Wednesday, November 21, 2007

DEBRIS: Kill All Elves

Angela Fraleigh, but that would come later, 2007

December, like all great disasters, comes with a promise of new beginnings, hope and goodwill. When that promise starts in October through asinine Best Buy commercials and glitter and glam displays at Walgreens all I want to do is hang myself by the fireside before Thanksgiving is even here. For all those who feel like the holiday season should be drowned along with that new Disney movie and Rudy Giuliani; cheer up! The Ballad of Sexual Dependency photography exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (running through February 12) is a haunting document of addiction and depression, squalor and sadness set in New York City before the Republicans had a chance to scrub it clean that will bring your holiday cheer back down to earth. Nan Goldin ran away from her home at a young age and grew up in foster care all over the east coast. At 20 she had her first exhibit examining the gay and transvestite communities in Boston. In the punk and new-wave vibe of New York she found the vibrant but disturbed hard drug culture of the Bowery, where she focused her attention on relationships in snapshots of bedrooms and hotel rooms. Most of her subjects in The Ballad of Sexual Dependency were dead by the 90s, victims of violence, AIDS or drug overdoses. Her work was recently seized by the British authorities when it was exhibited as part of the collection of Elton John in London. Critics have lambasted Goldin for making heroin use glamorous, and she has credited her photography with saving her life and helping her through the traumatic life she has endured. Happy Holidays! I hope you drown in the punch.

The brooding paintings of Angela Fraleigh and the enigmatic, silly-ass sculptures of Michael Jones McKean will be on display though the month at Inman Gallery (3901 Main). These two former CORE Fellows at the Glassell School came through Houston on their way to the big top, and they have been exceedingly successful since they left the bayou for greener pastures. Fraleigh’s emotional life is played out in tearful embraces and wild-eyed terror as lush and realistic figures hemmed in by thick, dark brushstrokes and bleeding drips of oils. Her protagonists, always her own visage, are informed by her life journeying from a trailer park in New Jersey to Yale and beyond; following the heartbreak and fear that her eyes show forcefully pleading to the viewer a deep reading of feminist and feminine dichotomies may produce a shudder in all but the most hardened misogynists.

After the Young Republic’s Friendzgiving at the joanna Gallery (4014 Graustark), look for a hallucinatory exhibit of paintings and installations by Jeanne Cassanova and Reggie Rechuba. These New Orleans transplants have kept their candy-coated exterior through Katrina and losing a lot of their former lives only weeks after moving to Houston to try their hand at breaking into the Houston scene. Catch their brand of post-pop decadence from December 1st through Christmas, and if your Mom likes thinking about the Toxic Avenger covered in puff paint or monsters popping out of her head then bring her too.