MBG Issue #95: Lip Service to Subjectivity

Issue # 95

Lip Service to Subjectivity

March 21, 2008

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Eric ZimmermanAtlas #12 Monument to the Third International (Tatlin’s Dream), 2008, Graphite on paper. Image courtesy of the artist. (detail)

from the editor

At Art Palace, where Eric Zimmerman’s solo show Atlas is installed this month, a graphite rendering of Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International—a monument never built—hangs in the entryway. For me, Eric’s drawing of the Monument captured the self-aware and alternately optimistic and melancholy idealism of his project. In the Atlas series, Eric places himself among myriad utopian architectural movements, begging the formidable question: To what end have utopian artistic movements attempted to restructure space and express an understanding of the world through this restructuring? In  this issue,Eric and Michelle White, Assistant Curator at The Menil Collection, discuss Eric’s engagement with architectural history, real and imaginary space, optimism and melancholy.

Also in this issue, Fluent~Collaborative Associate Director Caitlin Haskell talks to Barry Schwabsky critic at Artforum and The Nation, Amanda Douberly discusses Fritz Haeg: Attack on the Front Lawn at Arthouse, and Matthew Levy offers a succinct review of Richard Shiff’s most recent book, Doubt.

Two weeks ago, in Issue #94, …might be good published my critique of New Art in Austin at the Austin Museum of Art. In response, reader (and artist) Christopher St. Leger wrote:

It seems predictable that by the third time around, AMOA’s triennial would be up against a more demanding audience. You critique the show’s poor installation, but AMOA is known most of all for its not-quite adequate space, and the plans to build a new museum address that critique. In addition, contemporary art exhibitions are obligated to present works that break the mold and are, in some cases, difficult to house. Given these factors, I wonder if you are being reasonable. It’s the museums duty to squeeze all they can into this type of show, and I wonder if it isn’t our duty to accept the show’s shortcomings and try a little harder to focus on the artists.

Accepting shortcomings is rarely sound advice, yet Christopher’s criticism of my review points out the pitfall of critiquing AMoA as an institution: I forwent the opportunity of carefully discussing the art itself—an opportunity that might have contributed to an equally productive discussion. Acknowledging this drawback to my approach, I hope the review and the conversation surrounding it serves Austin’s arts community in a different way. By demonstrating that the community is invested in how we show Austin artists, perhaps the conversation will encourage AMOA to strengthen its commitment to our city’s emerging artists through more frequent and more focused exhibitions of their work.

In our upcoming Issue #96, …might be good will commemorate the five years Gabriel Perez-Barreiro, Curator of Latin American Art at The Blanton, and Regine Basha, former Adjunct Curator at Arthouse, have spent in Austin. In two interviews, we’ll hear about what they’ve learned in Austin and where they’re headed next. (Thankfully, Gabriel and Regine both have ongoing projects in Austin, so this won’t be the last we see of them.) Issue #96 will also include an Artist's Space with former testsite artist Riiko Sakkinnen and a  review of New Works: 08.1 at Artpace, which features work by Regina Jose Galindo, Rodney McMillan and Margarita Cabrera.

As always, we welcome responses to us or any of our writers at info@fluentcollab.org.

Claire Ruud is Managing Editor of …might be good.


Barry Schwabsky

By Caitlin Haskell

JessPoet's Coffeepot, 1963, Assemblage, 17 1/2 x 6 x 6 inches. Collection of Robert Gluck, San Francisco.

In February, London-based critic and poet Barry Schwabsky made a brief visit to Texas to review Jess: To and From the Printed Page at The Harry Ransom Center. While in Austin, Schwabsky gave a poetry reading at 12th Street Books with future UT art history faculty member Roberto Tejada and he sat down with Caitlin Haskell to discuss what it has been like to edit and write for some of the leading publishers of art criticism over the past twenty years. During his distinguished career as a critic, Schwabsky has been involved with a variety of art pulications. Today, he writes for The Nation and is co-editor of the international review section of Artforum. His interview here is the first in a series of discussions with outstanding art critics that …might be good will publish throughout 2008. Our second installment, an interview with Katy Siegel, will appear in the April 18 issue.

…mbg: Since you’re an editor as well as a critic, Barry, one topic that I was hoping you could shed some light on is the process of selecting which exhibitions will be reviewed in the publications you work for—what are the criteria for deciding if a show gets reviewed or not?

BS: At Artforum, with the international reviews that I co-edit, basically the writers pick their own assignments. We kind of approve them and make sure that they’re not repeating something that somebody else is doing and so on. But really we depend on the reviewers in each city to tell us what’s interesting there. With the New York reviews, when I was living there—and I assume it’s still done the same way now—again, the reviews weren’t really assigned. We would get a list of about ten to a dozen shows that they would ask us to look at, which basically was to make sure that every show was seen by somebody from the magazine. Then the individual reviewer could pick one from those ten or however many. Or, if there was something we wanted to cover that wasn’t on our list, we could ask to do it. So, from the editorial point of view, it’s rather free.

…mbg: As you describe it, the determining factor would seem to be the selection of the critics—who the magazine hires to write.

BS: Yeah, that’s right.

…mbg: When you are in the role of critic, what goes into your thought process for choosing a show to review?

BS: I used to try to see everything, but I really don’t have the time to do it anymore… Now, I see what I can and I look for a show I have something to say about.

…mbg: What was your particular attraction to the Jess show?

BS: He’s an artist I’ve been long interested in, and I’ve never had a chance to see such a big concentration of his work at once. I think the last exhibition—bigger than this one—was in 1984, but I didn’t get to see it. I’ve only gotten to see his work in scattered ways.

…mbg: Given the discretion critics have to determine which shows are written about, what artists get attention—is there any intellectual disposition or academic preparation that you think is particularly well suited to being a critic today?

BS: Well, I think basically art critics are drawn from three pools: one is art historians who want to be involved somehow in the art of their time, the second group is artists who want to write and articulate their ideas about art, and the third are people who are primarily writers who are drawn to art as a subject. I would fall in the third category, but I think all three have something to offer. I don’t think the field would be complete if it just had one of those or two of those. I think it needs all of them.

…mbg: Since you’re a published poet as well as a critic, I wanted to get your take on a situation that got a bit of attention in these parts last fall. When Roberta Smith spoke in Houston last November—at the invitation of Artlies—she made a claim that seemed to strike a lot of Texas artists, and maybe even some critics, as far-fetched. Basically, what Smith suggested was that critics are just as vulnerable as artists when they put their work before the public. Where do you come down on that issue?

BS: I think in principle what she says must be right, in that you’re putting your work out in public and anyone can read it and form their own opinion of it, and so in that sense you’re laying yourself open to the judgment of the public just as much as an artist is. But, since there’s very little actual written criticism of the critics, somehow that is not formalized in any way. So, people might be talking about, “Oh my God, did you see the stupid thing Barry wrote in The Nation last month?” But, since nobody is putting it down on paper, I don’t hear it. So in that sense, maybe the critic isn’t as vulnerable as the artist, who may get a written review that could be damaging and will have to somehow face that, or who may get no review and think that’s damaging, too—but on the other hand, the critic doesn’t get the reward of that sort of attention.

…mbg: What was the project—you mentioned this briefly at your poetry reading last night—where a visual artist asked you to compose haiku to go along with prints she had made?

BS: She didn’t ask me to write haiku—she asked me to write poetry and I decided I’d try doing the corniest thing possible and see if I’d survive that. That was an artist from New York called K. K. Kozik.

…mbg: I thought the haiku turned out well.

BS: Thanks.

…mbg: Do you have an interest in writing collaboratively with artists, as opposed to writing in an evaluative mode?

BS: I’ve done other books with artwork and my poetry and I don’t known how collaborative—really—they are. In this case, with K. K., I certainly worked off of—not the finished prints—but her preparatory materials that she sent me. And the poems are pretty obliquely related to the images. They’re not, so to speak, illustrating the images. In a way, the most collaborative venture I’ve ever been involved with was a book that I did with Jessica Stockholder where we did it in a two-stage process where I wrote a sequence of poems and then she did some artwork in reaction to that, and then I wrote some more in reaction to what she did, and she made some more work in reaction to my second stage... But, usually I have text written and the artist deals with that however they want, or the artist has the art that they’ve done and I deal with that however I want.

…mbg: How have your interactions with artists affected the way you approach writing?

BS: From quite early on I was very interested to see how artists dealt with material and I think that led me to want to deal with language as a material in a somewhat related manner. In a way, there are two faces of language: one is very inward and the other is material. A lot of poetry works with that inwardness and I think I wanted to work with the material.

…mbg: Could you elaborate on what you mean by the inward quality of language?

BS: I’d rather elaborate on the other, since that’s what I want to deal with to some extent. When I got to meet artists and go to their studios and see what they were doing, it was fundamentally obvious that what they were doing was taking some stuff from here and putting it over there. And somehow that made me see that in writing what you’re doing is taking stuff—words or parts of words—and you’re almost physically putting them together, or breaking them apart and recombining them. Somehow that was a very freeing notion for me at the time. I think until then I sort of understood poetry as something that came out of myself—out of some mysterious inner resource. But no, there’s just all of this language out there in the world and, in a mundane way, you can take it and use it and go to work on it. Observing artists at work showed me that I had the whole world to work from and not some unseen mysterious self to try and depend on to generate whatever this was.

…mbg: Does the same sense of moving language, or working with it in a material way, figure into your critical writing?

BS: More as a poet, just because in my poetry I’m working with the form of it in a more thoroughgoing way. But somehow I’m sure that it must have had some effect on my critical writing as well.

Going back to your question about how the articles are assigned. I answered that in terms of Artforum, but maybe I should say something about The Nation as well. There it’s a very different situation because it’s not an art magazine. There’s only a certain amount of art coverage and, basically, there are two people who are writing it. One is Arthur Danto—he has been the chief art critic there for 25 years, but he’s doing much less these days and I’m kind of taking up the slack. So the politics of assigning reviews [at that magazine] is basically that Arthur gets first dibs on anything—for the most part we’re only talking about things in NY since I don’t suppose he would have felt the same impetus to find his way to Austin for a show of Jess. As with Artforum, my editor at The Nation depends on me to propose what might be interesting for the readership, but there’s a bit more of a dialogue because he has to see how my proposal fits into a broader picture than just the art world. And, remember, for them I’m not only writing about contemporary art—the piece I have coming out imminently is on Courbet.

…mbg: Do you find that your writing changes when you’re writing for a general audience?

BS: I do write differently for different situations and different readerships. When you’re writing for Artforum you can assume a lot more, without having to fill it in. There are advantages to that but, actually, I find that, having done that for so long, I like having to fill in more of the steps, or the background to things because it makes you clarify your ideas about what you think you already know.

…mbg: It seems that in the situation you’ve described—particularly with regard to the selection of reviews for Artforum—we have a recipe for a lot of favorable criticism, which is to say writing that will reinforce trends we know we like. As a writer, one will opt to write about work that is appealing and leave the difficult critique to somebody else.

BS: I think you’re right. Although there are people who seem to get a lot of energy from being able to go on the attack, for most writers it’s more fun to be able to talk about something you like—you have more to say about it. It might be interesting to see what the results would be if people were assigned more often to write about things they wouldn’t necessarily have chosen for themselves. That would make them work at understanding better something they wouldn’t have been sympathetic to originally, or to really explain to themselves why they still don’t like it. Back when I was editing Arts Magazine, between 1988 and 1992, instead of having many reviewers each writing about one or two shows, I had just four New York reviewers each reviewing about ten shows. So they really had to push themselves past what they were most comfortable with, and if I recall correctly there was more critical criticism going on there than in the review sections of most art magazines. It worked pretty well, I thought, and I wish someone would pick that idea up again.

 * Barry Schwabsky will present a lecture on April 3 in Houston as part of the 2007-2008 Core Lectures series. For further information, see the announcement in the Events section of this issue.

Caitlin Haskell is Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative.


Fritz Haeg: Attack on the Front Lawn
Closed March 16, 2008

By Amanda Douberley

Fritz Haeg, Edible Estates Regional Prototype Garden # 5, Austin, Texas, 2008, a component of Attack on the Front Lawn. Commissioned by Arthouse. Photograph by Sunshine Mathon.

Fritz Haeg calls Edible Estates “An independent art project that is becoming a movement.” The ongoing series of gardens designed by Haeg, a landscape architect by training, occupy those outdoor spaces typically given over to carefully tended grass—namely, front lawns. For each project, the artist puts out a call for participants, selects a site, and designs a garden that will produce food for those who maintain it. He plans to initiate nine gardens in cities located in different regions of the United States—Salina, Kansas; Lakewood, California; Maplewood, New Jersey; Austin, Texas; and Baltimore, Maryland thus far—each of which is sponsored by a local art institution. (Haeg has also planted an Edible Estate in London, England.)

Edible Estates Regional Prototype Garden #5 was planted at Sierra Ridge Apartments, 201 West St. Elmo near South Congress Avenue, March 14 through 16 in conjunction with the exhibition Fritz Haeg: Attack on the Front Lawn at Arthouse. During the weeks leading up to this event, Haeg organized “How to Eat Austin,” a series of Saturday workshops focused on planting, growing, cooking, and even selling home-grown food. Along the same lines, he transformed the main space at Arthouse into a community center, with flyer-covered bulletin boards, a huge book-filled tent, and racks laden with seedlings destined for Sierra Ridge. Video and photographic documentation of completed Edible Estates and accompanying hand-written wall labels were tucked away in side galleries as if to underline the fact that action, rather than contemplation, is Haeg’s main goal.

As is the case with many community-oriented projects, it is nearly impossible to evaluate Edible Estates or, by extension, Attack on the Front Lawn. If part of the critic’s role is to assess a work of art or an exhibition based on the artist or curator’s stated goals, what does success mean in this case? Is the project a failure if the people of Sierra Ridge Apartments neglect their garden? Is the project a success if even one person who attended a workshop establishes his or her own Edible Estate?

Surprisingly, in discussing Edible Estates, Haeg puts less emphasis on community and more on the concept of the monument:

"We all crave permanent monuments that will give a sense of place and survive as a lasting testament to ourselves and our time… but their capacity to bring about meaningful change in the way we live is quite limited. A small garden of very modest means, humble materials, and a little effort can have a radical effect…This singular local response to global issues can… be enacted by anyone in the world and can have a monumental impact."

In light of his statements, Haeg's project certainly succeeds in one respect: channeling the current vogue for do-it-yourself home improvement and locally grown food into a public art project sponsored by Whole Foods, Home Depot and Lowe’s (among others). Whether Edible Estates becomes a movement remains to be seen. In the meantime, the questions Haeg raises about the way we represent ourselves for the future—either through figurative bronze Frankensteins or alternative means—are worth contemplating, and definitely worth acting upon.

*All quotes taken from Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn (New York: Metropolis Books, 2008).

Amanda Douberley is currently researching a dissertation on the relationships between art, industry, urban planning and federal policy at mid-century in the United States as a Ph.D. candidate in art history at the University of Texas at Austin.

Doubt by Richard Shiff
203 pages. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

By Matthew Levy

Doubt may at first seem a peculiar subject for an entry in a book series entitled Theories of Modernism and Postmodernism in the Visual Arts.* To doubt is to enter into a state of skepticism, distrust, and uncertainty—hardly grounds for a theoretical edifice. Yet doubt is both the title and connective tissue for this wide ranging and briskly paced book by Richard Shiff. Instead of a systematic and comprehensive account of modernism and postmodernism, Shiff offers an extended meditation on the vicissitudes of art making and art writing in the modern era. Doubt serves double duty in this enterprise. In the first section, “Pragmatic Doubt,” it represents a force of resistance constitutive of the encounter between a critic’s language and a work of art’s obdurate and ineffable materiality. In the second section, “Existential Doubt,” it functions as a point of entry into artists’ working processes, enabling a form of critical writing that is sympathetic towards the subjective and arbitrary nature of the creative act.

Shiff opens with an anecdote about Robert Irwin’s refusal to have his work reproduced in a 1965 Artforum article, due to photographic representation’s inability to convey his works’ material plenitude. In Shiff’s terms, Irwin refused to allow his work to proliferate into “self-difference,” which he describes as a semiological process in which photographic or linguistic representations generate meanings that are spatially and temporally removed from one’s unique, physical experience with a work of art. The incommensurability of language and objects is a common enough trope in methodological writing in the visual arts. For Shiff, this epistemological divide makes art writing inherently arbitrary, determined by the author’s subjective judgments and the doubts that motivate them. In Shiff's estimation, many critics today write in bad faith, paying lip service to authorial subjectivity while simultaneously using apodictic rhetoric.

While he does not claim to write from a position of greater critical self-awareness than anyone else, Shiff does make an effort to theorize cognitive modes that resist self-differing. He defines “tacit knowledge” as embodied thought not transparent to the intellect, and associates it with Willem de Kooning’s instinctive understanding of artistic materials. Shiff identifies a second, related form of cognition that he calls “intuition”—a kind of deductive “fast thinking” whose logic cannot be articulated—and cites as an example Donald Judd’s ability to devise perceptually unitary forms that maximize visual complexity. Shiff’s willingness to think within the creative process is a tonic. While it may be highly unfashionable, discussing artists' intentions is no more problematic than the currently popular critical practice of sacrificing the unique particularities of a work of art to preexisting intellectual concepts and paradigms.

The interest in process and intention informs the book’s second half, which is divided into four case studies on Barnett Newman, de Kooning, Paul Cézanne and Henri Rousseau. In each, Shiff situates the artist’s practice in relation to modernity’s critical and historical pressures. He considers the four example artists to be active agents in these negotiations, not naïve pawns of prevailing cultural ideologies or benighted makers unaware of the consequences of their own works. For example, the reader learns how Newman came to see unanticipated “prophetic” content in his seminal Onement I (1948); content that would form the basis of an art suited to the post-War period. In the following section, de Kooning becomes Newman’s antipode, an artist who intentionally throws obstacles in the way of his own technical facility and his critics’ self-differing interpretations in order to create an art predicated on “slipping.”

In the work of all four of these artists, Shiff sees a type of materialism, a preoccupation with the concrete data of sensory experience. He argues that this artistic materialism was a “homeopathic” remedy to the materialism of modern consumer society, but that the audience was unprepared to receive it without the mediation of metaphor or allusion. If Doubt offers a “theory of modernism,” if only of a particular strain, it is in this stimulating notion of homeopathy, which Shiff regrettably leaves underdeveloped. If modernist art relates homeopathically to modern culture—treating like with like—who is to say that it might not compound rather than alleviate its symptoms? Furthermore, what value does a therapy have for those unprepared to receive it? And if they were able to receive it, would it hold any therapeutic value at all? If modernism is an illness, as Shiff seems to imply, the reader is left wondering who is the patient and who, if anyone, has the cure.

* This series is edited by James Elkins. Previous installments have been by Elkins, Master Narratives and Their Discontents (2005), and Stephen Bann, Ways Around Modernism (2006).

Matthew L. Levy is a doctoral candidate at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.

A conversation with Eric Zimmerman
Eric Zimmerman: Atlas at Art Palace
On view through April 9, 2008

By Michelle White

Eric Zimmerman, Atlas #5 Place Projection (For Nicci & Neal ), 2008, Graphite on paper, 10" x 12 inches.

Eric Zimmerman’s exhibition, Atlas, opened at Art Palace in February, and his work is currently included in New Art in Austin: 20 to Watch at The Austin Museum of Art. I thought it would be a good time to catch up with him at his studio and talk about his new work, the idea of imaginary space, visionary architecture, and the term “intellectual whimsy,” among other things

MW: In your drawings, Eric, you articulate the ambiguity between real and imaginary space through these beautiful passages and topographic structures melt into amorphous compositions. In your new sculpture for Atlas, you are introducing the overhead projector. How does this technology fit into your project?

EZ: In a certain sense, the technology of the overhead projector allows the same spatial exploration that I am looking for in my drawings. The projectors transform the architecture of the sculpture into a kind of topographic, amorphous, map-like space. The resulting image on the wall, for example, is a “new” place because it establishes a link between the flat projection and the three-dimensional structure. Using the words “imaginary” and “real” of course gets a little tenuous, but here I think it is safe to say the projection is an imaginary space, and the real space is the sculpture and gallery. This sense of movement between spaces is an important aspect to all of my work because it allows for the potential for things to unfold in a variety of ways.

MW: To experience the work, I had to go back and forth between the miniature landscape set on top of the projector’s light table—made of train-model trees, tiny balsa wood scaffolding, and pools of pigment—and the patterns of blue and magenta light thrown on the wall. The hyperreality of the model and the cast of such atmospheric light seem incongruous.

EZ: Do you mean incongruity between the materials and the surrounding architecture, or the relationship between the projection and the materials on the light table? The colors are derived from map-making techniques, satellite views of coastal regions, and images of celestial nebulae. With the exception of the satellite images, computer algorithms determine the colors as a way to describe and symbolize space. They are essentially symbolic of ways of perceiving and translating natural geography into a functional and descriptive image—a way of measuring, I suppose.

MW: I think the incongruity comes from the effect of the sculpture’s material peculiarities. The sculpture resembles an architectural model, but it casts such a dreamy light. You capture a fluidity of meaning by suspending the viewer’s sense of certainty, which I also see in the Atlas Drawings.

EZ: The small drawings emerge from that very idea. More specifically, they come out of my desire to begin an archive, or atlas, of symbols, metaphors, and places, that represent ways of structuring space. They represent ways to understand the world, in terms of politics, geography, geology, and language, and ways we look for an ideal or invented place within those boundaries. In this series of drawings I want you to move from a recognizable space, like Monticello or the Matterhorn, on to an imaginary space and then to an image of the word “here.” The process of moving between these spaces unmoors you from any fixed sense of order. So we are back to the idea of movement again—movement not concerned with time so much as space. “Hyperreality” is an interesting word choice, I think. The sort of time and space it connotes always seems like a strange one to me—a J.G. Ballard, Crystal World type of environment.

MW: As in Ballard’s novel, in your work you create confusion between where something is actually happening and how that space is understood. For example, the sculpture’s projected light fails to describe how it is produced and the disparate representations of types of places in the drawings invite comparisons but fail to give a clear explanation. I don’t know why they are next to each other, or why you have arranged them in a certain order. I love that because it creates this weird moment when the allure of illusion trumps the desire for authenticity.

EZ: The lack of order leads to a greater number of possibilities. When ideas get locked into narrative, they tend to become inflexible. I prefer a fluid framework that allows the spaces referenced in the drawings to create an unexpected dialogue—between stages in time and different kinds of perception. Ideally, the lack of order plays on our desire for order and forces us into a placeless neutral space—a space made up of the parts of all these real and imaginary places. Behind systems of collecting knowledge and accumulating history, even behind our methods of perception and understanding, there is always this unpredictable element of chance. You mentioned the idea [of intellectual whimsy in the studio, and I like this notion because it implies an earnest embrace of this fluidity.

MW: How does this interest in entropy and order parallel your interest in imaginary and visionary architecture of the late nineteenth century?

EZ: I perceive a sense of anxiety—or death—underlying, and ultimately motivating, human activity and perception during the Victorian era. Fear of calamity drives invention. Think of the combination of industrialization and idealism that fueled The Worlds Fair of 1851. I like the idea that failure and anxiety become a source of longing and of a search for the ideal. Why else would we always be looking for something better? This sensibility is ahistorical; I think it is always present. Visionary architecture is one example of the many ways that we manifest our longing for the ideal. Our perception of space creates a foundation on which we establish meaning and escape anxiety and uncertainty. Illusion creates spaces that often confirm feeling “good”; the reality of coming to terms with the actuality of our environment is less predictable.

MW: Do the towers, a reoccurring structure that you build to surround your sculptures and render in your large graphite drawings, confront this theme of impermanence?

EZ: The towers in the graphite drawings are derived directly from the sculpture and my interest in nineteenth-century developments in iron and glass architecture, the kind of transparent structure still prevalent in industrial structures and bridges. A building like Paxton’s Crystal Palace dissolves into the landscape because of its transparency. It becomes a sort of liminal space that floats and blurs within the land. In the drawings, the towers act in a similar way—placed within a dissolving atmosphere they are both architectural structures within a space and antonymous sites that have no specific location on a map. The “here” and “there” is not clear. The structures are projecting into the future, but also decaying into a sort of ruin. The concept of the ruin is a gothic aspect of the work and the source of the “romantic” images like Atlas #17 McCall Glacier, 1958. The mysteriousness, melancholy, and slowness that permeate some places and objects resonate with me. Hope should always be combined with skepticism.

MW: Let’s talk about your studio practice. Your drawings, as well as your balsa-wood scaffolding, are really labor intensive, not only because of the small scale and minute detail, but also because of the repetitiveness of gesture and construction. Is this part of your infatuation with finding order?

EZ: I am drawn to images and sources that exhibit a certain level of complexity in their creation and concept. I like how the formal intricacies of iron and glass architecture, maps, and nineteenth century astronomical illustrations, among other things, are directly linked to both function and a historical context. In my studio, the labor required to make a drawing or build a wooden structure is not always enjoyable, but it allows me time to parse each image or structural form. Also, slowly rendering a “real” image is a way to avoid the sense of time contained in photographs while preserving a solid sense of place. Maybe subconsciously it is about looking for order, but it is also a response to the frantic pace of life.

MW: Your show is called Atlas. An atlas is book of maps, a compilation of ways to see the world and describe space. It is a place to figure out where things are and for that reason it speaks to your celebration of the impossible task of finding of more methodical way to understand the world.

EZ: An Atlas is another form of structuring space, and collecting seemingly disparate things under a single heading. Like turning the pages of an atlas, the show unfolds over a small and relatively intimate space. Double meaning in the word’s origin also seemed appropriate. The word derives from Mercator, the mythical King Atlas who was a philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician. But Atlas was also a figure in Greek mythology. Punished by Zeus to hold the weight of the heavens on his shoulders, he is traditionally represented as a figure bent over holding the celestial sphere on his shoulders. Homer refers to Atlas as "one who knows the depths of the whole sea, and keeps the tall pillars that hold heaven and earth asunder." This is a fantastic image of structuring and understanding vast spaces and our incessant desire to do so.

Michelle White is Assistant Curator at The Menil Collection, Houston, where she is organizing an exhibition called “Imaginary Spaces,” to open in August. She is a frequent contributor to Art Papers, and a regional editor of Art Lies.

project space

Austin Video Bee

Austin Video Bee formed last summer as the result of a conversation a group of us had about the relative lack of "nontraditional"—be it female, queer, etc—video artists in Austin and our need to be supported by a group of peers. Kate Watson got the ball rolling and recruited other underrepresented video and performance artists.

The nexus of the group is the notion of the "bee," that lovely antiquated word that refers to “a social gathering with a goal.” Although "bee" may bring to mind a "spelling bee," a competition, we prefer the tradition of the quilting bee or a husking bee, a gathering of people to accomplish a difficult task. Our task, although far from the tedium of husking corn or raising a barn, still relies on the voices of a group to complete work that no individual should have to do alone. This act is both individual and collective; each voice remains its own, yet its strength multiplies when heard with many others.

When we started talking about "Failure"—the title of our first DVD (February 2008)—we all agreed that the decision to make art— especially video or performance art—puts us at a much higher risk for failure. Being a video or performance artist isn't a conventionally prestigious profession. During that scary jumping-off moment of creating our first big project, “failure” seemed to be a theme that fit everyone's mood. Jill Pangallo designed the cover of the DVD to resemble a self-help kit. She brought in an actual self-help video set she had found at a thrift store, and we loved the aesthetic of it—totally low-budget (which we, of course, were drawn to), silly and bold, yet poignant. The image of us on the front feels like it's full of hope, and it exists in contrast to the videos themselves, all of which ring with a quiet melancholy.

Ultimately, Failure should be approached as a mix-tape or a patchwork quilt of different voices, ideas, works, approaches etc. We’re challenging the viewer to think about how immersed we all are in failure, how it emerges in subtle, everyday moments (Anna, Laura) or in larger than life “monstrous failures” (Jamie). There is so much that exists in between, however. Jill is playing with a literal failure of translation (in language) that causes the pathetic, misunderstood central character (who is trying desperately to connect) to fail because she can't see beyond her own nose. Lee and Kate are playing with transcendence over failure, the mightiest moment of invention (after countless failures) when the characters know that they have altered the course of history forever.

For this Artist's Space, we decided that each member would create a video loop. Video loops are quick and dirty. They capture the viewer's attention quickly. At the same time, a series of loops is the perfect way to create a sense of "visual cacophony"—to give viewers an overview of the incredible array of styles and techniques in AVB. The loop is also a form of hypnosis. We’re interested in the idea that repetition and looping might transcend the original short video and turn it into something else.

Right now we are working on two projects. We will be doing an installation for Fuse Box that will run throughout the duration of the festival. For this project, we will transform an Eastside bar into a multimedia wonderland. We are accepting submissions for this project and would love to have anyone in Austin or elsewhere submit their short (under 30 minutes) videos to us at austinvideobee@gmail.com. We will be compiling all submissions, along with our work, onto a DVD and showing the work via projection and monitors throughout the bar. There will be two special evenings of performance in conjunction with the installation on April 25th and May 2nd. We, along with others, will also be participating in a large video installation for Women and Their Work's 30th anniversary benefit party on April 19th (at the top of the Frost Tower!). These projects are great experiments for us—and hopefully they will get Austin excited about the Bee.

Austin Video Bee is a multimedia collective based in Austin, Texas. The founding members are: Elizabeth Abrams, Anna Krachey, Ivan Lozano, Rell Ohlson, Jill Pangallo, Corkey Sinks, Laura Turner, Kate Watson, Lee Webster and Jamie Wentz.

...mbg recommends

Martin Puryear
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
On view through May 18, 2008

By Stefanie Ball Piwetz

A level of ambiguity is inherent in Martin Puryear’s sculptures currently on view at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Many of the objects convey a sense of  familiarity—they allude to recognizable shapes or representational objects, but don’t quite reveal an identity. Viewers will come to his retrospective thinking that he engaged and expanded upon principles of Minimalism; yet most of the artist’s works are not observably geometric shapes, like Judd’s wall stacks or floor boxes. Rather, Puryear’s primarily wooden sculptures bring to mind familiar forms or contours without overtly asserting their referents.

Unlike Ladder for Booker T. Washington (1996), owned by The Modern in Fort Worth, the majority of the works in Puryear’s current retrospective (organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York) are not noticeably representational. Lever#3 (1989), for example, is not a recognizable lever. The carved and painted wood (ponderosa pine) is difficult to describe, but recalls the long trunk and body, or head, of an elephant. Visual allusions to representations like this one separate Puryear’s work most clearly from Judd’s Minimalism and its legacy. However Puryear cannot be completely severed from Minimalism. His works “are what they are;” but they are also something more. Moreover, they perpetuate an apparently Minimalist interest in the relation of one’s body to the work at hand. One’s immediate comprehension of the object’s spatial presence is particularly engaging and this facet of Puryear’s work makes the well-installed and well-crafted objects in this exhibition particularly captivating.

Stefanie Ball Piwetz is an art historian and freelance writer in Fort Worth.

announcements: news

Austin News

Buy Local (Art)

On March 14, Austin Chronicle writer Clayton Maxwell discussed the economics of the Austin art scene in an article entitled "Show and Sell". Maxwell, noting the national buzz Austin has recently received on the art circut, asked why Austin artists and galleries are still struggling to survive. His answer? "For a city that thrives on its individuality and seeks to stay weird, more sales of local art doesn't seem too much to ask." Buy local.

National News

New Orleans as Gallery: Prospect.1

Prospect.1, an international biennial scheduled to open in 
New Orleans on Nov. 1, plans to exhibit its art on sites from one end of the city to the other. The eleven week presentation of contemporary art by about 80 national and international artists is designed to help increase tourism and economic activity in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Among the well-known artists participating are Julie Mehretu, Fred Tomaselli and Nari Ward. Local artists include Robin Rhode, who will exhibit her photographs of downtown New Orleans, and Srdjan Loncar, whose sculptures will depict stacks of money: small wooden boxes on which he pastes photocopied versions of large bills.

International News

New Resource on Art in India

Recently, Universes in Universe, an independent website for the visual arts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia in the international art context, added directories of annotated links on the art of three new countries: India, Mongolia and Pakistan. A useful resource!

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

We've Got Tissues
okay mountain
Opening Reception: Saturday March 22 from 7:00-10:00 pm

We’ve Got Tissues features the individual works of Jesse Greenberg, Lizzie Fitch, Brian McKelligott and the Austin premiere of Ryan Trecartin’s I-Be Area. Of the exhibition, the four artists write. "The work should be viewed like a venn diagram with the overlapping content being a natural effect of our shared experiences, with all of the intimacy and drama of a really realistic theatrical put-on that is actually happening in real time.” Don't miss the Artist's Talk at 6:00 pm--Jesse Greenberg will be speaking about the work with artist and arts writer, Benjamin Carlson. Also showing in the Okay Mountain project space is "Mice Space, Paper Graveyard, Welcome Wealthy Patrons" with work by Dave Bryant.

Cult of Color: Call to Color - Notes on a Collaboration
March 22 - April 27, 2008

The exhibition is presented in conjunction with Cult of Color: Call to Color a new ballet commissioned by Ballet Austin and created by visual artist Trenton Doyle Hancock, choreographer Stephen Mills and composer Graham Reynolds. The exhibition traces various aspects of this cross-disciplinary collaboration among the three artists. It will include four environmental installations derived from ballet scenes as well as Hancock’s paintings, notes, drawings, sketches and other art works that informed the production’s concept and inspired the backdrop curtains, stage props and costumes. Reynolds’ entire score will be available and Mills’ working process will be represented digitally via computers and video collage. For further information about the ballet, please click here.

Yoon Cho: Nothing Lasts Forever
Women & Their Work Gallery
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 3, 6-8 pm

Women & Their Work proudly presents Nothing Lasts Forever, a solo multimedia exhibition by Austin-based artist Yoon Cho. Recently named by the Austin Museum of Art as one of 
Austin’s “20 to Watch,” Cho uses video and digital photography to examine the ways we constantly create and re-create our identities. Utilizing blurring, pattern overlay, image insertion and other digital techniques to manipulate photography and video installations, Cho trains a sly and poignant lens on the ephemeral and ever-shifting nature of human persona.

Austin On View

Ewan Gibbs: Pictures of Pitchers
lora reynolds gallery
On view through April 19, 2008; Reception and Artist's Talk March 22, 6-8pm

Lora Reynolds Gallery presents its second solo exhibition by British artist Ewan Gibbs. Entitled Pictures of Pitchers, the exhibition includes eight new graphite drawings; the subject of each is a baseball pitcher captured at the moment just after the release of the ball.

Eric Zimmerman: Atlas
Art Palace
On view through April 9, 2008

See Michelle White's interview with Eric Zimmerman in this issue.

Benito Huerta: Intermezzo
The Mexican American Cultural Center (600 River Street)
On view through August 31, 2008

In this exhibition, the artist Benito Huerta uses the intermezzo—a short movement separating the major section of a symphonic work—to confront contemporary issues such as the economy, immigration, and natural disasters, either directly or in a more poetic form. A recipient of of 
Dallas Center for Contemporary Art’s 2002 Legend of the Year Award, Huerta's work is in several museum and corporate collections through the United Stated and Huerta's work was recently presented in Soundings: Benito Huerta 1992 – 2005 at the 
Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi and the El Paso Museum.

In Katrina’s Wake
WorkSpace Gallery, Blanton Museum of Art
On view through March 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.

Katy Heinlein: Unknown Pleasures
Women & Their Work
On view through March 29, 2008

Women & Their Work presents Unknown Pleasures, a solo exhibition by Houston-based artist Katy Heinlein. Using sinuous folds of draped fabric as her medium, Heinlein creates surprising structures full of elegance and moxie that invite the viewer to look beneath the surface. Swathed around hidden buttresses and assuming shapes ranging from quirky to austere, Heinlein’s work challenges our perceptions of traditional sculpture.

Wheelchair Epidemic
Gallery Lombardi
On view through April 5, 2008

Wheelchair Epidemic takes its name from the 1980s song by punk band The Dicks and it features work by artists who are either current or former members of influential punk or rock and roll bands. Artists include The Dicks band members Gary Floyd and Buxf Parrot, former Big Boys member Tim Kerr, The Ends band member Ian Schults and Sharon Tate's Baby band members Brian Curley and Andrew Feutsch.

Jess: To and From the Printed Page
Harry Ransom Center
On view through April 6, 2008

Jess: To and From The Printed Page was organized by the Independent Curators International, New York, and was curated by Ingrid Schaffner, the Senior Curator at Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia (and future testsite 08.2 collaborator). The exhibition features more than 50 original works of art, a 16mm film transferred to DVD and a sound recording by the artist “Jess” (Burgess Collins, 1923-2004) whose work developed in 1950s San Francisco from within the context of Beat literary culture.

20 to Watch: New Art in Austin
Austin Museum of Art
On view through May 11, 2008

See Kate Green's interview with Dana Friis-Hansen and Claire Ruud's review in Issue #94.

San Antonio Openings

Julieta Aranda: You had no 9th of May!
Sala Diaz
Opening reception, Friday, March 28, 7-11pm

Organized by guest-curator Regine Basha, Aranda’s installation considers the arbitrariness of our construction of time and the scientific basis for time measurement and experience. The International Date Line, the central figure in Aranda’s site-specific installation, is an immaterial marker of today and tomorrow with no fixed location and no international law that proclaims its existence (though it is commonly identified on maps as being 180 degrees longitude from the meridian located in Greenwich, England). It does though, have one very important aberration – a detour at the series of Micronesian islands called Kiribati. In 1995, the small archipelago of Kiribati located in the south pacific decided to move the International Date Line east to 150°, so that the entire country would then be situated on the western, "tomorrow," side of the IDL (instead of remaining split between yesterday and tomorrow). Significant to Aranda’s interest in this account is how a country (such as Kiribati), which is often ignored in cartographic and political representation, managed to change the representation of this imaginary boundary. Sala Diaz, an innocuous experimental gallery located in a residential neighborhood of San Antonio, will become the repository of material relating to Kiribati’s ownership of tomorrow. Aranda will materialize this anomaly of relative time with curious objects, the NEWSTAR newspapers, and a library of books exploring time constructions from Jules Verne, to Stansilav Lem, to Jorge Luis Borges and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Candace Briceño
Cactus Bra
Opening Reception April 4, 6-9pm

Wonderment, a solo show by Austin-based artist Candace Briceño, presents Briceño's narrative reinterpretation of landscape. She translates her observations of landscape into soft sculpture vignettes that are hand sewn and hand dyed. Her dying process incorporates her painting background with her fascination to further explore abstracted forms of landscape, shadows, and colors with the integration of drawing, painting and sewing.

Arte Latina: ROAR!
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
Opening Reception April 3, 6-8pm

Curated by Arturo Almieda, this exhibition includes artists Vanessa R. Centavo, Adriana García, Vanessa García-Briedé, Frances Marie Herrera, Tess Martínez, Irma Carolina Rubio, Marta Sanchez, Elizabeth Rodríguez, Anita Valencia, Kathy Vargas, Laura Varela, Carla Velíz, Luisa Wheeler and Guillermina Zabala.

San Antonio On View

Unfurnished Room
Unit B Gallery
On view through May 2, 2008; Closing Reception May 2, 7-10pm

Inspired by the idea of an emptied suburban house functioning as a gallery, Unfurnished Room brings together a group of artworks that mark or inscribe presence. Curated by Jacob Robichaux, the exhibition includes artists Josh Blackwell, Rachel Foullon, Sam Gordon, Barbara Hatfield, Jamie Isenstein, Matt Keegan, Siobhan Liddell, Peter Mandradjieff, Adam Putnam and Sara Saltzman.

New Works: 08.1 Regina José Galindo, Rodney McMillian and Margarita Cabrera
On view through May 11, 2008

Curated by Franklin Sirmans, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Menil Collection, this exhibition presents new works created by Regina José Galindo (Guatemala City, Guatemala), Rodney McMillian (Los Angeles, CA) and Margarita Cabrera (El Paso, TX)—the latest round of artists in residence at artpace.

Nate Cassie: For You
Three Walls-Blue Star Art Complex
On view through March 31, 2008

This exhibition documents a mail art project initiated by Nate Cassie in which he sent 55 artists two sheets of paper and an invitation to email him drawings of birdhouses and beehives. In return, the artists received a print done by Hare and Hound Press in San Antonio. In this exhibition, Cassie presents the drawings of the artists who chose to participate, the print he sent in return and the first edition of the book documenting the entire process.

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.

Houston On View

Kurt Stallmann & Alfred Guzetti: Breaking Earth and Zoe Crosher: One Year Later
On view through April 26, 2008

Diverseworks presents two projectsKurt Stallman and Alfred Guzzetti: Breaking Earth and Zoe Crosher: One Year Laterwhich both open on Friday, March 7. A five screen installation with multiple audio channels, Breaking Earth presents a palette of images, sounds and spaces created by composer Alfred Guzzetti and filmaker Kurt Stallmann. To create telling and insightful portraits for One Year Later, photographer Zoe Crosher trained her lens on young women in the small towns and big cities of America.

Dawoud Bey: Perspectives 160
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
On view through May 11, 2008

Since 1992 Chicago-based photographer Dawoud Bey has been working exclusively on large-scale portraits of American teenagers. In his recent work—portraits of teenagers taken in high schools around the country—Bey has included texts that the subjects have written about themsleves. For Bey, the creation and presentation of these portraits and texts allows for a more complex and nuanced representation than the photographic portrait alone.

Hana Hillerova: Transfigurations, Chuy Benitez: Houston Cultura, Adam Schreiber: Reverent Estimations and William Stewart: Broken Dreams
Lawndale Art Center
On view through April 12, 2008

Lawndale Art Center presents a suite of exhibitions organized in conjunction with FOTOFEST 2008. The new sculptures by Hana Hillerova in Transfigurations change the direction of the light in the room instead of claiming a sculptural space of their own. The digital panoramic photographs by Chuy Benitez in Houston Cultura document the Mexican American community in Houston. The photographs by Adam Schreiber in Reverent Estimations are meditations on the architecture of relics, technology and the marginal spaces in between. And in Broken Dreams, William Stewart chronicles Houston's old Third Ward and nearby neighborhoods.

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

See Clare Elliott's review in issue #92.

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.

Demetrius Oliver: Firmament
Inman Gallery
On view through April 5, 2008

Demetrius Oliver: Firmament contains a series of works the artist created during his residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Oliver's resume includes solo shows at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Atlanta Contemporary, P.S.1 MoMA and Inman gallery, as well as group exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem. He was also a Core Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s Glassell School.

2008 Core Artists in Residence Exhibition
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
On view through April 18, 2008

Each year the Museum of Fine Art's Glassel School provides residencies to a group of emerging artists through its Core Program. Go see work made by this year's participants: Mequitta Ahuja, William Cordova, Kara Hearn, Andres Janacua Lauren Kelley, Nicholas Kersulis, Sergio Torres-Torres and Jeff Williams.

Design Life Now: National Design Triennial
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
On view through April 20, 2008

Design Life Now: National Design Triennial presents the experimental projects, emerging ideas, major buildings, new products and media that were at the center of contemporary culture from 2003 to 2006. Inaugurated in 2000, the Triennial seeks out and presents the most innovative American designs from the prior three years in a variety of fields including product design, architecture, furniture, film, graphics, new technologies, animation, science, medicine and fashion. The exhibition presents the work of 87 designers and firms from established design leaders such as Apple, architect Santiago Calatrava, and Nike, Inc., to emerging designers like Joshua Davis, Jason Miller and David Wiseman.

Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao: Habitat 7
Houston Center for Photography
On view through April 20, 2008

A series of photographs by New York based artist Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao that document the series of communities located near the tracks of New York City's 7 train.

Jay DeFeo: Where the Swan Flies
Moody Gallery
March 7 - April 26, 2008; Reception March 29, 1-5pm

Although artist Jay DeFeo (1929-1989) is well known for her epic painting The Rose, much of her work remains in relative obscurity. This exhibition presents some of DeFeo's works on paper

How Artists Draw: Toward The Menil Institute and Study Center
The Menil Collection
On view through May 18, 2008

Celebrating the strength and diversity of the museum’s drawing collection, which includes gouaches, sketches, watercolors, and collage, How Artists Draw: Toward the Menil Drawing Institute and Study Center presents a selection of The Menil Collection’s most significant drawings in combination with exceptional works on paper from private collections.

Dallas On View

Sterling Allen, Peat Duggins & Ali Fitzgerald: Palace Does Dallas
Road Agent
On view through April 12

Road Agent is pleased to announce the three-person exhibition, Palace Does Dallas, part of the gallery’s ongoing exchange with Austin gallery Art Palace. This show features new work by Austin-based, Art Palace artists Sterling Allen, Peat Duggins, and Ali Fitzgerald.

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.

Real Time: Live Streaming Video
Dallas Contemporary
On view through 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 collects these fleeting images to reveal a larger reflection of our overworked society.

Fort Worth On View

Martin Puryear
Museum of Modern Art Fort Worth
On view through May 18, 2008

See Stephanie Ball-Piwetz's ...might be good recommends in this issue.

Houston Events

Barry Schwabsky: Core Lecture
Freed Auditorium, Glassel School of Art
Thursday, April 3 at 7:00 pm

Art critic and poet Barry Schwabsky will present a lecture as part of the 2007-2008 Core Lecture Series.  See Caitlin  Haskell's interview with Barry Schwabsky in this issue.

Announcements: events

Austin Events

Cult of Color: Call to Color
Austin Ventures Studio Theater
April 3-13, 2008

Ballet Austin presents a world premiere dance work created from a collaboration among Houston-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock, new music by composer Graham Reynolds, and original choreography by Ballet Austin Artistic Director/choreographer Stephen Mills. For further information about purchasing tickets, please click here.

Panel Discussion with with Trenton Doyle Hancock, Stephen Mills and Graham Reynolds
Saturday, March 22 from 3:00-5:00 pm

Organized in conjunction with Ballet Austin's Cult of Color: Call to Color and the companion exhibition at Arthouse, this panel discussion will feature contemporary artist Trenton Doyle Hancock, choreographer Stephen Mills and composer Graham Reynolds.

Katy Siegel and Wade Saunders: Viewpoint Lecture
Art Building, Room 1.102, University of Texas Department of Art History
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. Katy Siegel and Wade Saunders are this year’s invitees. Siegel is an associate professor of art history at Hunter College, CUNY and a contributing editor to Artforum. Wade Saunders is a sculptor and critic and teaches at Parsons Paris School of Art & Design and at the Institut des Etudes Politiques; he has written for Art in America since 1978. The lectures given by these two scholars on April 17 will be the final in a series of three. Siegel and Saunders will also present a seminar on April 18 from 3:00-5:00 pm in Art Building, Room 3.206, University of Texas Department of Art History.

Africanist Lectures
ART 1.120 Department of Art and Art History, University of Texas at Austin
March 25, April 1, April 3, all lectures at 4pm

UT Austin's Department of Art and Art History brings three more Africanists to campus to speak on their current research: on Tuesday, March 25, March Sylvester Ogbechie; on Tuesday, April 1, Krista Thompson; and on Thursday, April 3, Prita Meier.

Artist's Talk by Eric Zimmerman
Art Palace
Wednesday, March 26 at 7:00 pm

Organized in conjunction with Eric Zimmerman’s exhibition Atlas currently on view at Art Palace. For Further information about Atlas, see Michell White’s conversation with Zimmerman in this issue.

Artistic License: Matheus Rocha Pitta
Creative Research Laboratory
March 25, 4pm

The artist-in-residence from Rio de Janeiro screens his recently awarded video, Drive Thru, and discusses his current projects with the Creative Research Laboratory at UT. Matteus Rocha-Pitta, a young artist from Rio de Janeiro, came to the Blanton Museum this past fall to be the first Iberê Camargo artist-in-residence. While in Austin, Rocha-Pitta produced a new video work entitled Drive Thru. The video follows Rocha-Pitta’s interests by exploring the theme of displacement, and the circulation of commodities within a capitalist society. Using photography and video, the work was divided into three parts: the purchasing and transformation of a Volvo station wagon, the production of objects using Texas dirt that mimics drugs, and the creation of a video. The car served as the central stage in the video, with all action taking place around and inside the car.

Artist Lecture: Alma Lope
Texas Union, Santa Rita Room 3.502, University of Texas at Austin
March 27, 12-1pm

Visual artist and activist Alma Lopez will speak about transnational myths and recontextualizing cultural iconographies. Since the 1992 Los Angeles uprisings, Lopez has been engaged in collaborative public art-making to bridge the gap between diverse communities. Lopez co-founded three collaborative groups in Los Angeles: the L.A. Coyotas, Tongues, and Homegirl Productions.

Artist Lecture: Jill Downen
ART 1.110, Department of Fine Art, University of Texas at Austin
March 24, 5pm

Sculptor Jill Downen explores the physical connection between bodies and architecture. To see a short video documentary of the artist speaking about her work, click here.

Artist Lecture: Jeff Williams
ART 1.110, University of Texas at Austin
Wednesday, March 26 at 5pm

Artist Jeff Williams talks about his work.

Graduate-Level Graffiti: Lost in Translation
Asian American Cultural Center
April 13, 5-9pm

Graduate-Level Graffiti: Lost in Translation is the third in a series of multidisciplinary projects developed by conceptual artist and poet, Natasha Marin. Lost in Translation is an interactive event, where all participants will be invited to embody various key roles, including that of artist, subject, and patron. During the event, artists, musicians, performers, and poets from around the world will perform and interact with audience members in an effort to recreate the drama of an essential human truth; our persistent attempt to communicate our experiences through art to each other. As the performance unfolds, photographers and filmmakers will be recording the event for a forthcoming documentary.

The Universal Instrument: An Evening of New Music for Voice
Austin New Music Co-op
April 12, 2008, 8pm

Austin New Music Co-op presents The Universal Instrument, a concert devoted to new compositions featuring the human voice. Fourteen local musicians will perform eight accompanied and unaccompanied vocal works that include speaking, singing, and the variety of possibilities that lie between. The event will take place at the Mexican American Cultural Center. Tickets $12 in advance at End of an Ear and $15 at the door.

Mujeres En Napantla
La Peña
March 21, 7-9pm

Mujeres En Nepantla, an event celebrating women musicians, artists and poets, includes performances by the legendary musicians “La Calandria” Rita Vidaurri and Eva Ybarra, the undisputed “Queen of the Tex-Mex Conjunto Accordian”, and Azul. An art exhibit at both La Peña and Las Manitas features the work of Alejandra Allmuelle, Santa Barraza, Ines Batllo, Cecilia Colome, Cecilia Sanchez Duarte, Courtney Enriquez, Maria Garza, Marsha Gomez, Ambray Gonzalez, Nivia Gonzalez, Maria Limon, Anna Salinas, Sarita Sanchez, Susanna Santos, Ana Sisnet, Carmen Rodriguez Sonnes, Liliana Wilson, Soledad Mansilla Wilson, Kathy Vargas, Terri Ybanez, and Katrina Zarate. There will be an open mic that includes poetry readings by Norma Cantu, Erika Gonzalez, and Irene Peña from 9-11 pm at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Ballroom.

Houston Events

Design Life Now Lecture: Karim Rashid
Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Brown Auditorium
March 27, 7pm

The Design Life Now Lecture Series continues with Karim Rashid, the popular designer whose clients run the gamut from Prada to Dirt Devil. The presentation, “One Big Beautiful World,” is about improving life through design.

Media Archeology Festival: Live and Televised
Aurora Picture Show
April 17-19, 2008

The fifth annual Media Archeology Festival features events at DiverseWorks, the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, and Rice University. Curated by Aurora Artistic Director Andrea Grover and New York musician/curator Nick Hallett, this year's festival is titled Media Archeology: Live and Televised and features multimedia artists who incorporate audio/visual technology with live performance. Each of the performers uses pre-recorded video and audio to create a mise-en-scène of projected sets, props, and environments- sometimes creating a stage, a sound-scape, or an entire cast. The festival kicks off with a performance by legendary culture jammers Negativland, returning to Houston for the first time in eight years. Animator and performer Brent Green takes over the second night with live narration and music (by Brent Green, Howe Gelb and Jeremy Gara) to accompany Green's stop- animation films, and video and performance artists Tara Mateik and Shana Moulton round out the closing night of the festival.

Barry Schwabsky: Core Lecture
Freed Auditorium, Glassel School of Art
Thursday, April 3 at 7:00 pm

Art critic and poet Barry Schwabsky presents a lecture as part of the Core Program's 2007-2008 Lecture Series.  See Caitlin Haskell's interview with Barry Schwabsky in this issue.

Public Lecture: Benice Rose on "Drawings and The Menil Collection's New Drawing Institute and Study Center
Menil Collection
Monday, March 31 at 7:30 PM

Bernice Rose, the new Menil chief curator, responsible for the museum's long-planned Drawing Institute, speaks on drawing and its place in the collection. Her talk will be followed by a conversation with Director Josef Helfenstein.

Fort Worth Events

Tuesday Evenings at the Modern: Amelia Jones
The Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth
Tuesday, March 25 at 7:00 pm (Seating begins at 6:30)

Amelia Jones, known for her scholarship in the areas of feminism and contemporary art, is Professor and Pilkington Chair in Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Manchester as well as an independent curator and writer. Most recently she published the 2006–07 book Self Image: Technology, Representation, and the Contemporary Subject and is co-author/co-editor of WomEnhouse, a Web project reexamining feminism and domesticity in contemporary culture. For Tuesday Evenings, Jones presents the provocative and pertinent Screen Eroticism 1967 vs. 1992: Exploration of Female Desire in the Work of Carolee Schneemann and Pipilotti Rist.

Artist Lecture: John Stoney
The Museum of Modern Art of Fort Worth
April 1, 2008

John Stoney, an artist splitting his time between Austin and New York, captures the enormity of the world we inhabit in his awe-inspiring sculptures and drawings that are obsessively conceived and meticulously made. Pervasive in Stoney’s work and concurrent with his level of craft is a subtle humor and irony that results from slight shifts of perspective through juxtaposition and scale in artworks that seduce the eye and incite the imagination. In a presentation entitled Time and The Artist, Stoney discusses his work and its conceptual base.

Events Elsewhere

Book Signing With Dennis Balk for Colin De Land, American Fine Arts
Artforum Public Lounge, The Armory Show, Pier 94
Friday, March 28 from 5:00-7:00 pm

In honor of The Armory Show's 10th edition and the 5th anniversary of de Land's death, The Armory Show is co-hosting a book signing by author Dennis Balk at the fair's public lounge, courtesy of Artforum and Vivavi. Colin de Land, American Fine Arts is a major new publication that surveys the life and times of the late dealer and The Armory Show co-founder. Composed from his extensive photo archive, the book is primarily a photo document of the galleries run by de Land and the people and events associated with them. Included in the survey are numerous statements by artists and visitors who frequented American Fine Arts, offering a view of de Land's unique personal style as a gallerist and the major impact he had on the art world. This project was conceived and designed by Art Lies contributor Dennis Balk; texts were edited by Art Lies' own Anjali Gupta and John Ewing.

Announcements: opportunities

Artist Residencies

La Maison Jaune Residency Program, Gstaad
Application Deadline: April 30, 2009

The Maison Jaune residency program provides living and working opportunities for emerging international artists in all media of the visual arts (e.g. painting, sculpture, photography, performance, new media). The fellowship includes production costs up to CHF 3.000 per artist upon request. Artists are generally invited for a period of 4-6 weeks. The application has to include a CV, images of works produced in the past five years (not more than 20) and a letter of intent (one page max.). Please send the requested material to residency@patricialow.com.

The Real (Art) World: DiverseWorks Visual Arts Residency
Application deadline: April 1 at 5:00 pm

For the third consecutive year, DiverseWorks will turn the gallery keys over to four artists picked to share studio space in the 3000 square foot main gallery for a period of 5 weeks. The Real (Art) World summer residency program provides selected artists with a stipend, institutional support and the unique opportunity to create work in a collaborative environment. Please send proposals to DiverseWorks, Attn: Real (Art) World Proposals, 1117 East Freeway, Houston, TX, 77002. For further information, please click here.

Request for Artists

City of Austin Art in Public Places: Call for Qualifications
Deadline: Thursday, April 10 at 12:00 am

City of Austin Art in Public Places program seeks a Texas artist to create public art for the Dittmar Park Play Slab Enclosure AAIP project. From a review of qualifications, up to three finalists will be selected and paid to develop proposals. For further information, please click here.

Calls for Entries

Proposals for Public Art Projects
Deadline: April 1, 2008

DiverseWorks continues its support of public works with an opportunity for artists to exhibit in Houston's Midtown on a very public and grand scale. An old 2-story Victorian home, located at 1625 Alabama, serves to showcase large-scale artist projects. The house currently displays Aerosol Warfare's traffic-stopping This Old House, commissioned by DiverseWorks. The non-profit is currently accepting proposals for a project to take place on the front lawn. Send proposals for a sculpture installation, land art, and artful garden or anything that can withstand the Bayou City's unpredictable weather. Pink Flamingos, garden gnomes and birdbaths welcome. Submissions should be addressed to THE YARD c/o Diane Barber, DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, Houston, Texas 77002.

Poet and Artist Entries for CFW Poet Agency's Masturwor
Fuse Box Festival
Deadline: March 18, 2008

CFW Poet Agency is developing a poetic display entitled Masturwork, which will be presented in Austin's Fuse Box Festival on May 2nd, 2008. This presentation will be a collaboration between artists and poets from Austin (TX) and Mexico. CFW Poet Agency invites poets and artists who are interested in integrating their work with poetic speech to submit a resume, personal photograph and a sample of their work (or a link to the artist's website) to cfw.poet.agency@gmail.com.

Sculpture Quadrennial Riga 2008: Call for Proposals
Application Deadline: April 1, 2008

The Ministry of Culture of the 
Republic of 
Latvia through the Centre for Art Management and Information (MMIC) invites artists to submit proposals for Dictatorship of the Majority - Sculpture Quadrennial Riga 2008, an open-air contemporary art exhibition that will take place in 
Riga, Latvia 29 August - 10 October, 2008. Any professional artist from any part of the world is eligible. Each selected artist will be awarded 4000 EUR for the implementation of the proposed project. The artworks proposed must be constructed to withstand variable weather conditions, outdoor city environment and endure 6 weeks in public space. Up to 20 artworks will be selected and temporarily installed in 
Riga. For further information and application details, please click here.

Sharjah Biennial 2009: Call for Entries

In preparation for the 9th Sharjah Biennial, which will open in March 2009, the organizers have announced a call for applications for the production of new artworks. According to the press release, The Sharjah Biennial Productions Program is meant to "break free from the traditional genealogy of biennials" developing long term relationships with artists through joint productions. For application details, click here.

Chicago Underground Film Festival Accepting Entries
Early Deadline: May 15, 2008; Regular Deadline: June 16,2008

Entries are now being accepted for the Chicago Underground Film Festival. For further information and entry details, please click here.

Call for Exhibition Proposals

Diverseworks: Call for Exhibition Proposals

Diverseworks welcomes proposals for projects in the Main Gallery, a 3,000 square foot space dedicated to showing the work of national and international artists, and The Project Space, DiverseWorks' small gallery dedicated to showing the work of emerging and under-recognized artists. Proposals are accepted year round. For further information and applications details, click here.

Research Fellowship

Call for Applications in Fine Art, Design and Theory
The Jan van Eyck Academie
Deadline for submissions is April 15, 2008

The Jan van Eyck Academie is an institute for research and production in the fields of fine art, design and theory. Every year, 48 international researchers realize their individual or collective projects in this artistic and critical environment. Artists, designers and theoreticians are invited to submit proposals for individual or collective research projects for a one-year, two-year or variable research period in the departments of Fine Art, Design and Theory. For application details, please click here.

Grant Application Workshop

Application Workshop for 2008 Texas Filmmakers´ Production Fund Grant
Aurora Picture Show
Thursday, April 3 at 7:00 pm

The Austin Film Society, 
Aurora and SWAMP have partnered to present a workshop on applying for the 2008 Texas Filmmakers´ Production Fund Grant.This year, TFPF will give out at least $100,000 to 
Texas filmmakers, selected by a national panel of filmmakers and film professionals. Application forms are available through http://www.austinfilm.org/. This workshop will also be offered at 3:00 pm on Saturday, April 5 at Rice Media Center.

Filmmakers' Grant

2008 Grant Application Texas Filmmakers
Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund
Deadline: June 2, 2008

Applicants must be residents of Texas and be the creative author of the final work. This year, Alpha Cine Labs has joined the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund as an in-kind sponsor. Now, in addition to requesting cash and Kodak film stock, you can also request up to $5,000 in services from Alpha Cine, a full service digital motion picture lab offering services ranging from 35mm, S16mm, 16mm, S8mm color, B&W, reversal processing, telecine, printing, color timing, digital to 35mm transfers, HD color correct and mastering. For more information and applications, click here.

Travel Grant

Travel Grants for San Antonio-Area Artists
Deadline: April 30, 2008

In an effort to foster the growth and vision of an artist's career and encourage an ongoing dialogue between local and international art communities, Artpace San Antonio is pleased to announce a call for Travel Grant applications. The award will assist an artist with travel related to his or her creative growth, and proposals may include research or project-specific travel to visit an exhibition, collection, institution, or geographic location. For more information or to apply, click here.

Curatorial Grant

Grants for Projects and Curatorial Research
Etant donnés: The French American Fund for Contemporary Art
Deadline for proposals March 31, 2008

Etant donnés: The French-American Fund for Contemporary Art offers financial support in the form of grants to American nonprofit institutions organizing exhibitions, installations, artist residencies, publications, or other projects by living French artists or to French nonprofit institutions presenting the same types of projects involving American artists. Qualifying projects may be in the fields of visual arts, architecture and design. Since 2005, Etant Donnés has also offered Curatorial Research Grants supporting the professional development of American curators by offering them extended stays of up to three months in France for research projects in the field of contemporary art. The grants are intended to facilitate the discovery of new talents, reinforce interest in established contemporary artists, and encourage the exploration of 
France’s cultural resources. For the complete guidelines and application forms, please click here.

Curatorial Internship

Artpace Summer Graduate Internships
Deadline: March 24, 5pm

Artpace San Antonio seeks two motivated art history or curatorial studies graduate students for paid summer internships. The two graduate interns will work within the Curatorial Department and Director’s office. For the 08.2 residency—ERRE (Tijuana, MX), Mark Bradford (Los Angeles, CA), and William Cordova (Houston, TX)—the interns will assist with researching and authoring published materials, including: newsletter, press releases, and gallery notes. The interns will also assist with the organization of public programs and opening weekend events. Additional responsibilities include research for upcoming residencies, conducting tours through the education program, and general administrative duties. The interns will become an integral part of Artpace’s staff and will observe staff meetings. The interns will be encouraged to make studio visits with artists in San Antonio and to become familiar with the contemporary art community in Texas. Please submit cover letter, resume, short writing sample, and list of two references to kcurry@artpace.org.


Education and Volunteer Coordinator
Deadline for application is March 28, 2008.

Arthouse is currently seeking an Education & Volunteer Coordinator. The Education and Volunteer Coordinator independently plans, develops, and implements all school, teen, and family education programs, as well as manages the volunteer program. Arthouse has chosen to focus its formal education programs on teenagers, so teen programming is the primary responsibility for the Education and Volunteer Coordinator. Contact Catherine (512.453.5312 or catherine@arthousetexas.org) for more information on the position and how to apply.

Executive Director
Houston Arts League
Application deadline: June 30, 2008

Art League Houston is currently seeking applicants for the Executive Director position. Art League Houston cultivates awareness, appreciation and accessibility of contemporary visual art within the community for its cultural enrichment The Executive Director implements the strategic goals of the organization and is responsible for organization, direction, and administration of the agency, including its policies, programs and services. To view position announcement and job description, click here.

Membership and Administrative Manager
Art Lies

Art Lies seeks an enthusiastic and dedicated Membership and Administrative Manager. The successful candidate will support the organization’s mission across the state with an emphasis on coordinating membership and subscription services. Another key component of this position is representing Art Lies in the 
Houston area and, as directed, at membership events throughout the state. This position reports to the Executive Director. Applicants should work well with minimal on-site supervision, be self-starters, have strong written and verbal communication skills, have experience working with boards, understand the importance of maintaining records, and enjoy the visual arts and interacting with the public. Please mail resume to: Art Lies, P.O. Box 1408 Houston, TX 77251; Or email to: info@artlies.org. For further information, 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.

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