from the editor
If we can subscribe to philosopher Jacques Rancière’s notion that politics and aesthetics are inherently bound together in “distribution of the sensible”—that is, all that is seeable, sayable and knowable—the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden is doubtless the most significant aesthetic event of the past two weeks. Immediately after the announcement, the loudest demands were made not for the accountability of the chain of events leading up to his death, carried out on secret order, but rather for the release of photos of his corpse. While the photographic evidence was soon circulated to journalists, pundits and politicians, who have gravely reported on their “gruesome” nature, President Obama has halted their distribution to a wider public. (Not unlike the stifling of images of war.) Politicians argue that the photos should be kept under wraps due to fear of the wider ramifications—namely, retaliation. The counterarguments range from cathartic release for soldiers and victims of the events of World Trade Center attacks to the fact that the photos will likely be released on the Internet without a disclaimer soon enough.
Regardless of where one stands on this highly emotional and political issue, it brings the visual and the political into close confrontation. As art enthusiasts, we might well remind ourselves that all images in the public realm are political, whether they become part of an art dialogue, popular culture, news media or otherwise. The polarizing debates that have surfaced recently over representations of queerness and sex have been summarized in my recent letters from the editor several times over, yet they remain one concrete example of how such representations can become political tools in the hands of institutions. How we as cultural producers choose to respond to imagery—through artistic creation, manipulation, transformation, critical response, curatorial discernment, mediation, and display or otherwise—reflects not only on our professional bearing, but on the politics of our (art)world.
This week’s issue features reflections on exhibitions across Texas that are loosely tied to reorienting oneself politically, geographically or perceptually. Sasha Dela interviews Linda Shearer, the executive director of Project Row Houses, who has recently co-curated Round 34 on sustainable food practices to address the problem of Third Ward’s “food desert.” In our reviews section, Rachel Stevens discusses the exhibition The World According to New Orleans as a “functional site” for the articulation of a rich and complex idea of the local art scene to a wider audience. Similarly, Lee Webster writes about cultural histories of a contemporary Americana played out in The Sultans Played Creole at Champion. And Alexis Salas responds to the political implications of Recovering Beauty at the Blanton, a group exhibition of artists working in Buenos Aires in the 1990s that embraced visual delight.
Also in our review section, Lana Shafer considers the strange sensuality of Jade Walker’s installation at Blue Star in San Antonio, while Charissa Terranova confronts Brian Fridge’s hypnotic video installation at Dunn and Brown head (and body) on. Erin Starr White meditates on Fergus Feehily’s and Matt Connors’ contemporary updates of abstract painting, and in …mbg recommends, I give a rundown of the gallery shows on Houston’s Isabella Court that address themes of the geographic, spatial and political.
Until the next issue, while you’re out in the world reminding yourself that you are a politicized aesthetic being, soak up those belated May showers, celebrate the end of the academic year, and see some art before the Texas summer heat really kicks in.
Wendy Vogel is Editor of ...might be good.
By Sasha Dela
Project Row Houses’ back courtyard, Round 34: Matter of FOOD Opening Reception, March 26, 2011.
I was able to catch up with Linda Shearer, Executive Director of Project Row Houses (PRH), upon her return from the ArtTable 30th Aniversary Celebration in New York, where she was recognized as an ArtTable Honoree. Her work in Houston has been invaluable. First arriving in 2007 to serve as the interim director of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, she became the executive director of Project Row Houses in 2009. She has recently co-curated PRH’s Round 34: Matter of Food with Ashley Clemmer-Hoffman, which remains on view through June 19th.
Sasha Dela (SD): How did you and Ashley Clemmer Hoffman develop Round 34: Matter of Food at Project Row Houses?
Linda Shearer (LS): As you know, PRH has grown and flourished because of its responsiveness to the needs it has identified within the community. I have been at PRH since September 2009, and it quickly became clear that PRH is located in a “food desert” without any accessible, affordable or healthy grocery stores. Many of our residents do not have cars and rely on public transportation to get to the nearest HEB or Fiesta. Parallel to that issue, artist Elia Arce devoted her art house to the cultivation of wheatgrass during the Round 31 exhibition at PRH in the fall of 2009, which in turn spawned a group of artists and local residents to form the Greenhouse Collective (GHC).
The GHC has continued to develop and has expanded to include two aquaponics gardens, as well as a community garden with raised beds for herbs, vegetables and flowers. PRH is incubating the GHC, which is housed in one of the studio shotgun houses on Division Street; they even now have chickens! So the idea of organizing a Round on the subject of food seemed clear and obvious to Ashley and me. Round 34 includes artists from New York, Salt Lake City, Austin and Houston; we are pleased that Chef Tarsha Gary and Ecotone, her community garden on St. Charles Street, across from PRH, is participating. So there was a lot that contributed to the great turnout at the opening-- not the least of which is that everyone has a fundamental interest in food.
SD: What are your challenges at PRH? How has your professional relationship with Rick Lowe influenced your direction at PRH?
LS: PRH is now in its seventeenth year. It’s become established, highly regarded and well known. At this stage, the challenge for an organization that started so spontaneously is how to be fiscally and administratively responsible without losing the fluidity and vitality that characterized its beginning years. I think the key is to remain sensitive to the needs of the immediate community and to not be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. That’s easier said than done, especially in these precarious economic times. Like any non-profit, financial stability is a key goal; if your finances are solid and secure, you can afford to be bold and take chances. Fundraising is a priority for PRH, and I hope we can ultimately build an endowment.
Rick is the founding director of PRH, and never seems to lose his inner compass. He stays in close contact with the other founding artists— Bert Long, Jesse Lott, Floyd Newsum, Bert Samples and George Smith, all of whom have ongoing relationships with PRH. The seventh founding artist, James Bettison, died in 1997. I have learned a lot from Rick, and love to hear him talk about PRH. He firmly believes that art can be a catalyst for change-- something I have always believed, but am now seeing put into practice in a way that hardly ever happened in my past experiences in art museums. He is committed to a balance between artistic creativity and community issues. This balance can take many forms and cannot be taken for granted.
SD: How do you see the future of PRH and the organization’s shifting relationship with the neighborhood?
LS: PRH is located in a very historic part of Houston’s Third Ward. It blends historic preservation, community/neighborhood development and public art with educational and social services. But PRH has not accomplished all this on its own; it has relied on important partnerships and collaborations – Rice University’s Building Workshop, SHAPE Community Center, Chevron, Trinity United Methodist Church, Friends of Emancipation Park, the Third Ward Community Cloth, IKEA, InPrint, FotoFest, Aurora Picture Show, DiverseWorks, University of Houston, Texas Southern University, to name just a few. In 1993, the Menil Collection spearheaded a group of organizations to each adopt one of the seven art houses and to renovate them with their volunteers.
PRH wants to continue to revitalize the neighborhood, preserve its history and traditions, and help build new resources for the community. In response to the rapid gentrification that took place in the historic Freedman’s Town or Fourth Ward, State Representative Garnet Coleman warned that “we want to find people who will make this community (the Third Ward) better by becoming part of the fabric, not by changing its fabric.” I think that is why PRH has been successful. No one suddenly parachuted into the original block and a half of shotgun houses, but rather PRH has grown out of them. It has also been successful because of the caliber of the staff and the fact that we really do function like a team; it is a pleasure working at PRH.
Right now the issue of sustainability and sustainable communities is of special interest to PRH, and we are exploring some ideas around that. We are also focused on maintaining the more than fifty structures that PRH owns; a recent grant from the Kresge Foundation enabled us to start a Building Reserve Fund to help us do that.
SD: Do you feel there are any similarly structured projects or organizations?
LS: PRH is sometimes compared to Samuel Mockbee’s Rural Studio, a program of Auburn University in Alabama, but a closer equivalent is the Coleman Center for the Arts in York, Alabama. Rick is frequently invited to consult with individuals and communities in depressed areas that are looking for improvement and development through the arts, but PRH remains very unique in the interaction that takes place between its Public Art, Arts Education, Young Mothers Residential and Affordable Housing programs. There is a give and take between visiting artists, PRH residents and students that is remarkable and truly transformative.
SD: Tell me about the artists you engage with now at PRH.
LS: Well, I’ve been around art and artists for a long time now, and the one constant is the extraordinary creativity and resourcefulness of artists. While many of the artists at PRH are several generations younger than mine, they continue to inspire me and reinforce my belief in the power of art. When I worked at the Guggenheim, Artists Space and the Museum of Modern Art, all in New York, I spent a great deal of my time going to studios. I no longer do that with the same regularity or intensity, but I love to make a studio visit whenever I can. I rely enormously on Public Arts Manager Ashley Clemmer Hoffman, and of course Rick, who is constantly traveling, meeting artists and seeing new art. When artists are in residence at PRH, I get great pleasure talking with them about their work and can often provide some history or context that might be new to them, so I feel I also play somewhat of an educational role with younger artists.
One of the most satisfying aspects of engaging with artists at PRH is to witness their unabashed enjoyment and appreciation at living and working in the PRH community. All artists stay on the PRH site in one of our houses and they have both formal and informal opportunities to interact, exchange ideas, and work with members of the PRH community.
Sasha Dela is an artist and the co-director of Skydive Art Space in Houston.
Recovering Beauty: The 1990s in Buenos Aires
The Blanton Museum of Art
Through May 22
By Alexis Salas
Marcelo Pombo, Navidad en San Francisco Solano (Christmas in San Francisco in Solano), 1991, Cardboard, nylon, and synthetic enamel on wood, 31 1/2 x 47 1/4 inches, Collection of Mauro Herlizka, Buenos Aires. Courtesy of the artist.
Ursula Dávila-Villa’s first solo curatorial project at the Blanton Museum of Art, Recovering Beauty: The 1990s in Buenos Aires, is one of sparse staging and thoughtful curatorial choices. Organized into discrete vignettes, spaces of clean white facilitate an exhibition experienced through visual ideas manifested in the artworks, paired with discrete bits of historical and social context. Such cool reserve allows the art to act playfully.
The show begins with colorful and graphic works. Formal and abstract yet not abstemious, they are celebrations of urban lived experiences (Fabio Kacero’s “furniture-canvases” incorporate symbols that he made to represent people that he admired in the language of street signage) and the senses (Graciela Hasper’s playful reinterpretation of Hans Arp-ish colors and shapes). They also use abstraction in such a way that makes them somewhat cryptic, simultaneously evoking the sensual and suggesting a reformulated notion of aesthetics.
Showcasing work nicknamed “arte light,” the exhibition explores how these artists “recover” beauty by unabashedly investing in the visually seductive object. Marcelo Pombo’s Navidad en San Francisco Solano [Christmas in San Francisco in Solano] (1991) is an amalgamation of cardboard boxes over which he has painted white dots. It reflects both his desire “to decorate” in the most literal of senses, as well as a historical moment of the onslaught of neoliberal globalization; as foreign products began overwhelming the local market, international and local goods came to be looked upon with an anthropological eye. Omar Schiliro’s untitled plastic and glass sculptures which illuminate, all tendrils and exquisite faceting-- be it plastic or crystal-- paired with bare neon bulbs and plastic bowls, make looking a conscious act. They need a viewer just as much as electricity to bring them to life.
Omar Schiliro, Sin Título (Untitled).
The pleasure of the act of looking is a theme which, in the Argentine context, could be understood as a subversive reaction, both to the end of oppressive governmental regimes with rigid notions of what kind of art was worthwhile as well as to the spread of AIDS. AIDS hit particularly hard in the community of artists upon which the exhibition focuses—which, rather than those of the entire city of Buenos Aires, as the title might suggest, is limited to those of the Rojas Gallery, one (very small) space in (the University of) Buenos Aires. In the context of such loss and sorrow, a joyful return to the aesthetic, the “light,” and thus the “gay,” during a time of ostracization, is embraced by the artists throughout the exhibition. The strategies are as varying as graphic depiction of sex acts in a pastel-colored Keith Haring-esque style such as Beto de Volder’s Orgía [Orgy] paintings to Feliciano Centurión’s hand-embroidered textiles with phrases such as Me adapto a mi enfermedad, (I Adapt to My Illness) and La muerte es parte intermitente de mis días (Death Is an Intermittent Part of My Days) which he produced in his last bedridden months of life.
Yet even in evoking such charged themes, the works, indeed the show, project a certain ease. In the case of the exhibition, it is a studied ease; the show as well as the symposium and catalogue, which includes the first translations of the artists’ texts, that accompanied it are the product of four years of planning and many communications with the artists. Allowing the viewer to become as involved as she pleases with the visual or historical elements of the work, Recovering Beauty gracefully eschews questions of how to deal with the contemporary (which can be difficult to historicize) and the Latin American (which can be difficult to contextualize). It manages to engage both, and in doing so, engages large and diverse audiences.
Alexis Salas is a PhD student in art history at The University of Texas at Austin based in Berlin.
The Sultans Played Creole
Through May 28
By Lee Webster
Marjorie Schwarz, From left to right: Untitled (MJS4)"; "Untitled (KLN3)"; "Untitled (KRN3), 2010, Oil on canvas, 14 x 11 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
Hinting at a new Americana, nostalgia, a reclamation and a war, The Sultans Played Creole, curated by James Cope for Champion, is a show that reveals itself in fits and starts. It’s got something big to say but is still casting around for the right way to get it out. It isn’t that many of the works aren’t compelling on their own, but as a whole they all hum at the same pitch. As a result, the ensemble never reaches that crescendo that pulls together the work into a cohesive whole.
The show title references the Dire Straits hit “Sultans of Swing,” a song that unfurls scenes from the American South: faded jazz greats, honky-tonk heroes and old timers whistling Dixie against a shifting social landscape. The pieces in the show all speak in a similar manner, opaquely referencing the shared American yearning for a near-distant past and a constant searching for identity. Many of the pieces evoke the cinematic nature of memory. And it makes sense. Americans create and savor their nostalgia through cinema.
The sidewalk-facing gallery windows hold Amy Revier’s photo series A Quiet Root May Know How to Holler (2011). These images of a baby carriage sitting in deserted public spaces, emitting billowing clouds from explosions of black smoke and fire, are jarring and lovely, dramatic and unsettlingly funny. They quite literally start the show off with a bang, but inside it quiets to a dull murmur.
Marjorie Schwartz’ untitled oil portraits are reminiscent of poorly focused family photos or ghosts caught in some limbo between this world and the one beyond. The small works are understated but compelling. In the second room, Caris Reid’s ink on paper drawing Samantha (2010) works in a concert with these portraits. The figure is distinctly the Samantha of the ‘60s sitcom Bewitched. Rendered in ochre tones, Samantha stares directly out of the paper, hands extended, casting a spell.
On an adjacent wall, Kadar Brock’s untitled painting integrates house paint, spray paint and ball point on a highly textured canvas that conjures grave rubbings and faded xeroxed images. The painting oscillates as much between abstract and representational as it does the material and ethereal worlds. It perfectly captures the sense of liminality for which the show strives.
Nick Mathis’ assemblage sculptures incorporate altered found objects that seem as if they’ve been lifted right from their original places in the world only moments before. In his piece Shoes (2011), a pair of men’s dress shoes are attached to a white board and painted over. Even a shadow is painted, giving the sense that the body of the man just dematerialized. However, in the close space, the small sculptures don’t hold the gravitas they otherwise might.
This is a show for lean times, one that focuses on works that are manageable in price and size. Lots of small-scale works means the gallery feels crowded and that the standout works that demand more attention don’t get the space they deserve. Still, the show is definitely worth a look for some transcendent moments and exciting new work by Texas artists. While you’re there, don’t overlook the small screening room in the back. Rachel Adams and Zoë Taleporos serve up an exuberantly fun video reel that can’t be missed. Originally curated for Queens Nails Projects in San Francisco, QNTV is a messy, musical queering of the universe through a handful of videos that investigate what it means to be an artist in a world ruled by pop culture icons and how to sell your body without selling your soul.
Lee Webster is an artist living and working in Austin, Texas.
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, San Antonio
Through May 14
By Lana Shafer
Jade Walker, Quadri-Poise, 2011, Fabric, found objects, Nitto tape, Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.
Jade Walker’s newest installation Quadri-Poise, the second and final sculptural installation sited at Blue Star in San Antonio as part of the 2011 Texas Biennial, continues her conceptual and formal investigation of the body through a poetic assemblage of found objects and fabrics. Featuring a pared-down palette of flesh tones with blood red accents, Quadri-Poise is a tableau of varied sculptural elements exploring dualities in material, form and body politics.
Nestled in Blue Star’s smallest, most intimate gallery space, Walker’s installation is reminiscent of a domestic setting. The walls are neutral beige, while a portion of the floor is covered with Nitto tape placed in parallel strips like hardwood flooring. However, other elements in the space produce an uncanny atmosphere more appropriately associated with a surrealist dream world. Perched center stage is a cream and white birdlike figure with a bulbous base covered in fur fabric, a long erect neck encased with a foam collar (or neck brace) fastened with zip ties and brass brads, and a protruding beak. The sculpture’s core, and the crux of the installation, is a walking cane with a four-footed base called a Quadri-Poise— a piece of medical equipment signifying support, but also the fragility of the body.
On the back wall hang three round assemblages, also intimate in scale. Punctured with stickpins and adorned with knoblike wooden pieces, these flesh-toned objects appear as breasts, bodily fetishes on display. The baseboards are lined with a series of small, uniform, oblong-shaped sculptures made of rolled fabric and propped up against the walls like a ritualistic accumulation of bones. A large wooden mallet looming in the corner lodges another amorphous sculpture, crafted out of sutured white fur and cream fabric, against the wall. Hidden to the viewer from outside the gallery’s open double doorway, the mallet’s presence becomes ominous once the viewer enters the space. If the mallet were to suddenly drop, the central fowl would incur a heavy blow. Considering this implication of potential violence, perhaps the bird is a mythological reference to Leda and the Swan, but unlike the ancient Greek myth, in which Zeus becomes a swan to rape and impregnate Leda, Walker’s swan is fractured and vulnerable, confusing the gender roles of this motif frequently depicted in art since the Renaissance.
Walker’s soft sculpture and focus on abject bodily subjects calls to mind such precedents as Eva Hesse, Mike Kelley, Annette Messager and Dorothea Tanning. Inherent to this lineage is also a reaction to the masculinity of minimalism. While Quadri-Poise utilizes the monochromatic and serial language of minimalism, Walker also suffuses each object with insightful content and subtle human touches. The viewer’s close inspection of each element in the work is highly rewarded, as poignant details—like the strand of red thread connecting a soft tuft of fur to a stickpin—are artfully revealed.
Lana Shafer is a freelance writer and art historian based in San Antonio, Texas.
Dunn and Brown Contemporary, Dallas
Through May 14
By Charissa Terranova
Brian Fridge, Sequence 36.3 - 36.5 (film still), 2010, Black and white, silent video, 4:32 minutes. Courtesy of the artist.
Brian Fridge’s latest engagement with low-tech video and abstraction at Dunn and Brown Contemporary, Sequence 36.0, is all about growth and form. Two moving-image pieces occupy the Project Gallery, Sequence 36.3-35.5 (2010) on a small monitor hung on a freestanding wall and Sequence 36.1 (2010) projected in large format on the wall of the adjacent gallery. The two distinct black and white videos show leafy tendrils that slowly grow out in spokes from a drain-like hole at the center of the screen. Separated by space and scale, their relationship is not so much one of mimesis and repetition but refraction, with the little one on the monitor seeming like a blasted bit shot through an invisible prism connected to the large projection on the wall one room over. The differences between the two video installations are minimal but significant.
There is confusion here as to whether this is video art or a video installation. If there were two videos showing the same exact imagery each in sync with the other, this would be a project about video art as armature and installation. It would simulate the pyrotechnics of full-body stimulation— a body roving through space looking at video. Since each shows a slightly different version of the “sequence,” then we can deduce that these videos focus on the mesmerizing abstract organic floral fungus form at the center of each unique looped piece. This is video about seeing content— what is inside the frame— first, and affect and self-reflexivity second. The greatest power of this show is in the way it feels like an installation, if only accidentally— the way the two videos interrelate when seen simultaneously from the corner of the room.
In terms of content, we might look to Fridge’s recent explorations in physics, metaphysics and biological forms. In keeping with his studies, the work in Sequence 36.0 brings to mind Scottish biologist and classics scholar D’Arcy Thompson’s 1917 book On Growth and Form. An atypical tome, On Growth and Form is a long, descriptive and non-linear study of biological form and change according to mathematical principles rather than Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Over 1,000 pages long, the book has copious images, many of which are similar to Fridge’s mutating plant-like form.
A Whitney Biennial artist in 2000, Fridge is now famous for concocting hypnotic abstractions in motion, the most celebrated of which was Vault Sequence (1995), a galactic tornado of rotating white particles that were actually the workings of his freezer as it defrosted. As with this seminal piece, there are many potentialities within Fridge’s new work, the linchpin of which hinges on how they are installed. The current installation of Fridge’s video is extremely powerful because they are both visible at once. Installed singly, each in its own space, the works would come across differently— less rhythmic, more subtle and more a kindred spirit of the precedential non-objective experiments of 20th-century modernism.
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.
Matt Connors and Fergus Feehily
Dallas Museum of Art
Through August 14
By Erin Starr White
A conversation in and about abstract painting is taking place in Concentrations 54: Matt Connors and Fergus Feehily. Typically showcasing the work of a single artist, this most recent iteration of the series highlights the work of two painters using the idiom of abstraction to re-envision its merits. Organized by curator Jeffrey Grove as two small, discrete shows of the work of Berlin-based Fergus Feehily and New York-based Matt Connors, Concentrations 54 acknowledges abstract painting’s past, then dismantles and reuses its vocabulary to refreshing end. This is two painters exploring— for the most part successfully— ways in which contemporary abstraction can function as a series of open-ended investigations.
Outside the exhibition’s entrance hang bracing reminders of the trajectory of abstract painting. An Ocean Park Diebenkorn presages the vibrant baby blues and cool mint greens of Connors’ best canvases. A monumental Sam Francis, paint sliding downward upon a cool white canvas, presages the thoughtfully unfilled centers of Feehily’s small compositions. The authority of these canonical works contrast nicely with Connors and Feehily’s work, foregrounding their irony and charm.
The left half of Concentrations houses Feehily’s petite paintings on MDF and multimedia works in cloth and paper, a steady stream of works whose uniformity of size suggests a man-made horizon line. Feehily’s works are generally 8x10 inches, the familiar size of a sheet of loose-leaf paper. These paintings, abstract arrangements of carefully fashioned space, outshine the artist’s fabric compositions, which look like rote studio exercises in comparison. In Untitled (2010), Feehily has painted a sparse, geometric web, perhaps a micro-view of sugar crystals. The ground for this unfolding spatial framework is a mottled, grey-blue field that hovers just beneath the surface of the picture place like an impenetrable fog. Similarly, Into the Garden (2009) provides a smoky, lavender ground for a stratum of green, lozenge-shaped marks mingling with black specks that seem to vibrate, activating a neatly framed space. Simplicity itself, Feehily’s frames consist of two thin strips of wood— one top, one bottom— fastened in place with a screw in each of the painting’s corners. This framing solution belies the objectness of Feehily’s spatial creations; the screws subtly echo the animated flecks of dark paint, making the humble frame a central consideration in the piece. Several objects from the Museum’s encyclopedic collection have been selected by the artist and pepper the installation, spanning disparate eras and cultures; the morphological similarities these objects share with Feehily’s work foster deeper study of the artist’s simple yet sophisticated compositional strategies.
The framing solution proves to be a strand connecting the two artists. In Connors’ You’re Gonna Take a Walk in the Rain and You’re Gonna Get Wet (2011) two brightly-colored framing strips (one Pepto pink and the other Kelly green) subtly and elegantly expand the pictorial space beyond the bounds of the canvas. Long, deliberate pencil marks delineate the space into sections that recall the immediacy of Agnes Martin’s meditative, slightly unsteady graphite lines. The unprimed canvas’ baby blue stain on the left and blood red one on the right create a naked center toward which oil from the intensely hued paint seeps. I am immediately reminded of Robert Motherwell’s pseudo-oozing forms— Connors does not pale in comparison. Though a few of Connors’ more brash, expressive paintings lack presence like formulaic academic exercises, more muted examples like Foil (2011) are revelatory. Here, a repeated crescent hovers above a field of hazy persimmon, taupe and denim blue, a Delaunayesque vision completely refashioned.
Through smart study of the past and clever experimentation with its elements, Connors and Feehily forge a fresh approach to abstraction. The positioning of these works so near the heraldic canvases of post-war machismo make clear the point that abstract painting has life in it yet.
Erin Starr White is an art historian and writer living in Fort Worth. She received her MA in Art History from Texas Christian University, is a contributing art critic for Artlies and Art Papers and is currently Assistant Curator of Education for Student and Teacher Programs at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
The World According to New Orleans
Through August 14
By Rachel Stevens
Dawn Dedeaux, Steps Home, 2008, Acrylic, 30 x 48 x 43 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Aurthur Rogers Gallery, New Orleans, LA. Photo © Fredrik Nilsen.
What would the art world look like if New Orleans were already a center? This was curator Dan Cameron’s “mind exercise” that catalyzed The World According to New Orleans, an exhibition at Ballroom Marfa that gestures toward introducing the art world of New Orleans to a wider, international art audience. As an art community New Orleans has, in the past, almost willfully refused influence from New York and other art centers. Characterized as insular, however, New Orleans already has an incredible mix of international cultures, including African, Native American, French, Spanish, Cuban and Haitian, that all play a role in the city’s cultural production.
Some orientation to New Orleans’ art heritage is in order, and almost half of the Ballroom is devoted to important work from the later part of the 20th century. Most of this work is figurative in some way, showing ritual processions, characters from the local community and symbolic representations of spirituality and death. God told Sister Gertrude Morgan to paint and so she did—her self-taught paintings of religious subjects hang as testimony along one wall. Noel Rockmore’s more technically accomplished figurative paintings are reminiscent of the styles of a handful of art giants from the canon of 20th century art, but wholly uphold their own cryptic dynamism and beauty. Roy G. Ferdinand’s marker pen drawings warn of urban and spiritual ills. “Indians” dance in slow motion in celebration of Easter in a disintegrating film by Jules Cahn, and documentary photographs by Michael P. Smith show parades, musical processions, dancing, church and a funeral—performances revealing almost no apparent distinction between pleasure, spirituality and mourning.
The elephant in the room is Hurricane Katrina or as residents would rather call it, according to Cameron, the “federal levee break of 2005.” The disaster directed the world’s attention toward this complex place and created a whole new condition from which the art community could reemerge. More than creating a blank slate, the flood, said artist Skylar Fein during a panel discussion on January 10th, “burnt the culture, but returned the nutrients to the cultural soil [as] a forest fire [does].” An art scene was born where previously there hadn’t been one, with a surge of collective art spaces and activity. New Orleans is now, says Fein, between floods, “like Weimar Germany [between the wars], a cauldron of culture.” As it grew, it also attracted artists and curators from elsewhere. Katrina prompted the New Orleans art world to leave the space of regionalism.
The work of the last five years on view here still appears rooted in the culture and place of New Orleans, but more self-consciously. Although there are no explicit references to Katrina, there is an underlying tendency to refer to things that are absent or to address New Orleans as a troubled site that needs some care and attention. Deborah Luster’s vintage-looking grid of rich black and white photos show sites where recent murders have taken place. Skylar Fein’s American black flags communicate a kind of economic desperation with catchy retail discount slogans lining the stripes. Bruce Davenport’s marker pen drawings of high school marching bands in formation, though joyful in the expressions of the figures and in the geometric color patterns that are created by their arrangement, recall groups and traditions that have dispersed since the flood. Courtney Egan’s elegant video projections of ephemeral flora and fauna paired with sculptural objects—a yellow trumpet flower complete with dripping sound and a dry vessel, for example—promise sensuality, but convey an uncanny absence. In contrast Gina Phillips’ narrative painting Salvage Operation, made with fabric, thread and feathers, is tactile, material and present.
Some pieces respond to Marfa as a site. Dawn Dedeaux’s illuminated Steps Home placed on a mostly empty lot, greeted us the night we drove into town, late and lost, from New York. Srdjan Loncar’s Fix-a-Thing pieces attend to small, broken moments in the Marfa landscape. Loncar molds missing parts, such as a railroad tie, from torn-up photographs he has made of the site, and installs them in situ. It is a gesture of kindness, but also of camouflaging, blending in. Dan Tague created metal texts for the courtyard, facing upward toward the bright sky, spelling out names of streets that no longer exist in New Orleans. The most discursive and immaterial piece in the show is Bons Enfants, spoken haikus in which students describe an eclectic array of New Orleans moments. Projected via an audio installation, this distillation of collective social experience transported from one site to another underscores what this show does best.
About as remote a place as one can get for a vital contemporary art destination, Marfa is a specific and complex site with its own curious negotiations between a local culture and an international art world. As such it is an apropos choice for an exhibition about place, whose task is a negotiation between margin and center. Though not an artwork itself, The World According to New Orleans operates as what James Meyer calls a “functional site,” as it generates new discursive spaces for the art, artists and place-ness of both New Orleans and Marfa. It is worth requoting here what Miwon Kwon has already quoted in her 1997 essay “One Place After Another: Notes on Site Specificity”:
"[The functional site] is a process, an operation occurring between sites, a mapping of institutional and discursive filiations and the bodies that move between them (the artist's above all). It is an informational site, a locus of overlap of text, photographs and video recordings, physical places and things.... It is a temporary thing; a movement; a chain of meanings devoid of a particular focus."
Although we may be nostalgic for the authenticity of the New Orleans that was, its new visibility and exchange of flows allow us to see the city as one of the "many dozens of potential art centers" that Cameron identified in the panel discussion as the current formation of the art world. Showing in Marfa is a first stop on the New Orleans artists’ transformation into contemporary-artists-as- globetrotters, and Marfa, though remote, delivers to the exhibition savvy art visitors from all over the globe. In an ideal world this nomadism and exposure will enable New Orleans as an art center without leveling its own potent cultural geography.
Rachel Stevens is an artist and writer based in New York City.
Isabella Court, Houston
Through May 15
By Wendy Vogel
Though the three artists currently showing in Houston’s Isabella Court galleries work in disparate mediums (painting, video and a variety of sculptural and photographic techniques), their practices can be linked through strategies of displacement, disorientation, excavation and reframing. Make sure to take a stroll along that stretch of Main Street before the weekend is through, as the three exhibitions close on Saturday.
Bryan Miller Gallery
3907 Main Street
Cyrus’ second show at the newly rechristened Bryan Miller Gallery (formerly CTRL) is titled DKONKR, a pidgin transcription of “the conqueror” that references African-American folklore legend John the Conqueror. Cyrus is also part of the Houston-based art collective Otabenga Jones & Associates, and like their work, DKONKR riffs on themes of revolution, violence, social upheaval and the African diaspora, using found images as a point of departure.
In the back of the gallery, four sheets of papyrus titled Eroding Witness bear the laser-cut imprint of declassified, redacted FBI documents that detail the government’s shadowing of the Black Panther party in the 1960s. The delicate sheets, evocative of Biblical screeds, transform the evidentiary quality of the documents into an object that suggests a transhistorical narrative of oppression and resistance. This thread is followed in photographic objects with a strong tie to Warhol’s Death and Disaster series. An untitled black-and-white photo of the Black Panther party headquarters, splashed with catalogue numbers from King Tut’s tomb, is overlaid with deep blue Mylar tape. A photograph from the recent Egyptian uprising, printed in black-and-white, becomes the background to a makeshift roadblock (complete with sandbags) in FA / TA / HA.
Though many other artists have mined Warhol’s image-making strategies, Cyrus’ rigorous and imaginative take resists the facile implications of, for example, Kelley Walker’s chocolate-splashed Black Star Press.
3913 Main Street
Linda Post’s solo effort at Art Palace is a spatial exercise; she reconfigures earlier site-specific work while creating new videos that unsettle the viewer’s experience in the gallery space. A highlight of the first category is Approach, first created for the AC Institute in New York. At Art Palace, the work is installed on two small flat-screen monitors in the back right corner. We see Post performing simple acts of preparation in the AC space on the left screen (mopping the floors and so on), while on the right, shots of an exterior elevator are intercut with footage of Post and a performer using the long, narrow art space as a makeshift bowling alley. Rather than distorting one’s spatial perception, references to 1970s performances abound, from Nauman’s phenomenological investigations of the corridor space to Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ maintenance actions.
Wherever and Not use Art Palace as a location to stage simple actions such as stacking blocks, rolling a ball or climbing a stool. Focusing on the blinding white of the gallery’s floors and walls, the videos both reference the specificity of the gallery architecture and gently deride the supposed neutrality of the art setting. There is Post’s sculptural quasi-monument, pushing the show in an anarchitectural direction. She reframes Houston’s Buffalo Bayou as three separate vignettes, chopped up and playing on three tube televisions precariously balanced upon one another. Repurposing obsolescent technology as an object of study, the work references both a “wherever” and “whenever” that ties her work to a larger history of intermedia experimentation.
3917 Main Street
Kristin Musgnug, Japanese Dodder with Zuo Gui Wan, 2009, Oil on panel, 24 x 30 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
I recently saw Veins in the Gulf at Aurora Picture Show as part of Shrimp Boat Projects’ satellite programming. The documentary explicates the complicated options to slow or reverse the erosion of coastal wetlands in Louisiana, along with the divisive opinions of locals about these potential solutions. With that backdrop in mind, I went to Inman to check out Kristin Musgnug’s Unnatural Histories, a series of landscape paintings documenting the proliferation of invasive plant species in various locations in the U.S. These alien plants, introduced by humans, are slowly destroying local ecosystems.
Musgnug’s paintings, described by the artist as “detailed but not photographic; observationally based, but not completely objective,” are worthwhile provocations but do not always succeed on the level of critical reception. These paintings mimic 17th-century landscape conventions and are meant to convey that nature is always framed through pictorial conventions that structure our perception of reality. The problem is that her works try to ride the line between criticality and complicity. By depicting invasive plant species without some reference beyond the pastoral frame, she does little more than reinscribe representational traditions. In other words, many of the landscapes look impressive, but without a specialist’s knowledge of how dangerous the plants are, they don’t urge us to seek additional, politicized information (which Musgnug has provided amply, in the form of extended wall label-like texts available for the taking about the plants and their histories). These works fall into the trap of Ansel Adams’ photographs, which arguably often excise the social landscape for an aestheticized one.
The paintings that work in the built environment (Tallow Trees and Power Lines, 2010, and Japanese Dodder with Zuo Gui Wan, 2009) break from these traditions in a refreshing way. By the “staged” insertion of takeaway food containers, or through the rendering of faraway power lines in shaky skeins of paint, Musgnug points to the difficulty of reconciling contemporary motifs with pristine painterly motifs, much like the difficulty of introducing alien plants to a fragile ecosystem.
Wendy Vogel is Editor of ...might be good.
Artists Annette Lawrence and Michael Smith Elected to the Arthouse Board of Directors
Arthouse at the Jones Center announces two internationally prominent artists, Annette Lawrence and Michael Smith, will join the Arthouse Board of Directors. "We at Arthouse deeply value the commitment of Lawrence and Smith to our organization and its mission. We are thrilled to have the voices of highly regarded artists as a significant part of our leadership," states Sue Graze, Arthouse Executive Director.
Lawrence received her BFA from the Hartford School and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She lives and works in Denton, TX and is a Professor of Drawing and Painting at the University of North Texas, College of Arts and Design.
Smith is currently Associate Professor of Transmedia and Performance in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin.
Contemporary Art Curator Charles Wylie to Leave Dallas Museum of Art
The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) today announced that Charles Wylie, The Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art, will be stepping down from his position the first week of June after fifteen years of dedicated service. Wylie will continue to work with Jeffrey Grove, The Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, in the coming month to assure the transition of current DMA initiatives, and will act as a consultant to the Museum throughout the summer.
"Charlie has been a crucial member of Dallas Museum of Art's contemporary art department and the DMA family," said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director. "His tremendous work at the Museum has helped us expand our mission, enhance our standing in the museum community as a major center for contemporary art, and advance scholarship in the field. He leaves an exceptional legacy for the DMA and the Dallas community. We wish him every success in his future endeavors."
"Due to its remarkable community, the Dallas Museum of Art has cemented its place as an institution of international importance," noted Wylie. "I am extremely fortunate to have been part of this, and to have worked with many great artists, patrons and colleagues - it has, in fact, been an astonishing privilege. Given all this my decision to step down was difficult, but after fifteen years at the Dallas Museum of Art, and nearing thirty in the field, I am looking forward to having some time on my own and then deciding how and where to make my next contribution."
Since joining the Dallas Museum of Art in February 1996, Wylie has organized 32 exhibitions, including the major traveling exhibitions Brice Marden: Work of the 1990s; Thomas Struth: 1977-2002 and Sigmar Polke: History of Everything, (with Dr. John R. Lane). More recent projects include On Kawara: 10 Tableaux and 16,952 Pages; Willie Doherty: Requisite Distance; Performance/Art; Mexico 200: Tierra y Gente, and Big New Field: Artists in the Cowboys Stadium Art Program. Wylie has also organized exhibitions encompassing major gifts and promised works from renowned private collections in Dallas, focusing on the art of Gerhard Richter, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Joseph Beuys, Ellsworth Kelly, and Robert Ryman.
Wylie also assisted Maria deCorral with Fast Forward: Contemporary Collections for the Dallas Museum of Art, the landmark exhibition featuring the bequests of the Hoffman, Rachofsky and Rose and additional collections and works to the Dallas Museum of Art. Exhibitions of artists living and working in north Texas organized by Wylie have included Linda Ridgway, Patrick Faulhaber, and Annette Lawrence. He has published eight monographs and numerous essays and brochures.
Wylie's notable acquisitions include the complete editioned work of Gerhard Richter; Counter Ground, a gallery-scaled commission by Tatsuo Miyajima, and The Eye, a monumental sculpture by David Altmejd. Throughout his tenure, Wylie also played a key role in the annual 2x2 for AIDS and Art benefit auction week at the Rachofsky House in Dallas, which since its inception in 1998 has generated $29 million for the Foundation for AIDS Research, (amfAR), and the DMA's contemporary art acquisition fund. He is also a founding member of the Dallas Cowboys Stadium Art Council, and has juried exhibitions and spoken on panels at numerous venues in Texas and across the United States.
"Charlie has been a friend and colleague for many years prior to my arrival in Dallas in 2009, and it has been a pleasure to work alongside him for the past year and a half," said Grove. "Charlie is held in high regard by his peers throughout the country and throughout north Texas. He will be greatly missed by the museum and the Dallas arts community, but we are all excited for Charlie as he embarks on a new chapter in his life."
The search for the new Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art will be initiated in the coming months
Warhol and Rauschenberg Foundations Call for the Release of Ai Weiwei
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation join the global arts community in calling for the release of artist Ai Weiwei. The detention of this visionary individual, and the subsequent suppression of information concerning his whereabouts and well being, is in direct conflict with those who work to create a more just, enlightened society.
It is encouraging that artistic institutions large and small have moved swiftly and with great compassion to turn their concern into action. Among many others, New York’s Creative Time and the Philadelphia based Slought Foundation have both been exemplary in their activities, organizing public events and promoting awareness through social media and diplomatic channels.
We also applaud the efforts of the International Council of Museums, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the Tate Museum in London, and others who have advocated for the humane treatment and release of Ai Weiwei. As stalwart supporters of the rights of individual artists and free expression in every form, our foundations are proud to add their names to the following petition:
In our capacity as leaders of artist-centered foundations, our primary concern is to ensure that artists everywhere are given the proper access and support they need to remain critical, creative and have their voices heard. As citizens of an interconnected, globalized world, we cannot remain silent when others are being silenced. We urge everyone to become informed about this case and remain attentive to threats to freedom of expression, wherever they may occur.
Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
Joel Wachs, President
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
Christy MacLear, Executive Director
Austin on View
Through May 20
In The Repeat, Boston artist Kara Braciale presents a series of gouaches that mimic the weft and the weave of Ikat styled tapestries. Through the careful marking out of patterns and the repeating gesture of filling-in lines with color, Braciale combines the act of weaving with the act of mark making. And it is possible to approach these paintings the way one might approach a tapestry; that is, to see the “threading,” process and information, while also experiencing the pattern as a work created through the accumulation of time.
The Sultans Played Creole
Through May 28
Champion is pleased to announce The Sultans Played Creole, a group exhibition organized by James Cope and featuring Kadar Brock, Branton Ellerbee, Nick Mathis, Cody Poole, Caris Reid, Amy Revier and Marjorie Schwarz. The title references the Dire Straits song “Sultans of Swing”, which was released on their debut album in 1978 and deals with shifts and breakdowns of cultural borders, particularly the divide between North and South in the U.S.
B. Hollyman Gallery
Through June 1
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.
Sabra Booth, Margaret Craig, Daniel Kaplan, and Leigh Anne Lester
Through June 19
Natural forms, genetic modification, flickering conversation and molecular structures are all explored in this organic show. Rock, Paper, Carbon features mixed media on paper from Sabra Booth, mixed media sculptures from Margaret Craig, paper mache sculptures from Daniel Kaplan and carbon drawings by Leigh Anne Lester.
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.
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."
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.
About Face: Portraiture as Subject
The Blanton Museum of Art
Through September 4
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recovering Beauty: The 1990s in Buenos Aires
The Blanton Museum of Art
Through May 22
Recovering Beauty: The 1990s in Buenos Aires is 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.
San Antonio Closings
Jung Hee Mun
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.”
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.
H. Jennings Sheffield
UTSA Satellite Space Gallery
Through May 22
Tethered is a combination of archival digital prints mounted on panels and a video installation with sound. The work is conceptual and based on images Sheffield photographed over a 3 month period of time, documenting her life as an artist, student, mother, and wife. Pulling from thousands of images, she chose 4 to 6 images from the same time of day but on different days of the week and then separated the image into slices using a mathematical formula. She then digitally integrated the slices from different days to create a single, compressed image of time. Once compressed, and as in real life, all the different events and interactions merged into a singular life experience.
UTSA Satellite Space Gallery
Through May 22
In All that I Remember, Gissette Padilla addresses the notion of memory as a constant re-construction. Using painting, drawing, and various printmaking techniques, she construct multi-layered images that evoke the experience and residual energy of fragmented spaces, with the consistently shifting moments that make up a single memory. Her paintings are amalgamations of real, distorted, and perceived experience built from the fragments of personal photographs, memories, and found images. Visually representing both the construction and crumbling of memory, the work exists in the unrefined space between past and present.
Opening Reception: May 20, 6-8pm
Nathan Green's work explores the visual language and structural qualities of abstract painting. By combining the tropes of modern abstraction with contemporary craft techniques and common construction methods, Green creates idiosyncratic works that evade categorization and blur the boundaries of their medium. Inherent in all of Green's work is a palpable sense of playfulness, experimentation, and a curiosity that becomes the guiding force on a search for the ecstatic.
Museum of Broken Relationships
Blaffer Art Museum
Opening Reception: May 21, 6-9pm
Conceptualized in Zagreb, Croatia, by Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic, after the couple ended their own romantic relationship in 2006, the Museum of Broken Relationships was established by the two to create a space of protected remembrance where the material and nonmaterial heritage of broken relationships can be witnessed, and where these experiences can move beyond the individual into a universal understanding.The public is invited to an opening reception in celebration of the exhibition on Saturday, May 21. Admission is free, and complimentary cocktails will be provided.
Houston on View
Marc Bell and Jim Woodring
Lawndale Art Center
Through June 4
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.
Lawndale Art Center
Through June 4
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.
Hillerbrand+Magsamen, Daniel McFarlane, & Anthony Thompson Shumate
Lawndale Art Center
Through June 4
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.
Through June 11
Brad Troemel's exhibit, PA, is a survey of surplus recognition or what he believes 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, then there is no Internet art as valuable as the objects Troemel exhibits here.
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.
Through May 28
Kim Anno states about her recent work, “Climate change and the rising level of the oceans, and the issue of water in itself has become a central focus in my work. I am performing hydrodynamic experiments in labs, tanks, creeks, rivers, oceans, and various other bodies of water.” Anno includes video footage from a recent trip to Galveston in the exhibition.
Lawndale Art Center
Through June 4
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.
Through May 14
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.
Miguel Angel Rojas
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.
Bryan Miller Gallery
Through May 14
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.
Through May 15
Kristin Musgnug's Unnatural Histories features oil paintings of flora. Her "paintings spring from an interest in the complex interactions between people and nature, including how our concept of nature shapes our actions towards the land."
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
Cohn Drennan Contemporary
Opening Reception: May 21, 6-8pm
Slice is an exhibition curated by artist Cande Aguilar exploring the similarity of line, color, texture and surface of four Texas artists – Michael Blair (Denton), Jesus De La Rosa (Kingsville), Jorge Puron (Eagle Pass) and Cande (Brownsville). Last year Cande began searching for and reaching out to artists with comparable sensibilities in an effort to share ideas, concepts, techniques, and possibly even develop a forum or peer group to identify with. The result of the discoveries and discussions within this group of artists is the exhibition, Slice.
Holly Johnson Gallery
Opening Reception: May 21, 6-8pm
Kim Squaglia's meticulous and labored technique consists of multiple layers of delicately painted patterns and microscopic structures layered between coats of resin. In some cases, the resin is clear and glossy, like hard candy. In others, it's sanded and cloudy, creating a dreamier quality.
Dallas on View
XXI: Conflicts in a New Century
Oak Cliff Cultural Center
Through June 3
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.
Gun and Knife Show
Through June 4
Co-curated by Heyd Fontenot and Julie Webb, this exhibit encompasses 40 different artists who have worked in the subject of guns and knives. This not only shows and investigates the public accessibility of gun and knives, but makes this exhibit accessible to all of the public through these subjects. The existence of guns and knives is psychologically provocative. Weapons were not a part of the natural world; humans desired them and brought them into being. Their specifically intended use is to destroy the biological material and tissues of which we are composed.
Free Museum of Dallas
Through May 27
End Mart is the nonproductive marker place. We all know how hard it is sometimes to let go of purpose, of function, of thought, unless of course the release itself is prepackages and preconceived. End Mart offers consumers the means by which to achieve complete, pure, unproduction without the hassle and with a complimentary bag upon purchase. For the more tentative buyer, weary of unencumbered freedom, introductory products are also available.
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.
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.
Through July 17
Campbell Bosworth uses his skills of woodworking and his formal training in painting to create narratives of life on the border of Texas. In this show there are two (Gun Bars) which demonstrate a melding and shows an incredible narrative through their over the top work. The highly carved and guild revolver bar spins to hold 6 tequila bottles is covered in carved detail of the subject and their larger than life expolits. This is only one of the incredible pieces in this show-- from carved tequila bottles, drug lord portraits, huge carved Narco Bling, rocket launcher, and a trigger finger-- all work together to tell the story of the cartel’s accumulation of status and power
Dunn and Brown Contemporary
Through May 14
For this exhibition Brian 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
The Illustrations for Our Afflicted Powers
Free Museum of Dallas
Through May 27
The artists participating in this project include Matt Cusick, Tuba Öztekin Köymen, Michelle Mackey, Anna Membrino, Savannah Niles, Ahn-Thuy Nguyen, Laray Polk, Tiana Wages and Sally Warren. Their artworks are inspired by passages selected from either of two publications: Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War, or Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. These publications present powerful critiques of US society and foreign policy in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001. Through imaginative and often oblique responses to these books, these Texas artists demonstrate the many ways in which image and text interact above and beyond a conventional understanding of illustration.
Five x Seven: ART SOCIAL
May 13, 8-11pm
Admission: $30 for general admission, $125 for 5-pack of individual tickets
The Five x Seven festivities get rowdy on Friday the 13th with Art SOCIAL, featuring a performance by Austin Music Award-winners, The Black and White Years. Over 1,000 original 5×7-inch works of art by emerging and established artists will be on display. Each 5×7 artwork is $150; $100 for Arthouse members. Food and beverage generously donated by Frank, Pie Fixes Everything, Trumer Pils, Vitamin Water and Waialua Soda Works.
Where We Know: New Orleans as Home
May 13, 7pm
Austin and Houston have become second cities for many who left New Orleans in the diaspora following Hurricane Katrina. Join Ray Shea, a New Orleanian currently residing in Austin and New Orleans-based Mark Folse as they read excerpts from the anthology Where We Know: New Orleans As Home and discuss the idea of "home."
Free Public Lecture: Sam Coronado
May 21, 2pm
What do Taco Bell, Mexican pin up girls, Gebhardt's Chili Powder, The Three Caballeros, corn masa factories and the Supreme Court all have in common? This lecture will review Sam Coronado's role in the history of graphic arts in the Chicano community, led by Ph.D. candidate, Tatiana Perkins.
Benefit Trunk Show at the home of Judy Gordon
36 Pascal Lane in Westlake Hills
May 20, 1-5pm and 21, 11-5
JOIN Judy Gordon and Women and Their Work for a sale of artist-made jewelry and clothing from across the country, 10% of sales will benefit Women & Their Work.
Tex Hex Pop Up Cinema: Past Forward
May 21, 8:30pm
Tex Hex provides a pop-up screening along the water’s edge at 1011 Wood Street, home of digital magazine CultureMap, in downtown Houston. This self-contained cinema projects from and onto an on-board screen enabling recorded and live video content to be viewed while the boat is stationary or in motion. Filmmaker and Artist in Residence Deborah Stratman curates the evening’s program, Visionary Transport. This 70 minute film program features artistic takes on car culture, with works by Kenneth Anger, Buckminster Fuller, Buster Keaton and Amanda Pope, amongst others.
Luck of the Draw X: Revolution!
June 22, 6:30pm
The best party of the year is back and we are taking the art world by storm! Expect a raucous good time accompanied by great food and flowing libations. Luck of the Draw is just that. You buy your art chance ticket and get your number. Numbers are called at random, and when it’s your turn, you have just 15 seconds to grab your art from more than 200 outstanding selections. It’s fast, furious and full of drama. Or, if you prefer a more measured approach, you can bid on larger works in the Blind Auction. To date contributing artists to the Blind Auction include: Jean Barber, Angela Fraleigh, Buster Graybill, Brent Green, Lisa Marie Hunter, Tierney Malone, Libbie Masterson, Lori Nix, Jim Nolan, Patrick Phipps, Jon Read, Lillian Warren and more.
Shoot Your Mouth Off Panel
May 21, 4-6pm
Margaret Meehan, Noah Simblist, and Julie Webb among others will speak on this panel in honor of Central Trak's current Gun and Knife exhibit.
Call for Entries
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.
Funkhaus Art Prize 2011
Deadline: May 27
Funkhaus Nalepastrasse is proud to announce a new art prize for sculpture taking place in Berlin in June 2011. The prize in the sum of 4,000 Euros will be given to one artist. For more information on how to apply, click here.
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.
Solo Series 2012
Women and their Work
Deadline: July 1
Women & Their Work seeks artists who create inventive, high-caliber contemporary art that breaks new ground or proposes innovative approaches to form and content. Selections are based on an evaluation of the work you submit; we look for a strong, consistent aesthetic vision. We encourage selected artists to create new work; no work that has previously been exhibited in Austin will be accepted for exhibition. The work in the application should demonstrate that you are capable in vision and scope of creating a powerful solo show that commands the 1,700 square foot gallery.
The Big Show 2011
Lawndale Art Center
Deadline: June 16
The Big Show is Lawndale Art Center's annual open-call, juried exhibition. It has been an important venue through which emerging and under-represented Houston area artists gain exposure since the show's conception in 1984. Each year guest jurors are invited to select from work submitted by artists living within 100 miles of Houston. Artists are invited to bring up to three works of art, not previously shown in Houston, to Lawndale Art Center where the work is juried on-site for a chance to be included in the show and a shot at one of three cash prizes.
The Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program
The Creative Capital
Deadline: June 8
The Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program supports writers whose work addresses contemporary visual art through grants issued directly to individual authors. The first program of its kind, it was founded in recognition of both the financially precarious situation of arts writers and their indispensable contribution to a vital artistic culture. The Arts Writers Grant Program issues awards for articles, blogs, books, new and alternative media, and short-form writing. It aims to support the broad spectrum of writing on contemporary visual art, from general-audience criticism to academic scholarship. For more information, please click here.
Call for Artists
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.
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 $2,000 and the opportunity to present a paper at a conference, organized by Artforum and 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 Residencies
Deadline: June 10
Many Mini Residency is a one-week residency program operated in 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. 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.