacing expected nature sounds with an ominous soundtrack. Utilizing the format of a triptych, the landscape is presented from a single vantage point, like a painting set into motion. Richardson’s manipulation of the video suggests several foreboding plot lines: the birth of primordial life, the emergence of an evil aquatic creature, or a post-apocalyptic Earth. The title itself (Leviathan) alludes to several textual references including a serpent sea monster from the Bible who is the gatekeeper to hell, Thomas Hobbes’s 1651 philosophical treatise, and a 1989 sci-fi film of the same name. These references become particularly relevant in the wake of environmental atrocities including the 2010 BP oil spill and, most recently, the earthquake and impending threat of nuclear disaster in Japan. Employing postmodern intertexuality, Richardson draws on the tradition of Leviathan as myth and metaphor encouraging the viewer to meditate on the possibilities of the implied narrative.

Day’s sculptural installation CatFight also takes cues from prehistory, focusing on the remains of two saber-toothed tigers created from casts of fossils discovered at the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles. Day reconstructs the skeletons in an archetypal catfight, a humorous play on the cliché of catty girl-on-girl fighting (as well as society’s fascination with it) and on gender roles as a whole. Suspended from the ceiling with a myriad of monofilaments and adorned with silver leaf bling on their teeth and claws, the dueling saber-tooths create a climactic tableau that can be circumambulated by the viewer. Hinting at a Debordian spectacle, the stop-action scene appears like a cinematic image or even a clip from a reality TV show. Day also includes several snakes on the floor surrounding the fight as audience members, or consumers, of the representation. Fabricated out of aluminum and positioned upright, fangs exposed and ready to pounce, the snakes serve as masculine counterpoints to the feminine drama. While Day runs the risk of creating a one-liner by using literal cats to signify a human catfight, the beauty and complexity in the form of her work, paired with the conflation of lowbrow cultural motifs, scientific intellectuality, and sociological inquiry provides much on which the viewer can ruminate.

Dikeou’s Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys, the most conceptually rigorous of the three installations, exposes the oversights of historical classification through the lens of American jazz. As an artist, curator, collector, editor and publisher of zingmagazine, Dikeou has her hand in every aspect of the art world’s systems of recognition, which she questions and re-presents through her artistic practice. In the exhibition, Dikeou commemorates 57 jazz legends with photographs of gold plaques bearing their names. Upsetting the expected hierarchy of museum display, household names like Miles Davis and John Coltrane land alongside those who have fallen into obscurity, such as Illinois Jacquet and Sonny Simmons. Positing Simmons—a personal friend of Dikeou and a great forgotten jazz musician—as an authority, his photo-plaque is blown up to a monumental size (17 x 12 feet) that dwarfs the others, while a vocal track by Sonny recounting his thoughts on the other musicians permeates the space. Additionally, signaling her skepticism of the seemingly limitless amount of information available online, Dikeou undermines the Internet as an authority with the inclusion of two perfectly-rendered graphite drawings by San Antonio artist Chad Dawkins of the HTTP 404 Internet search error message. She has also created CDs, available for free, featuring The Sonny Simmons Quintet. Much like relational aesthetic artist Liam Gillick’s “platform” sculptures and Andrea Fraser’s exhibition tours that include the viewer as a participant in the critique of institutions, this installation implicates the beholder in the creation and dissemination of history and points to the curator’s power to insert figures into the art world.

Although the three residents employ divergent approaches, media and subjects, connecting threads can still be drawn. Both Day and Dikeou deal with modes of institutional display, such as those of natural history and hall of fame museums. Leviathan and CatFight work particularly well together; both works reference prehistory, the natural world and the dialectic they have with humanity. Each artist’s work can be enjoyed and celebrated on its own; however, the dialogue they have when exhibited together makes for a rich and successful installment of Artpace’s International Artist-in-Residence program.

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

Nowhere Near Here
Houston Center for Photography and Fotofest, Houston
Through April 23

By Rachel Hooper

Mimi Kato, Scene 2: Partially cloudy, precipitation 30% (detail) from the series One ordinary day of an ordinary town, 2010. Courtesy of the artist.

For this survey of lens-based artists living and working in Texas, invited jurors Toby Kamps and Michelle White did not hold themselves to a specific theme or focus. Instead, as the title suggests, the two Menil curators embraced an all-inclusive spirit and chose many artists who came to our state from all over the US and the world. Although the subjects of the works span the globe, almost all of the photographers are based in Houston and Austin, the two most prominent art communities in Texas.

The exhibition has a slightly different feel at its two venues— the installation at Houston Center for Photography being the stronger of the two. The group at HCP coheres very well; the most obvious connection is the strange geometries that each artist finds in unlikely places. David Politzer's study of the subculture of giant pumpkin farmers, Heavyweights (2010), tells a compelling story of the farmers who grow the fruits from seed to competition. I would have liked to see the photos that show the farmers at work placed more prominently, however, as I feel they show the pumpkins’ enormous scale and the labor that goes into the farming. The striking and odd beauty of Walker Pickering's road trip photos makes an indelible impression at HCP, especially in the serene and dramatic light and shadows of Hole and Overlook (both 2009/2010).

The exhibition’s two video artists, Kelly Sears and Clarissa Tossin, take a much more conceptual approach. Sears' animation He Hates to be Second (2008) digs into images and text from the early 1960s in a beautiful, tightly edited short that highlights the sublimated disquietude and violence of the decade. Tossin's video of the white marble of Brazil's supreme court building being continuously cleaned on loop calls to mind Jeff Wall's Morning Cleaning, Mies van der Rohe Foundation, Barcelona (1999) and Inigo Manglano-Ovalle's Always After (The Glass House) (2006). Like these other projects, Tossin’s work raises questions of class and race in the constant maintenance required in the upkeep of modernist structures. But in Tossin's take, the act of cleaning is itself aestheticized by dynamic arcs of water flying through the air in regular rhythms and the repetitive circling of the floor polisher.

With some uneasy juxtapositions and branching hallways, the larger grouping at Fotofest headquarters felt a bit disjointed. Despite these difficulties, there were some standouts in the exhibition. Portraits by Logan Caldbeck, Adam Boley and Nancy Newberry were my favorite discoveries, as I felt a very real connection with their subjects who seem to show their true selves. The more abstract of Chris Akin’s "visual haikus," such as Times Square (2010) were striking; with others I questioned whether the artist was seeing something that I didn't. Among Santiago Forero's self-portraits, the picture of him standing on a stump is particularly lovely. I did get weary of the repetitive trope of the artist standing with his back to the camera in every image, but the curators made a good decision to break up his work in small groups between the two sites. By contrast, Otis Ike and Ivete Lucas' groupings were too small. Their video was charming, as was the house around it, but I could not see how the self-portrait or two other photographs fit with the project as a whole.

There were some distracting display issues upstairs at Fotofest as well. Wura-Natasha Ogunji's three stop-motion videos would have benefited from a more immersive presentation. If the screen were larger and the sound were on headphones or in an isolated room, it would be easier to see the magical effect of the characters flying or walking on water and to experience the soundtrack without the distraction of other works. Mike Osborne's most powerful images, such as Man in a Convenience Store Window and Glass Building, I-45 (2010) cast Houston as a slightly ominous film noir setting, but I did not understand why his otherwise technically flawless work went unframed. Nearby, Mimi Kato's digital photomontages showing scenes of a Japanese town, what the artist calls “one-person theatre,” were displayed well. Though the work had a great concept, it was hard for me to differentiate easily between the characters and understand the narrative because the artist plays all the parts.

As impressed as I was with Nowhere Near Here, I have to admit that I set out to review this statewide photography survey with a sense of melancholy about the state of the arts in Texas. Shortly after the opening of this exhibition, one of its major funders, the Texas Commission on the Arts, was shut down by the state government. Art Lies, the only contemporary art print magazine based in Texas, also recently announced that it will cease publication. The high quality of the work in Nowhere Near Here is evidence of how artists are currently thriving across the state, but how will they adapt to potentially diminished publication and exhibition opportunities? Although the future is uncertain, I can only hope that talented artists will continue to find fertile ground here in Texas.

Rachel Hooper is associate curator and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fellow at Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston.

N.B. Rachel Hooper and David Politzer are both employees of the University of Houston.

Glenn Ligon
Whitney Museum, New York
Through June 5

By Jess Wilcox

Glenn Ligon, Rückenfigur, 2009, Neon and paint, 24 x 145 inches (61 x 368.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz. © Glenn Ligon.

The subtitle of Glenn Ligon’s midcareer retrospective at the Whitney, AMERICA, draws attention to the continually disputed ground of national identity and brings to mind the furious debates about the politics of representation of the 1990s, an era marked by the so-called culture wars. One benefit of the retrospective’s timing is that while some hot tempers have cooled over the past two decades, recent events have made clear that many of the central questions raised in this period have not yet been resolved, but rather cloaked in new terminology with distinct threats that rearticulate the Other.

Notes on the Margin of the Black Book (1991–93), the artist’s literal and contextual reframing of Robert Mapplethorpe’s controversial publication of photographs of sexualized black men, proves as complex as ever. Framed commentaries from artists, critics, scholars, politicians and others that express a wide array of perspectives and opinions are juxtaposed with the stark black and white photographs. Ligon’s subject position as author is not easily simplified into categories such as black, gay, or artist and presumed liberal defender of free speech. This slipperiness—which supposedly comprises interest groups characteristic of ‘identity politics’—thus highlights the fluctuating grayness of identity in relational context.

With the long view offered by the survey format, the exhibition’s highlight is the opportunity to closely follow Ligon’s investigation of the opacity and politics of language. The perpetual conundrum of language—how context renders meanings distinct, yet language’s inherent iterability continually unfixes itself from one context to another—rises to the fore. Throughout Ligon’s work, modes of transmission a speaker’s voice, repetition, quotation or medium alter connotation.

The earliest works in AMERICA are paintings smeared with pale colors and scrawled with excerpts from gay erotica written in pencil—making explicit the sexual desire in the expressive palette strokes. Here begins the exhibition’s narrative of Ligon’s journey with language, which he later states as an ambition “to make language into a physical thing, something that has real weight and force to it.” What these never-before-exhibited paintings reveal is how the physicality of painterly abstraction informs his mature, celebrated work with language. In contrast to pioneering conceptualist Lawrence Weiner, who also uses language as material, albeit in its most abstracted manner as a dematerialized component, Ligon always insists on reflecting on real world fleshiness and essentially interpersonal conditions of language.

Ligon articulates that language has power to bring to mind associative connotations as well as explicit denotations perhaps most elegantly in his well-known oil stick paintings that obscure themselves in the process of making. In them, excess pigment builds up, increasingly concealing and blurring the stenciled text of quotes by astute observers of race relations and political oppression such as Ralph Ellison, Jean Genet, Zora Neale Hurston, and in another series, Richard Pryor. In one work, the repetition of Jesse Jackson’s verse “I am somebody” reads in a plethora of ways: as a wishful incantation, a practical mantra, the fading echo of generations of black Americans throughout history, or redundancy’s ability to make plain language strange and drain it of meaning.

Past criticism of Ligon’s work as literal has been shallow, overlooking the textures and mosaics of language, ignoring rich interpretations, and reducing original sources and context to singular meanings. The exhibition’s thorough and chronological presentation fights this tendency, as language thickens through accumulation and use of materials such as stylized typography, silkscreen, coal dust and neon tubing.

An encounter with a particularly sticky black on black painting, White #14 (1993-94), serves as a metaphor for how Ligon’s oeuvre produces meaning. Initially inscrutable under lights reflecting off the rippled surface, the painting requires that the viewer change perspective to read its constituent parts. Taking time to examine multiple points of views, single words and phrases emerge: “mask,” “whiteness,” “problem,” “property,” “all the colours,” and the fortuitous “not impossible to analyse,” which could also serve as a key. Upon investigation it can be discovered that this excerpt of a Richard Dyer text ruminates on how whiteness is unmarked and functions as the social norm, rendering it difficult to represent. Perhaps this knowledge will lead to reading Dyer’s essay, or perhaps the viewer will walk away with the observation that this statement is hazy, only visible obliquely. This obstinate murkiness throws itself in front of clear communication, entangling matter and message. Since language is not transparent, discourse about identity and representation is enriched by its unforgiving material re-presentations by an artist such as Ligon.

Jess Wilcox is an independent curator based in New York City.

...mbg recommends

Abstract Possible and Crisisss, Mexico City

By Maria Elena Ortiz

Alfredo Zalce, Mexico se transforma en una gran ciudad, 1947, Etching on paper,42.1 x 54.2 cm. Courtesy of the National Institute of Bellas Artes, National Museum of la Estampa, Museo de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

Stemming from a desire to create grand narratives, political artwork and abstraction are two of the problematic legacies left behind by the failed utopian projects of modernism. Since in our contemporary culture political art usually points to a situation rather than take action, it can be interpreted as conceptually empty, whereas abstraction can often be dismissed as just a systematic approach. Two recent exhibitions in Mexico City, Crisisss. América Latina, arte y confrontación 1910-2010 curated by Gerardo Mosquera at Museo de Bellas Artes and Abstract Possible: The Tamayo Take, curated by Maria Lind at the Museum Rufino Tamayo, reconsider the validity of these notions in contemporary art. With curatorial parameters that explore the impossibilities and potential of modes of categorization, both exhibitions offer ways in which to address the political and abstraction in our culture.

Crisisss. América Latina, arte y confrontación presents an overview of Latin American art that starts with artworks produced after the Mexican Revolution by acclaimed artists such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, and concludes with recent work from artists such as Javier Téllez and Cildo Meireles. With almost 200 pieces from 104 artists, this exhibition does not attempt to present us with an encyclopedic study of a region. Rather, it gathers works that are politically confrontational. For Mosquera, who is also one of the artists in the exhibition, politics represents a shared interest for artists in different countries in Latin America. “The political” is therefore used loosely to create an ambitious exhibition that ultimately points to the lack of aesthetic cohesion that a term such as Latin American art implies.

One of the most notable works in Crisisss is Joaquin Torres-Garcia’s The Inverted Map (1936). This masterpiece of Latin American art shows an inverted map of the Southern America to represent the region’s struggle for recognition at an international level. A work by Cristina Lucas and Gerardo Mosquera is another play on a regional map. In Untitled (masculine sex) from 2007, each Latin American country’s name is substituted by the way in which people from each of the countries refer to male genitalia. Not all Latin Americans use the same slang word for penis. In Mexico, a penis is called the verga; in Puerto Rico the organ is referred to as a bicho (in other parts of Latin America, bicho means “little bug”). This delightful piece succeeds at exposing cultural and linguistic diversity. Other parts of the exhibition come across as more antagonistic. In one of the rooms, Cildo Meireles’ soda bottles from Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca Cola Project (1970) are juxtaposed against the documentation of El Siluetazo (1983). In Buenos Aires, this action by Rodolfo Aguerreberry, Julio Flores and Guillermo Kexel exposed the brutality of the military dictatorship in Argentina. While Meireles’ work is concerned with the struggle to be part of the circuit of the market, the difficulties faced by artists in Brazil and Argentina can hardly be described in similar terms. This comparison points to the lack of cohesion that artworks can have, even when framed under the narrative of “political.”

Unlike Crisisss, Abstract Possibleʼs theme is not restricted to a geographical region, but to other several modes of classification within one category. Each artwork falls into one of Lind’s three curatorial sub-themes: Economic Abstraction, Formal Abstraction and Withdrawal Strategies. One example of Economic Abstraction that falls outside the purview of Latin American art, Walid Raad’s Let´s be Honest, the Weather Helped (1998) is a picture of the recent history of war in Lebanon. This work is a set of photographs in which Raad documents sites where he found bullets. Each site has different colored dots that correspond to the amount and the place of origin of each bullet; Raad discovered that each of 17 different bullet manufacturers used different colors to mark their tips. The piece addresses contemporary dynamics of war that are characterized by speculative capital and networks meant to be untraceable. Artworks in the subcategory of Withdrawal Strategies at times lack a coherent narration or do not arrive to a conclusion. Liam Gillick and Anton Vidokle’s A Guiding Light (2010) is a video which documents well-known artists and curators (artists Boško Blagojeviç, Noah Brehmer, Nadja Frank, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and Danna Vajda, critic Tim Griffin, and curators Anna Colin and Shama Khanna) having a discussion about an exhibition as a rehearsal. A Guiding Light seems like a sitcom that wanders between research and self-critique. In Withdrawal Strategies, Lind considers how artists abstract or complicate the very notion of contemporary art. Indeed, the use of multiple ways of cataloguing artistic practice makes this exhibition successful at creating a curatorial abstraction.

Abstract Possible and Crisisss investigate aesthetics dependent on the construction of grand narratives to pose questions about the possibilities and difficulties of abstraction and political work. In Crisiss the vast number of works and their apparent contradictions point to the need for more research and study on the archetype of Latin American art. Abstract Possible suggests possible ways to discuss the role of abstraction not only in visual art, but also in culture popular culture. On the one hand, Crississ showcases the failure of an all-encompassing category, while on the other, Abstraction Possible plays with an overused category to make sense of contemporary debates in art.

Maria Elena Ortiz is the Curator of Contemporary Arts at the Sala de Arte Publico Siqueiros in Mexico City.

Announcements: news

Houston News

Two Archway Gallery Artists Selected as Finalists for the Hunting Art Prize

Archway Gallery announced that two artists from its gallery roster have been chosen as finalists for the coveted Hunting Art Prize. As a testament to their achievement, Archway Gallery holds the special distinction of having one of the highest proportions of Hunting Art Prize finalists per capita in the entire state, if not the highest.

Kay Sarver and Sherry Tseng Hill were both selected as 2011 finalists; Trudy Askew was a finalist in the 2010 contest.

The Hunting Art Prize, established in 1981 and sponsored by the international oil services company Hunting PLC, is a prestigious annual art competition for Texas artists with a $50,000 award, historically the most generous of annual prizes in North American for drawing and painting. The award has helped build the reputations, raise the profiles and support the careers of the distinguished artists receiving the coveted prize.

To enter, artists must submit a single two-dimensional painting or drawing; finalists and winners are determined through a two-tiered jury process. The work of all finalists is exhibited and available for purchase at the Hunting Art Prize gala on April 30 in Houston.

This is Sarver’s second nomination as a Hunting Art Prize finalist. She and Askew are both longtime members of Archway Gallery, the 30+ member artists’ cooperative, while Hill, who joined in 2010, is a relative newcomer.

Though the three Hunting Art Prize finalists of Archway Gallery are known for their 2-D work, the gallery features a diverse array of 2-D and 3-D art in various mediums. Both 2011 finalists will attend a gala at the Friedkin Corporate Campus in Houston on April 30 where the winner of the $50,000 cash prize will be announced that evening.

For more information on the contest, visit www.huntingartprize.com.

Dallas News


Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I wanted to let you know that I have left my position as Associate Curator of the Goss-Michael Foundation. I will be starting my new position as Director of Marc Straus Gallery, NYC in June. I have enjoyed my tenure here and I appreciate having the opportunity to work with you and make friends.

James Cope

Announcements: exhibitions

Texas on View

Texas Biennial 2011
Texas Biennial
Through May 14

The 2011 edition of the Texas Biennial is taking place in partnership with non-profit arts organizations in three cities: Austin, Houston and San Antonio. In Austin, the Biennial is also being hosted in an unusual range of alternative spaces, including unoccupied commercial office space, a vacant house and the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Click here for a list of all the participating venues.

Austin Openings

About Face: Portraiture as Subject
Blanton Museum of Art
Opening Reception: April 30

About Face features 35 portraits in diverse mediums from antiquity to today. Drawn mostly from The Blanton’s notable collection, along with several choice loaned objects, the exhibition includes works by artists known for their probing investigations of the genre, such as Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, John Singer Sargent, Diego Rivera, Sir Jacob Epstein, Antonio Berni, Alice Neel, Chuck Close, Robert Henri, Andy Warhol, Yasumasa Morimura, Charles Umlauf, Oscar Muñoz, and Kehinde Wiley.

Walker Pickering
B. Hollyman Gallery
Opening Reception: May 7, 6-8pm

Nearly West is a series Pickering has been working on for close to three years. Inspired by the open road and the temporary relocation it provides, these square-format photographs offer a thoughtful documentation of American places and things. With his smart use of color, Pickering captures rural roads, urban and natural landscapes, and traces of the people who live there in a way that transcends the banality of these everyday markers. The images are distinct in mood, each with a balancing peacefulness.

Katelena Hernandez
Opening Reception: Overnight April 23 7pm-10am, Sunday, April 24, begin at 8pm and again at 11pm

Comfort Sessions is about fulfilling human needs that are rarely met. In this performance, Hernandez sings lullabies to the audience while standing right by their side to blur personal boundaries with gallery space.

Austin on View

Apparent Weight: 2011 MFA Studio Art Exhibition
Vaulted and Arcade Galleries of the Visual Arts Center on UT Campus
Through May 14

Apparent weight is a term from physics that indicates an objects relative, perceived weight within a closed system. In an accelerating, ascending elevator, an individual senses a greater downward force than usual; in that moment, that person’s apparent weight has increased. Conversely, underwater, or in free fall, that same person perceives weightlessness. An object’s apparent weight is both quantifiable but shifting, concrete but infinitely variable. A vantage point outside of the system is required to take an accurate measurement of apparent weight. This is because apparent weight is relative to its context; in relationship to artistic production, it would encompass factors like cultural values, art historical frameworks and personal histories. The artists in this exhibition ask the viewer to consider the work’s apparent weight—that is, a weight that is both obviously present and not yet proven.

Tony Feher

New York-based artist Tony Feher has created a long-term, site-determined installation for Arthouse’s new second-floor gallery. Site-determined is a term Feher borrows from artist Robert Irwin, whose work from the 60s and 70s explored the act of perception with seemingly simple architectural interventions. For his Arthouse commission, Feher has activated and transformed a typically overlooked architectural space within the building—the void between the ceiling and steel support beams—through a carefully considered deployment of everyday objects. Feher is well-known for his uncanny ability to reveal the innate beauty in mundane objects and here, via simple repetition and ingenious display, he magically recasts them as a poetic constellation that twinkles from above, a mysterious and captivating field suggestive of the night sky and inspiring wonder, awe, and delight.

2011 MFA Design Exhibition
East Gallery of Visual Arts Center on UT Campus
Through May 14

This year’s MFA Design class developed practice-based research out of a curricular framework organized around the theme of mapping. As a design process, mapping encompasses the framing, digging, arraying, and presenting of information, and is a useful way for designers to stake out territory and negotiate space and complex problems. Mapping does not necessarily define the projects represented here, but it serves as an underlying process, reminding us that design is an activity inextricably tied to pragmatic, real-world problems, where solutions emerge by carefully surveying the situation and the materials at hand.

Jeff Stanley
Center Space Gallery of the Visual Arts Center on UT Campus
Through May 14

For the second 2011 Fade In series, the VAC presents a video reel especially created by M.F.A. candidate Jeff Stanley. Stanley will be presenting his work, Re_FX, and this edition of Fade In will only be on view from the window facing Trinity Street. Join us for the unveiling of this video exhibit outside the VAC, along Trinity Street, following the Opening Exhibition for 2011 Student Art and Design Exhibitions.

Deanna Templeton and Ed Templeton
Domy Books
Through April 28

This is the second two-person show for Ed and Deanna Templeton, two artists living together as husband and wife in Huntington Beach, California, a famous surfing locale. Ed and Deanna Templeton both document their surroundings, and the people and places they visit in their extensive travels. The suburbia they live in serves as a provocation for the work they make.

Jack Strange
Through July 3

British artist Jack Strange makes conceptual works in a wide variety of media including sculpture, photography, video, works on paper, and performance. Characterized by a cheeky wit, his work is visually engaging and frequently causes the viewer to do a double take. Strange finds beauty in the mundane and humorously celebrates the banal by appropriating everyday items and subjecting them to simple manipulation.

Thomas Benton Hollyman
B. Hollyman Gallery
Through April 30

Some Creatives pulls from the Thomas Benton Hollyman Trust Archive, and focuses on a number of limited original vintage prints; silver gelatin portraits of historical "creatives": Robert Frost, George Balanchine, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Carr, Jorge Luis Borges, Arthur Miller, Dr. Martin Luther King, Pablo Casals and many others.

Grand Reopening 2011
D. Berman

Visit our new gallery space - just off the Square in Wimberley on the banks of Cypress Creek - with a group show featuring work by selected gallery artists. Wimberley is less than one hour from Austin. This is the most beautiful time of the year in central Texas and the redbuds are in bloom. Artists in this exhibition will include: Ellen Berman, Malcolm Bucknall, Jeff Dell, Faith Gay, George Krause, Catherine Lee, Lance Letscher, Beili Liu, Katie Maratta, Denny McCoy, Gladys Poorte, Naomi Schlinke, Shawn Smith, W. Tucker, and Sydney Yeager.

Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Through May 7

Cinema, the subtleties of its components and its history form the core of Hubbard/Birchler’s artistic work. This exhibition will feature new photographs as well as the Texas premiere of Hubbard/Birchler’s most recent video installation titled Méliès. Set in the Chihuahua Desert of West Texas near the border town of Sierra Blanca, this video explores the cinematic residue of a specific location named Movie Mountain.

New Art in Austin: 15 to Watch
Austin Museum of Art
Through May 22

New Art in Austin: 15 to Watch is the fourth exhibition in a triennial showcase that spotlights emerging artists from Central Texas whose work stretches the boundaries of contemporary art. Accompanied by a full-color scholarly catalogue, the exhibition will bring cutting edge work in a variety of media to a broad audience.

Ely Kim
Through August 28

Ely Kim likes to dance. In Boombox, Kim dances in hallways, bathrooms, artists’ studios, living rooms, classrooms, garages, and many other locations. With musical selections ranging from ABBA to The Smiths, Status Quo to Le Tigre, and Busta Rhymes to Whitney Houston, Kim dances his way through 100 familiar pop songs, in 100 locations, shot in 100 days, and edited to under 10 minutes.

Javier Tellez
Through July 31

Letter on the Blind, For the Use of Those Who See is an emotionally stirring film by Venezuelan-born, New York-based Javier Téllez whose work weaves fiction and documentary in an elegant investigation of marginalized populations (such as the disabled and mentally ill). Téllez's film, which premiered at the 2008 Whitney Biennial, is based on the ancient Indian parable, "The Blind Men and the Elephant."

Recovering Beauty: The 1990s in Buenos Aires
Blanton Museum of Art
Through May 22

Organized by The Blanton, Recovering Beauty: The 1990s in Buenos Aires will be the first comprehensive presentation of art produced during the 1990s in Buenos Aires, a time of pivotal transformation in Argentina. The exhibition will focus on the work of artists identified as the “arte light” group, which rose to prominence during this decade.

Austin Closings

Jules Buck Jones
Through April 16

Employing a larger-than-life presence intrinsic to the changing dialogue between man and the animal kingdom, Jules Buck Jones' characters continue to center around the hawk, fox, owl, and toad. Depicting these animals without their eyes invites the idea of transformation as each drawing becomes a potential shell for one to enter, wear, or maneuver. The illusion of hollowness is created in response to a fascination with the desire, and sometimes unintentional urge, to actually become the animal. This opens up a new direction which allows for the addition of new media to complement Jones' rhythmic drawing style.

Chantelle Rodriguez
Through April 16

The thing in nothing is a show which explores the beautiful contradiction in all there is, has been and never was. Life and death, sorrow and joy, unity and chaos, creation/destruction. This will be Chantelle's first solo show, with new multi-media collage based work.

San Antonio Openings

Suchil Coffman-Guerra
Bil Haus Arts
Opening Reception: April 15 5:30pm-8:30pm

Fiberartist Suchil Coffman-Guerra will introduce the culmination of several years’ work with her evolving The Kitchen Goddess textile series. She will transform Bihl Haus Arts into a retro 1950s kitchen in which everything has been painstakingly re-created in fabric to match the mood of both the time period and the secretly frustrated housewife who presides there. For the opening reception, performance artist Rebecca Coffey will embody the kitchen goddess with her musings, local poets will perform kitchen poetry, and chef Eric Chiappetta of Denver, in his role as “The Magic Chef,” will serve up an interactive 50s retro edible installation.

San Antonio on View

New Works 11:1
Through May 22

E.V. Day's deconstructive style puts all clothing at risk, from women's undergarments to wedding gowns. Devon Dikeou seeks to "reiterate or re-enrich Conceptual models in their physical reality, often reinterpreting these models through an autobiographical twist." Kelly Richardson's computer-generated videos and photographic works serve to obscure the limits between fantasy and reality. Curated by Heather Pesant

Jung Hee Mun
Sala Diaz
Through May 15

Mun is on a “quest to identify the constant processes within and about the self, and the mind’s struggle to rationalize and understand how to be a self.” Viewer participation performance starts at 8:30pm.

Gabriel Vormstein
Through May 1

Gabriel Vormstein is interested in exploring the relationship between figuration and abstraction. Inspired by the work of Egon Schiele, he reexamines the romantic, emotionally charged gestures found in early Modernist painting. By redrawing figures found in art history, Vormstein captures the body as an abstract shape that can be filled with new choices of color and medium, such as the ground of newspapers, and more particularly, the mechanical text of the financial pages.

Michael Jay Smith
McNay Art Museum
Through May 1

To create Symmetry in Rhythm, Michael Jay Smith recorded the group Urban-15 at Luminaria, San Antonio’s arts night of March 13, 2010. By first shooting the elaborate performance, moving the camera to the beat of the music, and then modifying the footage digitally, Smith transformed color, light, and movement into a kaleidoscopic dream. Slight changes in the original footage, often result in dramatically different images. Smith’s work is inspired by the beauty of symmetry, referencing mandalas and stained glass rose windows found in cathedrals.

Joshua Bienko
Through May 1

Joshua Bienko exposes the fetishistic nature of sports, music, and fashion through stylistically diverse drawings, paintings, photography, and video works. His diverse practice often references popular cultural icons such as contemporary artists, poster pinup girls, rap songs, and sports logos. Through this unique juxtaposition of imagery and object, he emphasizes the relationship between fame and desire with art stars and the fashion industry.

Richie Budd
Unit B Gallery
Through May 7

All I Have to Give, Richie Budd's exhibit, is a series of the artist's four extracted wisdom teeth showcased on individual pedestals. The only explanation given by Mr. Budd is that he has been thinking a lot lately about oral traditions and how wisdom is spread through word of mouth and that he hopes you will, too.

New Image Sculpture
McNay Art Museum
Through May 8

Organized by the McNay’s Chief Curator and Curator of Art after 1945, New Image Sculpture assembles works by emerging and mid-career artists who freely appropriate from art history, ethnographic artifacts, fashion, folk art, hobby crafts, popular culture, and the world of do-it-yourself. Included is Austin collected, Okay Mountain.

Houston Openings

Linda Post
Art Palace
Opening Reception: April 16 6-8pm

Linda Post explores how perception and individual position can be examined in experiential video installations, sound works, media sculpture and photography. Wherever presents a group of discreet works that extend her exploration of the site-specific to the idea of the ideal exhibition space as a neutral non-site. The white cube is addressed as nowhere or wherever. A choreography of the everyday emerges as simple everyday actions are performed and systematized.

Carnen Flores
Lawndale Art Center
Opening Receptions: April 22, 6:30-8:30pm

Carmen Flores' drawings explore the proliferation of violence in the culture and its impact on the human psyche. The imagery in Flores' work is drawn from personal safety tutorials, police reports and press accounts of violence drawn in graphite and chalk.

Leigh Merril
Lawndale Art Center
Opening Receptions: April 22, 6:30-8:30pm

Leigh Merrill's work is driven by an interest in regionalism and the cultural signifiers of particular places. She has photographed the places where she has lived, motivated by curiosity about the architecture that surrounds us and how it reflects larger ideas of beauty, class, romanticism and perfection.

Marc Bell and Jim Woodring
Lawndale Art Center
Opening Receptions: April 22, 6:30-8:30pm

Some artists record the world, some interpret it, and some distort it. A few, like Jim Woodring and Marc Bell, create their own worlds. They represent a certain strain in modern comics-a world of fantasy influenced by childrens books, pre-war newspaper comic strips and illustration, and contemporary art.

Jamal Cyrus
Bryan Miller Gallery
Opening Reception: April 16 6-8pm

Rather than being an exhibition of discrete, contained works, DKONKR is more like an elaborately prepared puzzle with clues to the artist's intent spanning eras and epochs. From Egypt's first dynasty to early American slave culture and on to the civil rights era and modern Egypt, Cyrus masterfully finesses the societal and spiritual implications of materials, techniques and images. Placed in relation to one another, these elements suggest intriguing trans-dimensional and supra-historical narratives and connections.

Hillerbrand+Magsamen, Daniel McFarlane, & Anthony Thompson Shumate
Lawndale Art Center
Opening Receptions: April 22, 6:30-8:30pm

This exhibition features residents for the fifth year of the Lawndale Artist Studio Program, Hillerbrand+Magsamen (Stephan Hillerbrand and Mary Magsamen), Daniel McFarlane and Anthony Thompson Shumate. The exhibit includes abstract paintings, video art, and installations.

Brad Troemel
The Joanna
Opening Reception: May 21 7-10pm

Brad Troemel's exhibit, PA, is a survey of surplus recognition or what he believse to be the most hateful comments of his detractors on the internet. To disrupt the false binary of positive or negative attention, Troemel proves their equality and offers a model of repossessed agency for those who are the subject of similar resentment. Through image appropriation, he reclaims the surplus of unfavorable judgments he had thus far publicly ignored. Think of these images’ relation to capitalism’s logic of valued scarcity. If the only thing more difficult than becoming a beloved Web 2.0 artist is to become reviled artist, there is no internet art as valuable as the objects Troemel exhibits here.

Houston on View

Window into Houston
Blaffer Art Museum
Through June 22

Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston will debut a new exhibition series, Window into Houston, at 110 Milam Street in downtown Houston. This exhibit is dedicated to showcasing the work of Houston artists in a unique and highly public setting that allows for focused two-part installation in the windows of a historic building.

Miguel Angel Rojas
Sciardi Gallery
Through May 14

At the Edge of Scarcity pays homage to impoverished communities in Colombia, where residents live on the edge, often turning to drugs in the pursuit of an otherwise impossible future. This show includes text-based works on paper, one incorporating dollar bills and coca leaves that includes stylized lists of famous consumers (Sid Vicious) and dealers (La Perra, Machoviejo). Another highlights the incessant desire for “more, more, more.” Perhaps the most moving work in the exhibition is “Mirando la Flor” (Watching the Flower; 1997-2007), a decade-long project that includes a harrowing and intimate video showing a man wired on drugs and dying, who Rojas equates with the Dying Gaul, a masterpiece of Roman antiquity.

Mary Temple
Rice Gallery
Through May 25

Mary Temple paints directly on walls and floors creating installations that not only trick the eye, but also trigger memory by freezing a fleeting moment of passing time. Upon encountering a Mary Temple light installation, it is common for viewers to stick out a hand in an attempt to block the light they perceive as falling on the wall before them. Yet after a few moments of hand waving, they realize that the shards and patches of light they see are, in fact, painted on the wall. This moment of confusion is what Mary Temple calls the “not-knowing,” that moment when memory collides with experience causing the viewer to question what is real. Temple has refined her trompe l’oeil painting technique to convince the eye, mind, and body that somehow light has been captured, and so it has, in hundreds of thousands of tiny brushstrokes

Chad Hopper and Amanda Jones
Domy Books
Through May 5

In acrobatic acts of blind alchemy they mix wood whispers and plastic gossip. Animals take over abandoned office buildings, leading us to explore the mysteries lurking between pictures and words.

Houston Closings

Michael Bise
Moody Gallery
Through April 23

This exhibition follows up Michael Bise's Holy Ghosts! exhibition in 2009 as he continues his practice of creating large, formally complex images based on incidents from his own life. Using personal memories and family stories, Bise makes drawings that address larger cultural realities such as child abuse, aging, religious fervor, and the strange experience of childhood.

2011 Core Exhibition
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Through April 22

The 2011 Core Exhibition features work by artists-in-residence Nick Barbee; Lourdes Correa-Carlo; Fatima Haider; Steffani Jemison; Gabriel Martinez; Julie Ann Nagle; Kelly Sears; and Clarissa Tossin. Core critical studies residents Massa Lemu, Melissa Ragain, Julie Thomson, and Wendy Vogel contribute essays based on their independent research to the Core 2011 Yearbook publication that accompanies the show (forthcoming).

Paul Harrison and John Wood
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Through April 24

Answers to Questions: John Wood & Paul Harrison is the first United States museum survey of work in video by this British artistic team. Wood and Harrison use a wide variety of props, often including their own bodies, to create short video vignettes that highlight the inventive play behind all art, even in its most minimal and conceptual strains. Well known throughout Europe and Asia, and especially in their native England, where they have collaborated since 1993, Wood and Harrison’s imaginative, inventive, and often hilarious shorts will be an exciting new discovery for American audiences.

Dallas Openings

Jay Shinn
Marty Walker Gallery
Through May 7

In his new exhibition, Centerfolds, Jay Shinn deftly manipulates space, light, shadow, and shape with sharp minimalist work that actively alters viewer's perceptions by continuously shifting between two-and-three-dimensional planes. His arrangements imply movement and balance as they evoke pathways, thresholds, and mandala-like plans while also inviting the viewer to understand each form by approaching it from different positions.

XXI: Conflicts in a New Century
Oak Cliff Cultural Center
Opening Reception: April 15, 6:30-9pm

Co-curated by Charles Dee Mitchell and Cynthia Mulcahy, this exhibit examines conflicts in the first decade of the 21st century including wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Congo, and Ivory Coast through photographs by many of the most notable artists, documentary photographers and photojournalists working today.

Dallas on View

Brian Fridge
Dunn and Brown Contemporary
Through May 14

For this exhibition Fridge presents a site-specific video projection in the project gallery. This video, Sequence 36.1, is part of a new catalog of silent, black and white videos. The photographic prints in the exhibitions are stills taken from the videos

Jim Lambie
Goss Michael Foundation
Through September 3

Jim Lambie has discussed the relationship between the tape works and the solid objects they incorporate in terms of a jazz ensemble, comparing the tape to the “baseline played by the drums and bass” and the pieces placed on top to the “guitar and vocals.

Juergen Teller
Dallas Contemporary
Through August 21

The photographs in Man with Banana, a large-scale exhibition, will survey Juergen Teller’s oeuvre and include many new and unseen works from the last year. Blurring the distinction between his commercial and non-commercial work, Teller takes a story-telling approach to this exhibition by combining images of family and friends interwoven with known and at times abstract metaphors.

Dallas Closings

Royal Robertson
Webb Gallery
Through April 17

A retrospective, Robertson worked primarily on poster board using magic markers, tempera paint, colored pencils, ball point pens and glitter. Many of his pieces are double sided and in addition to works on paper; he adorned his home with murals, signs, and shrines of space sexy ladies, space men, signs with his troubled thoughts on women, warnings of the end of times, and biblical texts.

Ed Ruscha
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Through April 17

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."

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
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
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
Deadline: 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.

Gift of Gift of 2011
Gift of Gift of
Deadline: May 27

Each year Gift of Gift of organizes an event in which photographs are exhibited for consideration for collective purchase, to be offered as a donation to a major collecting institution. If you are an emerging photographer and do not yet have work in a major museum collection, this is your chance! Submit your work for the chance to become part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's permanent collection. Last year Gift of Gift of was able to purchase 70% of the works exhibited.

2012: Transgressions and Extremes
New Art Center
Deadline: 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 Papers

Art&Education's Papers Prize: No Rules–Negotiating Art and Deregulation
Deadline: May 25

In support of young scholars conducting innovative research in contemporary art, Art&Education is pleased to announce a Call for Papers for its inaugural Papers Prize, which includes a research sum of 2000 USD and the opportunity to present a paper at a conference, organized by Artforum & e-flux co-sponsored by Society of Contemporary Art Historians, on the subject of the deregulation in art practice and history. For more information, click here.

Call for Artists

A Book About Death
Wilo North Gallery
Deadline: 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
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
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.

Call for Residencies

Many Mini Residency
Deadline: June 10

Many Mini Residency is a one-week residency program operated in conjunction with alternative exhibition venues in Europe and the United States. Many Mini Residency is a one-room residency that is open to applicants from all disciplines (art and non-art alike) and encourages participants to customize their residency experience. There is no minimum time-limit for a stay at the residency but the maximum stay allows use of the space for half a day. The space may be used for public programs, personal studio time, a rehearsal space, a dinner, or whatever the resident sees fit. Participants provide documentation and a short statement about their time spent in the residency to serve as both a record and a resource displayed online as the final component of the project.

Internship Opportunities

Semmes Foundation Internship in Museum Studies
McNay Art Museum
Deadline: April 30

The McNay Art Museum, a museum of modern and contemporary art, is offering a ten-month internship in curatorial work beginning fall of 2011. The goal of the internship is to help individuals interested in embarking on a curatorial career by providing significant experience in one or more areas of specialization, including work with the permanent collection and with temporary exhibitions. Applicants should have a master’s degree in art history or a related field; have excellent written and oral communication skills; computer skills; and a reading knowledge of French or Spanish is helpful. The salary for this 10 month, full-time internship is $20,000. Submit cover letter with mailing address, e-mail, and telephone/fax information; official college and graduate school transcripts; written recommendations from three professors or museum professionals; and a two-page double-spaced typed essay on your curatorial focus and what you hope to learn from the internship. Deadline to apply is April 30, 2011. Send to: Semmes Foundation Internship in Museum Studies, McNay Art Museum, P.O. Box 6069, San Antonio, TX 78209-0069. No fax or email applications accepted unless requested by the McNay.

Job Opportunities

Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
The Blanton Museum of Art
Deadline: May 3

The Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art will work in concert with The Blanton curators in Latin American and European art to research, develop, present, manage and evaluate exhibition projects of varying scales using works in the permanent collection as well as loaned objects and new commissions. The Curator will oversee an outstanding permanent collection of approximately 7,000 works of art, including prints and drawings, paintings, sculpture, installation, photo- and media-based works. He or she will research and interpret works in the collection and make recommendations for acquisitions to further develop museum holdings in this area. The Curator will recruit and manage loan exhibitions of modern and contemporary art and will work with colleagues in the field to develop co-produced exhibition projects and/or exhibition tours. The Curator will work collaboratively with curators, educators, and designers in the creation of program content. She or he will work with the museum's development and marketing staff, the Director, and Deputy Director's office to expand audiences and support for the collection and for all museum programs. For more details on how to apply, click here.

Curator of European Art
The Blanton Museum of Art
Deadline: May 3

The Curator of European Art will work in concert with The Blanton's curators in Latin American and Modern and Contemporary art to research, develop, present, manage and evaluate exhibition projects of varying scales using works in the permanent collection as well as loaned objects. The Curator will oversee an outstanding permanent collection of approximately 8,100 works of art, primarily prints, drawings and paintings. He or she will research and interpret works in the collection for various museum publication formats and make recommendations for acquisitions to further develop museum holdings in this area. The Curator will recruit and manage loan exhibitions of European art and will work with colleagues in the field to develop co-produced exhibition projects and/or exhibition tours. The Curator will work collaboratively with curators, educators, and designers in the creation of program content. She or he will work with the museum's development and marketing staff, the Director, and Deputy Director?s office to expand audiences and support for the collection and for all museum programs. For more details on how to apply, click here.

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