Monday, November 30, 2009

Frankly, I Don't Give A Damn

What do Wayne Dolchefino and rancid leftovers have in common?

They're both unwelcome finds a week after Thanksgiving.

Donald Lipski (photoshopped, not really there)

Wayne Dolcefino (aka Dolcefinko) has a penchant for taking on the artworld in late fall. What can explain his perennial Houston Art Alliance bashing that sprung up last year? At first it seemed like an easy target, a populist lashing of an intellectual group known for muddying the waters of progress. Then it looked like a limited-government outburst, lamenting money being spent on art in such a dire economic climate. Hell, it wouldn't have been out of character for the art expose to simply be a potshot at Jonathan Glus, HAA director, after clocking him as a mark. The whole time I defended the artworld as above this kind of dressing-down at the hands of a slack-jawed yokel.

This time around, as Dolcefino searches for fodder for his grist mill, I have a change of heart to admit. He's right. We're spending too much money on crappy art. In this town, if you can hang around long enough, wear the right clothes and make the right friends then you too can receive an HAA grant and embezzle all the money. The real problem lies in the selection committee, who continues to make bad decisions.

The Water Pump civic art piece at the Sabine Street Pump Station is a travesty. It is ugly as hell and rather obtusely useless. Yes, you can take a quick shower after you go skating at the Jamail Skatepark next door, but skaters don't take showers after skating. You're thinking of swimmers, douchebag. No one at HAA thought this was an impractical and boring art project? WTF?

Bush monument
Bush sculpture at the airport

Airport art is a stupid idea in the first place. All those sculptures at IAH? Last time I was there I only saw one- unlit, in the dark at 6 pm- and it was pretty boring. The best airport art in Houston (sorry Art Guys) is the Jim Love airplane at the arrivals gate at Hobby Airport. Let's just make 100 of those twice as large and throw 'em everywhere.
no, not that horse.

Sharon Engelstein's curt response to Police Chief Harold Hurtt weighing in on the aesthetic tip ("he cares little and knows even less about art. Let the experts do their job.") does little for her cause, but I do hope that the project is built. Even if the whole HAA project is a bust in the eyes of the money counters at least it supports a group of artists who add a lot to the artworld with their presence. One benefit of the organization not in dispute is the amount of times their employees and associates are in the society pages, raising awareness of all the artists who don't get grants in the eyes of the gentry. Ha ha.

I couldn't even watch the videos, Dolcefino's voice is a little too acid for me, but I did read the articles on 13 Undercover. Last year I was with the HAA and the artists involved, as Dolcefino went after morality issues, Glasstire, the Performance Art Lab and, indirectly, me. This economic impact survey is still a version of the "Where's the Beef?" meme that Dolcefino operates in, but this sequel is definitely better. With a lack of ambition, taste or decision-making skills the Houston Arts Alliance has bumbled millions and will probably continue to do the same. Microloans and technology grants would be a step in the right direction, actually showing up to see other shows in town and talk to people could lead to a new perspective, and installing public art in accessible residential and commercial centers would let people know that you exist. Britt was too nice with his assessment of the Lipski sculpture.

Watch this clip of Annise Parker promising to revive the Westheimer Street Festival and praising the art scene as the best part of Houston's cultural landscape. She led the Dolchefino expose in 2008, but this year she's no where to be seen. Will Parker gut the HAA and still be able to tout the art world's success in Houston?