Friday, March 6, 2009

Fuckin' Around In The Hay

Courtesy Emvergeoning, out of San Antonio, pics of the new Tom Otterness project Makin' Hay on the Southside of town near Mission San Juan! If your out in SA, make sure to spend a little time in the field. :p

Makin' Hay was created in 2002 for a locals-only hay bale art competition in Montana, and was previously exhibited outside Stanford U in Cali.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Walk Through The Pane

Marcius Galan, Seção diagonal (Diagonal Section), 2008

My favorite part of the Color Into Light show at the MFAH has to be this optical illusion by Marcius Galan, the most transmutational work in this very ethereal exhibit. The work encapsulates the South American transcendentalism that makes it such a complimentary relation to mainstream Abstract Expressionism. Air into glass, denial into freedom. Thankfully, a pic has been delivered to the interwebs by Britt from the Chron via his exploration of "depressingly few museum-collected modern artworks on view in the city at any given time." The juxtapositions between South American and North American artworks of the same period in Color Into Light are sublime.

FYI- the MFAH is open til 9 pm tonight, and it's free every Thursday.

plus+++ Marius Galan's blog has pics from the projects around the world, and a few that look like Katy Heinlein's balancing work.

Inside and Outside


Art League

Melting Sideways

Rachel Hooper, curator of the recent Center for Land Use Interpretation show at the Blaffer Gallery, has a great rundown of the MFA artists at University of Houston- their show will open at the Blaffer for a short run on April 10th.

It is rare to find artists who are straightforward and sincere. Our culture often prizes skepticism and an ironic, detached attitude. Yet the 2009 graduating class of the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Houston School of Art has meaningfully engaged the university and Houston community in their practice, making art that truly speaks to their passions.


Some have discovered a fascination with everyday objects and how they evoke our memories and awaken our desire.


Other artists reflect on the natural world as a site for self-discovery.


Like nature and the quotidian, our culture and family bonds have a profound influence on our identity and how we communicate with others.


It is an honor for Blaffer Gallery to present these talented graduates with what is for many their first museum exhibition. The entire Blaffer staff has worked hard to coordinate all aspects of the exhibition under the leadership of our director Claudia Schmuckli. Exhibition designer Kelly Bennett deserves special recognition as she has spearheaded the organization of the student exhibitions at Blaffer for years; she will be leaving us this summer to pursue graduate studies, making this her last MFA exhibition.

Check out her blog Wax by the Fire to see who she's talking about!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What It Do

Opens Friday, Mar. 6, 6-8 pm
Through April 18. (713) 223-8346

Jeffery Gibson, Christopher Ho, Nina Katchadourian, My Barbarian, Jeanine Oleson, Joseph Smolinski, and Michael Waugh.

and a tweet!

shawzillaIcon_lock@DiverseWorks is looking for a few volunteers to help us w/ a performance at the opening of Solution on Friday! Please DM if you can help!

Super Awesome

Super Happy People

Super Happy Fun Land is open again as of today!

Here's what they say: Hey folks, We just got open again, and are trying to hit the ground running. If you or someone you know has a band or performance that they would like us to host let us know! It would be especially cool if your performance could draw out a few people to see your show! We already have a bunch of touring bands booking in for SXSW, and we are trying to fill some of those shows out with local support. We also have tons of empty space on our calendar, as I couldn't confirm any shows until yesterday when we got our permit (normally I would have over 100 bands booked in for March by now instead of 23, but it is a start).
Anyway, support your local Super Happy Fun Land! Check out our calendar and pick out a spot and email us to book a show, and let all your friends know we are back, and don't forget to come out and see some shows!

SHFL Calendar

SHFL Booking info:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

DEBRIS: Lions and Lambs

Supercell thunderstorm, Miami, Texas, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

In lean years the strong get weak, and the weak get weaker. As the US and the rest of the world descend into the doldrums of a long recession I figured it was as good of a time as any to examine the state of the art state. Artstorm Gallery, formerly the best party-throwers on Caroline Street, is no more.

In the East End, BOX 13 continues on strong, hosting the best of the University of Houston’s photography and painting departments March 28th through April 30th. The Contemporary Arts Museum is settling into more local shows, thawing to Houston artists this May with No Zoning, throwing in the kitchen sink too. Mel Chin, Bill Davenport, Ben De Soto, Sharon Engelstein, Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, George Hixson, Lauren Kelley, Knitta Please, Jim Pirtle, Nestor Topchy, Zach Moser and Benjy Mason are all gonna do some shit. Should be a good party.

The Museum of Fine Arts seems fine; it won’t go the way of Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, which had to merge with the more solvent Los Angeles County Museum of Art. who were bailed out by Eli Broad. They are looking to the home team though, with a mid-career retrospective of photographer Amy Blakemore. Project Row Houses continues to grow its influence, reaching out to international artists as Rick Lowe travels the country speaking about community activism and saving neighborhoods based on the art and activism project in the 3rd Ward. Finesilver Gallery closed late last year down on Main Street, but there is no doubt that Midtown’s popularity will trump any other losses in the area in the short term. If the short term looks bleak, the long shot seems rosy.

A myriad of galleries throughout Montrose, Kirby and the Heights can’t be happy about belt tightening, R. Allen Stanford’s $50 million dollar swindle, and the continued low price of oil or high price of rent. It feels like some of them are going to go down, just like the early 80s when the “donut hole” carved downtown out of the city’s vernacular. Many of the galleries lost then sold second-generation Impressionists, and for all the bad Abstract Expressionism I’ve seen around I won’t be surprised when the end is near.

The Menil might have to postpone some of that massive construction, but if the Richmond rail line gets going I doubt they will slow down at all. The Bayou City Art Festival will shrink, just like the Houston Press has. Domy won’t go anywhere, I hope the Big Block at 4411 Montrose stays full, and the Art League probably restructured and expanded at just the right time to cruise through the recession. March 6th The Art League will host WEAH, ACK!, Raiko Nin, and Alex PR!MO Luster for their first show of taggers, across Montrose a block down on Drew Street are some great pieces by WEAH and ACK!

Dwindling ranks of newspaper critics scream that art, in its physical body, will soon cease to exist. Soon enough the critics won’t be there to talk about it, that much is for sure. The definition of an artist is breaking down, and the next time the next big thing rears its head it may be impossible to tell if it was anything more than a daily experience. Eating toast. Walking in the park. Meeting a new computer. Artstorm Gallery, with its emphasis on outsider art and illustration, recognized the issues with following the direction that academic art is going and fought against it with Americana. Both indomitable spirits and unequaled enthusiasm permeated the place, its artists and its events. If in its short run there is anything to regret it is only that it left so soon. Then again, I’ve been in art collectives that have been shorter. The appetite is out there for well thrown art parties that for sure. Who’s gonna pick up where they left off?

Press Releezzeee

Performance and talk with Joel Orr of Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre

Thursday, March 05, 2009
6:30 p.m.

In conjunction with the exhibition The Puppet Show, Bobbindoctrin presents a performance and talk illustrating the variety of short works Houston's most notorious puppet company has produced over the last 12 years. Hosted by Joel Orr and starring Justin Dunford, Eddie Chavez, and Philip Hayes, this program features old and new Bobbindoctrin Nightclub Acts, including BUT THEY ARE WEAK, THE BLACK BOX, LE BALLONIERE, and NO VOCAB MAN, plus special guest Kevin Taylor presents DECANTED SPIRITS. This performance contains adult themes and is for mature audiences only.

Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre has been producing experimental adult puppet performances for the benefit of the Houston community since 1995. With a history of introducing audiences to new forms of stagecraft using puppet techniques rarely touched upon by conventional theatre groups, Bobbindoctrin incorporates a mix of shadow, rod, hand, string and tabletop puppetry, as well as masks, in any given show. These varied traditions of puppetry are applied to presenting new and original works (not performed or published elsewhere) written explicitly for the puppet stage by local playwrights.

Monday, March 2, 2009

We All Live In Our Yellow Submarines

someone else's ArtCamp

Last Saturday, Caroline Collective and Grace Rodriguez sponsored the first Houston ArtCamp, an artists’ counterpoint to their BandCamp events, which have aimed to provide local musicians with resources for getting gigs, presenting themselves to venues and labels, marketing and networking with other bands. Ostensibly replying to Wayne Dolchefinko’s attacks on the Houston Arts Alliance, at ArtCamp it was decided first and foremost that no one wanted to talk about that anymore, and that the HAA does not provide resources for emerging artists anyway. By 10:30 am the affair was forgotten.

While the talk turned to addressing the needs of the artists and administrators in the room, a state of the arts discussion emerged, reflecting the dire concerns of organizations facing shrinking budgets and unaffiliated artists watching their opportunities evaporate into thin air. Two factions were talking at odds- those trying to expand their audience base and those trying to deepen the sense of community in their existing audiences. After a guy tried to sell everyone on buying space in the Houston Chronicle’s neighborhood pages the conversation turned away from the first concern; really it was pie-in-the-sky to be hoping to get non-art lovers into art events anyway. Most of the attempts to grow the audience of the arts require such a big upfront investment that they should be banished to the land of tax cuts.

The ad pusher left without saying a word. Administrators from organizations were trying to figure out what to do with their money, and artists protested that that had nothing to do with them- and they were right. The difference between the haves and have-not was palpable in their words. We spoke about Jonathan Glus, head of HAA, and what he meant to the Houston artworld. His background as an administrator in Pasadena, California left him without a connection to creating art, to artists in Houston, to the city he works for, and to reaching out to the community he ostensibly serves. This is part of the reason that the Houston Arts Alliance is so ineffectual, and why no faith is put in the organization for being able to help artists gain a foothold in galleries, museums, collections or the public eye.

Arts organizations and non-profits have only held power in the artworld since the National Endowment for the Arts stopped issuing individual artists’ grants in the early 90s, as Robert Mapplethorpe’s images were confiscated and Jesse Helms railed against the likes of Andres Serrano and Karen Finley. Houston’s The Art Guys were some of the last artists in America to receive an NEA individual grant, in 1995. Since then all art funding has passed through local or genre organizations, fracturing the illusion of objectivity that the NEA provided, and doling out money to art ‘warlords’ capable of sustaining their own gangs and squeezing others.

someone else's cancer

I was a jerk. I called arts organizations a cancer. They seemed to eat an immense amount of time and money, like a tumor’s highly concentrated capillaries stretching the capacity of a body’s circulatory system. I could image a room of quirky people talking at a cocktail party, New York and London and Paris the center of their own little circles, chatting away, making jokes, sharing food and drink. Miami and Rome join in, adding their 2 cents desperately. Some people sit on the arms of chairs, skinny little emaciated characters like Beaumont, Tallahassee and Dublin. They talk to themselves, eating dry crackers that they dip into cups of weak tea. Out of the kitchen lurched Quebec, her swollen face drawing breath in ragged gasps. A horrid profusion grew out of her head; her thyroid was swollen like a melon, taut and shiny. Under a muumuu I imaged the tortured body, gelatinous and out of proportion, limbs afflicted by all sorts of rashes and bedsores. I glanced back at New York as he let out a laugh and showed his bright, shiny teeth. A mean-looking lump blossomed on the left side of his forehead, but no one seemed to notice.

“It’s not that cancer is always bad. Sometimes they’re benign.” That didn’t seem to blunt the blasphemy I had spewed in the room. “Artists and administrators need to think from the bottom up as well as the top down. What would you do if the money wasn’t there? How would your mission statement manifest itself? How would your career advance?”

We took a break for lunch; Matthew went to get Givral’s sandwiches. Some people left, some people smoked cigarettes behind the building. I met Elliot, who doesn’t smoke. He does make classical music though- which is a notoriously tough genre to work in outside of the official channels. He was really enthusiastic though, confident that a rising tide lifts all boats. Grace and I chain smoked, talking rapidly about all sorts of shit. Shawna from Diverseworks stopped by after watching us on the live feed in the morning. Rainey Knutson from showed up at 1.

the first- Rauschenberg's glass tire

Rainey told the story of, how she started it out of her apartment when she was 28. The state needed it; the city of Houston needed it. Building the site in Photoshop and Dreamweaver, Rainey worked odd jobs designing websites to keep it up. Her husband Michael worked, and she felt supported enough to launch the venture from her bedroom. Ten years later she was married, her husband supported them as an artist, and she had just had a child, Tennessee. Glasstire is supported by grants, has a staff of four and employs writers from every major city in Texas. Everything cost more money now, and with the vast archive of previous material the cost of overhauling the site could approach $20,000. Even the internet has its bricks and mortar. Knutson quipped, “I am, as Mark Flood would say, a leech on artists.”

After a short history of the website she launched into an art history of the past twenty years in Houston, from the explosion of alternative spaces in the late 80s and early 90s, when Sharon Engelstein ran an artist-run space, Wes Hicks started Commerce Street Artists Warehouse and The Art Guys threw exhibits out of their Heights studio. She described the hollow of the oughts, when the ground seemed to fall out from beneath the grassroots. The last few years had seen a reemergence of artist-run spaces, at which point we run into today. The ability for artists to create their own gravity, to take the first few rungs of the ladder themselves, was paramount in her thoughts.

To the assembled group no one could agree stronger than the next. The enthusiasm was there, but there is a difference between saying it and doing it. To this end Matthew David Herrold, over uStreamTV, suggested setting up a wiki, a listing of non-profits, alternative spaces, artist venues and people’s living rooms and garages. Whoever wants to host an exhibit can put their space out there for artists to see. People can write entries, rate them, add to descriptions and grow the network between artists and spaces. As long as the word gets out the tool may become an immense help for emerging artists, but I do fear that it will only unsheathe the cliquishness that is the root of the artworld anyway. So when’s the next ArtCamp?

plus+++ links:
recap by Matthew Wettergreen

streaming video captured by Grace Rodriguez

Too Much Fun- Art Fag Solidarity

Clayton Cubitt, Flesh For Fantasy (Girl #5), 2008

this heart's on fire has been taking some flack over their promotion of Talk Dirty To Me at Larissa Goldston Gallery in New York, and Art Fag City picked up the slack, reprinting Clayton Cubitt's Flesh for Fantasy (Girl #5) as a Kiera Knightley sandwich in retaliation. A riot!

Pounding the Pavement for Five Years

Melinda Patrick, Blue Coffee Press, 2007

The Yale Street Arts Market, while not the most cutting-edge guys around, have made it to a milestone that is worthy of praise, 5 years of slinging paint in the Heights! Congrats, yo!

Celebrating 5 Years!

This Saturday March 7th from 11am to 6pm
548 W. 19th Street The HEIGHTS

For the past five years, the First Saturday Arts Market has played a role in Houston's arts community. Providing a monthly venue for emerging and established artists, musicians, jewelers and craftsmen to showcase their work, the Market has played -- and continues to play -- host to some of the region's talent.

This Saturday, March 7, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the First Saturday Arts Market continues that tradition as it celebrates its fifth anniversary, featuring approximately 60 vendors.

And, as part of this milestone celebration, there will be a special performance by Mariachi MECA at noon.

Heights 1st Saturday (which is part of the Houston Heights Association Business Committee) sponsors a shuttle in The Heights from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. which includes a stop at the Market. For more information on the First Saturday Arts Market, its artists, musicians, vendors or events, visit the website

The Market is located at...

548 W. 19th Street, Houston, TX 77008

Located inside the 610 North Loop in the Heights area of Houston. Take the Yale Street exit off of the 610 North Loop and go South on Yale (inside the Loop) to the corner of Yale and 19th streets, turn right (west) to the corner of Lawrence St. The market is located on the Wind Water Gallery parking lot.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Too Much Anagram Fun

The Downtown rail line, anagrammed by Relentless Forward Motion

yeah, its from a few years ago, but it's still funny