MBG Issue #185: Self-Bursting Buckyball

Issue # 185

Self-Bursting Buckyball

March 9, 2012

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Desert Dome at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. Image courtesy Henry Doorly Zoo.

from the editor

When I stepped away from teaching and the trappings of academia two years ago, I readily admit to some fairly aggressive abdominal butterflies. At that point I’d been in school, in some form or another, for my entire existence—moving from student to professor along the well-worn path many MFAs and PhDs tread. Rightly so. Saddled with student debt and few traditional career opportunities, teaching is a beacon; replete with enticing notions of health insurance, stability, a steady paycheck and time to pursue ones own studio or scholarly work. Downright utopian, no? But utopias, as we know, are unattainable, impossible scenarios. This however is not a screed about academia (at least not entirely), as my time working with students in the halls of higher education was quite enjoyable. Life on the other side of the bubble is good though, and bubbles, in one form or another, are the crux of the issue.

The academic and art world’s are full of such bubbles, large and small. Artists' studios, residencies, the commercial gallery system, College Art Association conferences and the larger academic world are just a few potential echo chambers. These are not necessarily bad things. Like minded peers, engaging students, intellectual exchange, productive hours spent in the studio and the support (practical and moral) that comes along with them are welcomed qualities of each of these. All things in moderation. Problems arise when we can’t see the wood for the trees. Lost in the accoutrements of our cells, it's easy to lose sight of other people, other communities and of our unavoidable existence within the larger world. (A glimpse at contemporary politics—its vilifying language, reductionism and endlessly parroted talking points amongst others—offers a clear example of the dangers of isolationism; regional, intellectual and otherwise.) As a result, we risk losing our empathy, mounting a high horse and becoming indifferent to the goings on around us.

If, on some fundamental level, art is about showing us an aspect of the world we might not normally consider—and artists bear a measure of culpability for that—then stepping outside of ones personal bubble is critical. Think of it like a daily research trip. Exposure to dissonant ideas, participation in conversation and exploration of other places and people act as ways to feed the work taking place behind the doors of your study. Expanding one's sourcebook and as a result, repertoire, is never a bad thing. To speak reputably about the world—its strangeness, beauty, horror and complexity—and to be an active citizen and cultural producer in this century, means real, physical engagement is mandatory. New models and fresh thinking come from it. I say this as a previously obstinate occupier of two bubbles: my studio and my academic position. This is not to say I don’t spend extensive hours working within four walls or that I would never teach again, only that as I move along I’ve found a new appreciation for, and importance in, engaging with the world that's bustling right outside my door.

Relationships between the pedagogical, academic and exhibiting worlds are the subject of former ...mbg editor, writer and curator Wendy Vogel’s thoughtful Long Read on Excursus II at the ICA in Philadelphia. The exhibition proposes some new ways of thinking about the archive, public programming and the distribution of ideas that art exhibitions enable. From Chicago, artist Adam Schreiber takes a look at David Hartt’s film and photographs that make up his exhibition Stray Light at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Hartt’s exploration of the Johnson Publishing Companies mid-century modern, total-designed interiors offer us a compelling look at the collision between ideology and fantasy. Photographs by Bruce of L.A., on view at Stephen Cohen Gallery, are the topic of Los Angeles artist and writer Tucker Neel’s review. A Nebraskan chemist, Bruce Bellas moved to L.A. in the 1940’s, eventually founded Male Figure in 1956, and extensively photographed the then burgeoning muscle scene in Venice Beach. From Houston writer and Rice University PhD Candidate Rachel Hooper looks at Geoff Hippenstiel’s energetic abstract paintings and finds a dynamic group of images that resist being separated from one another. Our Project Space this issue features the New York-based collaborative duo Ghost of a Dream and their poignant group of drawings, sculpture and film. Their project speaks to the buildup of memories, the excitement of achieving and the act of hoping—intimately personal actions that link us inexorably to one another, and the world at large.

We hope you'll get in touch with your thoughts, criticisms and best wishes by emailing us at: askus@fluentcollab.org.

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

long read

Excursus II: East of Borneo

By Wendy Vogel

An Open Forum organized by The Nicola Midnight St. Clair for Excursus II. Excursus II: East of Borneo by East of Borneo at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 2012. Photo by Alex Klein. Courtesy of ICA, University of Pennsylvania.

Ekphrasis—the act of describing a visual artwork in written form—serves as the foundation of most art reviews. Excursus, the newest programming initiative at the ICA Philadelphia, necessitates a different reading. With a title that translates from Latin as “digression from a primary text,” Excursus programs invite cultural producers who engage with archives, publication models and distribution to collaborate with the ICA on public programming, a gallery-based installation and an online residency. Rather than the institutional equivalent of Cliff Notes, Excursus becomes a site of display for the footnotes, backstories and marginalia of contemporary art production.

For the second installment of the series, Program Curator Alex Klein invited the founders of the trailblazing Los Angeles-based online art magazine East of Borneo, Thomas Lawson (Editor-in-Chief and Dean of CalArts) and Stacey Allan (Executive Editor). Reconsidering the aim and scope of the online format, EoB commissions original essays and acts as a collaborative archive focused on the local scene. As Lawson explained during the opening at the ICA, EoB was developed out of the experiences of working at Afterall, the journal where he and Allan previously worked. Afterall retained a model of a collaborative transatlantic editorial team split between LA and London, whereas EoB’s seeks to “make the provincial aspects of Los Angeles more interesting and more universal.”

Providing a context for sustained reflection on the artistic activity of Southern California—a scene that, until recently, retained a reputation for being education-friendly and market-averse—EoB stimulates a wider dialogue about peripheries and center(s).

To that end, the Excursus installation in ICA’s mezzanine space includes documents related to alternative pedagogy and its radical implications, with an understandably heavy emphasis on Southern California art schools and alternative spaces during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Schools such as CalArts, Fresno State and UCLA became a hotbed of artistic activity in those decades, simultaneously responding to and shaping developments in critical theory, feminism and politically engaged Conceptualism. Some elements of the ICA installation came directly from the archive-based exhibition The Experimental Impulse curated by Lawson with Aram Moshayedi at CalArts’ REDCAT gallery. The end result of a two-year seminar and student-led research initiative at CalArts about alternative methodologies, the show was part of the Getty-sponsored citywide meta-exhibition Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA, 1945-1980. The curators sourced additional materials for the show in Philadelphia in an effort to bring the two contexts together.

The Excursus installation is organized through simple yet effective display elements: tables, chairs, bookshelves and a flat file drawer1; modernist chairs from David Rowland’s 40/4 series, lent by the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts; and a table from Peter deBretteville and Toby Cowan’s Metamorphokit series of modular furniture units. Designed specifically for CalArts students in 1971, the Metamorphokit could be configured by dorm residents to their individual preferences. The quasi-Freudian creative exercise was intended to reveal something about one’s artistic proclivities.

Each exhibition surface supports a different type of archival material. The flat files contain arrangements of posters, books and photographs from both coasts, from Klein’s personal copy of the Womanhouse catalogue (the groundbreaking 1972 exhibition conceived by students in CalArts’ Feminist Art Program) to photos of a cardboard furniture-building ICA Childrens’ Workshop in 1971 and copies of former CalArts Dean of Critical Studies Maurice Stein’s Blueprint for Counter Education. One of the most striking elements of Stein’s book are a series of surrealist collage posters designed by Marshall Heinrichs illustrating the associative trajectories of Stein’s thoughts, from the Frankfurt School to media theory to modern artists. Replicas of these posters, along with half toned reproductions of early CalArts seminars, hang from the ceiling. The tables provide photocopies of LA-specific documents such as John Baldessari’s video art syllabus, transcribed oral histories of LA art in the ‘70s, quotes from students and teachers about the Feminist Art Program, a survey of alternative spaces produced by the now-defunct LAICA (Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Arts), and press articles about CalArts’ pedagogical style and complicated institutional history. Bookshelves contain material ranging from histories of gay, black and women’s liberation movements to iconic texts by Maria Montessori, Buckminster Fuller and Antonin Artaud. The slightly scrappy aesthetic of the show mirrors the urgency of the material therein.

One of the exhibition’s great luxuries is that one does not need to travel to Philadelphia to experience it. Many of the documents culled together in the exhibition, including video interviews with CalArts’ key ‘70s protagonists commissioned for The Experimental Impulse, can be accessed online on the Excursus site or at East of Borneo. Yet this does not negate the impact of the installation itself which, despite its tightly considered premise, satisfies the ICA’s institutional mandate to “create a hub for reflection on issues related to the exhibitions on view in the galleries.” In a central artery on the ICA’s mezzanine, the space does indeed encourage connective thinking between the other exhibitions on view; for the majority of this Excursus run, those included the group show Living Document/Naked Reality: Towards an Archival Cinema and solo exhibitions by LA-based artist Jennifer Bolande and German abstract painter Charline von Heyl. And by extension, the focus on pedagogy also prompts a reflection on the hosting institution, a university art museum.

Most importantly, viewers activated the space, both in a series of scheduled programs and through perusal of the archive materials. The ambitious programming series included discussions about the impact of the revolutionary events in May 1968 on cultural production, art and social change, the “Barnes Method” and culture and the built environment. Over several visits to the space, I also saw visitors relaxing around the central table, reading photocopies, watching videos and having conversations.

The proponents of alternative pedagogy equally privileged the informal space of discussion. Most graduates of MFA programs (or in my case, curatorial studies programs), whatever their ilk, can attest to the formative exchanges outside the classroom that catalyze longterm friendships and collaborations. Post-1968 programs like CalArts and the Whitney Independent Study Program, however, took this methodology to heart in the very formation of the program. Rather than the “professionalizing” aims of technical schools and programs steeped in academe that came before, these programs sought to provide a very loose and democratic structure. They required a minimum amount of specific academic credits, usually in critical seminars as opposed to the mandatory technical classes of the BFA degree, placing the responsibility for the students’ formation in their hands. At the same time, they questioned the very institutions of art that conferred value on the object and the subject of the artist herself. Most conversations at the ICA take place in front of a banner-like photo reproduction of Michael Asher’s 1977 LAICA installation, for which he invited his CalArts students to hold discussions as paid performers. In this project, Asher questioned where the economic value of art truly lay and the fetishizing of art education.

Today the Whitney ISP (a two-year non-degree-granting, though rigorous, independent study program for critics, curators and artists) and CalArts (a fully accredited academic program) are far from being outside the accepted sphere of professional influence. Ironically, their focus on radical political methodologies and critical theory confer a high degree of cultural capital to their participants, one which most participants hope will eventually transfer into financial capital through teaching jobs, exhibitions and the like. Though they are not necessarily democratic in the financial sense. Without financial aid, CalArts’ 2011-12 tuition costs $37,684; the ISP costs only $1800, yet participants are expected to support themselves in New York by way of side jobs, grants, PhD stipends or independent wealth. Many cultural producers, including yours truly, have happily signed on the dotted line for expensive graduate programs and found themselves jobless and saddled with thousands of dollars of student loan debt on the other side. Although the current economic crisis does not diminish the worth of these programs (both personally and in the broader sense of the professional success its graduates secure in the art market), it provides another reason to rethink the methods and role of the art institution as a site for critical inquiry.

Within settings that receive academic support, the Excursus series at ICA and East of Borneo (both free to enter and peruse) push the boundaries of how to inform a public. By providing platforms, respectively, for hybrid practices that focus on the archive and nearly forgotten strands of artistic activity, these discursive sites promote access and exchange in ways that are distinct from traditional museum and academic structures. It appears that the ICA will extend this line of thought in its next exhibition First Among Equals. The show features artists who work collaboratively, often through artist-run spaces and publications. Bringing together diverse practices that may seem ill at ease in the ICA’s spaces, one can hope the show will illuminate, in artist and UCLA professor Mary Kelly’s paraphrase of Michel Foucault, the “convergences and dissonances” that make the exhibition a productive site of reading.

Wendy Vogel is a writer and independent curator working in New York and Philadelphia. She is a former Editor of …might be good.


1. The tables were designed by Excursus I invitee Andy Beach, and the flat file drawer was designed by Beach in collaboration with Paul Swenbeck.


Geoff Hippenstiel
Devin Borden Gallery, Houston
Through March 13

By Rachel Hooper

Geoff Hippenstiel, Untitled, 2011, Oil on canvas, 60 x 71 1/2 inches. Photo courtesy of the Devin Borden Gallery.

Every artist has their own way of knowing when an artwork is finished, when everything that needs to be there is there and when doing anything more would be too much. Sometimes the most interesting artwork is never finished; It is just about to fall apart. In barely holding together, it has a potentially explosive energy, like uranium atoms about to break apart in an explosive fission.

Geoff Hippenstiel's compositions have this kind of crackling cohesion that are just about to burst. From a distance, they seem like abstracted landscapes, portraits or cosmic maps. But up close, the large canvases are masses of frenetic brushstrokes and thick swaths of paint laid down by a pallet knife heaped on top of one another until the canvas vibrates with light, color and texture. He paints small and large canvases with the same vigorous technique, and his works range from vaguely recognizable images to completely abstract compositions.

For his solo exhibition at Devin Borden Gallery, Hippenstiel is showing a set of large scale canvases that move between metallic gold and silver and the light blue and green of a sunlit landscape. The forms are like mounds and mandalas, whose interrelationships of shape and color give a cohesiveness to the group. Again, the works are most compelling when they deviate from patterns and coherence as in the second painting to the left when entering the gallery's front door. Amidst the blob of gold, pinks and dark greys, there are these marks that look almost like accidents, as if the artist forgot to paint over a part of the canvas or his paint brush strayed from the area it was supposed to paint. These sort of blips or distortions give the painting a fascinating quality of not quite coming into focus—like static in the signal.

The chewy textures of thick oil paints are made less precious and objectified when paired with suggestions of chance and happenstance. The painting to the right of the gallery's entrance also has a more improvised feel to the asymmetrical splashes of color and darker shadows. The compositions come into focus as one moves back through the gallery, and although my preference is for the less solid forms, the echoes of round shapes around the gallery and contrast between the iconic and scattered elements make each canvas come alive relative to its neighbors.

This is one of those exhibitions where you wish the gallery would not sell the works individually or that a collector or institution would buy the whole group. The paintings are fantastic as a set, and they feed off of one another as they hold together and fall apart to varying degrees, alternating between the iconic and improvised aspects of the images. Hippenstiel graduated two years ago from the University of Houston MFA program, and this exhibition is the first solo exhibition for the artist after his time at UH. It is the culmination of two years working in the studio, during which his work has become richer and more nuanced. The confident marks and experimental compositions in Hippenstiel’s work show an artist that is finally coming into his own and defining his project, making it well worth the trip to see the exhibition in its last two weeks on view.

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

David Hartt
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Through April 29

By Adam Schreiber

David Hartt, Award Room, 2011, Edition of 6 + 1 AP. Courtesy of the artist and Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago.

Stray light, in the world of scientific measurement, refers to frequencies interfering with the seamless capture of monochromatic color. The optical device registering such interference is called a monochromator. This instrument, purposed to capture pure color, constantly evaluates and recalibrates itself in the presence of stray light.

For the exhibition of the same name currently on view at the MCA, Canadian-born, Chicago-based artist David Hartt explores the Johnson Publishing Company building, an 11-story modernist structure on South Michigan Avenue, completed in 1971. Famous as the headquarters of Jet and Ebony magazines, this John Moutoussamy-designed icon contains a collection of time capsule interiors; deeply-idiosyncratic cases of mid-century total-design, as envisioned by Arthur Elrod.

Granted unprecedented access after years of requests, Hartt has made a series of photographs and a film that earnestly address the dimensions of the space and its minutia. As an installation, Stray Light is an immersive experience. The film is displayed in a room carpeted in the same style as its subject, with enough room and ambient glow to consider the understated sculpture–a sheet of cut acrylic reminiscent of Elrod's design, leaning against the wall. A custom-painted 1970s-era viewing bench was sourced by Hartt and exists somewhere between decor and functionality. Despite Hartt's inflections, the twenty-five by fifty foot viewing room retains an intriguing vacancy, warmed by the repeating orange-brown hexagonal pattern of the carpet. The overall effect is powerful displacement. Adjacent to this room, another space holds a group of large-scale, brown and tan photographs, also depicting the Johnson building, elegantly framed in narrow, powder-coated gold aluminum—a tone matching much of what is depicted.

The film Stray Light gains immediate traction in the friction between generic mid-century corporate surfaces and the highly specific repurposing of those surfaces by Elrod, under direction of company-founder, John Johnson. As a leading arbiter of African-American taste and culture in the latter half of the 20th century, Johnson commissioned the building to reflect the essence of the Publishing Company, as well to house an extensive African-American art collection. In so doing, the resulting interiors are fantastical aesthetic hybrids involving intricately patterned carpets, leather walls, glass-kiosks, ivory sculptures flanked by oceanic hues, beige swaths and gradient pinks

What distinguishes the photographs in the exhibition from the space of Hartt's film is less ideological than mechanical. At stake in their difference are questions instrumental to capture; how do we construct position through the objects cameras manufacture? This question takes shape in Hartt's iterative aesthetics, drawing down the distinction between material and representation while affording visitors the pleasure of overlapping frameworks within a custom lexicon.

Stray Light has no establishing shot. Its a film loop comprised of static frames of interiors. The only movement, aside from a few views of people at a distance can be attributed to the circulation of the building's HVAC system, gently disturbing curtains, blinds, feathers and a birthday balloon. Over these views, an ornamental jazz-flute score nudges into intermittent reverie, confusing the inclusion of everyday detritus: fax machines, monitors, plants, inkjet prints taped to glass partitions. These objects never resolve or dissipate into the exotic interiors; their presence remains obstinate, inevitable. Throughout our navigation of the space, a distinct sense of traveling unseen emerges.

Hartt's methodology thrives where ideology meets fantasy, and the Johnson Publishing Company is no exception. A company committed to the production and distribution of archetypal images, housed within architecture largely determined by those images is as close to ready-made as a photographic opportunity is liable to be. The function images of such a space serve, aside from being objects contributing to deeper rehearsals of institutional and cultural automatism, is a slippery one which oscillates between ventriloquism and assertion. Of course, the function of Stray Light for viewers at the MCA is indistinguishable from Hartt's agency as an artist, which might be understood as strictly anthropological. This would be an interesting mistake, as long as the work was the thing driving it.

Stanley Cavell makes the following, rather wonderful distinction: "We do not so much look at the world as look out at it, from behind the self." In the static views of Hartt's film, the world appears as such.

In conversation, the artist has described the type of picture he pursues as "A Wildebeest. A slow-moving, awkward picture."

This description seems in earnest, troubled by the difficulty of forming a connection to the world through viewing it. Hartt admits being sensitive to the pictorial conventions established in Vancouver and Dusseldorf, but his play between the still and static image invests Stray Light with a poignancy that is not connected to any obvious conceptual paradigm. His Wildebeest is a generous animal, consigned to the limitations of the conditions at hand.

Adam Schreiber is an artist living in Chicago.

History of Bruce
Stephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles
Through March 17

By Tucker Neel

Bruce of L.A., "Tex Derrick," ca. 1955, Vintage Gelatin Silver Print, 8 X 10 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Cohen Gallery.

You are impacted by Bruce of L.A.’s work and you might not even know it. You can see his influence in magazines like Men’s Health; you are surrounded by his aesthetic progeny at Abercrombie & Fitch; and you sense his taste in commercials for everything from Old Spice to Cool Water Cologne. If you look closely, his stylized images of male “perfection” echo in photographs of muscled celebs today; from Chris Evans to Zac Efron , in TV shows like True Blood, and movies like 300. Photographers like Bruce of L.A. helped shape paradigms of desirable manliness, and thankfully we have exhibitions like Stephen Cohen’s The Extraordinary Life & Times of Bruce of L.A., 1948-1974 to help us unearth and understand some of the events, people and conflicting imagery that circulate around these ideals.

Bruce of L.A. is the artistic moniker of Bruce Bellas, a Nebraskan chemistry teacher who in 1947, at the age of thirty-eight, moved to Los Angeles to photograph bodybuilders competing on the sands of the then newly-christened Muscle Beach in Venice, CA. Bellas’ photos capture the birth of American bodybuilding culture, when this sort of masculine ideal first griped the popular imagination with characters like Charles Atlas—encouraging young men to pump iron and bulk up. Bellas soon set up his own studio photographing these muscular young men and eventually launched Male Figure in 1956, one of many pioneering physique magazines of its time. The impact of magazines like Male Figure is immeasurable. Thousands of men who subscribed to these publications saw their own sexual desires, for the first time, reflected in print. Born in an age long before the internet, these were not just jerk off materials, but conduits for a sense of belonging, both sexually and socially; a reminder that one was not alone. And of course we need only look to the work of more recent photographers like Bruce Weber, Herb Ritz, Robert Mapplethorpe and David LaChapelle, to see just how lasting Bellas’ impact has truly been.

If you’re familiar with the Beefcake aesthetic characterized by Bellas’ work, as well as photos by his more famous colleague Bob Mizer, the ubiquitous whiteness and overt masculinity of the models in this genre comes as no surprise. Most of the exhibition is populated by these familiar Anglo “types,” like a photo of the model Vern Bickel from 1960, with a tanned young man posed in subtle contrapposto holding a sword, his body lit with dramatic lighting so as to highlight every muscle. However, one of the strengths of this exhibition is that it broadens our understanding of Bellas’ oeuvre by including images of people of color, older drag queens and effeminate boys. Perhaps this diversity of images is due to the fact that the work on display comes from the collection of L.A. painter John Sonsini, who himself has made a career out of lovingly depicting Latino day laborers in heavy impasto portraits.

In one particularly unexpected image from Bellas’ Marti Gras Series, an older man poses in drag while holding a champagne glass, his earrings and necklace sparkling and his hairy chest peeking through an arabesque-embellished silk top. His slightly overweight frame, delicate gesture and feminine accoutrements stand in direct contrast to the burly masses surrounding the gallery, yet his pose is unabashedly confident. Such an image injects a decidedly queer tone into this otherwise "butch" exhibition.

The gallery has also filled large vitrines with stacks of photos, documents and magazines from Bellas’ archive. These displays also hold the occasional posing strap, a whisper of fabric used to cover a model’s genitals to avoid breaking mid-century censorship laws. Brief slivers of didactic text are interspersed amongst these ephemera, and while they do provide notable context to Bellas’ story, I wish they encompassed a more thorough discussion of why this work is so important, including a richer analysis of the turbulent times framing these images. Nevertheless, the overwhelming number of photos scattered about in these cases testifies to Bellas’ prolific career and to the need for a more comprehensive exhibition of his work, and other work by pioneering artists like him, in a larger venue in the future.

Tucker Neel is an artist, writer, and curator in Los Angeles. He is also Assistant Professor in the Communication Arts, Liberal Arts& Sciences, and MFA Graphic Design departments at Otis College of Art and Design. He is also founder and director of 323 Projects, a telephone-gallery showcasing audio art. You can access 323 Projects by calling (323) 843-4652 anytime, day or night.

project space

Ghost of a Dream

Now, I remember when tomorrow came to us, then you forget that yesterday left from them.

“Remember when tomorrow came.” This notion refers simultaneously to the act of hoping and the excitement of achieving, and then the erosion of that emotion and the ephemera that surrounds it until it has become both physical and mental detritus. Quite often in the act of hoping for something, we put so much emphasis on that thing that we lose sight of reality and an unbalance occurs. At which time we are rewarded, until triumph becomes a distant memory and then forgotten.

In the project space we are showing a series of drawings both in the form of a short film, and singularly, along with a series of small sculptures made by stacking and arranging hundreds of discarded trophy risers.

In white silhouettes the film reads, “now, I remember when tomorrow came to us,” where smaller opposites written repetitively define these larger words. The smaller text reads, “then, you forget that yesterday left from them.” We see both these statements to be appropriate to the moment we are describing; where the fight, victory and aftermath are all compressed into one memory, like most moments in our lives. This memory, like any, is subject to all the other memories that we store in our personal database and is altered slightly every time we repeat it, until much of the memory is affected by the moments we have created around it.

To simulate this action of not being totally in control of our past or future moments, we decided to make a set of drawings. We made templates for the sentence we wanted to say and attached these words individually to blank paper. We scrambled the order and invited a number of artist friends over to the studio. We then asked our guests to go to town on our drawings deciding the color and patterns of the words we wanted repeated, thus changing the production of the work in a way we had no control over.1 An important aspect of this part of the project is that nobody knew what the sentences were, they just knew the singular words they were working on. In effect, they were changing the view of our work without knowing exactly how, much like new experiences affect our memory, as we remember when tomorrow came.

The small sculptures in the project space are our attempt to bring this notion into the sculptural realm. They are made from trophy parts (mostly the risers), which we spent two years collecting, and less than a week arranging. We are reproducing the act of remembering individual parts into one compressed set of visual statements.

Ghost of a Dream is Adam Eckstrom and Lauren Was.


1Elisabeth Higgins-O’Connor, Andrew Kerton, Matthew Radune, Eric Zimmerman

...mbg recommends

Thomas Zipp: 3 Contributions To The Theory Of Mass-Aberrations in Modern Religions
Alison Jacques Gallery, New York City
Through March 31

Thomas Zipp, 3CMAMR No.5, 2012, C print on Baryt, framed, Paper size: 31.5 x 23.5 cm / 12 3/8 x 9 1/4 ins, Framed: 42.5 x 32.5 cm / 16 3/4 x 12 3/4 ins. Courtesy of Thomas Zipp and the Alison Jacques Gallery.

Every artist stumbles across work by other artists that they wish they’d made. It resonates with the things you're thinking about, your aesthetic and in some sense the direction you wish to go. They show you a way of working and thinking that might not normally be available to you. Finding these kinships are powerful and exciting experiences that feed ones practice, and are the basis for the way art moves forward in the world. Berlin-based artist Thomas Zipp continues to be this figure for me and his current exhibition at Alison Jacques Gallery is another stunning example. Zipp combines paintings of abstracted landscape fragments and remnants of body parts on aluminum, photographs of life-sized rubber dolls, sculptural canonical ear tubes and electric candles to transform the gallery into a series of atmospheric rooms that reference places of worship. Premised on Sigmund Freud’s Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex (1920), Zipp’s exhibition uncompromisingly collides quasi-religious imagery with sexual motifs to great effect, undermining the aura of spirituality while reminding of us of our darkest human desires. These ideas, images and objects help us navigate Zipp’s world and its strange landscape of reference points. The mystic, uncanny and visionary plays in the same field with deviancy and demise, reminding us of their effectsphysical, spiritual and psychologicalon our minds. Rich and powerful conceptual concerns paired with formally beautiful objects and their consummate installation make Zipp’s unyielding exhibition an absolute must see.

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

Jill Downen: Dust and Distance
University of North Texas Art Gallery, Denton
Through March 24

Jill Downen’s sculptural and installation work explores the relationship between the human body and architecture. Using wood and plaster as her main materials, two-by-fours become skeletal joints, sinewy tendons are carved into large glaciers of plaster, and other bits of the anatomy—skin, torso, breasts—are rendered as isolated objects, forcing the viewer to consider the body in a structural way. The human form becomes just that—a corporeal vessel that pumps blood as function, not passion. For her site-specific installation at the UNT Art Gallery, Downen does away with the figurative forms yet a sense of the body is still incredibly present. Dusting the two thousand square-foot floors with plaster, she creates a landscape that is both mysterious and meditative and suddenly the viewer becomes a stand-in for sculpture, interacting with the work in a cognitive way. Details like pieces of a broken plaster mold, small plaster walls that seem to build up then break back down and threads of blue plumb line are parts of an unexplained narrative that viewers are required to piece together, creating distinct personal experiences. The entire installation, with its carefully placed elements, has an effortless, almost unintentional quality to it that lends itself the to the quiet and contemplative nature of the work.

Emily Ng is an artist and Production Associate at Fluent~Collaborative.

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

Leah Haney
Laguna Gloria-Gatehouse Gallery
Opening Friday, March 9

Leah Haney will debut fresh, new paintings that toy with our perceptions of spatial relationships and depth.

Nick Brown
Tiny Park
Opening Friday, March 23, 7pm-11pm

In Nick Brown's recent work, mortality is sought out, feared, dreamt about, lamented, and memorialized.

PJ Raval
Tiny Park
Opening Friday, March 23, 7pm-11pm

Tiny Park will present three of PJ's animated short films.

Conrad Bakker
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Opening Saturday, March 24

Lora Reynolds Gallery is pleased to present Untitled Project: RECORD SHOP [45s], Conrad Bakker’s newest body of work. Bakker will turn our project room into an ersatz record store by displaying more than 30 LP covers—all shaped from wood and painted with oils.

Michael Menchaca
Red Space Gallery
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 24, 7-10pm

For Of Migratus, Menchaca presents a narrative framing the contemporary Mexican diaspora to the United States as a dysfunctional cartoon. Using a familiar Saturday-morning-cartoon format, the video portrays the story of a coyote hired by downtrodden felines to be illegally smuggled into the US.

Austin on View

Miguel Andrade Valdez
Through March 25

Andrade Valdez’s video Monumento Lima is a chaotic, rapid-fire visual compendium of the monuments that occupy Lima’s traffic circles and pedestrian malls. They range from the forgotten to the futurist, the Spanish Mediterranean to the brutal, as well as the Modernist. In the video, the trapezoid emerges as a very popular shape due to its common motif in pre-Columbian Peruvian architecture.

Jennifer Davis, Mark Nelson & Terrence Payne
grayDUCK Gallery
Through April 1

Through pattern, candy colors and imagery, Absurdities Crept In is a show of odd tales waiting to be told. Tales about the awareness of time, stumbling through life's fleeting experiences and one's true character. This exhibition features three artists with meticulous drawing styles and abundant illustrational talent, including paintings from Jennifer Davis and Mark Nelson and color pencil drawings from Terrence Payne.

Tom Molloy
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Through April 14

Tom Molloy's New World is a group of nine different LP sleeves-all from the same recording, Dvořák's New World Symphony-whose text has been painted to blend in with the cover image.

Lee Lozano
Visual Arts Center
Through April 22

Curated by Katie Geha and presented in partnership with The Blanton Museum of Art, Pun Value: 4 Works by Lee Lozano is a case study of works by Lee Lozano from The Blanton collection, which will examine the artist’s process and influence on the art world of the 1960s.

Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani
Through April 22

In Toute la mémoire du monde – The world’s knowledge, Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani reinterpret French director Alain Resnais’ similarly titled 1956 film. Resnais’ twenty three-minute documentary sweeps through the historic French Bibliothèque Nationale on Rue de Richelieu in Paris, exposing how the library functions as a storehouse of all the world’s knowledge.

Christine Blizard
Women and Their Work
Through April 26

In When I was 16 I saw the White Buffalo, Blizard uses collage, sculpture, video animations and installation. Half of the exhibit represents her studio as a metaphor for: the daytime, the physical, the present tense, the here and now, but also the space where artists can go away and create.

Art on the Green
Laguna Gloria
Through May 20

Art on the Green encourages visitors to explore the unique setting of Laguna Gloria with its 12 acres of grounds on Lake Austin, and outdoor sculptures which are part of AMOA-Arthouse’s permanent collection. For the exhibition, nine Texas artists and designers will create miniature golf holes that respond to the site and encourage a diverse audience to go outside and play. A bonus tenth hole will be located on the rooftop of the Jones Center, linking this exhibition to both museum locations.

Austin Closings

Justin Boyd
Visual Arts Center
Through March 10

In his site-specific exhibition, Dubforms, San Antonio-based artist Justin Boyd re-articulates the space of The Arcade by responding to its most striking element: a pair of floor-to-ceiling bay windows.

Diana Al-Hadid
Visual Arts Center
Through March 10

Sculptor Diana Al-Hadid constructs forms that are a baroque complex of architectural structures and figurative allusions, which appear to be in a state between construction and deconstruction.

Elaine I-Ling Shen
Through March 10

Everything Is Possible Again, an exhibition of photographs and sculptures by artist Elaine I-Ling Shen that explores the complex nature of childhood and human impulse.

Laurie Frick
Women and Their Work
Through March 10

Laurie Frick draws from neuroscience to construct intricately hand-built work and installations that explore the nature of pattern and the mind. Using her background in engineering and technology she explores self-tracking and compulsive organization. She creates life's most basic patterns as color coded charts. Steps walked, calories expended, weight, sleep, time-online, gps location, daily mood as color, micro-journal of food ingested are all part of her daily tracking. She collects personal data using gadgets that point toward a time where complete self-surveillance will be the norm.

Shawn Camp
Co-Lab Space
Through March 10

Above Every Plane and Around Every Circle uses light, sound, and paint as a meditation on transmutation and recurrence.

Red Space
Through March 11

Red Space Gallery is pleased to present artist Kristin Gamez (of the Más Rudas collective) and her performance and video installation project: *Falling to Pieces.*

Noriko Ambe
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Through March 17

White Scape, an exhibition in the project room of recent monochromatic works by Japanese artist Noriko Ambe. Each piece in the show is made up of many layers of meticulously-cut paper. Ambe cuts each sheet in a way that, when stacked, creates an object resembling a three-dimensional topographic map that charts a space between physical and emotional geography.

Carlos H. Lozano
Mexican American Cultural Center
Through March 20

In FINGERPRINTS of REALITY by Carlos H. Lozano, the photos recreate the daily life of the immigrant who works in both urban and rural arenas, and builds his future based on strong family ties. The photos also record the realities of immigrant women, who risk their lives to sustain the welfare of their children. This exhibition takes a closer look into real human experiences that every day deepen the roots of Hispanic heritage in a nation full of immigrants.

Roy Medrano
Mexican American Cultural Center
Through March 20

“I started the series Barrio Scenes so that my grandchildren could see what East Austin used to look like, the landmarks, restaurants,automobiles, and street scenes. Hopefully through my art people will remember the struggle our raza went through. I have a lot more to paint.”- Artist Statement

San Antonio Openings

San Antonio Collects: Contemporary
San Antonio Museum of Art
Opening Saturday, March 24

San Antonio Collects: Contemporary is an exhibition that recognizes the role that San Antonio collectors have played in the city’s evolution towards becoming recognized as a premier art destination.

San Antonio on View

Riley Robinson
cactus bra SPACE
Through March 25

Maryanne is Robinson’s first San Antonio exhibition in 3 years. The new sculpture follows a series of welded steel works that make sardonic statements about memory and belief systems. The artwork is based on the steam shovel in the children's book "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel" by Virginia Lee Burton.

Ann Wood
Three Walls
Through March 29

Three Walls announces an exhibition by Galveston artist Ann Wood entitled Still.Life. Wood’s work involves immediate and dramatic environments/installations that initially seem inviting.

Tony Feher
Through April 29

Tony Feher’s installations take inspiration from existing architectural elements, revealing the environment anew for viewers. His artworks’ relationship to the space in which they are presented is inseparably fundamental, and in effect, the architecture becomes a part of the exhibition. In this way, the Hudson (Show)Room and the Artpace facility play leading roles in Thomas Hoving.

Guillermina Zabala
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
Through May 5

Guillermina Zabala has spent the last five years developing the documentary film, Juanito's Lab, an exploration on the life and art of Juanito Castillo, a 22-year-old musician who many consider a musical genius.

Issac Julien
Linda Pace Foundation
Through June 30

TEN THOUSAND WAVES was filmed on location in China and poetically weaves together stories linking China’s ancient past and present. The work explores the movement of people across countries and continents and meditates on unfinished journeys. Conceived and created over four years, Julien collaborated with some of China’s leading artistic voices.

San Antonio Closings

New Works on Paper
David Shelton Gallery
Through March 17

Exhibition with works by Jonathan Faber, Sara Frantz, Kelly O'Connor, Dan Sutherland and Vincent Valdez.

Cornelia White Swann
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
Through March 24

Spaces in Between includes a series of paintings on paper. Within these works, Cornelia White Swann explores ideas of dissonance, harmony, convergences and the nuances that lie in between.

Houston Openings

Grandalism featuring NIZ
Diverseworks Art Space
Opening Reception: Friday, March 16, 6-9pm

Grandalism is a season-long series of street art commissions presented in partnership with GONZO247, founder of Aerosol Warfare. Throughout the season, the DiverseWorks dock will be the backdrop for a series of rotating, large-scale works that features accomplished street artists.

Marina Zurkow and Daniel Shiffman
Diverseworks Art Space
Opening Reception: Friday, March 16, 6-9pm

What does the drill bit see? This was the driving question that led to the development of a visualization that explores both new and time-worn representations of geological strata, petroleum, and time. Flickerlounge will feature an installation with multiple video monitors as well as scaled down replicas of Dupont Tychem TK hazardous material suits.

Houston on View

Amy Blakemore
Inman Gallery
Through April 7

Amy Blakemore's new photographs depict a variety of scenes the artist observed while traveling through Mexico and her home of Houston, Texas. Ranging from landscapes to portraits to still lifes, the images document situations in which objects have been arranged or placed, sometimes carefully, sometimes haphazardly and sometimes inadvertently on display.

Demetrius Oliver
Inman Gallery
Through April 7

Demetrius Oliver's new series of drawings derive from an installation he created at D'Amelio Terras Gallery in New York in fall 2011. Entitled Orrery, the installation featured umbrella frames and studio debris suspended around a single light bulb, mimicking the eponymous model used to depict the movements of the planets and their satellites in the Solar System. The drawings, the artist's first in ten years, recycle Orrery's umbrella ribs and stretchers to articulate line and space in two dimensions.

Kyle Young
Art Palace
Through April 7

PUSH PLAY is exactly what Kyle Young has done recently. Taking a pause from his studio to work on other ventures, he has picked up the remote and pushed 'play' again. Returning to the studio has proven to be a continuation from where he left off approximately eight years ago.

Emily Peacock
Lawndale Art Center
Through April 14

Solo exhibit in the Grace R. Cavnar Gallery: You, Me, & Diane. Emily Peacock presents a series of photographs based on work from the seminal book Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph for the exhibition.

Jim Nolan & Linda Post
Lawndale Art Center
Through April 14

Jim Nolan and Linda Post present their first major collaborative project, a site-specific installation that looks toward Lawndale Art Center itself for inspiration for the exhibition: LOW IMPACT (RESISTANCE TO FLOW/THIS IS BOB DYLAN TO ME) SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

Randall McCabe
Lawndale Art Center
Through April 14

In the Project Space, a portion of Randall McCabe's 100' long drawing consisting of repetitive marks made since the drawing began in 2005 will be on view in the exhibition Scroll.

Perspectives 177: McArthur Binion
Contempoary Art Museum of Houston
Through April 1

Perspectives 177: McArthur Binion is the Houston debut for this Chicago-based, mid-career painter and the artist’s first solo museum exhibition. For this exhibition, Binion has created a new body of work that extends his visual narrative through color and geometric form. Decidedly minimal, Binion’s work embodies a strong intellect rooted in the expressive capabilities of color and abstraction.

The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991
Contempoary Art Museum of Houston
Through April 15

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is pleased to present The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991, a survey of leading women artists that examines the crucial feminist contribution to the development of deconstructivism in the 1970s and ’80s. This exhibition is organized by Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York.

David Anguilu
Lawndale Art Center
Through June 2012

Daniel Anguilu transformed Lawndale's north exterior wall into a mural. Anguilu’s work can be found throughout Houston, including locations in the East End and most recently on Midtown’s MHMRA building. Anguilu’s style is deeply inspired by his Mexican heritage, and mostly manifests itself as large-scale murals.

Houston Closings

Joel Shapiro
Rice Gallery
Through March 18

Known for his geometric, abstract sculptures that appear to bound across museum walls, floors, and sculpture gardens, Shapiro has embarked on an entirely new body of work, creating room-sized installations of colorful shapes and lines that seem to hover in suspended animation. Shapiro describes his approach to installation art as “the projection of thought into space without the constraint of architecture.” He adds in an interview, “I feel like I’ve been working for so long to have finally built up this moment of discovery that I can get the work off the floor and be more playful in the air.”

Dallas on View

Ian F. Thomas and Jon Shumway
Brazos Gallery
Through March 29

In their collaborative installation Incidental Transformations, Ian F. Thomas and Jon Shumway's project digital video and light onto ceramic forms. The Pennsylvania based artists offer a reexamination of traditional media and a restructuring of gallery usage. Erecting several walls and blacking out windows, the installation engages interior/exterior dynamics, requiring audience members to disrupt lighting patterns and projections as they navigate the re-situated space.

Benjamin Terry and Giovanni Valderas
Lago Vista Gallery
Through March 29

Richland College presents Fragment, new art installations by artists Benjamin Terry and Giovanni Valderas. Expanding their unique styles of painting and figure/ground abstraction the artists embrace the challenge of working on two curved walls in the Lago Vista Gallery. Both artists currently explore notions of loss and erasure through layering, providing persistent figurative content as a platform for conceptual and formal inquiry.

Linda Ridgway
Talley Dunn Gallery
Through April 14

Talley Dunn Gallery is pleased to present Alice, the poet and the grasslands, an exhibition of recent drawings and bronze sculptures by renowned artist Linda Ridgway.

Mark Manders
Dallas Contemporary
Through April 15

The first major North American exhibition of work by acclaimed Dutch artist Mark MandersMark Manders: Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments features a body of new sculptures and works on paper created specifically for it. This nationally touring exhibition includes roughly fifteen new sculptural works and three loaned works, one of which is from The Pinnell Collection of Dallas.

Elliott Hundley
Nasher Sculpture Center
Through April 22

Elliott Hundley's The Bacchae featuring 11 recent medium- to large-scale wall-mounted and free-standing constructions highlights his investigations of the ancient Greek tragedy "The Bacchae" (ca. 406 BC) by Euripides. Encompassing a variety of media including assemblage, theatrical staging, and photography, this exhibition continues the Nasher’s exploration of sculpture’s rich and myriad possibilities.

Rebecca Carter, Terri Thornton and Sally Warren
Free Museum of Dallas
Opened December 2, 2011

A text, a photograph, a rock, a narrative, a person, a memory, a place, a trauma: any number of things may enter within close proximity, coming close enough to be "held," intimately handled and unquestioned, preserved without understanding. The act of holding bears testament to their meaning in Things Held and Never Understood.

Dallas Closings

Oliver Francis Gallery
Through March 17

Oliver Francis Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition SYSOP DEMO, a solo project of ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Exchange) seriality and social cheating. The 4 large paintings in the exhibition are sourced and transferred from the artist’s archive of Amiga keystroke drawings of the 1990s and exhibited here for the first time.

David Jablonowski
Dallas Contemporary
Through March 18

David Jablonowski’s first North American solo exhibition entitled, Many to Many (Stone Carving High Performance), challenges the traditional “one to many” relationship between the artist and the public advocating instead the “many to many” dialogs of multi-layered voices.

Dallas Contemporary
Through March 18

Austin-based artist FAILURE will present his first major institutional exhibition at Dallas Contemporary. FAILURE has been painting graffiti outdoors since 1993 and began with the FAILURE poster imagery in the early 2000’s in Houston. He will present an exhibition of wheat paste posters with spray paint and collage.

Marfa on View

Data Deluge
Ballroom Marfa
Through July 8

The ongoing dialogue between the digital and physical worlds provides the backdrop for Data Deluge, an exhibition that presents a selection of sculpture, furniture, painting, photography, video, sound and works on paper by artists who shape Web-based and software-generated data into art.

Announcements: Events

Austin Events

Beauty Is Embarrassing World Premiere
Vimeo Theater
Saturday, March 10, 7-8:30pm

Beauty Is Embarrassing, a documentary on the creative life of Wayne White. The film will also be screened from March 10 - March 14 at various locations around Austin, TX.

Artist book signing and opening exhibition of Beauty Is Embarrassing: The Art of Wayne White
Domy Books
Sunday March 11, 7-10pm

The free exhibition runs March 11-April 19, 2012.

2012 Five X Seven SPLURGE
Wednesday, April 4, 7-10pm
Admission: $25

Attending the Five x Seven SPLURGE on April 4 ensures you will have first pick of over 1,000 original 5×7-inch works of art by emerging and established contemporary artists.

A bold, beautiful benefit for Women & Their Work
The home of Honorary Hosts, Karen and Rick Hawkins
Saturday, April 14, 8-11pm

Get your art on at an evening of high style, delectable edibles and drinks, a silent art auction and intriguing entertainment.

Houston Events

Artist Talk
Lawndale Art Center
Friday, March 9, 6pm

Jim and Linda Post, Chuy Benitez, Emily Peacock, and Randall McCabe.

The Asia Society Texas Center Opening
Asia Society Texas
April 12 - April 15

The Asia Society Texas Center opens its new headquarters in the heart of Houston’s Museum District with a four-day celebration April 12-15, 2012.

Dallas Events

Artist Talk and Image Presentation
The McKinney Avenue Contemporary
Friday, March 9, 6:30pm

Ian F. Thomas and Jon Shumway.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Applicants

Land Arts of the American West Program
The College of Architecture at Texas Tech University
Deadline: April 9, 5pm

Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech University seeks to cultivate collective energy within an expanded disciplinary range of examinations from architecture, the built environment, public culture, literature, science, and geography to explorations of contemporary art practices.

Call for Entries

New Art/Arte Nuevo: San Antonio 2012
The University of Texas at San Antonio
Deadline: March 23

The University of Texas at San Antonio, announces New Art/Arte Nuevo: San Antonio 2012. This biennial juried exhibition will feature the work of artists living and working – or with roots/raices – in South and West Texas. A print catalog will accompany the exhibition.

2012 Austin Screen Play Festival
Austin Film Festival
Regular Deadline: May 15 ($40) Late Deadline: June 1 ($50)

The Writers Guild of America, East is now the underwriting sponsor of the Drama Screenplay Award category (open to Historical, Western, Drama, Family, Romance, Horror, Thriller, etc.). Drama Finalist scripts will be judged by a select panel of WGAe screenwriters and the winner will be presented by a WGAe representative at the Awards Luncheon during the 2012 Conference.

2012 Austin Film festival
Austin Film Festival
Deadline: June 1 ($30)

Open to spec scripts for any currently airing television program and original pilot scripts: sitcom spec, one-hour spec, sitcom pilot, and one-hour pilot.

Residency Opportunities

Two-week Residencies for Arts Faculty
Deadline: April 6

Over the summer, Ox-Bow offers 2-week residencies for artists who are also faculty members in the arts, in an adjunct or full time capacity. This program is designed to give teaching artists the much needed time to focus on their own work throughout the summer and also to connect to other faculty who are teaching at Ox-Bow.

SOMA Summer
Deadline: April 15

Six-week summer program for international artists, curators, critics and art historians conducted in English in Mexico City: July 02 to August 11, 2012. Application deadline: Online applications will be accepted until Sunday April 15th, 2012. The application review process begins March 1st, 2012.

Two-week to Five-week Residencies for Artists
Deadline: May 11

The Ox-Bow hosts artists from around the world, working in a wide variety of media. Given the small nature of the program, residents have a remarkable opportunity to create a close community. Most nights feature slide lectures, studio visits, or informal conversations.

Internship Opportunities


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

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