MBG Issue #96: Accoutrements of Bourgeois U.S. Comfort

Issue # 96

Accoutrements of Bourgeois U.S. Comfort

April 4, 2008

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Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Cuauhtemoc Medina and Rafael Ortega, When Faith Moves Mountains, 2000-2002, Documentary version, DVD. Included in the 6th Mercosul Biennial. Image courtesy of the artists. (detail)

from the editor

The buzz of lively conversation filled the air at Fluent~Collaborative this week. A fortnight ago, we picked up Sunday’s New York Times Magazine off our coffee tables and discovered "After Frida," a feature about Mari Carmen Ramirez, Curator of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The article revived the specter of a longstanding rift between Mari Carmen and the Blanton Museum of Art. It was no news to us that Mari Carmen doesn’t speak to Gabriel Perez-Barreiro, the Blanton’s Curator of Latin American Art. But the Times made it appear as if the dispute between these curators were more personal than philosophical, quoting Mari Carmen: “He [Gabriel] had to build a position against me to establish his own position, so he has been speaking against the specificity of Latin American art.”

However, personal rivalries aside, Mari Carmen’s disapproval of Gabriel stems from their philosophical differences regarding the exhibition of Latin American art. Mari Carmen decries Gabriel’s decision to integrate the Latin American art collection with the American collection in America/Americas, the Blanton’s permanent exhibition, which he co-curated with Curator of American and Contemporary Art Annette Carlozzi. To Mari Carmen's mind, people aren’t ready to recognize Latin American art on its own terms yet and exhibitions like America/Americas elide the specificity of this work. They encourage viewers to read Latin American art as “one more expression of everything that happened in the United States or Europe.”

I once asked Gabriel about the public response to America/Americas and he explained the philosophy behind the exhibition as follows: “I think those classifications [between American art and Latin American art] are academic classifications. When the general public sees the art, they understand what’s going on. Museums are doing a disservice when they separate art by continent because it’s an artificial separation. Almost everybody has some experience of two cultures interacting with one another. Fewer and fewer people live in a mono-culture. They know about these issues because they negotiate them in everything they do. The food they eat, the music they listen to, the newspapers they read—the world is built on negotiation, conversation and encounter between cultures. The people who have been most against the America/Americas exhibition are those who are professionally vested in the separation between Latin America and the United States. Some Latin Americanists and Americanists might see the exhibition and feel like their field of research is being taken away from them. They are the ones who would be most critical of the model.”

In an interview in this issue, Gabriel discusses his curatorial philosophy and practice and responds briefly to the Times article. Our interview with Gabriel, in conjunction with an interview with independent curator Regine Basha, commemorates the six years this power couple has spent in Austin. (They move to New York this month.) Regine’s interview got our tongues wagging, too. Everyone weighed in on the strengths and weaknesses of the Austin art scene, (Regine offers her opinion in the interview), and we revived our ongoing discussion about AMOA’s New Art in Austin triennial, (we liked the clever alternative Regine suggested.)

The rest of the buzz at Fluent surrounded this week’s Artist’s Space with former testsite artist Riiko Sakkinen. Although his work initially provoked some controversy among us, (check it out to see why), ultimately we feel that censorship should be avoided. After you take a look at Riiko's work and our conversation with him, let us know what you think.

In our next issue, look forward to a double feature on Cult of Color: Call to Color—an interview with choreographer Stephen Mills and a review of Trenton Doyle Hancock's sets and costumes—a conversation with art critic Katy Siegel and an Artist’s Space with Rell Ohlson.

**Quotes from Mari Carmen Ramirez from Arthur Lubow, “After Frida,” New York Times Magazine, March 23, 2006: 54-61 & 69. Quote from Gabriel Perez-Barreiro from conversation with Claire Ruud on February 11, 2008.

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.


Regine Basha

By Mary Katherine Matalon

Setareh ShahbaziWhy Not Bazar, 2008, Lacquered mdf. Photograph courtesy Wayne McCall.

Since her arrival in Austin in 2002, Regine Basha has been an energetic presence in the Texas art scene. As a co-founder of Fluent~Collaborative, the former Adjunct Curator of Arthouse and an independent writer and curator, Basha both introduced new artists and art work to Austin and helped nurture the growth of the Austin art community. This month, Regine and her husband, Gabriel Perrez-Barreiro, leave Austin for New York City. In anticipation of her departure, ...might be good sat down with Regine to talk about her time in Austin, changes in the Austin art scene and her plans for the future.

...might be good: In an interview with you in the Austin Chronicle published shortly after you had arrived in Austin, you commented that you weren’t terribly excited by the Austin art galleries because these galleries seemed to be existing within a comfort zone. Do you think this has changed for Austin galleries and other art institutions? And if so, in what ways are Austin art institutions—both galleries and non-profits—going about doing this?

Regine Basha: Well, I guess having heard so much about Austin’s thriving music and film scene (being young and independently driven and so on) I had expected that to be the case with the gallery scene. At the time that wasn’t really the case. Artists in town, if they stayed here, were either showing at Gallery Lombardi (which seemed more like a party scene) or at the more established, but conservative galleries catering to the decorating of Austin homes. I was surprised to learn that what was considered the ‘alternative’ were coffee shop shows, which by and large are pretty amateur. There didn’t really seem to be much interest in the ideas behind art, or the conversations contemporary art can provoke. I remember Sue Graze [ The Executive Director of Arthouse] once saying to me, ‘you have to first build the institution, then there can be an alternative!’

This has definitely taken a major turn. Now, there are more galleries like Lora Reynolds, Art Palace and Okay Mountain, or projects like testsite, that are taking their programs very seriously and provoking the growth of a more diversified, exciting art scene. Not to mention the museums and non-profits in town—many of which have gone through major transitions and have grown significantly in the past five years. As a result artists feel more inclined to stay in Austin and not leave for the bigger cities because the scene is much stronger.

...mbg: Why do you think Austin’s institutions were in such a state of transition?

RB: Well I can’t point to single reason but I can think of a couple of books that might have contributed to a self-consciousness about Austin’s own art and cultural scene. The first is Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class. There was a lot of excitement about the fact that this book listed Austin as one of the ‘Creative Cities’ due mostly to its unique blend of musicians, game designers and one of the highest patent rates in the country—things like that. All of a sudden there was a spotlight on Austin, and the challenge to live up to its name became kind of urgent. The other book I recall stirring debate was Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. When Malcolm came to speak at UT, the ensuing discussion amongst Austinites was how it felt as though the Austin art scene had yet to have its own tipping point. What is sometimes called the ‘ecosystem’ of the art scene—a healthy mix of established and young artists, museums and galleries, serious collectors and new collectors had to coalesce for this tipping point to happen. In his terms, enough ‘mavens’ and ‘connectors’ had to work together. It took a few years, but that is exactly what occurred.

...mbg: What kinds of activities started happening as a result?

RB: I’d say on the artist front, it began with the short-lived but explosive project space called The Fresh Up Club (Dave Bryant and Peat Duggins). They were pretty experimental and connected themselves to a similarly spirited scene around the country. Soon after they opened, a group of key collectors here stepped up to the plate. But it wasn’t until later that Austin collectors really started buying and supporting local work which kind of had a domino effect and influenced other collectors and so on. The next wave came with Risa Puleo’s space The Donkey Show, Arturo Palacios' Art Palace, and the collective of Okay Mountain—each of which maximized this new energy that is still thriving today, resulting in more sales than Austin has ever seen, I think. These initiatives also attracted young artists from other cities to make Austin their home. Then, with the larger institutions inviting artists from around the country and around the world for long or short terms stays, a new kind of interaction began to happen with the scene and those creating work here (like some artists going to places like Skowhegan or having residencies abroad). Across the board, local exhibitions got more ambitious, more attention is being paid to Austin and artists here are getting connected to a broader art scene.

…mbg: During your time in Austin, one of your many roles was serving as Arthouse’s Adjunct Curator. Can tell me a little bit about the direction of Arthouse at that time and the nature of your involvement with it?

RB: At Arthouse, since I started at the beginning of their transition, there seemed to be a lot of room to explore and question the role of the institution. How could it remain nimble as an art space? How can it establish a future program and plan ahead, yet be responsive and spontaneous enough to accommodate current modes of art-making? It seemed necessary to implement a second tier of smaller but active programs which we called ‘Arthouse Presents’ that billed itself as the surprise element—film screenings, visiting artist talks, small concerts, site-specific projects, or programs like building a temporary zine shop with Peat Duggins. These initiatives did not always relate to the exhibition program on view, but they did bring in more idea-driven or in-progress works with artists. I think it was important at the time to also provide a forum for artists who wanted to try out something new, as well as a way to allow the public to understand what the art-process is really like behind the scenes. Later on, my role at Arthouse turned into Consulting Curator, which meant lending a curatorial voice to the initial plans and discussions regarding Arthouse’s new future building and programming.

...mbg: I’d like to shift to shift the conversation and talk about shows that focus exclusively on local artists. In Issue 94, ...might be good devoted a lot of space to 20 to Watch: New Art in Austin. We wanted to start a dialogue in the Austin Art community about exhibition. We expected to get a lot of feedback—but aside from one or two emails and coverage in Ivan Lozano’s blog, no one responded. Do you think we went about trying to start a dialogue in the wrong way? Or do you think that Austin simply isn’t able to generate that kind of dialogue?

RB: I think 20 to Watch: New Art in Austin isn’t a show that is intended to generate a dialogue. The impetus for the show is to applaud the community of younger artists in town. Also, most of the people in Austin are either friends with the artists in the show or friends with people that created the show—and so New Art in Austin is a very personal thing. By nature, the approach of the exhibition is uncritical—it is what it is. Typically the discussions are limited to what people liked or didn’t like in the exhibition.

I have similar issues with Arthouse’s annual exhibition New American Talent, another juried survey of emerging artists. The model for NAT is slightly different—there’s a call for submissions from artists living and working in the United States and then one established curator chooses work from a list of nearly a hundred artists. It proposes to be a showcase for new emerging work, but in the end it almost always feels random and unfocussed—or worse, forced. The curators are invited on the basis of what they might be able to do for these artists, but because of the way its set up, they can rarely engage directly with them. So, it’s usually a ‘good intentions’ show with a very generalized, tepid effect. I hope my successor Elizabeth Dunbar will finally get to push the envelope on that one.

...mbg: What do you think would be a good alternative to exhibitions like New American Talent and New Art in Austin

RB: I think if it has to happen, it would be great if AMOA, Arthouse and others such institutions combine their resources and do one big town-wide exhibition engaging the Austin art scene, so that each institution can do it uniquely and with selected foci. It’s really just a marketing tactic to generate more excitement for the local and national art public.

...mbg: I agree—a collaborative exhibition sounds like a very clever solution. I’m wondering—and I know this is a very broad question—if you could talk about what you think are some of the potential strengths and weaknesses of the Austin art scene.

RB: I think one of Austin’s strengths is that there can be different style of cultural production here. It can be very open—an artist like Luke Savisky for example can work like a renaissance person. Luke has managed to carve out a niche for himself in a way I’ve never seen before. As a film artist, he collaborates with everyone from the Kronos Quartet to the Alamo Drafthouse—with a wide range of participants and venues from the avant-garde to the commercial. Here, projects like the recent Cult of Color : Call to Color that Arthouse is now doing with Trent Doyle Hancock and Ballet Austin can happen in a meaningful way. Unlike New York where rigid boundaries and mini-feifdoms still exist between disciplines, I think Austin—and the wide array of resources available here—make it possible for artists to work across disciplines in innovative ways.

I think one potential weakness is that the Austin art scene can very easily get caught up in its own ‘hip’ factor or its own self-congratulatory complacency. This tends to form a little bubble where your only references about art are in town or Texas-wide at best. It also focuses the discussions a lot on local gossip. To really be involved in the art—either as an artist, curator, or collector—you have to constantly inform yourself about what’s going on in the rest of the field, do the research, and find your place in it. I’m sure the local tech industry does this—the art scene should do the same.

I feel pretty fortunate to have been able to work as an independent curator out of Austin during this time. I have to say that more than in New York, I was able to not only engage with more international projects – like work in Istanbul, Cairo, Santiago, Berlin in the past five years – but also bring back some of the artists, ideas and projects (like e-flux video rental, or Egyptian artist Basim Magdy to Okay Mountain, etc.) to Austin’s art scene which met them with open arms. This confirmed for me that Austin is ready to embrace the global within the local, which I think is important to the growth of the art scene overall.

...mbg: Can you talk a little bit about your upcoming projects?

RB: It seems that this has become my year of the working with mostly woman artists—which is great! Setareh Shahbazi from Berlin, just opened at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum (see image), Mexican artist Julieta Aranda is at Sala Diaz this month – both these shows are really about responding to new critical work and wanting to bring them to new contexts. The Activist Impulse which will be at Women & Their Work will feature 5 international women artists of the 90s generation who have contributed significant activist projects through their art—Emily Jacir, Judi Werthein, Andrea Geyer, Kristin Lucas and the team Neurotransmitter (Valerie Tevere & Angel Navarez). This show will be part of Women & Their Work’s 30th anniversary year. Finally, The Marfa Sessions, at Ballroom Marfa this fall, which I will curate with Lucy Raven and Rebecca Gates, really extends my ongoing interest in the relationship between art and sound. We have the added thrill of commissioning 5 new works, producing performances, working with Marfa Public Radio and placing work all around town and environs of Marfa while turning Ballroom Marfa into a kind of desert visitor center!

For images from Regine Basha’s projects go to: http://web.mac.com/ginabasha/Exhibition_Website/Bio.html

Mary Katherine Matalon is the coordinator of testsite, ...might be good’s sister project.

Gabriel Perez-Barreiro

By Claire Ruud

Cildo MeirelesMarulho, 1991-2001, Wood, books and audio. Photograph by Eduardo Seidl. Included in the 6th Mercosul Biennial.

Gabriel Perez-Barreiro has been Curator of Latin American Art at the Blanton Museum since 2002. This month, he and his wife Regine Basha depart for New York, where he will assume the position of Director at the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. In anticipation of their departure, …might be good sat down with Gabriel to talk about his curatorial philosophy and practice, his recent work as Curator of the 2007 Mercosul Biennial and his future at the Colección.

…might be good: I’d like to begin by talking about your approach to building a university museum collection. In a conversation with Luis Camnitzer published in Issue #78 of …might be good, you described the way you built a collection at Essex University. Students and professors would receive a proposed acquisition, and you would consider it in a seminar-like format. If you were still talking about the piece 20 minutes after you’d begun, you’d acquire it. Was it really that simple?

GPB: It wasn’t that simple. The process at Essex was a response to a particular situation: we built the collection largely on donations and we cared above all about what kind of discussions the work could provoke. Often, an artist or a collector offered an unsolicited piece and we didn’t have the expertise to judge it. So talking about the work together was the safest way to select some acquisitions. If the conversation was interesting, if people were disagreeing about something meaty, then chances were that the work was worth having. But things have changed a lot at Essex since then.

…mbg: I’m excited about the process you’re describing because of the way it might allow faculty and students to shape a university museum’s collection. Would that kind of a process work at the Blanton?

GPB: The University of Texas is a much more consolidated institution. I don’t think that system would translate here. We have a collection that’s so much bigger and so much more complicated. We also have resources for purchase. But I’ve always liked the idea behind the acquisition process at Essex. We were trying to find alternative sets of criteria for building a collection. The curators weren’t just looking for an artist that was in the news last week. We weren’t on a gallery waiting list trying to get the same repertoire everyone else has. Our collection was really about debate and discussion rather than value, product and career.

...mbg: I wonder, though, whether the acquisitions process at Essex created a rather disjointed collection. When you acquire work, aren’t you trying to create some sort of coherence within the collection?

GPB: You have to have criteria, but criteria are different from coherence. At Essex and at the Blanton, the collections have particular groups of work that make sense together and others that do not. Over the life time of a collection, its focus shifts. Some pieces of the Latin American collection that used to be way in the back of storage are now on display, and vice versa. To me, that’s where museums are valuable. When work is out of fashion it doesn’t get thrown away. I think these shifts mean that our criteria for building a collection need to be less dogmatic and we need to be able to accept that we are not always right all of the time.

...mbg: I’m interested in alternative models for acquisitions because of the opportunities they might create for partnerships between academic art history departments and curatorial departments at university museums. What would you say are the next steps toward fostering collaboration between the Department of Art History at the University of Texas and the Blanton Museum?

GBP: I believe the curator here should be a member of the faculty—a step we’ve never been able to take. The faculty needs to have a healthy relationship with the museum. The new faculty appointments to the Department of Art History—Andrea Giunta and Roberto Tejada—are really going to help. We need faculty and curators that want to build common projects between the university and the museum. But I should say that I think UT has a closer collaboration than most university museums. There will always be those faculty members who boycott the museum or who complain about the program, but that’s inevitable, and for each one of those, there are several with whom we have a great relationship.

…mbg: Can you say more about how you think the new appointments to the Department of Art History will affect the study of Latin American art at the university and museum?

GPB: These appointments are so important. Jacqueline Barnitz, who retired last year and is in her 80s, was a pioneer in the study of Latin American art and built UT’s reputation in this area. I think the failure to start planning for her retirement 20 years ago was a mistake. We slipped very fast down the ladder from a preeminent position in the study of Latin American art to a lesser position. The replacement process got wrapped up in the faculty being upset over the new Blanton having yoga in the galleries or something, when the issue was so much larger than that. Now we have a chance to be one of the leading institutions in the study of Latin American art again.

...mbg: Will Roberto Tejada be involved in acquisitions and exhibitions at the Blanton? The Blanton has an excellent Latin American collection, and I’ve seen a lot of thoughtful shows focusing on Latin American artists here. But what about Chicano/Latino art?

GPB: My view is that Chicano art is American art produced in the United States by people who’ve been here often for generations. Annette Carlozzi [Curator of American and Contemporary Art] has been so thoughtful about making a diverse American collection that questions what it means to be American from diverse perspectives. We have important works by Jesse Amado, Luis Jiménez, Benito Huerta, Celia Muñoz—some of the leading figures of Chicano/Latino/Mexican American art. These works live mostly in the American collection. However, the collaborative relationship between the American and Latin American departments at the museum means that we’re constantly questioning these definitions and divisions. It is part of a much broader discussion about what we mean by Chicano art. Are there Chicano artists now who will accept that label? Is it a term that applies historically to the 70’s and 80’s? Having Roberto studying these questions academically is going to help us to define how we talk about, classify, display and interpret those works at the museum. Roberto has the expertise we’ve been missing, but institutionally we are uniquely positioned to answer these questions.

...mbg: I’m interested in hearing about your focus and your expertise. How have you been shaping the Blanton’s Latin American Collection over the last five years?

GPB: I’ve been working along two basic lines. One is filling out the collection in certain areas. Considering what we already have, I’ve suggested acquisitions that fill our collection out historically. The other area I’ve been working on is contemporary art, which is a particular interest of mine. I saw an opportunity for us to be building a collection where other people were not—artists from the 90’s to now, from parts of the world that have been invisible to the art market, for example Guatemala or Chile.

Everyone talks about the boom the art market for contemporary Latin American art. But what they mean by Latin American art is the art that’s in Chelsea and Miami. Most museums and collectors stop there. They get a Beatriz Milhazes, an Ernesto Neto, an Adriana Varejão or a Guillermo Kuitca and they feel like they’ve ‘done’ Latin America. But if you go to Argentina or Brazil and look at what artists there are producing, then you see that it’s much more complex than the few artists who make it to Chelsea. There are many artists who are extremely important but they didn’t have access to the market at the right time, or didn’t have the support of a certain curator who was calling the shots. I think we have a role there to be looking out for work that’s very important and valuable, not economically, but historically.

I tried to structure the 90’s collection by thinking about place—very specific scenes. We systematically picked cities and tried to build collections from the 90s through the present. We’ve been very successful in building a collection from Buenos Aires. No one has the collection we have, not even in Argentina. In Guatemala City, there was an amazing generation of political artists working during the 90’s. People only know one—Regina Galindo. The market can only handle one artist from Guatemala at a time. But there are 20 others that worked alongside Regina during that movement. So a donor supported us to build a comprehensive collection from Guatemala City. Often the work we purchased from these artists was the first work the artist had ever sold to a museum, or to anybody. We collected work from Chile in a similar way. The point is not to just go and get one token work, but to actually try to build a corpus of works so you can understand the relationships between them.

…mbg: So are there collectors in Austin supporting Latin American art?

GPB: When I came here, my rolodex was empty. There wasn’t anyone supporting Latin American art in particular. So I came here thinking that this would not be a context that would support a Latin American collection, least of all a cutting-edge or experimental collection. And I was totally wrong. I could list over half a dozen people off the top of my head who have been generous supporters of the Latin American Collection here at the Blanton. And some of them have helped us acquire very political, challenging works for which it’s often hard to find donors. These donors aren’t just supporting acquisitions, either. They’re building relationships with the artists and hosting them when they come to Austin. As a curator, working with supporters like these is really rewarding. I have people I can talk to about the artists I’m interested in, and they know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s great when people support a museum financially, but even better when they also engage closely with what you are doing.The ecosystem in Austin for these artists is growing, too. You know, Benito Laren had a show at Okay Mountain and Eduardo Navarro had a show at Art Palace. People in Argentina and Brazil are interested in Austin and I think these relationships are only going to grow.

…mbg: Let’s talk about your recent project, the 2007 Mercosul Biennial. How did you use the metaphor of the third bank to structure the biennial?

GPB: I never wanted to do a biennial. I don’t like biennials and usually try to avoid them. I agreed to do the Mercosul Biennial as long as I could re-define it. What bothers me most about biennials is that they’re overly thematic. Curators try to create an exhibition that’s about something other than the art. You read those e-fluxes and they’re kind of pompous. They say things like, “This exhibition will force you to reconsider the roles…” It won’t force you to do anything, it’s a show. So I wanted to get away from anything that would be a theme. The image of the third bank comes from a short story by João Guimarães Rosa and I consider it more of a metaphor or attitude than a theme as such.

Let me put it this way, art is an operation, art is a way of thinking, art is a way of reinterpreting the world. It’s not a subject, it’s a methodology. That shift was very important to me. Thinking about methodology, I realized all good art breaks down binary positions and creates a new space. It pushes our experience into foreign territory—the third bank. It’s an image of independence, somewhere that’s not one thing or another, but is dependent on both. It’s precarious. The idea of the third bank was the most important to me in terms of the relationship between the viewer and the artwork. In my mind, the art work was one bank, the viewer was another, and the encounter between them would generate the third. Rather than privilege one or the other, I wanted to treat both artwork and viewer with equal respect and create this “third bank.”

…mbg: You worked very closely with Luis Camnitzer on the biennial. Can you tell me about this collaboration?

GBP: The Mercosul Biennial has a very strong local audience. People really want to see the biennial serve as a tool for education. I was totally into that, so the first person I asked to work with me was Luis because of his role as an educator. He was the Pedagogical Curator and that role had never existed before. The two of us worked very closely together. We were almost co-curators of the entire project.The biennial was about critical thinking, not consumption—that was Luis’s idea. Normally people go to a biennial like they go to a mall. Do I like it? Would I hang it in my house? We wanted to deactivate the I-like/I-don’t-like mechanism and get people to think critically about what each artist was trying to do and build their relationship from there.

We hired three hundred people as mediators—not to give people lectures, but to converse with people. The Mediators received six months of training in everything from philosophy to body expression to art history to pedagogy. I had some of the best art conversations I’ve ever had with these mediators. We also created Pedagogical Stations where viewers could respond to artists’ statements. Viewers could write comments that the next viewers could read. The audience would guide the future audience. The comments on these stations were unbelievable. To me, that was the third bank.

...mbg: Can you speak to the international reception the biennial has received?

GPB: There were articles in Art Papers [February 2008, Ursula Dávila-Villa], Modern Painters [March 2008, Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy], and Artforum [March 2008, Anne Ellegood on the 6th Mercosul Bienal]. I decided that rather than put our energy into courting the international press, we should use our resources to do something that was creative and original. If it was good, then the press would pay attention. Biennials are constantly sprouting up and there are endless panel discussions about the crisis of the biennial. People are looking for new models, we tried to create one.

...mbg: Last weekend the New York Times Magazine published a feature about Mari Carmen Ramírez (“After Frida,” March 23, 2008), the Curator of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She was fairly critical of the Blanton, the University of Texas and you. How did you feel about the article?

GPB: To me, what’s interesting is how the field of Latin American art has expanded and become so much more diverse. Of course, this is in part thanks to Houston, but also to so many other people and institutions internationally, and against a background of growing globalization of the art world in general. I wish that the article had focused more on that larger, truly fascinating story and on the art itself, and less on personality. I will say that I was surprised that Mari Carmen criticized the Blanton’s integration of the collections when the article also described her as saying that she is planning a similar thing for Houston.

...mbg: How would you define your curatorial differences with Mari Carmen?

GPB: Mari Carmen was very important to my generation, as she was the first professional curator in the field, and made the Blanton internationally known in this area. I have great respect for her work and her commitment, but I don’t think the field revolves around one person or one institution. Ultimately I’m a great believer in pluralism, so to me it’s not a zero-sum game between Austin and Houston, or between Houston and New York. As the field expands and more people are in it, it only creates more options, more support, and more opportunities for everyone. This helps institutions to define and refine their missions, and this ultimately makes the art world a richer and better place. To me, what’s important is the artist, the art, and the audience—not the curator. My ideal curator is one with a light touch, who lets the art define the terms of discussion as much as possible. When I think of my role models, they are all people who come to art asking questions, and who don’t always feel they have the answer, but think the question is worth asking. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself which art and artists you really believe in, and the answer to that question is always very specific. That’s why I don’t think that ‘Latin American art’ is a cause in itself. There are amazing artists in that part of the world, as there are in all others, and it probably does require particular skills to present Latin American art in the US context, but there is a risk in doing so that you end up believing that the translation was more important than the original. It’s something I try to be mindful of.

...mbg. Before we part ways, I’d like to hear about what you’ll be doing for the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros [CPPC].

GPB: At this stage, it’s quite open-ended. We’ll start by revisiting the goals and programs of the collection. One of the reasons I’m so excited about the collection is that Patricia Cisneros has always understood what education means in relationship to a collection. She sees the collection as a tool to increase awareness of Latin American artists and Latin American culture in the world. The CPPC is not a trophy collection, but a collection with a very strong education slant. It has been a leader in supporting research and has an educational program that is active in something like 8 different countries. I won’t be doing as much curating, because the collection has an excellent curatorial team; but I will helping to guide the curatorial direction, including doing more of the oversight and planning. We will be looking to the future and shaping the organizational plans for the CPPC for the next 10 to 15 years, which is a very exciting prospect. I also have several years of programming here at the Blanton that I’ll still be working on, but that will eventually wind down.

...mbg: So you’ll still be around Austin?

GPB: I’ll be around. The CPPC and the University have a history of partnership, and again, with Andrea and Roberto coming on, UT is really positioned to be a powerhouse for the study of Latin American art. And I’m sure that’s something the CPPC will want to be a part of in one way or another. I also want to keep watching the scene here in Austin. It’s s improved so much in the last five years. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Claire Ruud is Managing Editor of ...might be good.


New Works 08.1: Margarita Cabrera, Regina Jose Galindo, Rodney McMillian
Artpace San Antonio
On view through May 11, 2008

By Laura A. Lindenberger

Margarita Cabrera, The Craft of Resistance, 2008, 2500 copper butterflies (off-site location), Dimensions vary. Originally commissioned and produced by Artpace San Antonio. Photo credit: Todd Johnson.

Artpace San Antonio’s first New Works exhibition of 2008 consists of works by Margarita Cabrera (El Paso, Texas), Regina José Galindo (Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala), and Rodney McMillian (Los Angeles, California), selected by Franklin Sirmans, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Menil Collection in Houston. The exhibition underscores absence, which Cabrera, McMillian, and Galindo use to create specific affective responses—discomfort, claustrophobia, and curiosity—in the viewer. At times, however, absence and its affective and visual ramifications threaten to undermine the show.

Galindo’s project, America’s Family Prison, consists of a rented portable jail cell on a trailer installed in the gallery. She and her family lived in the cell for a limited period of time before and during the opening of the exhibition. The cell was empty when I visited, and I peered into the fluorescent-lighted cubicle with dread, even claustrophobia, unwilling to step entirely into it. The space reduces human function to base necessities, containing only a metal toilet and sink, a small table, and two bunked mattresses. A surveillance video camera is perched near the ceiling in one corner. The only evidence of the family's habitation of the space is a child’s drawings hung under the mirror in the bathroom area. As the brochure for the installation matter-of-factly relates, the private prison industry is bustling, especially because of lucrative contracts with the U.S. government to house immigrants seeking asylum in the United States.* The T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center, 40 miles north of Austin in Taylor, Texas, for example, “is the first prison authorized by the state to lodge whole families: men, pregnant women, adolescents, children, women, and even babies.”

The strength of the work resides in Galindo’s decision to allow emptiness to act on the viewer’s affective imagination and experience. Empty and without sign of Galindo’s experience in the cell, the trailer is a silent object, haunted by absence and condemning by its presence. In its existence and availability (rented for $8,000 from Sweeper Metal Fabricators Corp.), the cell implicates Americans in stripping the dignity from the people it incarcerates.**

Upstairs, Cabrera has crafted a makeshift factory, with cubicles set up for each step in the production of decorative copper monarch butterflies. Volunteers, trained by Cabrera, constructed 2,500 butterflies for her project, The Craft of Resistance. By deconstructing the traditional craft into a twelve-step process, Cabrera comments on the destruction of craft-making in Mexico’s maquiladora economy. Here, absence is effectively symbolic. Just as factories have replaced the artistry of the individual, they have also rendered their laborers anonymous and invisible (evidence of this invisibility is especially apparent in the unsolved murders of young women who work at such factories in Ciudad Juárez). Cabrera’s empty workshop suggests that the workers making the butterflies vanished mid-task.

A photograph on one wall of the gallery shows the butterflies installed at a local San Antonio home, which viewers can visit by appointment. In the photograph, the insects swarm over the ceiling, walls, and furniture. In contrast to the spare, industrial assembly line in the gallery, the home shows all the accoutrements of bourgeois U.S. comfort, giving us a sense of the homeowner’s aesthetic and interests. The butterfly fabricators, however, remain entirely anonymous. Cabrera’s indictment is more oblique than Galindo’s: while the austere, prison-like setting in which workers create beautiful knick-knacks for the wealthy suggests repetitive labor, the whimsical butterflies also make the harsh realities fade into the background. Drawn to the precious object, the viewer can only imagine the labor behind its production.

Rodney McMillian’s Untitled looks like an abandoned theatrical set. Five canvases coated with red, white and black paint hang from ceiling to floor. Framed and enlarged black and white portrait photographs alternate with these canvases. The anonymous portraits, which McMillian found at antique stores, are stacked in vertical columns to eye level. In the center of the room, an armchair sits on a large rug; both are smeared with red paint. Overhead, a paper canopy hangs like the maquette of a cathedral ceiling. Printouts of nursery rhymes are strewn haphazardly on the rug. Adding to the visual jumble is Pelicans in Texas, a “synthesizer based minimalist composition” by musician Stefan Tcherepnin. It is all an elaborate, messy, and inexplicable combination. Even the exhibition brochure seems unsure how to capture the mess, claiming vaguely that “seen as a unit, these works form a constellation that … explore[s] themes related to the landscape, church, and home.” McMillian led a performance during the show’s opening that is not mentioned in the exhibition space or in its didactic material. One wonders whether the performance would have tied together these random objects or merely heightened the sense of absurdity and confusion in the space.

All of these works create functional spaces for specific experiential processes and performances. But, emptied of the actors, volunteers, performers and even many traces of the artist, they are vacant shells for the viewer to step into tentatively and out of quickly. The careful viewer who asks a lot of questions may be able to piece together an imaginative sketch of the spaces as active and engaged. And even a cursory view is enough to evince specific visceral responses. However, given the overwhelming absences of workers, performers, activity, documentation and visible narrative, the viewer faces serious, perhaps insurmountable, challenges in activating these installations.

*In the March 3, 2008 issue of The New Yorker, Margaret Talbot’s article “The Lost Children: What do tougher detention policies mean for illegal immigrant families?” compellingly investigates the T. Don Hutto prison complex in Taylor, Texas and its incarceration of immigrant families.

**For a list of Sweeper Metal Fabricators Corp.’s products, visit www.sweepermetal.com.

Laura A. Lindenberger is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin. She is currently writing about Southern artistic debates and communities during the 1930s.

Hana Hillerova: Transfigurations
Lawndale Art Center
On view through April 12, 2008

By Peter Mowris

Hana HillerovaTransfigurations, 2008, Installation view. Image courtesy of the artist.

Hana Hillerova sculpts atmosphere. Transfigurations, her current exhibition at the Lawndale Art Center, provides the collective title for seven geometric structures constructed out of thin, straight strips of mirror. The strips form the contours of hard-edged geometric shapes that vary in size, articulating the aesthetic potential of a material that is both unwieldy and fragile. The mirrors reflect light, throwing shapes on the wall that loosely correspond to the dimensions of the mirrors themselves. The slow movements of this reflected light activates the space of the installation.

Hillerova’s use of mirrors invites a look beyond the work. Mathematically precise mirror-structures project organic shapes onto the wall, shapes that might be microbes, leaves, or seashells. The mirror strips also capture brief reflections of the world outside the gallery that appear at a different pace than the organic shapes. Reflections of light and imagery provide contrast between the medium of geometric glass sculpture and its effect in space as a reflective surface that generates organic shapes.

Also included in Transfiugrations are a number of watercolors and complex structures of thin, hollow glass tubes that hang from the ceiling. Each 12 x 17 inch watercolor work contains lines of varying width and tonal intensity, suggesting the underlying prismatic nature of the pure white light that activates the installation space. The linearity of the watercolors also echoes the irregular networks of the suspended glass tubes that hold light without reflecting it. These works resemble irregular molecular or crystal structures and hang in suggestive proximity to the organic shapes of reflected light that slowly float across the walls.

A static wall piece and freestanding wood sculptures in the exhibition reduce the diverse scale of open form that Hillerova achieves in the mirror pieces. Heavy-handed construction overshadows the subtle contrasting paint textures in the painted wood sculptures and all but consumes the potential diversity of photographs and painted paper in the wall piece. These works do not attain the level of craft that Hillerova achieves in her mirror pieces.

 A small collage diptych composed of linear geometric shapes made from thin strips of photograph is one of the best pieces in the show. In these collages, line contains image, echoing the large mirror pieces that simultaneously absorb and reflect form while slowly turning in space.

Peter Mowris is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently writing a dissertation on the relations between Surrealism and physiological psychology while on research fellowship at the Menil Collection in Houston.

project space

Riiko Sakkinen

In 2004, Riiko Sakkinen collaborated with Jani Leinonen & Neil Fauerso in testsite 04.6 Boz Ulu Delgin. Since that time, we've been keeping Riiko and his work on our radar at Fluent~Collaborative. Riiko’s drawings, often grouped together to form large installations, have been shown in venues around the world. Upcoming exhibitions include Protecting the Homeland at Marché Finlandais, la Place Saint-Sulpice, Paris (in collaboration with Jani Leinonen) and Human Rights Damage Our Economy at Galerie e.l Bannwarth. Sakkinen, who was born and raised in Finland, now lives in Cervera de los Montes, a small village in Spain.

As Claire mentioned in this issue’s From the Editor, the drawings Riiko chose for this Artist’s Space sparked many conversations—conversations about the function of art, censorship and the role of subversive content. The interview between Mary Katherine, testsite coordinator, and Riiko Sakkinen below touches on many of the points raised in these conversations.

Mary Katherine Matalon: Tell me a little bit about the body of work you have chosen to show in the Artist’s Space?

Riiko Sakkinen: I chose some of my latest drawings from the past two months. Yesterday, I did "Hey Guys, I'm in Austin Tonight" especially for …might be good—the text is from an internet ad of an Austin based prostitute. The telephone number is genuine. Give her a call, she looked really nice in the photos!

I was just working with "I Love Mexican Food But I Hate Mexican Immigrants." I created the piece for a show called Spectacular curated by Raul Zamudio in EDS Galeria's booth at Femaco Art Fair (April 23-27, 2008, Mexico City). Raul wanted me to do something site sensitive. And I think it works even better for the Texan public, in the same geopolitical area.

I’ve also chosen to show some other drawings dealing with America. I didn’t create these drawings specifically for …might be good; it is just that America is a theme that is difficult to avoid. The United States is globally important, but actually I'd like to give it less weight. For example, the Spanish newspapers write several pages about Obama and Clinton every day. It's not even the elections but some strange process to decide who are going to be the candidates. I deny being interested. I don't give a damn who wins.

MKM: Everyone at Fluent~Collaborative has been debating whether or not it is appropriate for us to show a drawing with an actual prostitute’s number on it. You mentioned that another curator was uncomfortable with showing a painting of yours that also had a prostitute’s number on it. Where did this happen? Why do you think he was uncomfortable with it?

RS: That happened in Finland. The Nordic countries are famous for being sexually liberal but they are very tough—both legally and morally—on prostitution. Maybe it's because feminism had a strong impact in the society very early and people still maintain the attitudes of old school feminism. I compare that to Spain, where the original feminism never happened (Franco and Catholic Church's dictatorship) and the progressive women and men seem to be more open and less dogmatic post-feminists.

MKM: Can you tell me a little bit about your overall approach to making art?

RS: Can I quote Picasso? "Art is not made to decorate rooms. It is an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy." But actually I don't mind if somebody decorates his room with my art. I want to have my subversion in the rooms of rich collectors who buy critical art because it's fashionable and then change their thinking.

MKM: Do you think the collectors realize the subversive content of your work or is their obliviousness part of the point?

RS: Subversive: Seditious, insurgent, in opposition to a civil authority or government. Making uncomfortable things visible is rebellious. I think many collectors buy art that is ideologically against their businesses. I bet there are Texan millionaires with a Santiago Sierra on their wall. They think it's cool to decorate with subversion but maybe if they are not that careful, their collection changes their way of thinking. Maybe this sounds like bullshit but I have to justify to myself why I want to play a part in the luxury branded goods market = art. I don’t know if the king’s jester can be a true rebel…

MKM: Can you talk a little bit about exhibitions you’ve been in or projects you’ve done since your testsite?

RS: I traveled to China and Japan. I participated in a group show at 1a Space in Hong Kong a couple years ago and stayed there few weeks. I went also to Shenzen where my friend has a huge textile factory. It was amazing to see from where our clothes (or anything else) come from. And the dormitories and karaoke boxes of the workers. A girl asked her friend to take a photo of her and me; she had never seen anybody so white. Then I did a residency a year ago in Tokyo. I found so much material there that I'm still working with it. My wife says that I should come back from Asia and work more with local themes.

MKM: Why does your wife want you to work with more local themes?

RS: I can use the rich Asian commercial culture images but I can't really say anything profound about their cultures; I can only comment about the aspects of these cultures that are related to global economics or politics. My wife thinks, and I agree, that I can go much deeper with the material related more directly to Spain where I read the newspaper and watch the TV. But my market is global—I barely ever show work in Spain.

MKM: Your work provoked a strong response in the Fluent~Collaborative staff and definitely prompted a lot of discussion. Some of us, quite frankly, were initially a bit offended by the work. Why do you think this is? Do you think your work provokes strong responses in a lot of people?

RS: I think my work might have an impact in America. Americans can be quite sensitive—and their political correctness is a bit funny from my European point of view. Some people have said me that my work has changed their entire everyday routines; buying groceries in the supermarket is never the same innocent thing anymore.

MKM: I can see what they mean—a lot of your drawings for this artist’s space seem to be playing with advertisements or the packaging for food. Why have you focused on this?

RS: They say that the biggest businesses in the world are drugs, weapons and prostitution. I think food is more important. I know many people who don’t take drugs, don’t have a gun and don’t pay for sex, but I don’t know anybody who doesn’t buy food. Even most of the poorest people in the world sometimes buy something to eat. Kids use ketchup as fake blood. And I always pair it with mustard gas.

To see more of Riiko’s work and to read his blog (which includes comments about this Artist’s Space), click here.

...mbg recommends

Zoe Crosher: 1 Yr Later
On view through April 28, 2008

By Nancy Zastudil

Zoe CrosherLori from the series 1 Yr Later, 2002-2003, Lightjet diptych, 20 x 40 inches.

Few things are more personally revealing than a teenage girl’s bedroom: objects and images are unapologetically (though not unself-consciously) displayed, and tell the story of her adolescent pilgrimage through individuality and conformity. Zoe Crosher assembles and edits such stories with her current exhibition 1 Yr Later at DiverseWorks.

1 Yr Later is a series of photographs of American girls in their bedrooms at age 17 and again in almost identical surroundings at age 18, presented as diptychs. Each girl sits on her bed (except one who stands in front of an American flag) in the middle of the compositional frame against the personalized backdrop of a bedroom wall. The side-by-side, before-and-after format implies the classic compare-and-contrast method of a simple high school essay.

Crosher allows changes in the girls’ physical appearances and the addition or removal of bedroom items to reveal prejudices relevant to coming-of-age sexual and emotional dynamics related to the female experience. For example, Michelle’s attention to accessories and straightened posture; Nicole and Paige’s switch between brunette and blonde (and the assumed confidence relative to each color); Kristin’s new headboard and discarded teddy bear; Elana’s intensified uncertain gaze; Marcey’s augmented U.S. allegiance; and Lori’s enduring interests accented by her “new look.”

These photos represent the time lapse of a full year—the diptychs referencing the transience between adolescence and adulthood, contrasted with an ever-growing temporal distance between now and then. Guided by her conceptual approach to representation and documentation, Crosher works with cultural assumptions and societal preconceptions about the influence of internal and external forces acting on the girls. 1 Yr Later is an indication of Crosher’s graceful ability to present complicated psychologies and provocative subject matter.

Nancy Zastudil moonlights as a curator based in Houston, TX, and currently works as Program Manager at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston. She is cofounder of Slab, an exhibition method that collaboratively facilitates projects and events.

announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

Ali Fitzgerald: Swan School; The Matriculation
Art Palace
Friday, April 18 from 8:00-10:00 pm

Swan School; The Matriculation is Ali Fitzgerald's second solo exhibition at Art Palace. Fitzgerald's current body of work explores victimization and violence within a forged adolescent caste-system. Through drawing based sculptures, dioramas and site-specific installations Fitzgerald surveys a dystopian boarding school complex, within whose misleading facades, we see residue of girlhood gone awry.

Austin Closings

It's About Time
L_M_N_L gallery (305B E. 5th Street)
Closing Reception: Saturday, April 5 from 6:00-11:00 pm

For some reason, an elaborate assortment of objects have been constructed and/or assembled in a room located at 305B E. 5th Street. It's not what you expect from a gallery, it's better. And this is the last show in this physical location, so come be a part of history.

Excess (Installation Overload)
Salvage Vanguard Gallery (2803 East Manor Road)
Closing Reception: Saturday, April 12 from 6:00-9:00 pm

Produced by Cantanker Magazine and curated by Christinia Hiet, this exhibition investigates excess. The closing reception doubles as a release party for Cantanker's latest issue which also focuses on excess and its ramifications. Beginning at 7:00 pm, there will be performances by Amelia Winger Bearskin, Sean Ripple, Michael Anthony Garcia, Mark P. Hensel aka the Mizzzard, Jak Cardini, and Dr. Chuch of the Gold County Papermill.

Austin On View

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 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.

Ewan Gibbs: Pictures of Pitchers
lora reynolds gallery
On view through April 19, 2008

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.

We've Got Tissues
okay mountain
On view through April 19, 2008

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.”

Yoon Cho: Nothing Lasts Forever
Women & Their Work Gallery
On view through May 10, 2008

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.

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

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.

San Antonio Openings

Candace Briceno: Wonderment
Cactus Bra
Opening Reception: Friday, April 4 from 6:00-9:00 pm

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.

San Antonio On View

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.

Goin' Mobile
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
On view through June 8, 2008

Inspired by The Who song of the same name Goin’ Mobile is an on-the-road inspired traveling exhibition that investigates the literal sense of travel. Artists include:Adam Blumberg (New York, NY); Min-Tse Chen (Beijing, China); Mark Hogensen (San Antonio, TX); Michele Monseau (San Antonio, TX); Tao Rey (Miami, FL); Mark Schatz (Houston, TX); Ethel Shipton (San Antonio, TX).

Julieta Aranda: You Had No 9th of May!
Sala Diaz
On view through April 27, 2008

Sala Diaz is pleased to present a new work by Julieta Aranda, organized in conjunction with guest-curator (and Fluent~Collaborative founder) Regine Basha. Though we are conditioned to experience ‘time’ or the immaterial concept of time, as a linear passage –measured conveniently by clocks, calendars, and other devices, isn’t it possible that the markers that we use to signal it: ‘yesterday’, ‘today’ and ‘tomorrow’ are an imposition ? Can’t we instead be the arbiters of our own experience of time? Can time be bent, sliced, poked through, stretched, flashed, and collapsed?

Unfurnished Room
Unit B
On view through May 2, 2008

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.

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.

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 issue #95.

Houston Openings

Dario Robleto: Oh Those Mirrors with Memory (Actions 1996-1998)
Inman Gallery
April 11-May 24, 2008

First included in the 6th Mercosul Biennial curated by Gabriel Perrez Barreiro, this series of text pieces by Robleto read both as object labels and small poems.

Houston On View

2008 Core Artists in Residence Exhibition
Museum of Fine Arts
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.

Jay DeFeo: Where the Swan Flies
Moody Gallery
On view through April 26, 2008

Although artist Jay DeFeo (1929-1989) is well known for her epic painting The Rose, much of her work remains little known. This exhibition offers a fresh view of DeFeo's artistic practice, presenting some of her works on paper.

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 themselves. For Bey, the creation and presentation of these portraits and texts allows for a more complex and nuanced representation than the photographic portrait alone.

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.

Announcements: events

Austin Events

Andy Warhol Film Screenings
Department of Fine Arts Building Room 2.204, University of Texas at Austin
Friday April 4 at 4:00 pm; Monday April 7 at 6:00 pm

Go check out four of Warhol's rarely screened films. Camp (1965) and I, A Man (1967-68) will be screened Friday, April 4 at 4:00 pm. John & Ivy (1964) and Closet (1966) will be screened Monday, April 7 at 6:00 pm.

Gallery Talk by 20 to Watch Artists
Austin Museum of Art
Thursday, April 10 at 7:00 pm; Thursday, April 17 at 7:00 pm

Come see artists from 20 to Watch: New Art in Austin talk about their work in AMOA's galleries. On Thursday, April 10 at 7:00 pm Yoon Cho, Shawn Smith, Scott Proctor, Stephanie Wagner and Eric Zimmerman will speak. There will be another round on Thursday, April 17 at 7:00 pm with talks by Meggie Chou, Jules Buck Jones, Kurt Mueller, Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata (Jen Hirt and Scott Webel) and Xochi Solis.

Graduate Level Graffiti: Lost in Translation
Asian American Cultural Center
Sunday April 13, 2008
Admission: $5 guest, $15 sponsor

Graduate Level Graffiti: Lost in Translation is an interactive community art event sponsored in part by the City of Austin and the Texas Commission on the Arts. Essentially, the event will resemble an interactive art installation, with video, photography, original soundscapes, poetry, and many other elements of performance. Each audience member will be required to participate in some way and will receive personalized instructions on how to do so. As audience members carry out these instructions, photographers and filmmakers will be recording the event for a forthcoming documentary. For tickets, please click here.

String Quartet featuring Graham Reynolds

Presented by Arthouse in collaboration with the Refraction Arts and Fuse Box Festival, this string quartet features Graham Reynolds, the composer of the music for the ballet Cult of Color: Call to Color.

Houston Events

Making Meatballs with McCabe
Lawndale Art Center
Saturday, April 12 from 12:00-2:00 pm

Come meet resident artist Lynne McCabe and learn how to make her famous cousin Tricia's, mother-in-law Mrs Schiano's, Neapolitan, by way of Escia, 'marriage', meatballs. After the demonstration, the group will devour the meatballs in the name of socially engaged practice and possible nuptials.

Media Archeology: Live and Televised
Diversworks, Orange Show Center for Visionary Art and Rice University
April 17-19, 2008
Admission: $8 in advance; $10 at doo

Curated by Aurora Artistic Director Andrea Grover and New York musician/curator Nick Hallett, this festival Archeology:  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. For a schedule of events, please click here.

Fort Worth Events

Martin Puryear: Artist's Talk
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Tuesday, April 8 at 7:00 pm

Martin Puryear shares his ideas in conversation with the Modern’s chief curator Michael Auping for this special Tuesday Evenings presentation.

Announcements: opportunities


Executive Director
The Center For Contemporary Arts
Application Deadline: April 30, 2008

The Director of The Center for Contemporary Arts, who shall be the Chief Administrative Officer of the Museum, oversees the day-to-day operations of the Museum as well as fiscal management. He/she should be a proven leader with vision, excellent management and fundraising skills with an enthusiastic interest in the arts and the long-range development of the CCA. For complete job description and application information, please click here.

Executive Director
Art League Houston
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.

Fellowship Opportunities

The Stone Summer Theory Institute
Application Deadline: May 5, 2008

Held each July at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, The Stone Summer Theory Institute is designed to investigate some of the principal themes of contemporary art.. The theme for 2008 will be: What Is An Image? This event gathers some of the most influential historians and theorists working on images, in order to come to an understanding of what the visual has come to mean. Faculty include W.J.T. Mitchell, Marie-José Mondzain, and Jacqueline Lichtenstein; the event is co-organized by James Elkins and Gottfried Boehm. For further information, please click here.

Call for Applications in Fine Art, Design and Theory
The Jan Van Eyck Academie
Application Deadline: 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.

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.

Lawndale Artist Studio Program 2008-2009
Application Deadline: May 30 at 4:00 pm

The Lawndale Artist Studio Program is part of Lawndale’s ongoing commitment to support the creation of contemporary art by Gulf Coast area artists. With an emphasis on emerging practices, the program will provide three artists with studio space on the third floor of the Lawndale Art Center at 4912 Main Street in the heart of Houston’s Museum District. Artists have full access to their studios 24 hours a day, seven days a week; access to visiting artists, writers and curators; and will receive a $500 monthly stipend for the duration of the program together with an initial $1500 materials budget. If accepted, artists are expected to present a workshop or presentation to the general public and the local arts community to share their practice or explore a related topic. Works produced during the program will be exhibited at Lawndale Art Center during May 2009. For application details, please click here.

Request for Artists

City of Austin Art in Public Places: Call for Qualification
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 qualificiations, up to three finalists will be selected and paid to develop proposals. For further information, please click here.

Calls for Entries

Early Deadline Postmark: April 10; Extended Deadline: Postmark by May 1

Now in its tenth year, Aurora Picture Show's Extremely Shorts Festival features adventurous three-minute or shorter films and videos from a global constituency of moviemakers, artists, culture jammers. students, moms, bus boys, and anyone with a camera and a vision. One-hour of these mini-masterpieces will be selected by juror Ed Halter, author and film critic, Village Voice. Audience Choice cash awards will be paid for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. The short format of the festival encourages innovative approaches to moviemaking in a range of genres, including narrative, art, experimental, documentary, and animation. For further information and to download an application, please 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.


Travel Grants for San Antonio-Area Artists

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.

2008 Texas Filmakers' Production Fund Grant
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.

Arts Writers Grant Program
Creative Capital /Warhol Foundation
Application Deadline for Letter of Intent: May 5, 2008

The Creative Capital/ Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant is a three year pilot program designed to support writers whose work addresses contemporary visual art through project based grants issued directly to individual authors. The Arts Writers Grant Program issues awards for books, articles, short-form writing and blogs/new alternative media and aims to support the broad spectrum of writing on contemporary art visual art, from general audience criticism to academic scholarship. For further details about the application process, please click here.

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