Saturday, May 30, 2009

Light As Air at Discovery Green










Check it out this weekend at Discovery Green downtown

Friday, May 29, 2009

Rediculous on Display: Max Juren

max juren
a performance and video screening

PURE ENERGY, Max Juren + Weird Beard, 2007

Saturday, May 30, 2009
Domy Books, Houston
1709 Westheimer


Max Juren's videos require a hefty dose of, well, inebriation, to be fully appreciated. Their resin-soaked frames scream out for more of whatever floats your boat until the raucous cacophony of imagery washes over the viewer like a day-glow tidal wave. In experimental, abstract videos, green screen experiments and disturbing narrative vignettes Juren's singular vision is a tunnel of internal references, brutal dissections of taboos and hilarious send ups of stereotypical artists and Texan characters. Hippie culture, low-brow humor, performance art and consumer excesses are lampooned regularly by this Austin art scene mainstay.

Produced by Monofonus Press, Max Juren Videos is the debut collection by the wild-haired artist. In film after film Max inserts himself as protagonist, antagonist or bit character, his unmistakable matted mane of blonde locks and creepy flesh-colored beard discernible through his innumerable costumes. When a dancing cactus in a cartoon world has a mental breakdown, throwing himself to the ground in a fit of despair, that's Juren. When a man without pants jumps off of his roof to smash his face into a cake shaped like a hamburger, that's him too. With the addition of a compact cast of actors, the artist has found a locus from which to swing his imagination wildly.

Channeling Viennese Actionists, The Slaughter is a recording of a backyard performance piece with a death metal soundtrack. A skinny jeans clad butcher hangs one chicken by his foot above a large sheet of white paper. When he slits the bird's throat the blood pours forth and the grumbling guitar picks up the pace. When a second chicken is beheaded and hung from a similar noose, the flapping wings of the decapitated fowl splatter blood in all directions, spinning wildly. The fuzzed out power chords pick up speed, and the soundtrack is revealed to be live as the guitarist wanders into the frame, worshiping at the altar of metal.

Pure Energy is a captivating romp featuring Weird Beard, a red-bearded wildman wearing tie-dye long johns and tearing up an extended drum solo. Juren flips the script with mirror effects, like an old Black Sabbath music video, before the set, the drum kit, the room, the beard and the tie dye pajamas all catch fire.

In a myriad of bizarre tales, Max Juren exemplifies the marriage of youtube slapstick and art film deadpan. The best film in this collection is Jax Neuron, where the artist pokes fun at himself and his profession mercilessly; getting stoned on Mars, parodying big-headed video artists and specifically stating "I spit on Hasselhoff's grave." Make sure you don't miss The Great Bludini's Magic Show, and if you're at the Domy screening Saturday night, make sure that you're properly seasoned.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It was so fucking weird to be reminded of this reality

Communal Death Duck

That headline is a line from Christina Rees' article on Glasstire about Dallas losing its galleries. And their art writers. And their collectors.

In other arty news...

Will the SCOPE Fair in Basel be canceled for the children?

Mary Ellen Carroll has the hookup with Gourmet magazine... they even wrote about her Sharpstown "home remodeling"

Covering cover songs and remixing them into submission, art rock group Communal Death Duck has released their new album online, Pink Pony

In Perez Hilton-style art news, Sam Taylor-Wood (who skipped out on her talk at the CAMH last summer due to tabloid scrutiny) was seen stepping out with a young'un and the Brits went all atwitter.

From the same tabloid- What to see something crazy?

Plus+++ Lucas Johnson review war! Which one is best? This one, that one, or the other?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

DEBRIS: Out-Zoning Houston

DEBRIS: Out-Zoning Houston

Perhaps there is a cabal out there who would like to edit our Wild West urban landscape into a cohesive order. It is possible that the acceleration of Houston’s growth demands a stronger hand to guide the city’s coursing veins of concrete and commerce-pumping engines of steel and glass. Wild, unwieldy burgs have been tamed before and tempered into hardened tools of self-organization, and we’re unlikely to be an exception. The Contemporary Arts Museum’s current exhibit No Zoning: Artists Engage Houston may be a talisman of this emerging meme, but a cultural uproar threatens to derail this celebration of the city’s mélange.

As rich and chewy as menudo, as accepting as paella, as deeply flavored as gumbo, the hot guts of the Bayou City have Expressionist roots and unpolished edges. From the origins of Texan culture in German, Mexican and African-American communities Houston has inherited blood, pain, pride and earnest low-brow tendencies. Unlike Dallas, Screwston has no artistic foundation in Modernism, no hard-edged clarity, no easy divinity. Toil, sweat and tears are the currencies of Expressionism and Surrealism—both of which grew in the fertile soil of East Texas, Louisiana and Mexico and migrated to Houston.

Our cultural orbits are not as ‘New York-centric’ as the rest of the United States, and the distinct combination of Mexico City’s Humanist influence and Southern outsider Expressionism pushed completion, simplicity and objectivity further from the artistic mood. The Menil Collection’s founding director Walter Hopps called Houston art “Imagist”; he lauded it as a third way between abstract and representational art. For No Zoning curators Toby Kamps and Meredith Goldsmith have gathered 25 years of Houston art, using the economic downturn in museum finances to celebrate the peculiarities of local installation and performance work. Their parsing of the best from the rest is debatable, but the presentation of the exhibit is less beholden to the whims of subjectivity.

No Zoning invites comparisons with two seminal CAMH exhibits in Houston’s emerging art history, Fire!, 1979, and Think Twice, 1995. Fire! was a local group show of over 100 artists that changed the course of our structural artworld. It ended in a messy, drawn-out food fight that horrified aristocratic board members and prompted the firing of museum director James Harithas, who had come to Houston from Washington DC and the helm of the venerated Corcoran Gallery of Art. The community’s repudiation at the hands of the board soured tastes on both sides of the divide, and accelerated the growth of alternative spaces in Houston. The artists exhibiting in Fire! were dominated by Expressionist painters and sculptors-- crude and visionary, emotional and tactile. After the schism, no Houston artist would exhibit in the main gallery for 15 years.

A solo exhibition by The Art Guys, Think Twice broke the long dry spell for the home team and reengaged the community that had come out in droves to events at the institutions created in the 1980s like Lawndale Art Center, Diverseworks and The Art Car Parade. Filled with low-brow treats mocking institutional hermeneutics with surreal project proposals, impermanent sculptures and a giant nose that blow green snot, the exhibit was a resounding success that went on to become the highest attended exhibit at the museum ever. Not only were The Art Guys lauded but the Bayou City’s cultural core was tacitly vindicated of its bad name in society circles as other Houston artists climbed respectable ladders. 14 years after Think Twice, No Zoning hopes to grab the brass ring in many of the same ways, but its misinterpretation of key elements of this culture’s successes blunts its ability to convincing evaluate the sprawling Petri dish on the banks of Buffalo Bayou.

Young artists have soundly criticized No Zoning for being lukewarm, sanitized or confused. Their issues stem from both omitting the old standbys of Houston art and not paying attention to newer artists. They wonder why The Flower Man is outside on the front lawn and how Notsuoh, Jim Pirtle’s bizarre barroom creation on Main Street, can be half-heartedly recreated in the gallery space. Nestor Topchy, former denizen of the utopian urban colony Templo, is coolly represented by uninspiring architectural drawings. Some disparage the complete lack of painting, long a staple of Houston Expressionism. Others were searching for a truly living culture and were disappointed by work stripped of its context.

Some artwork seems irrelevant; Knitta Please has done large amounts of their work in every hip city in the world other than in Houston, and the “collective” is racked by internal molting that has left them a bad reputation among many a young artist. If Knitta has responded to Houston, it must have been a bad reaction. I cannot tell why Lauren Kelley, despite her strong body of work, is included in No Zoning. Her stop-motion animation tales of growing up and navigating our conflicted American social mores has little to do with the specificity implied in the show. The performances of Mary Ellen Carroll and films of Andrea Grover evaporate when there is not a scheduled event; during museum hours visitors are left wanting, staring at an empty stage.

For all the good intentions of No Zoning, its presentation leaves much to be desired. If nothing else the large amount of chatter around it is a positive development, bringing dialogue to the community where there previously was none. One can only hope that it leads to all the intriguing alternative spaces and artists across the city that more accurately portray Houston’s sprawling, metastasizing culture.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Neil made a vid for the A/V Swap!

It's so hard to explain sometimes, I hope this helps. It has Bob Ross.

check out our info session this Wednesday, May 27th at 6:30 pm at Spacetaker.

Sasha sez:

Skydive is pleased to announce a call for entries for a project that is featured in Skydive's current exhibition, Sisyphus Office. Skydive, in collaboration with artist Elysa Lozano, has opened the Skydive Office of Cultural Affairs and put out a call for proposals for projects to be exhibited in 2010.
Please forward to all interested parties.

Whereas an investigation has shown that during the Republic of Texas Archive War, one box of records was lost when the archives were violently seized by an armed militia- in all the boxes that remained, there was no record of who owned the land that this very building stands on; it was originally deeded to Benjamin Lovell and John Purnell for the purpose of starting a Socialist colony, before the land was sold. With the official record for the transfer lost, the new owners had no choice but to reclaim their property through adverse possession; however legally the terms of the original deed take precedent.

Now, the Skydive Office of Cultural Affairs offers the possibility afforded by this clerical mishap to the people of Houston and beyond. The Office has been founded to advertise this opportunity to the public and to assist interested parties in developing proposals to bring the original intention of this land to fruition to convert this building into a socialist colony.

Sasha Dela
coFounder and coDirector of SKYDIVE
3400 Montrose Blvd, Suite 907
Houston, TX 77006

Valuable Edgumacation

Here in Texas, where the tiniest details of the public education curriculum are decided not by educators, but the state legislature, lawmakers are debating the current one-credit fine arts graduation requirement for Texas high school students. On Monday, May 18, the House refused to accept Senate amendments that specified the one-credit high school fine arts graduation requirement and the middle school fine arts requirement, so there's a wrangle. We, the arts community, are supposed to put in a yap for art to our state representatives:

Rep Rob Eissler (The Woodlands) (512) 463-0797;

Rep Scott Hockberg (Houston) (512) 463-0492;

Rep. Harold Dutton (Houston)(512) 463-0510;

Rep. Michael Villarreal (San Antonio)(512) 463-0532;

Rep. Jim Keffer (Eastland)(512) 463-0656.

Apparently, aside from being good for the soul and improving math scores, art is threatened by a mandate for P.E.!