MBG Issue #92: Launch Pad

Issue # 92

Launch Pad

February 12, 2008

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Chantal Akerman, Women From Antwerp in November, 2007, Video installation, Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris.

from the editor

We at Fluent~Collaborative are delighted to re-launch … might be good, our contemporary arts e-publication based in Austin, Texas. As you’ll notice … might be good has a new look and feel; we’re deliberately offering shorter, more concise issues and pithier features for your reading pleasure.

Five years ago, in 2003, Fluent~Collaborative recognized a need in Austin for communication among the film, music, performing and visual art scenes and between the university and arts organizations in Austin. In response, we created … might be good as an arts listing service to foster interaction and dialogue between these communities. Over the years, the publication grew to incorporate critical reviews, interviews and artists’ work and eventually our scope expanded to include coverage of art events farther afield than Texas.

As … might be good takes off again in 2008 with a list of over 5,000 international subscribers, we reaffirm our commitment to fostering thoughtful dialogue about the production and reception of contemporary art. As always, … might be good will offer features that respond to noteworthy happenings within our immediate surroundings in Austin, our regional setting within Texas and the context of art communities worldwide.

In this issue, … might be good introduces a new feature—Artist’s Space—dedicated to presenting new work in the format of digital images, sound and video. Artist’s Space offers its participants an opportunity to create work, often work designed for exhibition via the Internet, and to present this work to … might be good’s international audience. For our first Artist’s Space, Jules Buck Jones has brought together a suite of trinocular beasts. Among other features, this issue also includes an interview with Kelly Baum, former Assistant Curator of American and Contemporary Art at the Blanton Museum, and a review of between to and from at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, a group exhibition of emerging artists that includes work by Heather Johnson, an artist who left a lasting mark on the Austin art community before she moved to New York last year.

Lastly, we’re pleased to report that Fluent~Collaborative has resumed testsite, its experimental exhibition program dedicated to fostering collaborations between artists and writers (and others less easily categorized). On view right now is testsite 08.1 Ether, a collaboration between art historian Frances Colpitt and artist Terri Thorton. Looking ahead, this year’s testsite schedule includes a collaboration between ICA Philadelphia Curator Ingrid Schaffner and artist Beverly Semmes (opening April 6, 2008) and a collaboration between Dean of Graduate Studies at California College of the Arts, Larry Rinder and artist Cliff Hengst (opening June 15, 2008).

We’re thrilled to be re-launching testsite and … might be good. Dig in.

P.S. We’d love to receive your feedback on our new design, created for us by Paul Kremer of The Speared Peanut. Please email us at info@fluentcollab.org to let us know what you think about the form and functionality of the new ...might be good.

Claire Ruud is Managing Editor of … might be good.


Kelly Baum

By Mary Katherine Matalon

Installation view from Transactions at The Jack S. Blanton Christine Hill, Care Package [Volksboutique Products Division], 2003 Dimensions variable Courtesy of Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin.

In November 2007, Kelly Baum left her position as Assistant Curator of American and Contemporary Art at The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas and became the Locks Curatorial Fellow for Contemporary Art at the Princeton University Art Museum. Before she left, Kelly sat down with … might be good for coffee at Spiderhouse to talk about her five years in Austin and her future in Princeton.

… might be good: You arrived at the Blanton in 2002—right in the middle of the construction of the new building. Could you start by talking about all the changes you’ve seen at the Blanton during your time there?

Kelly Baum: I arrived at the Blanton about a week or so after they broke ground on the new building, so I witnessed the entire construction and planning phase. Prior to the opening of the new building, the museum was stuffed into a small (and honestly not very attractive) gallery in the art building. Our membership was pretty small and it seems like I rarely saw students or faculty (or anyone else) in the gallery. All of the curators at the Blanton were really hungry for a proper venue to exhibit art as well as a public to consider and respond to that art. And this is precisely what they got when the Blanton opened in April 2006. It’s been an exciting and wonderful transformation to witness.

… might be good:  In the last exhibition you curated for the Blanton, Transactions (September 11 – November 18, 2007), you brought together a group of artists who purposefully create work that was initially intended to be sited outside the context of the  museum. How did you become interested in this type of practice?

KB: Transactions grew out of the dissertation I wrote on Guy Debord and the Situationist International. The Situationists were a group of artists-activists from the 1960s who wanted to find a way to distribute their art and build an audience for it without participating in the market economy—the very system they were trying to dismantle. In order to circumvent this system, the Situationists gave a lot of their art work away. They also dropped it into public spaces and graffitied it onto walls. With this precedent in mind, I wanted to investigate contemporary artists who also make work that aspires to the condition of a kind of public art, work that explores alternative extra-institutional systems of distribution.

… might be good: In curating Transactions, did you find it difficult to install work at the Blanton since so much of it was not originally intended to be seen in a gallery or museum context?

KB: I tried to lessen this admittedly problematic situation by spending a lot of time talking to the artists about how they wanted their work to be physically represented in the gallery. I was very aware that I was placing works that were originally designed to occupy public spaces in a more or less foreign context. Another way I dealt with this situation was by commissioning three original “public art” projects—Conrad Bakker’s e-commerce website, Zoë Sheehan Saldaña’s Paper Bag Trade and Ben Kinmont’s Vietnam War Ads—that could only be experienced in their original form (and not as documentation) by leaving the museum.

But back to the problem of showing this type of work in a museum. I do think you could make the argument that in Transactions I’m institutionalizing institutional critique (as opposed to simply creating a conceptual framework for understanding an important yet overlooked aspect of contemporary artistic production). On the other hand, you might also make the argument that Transactions actually points to the failure of the institution to “domesticate” that which summons up the specter of its obsolescence, that which subjects the institution to varying forms of critique. In other words, to what degree, if at all, did the work in the exhibition successfully resist its own institutionalization? It’s a point that’s up for debate.

… might be good: During your time in Austin, you’ve also curated exhibitions for other venues. Can you talk a little bit about your favorite of these projects?

KB: I was really happy with the way The Sirens’ Song, the exhibition I curated for Arthouse, turned out. A lot of the work in The Sirens’ Song had never been shown before. When it arrived at Arthouse and I finally saw it on the wall, I realized I could have curated a different exhibition using the same paintings. While The Sirens’ Song was organized around the theme of narrative, the exhibition also could have been about the ways in which artists are responding to the current social and political climate—there was palpable trepidation and anxiety in those paintings. The exhibition ended up being multifaceted in a way that surprised and excited me.

… might be good: You are leaving Austin at an interesting moment. There’s been a huge influx of real estate development—with numerous high rise condos being built all over the city. One of the places that’s changing the most is the east side—a neighborhood where a lot of artists have tended to live. How do you think this development will affect Austin artists? 

KB: I worry that artists will eventually be priced out of Austin. Austin is already a pretty expensive place to live, and we all know there’s a dearth of studio space in town. On a more positive note, the new lofts and, by extension, the people who are occupying them may end up expanding Austin’s donor and collector base. The question is: will the people renting the lofts patronize local institutions and buy works from local artists? I hope so. The support of contemporary arts in Austin is still very slim compared to Houston or Dallas.

… might be good: One final question—can you tell me a bit about your new position at Princeton?

KB: My title is the Locks Curatorial Fellow for Contemporary Art. Basically, I’ll be launching a new contemporary arts program for the museum and acting as its first curator of contemporary art. I’ll also teach a class or two in the Department of Art and Archaeology. My appointment coincides with a campus-wide arts initiative being actively promoted by the university’s president, who wants to integrate the arts more fully into the curriculum. There will be a new arts complex, site-specific commissions in new buildings, and so on. When I traveled to Princeton in October to meet with faculty and staff, I got the sense that they’re all really hungry to have someone at the museum who will bring more living artists, and more work by living artists, to campus. It’s an ideal position to be in.


Every Revolution is a Roll of the Dice
Ballroom Marfa, Marfa
Closed February 3, 2008

By Katie Anania

Joan Wallace, The Pool Ladder Painting, No. 2, 2004, Latex on canvas, wood, stainless steel pool ladder 54 x 84 x 60 in. Courtesy the Artist and Ballroom Marfa. Photo: Tom Jenkins.

Curator Bob Nickas has set in motion many objectives in Every Revolution is a Roll of the Dice; walking through the exhibition, themes of power, irony, humanity, torture, violence, melancholy, participation, viscera, absurdist theatre and performance bubble easily to the surface. Works are arranged mostly in clusters and spread through expansive “islands” of black volcanic sand or white silica sand. The press release for the exhibition tells us that these objects have been distributed through the space in clusters to resemble castaways on a desert island and may evoke “the poignancy and absurdity of a Samuel Beckett play.” This “staging” of works is supposed to be a meditation on subjectivity, as well as a postcolonial argument about the nature of gallery viewing.

The most meritorious aspect of Nickas' setups is the aesthetic cohesion he achieves through the arrangements of forms. They do indeed form fascinating tableaux when distributed through the expanses of colored sand. In the main gallery, for instance, one encounters Joan Wallace’s Pool Ladder Painting, No. 2, a false pool ladder composed of two canvases placed against a stainless steel ladder that descends into the black volcanic sand below. The sculptures of disembodied heads and figural driftwood sculptures that surround it form a provocative visual argument about participation and humanness, particularly since viewers are allowed to walk through the black sand and become part of the tableau themselves.

Nickas’ castaway theme extends to the range of artists featured in Every Revolution. All the artists come from different regional and cultural backgrounds but are united by the fact that they now live and work in New York City. Nickas may have intended to show off the New York art world’s unparalleled ethnic federalism; however, it comes off as provincial hubris rather than diasporic pride. Nearly all the works in the exhibition are good, but the sheer variety of artist-nationalities cannot be a hook upon which to hang loose constellations of aesthetics and social ethics.

Adam Helms’ work in the exhibition consists of photos culled from various sources that affirm (dare I say repeat?) some of his earlier work on the semiotics of nationalism, masculinity and violence. Civil war etchings of bearded men in trees appear as close iterations of the photos of dead political radicals and hooded insurgents. Since Helms is given his own "wing" of the exhibition to lay out this argument, the work and its positioning appear to unify and distill the show conceptually. Fear Eats the Soul, Huma Bhabha’s chicken wire sculpture that affects the shape of a rotting head, might be pointed toward this work, but it’s hard to tell since Helms’ piece is at least 20 feet away.

Despite the hiccups in its premise, Every Revolution is rife with standout works. Corey McCorkle's short video depicting domestic dogs roaming through landscapes populated with ruined post-1900 buildings is an elegy to alienation, entropy and renewal. Wangechi Mutu’s electrifying outdoor installation consists of enamel plates balanced on stakes and placed at intervals in the Ballroom’s gravel yard. Bottles of red wine hover cork-side-down on leather harnesses, and they dribble various amounts of liquid into the plates below. The blood-red wine and its restrictive-looking hanging apparatus appear as formal allusions to tensionsthe hanging bottles can easily be read as victims of state-sanctioned torture. Joan Wallace’s Violent Pop Painting No. 2, a series of video stills of a red velvet cake in various stages of explosion, serves as a metaphor for the tension attached to stills of sudden explosions in Western culture.

Ultimately, the theme of Beckettian poetic/political strangeness is not completely successful here, and can serve to inhibit readings of the works and suppress their subjectivity rather than the other way around. The juxtaposition of Huma Bhabha's rotting head sculpture and Barry X. Ball's attenuated head sculpture made of Pakistani onyx oscillates between haunting and contrived. The expanses of black and white sand have such a strong resemblance to islands that the audience gets a jarring feeling of colonization-through-panorama. Tie that all together under a title referencing filmic re-workings of 19th century poetry and an exhibition card that depicts an image of an iPhone (to buttress a subtle argument about a global culture that is attached to the teat of images and information?), and you’ve got a recipe for a show that embodies many of the problems in contemporary curatorial practice. Every Revolution presents an intriguing argument, but definitely one that we’ve seen before.

Katie Anania is a researcher at Fluent~Collaborative and an editorial contributor to … might be good.

Brad Tucker: Opportunity Knocks
Art Palace, Austin
On view through February 16, 2008

By Josh Rios

Brad Tucker, Tangent, 2007, Acrylic and enamel on wood, 27 x 26 x 3 inches.

Opportunity Knocks, Brad Tucker’s solo exhibition at Art Palace, suggests that a carefully placed joke explains more about the nature of reality than a seemingly objective fact. Tucker’s show consists of two ambitious language-based projects—a three-channel video installation and an in-progress linoleum print book—as well as a series of wooden sculptural objects. His colorful sculptures, works like Get Around Town (2007), a piece that resembles an upside-down bicycle, set a playful tone in the gallery. The two language-based projects that constitute the majority of the exhibition employ a similar playfulness. Through wordplay—a comedic embrace of the literal—Tucker’s video installation and in-progress book subvert the ways that language creates meaning.

Tucker’s three-channel video installation, The Secret of Life and Death (2007), features videos of Tucker singing a text written by artist Allen Ruppersberg for an exhibition catalogue. The videos are installed within a hodgepodge arrangement of popish, thrift store, minimalist paintings that create a screen-like false wall. Beyond the screen, a tangle of DVD players, wires and coaxial adapters is visible. Tucker cordons off this mess of equipment behind a sculpture of an expanding gate. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” he seems to say, a statement which ultimately draws our attention towards the jumble behind the screen.

When the three videos of The Secret of Life and Death play together, each of the multiple Tuckers completes one portion of a string of statements or sentences. The videos evoke the confusing feeling of talking into a cell phone while it’s producing an echo. In a strategy akin to the projections of Tracy + the Plastics, Tucker occasionally appears behind himself in the videos playing various instruments. Somehow, the various Tuckers manage to cooperate and produce a sincere but clumsy song. The work is also reminiscent of John Baldessari Sings Sol LeWitt (1972), a video in which Baldessari sings statements about conceptual art by Sol LeWitt. Like Baldessari, Tucker sings the words of another artist—off kilter; like Baldessari’s, Tucker's manner is simultaneously respectful and skeptical. Dry, awkward truthfulness characterizes the videos by both artists.

As part of his other large-scale project at Art Palace, Try All (2007), Tucker has set up one of the galleries as a drying room for linoleum prints that will become part of a book. The prints hang like laundry on a wire while various sculptures of tools are scattered around the room, each exhibiting just enough of Tucker’s Oldenburg-like shift to peak interest. Try All exemplifies Tucker’s interest in wordplay. Each page is made up of a group of drawn images. When “read” in combination, each series of images produces a word or phrase used in the practice of law. For example, the title, Try All, sounds like trial. Tucker uses this exchange between images and words to manipulate language for the sake of confusion and humor. The pages of Try All, like the rest of the exhibition, are as charming to look at as they are to think about.

Josh Rios is a working artist, student of art history and co-founder of Okay Mountain gallery.

First Look 2008 Emerging Artists Series: between to and from
Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit
Closed January 25, 2008

By Harper Montgomery

Caitlin Masley, Portables, Singapore in NJ, 2007, Plotter prints on paper, Dimensions variable.

While it might seem that globalization has made geographic distances irrelevant, the works in between to and from suggest that our own experiences of space and time are still grounded in the mundane reality of how we negotiate the neighborhoods in which we live and work. Architecture, landscape and travel are presented from the point of view of bodies or individual psyches. The seriousness of corporate and industrial spaces is subverted with humor and whimsy. In one way or another, all of the projects on view stake out a subjective, even esoteric, way of negotiating contemporary spaces.

The works in between to and from address space and movement from a conceptual point of view—the drawings, videos, photographs and sculptures all use images and text to construct imaginary narratives about a range of different kinds of spaces. About three-fourths of the works are installed inside a traditional white-walled exhibition gallery while the rest occupy corridors and hallways of the Visual Arts Center (which is also an art school). A number of artists made temporary public works for the exhibition’s opening and Michele Beck and Jorge Calvo staged a performance. The content of this performance is conveyed in photographs of Beck and Calvo wrapped in translucent tape struggling to become unstuck from each other. Other public and performance-based projects remain undocumented in the exhibition.

The most compelling works in the show inject subjectivity into the corporate structures that shape our environment. In her embroidered wall hanging, Heather Johnson, an artist who recently relocated to New York from Austin, overlays snippets of private narrative on top of a developer’s map for a cookie-cutter suburb. Topographical contours of hills, lot lines, floor plans and cul-de-sacs are interspersed with incomplete phrases that suggest both romantic longing and the mundane logistics of life and relationships. Phrases such as “Like a cup of coffee” and “that’ll be $3.75” appear sprinkled among more enigmatic lines like, “called her lover” and “complain about you shopping all the time?”

Richard Garrison also focuses on the mundane movements of life. He translates his trips to the grocery store, daily wanderings around town and visits to fast food chains into schematic drawings by charting his “data” using a predetermined system. In the series, Drive Thru Color Scheme (2007), for instance, he charts the signature palettes of fast food chains such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Taco Bell into grid-like compositions. In another work entitled Shopping Cart Inertia (2007) he records his movements around the grocery store with a series of dot and drip drawings that suggest a strange perversion of automatist surrealist techniques.

Nayda Collazo-Llorens and Letha Wilson both exploit the unique ability of video to capture a first person point of view. Wilson, in Double Western (2007), projects two videos side-by-side on the wall: one of her walking through the offices and hallways of the Visual Arts Center and another through the deserts and canyons of Arizona and Utah. By consciously using the same gait and pacing, and by pausing and turning in the same way in both shots, she shows us the strange equivalence her point of view asserts on these dramatically different settings. In Transport (2007), Collazo-Llorens takes us on a strange journey in which our point of view becomes exhilaratingly disembodied. Texts in both Spanish and English urge us to let go, to “flap your wings,” but also warn us that, “the route is long and progress slow.” The camera follows flocks of birds, blurring and fading into abstract webs of color and pattern, until we find ourselves behind the wheel of a car or walking through a forest.

between to and from is billed as an exhibition of 11 emerging artists working in the New York Metropolitan area, and there is an earnest inflection in almost all the works in this exhibition that is unusual to find in emerging artists’ work. This lack of irony and polish is especially encouraging to find in young artists based in New York. It suggests that issues that once were associated with identity politics of the 1990s—the body and subjectivity—are being newly mined with promising results by young artists at work today.

Harper Montgomery is an art critic and independent curator. She lives in New York City and is working on a dissertation in the Art History Department at the University of Chicago on avant-gardes in Mexico City and Buenos Aires during the 1920s.

Chantal Akerman: Moving through Time and Space
Blaffer Gallery, Houston
On view through March 29, 2008

By Clare Elliott

Chantal Akerman, From the East: Bordering on Fiction, 1995, Video installation. Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris.

Moving through Time and Space, an exhibition of video installations by Chantal Akerman currently on view at the Blaffer Gallery in Houston, reveals the enigmatic power of the filmmaker’s camera to evoke and explore themes of dislocation, alienation and transformation. The exhibition is organized chronologically, beginning with From the East: Bordering on Fiction (1995), Akerman’s first foray into video installation, and culminating in Women from Antwerp (2007), a new work filmed in anticipation of this exhibition.

Chantal AkermanDown There, 2006. Video Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris.

From the East: Bordering on Fiction (1995), installed in two rooms, introduces Akerman’s distinct style—achingly slow pans and lingering stills create a subdued atmosphere. In the first room, twenty-four screens display four-minute loops of the footage from her 1993 film D’Est, a documentary about Eastern Europe: people standing in line, gathering in vast train stations, milling about snowy streets or performing routine tasks in their homes. In the second room, a single monitor on the gallery floor shows a darkened street. As the image fades to black, a female voice alternately reads in English and Hebrew. The dark, disorienting installation and abstracted narrative underscore the dislocation of Akerman’s subjects as they transition to a post-Soviet era.

The adjacent gallery contains South (1999), a work that carries particular weight when exhibited in Houston, a city located in close proximity to the film’s setting. After James Byrd, an African American man, was dragged to his death behind a truck by three white men, Akerman turned her camera to the east Texas town of Jasper where the murder took place. South unfolds in a deliberate pace on a single wall-sized screen. Interviews from the town’s residents, black and white, are interspersed with scenes from Byrd’s funeral and the everyday life of the town. Finally, Akerman’s signature pan follows a three-mile stretch of highway—the three miles that Byrd was dragged on the evening of June 7, 1998—to provide the work’s powerful coda.

The installation that follows, From the Other Side (2002), spans three rooms. Inside the first gallery, a single monitor displays footage of migrants as they attempt the illegal journey from Mexico into the United States. In the second, the same footage is broken up and distributed among 24 separate screens. Simultaneously the screens present images of arid desert, miles of fencing, a highway at night and spotlights searching and discovering migrants as they run for cover. In the third room, a single large screen displays an image of the desert at sunset.

Two newer and more personal works complete the exhibition on the second floor of the gallery. Down There (2006) documents Akerman’s stay in Tel Aviv. Afraid to leave her apartment due to the ongoing violence of the city, she captured the majority of the footage through the closed blinds of her window. Women from Antwerp in November (2007), commissioned especially for the exhibition, presents on opposite walls images of women smoking cigarettes in mysterious vignettes. Reminiscent of film noir, the clips suggest an archetypal character within the genre—the fallen woman. Smoking's increasing social unacceptability adds to the rebelliousness of the women in these films.

Thoughtfully arranged, carefully selected, and deftly installed Moving through Time and Space offers a provocative survey of Akerman’s video installations to date.

Clare Elliott is Assistant Curator of The Menil Collection in Houston. She most recently organized Vivid Vernacular: William Christenberry, William Eggleston and Walker Evans, currently on view at the Menil through April 20, 2008.

project space

Jules Buck Jones

Tallahassee - Scientists who reintroduced the red wolf (Canis rufus) into its natural habitat in the 1980s have noticed extraordinary wolves roaming the coastal prairies. Once on the verge of extinction, Florida red wolves are not only thriving outside of captivity, some are believed to have developed a third eye—perhaps an evolutionary transformation or perhaps a sign of the creatures’ spiritual enlightenment. Biologist Uwe Spinner of the Red Wolf Institute was first to discover the astounding mutation in the species. "At first, I thought the so-called eyes were simply ocular markings, like those that occur on certain insects. But no, the wolves' eyes respond to changes in light and motion. I have even seen them blink."

Much of the credit for Spinner's discovery goes to Jules Buck Jones, an artist who claims to have observed numerous three-eyed cats, including ocelots, tigers and lions, while traveling across remote regions of Central America, Africa and Southeast Asia. Eager to share his knowledge of trinocular felines with the scientific community, Jones published photographs of the animals in 2007. "I was thrilled when Uwe contacted me," remarked Jones. "I knew there must have been other three-eyed animals out there. We just needed more people to be receptive to the possibility of their existence. Once people believed in them, I was certain we would discover others." We publish here Jones's complete photographic portfolio of known trinocular species. CH

...mbg recommends

Mads Lynnerup: If You See Anything Interesting Please Let Someone Know Immediately
Lora Reynolds Gallery
On view through March 1, 2008

By Kate Watson

Mads Lynnerup, Gallery Counter (detail), 2006, Wood, mannequin head with wig, vase, flowers, and chair, Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Lora Reynolds Gallery.

If you missed his raucous opening night performance as a live hood ornament riding a car through downtown, don’t fret—every piece in Mads Lynnerup: If You See Anything Interesting Please Let Someone Know Immediately offers the same mischievous brand of humor. Mads, a native of Denmark, logged some quality time in San Francisco before moving to New York last year to attend Columbia’s MFA program. The artist is a master of manipulating his environment with a casual wit and grace that is deeply connected to his nomadic instincts—he is gifted at absorbing the character of whatever city in which he has landed. He relies on the materials that are readily available to make his inventive and seemingly spontaneous works in video, performance, drawing and sculpture. Mads is sure to keep you on your toes with this show—say hello to the gallery assistant behind the desk and you’ll know what we mean.

Kate Watson lives and works in Austin, TX. She is a founding member of the AVB video collective.


Otabenga Jones & Associates, Luke Savisky, Cauleen Smith and Lili (Kaneem) Smith receive Creative Capital Grants

Creative Capital has announced the 41 recipients of its 2008 Film/Video and Visual Artist Grants, including former testsite participants Luke Savisky and Cauleen Smith, Houston-based collective Otabenga Jones & Associates and Houston-based artist Lili (Kaneem) Smith. Each has received a $10,000 initial grant. As the projects develop, the organization offers additional funds. Projects may receive as much as $50,000 each through the tenure of the multi-year grant. Among the many panelists on the selection committee were Andrea Grover (Aurora Picture Show, Houston) and Valerie Cassell Oliver (Contemporary Arts Museum Houston).

Austin Video Bee DVD Released on February 11

The Austin-based multimedia collective, Austin Video Bee, released its first compilation, Failure, on February 11. AVB seeks to promote experimental and innovative work and to provide exposure for under-represented and female video and performance artists. The group focuses on inexpensive and accessible theme-based compilations on DVD, as well as screenings and festivals that serve to promote the work to everyone, artists and non-artists alike.

The Blanton receives award for its 2007 exhibition The Geometry of Hope

The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas has received the prestigious award for “Best Thematic Show Nationally” from the United States section of the International Association of Art Critics for its 2007 exhibition The Geometry of Hope: Latin American Abstract Art from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection The award will be presented to the museum at an awards ceremony at New York’s Guggenheim Museum on March 17, 2008.

Staff Changes at the Blanton

In November 2007, Kelly Baum, former Assistant Curator of American and Contemporary Art at The Blanton Museum of Art, left to become the Locks Curatorial Fellow for Contemporary Art at the Princeton University Art Museum (see the interview with Kelly Baum in this issue). At the Blanton, Risa Puleo has replaced Kelly as Assistant Curator of American and Contemporary Art. Gabriel Perez-Barreiro, Curator of Latin American Art at since 2002, will leave the museum as of March 31, 2008, to take a position in New York as director of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. Jessie Otto Hite, who has been the director of the museum for 15 years, is also retiring at the end of the month and Ann Wilson, Associate Director of the Blanton, will serve as interim director as of March 1, 2008.

The McNay Art Museum galleries closed until June 2008

The McNay Art Museum temporarily closed its galleries beginning January 7, 2008. The museum will remain “dark” until the grand opening and celebration of the Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions in June 2008.

Announcements: Exhibitions

Austin Openings

New Art in Austin: 20 to Watch
Austin Museum of Art
February 16 - May 11, 2008

20 to Watch introduces emerging and lesser-known artists from Central Texas whose work stretches the boundaries of contemporary art. As a state-wide traveling exhibition accompanied by a full-color scholarly catalogue, the exhibition will bring cutting edge work in a variety of media to a broad audience.

In Katrina’s Wake
WorkSpace Gallery, Blanton Museum of Art
February 16 – May 25, 2008

How do artists respond to calamity? In New Orleans, many resident artists and a number of those observing from outside have been moved by the need for community relief, healing and support and have directed their work to address these immediate social and spiritual concerns. This group exhibition, the result of a year's research by curator Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, a former resident of the city, will feature film and video, drawings, photographs, and mixed media works by artists including Willie Birch (New Orleans), Paul Chan (New York), Dawn Dedeaux (New Orleans), Jana Napoli (New Orleans), Cauleen Smith (Boston), and others.

Ryan Lauderdale and Michael Berryhill: Greetings from Berrydale
okay mountain
February 15 - March 15, 2008

In their drawing-based practices, Michael Berryhill and Ryan Lauderdale rely on the ephemeral nature of memory and personal history. Both artists rely equally on interior and environmental influences throughout their process. Berryhill is currently based in New York and will finish his M.F.A. in Painting at Columbia University in 2009. Lauderdale is based in Austin. Both artists received their B.F.A.s from the University of Texas at Austin.

Austin On View

Ivan Lozano: Fantasy Vision Meditation (In Color)
MASS Gallery
On view through March 8, 2008

This room-sized sculptural video installation is the first “episode” in a series investigating the parallel historical narratives of disco, gay liberation movements and AIDS. Lozano creates an elegy to the fallen soldiers in the hidden cultural wars of the 70s and 80s by transforming two sources from popular culture. Lozano imbues his materials with pathos by a careful and labor-intensive digital exegesis of the unconscious spiritual elements hidden in the originals.

Hills Snyder: All Good Children (dedicated to Linda Pace)
Gallery 68, Flatbed Press
On view through February 24

After a lengthy manhunt and speedy trial, Hills Snyder's date with eternity came to pass at 8:30pm, January 19, 2008, at Gallery 68 in Austin, Texas. Snyder's list of victims is long, including Regine Basha, Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, Mike Casey, Frances Colpitt, Anjali Gupta, Laurence Miller, Cynthia Toles and Catherine Walworth. The prisoner was delivered to the chair personally by arresting officer, Elaine Wolff. The execution was performed on January 19 by "head" Curator, Nate Cassie.

It’s Gonna Be Everything: Okay Mountain Exhibition
Creative Research Laboratory
On view through February 29, 2008

This exhibition features collaborative work by Okay Mountain staff originating from games, challenges or rules imposed by and on the group. Together, they have created installations, drawings and videos as a metaphor for their joint effort in leading Okay Mountain.

Mads Lynnerup: If You See Anything Interesting Please Let Someone Know Immediately
lora reynolds gallery
On view through March 1, 2008

See Kate Watson’s …might be good recommends in this issue.

Fritz Haeg: Attack on the Front Lawn
On view through March 16, 2008. Sundown Schoolhouse Workshops: Saturdays 3-5 pm through March 8

Fritz Haeg: Attack on the Front Lawn surveys a number of ecological initiatives recently completed by the Los Angeles-based artist and architect known for his socially-responsive and community-oriented practice. This exhibition brings together photographic and video documentation from Haeg’s ongoing Edible Estates project (Regional Prototype Garden #5 will be planted in Austin from March 14-16, 2008) along with ephemeral items and site-specific elements created by the artist for Arthouse’s space that relate to gardening and sustainable food production in Austin. Sundown Schoolhouse Workshops: How to Eat Austin, a weekly series of free workshops related to the cycle of food production and consumption, take place at Arthouse every Saturday, 3-5 pm, through March 8, 2008.

Jorge Macchi: The Anatomy of Melancholy
Blanton Museum of Art
On view through March 16, 2008

The first comprehensive U.S. exhibition of the art of Jorge Macchi, one of Latin America's principal contemporary artists, The Anatomy of Melancholy features more than 40 of the artist's most important works from the 1990s to the present. Macchi creates delicate meditations on the poetics of everyday life using a variety of media and formats, from video installations to artist's books to cut out newspaper collages. His work is characterized by a melancholic air, with subjects ranging from acts of random violence to unrequited love, the impossibility of conclusion, and the interplay between presence and absence.

Brad Tucker: Opportunity Knocks
Art Palace
On view through February 16, 2008

See Josh Rios’s review in this issue.

Donna Huanca: Secret Museum of Mankind
Women & Their Work
On view through February 16, 2008

Secret Museum of Mankind leads the viewer through a transformative installation that physically manifests the excavation of memory. Life-size dioramas, sound tunnels, primitive shelters and futuristic rituals create a timeline that inventories critical passages ultimately leading into the future.

Bodo Korsig and Catherine Lee: Exchange
d berman gallery
On view through February 23, 2008

This exhibition features Catherine Lee and Bodo Korsig, two longtime friends showing together for the first time. Lee’s sculptural work dissolves the distinction between the animate and inanimate, while Korsig’s paintings, prints and sculptures play with the subconscious, the familiar and the miniscule.

San Antonio Openings

Terry Karson
Sala Diaz
February 8 – March 16

Inspired by his travels to Turkey in recent years, Montana artist Terry Karson has moved from the natural history themes of his previous work to something more archaeological in nature. Making use of recycled cardboard packaging, Terry distresses and scrambles the lingering logos and texts in a cadence falling between recognition and obscurity.

San Antonio On View

Dominick Lombardi: The Post Apocalyptic Tattoo: A Ten Year Survey
Project Space, Bluestar Contemporary Art Center
On view through March 23

Dominick Lombardi has been working on his Post Apocalyptic Tattoo Series for the past ten years. Through a comic book and tattoo aesthetic, he creates individuals who might survive the apocalypse.

Kate Gilmore: Girl Fight
Hudson (Show) Room, Artpace
On view through April 20, 2008

Girl Fight, curated by Artpace Executive Director Matthew Drutt, includes nearly a dozen videos by Kate Gilmore. The exhibition is the debut of Girl Fight, a video documenting Gilmore’s attempt to pile a motley collection of furniture in Artpace’s ground-floor courtyard. Once the colorful mountain of discarded sofas, chairs, and dressers reaches the second-story ledge, she ascends the precarious tower dressed in a ball gown and wearing high heels, and enters her exhibition space via a red-carpeted ramp. During the run of the exhibition, only the video and piled furniture will remain as evidence of her Sisyphean task.

Frozen Music II: The Architecture of Ricardo Legorreta
Main & Middle Gallery, Bluestar Contemporary Art Center
On view through March 23

Curated by Bill FitzGibbons, this exhibition showcases the original drawings of internationally acclaimed architect Ricardo Legorreta.

Jared Theis: Sheet Music Drawings and Quantum Mechanics
Cactus Bra
On view through February 17, 2008

This exhibition showcases Jared Theis’ most recent body of work, an exploration of the relationships between visual arts and the mathematical constructs of music. Theis’ Sheet Music Drawings evolved from his study of chamber music and a substantial interest in microscopy.  His Quantum Mechanics is a labyrinthine floor installation made of cylinders clustered together to form complex, stalagmitic colonies in various stages of growth.

And so the story goes…
Unit B Gallery
On view through March 7

And so the story goes... brings together the tall-tales and humorous yarns of three emerging artists who explore the darker side of the visual story. Artists Duncan Anderson and Damon Bishop are based in Chicago and Kelly O’Connor is based in San Antonio.

Houston On View

Leonardo Drew
On view through February 23, 2008

Drew is known for his dynamic large-scale sculptural installations, which incorporate manipulated and found materials such as paper, cotton, children's toys, cast paper, rust and mud along with other objects created by the artist. On the one hand, Drew's sculptures can be seen as exercises in formalism rooted in the very experience of looking. On the other hand, these works explore memory through materiality, employing the detritus of human experience within our diverse histories.

Robert Ryman, 1976
Menil Collection
On view through February 17

This exhibition consisting of three paintings focuses exclusively on Robert Ryman’s work in 1976, a pivotal and often overlooked year in his career. During this time, Ryman continued his formal explorations by looking carefully at the way a painting exists in space. As one result of this inquiry, Ryman began to accentuate how a work of art is placed on the wall by making its essential hardware — from steel mounts and Plexiglas fasteners to socket bolts — important compositional devices in his work.

Charlie Roberts: Mambo Jambo: Gallery of the Cosmos
Rice Gallery
On view through March 2

At Rice Gallery, Charlie Roberts combines painting and sculpture to create his first site-specific installation. Inside the gallery, a colossal wooden cabinet reaches almost to the gallery’s ceiling. Roberts has filled the cabinet with wooden sculptures built on site, while the doors are covered with almost 200 of his detailed paintings. The installation is inspired by Roberts’s 2006 painting, Mystery Cabinet, a take-off on the cabinets of curiosities in which wealthy Europeans displayed their art collections and souvenirs of the natural world.

Chantal Akerman: Moving Through Time and Space
Blaffer Gallery
On view through March 29, 2008

See Claire Elliot’s review in this issue.

Nan Goldin: Stories Retold
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
On view through March 30, 2008

In two room-sized installations, Stories Retold brings together three bodies of work originally exhibited at separate times in the artist’s career and now rewoven to tell a story of the artist’s life. Goldin’s work, which has evolved from the informality and directness of snapshots, breaks down the traditional barriers between photography, cinema and installation art.

Flicker Fusion and Augustina Nuñez: Little Polymorphous
On view through February 23, 2008

Flicker Fusion turns DiverseWorks’ main gallery into a virtual multiplex showcasing a collection of international artists pushing the limits of animation technology alongside artists employing more traditional, hand-drawn techniques to create works that are by turn insightful, stimulating, and downright hypnotic. Artists in the exhibition include Kota Ezawa, Andrew Jeffrey Wright & Clare Rojas and Marina Zurkow. Also on view is Little Polymorphous, the first presentation in the United States by Argentine artist Agustina Nuñez.

Jason Villegas, Jessica Rudick and Timothy Warner: Children in Heat
Lawndale Art Center
On view through February 23, 2008

As a group, Jessica Rudick, Jason Villegas and Timothy Warner, the artists in Children in Heat, are concerned with world events and the somewhat dark direction towards which the world may be hurtling. Nevertheless, they maintain a strong sense of humor in their work. Also on view at Lawndale Art Center are The Best That I Can Give You…, an installation by Katie Pell in which the viewer is the “star,” and Moving In, an installation by Maria Guzman in which plywood boxes filled with found and designed objects become small-scale living spaces.

Dallas Openings

Collecting & Collectivity
Conduit Gallery
February 16 – March 22, 2008

Curators Noah Simblist and Charissa Terranova have created an exhibition about two seemingly opposite ideas. Politically, collecting—the gathering of objects—is associated with capitalism and collectivity—the gathering of people—with communism. The exhibition asks: Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, has a new paradigm for collectivism developed that has been informed by collecting? And how independent is the avant-garde, a force seemingly driven by an independent spirit, from the market?

Fort Worth On View

Joshua Mosley
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
On view through February 24, 2008

Part of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s FOCUS series, this exhibition features Joshua Mosley’s high-definition animation short and sculpture installation titled A Vue, 2004. “A vue” is a French rock-climbing term meaning a clean ascent with no knowledge of the route. Like much of his work, A Vue addresses Mosley’s interest in the complex nature of balancing the personal with societal responsibility. The animation combines digitally photographed stop-motion puppets, a 24-inch-high bronze monument, and ink-wash painted environments.

Dallas On View

Damien Hirst
Goss Michael Foundation
On view through April 2008

The Goss Michael Foundation is a new (as of June 2007) and welcome addition to the Dallas art scene. Longtime collectors George Michael and Kenny Goss established the Foundation to share their collection with the public and increase the appreciation of contemporary art, specifically in the Dallas area. Their current exhibition showcases works by internationally recognized British artist Damien Hirst. Hirst’s visceral installations, sculptures, paintings and drawings challenge the boundaries between art, science and popular culture. His work explores such themes as life, death, loyalty and betrayal.

Dallas Openings

Beverly Semmes: Pink Arms, Pairs and Bumps
Dunn and Brown Contemporary
January 11 – February 23, 2008

This exhibition of work by New York artist Beverly Semmes includes a group of hand-sculpted glass vessels as well as her signature oversized dress installations. The hot-sculpted glass vessels, like the older dress pieces, are meant to be deformed, yet strikingly beautiful. When installed with dramatic lighting, the vessels appear rich like taffy candy, yet airy like jewels of spun light. Semmes made a short documentary showing the glass blowing process which creates these intricate vessels. This video can be viewed on YouTube, “Beverly Semmes Making Sculptural Glass Vessels.”

Real Time: Live Streaming Video
Dallas Contemporary
February 15 – May 10, 2008

The art of the mobile phone is the art of the hurried, the time starved, the always on.  It is the art snapped while waiting in lines; art captured while sitting in traffic and mind numbing meetings.  It is the art of the exhausted, overworked American. Real Time will collect these fleeting images to reveal a larger reflection of our overworked society.

Announcements: Events

Austin Events

Austin Film Society: Experimental and Avant-garde Films
Austin Film Society

On January 30, Austin Film Society kicked off a new series of screenings of short experimental, avant-garde films by regional filmmakers. Featuring renowned media artist Scott Stark, the program included six short films spanning three decades on diverse topics. Director of Programming Chale Nafus and Director of Artist Services Bryan Poyser, working with Austin filmmaker Scott Stark, will curate the screenings. Future screenings will feature challenging cinematic art, often with the filmmaker in attendance. Tickets are $6 for general admission and $4 for AFS members and students. Reserve your tickets here before 3:00pm on the day of the screening.

Brad Tucker: Performance
Art Palace
February 16th at 7 pm

In conjunction with Opportunity Knocks, Brad Tucker's solo exhibition, Art Palace will be hosting a performance by the artist. Brad Tucker lives and works in Austin, TX, and his work has been featured in multiple solo and group exhibitions internationally. The program is free and open to the public.

Sundown Schoolhouse Workshops: How to Eat Austin
Saturdays, 3-5pm through March 8, 2008

In conjunction with his solo exhibition at Arthouse, Fritz Haeg will offer a series of free weekly workshops related to the cycle of food production and consumption—everything from cooking to composting.

Throws Like a Girl
The Off Center
February 7- 23, 2008, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 pm

This provocative performance festival is designed to highlight female theatre artists’ contributions to our cultural landscape and to promote women’s voices within Austin and in the American theatre. This year’s performers are: Reno: Blue State Rants (In a Red State Ecology), February 7 – 9; Kristina Wong: Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, February 14 – 16; and Robbie McCauley: Sugar, February 21 – 23. All performances begin at 8 pm.

Katy Siegel and Wade Saunders: Viewpoint Lectures
University of Texas Department of Art and Art History, Art Building, Room 1.102
February 14, March 20 and April 17 at 4 pm

Viewpoint 2008 marks the seventeenth year of this annual series of concentrated visits by leading curators, critics and scholars involved in the contemporary art world. The lecturers are invited in pairs and present various programs including public lectures, seminars, and individual studio critiques with graduate students. Katy Siegel and Wade Saunders are this year’s invitees. The February 14 lecture is the first in a series of three presentations they will give over the course of the semester.

Houston Events

Analyzing While Waiting (For Time to Pass): Contemporary Art in Tehran
Aurora Picture Show
February 9, 2008, at 8pm & February 10 at 3pm

In collaboration with the 15th Annual Iranian Film Festival, presented by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Rice Cinema and Voices Breaking Boundaries, Aurora Picture Show presents a selection of videos by Iranian artists who shed light on contemporary and emerging art in Tehran.

Vito Acconci: Lecture
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
March 5th at 7pm

A free lecture by internationally renowned artist and architect Vito Acconci on March 5 leads a packed schedule of dynamic public programs to be held in conjunction with the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s presentation of Design Life Now: National Design Triennial, on view through April 20, 2008.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Artists

Brazos Streetscape Project
The City of Austin Art in Public Places
Deadline to Submit Statement of Intent with Qualifications: February 22, 2008

The City of Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP) program of the Cultural Arts Division seeks to commission an artist or artist team to create art that will be integrated into the Brazos Streetscape Project. The City of Austin requests a statement of intent with qualifications from professional visual artists who live or work within the state of Texas. The artwork will be located within the environment of the streetscape improvements on Brazos St., from 3rd Streetto 11th Streetin downtown Austin. Artists should address the experiential aspect that artwork can provide in the streetscape and may consider exploring the use of digital media, light and sound. Artwork of substantial durability and low maintenance needs will only be considered. For more information and to apply for the project click here.

Call for Entries

Slant: Bold Asian American Images Festival
Aurora Picture Show
Deadline: February 22, 2008

Slant, an annual short film festival, seeks works by Asian American filmmakers. Now in its eighth year, Slant will showcase an eclectic mix of the best in emerging Asian American cinema. All genres are accepted. Filmmakers or film content should be Asian American or Asian Canadian and each work should run 30 minutes or less. For more information and submission guidelines click here.

I-35 Biennial Invitational
Dunn and Brown Contemporary
Deadline: March 8, 2008

Dunn and Brown Contemporary invites artists 35 years old and younger to submit works in all media for the I-35 Biennial Invitational. The group exhibition will feature the most recent work of eight to twelve emerging artists. Works from new and lesser known artists will be selected to be exhibited at Dunn and Brown Contemporary, opening May 30, 2008. For more information on submission guidelines click here.

Fotofest2008 Film Program
Southwest Alternate Media Project
Deadline: February 29, 2008

In cooperation with Fotofest2008, Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP) has opened a call for submissions of short films inspired by FotoFest’s two inter-related themes of “China” and “Transformations.” SWAMP challenges filmmakers from Texas to imagine China by producing a short film on the topic. Films concerning the theme of “Transformations” and not necessarily about China, will also be considered. For more information and submission guidelines click here.

Artist Grants

Creative Capital 2008 Grants: Emerging Fields, Innovative Literature and Performing Arts
Creative Capital
Deadline to submit online inquiry: March 4, 2008

Creative Capital’s application process includes three steps: inquiry, application and panel review. A Creative Capital grant to an individual artist averages over $25,000. Creative Capital 2008 Grants will be awarded to artists in Emerging Fields, Innovative Literature and Performing Arts. Emerging Fields may include all forms of digital arts, audio work, multidisciplinary projects and new genres. Innovative Literature may include poetry, fiction, nonfiction as well as genre-defying work by writers who demonstrate exceptional stylistic, linguistic, and formal originality. Performing Arts may include dance, music, theater, experimental music performance, experimental opera, spoken word, theater/performance art and interdisciplinary projects. To apply for a grant click here.

Call for Exhibition Proposals

Apex Art Unsolicited Proposal Program
Apex Art
Deadline for proposals: February 29, 2008

Exhibition proposals will be accepted from until February 29, 2008 for two of the eight shows scheduled the following season (September 2008 to August 2009). Submissions will be accepted online only and are limited to one page (800 words maximum) emphasizing and explaining the idea behind the show. For more information and to submit a proposal click here.

Lawndale Art Center Call for Exhibition Proposals
Lawndale Art Center
Deadline: March 15, 2008

The Lawndale Art Center is seeking proposals from artists for exhibitions and performances. Located in Houston’s Museum District, Lawndale’s mission is to present work by both emerging and established Houston artists, as well as regional artists. Lawndale seeks to sponsor educational forums and dialogues that address the relationship between art and society. For more information and to apply click here and follow the link to Call for Exhibition Proposals.

Curatorial Fellowship

Andy Warhol Foundation Curatorial Research Fellowships
The Warhol Foundation
Deadline: March 1, 2008

The Warhol Foundation has expanded its grant making activities to include Curatorial Research Fellowships. The foundation will accept proposals from institutionally-affiliated curators twice a year at its regular March 1 and September 1 deadlines. Curators at any stage of their careers are eligible to apply. Research must be attached to a potential exhibition and curators must have the support of their institutional director. For grant guidelines and to apply click here.


The Blanton Museum of Art

The Blanton Museum of Art of The University of Texas at Austin is currently seeking a dynamic, highly qualified museum director. As a nationally recognized art museum in a major research university, the Blanton is a center for research, teaching and education of the general public. The director will be responsible for the museum operations, staff management, financial management, fundraising and public community relations. For more information click here.

Executive Director
Salvage Vanguard Theater

Salvage Vanguard Theater seeks an Executive Director with a passion for bold experimental artistic work and the skills and experience to lead administrative and fundraising activities for a growing, dynamic organization. SVT is a non-profit arts organization located in Austin, Texas, committed to fostering a dynamic exchange between visionary artists and audiences new to their work. An active theater company for over 13 years, the organization has grown rapidly over the last two years and is seeking an energetic, out-going person with a desire to grow into an influential role in one of the most artistically rich cities in the country. For more information and to apply click here.

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