Saturday, March 28, 2009

DEBRIS: Beaubourg and Belleville

Recently, worrying about the economy has taken a seat at the back of the bus. Unfortunately for Houston we’re always a little behind the curve, so don’t think that we’re done with the bad news yet. Even art writing has gotten over the little doom-and-gloom session despite the fact that we’re in the midst of a drastic realignment as destructive as the 1970s. Hell, it may even be as big as 1871, when the growing tide of Impressionism in Paris melded with heightened political strife to bring about the fall of the old artistic order. Changing economics as well as an evolution in art’s incestuous relationship with its own history brought the market and academia to a grinding halt as their previous paradigm became worthless. Perhaps gigantic museum institutions, non-profit grad-school feeders and globe-trotting gallerists will go the way of the hierarchy of painting, repeatedly copying classical statues and court painters.

In the summer of 1870, France declared war on Prussia, and the ill-equipped French army was soundly beaten soon after. Along with the city’s proud working class, artists like Manet and Courbet joined the efforts to save Paris. Declaring surrender after a winter-long siege of the capitol, the French capitulated to their invaders, and Paris was occupied by foreign forces. This moment in time is where the modern restaurant came from, as foreign soldiers hiding from their officers implored locals to bring them wine and beer “Bistro!” (‘quick’) which enterprising entrepreneurs didn’t understand, but threw up on signs as soon as they could to attract some of the few people in town who had money. After the occupation ended- the city ravaged by marauding soldiers and the government in tatters- anarchists, socialists, factory workers and intellectuals filled the vacuum, declaring March 28th the beginning of the Paris Commune. The social experiment was short-lived, ending in the bloody slaughter of the Communards by their own countrymen. The last holdouts in the suburb of Belleville fell on May 28th. Hundreds were executed and buried in a mass grave. The government was restored, but the world had changed drastically.

Really, there was a sea change- a forty-year battle between classicism and realism became a moot point in the face of technological change and changing audience expectations. Art was no longer a faithful image of the world useful for teaching moral or immoral lessons; it was a mark of individualism and a way of seeing the world. Mass printing and advertising, photography, philosophy and capitalism all unwittingly conspired to destroy an entire way of looking at the world. The same process carried out by iPhones, facebook, digital printing, complexity theory, environmentalism and communitarian cultural movements is happening today, flustering our institutions, leaders and businesses. One hundred and thirty-eight years after the Paris Commune, we shouldn’t be too scared to eat the horses and the cats around us, to defend the walls against impossible odds, or to rewrite the social bonds that hold us together. It’s only art after all.

Friday, March 27, 2009

One Monument, Please @ the joanna gallery

Pics from Nick Meriwether's One Monument, Please at the joanna!

One Monument, Please-- Nick Meriwether

Reaper Humping a Pizza, 2009

One Monument, Please-- Nick Meriwether

One Monument, Please-- Nick Meriwether

One Monument, Please-- Nick Meriwether

One Monument, Please-- Nick Meriwether

One Monument, Please-- Nick Meriwether

One Monument, Please-- Nick Meriwether

April Fool's Race

stopping at ALL these red stars.

Begins at the sunken park on Brazos @ Jefferson.

Finishing point will be revealed day of race.

Side events & shananigans to follow

ArtKrush has a Crush-- and it's you!

David McGee, Giap Vo Nguyen

Well I guess we're all 'urban cowboys' to them... and we're, like, soaring or something. It's super sweet to get the nod on Flavorwire though!

Here's a snippet of Houston: We Have an Art Scene:

Community involvement exemplifies the energetic spirit of Houston’s art scene. Glasstire is an online resource for news, reviews, and blogs covering visual art in the city and throughout the state. Each fall, the Houston Art Crawl invites the public to visit over 150 artist studio spaces in the downtown warehouse district. FotoFest is a biennial festival of photography and photo-related art held at over 100 venues across the city, and is considered one of the most important photography festivals in the world. Perhaps the most irreverent and wildly popular event, the Art Car Parade features more than 200 extravagantly decorated automobiles rolling through the streets of the city. Indeed, an enthusiastic public, amid dynamic organizations cultivating and presenting a wealth of talent, make Houston’s art scene soar.

plus an interview with the Menil's Franklin Sirmans, who dishes the dirt on his local faves:

AK: Who are some of the artists in Texas that you think deserve better national and international attention?

FS: In my humble opinion — and realizing that I work with a lot of artists, so this may be slanted away from there — David McGee, Joe Havel, Katrina Moorhead, Robyn O’Neil, Seth Alverson, Darryl Lauster, Floyd Newsum, and Carl Suddath come to mind.

AK: Are there any artists from the region’s past that you think are underrated?

FS: There are some interesting artists like Jesse Lott, Bert Long, and Delilah Montoya that could be better known here and elsewhere.

Check the link to see what American art destination Sirmans thinks is eclipsed by the Bayou City :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Jumping in Houston!

The staff of the Lawndale Art Center went nutz for the last round, and today they're up on Jumping in Art Museums!

Zachery Gresham and Matt Chea jump for Patrick Renner's Found Sound

Dennis Nance jumping for Barry Stone's photographs, Highway 71 Revisited

Doing the Heavy Lifting

The Naming Project, Westheimer Street Festival, 2003

This Saturday brings another Westheimer Block Party to the streets, and with another year comes bigger crowds and bigger expectations. Every spring and fall since it's reincarnation in 2005 the Block Party has elicited unfavorable comparisons to the debauchery of the 1990s Westfest, albeit unfairly. The city sent street closure aided festivals the way of tamale stands in 1999, and there's no hope of getting them back. The 40-somethings out there should be able to relate the Free Press helmed version to the Westheimer Art Colony (now the Bayou City Art Festival) who began holding art-centric events in the early 70s, and to compare and contrast the audio-centric Block Party more equitably with their memories of the old Montrose.

The big change this year is the acceptance of the festival in popular media. The writers have warmed to the idea that Westfest can be resurrected, and that there can be more than one alt-news publication in Houston. The increase in visibility has broadened the base of visitors as well as the quality of bands, and with the development and current ubiquity of social networking sites the Block Party's central place in Houston as a call to arms for street culture.

YAR, Westheimer Block Party, 2006

The city's auto-centric lifestyle has been decried as a symptom of the oil industry, and too a degree it certainly is, but the lack of a street culture has also contributed to Houston's indoor, air-conditioned madness. The heat and humidity is a sad excuse for the lack of outdoor activity around here, it's not going to stop them in New Orleans, Barcelona or Manila. The truth is that Houston did to itself a century ago, in a series of classist moves that subjected Houston culture (German, African-American and Mexican) to stultifying rules. Where once there were Beer Gardens throughout downtown now there are only parking lots. After a sickness spread though tainted tamales in Market Square the city outlawed cooking on the street altogether- instead of regulating them. Without the food out there it has been tough to drum up outdoor activities, and its only gotten worse as the suburbs get farther and farther away.

The first thing we need is the food. Then we may be able to think about working towards a walkable city. In the meantime head down to the Westheimer Block Party this Saturday, all day and all night, for the best street life Houston has to offer. I'll be there if front of Numbers, maybe I'll see ya!

Westheimer Street Festival, late 90s

Check out Dusti Rhodes' interview with Omar Afra!

The Rice Thresher goes up with their hipster analysis

Updates from bands at the Houston Press and their Artist of the Week

The Cosmopolitician weighs in

...and we still have need for enterprising artists!

Paula Anicete, Westheimer Block Party, 2007

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Desperately Seeking Someone

Seeking Studio Partner (Warehouse District )

Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]
Date: 2009-03-25, 12:13PM CDT

Looking for a studio partner for a 500sq foot space located in a large artist warehouse building in the Houston Art Crawl District. The studio has very tall ceilings, two large closets, a small darkroom with pluming, lots and lots and lots of storage space, and a loft area. We will split the rent (your share $350), which will include the water fee and garbage removal, the electric is not included, but is subsidized by the landlord, we only pay 75%. This space is part of one of the biggest artist co-op’s in Houston. TX (even the landlord is an artist). There is also a gallery on site, which will have monthly exhibitions and review tenants work once a year.

Because the studio is a shooting space, I would like to find another photographer, digital or traditional. However an illustrator or even a painter may work out. If you are interested please feel free to contact me to set up time to meet up and see the space.

We Ain't No Heroes

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This'll Be Sweet

installing at Rice Gallery

opens Thursday, March 26

Henrique Oliveira
Rice University Gallery
26 March - 9 May 2009

Oliveira uses tapumes, which in Portuguese can mean “fencing,” “boarding,” or “enclosure,” as a title for many of his large-scale installations. The term makes reference to the temporary wooden construction fences seen throughout the city of São Paulo where Oliveira lives. It also refers to the weathered wood Oliveira uses as the primary material in his installations. Early on, Oliveira experimented with the surfaces of his paintings by gluing newspaper onto a canvas and scraping it, or mixing sand with the paint.

Oliveira’s installations, which he refers to as “tridimensionals,” have evolved into massive, spatial constructions that combine painting, architecture, and sculpture. In some installations he uses walls as supports, attaching and shaping lengths of PVC tubing to create enormous, protruding forms over which he layers thin sheets of wood. In others, he arranges thousands of pieces of painted wood into gestural abstract “paintings” that spill off the wall into the viewer’s space.

Henrique Oliveira was born in Ourinhos, Brazil in 1973. Oliveira has exhibited in numerous exhibitions in Brazil and in 2008 participated in Something from Nothing, an invitational exhibition organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, Louisiana. He lives and works in São Paulo.

Tapumes, São Paulo Cultural Center

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lotsa Cake n' Stuff


Misc. Diskette



Eric Todd

Frank Olson

Christian Ochoa outside Co-lab

Aisen Chacin



Daniel Adame

TOO MUCH CAKE: New Performances
Austin, Texas
March 21, 2009

Curated by Sean Gaulager and Sean Carroll

illustration by Michael Rodriguez


1:15 - 1:30 Patrick Doyle

2 - 2:15 Christian Ochoa

2:45 - 3 Cody Ledvina

3:30 - 3:45 Misc. Diskette

4:15 - 4:30 Frank Olson

5 - 5:15 Julia Wallace

5:45 - 6 Aisen Chacin

6:30 - 6:45 Bunnyphonic

7:15 - 7:30 Daniel Adame

8 - 8:15 David Waddell

8:45 - 9 Michael Anthony Garcia