I was in Austin for a couple of days last week. Benito Huerta, Betty Moody, and I were on a panel honoring the career of Luis Jimenez. Texas Folk Life sponsored the event at Flatbed Press. Judging from this one time, Austin really shows up for events. There were between 80 and 100 people there on a Wednesday night.
Arturo Palacios took me around to the Texas Biennial sites. That exhibition has all the joys and sorrows of any underfunded, huge juried show. What really impressed me about it was the fact that its five organizers have now pulled it off twice. Talking with them makes it clear that the lessons they learned from the first incarnation have been applied to this go round, and they are ready to use new information to make the 2009 version even better. I have a sinking feeling that here in Dallas any effort to do something similar would have been talked to death before it ever got off the ground.
I am not going to pretend to review the show. I liked some things, I didn't like most things, and there was for me one discovery. Corey Escoto, an artist from Amarillo, had two paintings on PVC board, one an over-sized red book titled You Can Change the World and the other a similarly huge cassette tape titled Leadership. From what I can tell from his artist's statement these come from a body of work documenting material produced by his fictional entity The Office of International and Artistic Relations. He has modeled this ever-optimistic but largely ineffectual entity after the United Nations, an organization whose memorabilia he avidly collects. Both paintings are pitch-perfect, casual renderings of the type of object they represent. The book's cloth binding is loosely brushed to indicate the bur of the worn surface. The cassette tape has a smooth off-white pallor, with lettering, shadows, and smudges applied in graphite. Even though they are jumbo-sized, they look like cast offs found in an apartment some one has left in a hurry. More, please. Escoto shows in Santa Monica at Faufitown Projects.