MBG Issue #173: Into the Great Wide Open

Issue # 173

Into the Great Wide Open

September 2, 2011

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Shannon Ebner, Installation view at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, July 15 – October 9, 2011. Photography by Brian Forrest. (detail)

from the editor

The ‘local’ has an increasing amount of cache these days. Applied to nearly everything in our lives from produce to politics, the local is, once again, the trusty antidote to Globalism-induced fatigue. Efforts at establishing a public sphere that crosses oceans and transcends boundaries of all sorts, while not a total failure, have not manifested themselves as the global Utopia oft touted by their proponents. Coupled with technology and Global Capitalism’s merciless efforts to push us ever closer together, it should come as no surprise that we look for comfort in our local communities and within familiar things. In reality, who can resist a little navel-gazing now and again?

Tunnel vision, coyly wrapped in nostalgia’s seductive blankets, is always looming just around the corner. The resulting Isolation and self-indulgence are Localism’s biggest potential drawbacks. Characteristics that, where art communities are concerned, can very quickly become realities. Parochial dangers aside, at risk is the ability to communicate across boundaries, geographic and intellectual, as well as maintaining the prowess to recognize the need to adapt, improve, and address problems within our local institutions.

No place can claim to avoid the pitfalls of Regionalism entirely; after all, art is inherently regional. By definition, the major art centers that bookend the U.S. are themselves regional places. We know what they’re up to, but they’re mostly oblivious to what’s happening outside of their own markets and the copious pages of art rag advertisements and reviews. To a degree, we all have that in common.

The thing most worth thinking about is how we navigate these two ideas: first, active participation within our local communities, and second, an engagement with the larger ideas and realities in circulation. Heeding to translocalism’s established model, their relationship should be viewed as a symbiotic one, and represents a space in which we can make new inquiries, while avoiding the polarizing limitations that, when taken independently, Localism and Globalism represent.

With that in mind, pieces and projects from a few names familiar to our Texas readership (each ex-Texans, myself included) along with voices from our coasts, lead off our first issue back from hiatus. A new feature entitled ‘Long Reads,’ begins with an essay exploring the way Mexico City’s complex history and frenetic daily activity weave together to influence artists by independent writer and curator, Leslie Moody Castro. Throughout the coming months these longer pieces will rotate with interviews and writing from artists’. The new CEO and Director of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Dana Friis-Hansen, delves into this year’s Venice Biennale. In its global reach he finds a cacophonous mixture of nationalism, withdrawal and individualism that questions the ability of the Biennale to provide deeply thought-provoking experiences of art. Los Angeles artist Shannon Ebner’s project, and, per se and at LAXArt and The Hammer gets writer Catherine Wagley’s thoughtful attention. Ebner’s sculptural ampersand, linking solo exhibitions at each venue, locates viewers and reminds them that its locale is also part of something else. Savvy advice, regardless of place, no? Rice University PhD student Rachel Hooper gives us a look into The Spectacular Of The Vernacular, on tour from The Walker Art Center at The CAMH in Houston. The fifth summer in a row the CAMH has played host to an exhibition with the underlying themes of the ‘regional,’ ‘local,’ and ‘craft,’ these exhibitions give us something familiar presented in strikingly imaginative ways. From New York, curator and writer Sarah Demeuse takes stock of Harun Farocki’s Images Of War (at a Distance) and finds a blurring of the boundaries between war, technology and the games that place each at their center, a dissolution that ends up extending itself into the space of the installation itself.

Our project space features Vedaland plans (so far), a project by Albany California based artist Will Rogan utilizing images created by altering magazine pages and whose title references magician Doug Henning’s transcendental meditation rooted theme park Veda Land. If Twitter hasn’t piqued your curiosity yet, our new endeavor seeks to gain your interest. Starting with this issue, Kurt Mueller, fresh off of a fruitful Artpace residency, will lead off @mbgETC, an extension of our project space that, for a month, gives an artist a chance to engage with social media via our feed: @mbgETC. You can follow these projects either on Twitter.com/mbgETC  or through …might be good itself.

You might have also noticed the larger image and format changes to our journal. Moving forward, email us anytime at info@fluentcollab.org to give us your feedback on this or any other of our new features. As Texas and the art world shakes off the cob webs from its annual summer slumber, I look to continue the pithy and thoughtful coverage of Texas’ many art communities established by my predecessors. I’m also looking to nudge the horizon ever so slightly, to look towards other places and broader ideas which, through a dialogue with, Texas has much to learn, and most certainly much to offer.

Welcome aboard.

Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of …might be good.

long read

Mexico City - Cultural Affluence

By Leslie Moody Castro

Máximo González, Magma CCCLXX-I (detail), 2011, Money paper, glue, 12 x 6 feet. Courtesy of the artist.

Visiting Máximo González in his Mexico City studio is always a full day affair and well worth the hour-long trek it takes to get there and then back. Máximo’s studio is a haven in the middle of the chaos of downtown. He rents a large apartment in a massive colonial building, and as the story goes, it was once a convent and then in the 1960’s was the home of the famous Mexican wrestler El Santo. Máximo’s neighborhood is famous, the site of Cortés’ conquest of Mexico is essentially his backyard. Walking down his street in one direction, ancient pyramids arise feet away from the national cathedral. In the opposite direction the beautiful and breathtaking Palacio de Bellas Artes holds some of the most famous murals produced during the modern period in Latin America, including a recreation of the mural destroyed by John D. Rockefeller in the 1930s: Diego Rivera’s El Hombre en Cruce de Caminos (Man at the Crossroads).

However, it is not only the surroundings of hundreds of years of history that humbles me when I visit Máximo’s studio; it’s the feeling of moving along with twenty million people. The city operates with a constant rumba, a drumbeat that subtly defines the emotion, movement and chaos. Emerging from one of the best subway systems in the world onto the Zócalo plaza, you are only allowed a split second to take in its sheer beauty before you are thrust into the chaos of hundreds of people participating in the informal street economy, beggars sticking their hands in your face for a few pesos or tourists snapping photos in an attempt to document all the madness.

The beauty in all of this is breathtaking and almost impossible to accurately describe. On one side of the plaza is the National Palace, construction of which began in 1522, and meant to serve as the second home of Cortés. On the other side is the National Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana), a glorious, looming, sinking structure, which began construction in 1571. Between the two is the growing excavation site of the foundation of the original Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Surrounding this incredible dichotomy of cultures is a mass of people selling everything you could possibly imagine under a barrage of yellow, orange and red tarps, or the extension of the Tianguis de Tepito.1

The recently preserved Centro is also an incredible place to witness all the nuances and contradictions present in the city as a whole. Walking down Avenida Tacuba, it is common to see people selling pirated CDs and DVDs for less than 15 pesos, while only feet away from chain stores that sell the same CDs and DVDs for more than 150 pesos each, literally twice the amount of money that I spend for one weeks’ worth of food at my local market. Physically, the Torre Latinoamericana stands erect on the corner of Juarez Avenue and Eje Central as a reminder of the prosperity of the city in the 1950s.2 Walking down Avenida Cinco De Mayo, a street named after the Battle of Puebla where Mexico evicted France from the country and once again became independent, I pass the major North American fast food chains: Burger King and Starbucks.3 It seems like Mexico City’s colonization never stopped.

While I cannot contain my sense of awe and wonder of the history and beauty surrounding me, images of despair and poverty also strike me. It’s a city full of contradiction, in every sense of the word, and it’s these images and contradictions that define the sense of the visual and provide profound inspiration for countless artists in a variety of mediums. The artistic history of Mexico City in the 20th century is astounding, and has provided fodder for countless artists and movements. The city was a second home for the Surrealist Movement; it offered photographic inspiration for the likes of Tina Modotti and Edward Weston and was a mecca for adventure for the Beat Poets in the 1950s. Mexico City is not without its history of inspiration, and artists continue to use this and the city as a primary resource. Argentine artist Máximo González is no exception.

As I finally entered Máximo’s studio, a giant cup of mate and a grinning artist greeted me.4 When I first met Máximo in 2004 he worked with devalued currency on a very small scale, a medium he started using with Argentine pesos in 1992. He began using Mexican pesos in 2003, the same year he moved to Mexico City. Beginning with smaller collage style vignettes, Máximo began to move to large-scale murals, all created from bills, cut and pasted with incredible accuracy. In 2005 he began experimenting with textbooks pulled from public schools of Argentina, where propagandistic retelling of histories have been standardized and accepted. In 2006 he focused a considerable amount of energy on his Changarrito project, a commentary and imitation of the smaller informal economies seen on the streets of Mexico.5 After 2006, Máximo made less and less currency drawings and more large scale water-color and pencil on paper drawings of industrial, man-made objects metamorphosing into trees, bodies of water or fields of grass.

Currency and economies of various kinds have consistently played a large part in Máximo’s work. However, when I walked into his studio today I found a knitting loom that is eight-feet in length and four-feet wide, consuming the entire space. Máximo is knitting a giant curtain of money. The sheer size of the piece is breathtaking, and the near-random color palette is visually stunning. Whichever way you look at it, the thing is made of money. Although the currency is no longer in circulation, within the current economic climate, using devalued banknotes to produce a work of art seems entirely appropriate. The extraordinary part is the process by which he transforms something devalued by economic standards, pulled from a specific moment in Mexico’s history, into something of artistic and conceptual worth. The entire process functions as a colossal metaphor for the visual arts in Mexico, where they are esteemed and held to a standard beyond the monetary. Máximo’s work is a reminder of history and crisis, and the ability to let those things converge into a statement of beauty.

In the States we are accustomed to defending what we do in the visual arts. We are used to funding loss and are never surprised when the government cuts art funds. The recent loss of the Texas Commission on the Arts was a massive blow to institutions and individuals across the board, not to mention the message it signals for the lack of regard held for visual arts in the state and country. Museums and visual arts professionals constantly try to re-conceive programs and exhibitions in order to expand viewership and audiences. We have witnessed the constant and consistent dwindling of art education in public schools over the past few decades. The culture surrounding visual arts in the United States relegates it to a level of frivolity. While it’s true we are not saving lives; it’s refreshing to live in Mexico, a country that regards the visual arts on strikingly different terms.

In Mexico, art is considered a source of national pride; and it is everywhere. Public sculptures and installations line major avenues of the city. Exhibitions are installed in subway stations. Entire families visit national museums every week for free on Sundays. Public schools send students to review exhibitions of contemporary art on a regular basis. People are eager to view, listen and learn no matter the medium or the time period, and visit institutions equally, from the contemporary to the latest international exhibition funded by the National Institute of Fine Arts.6 Visual arts are respected and revered as a source of intellectual capital that is worth more than monetary value. The mass support humbles and inspires, the energy of which is unavoidable.

Culture is a funny thing. It does not come without problems, nuances and complexities; it is not ideal or easy. Support for the arts, however, something is deeply embedded in Mexican history. This is reinforced constantly walking through the historical streets of downtown, wandering through the massive galleries of the Palace of Fine Arts, and reminiscing on the histories of artists who have made this city their home and creative mecca throughout the 20th century, artists including Máximo González. The visual arts contributes to the rumba through which the city moves and strengthens the heartbeat through which so many continue to be inspired.7

Leslie Moody Castro is an independent writer and curator living in Mexico City.

1 In Mexico City an open-air market is more commonly called a Tianguis. The Tianguis to which I refer sprawls around a large portion of the center and extends from one of Mexico City’s most notoriously dangerous neighborhoods called Tepito.
2 The Torre Latinoamericana served as the highest structure in Mexico City for a number of years until the Torre Mayor was built on Reforma Avenue across from the famous forest of Chapultepec. The Torre Mayor is also diagonally across from the Palace of Fine Arts.
3 France occupied Mexico for only three years, a defeat celebrated on May 5th in Mexico, a date commonly referred to in the United States as the “Mexican Independence Day.” However, Mexican Independence is actually celebrated on September 16th, the date Mexico defeated the Spanish and became an independent republic in 1810. May 5th is called the “Battle of Puebla,” named after the nearest city where Mexico physically defeated the French troops.
4 Hierba mate is a famous tea in South America and is especially popular in Argentina.
5 Máximo’s Changarrito first exhibited in 2005 at ARCO, the international art fair in Madrid. Since 2005 the Changarrito has garnered international success, has been exhibited in countries all over the world and has expanded to include books and publications by emerging authors. A smaller incarnation of the Changarrito was also taken to Austin as part of the Fusebox Festival in 2007. In 2008 it had a home at Co-Lab: A New Media Project Space, also in Austin, and has recently gained a new permanent home at Mexic-Arte Museum, also in Austin.
6 Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, or INBA.
7 To understand more of this rumba I suggest reading Down and Delirious in Mexico City recently by Daniel Hernandez published by Scribner in February 2011.


The Spectacular of Vernacular
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Through September 18

By Rachel Hooper

Dario Robleto, Demonstrations of Sailor’s Valentines, 2009, cut paper, various seashells, colored wax, cartes de visites, silk, ribbon, foam core, glue, 59 x 52 x 6 in. (149.9 x 132.1 x 15.2 cm.). Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Purchased with funds from the Ellen Pray Maytag Madsen Sculpture Acquisition Fund, 2009.75.

The artworks in The Spectacular of Vernacular are exceptionally beautiful and engaging, created by a variety of important contemporary artists who take their inspiration from the "vernacular," which is defined as regional, folkloric, or homemade. Yet despite a fabulous checklist, the exhibition feels awkward. The theme alone is not enough to make the exhibition click, and it's hard to put your finger on exactly why. Perhaps it is because there are more contrasts than connections in the juxtapositions of artworks, or because the vernacular aspects of the works feel like they are fighting against the institutional feel of the tall, white galleries they have been asked to inhabit. If the handmade, folk-inspired elements of the artworks were to blend in with their surroundings more, say if they were installed in a more domestic setting, then the magnificent inventions of the artists' imaginations would be what stand out. What makes these artworks "spectacular" is not the vernacular art forms that inspired them, but the idiosyncratic, inventive approaches the artists take toward that inspiration. The catalog for the exhibition makes this distinction clear, but a more compelling visual argument needed to be made in the gallery.

Nonetheless, the quality of the work in the exhibition is very high, and due to the familiar nature of the vernacular, everyone is sure to find something in the gallery to which they connect. A popular favorite is Chris Larson's Deep North (2008), a video showing a surreal shotgun house coated in ice, working as some sort of absurd machine. The cold temperature in the video with ice cracking and characters' breath condensing in the air is entrancing. Some other personal favorites are Matthew Day Jackson's trippy aerial view of the Jonestown compound (famous for its cyanide-laced kool-aid) rendered in Formica and brightly colored yarn; Dario Robleto's tender The Minor Chords Are Ours (2010), a three-tiered stand of vintage mason jars collecting wooden spools of stretched audio tape recording all of the minor chords from a family's 60-year record collection; Butt Johnson's gorgeous, intricate drawings in ballpoint pen; and the mother of us all Ree Morton's banner-like relief Of Previous Dissipations (1974).

It is unfortunate that The Spectacular of the Vernacular, on tour from the Walker Art Center, does not use the space as well as past CAMH-originated exhibitions with similar themes. In fact, this is the fifth summer in a row that the museum has presented a group exhibition related to the idea of the vernacular. Last year was Hand + Made: The Performative Impulse in Art and Craft and before that was No Zoning: Artists Engage Houston (2009), The Old, Weird America (2008), and Nexus Texas (2007). With this series, CAMH has shown itself to be an important advocate for artists who skillfully make objects by hand, engage with the material culture of their surrounding sand live in our region. The CAMH's stance is especially significant in an art world where "regional," "local," and "craft" often have negative connotations. They have raised my standards for such exhibitions, which I expect to not only have great artwork but also present a new way of looking at that work. Unfortunately, The Spectacular of Vernacular suffers by comparison.

Rachel Hooper is a PhD student in art history at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Shannon Ebner
LAX Art & Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
Through October 9 & 14

By Catherine Wagley

Shannon Ebner, and, per se and, 2011. Courtesy of the artist and LAX Art. Photo Credit: Michael Parker.

In 1931, Eric Gill, the artist and designer behind the Gill Sans-serif font, wrote an “An Essay on Typography,” a book-length reflection on the history of lettering and the gaps between typographic traditions and actual communication. “We need a system in which there is a real correspondence between speech, that is to say the sounds of language, & the means of communication,” he wrote, advocating shorthand, wider use of contractions and the freeing of the “ampersand (&)” from the confines of business titles. He uses “&” liberally throughout his essay, but uses “and” just as often. Sometimes, symbols work better than words, and typography should adapt to its context; to fall back on formula is laziness. “Gill panders to no one,” wrote designer Paul Rand, in a 1989 review of Gill’s then reprinted book. Rand titled his review, “The Case for the Ampersand.”

Los Angeles artist Shannon Ebner has made her own case for the ampersand, presenting it as a bridge between the physical and cerebral in her current multi-venue exhibition. She has installed an 8-foot tall sandwich board ampersand across from an AM/PM in an empty lot on the Southeast corner of Washington and Centinela, along a rougher stretch of Culver City West. The sculpture appears particularly diminutive on that corner, where everything, from fences to street lamps, dwarfs it. That said, it also appears stoic, standing alone amidst a wide-open expanse of dirt.

Ebner, cleverly, titled this temporary installation and, per se and. Phonetically, it’s almost right but it’s also a play on conjunctions and Latin abbreviations that, taken literally, means “and, in itself is and.” Take Ebner literally, however, and you’ll do her work a disservice, though, at times, she all but forces you to do her that very disservice.

Along with the 8-foot sculpture in Culver West, Ebner had a group of photographs on view at LAX Art in Culver City though August 27, photographs at the Venice Biennale, and a body of work on view at the UCLA Hammer Museum in Westwood until October 9. Shot in uniform black and white, the photographs document words and notations that Ebner has either built or found. At the Hammer, the words “Comma,” “Pause” and “Delay” are spelled out in cinder blocks, each letter photographed on its own. Other photographs show sometimes-illegible notations in sticks and spray paint. The “X” scrawled across a banged up police car door has a melancholic ominousness to it and looks like the symbolic sort of injustice that would have sent The Wire’s Jimmy McNulty into a transcendent rage.

But the photographs are too tempting to “read.” They’re vertical, they can be viewed from left to right, and they’re coloring is as neutral as a page of text. Interruptions, like the asterisk Ebner has put in place of the “o” in “comma,” are too minor to waylay you for long. That’s why, if Ebner’s goal is to challenge the predetermined ways in which language and images are presented, and, per se and works so well. It’s impossible to straightforwardly read the single symbol, especially since it stands comically alone along an urban thoroughfare. Mostly, it feels like a question (“And?”), a conjunction trying to figure out what it’s supposed to be conjoining: nothing in particular or everything around it in an attempt to fill empty space with meaning?

Catherine Wagley regularly contributes to the LA Weekly and is a columnist for the Art21 Blog and Dailyserving.com.

Harun Farocki
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Through January 2, 2012

By Sarah Demeuse

Harun Farocki, Still from Inextinguishable Fire. 1969, 16mm film transferred to video (black and white, sound), 25 min. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Given anonymously in honor of Anna Marie Shapiro. © 2011 Harun Farocki.
Courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali, New York.

How serious can you really get in a summer sharing the bill with Corey Arcangel’s game projections at the Whitney and Ryan Trecartin’s over-the-top role-playing videos at PS1? Images of War (at a Distance) bring us more of what we see on a daily basis from the comfort of our homes: soldiers in combat, utilizing specialized technology in an abstract Afghani or Iraqi landscape. This time around many of the backdrops and combatants are computer animations, role-players in a town resembling a film-set. All play serious games.

Placed somewhat anachronistically in MoMA’s Project Gallery, this exhibition brings together the German filmmaker’s latest video installation project, Serious Games I-IV (2010), and two earlier video installations, I Thought I Was Seeing Convicts (2000) and Eye Machine I-III (2001-2003). These older pieces highlight the overall concerns of Farocki’s practice—the impersonal execution of power and the complicit development of optical technology and the war machinery and exemplify his staple language: two-channel projection, use of inter-titles and voice over.

Serious Games features two hanging projection screens, showcasing images on both sides. On the first, a split projection shows US Marines at a training facility, seated as if in a language lab, though instead of grammar, they acquire combat techniques. On the other half of this projection we see the soldiers’ computer screens—a tank moving through a mountainous landscape. In this juxtaposition the real soldier and his team are absorbed into the bomb-speckled virtual landscape. On the backside of this screen, a single channel projection shows real life role-players at Twentynine Palms, a training site in California. Eventually, this town morphs into an animated image, making the viewer fall back into the simulated computer world depicted on the other side of the screen.

This confusion between virtual and real, and between before and after, increases in the two other parts of the installation featured on the second projection screen. In III: Immersion, a salesman demonstrates a visor used for Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy. In the image next to him, a man uses the visor, guided by a therapist. Unable to hear the muted words of therapist and patient, viewers don’t know whether they are still in demo-land or witnessing an actual session. IV: A Sun With no Shadow functions as Farocki’s own platform. Here, using inter-titles and images culled from the preceding three parts, the filmmaker leaves little doubt as to how to interpret the images, suggesting that the training technology is more elaborate and expensive than the one developed for PTSD therapies. His words hone in, somewhat redundantly, on the development of technology and the priority of exerting power over attending to the individual psyche.

But perhaps the inter-titles and analytic messages are indispensable in this particular installation. Farocki’s walk-through work, using the sound effects of computer animations, may have switched off certain filters instead of increasing our self-awareness. It is, after all, second nature to many of us to immerse ourselves in darkened galleries letting ourselves be swept over by sound and simultaneous colorful projections. I’d hardly ever seen so many teenage boys in a gallery space—making me infer the games of war rather than their seriousness caught on. In comparison to Farocki the critic seeking after self-reflexivity, they analyzed the images as familiarized players and immersed themselves in the installation as peers of the soldiers fully engaged in the virtual environment of simulated landscapes and special sound effects.

Sarah Demeuse reads, translates, edits, writes, and makes exhibitions. Together with Manuela Moscoso she founded rivet, a curatorial office that currently focuses on object-oriented approaches in philosophy and contemporary art.

Venice Biennale
La Biennale di Venezia
Through November 27

By Dana Friis-Hansen

Thomas Hirschhorn, Crystal of Resistance, 2011, Installation View: Swiss Pavilion, 54th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. Photo: Francesco Galli. Courtesy: la Biennale di Venezia.

Since the Middle Ages, the Repubblica di Venezia has been a departure point—and destination—for transcultural mixing, since 1895 the Biennale di Venezia, too, has been a gathering point for global art tourists. And so it was again this year, from early June through November 27, with 83 artists from all over the world in 89 National Participations and 37 Official Collateral. Throughout my six days looking at art, the most interesting thread to surface explored the tensions between nationalism and individuality. To my eye, this year’s presentation was underwhelming, and the thematic exhibition Illumi-nazioni, organized by Bice Curiger, was a conceptual and visual train wreck, but there is so much to look at that I had no trouble finding powerful experiences to think about.

A para-pavilion of Paradiso di Navin was nestled within the Paradiso café just outside the gates of the Giardini. This official Thai presentation was “the inaugural convening point to endorse global recognition for Navinland” by the sly Duchampian Navin Rawanchaikul, a half Indian, half Thai 40-year old who divides his time between his hometown Chang Mai and Fukuoka, Japan. Intercutting pseudo-nationalism with a celebration of the brotherhood of Navins worldwide, he harnessed a variety of nationalistic and propagandistic languages to make a refreshing referendum on political power.

Within the park boundaries, raucous noise would resound several times a day as an Olympic runner was about to start a futile dash on an ever-looping treads of a huge, overturned army tank. The hired guns invited to represent the United States, young Puerto Rican duo Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, underscored the frustration of America’s seemingly stalled efforts in a string of Middle East wars. Inside the Monticello-like Pavilion, the artists presented hardwood tromp l’oeil sculptures of First Class American Airlines and Delta sleeper seats. I was lucky enough to catch the performative element choreographed for these objects, a ten-minute acrobatic routine performed by our nation’s Olympic athletes. This dry transformation of modern American power objects, and their use as a stage for the athletic display of our nation’s finest specimen, fell short of a coherent statement. More powerful, and equally athletic, was the 5-screen video panorama by Ahmed Basiony, presented in the Egyptian Pavilion. Segments documenting his performance 30 Days of Running in The Space, were intercut with footage, shot daily on his camera-phone. This footage, spanning four months of political protests in Cairo, leads up to the day he himself was killed in Tahir Square, never to know the fruits of his generation’s resistance. It was a complicated juxtaposition, but one which stood firm with less winking irony found in other national presentations.

At the Swiss Pavilion, the anti-nationalistic wraparound playground, Crystal of Resistance, by Thomas Hirschhorn went too far. One might wonder, “Why would the Swiss Government sanction that chaotic tangle of tin foil-lined pathways and displays of broken mannequins, political propaganda, and pornography?” Perhaps it’s because Hirschhorn’s anarchistic tangles are always fun, but another answer might be found across the way in the Danish Pavilion, which abandoned its single-country status for a fascinating group show entitled Speech Matters underscoring the importance of freedom of expression. If Thomas Hirschhorn did not exist, would the Swiss or the Danes invent him?

At this Biennale the only art that really stuck with me celebrated the disengagement from social issues rather than engaging viewers with the matters of our complicated world. It was a great year for abstract experiences surrounding themes of time and timelessness, the visible and invisible, light and dark. In the cavernous corridors of the Arsenale, highlights included a spectacular multi-chamber James Turell ganzfield environment, Christian Marclay’s 24-hour film, The Clock and India’s representative Gigi Scaria’s intimate wraparound video, Elevator from the Subcontinent, that provided— though visual stimuli—the visceral thrill of a lift to nowhere.

In the end, the exhibition which left me inspired was entitled TRA: Edge of Becoming at the Museo Fortuny. Hundreds of richly powerful objects—artistic, decorative, spiritual, or functional—by artists’ known and unknown, historic and contemporary were brilliantly installed throughout the rambling pallazo. It was a refuge from the cacophony and calculated propositions of so much of the 2011 Venice Biennale experience, allowing the eye to caress and the mind to wander into deeper waters. In past Biennales, there have been pavilions or exhibitions which have addressed the issues of the day with power and authority—Jenny Holzer, Hans Haacke, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, CAI Guo-Qiang come to mind—as examples where the politics were personal and universal...and didn't try too hard. This year, the most authentic work was deceptively delicate, even evasive. I know that this will ebb and flow, and again the balance—and the best art—will tip back towards an art of engagement.

Dana Friis-Hansen, recently appointed Director and CEO of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, has worked internationally as a contemporary art curator and art historian.

project space

Will Rogan - Vedaland plans (so far)

Will Rogan (b. 1975) lives and works in Albany, CA. His practice reflects the poignant, ironic, disastrous and beautiful in the urban and domestic landscapes around him. Rogan uses this material for artistic interventions in the form of photography, video and sculpture, which often highlight the profound and analytical in everyday life. Taking a playful stance on mundane situations and structures, Rogan's work merges the critical with the poetic.

Will Rogan has an extensive exhibition history, including shows at the Berkeley Art Museum, SFMOMA, the Oakland Museum, the California Biennial, Mercer Union, Toronto, ON, BE-PART Platform voor actuele kunst, Waregem, Belgium, Laurel Gitlen, NY, Misako and Rosen and the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Jack Hanley Gallery, the Lab and Southern Exposure in San Francisco, and Gasworks Gallery, London. In 2002, he was the recipient of SFMOMA’s SECA award. He is also the co-editor and founder of the quarterly journal of editions, The Thing.

mbgETC: Kurt Mueller

#Remember (#mbgETCRemember), 2011, is an experiment using Twitter to (re)issue calls to remember. Historic battle cries, popular slogans and familiar quotations are echoed via daily tweets, with hypertext addenda offering reading and resonance beyond each soundbite. #Remember considers the ways calls to respect become calls to revenge, effects become causes or causes célèbres and beget further effects, and memories, via repetition, are stimulated while risking banality. Viewers and followers are encouraged to contribute via tweeting #mbgETCRemember.

Kurt Mueller is an artist, critic and curator. He has exhibited his work at Artpace San Antonio (2011), the Austin Museum of Art (2008) and Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin (2006). The former Interim Editor of Art Lies, he has written extensively about contemporary art throughout the state of Texas and beyond, authoring criticism for Art Asia Pacific, Art Papers, Flash Art, Frieze and Artforum.com. He has contributed to exhibition catalogues at the Princeton University Art Museum and the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin. Mueller has curated exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Inman Gallery, Houston. He earned an M.F.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2008. From 2008-2010 he was a critical studies resident at the Core Program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

An extension of might be good’s project space, @mbgETC, provides artists with a chance to engage with Twitter as an online platform for intervention and experimentation. Participants are given a month for the realization of their projects and can be followed online at Twitter.com/mbcETC or in the feed located within each issues table of contents.

Announcements: news

Austin News

Arthouse Executive Director Steps Down, Named to New Position of Director Emeritus

AUSTIN, TX ­ August 30, 2011 ­ After more than twelve years at the helm, Sue Graze will step down as Executive Director of Arthouse at the Jones Center and will assume a new position as the arts organization’s Director Emeritus. The Arthouse Board of Directors is pursuing a range of options to select a successor. Graze will end her term as executive director on October 14 and work closely with the board and staff to ensure a smooth transition.

“We are extraordinarily grateful for Sue’s service,” said Arthouse Board President Melba Whatley. “Sue has led us through a time of tremendous growth and we appreciate the work she’s put in over many years to make Arthouse a dynamic and important voice in contemporary art.”

Graze has been the Arthouse Executive Director since 1999 and during her tenure, she oversaw the adoption of two major strategic plans, a name change from Texas Fine Arts Association to Arthouse, the organization and presentation of internationally recognized exhibitions and programs, and an award-winning renovation and expansion of Arthouse’s building at 700 Congress Avenue.

“I’ve worked closely with Sue since her first day as our Executive Director,” said Arthouse Board Member Stephen Jones. “She’s been a visionary leader and not only has she had a profound impact on our organization, she has strengthened Austin’s national reputation as a city for the visual arts.”

“It’s been my plan to build the organization and leave my successor the opportunity to take Arthouse to the next level,” Graze said. “This anniversary of our public opening is what I’ve always had in mind and it’s the right time for this transition.”

Prior to her time at Arthouse, Graze was Assistant Director for Programs and Senior Curator at the Miami Art Museum and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. Going forward she will remain connected to Arthouse and continue her work in the contemporary art world. The director emeritus position reflects the board’s gratitude for Graze’s years of service and reflects the impact she has had on the organization, and still can have in a new, more advisory role.

“I’m looking forward to my new role as Director Emeritus,” Graze said. “This position is a luxury we don’t often get in our careers and it will provide me the opportunity to work on projects of my own choosing, large and small, with Arthouse and other institutions. It is an exciting new phase in my career.”

About Arthouse

Arthouse creates meaningful opportunities to investigate and experience the art of our time through exhibitions, programs and commissions of new work. Arthouse exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public.

Arthouse at the Jones Center is located at 700 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701.

For more information about Arthouse, please visit arthousetexas.org or contact radams@arthousetexas.org, 512 453-5312.

(From the press release.)

Houston News

DiverseWorks Announces Leadership Changes

(Houston, TX, August 30, 2011) – The Board of Directors of DiverseWorks ArtSpace announces the departure of Co-Executive Director and Visual Arts Curator Dianne Barber on Friday, September 30 and, effective immediately, the appointment of artist and board member William Betts as Interim Executive Director.

Barber leaves the DiverseWorks staff after 14 years to pursue independent curatorial projects. She will continue to curate periodic visual arts projects for DiverseWorks, including the upcoming State Fair exhibit that opens on September 9. Barber, a dynamic and innovative visual arts curator, has also served as the Board President of the National Association of Artist’s Organizations. She has curated more than 60 projects during her tenure at DiverseWorks. Barber placed particular emphasis on commissioning new works and site-specific installations and developed programs with both cultural and political undertones.

With Barber’s departure, DiverseWorks will restructure its leadership. Artist William Betts will serve as Interim Executive Director and Sixto Wagan, the former Co-Executive Director/ Performing Arts Curator has been appointed Artistic Director. “DiverseWorks is a vital part of the Houston cultural landscape and an important resource for artists. As work becomes increasingly collaborative and the lines between creative disciplines have all but vanished, the organization must continue to evolve and challenge expectations. I am honored to have been asked by the board to assume this role and I look forward to working closely with Sixto, the board, the staff and all DiverseWorks stakeholders to stabilize, focus and grow the organization in this challenging environment.” Betts stated.

In 2006, Lawndale Art Center engaged Betts in a similar interim Executive Director role. Betts implemented the artist residency program, assisted Lawndale Arts Center in their first successful National Endowment for the Arts and Warhol Foundation grants, and coordinated the search for a permanent Executive Director.

“The staff and I are looking forward to working with William during this transition,” stated Wagan. “We are excited to re-define how an art space serves artists and audiences in a time when contemporary artists consistently blur the boundaries between visual and performing arts. Beyond the Internet and social media’s effect on how and who is making art, the new economic climate fundamentally changes how artists are making work. Through this transition, we hope to bring DiverseWorks to a place where we are proactively responding to these shifts, helping our audiences navigate them and strengthening DiverseWorks’ infrastructure to support artists.”

Betts will be overseeing the administrative and development functions and work closely with the Board of Directors. Wagan will oversee artistic programming, work with guest curators, DiverseWorks staff and the Artist Board. They begin their tenure effective today.

A reception celebrating Barber for her years of service and welcoming Betts is scheduled in September. All members of the Houston arts community, current and past DiverseWorks’ staff and board members will be invited to attend this event.

Media Contacts:
-Shawna Forney, Public Relations & Marketing Manager, Shawna@diversewoorks.org, 713-223-8346
-Sixto Wagan, Artistic Director, Sixto@diverseworks.org, 713-223-8346

(From the press release.)

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

Liz Penniman & Becky Joye
Gallery Black Lagoon
Opening Reception: Friday, September 9, 7-10pm

Two Solo Exhibitions featuring Liz Penniman & Becky Joy.

Deborah Stratman and Michael Aragon
Tiny Park
Opening reception: September 9, 7-11pm

Deborah will present an installation based on an ongoing project entitled FEAR, wherein visitors will be invited to enter a closed room and privately call a toll-free number and talk about their deepest personal fears. Calls to the 800 number, which has been operational since 2004, are recorded and will be catalogued and searchable once the line closes in 2014, after ten years of operation. Miguel will present works from a series that addresses, with a quiet and ghostly beauty, the violent drug war in Juarez.

The Anxiety of Photography
Arthouse & Austin Museum of Art
Opening reception: September 10

Many of the works in The Anxiety of Photography reflect on the changing nature of our relationship to the materiality of images, as artists produce photographic prints from hand-painted negatives, violently collide framed pictures, arrange photographs and objects in uncanny still lives, or otherwise destabilize the photographic object. “They use the confusion that photographs can produce to create a more careful state of looking, a more open dive into pictures.”

Mostly 2 +
Domy Books
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 17, 7-9pm

Tim Kerr, Jim Houser, Merrilee Challiss, Chrissy Piper and maybe, just maybe, Dan Higgs.

Storied Pasts
Blanton Museum of Art
Opening reception: September 18

Organized by The Blanton, Storied Past explores the expressive and technical range of French drawing through preliminary sketches, compositional studies, figure studies, and finished drawings from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. Drawn primarily from the museum's renowned Suida-Manning Collection, the exhibition includes works by Jacques Callot, François Boucher, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Théodore Rousseau, Jean-Louis Forain, and Théophile Alexandre Steinlen.

El Anatsui
Blanton Museum of Art
Opening September 25

The Blanton is the only southwest venue to present the first career-retrospective for internationally acclaimed artist El Anatsui. Organized by the Museum for African Art in New York City, the exhibition spans four decades and includes approximately 60 works of different mediums drawn from both public and private collections.

Dameon Lester, Jessica McCambly and L. Renee Nunez
grayduck Gallery
Opening reception: September 30, 7-9pm

Pattern Plan showcases artists Dameon Lester, Jessica McCambly, and L. Renee Nunez as they explore humankind's relationship with nature. Using repetition, negative space, and movement, these mixed media artists speak to both our detachment and captivation with the world around us.

Art Across the Americas
Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection Library of University of Texas at Austin
Opening reception: October 1, 6-9pm

Some of the Peruvian artists in this year's Austin exhibition will include Nelly Mayhua Mendoza, Doris Guiterrez, Emma Alcarraz Guia, Yolanda Velásquez Reinoso, Joe Marquez, Elsa Pulgar-Vidal, Cristina Duenas Pachas, and Del Nino Ladron. Nelly Mayhua Mendoza will be traveling from Peru to attend the reception. Felix Sampaio, a sculptor from Brazil will also be exhibiting and visiting Austin. Some of the local Austin artists include Catherine Small, Bill Oakey, Leslie Kell, Patricia Lyle, Paul McGuire, Dixie Rhoades, Connie Schaertl, Barbara Timko, Beverly Adams, John Bielss, Karen Burges, Beverly Cobb, Jill Alo, Lloyd Cuninngham, Tita Griesbach, Betty Jameson, Alonso Rey-Sanchez, and Marla Ripperda. Work by Marisa Boullosa, from Mexico, will also be exhibited.

Austin on View

Xochi Solis
Through September 30

Xochi Solis uses found imagery, house paint, vinyl, plastics and wood to create both small studies and large scale site-specific paintings, characterized by repeated and irregular ellipses and gestural paint strokes. Her repetition of shapes become like a mantra, employed to create a meditative state for the artist and her audience. Though hyperbolic and rarely uttered outside the scope of romantic pop lyrics, Solis’ titles—including All the Clouds Turn to Words—are themselves repeated stanzas, much like the abstract and polychromatic shapes that occur and reoccur in Solis’ small and large-scale paintings. For Solis, shape, color and lyric build into a meditation on feeling and a contemplation of the reoccurring notions of desire, disappointment and anxiety that occur in daily life.

Wild Beasts
Through October 8

Champion is pleased to announce a group exhibition of painting and video entitled Wild Beasts, featuring Ryan Schneider, Daniel Heidkamp, Shara Hughes, Joshua Abelow, and Ezra Johnson. Wild Beasts is the English translation of Les Fauves, a 20th-century movement of painters—including Henri Matisse—known for the use of untamed color and gestural, abstracted brushstrokes applied to portraits and landscapes.

Koki Tanaka
Through October 16

Koki Tanaka's work contemplates the seemingly mundane range of choices and outcomes involved in the everyday. Examining objects and the connections they have with society, the world of art, and each other, Tanaka's work finds moments of beauty and interactivity in a landscape that seems otherwise devoid of interaction. Tanaka's piece Buckets and Balls uses combinations of ordinary objects to explore the concept of the 'decisive moment,' that instant between success and failure, popularized in the early 1950s by the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. The banality of the props - ladders, chairs, wooden planks - and the repetitive nature of the actions being staged - a yellow ball continuously tossed at a blue bucket - somehow converge in a narrative of suspense, excitement, and relief.

Cao Fei
Through October 30

Beijing-based artist Cao Fei's practice is based in video, photography, performance, installation, and internet-based art. She explores Chinese popular culture, while focusing on youth subcultures. Shadow Life, Cao's most recent video, is an adaptation of traditional Chinese shadow puppetry. Puppeteers typically created the shadow puppets by manipulating small, two-dimensional figures cut from paper or leather behind a silk screen with rear illumination. During the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279 CE), performances known as "large shadow shows" featured actors hidden behind the screen instead of puppets. The intricate hand puppets animating Shadow Life merge these traditional art forms to tell a distinctly contemporary story of modern China.

Sarah Buckius
Through November 6

Sarah Buckius' work combines aspects of photography, video, performance, and installation, employing her body to express and explore tension, anxiety, pattern, and interpersonal relationships. Her work often uses technology to transform the solitary moving body into something infinite and remote. Buckius' video trapped inside pixels transforms the artist's moving body into a collage of innumerable animated permutations. By digitally manipulating her image and tiling herself over and over again on the screen, Buckius converts her movements into a kaleidoscope of patterns-a single moving piece part of something much larger than herself, but with no apparent progression or move toward meaning. Her actions are sharp, jerky, and robotic-creating a feeling of unease and conveying how it may feel to be reduced to being a piece of an infinite, flat, digital landscape.

Austin Closings

Cynthia Camlin, Joey Fauerso, Jana Swec & Shea Little, Owen McAuley
D Berman Gallery
Through September 3

Working on paper allows a freedom in the gesture that might not be possible in another medium; it permits freshness and immediacy, even an intimacy. D Berman Gallery is pleased to present five artists who work on paper with different media and to very different effects. Cynthia Camlin and Joey Fauerso both use watermedia, quite differently, both with exquisite control, to examine the natural world. Owen McAuley’s dark Conte crayon drawings often depict imagined contemporary noir scenes. Jana Swec and Shea Little collaborate on drawings in which Swec’s organic gouache-painted forms contrast with Little’s finely detailed graphite renderings of mechanical devices.

Summer Show 2011
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Through September 3

Summer Show 2011 features works by acclaimed artists Noriko Ambe, Conrad Bakker, Tony Feher, Francesca Gabbiani, Ewan Gibbs, Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler, Mads Lynnerup, Roy McMakin, Tom Molloy, Cordy Ryman, and Jim Torok.

Stanford Kay & Sarah Ferguson
Wally Workman Gallery
Through September 3

Artists Stanford Kay and Sarah Ferguson both address abstraction in their work in an unseemingly similar way.

About Face: Portraiture as Subject
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.

Jennifer Remenchik
Red Space Gallery
Through September 10

Goal explores stories of glory and disappointment in athletics. Jennifer Remenchik presents works in various media that play with the notion of the athlete’s body as a scene of drama and investigates how sports’ narratives relate to the values of our everyday lives.

Herman Miller
Austin Museum of Art
Through September 11

Good Design: Stories by Herman Miller explores the collaborative problem-solving design process employed at the world-renowned and West Michigan-based furniture company, Herman Miller, Inc. This exhibit uses drawings, models, prototypes, photographs, oral histories, and original designed objects to showcase the creation and evolution of many masterpieces of 20th and 21st century design by such artists as Gilbert Rohde, Ray & Charles Eames, George Nelson, Alexander Girard, Robert Propst, Steve Frykholm, Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick, and others.

Rino Pizzi
Austin Museum of Art
Through September 11

The Mona Lisa Project is a visual art collaborative project which includes elements of performance, historical reflection and cultural commentary on art and the historical imagery of gender perception. It is based on an exchange between photographer Rino Pizzi and 16 women artists who specialize in different media and disciplines. The project involves the development of a series of works inspired by the image and cultural relevance of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa portrait, focusing primarily on the subject’s celebrated smile.

YLA: Thought Cloud
Mexic-Arte Museum
Through September 15

YLA 16: Thought Cloud shows the work of 10 Texas artists, all under the age of 35 telling stories about the human condition in the 21st century. Artists interpret real world circumstances and invent new realities through photography, video, sculpture, painting, and installation. The exhibition will be presented under five narrative-inspired themes-Romance, Crime, Autobiography, Mythology, and Labor-allowing each artist to weave tales of fictional love, political conflict, gentrification, alternative worlds and more in their work.From this idea of story emerges the thought cloud: a place where people, thoughts, and connectivity come together for only a brief amount of time.

San Antonio Openings

Felipe Dulzaides
Sala Diaz
Opening Reception: Friday, September 2, 7-11pm

About ten years ago Felipe Dulzaides started making videos as a peripheral activity, an experiment neither as visible nor as tangible as the installations he typically makes for gallery spaces and public sites. Video and performance, however, has always played a key role in his work, and exhibiting his videos together as they are at Sala Diaz shows how Dulzaides has managed to accomplish the difficult task of inserting himself as a fully embodied subject into a global circuit of objects and environments.

Tess Martinez
REM Gallery
Opening Reception: Friday, September 9, 6-9pm

From the artist: These images define multifaceted relationships between angles, frames, and spaces. Two or three contiguous frames on a single roll of film compose a single picture. Each frame is defined by a black line which eliminates, disguises, or utilizes the order of exposure to fuse the frames together. It is essential for me to stay aware of how one frame will affect the next before I click the shutter.

San Antonio on View

Nene Humphrey
McNay Art Museum
Through October 2

Humphrey moved from exploring the external human form to the internal, investigating the visual and emotional connections between images and the deep cellular workings of the human brain. Humphrey’s interest in the LeDoux Lab’s research led to investigations of pattern making in its many visual and cultural forms. Through her research she encountered Victorian mourning braiding—the practice of braiding hair in specific patterns, as a way to honor loved ones. She began to see a visual connection between the strands of neurological data that dictate primitive human emotions and the braiding. These handcrafted mourning braids are not only complex and beautiful but often appear similar to scientific patterns such as the DNA helix form and chromatin in the cell nucleus.

Chuck Ramirez
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
Through November 6

Chuck Ramirez was an artist and designer who lived and worked in San Antonio, Texas. Ramirez, who died unexpectedly in November 2010, left a void in the contemporary art world, but also a legacy of artwork with an aesthetic both Minimal and Baroque. His large-scale photographic portraits and installations of banal objects are humorous, yet poignant, metaphors for the transient nature of consumer culture and the frailty of life.

Paul Jacoulet
San Antonio Museum of Art
Through November 6

Paul Jacoulet was the first foreigner to master printmaking in the Japanese tradition. The artist was born in France but spent most of his life in Japan. Eight Jacoulet prints showing scenes of Oceania comprise the first print rotation in the Asian Art Special Exhibitions Gallery, followed by eight prints depicting Korea.

San Antonio Closings

Tracey Moffatt
Through September 11

For the first time, Artpace presents a comprehensive survey of New York-based Australian artist Tracey Moffatt's thematic videos, created between 1999 and 2010. The seven shorts-utilizing pre-existing television and film footage to reconstruct new narratives-are ironic commentaries on Hollywood stereotypes such as love, race, and motherhood. During her 1995 residency, Moffatt produced a series of photographs inspired by the female stars of roller derby popularized on 1970s American television. The dream-like magenta images emphasized the theatricality and violence of the sport, creating an alternative vision of feminine beauty.

George Nelsen
McNay Art Museum
Through September 11

Next time you settle down in your family room, remember to thank George Nelson (1908–1986). When Nelson coauthored the book Tomorrow’s House in 1945, he described the now familiar family gathering spot, as well as a “storage wall,” solving specific design challenges for modern residences. George Nelson: Architect, Writer, Designer, Teacher celebrates this iconic American designer whose ideas yielded numerous classics in American furniture and interior design.

Wimberly Openings

Adrienne Butler, Jeffrey Dell, Yuko Fukuzumi, and Clifton Riley
D Berman Gallery
Opening Reception: September 10, 5-7pm

D Berman Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of prints and drawings on paper by four artists: D Berman veteran Jeffrey Dell, and three of Dell's former students from Texas State University - Adrienne Butler, Yuko Fukuzumi, and Clifton Riley, each of whom has a promising career in artmaking.

Houston Openings

Seth Alverson
Art Palace
Opening Reception: September 9, 6-8pm

Seth Alverson received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Houston, in 2002 and his Master of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010. This will be Alverson’s third solo exhibition with Art Palace.

Helen Altman
Moody Gallery
Opening September 10, Reception: Saturday, September 17, 6-8pm

Moody Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition Half-Life, an exhibition of work by Helen Altman. This exhibition follows the exhibition Floater that was on view at Moody Gallery in 2007. The work featured in Half-Life includes a wall installation of torch drawings, tree paintings in acrylic on paper, moving blankets, and burnt dictionary pages that illustrate an array of animals.

Houston on View

The Spectacular of Vernacular
Contemporary Art Museum of Houston
Through September 18

In an era of virtual neighborhoods and fast-paced Internet communication, The Spectacular of Vernacular addresses the role of vernacular forms in the work of 27 artists who utilize craft, incorporate folklore, and revel in roadside kitsch to explore the role of culturally specific iconography in the increasingly global world of art. Originally employed as a linguistics term, vernacular is now broadly applied to categories of culture, standing in for “regional,” “folkloric,” or “homemade”—concepts that contemporary artists have investigated since the late 1950s as part of a deeper consideration of the relationship between art and everyday life. For the artists included in the exhibition, aspects of the vernacular—and often specifically American vernacular—provide a platform for narratives of home life, social ritual, and sense of place. Drawing inspiration from such sources as local architecture, amateur photographs, and state fair banners, their work runs the aesthetic spectrum from sleek to handcrafted, underscoring the diverse manifestations of the vernacular within our lived environment and its impact on artists working today.

Joel Hernandez
Lawndale Art Center
Through September 24

Joel Hernandez’s work deals with his memories of Mexico and its people in a theatric way. Hernandez moved from Mexico when he was nine years old and grew up learning about Mexican culture through word of mouth or Spanish television. Hernandez recreates Mexican and Mexican-American culture and people in his work in a staged way in order to recreate his idea of what Mexico is and was.

Jeremy DePrez & Francis Giampietro
Lawndale Art Center
Through September 24

The Power of Negative Feedback is a collection of work developed by Jeremy DePrez and Francis Giampietro in response to their experiences at a recent 2-week residency in Nagoya, Japan through the Temporary Space. Negative Feedback is a concept that exists in various biological and physical systems to reverse discrepancies between desired and actual outputs. With this concept in mind DePrez and Giampietro visually negotiate the interplay between their anticipated and actual experiences in Japan.

Jeff Forster
Lawndale Art Center
Through September 24

Just as historical objects and ruins make evident the extinction of pre-existing cultures, Jeff Forster creates objects and spaces that reflect the remains or residue that our culture might leave behind. For the exhibition Detritus Forster juxtaposes archaic, rudimentary forms with modern shapes to create post-apocalyptic debris. Through the use of re-claimed building materials and concrete Forster makes a direct reference to structures we build and what remains of them once their abandoned. By then skinning these forms with clay combined with local vegetation the artist hopes to make evident the inevitable process of entropy, or natural process of reclamation. As time progresses and the natural materials decay, previously unseen parts of structures will be revealed, much like the unearthing of some forgotten ruin in an archeological dig yet to happen.

Mark Ponder
Lawndale Art Center
Through September 24

Mark Ponder explores an unsatisfactory use of celebration to cope with death in contemporary funeral rituals. Inspired by commemorations for the passed life and the afterlife, A Time to Celebrate strives to brighten our encounter with death at the expense of a serious contemplation for it. The sculptural installation will operate on the surface as an extravagant birthday party to heighten a tension between reverence and whimsy. Ponder's use of cheap party decor and text highlights the absurdity of memorial services in a pastiche of happiness, insight, peace, humor, and, of course, dead bodies.

Lawndale Art Center
Through September 24

The Power of Negative Feedback is a collection of work developed by Jeremy DePrez and Francis Giampietro in response to their experiences at a recent 2-week residency in Nagoya, Japan through the Temporary Space. Negative Feedback is a concept that exists in various biological and physical systems to reverse discrepancies between desired and actual outputs. With this concept in mind DePrez and Giampietro visually negotiate the interplay between their anticipated and actual experiences in Japan.

Edmund Carpenter and Adelaide de Menil
The Menil
Through September 25

This exhibition presents a selection of work from an extraordinary gift to the Menil Collection by Adelaide de Menil and Edmund Carpenter: 230 civil rights-era photographs. The work, by Dan Budnik, Danny Lyon, Bruce Davidson, Leonard Freed, Bob Adelman, and Elliott Erwitt, captures the profound changes taking place in the United States beginning in the 1960s. It includes a wide variety of striking images that deal with race and politics: marchers on the road from Selma to Montgomery, Dr. Martin Luther King in protest, cotton workers in the Mississippi Delta, prison labor camps in Texas, and the Ku Klux Klan.

Helmut Newton
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Through September 25

Helmut Newton survived Nazi Germany as a self-supporting, nomadic teenager to emerge a world-renowned photographer. His images moved beyond the accepted standard of how females could be portrayed. The prints on view in Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes were made specifically for the exhibition and are large-scale—some reaching nearly 8 x 8 feet.

Second Nature: Contemporary Landscapes
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Through September 25

Second Nature examines the revived interest in landscape by contemporary artists, demonstrating the power of the land to speak to the imagination. Recent MFAH acquisitions—together with major works that are rarely on view—trace the evolving image of the landscape in art of the last 40 years, moving from the literal interactions of the 1960s and 1970s to the conceptual manipulations of the present day. Encompassing all media, this exhibition illustrates landscape imagery mediated through natural selection, imagination, and technology, offering a second look at the natural world.

Patrick Renner
Blaffer Art Museum
Through September 28

Renner will collaborate with high school students enrolled in the summer edition of Blaffer's award-winning Young Artist Apprenticeship Program. Together, they will create a work that explores the critical function of binocular vision in visual art. In the artist's own words, he will "turn the pair of windows into oculi that have the dual role of focusing viewership on the architecture and becoming the eyes of the building." The eyes will incorporate collage, sculpture, lights, and kinetic movement.

Marc Swanson
Contemporary Art Museum of Houston
Through October 9

From his earliest works, Brooklyn-based artist Marc Swanson has made his topic the construction of self as an incomplete and always fragmentary project. Everything—including heavy metal, the Yeti, and hunting trophies—have become part of his artistic language. Perspectives 175: Marc Swanson: The Second Story features new sculptures by the artist that consider the worldview of the generations that have grown up since AIDS placed a final marker on the early era of gay liberation, severing the ties to that culture’s rich history. It’s been left to younger artists like Swanson to decipher and reinterpret the stories and images of that elder generation. The Second Story was a gay bar in San Francisco, long gone when the artist lived there but—in its punning name—haunting. The name might just mean that it was located on the second floor of a building, but it also suggests the layers of narrative that overlap in each patron’s life—the true, the false, and the mythic.

Anton Ginzburg
Blaffer Art Museum
Through November 27

At the Back of the North Wind is an exhibition of new works by Anton Ginzburg, which will be open to the public from June 3 to November 27, 2011 during the 54th Venice Biennale at the Palazzo Bollani. Curated by Matthew J.W. Drutt, the exhibition has been chosen as an official participant of La Biennale di Venezia's Collateral Program. The exhibition of new works will feature a video installation that documents the artist's search for Hyperborea, a mythical northern territory. Large-scale sculptures, site-specific bas reliefs, photography, paintings, and a series of works on paper that document artist's travels and discoveries will also be displayed throughout the two floors of the palazzo.

Spirit of Modernism
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Through January 29, 2012

The Spirit of Modernism pays tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit of businessman and art collector John R. Eckel, Jr. The friendship between John Eckel and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, lasted only five years before his untimely death in 2009. His art collection, now known as the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Gift, lives on at the MFAH as an enduring legacy comprising 75 examples of Modernist American painting and sculpture, photography, and contemporary arts and design. This exhibition highlights the gifts in two locations on the museum’s campus: the Beck Building (Hevrdejs Gallery) and the Law Building (Alice Pratt Brown Gallery and Garden).

Houston Closings

Johnathan C. Leach
Box 13
Through September 10

Johnathan Leach's non objective paintings play with color, shape, and arrangement.

Joe Meiser
Box 13
Through September 10

Joe Meiser is a studio artist who specializes in sculpture, installation, and performance art. Sentition acknowledges the human tendency to mythologize. While questioning our compulsion to create metaphysical narratives, he simultaneously weaves his own.

Dallas Openings

Otis Jones
Holly Johnson Gallery
Opening reception: September 10, 6-8pm

In this exhibition of new work Otis Jones continues his investigation of abstraction. The new paintings alternate in hue and texture, ranging from flat to polished, to pitted topography. Evident is his unique signature of staples attaching canvas and linen to thick wooden supports - reinforcing the relationship of the side to the front of the painting and exposing traditional painting materials. In building up the surface media and alternately sanding it away, Jones foregrounds the status of his paintings as objects. For Otis Jones, minimalism operates as a place from which to begin. More importantly, it references his insistence, thematically, to produce work that blurs high and low distinctions.

Margaret Evangeline and Suguru Hiraide
Cohn Drennan Contemporary
Opening reception: September 10, 6-8pm

Steel is a two-person exhibition presenting the work of Margaret Evangeline (New York, NY) and Suguru Hiraide (Wichita Fallas, TX). Both artists use steel as their medium to address evolving yet ever-present concerns of cultural and societal issues of identity.

Aaron Parazette
Dallas Contemporary
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 24, 9pm-midnight

For Aaron Parazette's exhibition at Dallas Contemporary, he will exhibit a combination of new and recent paintings along with a large-scale, site-specific wall painting. Parazette employs the formula of formalist painting through text imagery. For Parazette, his work is painting meeting both the past and future abstraction.

New York Openings

Ian Pedigo
Klaus von Nichtssagend
Opening Reception: Wednesday, September 7, 6-8pm

Ian Pedigo continues to make sculptures imbued with artifactual significance. This is revealed through a process of peeling layers, creating visually formal relationships and conceptual congruence. The works begin with found images and objects that are added upon, altered, and edited in a process that echoes ritualistic practices. The results are forms woven from threads of banal occurrences and everyday life; evidence lying dormant in the dross surrounding us.

Announcements: events

TEXAS Events

Texas Contemporary Art Fair, Houston TX
October 20-23

artMRKT Productions, a newly formed Brooklyn-based organizer of modern and contemporary art fairs, announces Houston as the host city for its inaugural Texas Contemporary art fair taking place October 20 – 23, 2011 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Texas Contemporary will present 50 contemporary art dealers from around the world, including a section showcasing special projects and pieces that focus on energy and sustainability by Texas-based artists featured in solo booths.

Fluent~Collaborative is a proud cultural partner of Texas Contemporary.

Austin Events

Artist Talk: Mika Tajima
Blanton Museum of Art
Tuesday, September 6, 7PM

Mika Tajima works in diverse modes and is perhaps best known for her installations incorporating sculpture, painting, performance, and video. Working across these media Tajima explores the overlap between architecture, art, modernism, post-industrialism, and performance. Tajima will talk about her work including recent solo exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum, South London Gallery, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and The Kitchen in New York. Presented in conjunction with Tajima’s exhibition The Architect’s Garden, on view at the VAC September 9 to December 17. Curated by Aimee Chang, Manager of Public Programs at the Blanton Museum of Art.

Conversation: Mika Tajima and Richard Linklater
Blanton Museum of Art
Tuesday, September 13, 6:30PM

Filmmaker Linklater and artist Tajima discuss slackers, flanêurs, and the history of refusal, an element in Tajima’s exhibition at the UT Visual Art Center and in Linklater’s influential 1991 film Slacker. This program takes place in the Art Building, Auditorium (room 1.102), at 23rd and Trinity Streets on the UT campus.

Centerpiece Theater: Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Visual Arts Center
September 14, 7-9pm

Center Space Project at the Visual Arts Center presents a series of films curated to complement the exhibitions on display in the Center Space Gallery. In conjunction with Ezra Masch's exhibition Music of the Spheres, Centerpiece Theater presents Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, PG). Steven Spielberg’s classic film follows a cable worker who, after he encounters a UFO, becomes obsessed with a vision in his head of a mountain and finding out what it represents.

Red Dot
Women and Their Work
September 15, 6:00p.m.
Admission: $80- $250

Join us for the VIP Pre Spree 6-7pm and you'll be sure to get your favorite Red Dot work of art. Enjoy Pre Spree champagne and signature drinks, delicious bites, and get first pick from over 200 works of art. All work is priced at $500 or less! There are a limited number of Pre Spree tickets available @ $250 per person. You'll get early admittance to the Art Spree and the first opportunity to purchase the works of your choice. First come, first buy! Then the rest of the evening is yours to enjoy. Regular tickets are available at $80 7-10pm. For information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Elliott Erwitt
University Co-op & Harry Ransom Center
Thursday, September 22, 7pm

Legendary Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt discusses his life and work on Thursday, September 22, at 7 p.m. in Jessen Auditorium at The University of Texas at Austin. In a career spanning more than six decades, the former president of Magnum Photos has published over 20 photography books and exhibited his work in both public and private galleries from New York to Paris and Tokyo. The Magnum Photos collection resides at the Ransom Center.

Lecture with El Anatsui and Lisa Binder
Blanton Museum of Art
Saturday, September 24, 2PM

Artist El Anatsui joins exhibition curator Lisa Binder from the Museum of African Art and Moyosore Okediji, associate professor in the department of art and art history at UT Austin for a conversation on the occasion of the opening of his major retrospective at The Blanton.

Lecture by Nancy Kwallek: Herman Miller, Inc. and Knoll's color palettes from the 1950s
Visual Arts Center
September 27, 5pm

Offered in conjunction with The Architect's Garden, Dr. Nancy Kwallek, Gene Edward Mikesa Endowed Chair in Interior Design and Director of the Interior Design Program at UT Austin uses Herman Miller and Knoll as examples to discuss the impact of color on our senses. This lecture relates to discussions between Dr. Kwallek and Mika Tajima on interior design, architecture, and modernism.

AIA Austin Homes Tour 2011
AIA Austin
Saturday and Sunday, October 1-2, 10am-6pm

The 25th Annual AIA Austin Homes Tour is a showcase of great design by local architects. This year's self-guided tour will include 15 homes in the Austin area. Traditional and contemporary designs coexist on the tour, which encompasses new construction and renovation projects. Approximately 5,000 attendees are expected to attend this year's two-day tour, which reaches an educated, design-minded group. Tickets to the AIA Homes Tour go on sale September 1st and are $25 in advance; $30 the weekend of the event. Tickets may be purchased at Zinger Hardware (North Lamar location near Central Market), Five Elements Furniture (South Lamar), or directly from AIA Austin. Additional information is available from AIA Austin at 512.452.4332 or www.aiaaustin.org

Houston Events

FBI Art Crimes Specialist Robert Wittman to Talk on Stolen Masterpieces
Blaffer Art Museum
September 8, 7pm
Admission: $10

The son of antique dealers, Wittman was well acquainted with the business of rare, high-priced artworks long before his law enforcement career. In 1988, he brought his knowledge of the art world to the FBI. Assigned to the Philadelphia Field Division, Wittman went into action tracking down stolen art. In 2005, he helped create the FBI’s Art Crime Team, the first group of agents devoted solely to recovering stolen works of arts. He now oversees Robert Wittman Inc., a security and recovery firm that protects the cultural assets of institutions, auction houses, private collectors and insurance companies.

Don Bacigalupi to Speak About New Building, Acquiring a Collection
Blaffer Museum
Tuesday, September 13, 7pm

This fall, the man at the helm of the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a massive complex in Bentonville, Ark. opening this November and supported by an $800 million endowment from the Walton Family Foundation, is paying a visit to Houston. University of Houston alumnus, former Blaffer Art Museum director, and current Crystal Bridges director Don Bacigalupi will give a public lecture at 7 p.m. Sept. 13 in the UH College of Architecture Theater. Titled “Building a Museum in the 21st Century: Crystal Bridges and its American Art Collection,” Dr. Bacigalupi’s talk will focus on his $50 million building campaign and his efforts in acquiring a collection that will immediately make the museum one of the foremost collections of American art

24th Annual Dia De Los Muertos
Lawndale Art Center
October 17- November 6

Lawndale Art Center is pleased to present its 24th Annual Día de los Muertos programs, a celebration of the art, music and practices of Mexico. This program supports area artists and students by offering them an opportunity to show their works to diverse audiences in a museum quality setting. Over the years additional programming has been developed to educate audiences and encourage dialogue in celebration of Mexican-American heritage in our region. Día de los Muertos programs and exhibitions at Lawndale Art Center promote cultural awareness of Mexican folk art practices associated with this celebration of family, life and community.

Fort Worth Events

TASA Conference 2011
Texas Association of School of Arts
September 23-24

Addressing diversity as a practical necessity, Fluid Dynamics seeks to explore the evolving boundaries between art and related fields in an era of ever expanding interests. As each speaker in the conference typifies, plurality can allow for a synergistic effect, creating success and community through embracing a multi-faceted career. For more information, click here.

Dallas Events

Jennifer Rubell: Legendary
Dallas Contemporary
September 22, 7-10p.m.

For the LEGENDARY event at Dallas Contemporary, Jennifer Rubell’s Made In Texas will be a participatory artwork involving Texas cuisine that is a hybrid of performance art, installation, and happenings. Rubell’s pieces are often staggering in scale and sensually arresting, employing food and drink as media. Past works have included one ton of ribs with honey dripping on them from the ceiling; 2,000 hard-boiled eggs with a pile of latex gloves nearby to pick them up; 1,521 doughnuts hanging on a free-standing wall; a room-sized cell padded with 1,800 cones of pink cotton candy.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Entries

10 Years Later: September 11, 2011
Gallery Aydelotte
Deadline: September 5

Gallery Aydelotte will be presenting an online remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001. We are soliciting submissions from artists working in any medium, limited to the theme of September 11th and any political, emotional, psychological, and/or historical consequences of this event. We are also open to artists' interpretation of the passage of time; healing and resolution from this event; and even a disinterest in looking back.

2012 Hunting Art Prize
Hunting Art Prize
Deadline: November 30

The Hunting Art Prize, which is sponsored by the international oil services company Hunting PLC, is a prestigious annual competition open to established artists, talented newcomers, and promising amateurs. Its $50,000 award is historically the most generous annual award in North America for painting and drawing, and has helped to build the reputations, raise the profiles, and support the careers of distinguished artists.

Oklahoma Art Writing & Curatorial Fellowship
Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition
Deadline: September 23

The Oklahoma Art Writing & Curatorial Fellowship aims to train promising writers and curators by expanding their professional education and experience. This distinctive, yearlong program awards 12 fellows the opportunity to participate in a structured and innovative curriculum designed to encourage new writing and curatorial projects. The Fellowship offers each participant the opportunity to cultivate their skills and knowledge by offering access to leading regional and national curators, critics, and academics through public lectures and intimate, hands-on workshops.

Call for Artists

The Idea Fund
The Idea Fund
Deadline: October 3

The Idea Fund provides cash awards to up to 10 artists, associations of artists and/or curators that create and showcase new work that involves the public via process, production, or presentation. The Idea Fund will accept proposals from artists/curators focusing on the visual arts, performance, film, video, new media, social practice, and interdisciplinary projects.

Fellowship Opportunities

Kress Summer Fellowship in Museum Education
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Application Deadline: November 1

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute offers a summer fellowship for a senior museum educator who might benefit from contact with the resources of the Clark library, as well as the diverse international community of Clark visiting scholars. The fellowship is intended for an ambitious and imaginative educator whose project explores critically the relationship of scholarship to the public understanding of art, or who seeks to explore new avenues and innovations in museum education, understood in its broadest sense. This project could involve, for example, work on conveying the ideas of a complex thematic exhibition to a wide public; making fresh and challenging scholarship in the history of art accessible to museum-goers; investigating the underlying critical commitments of exhibitions or collections; exploring and challenging the assumptions of museum education itself. This is a six-week fellowship during July and August and comes with an office, accommodation, travel expenses, but no stipend. For more information, visit our website http://clarkart.edu/research/

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