Compiling a "best of" piece in advance of a season is always challenging and fraught. There will always be shows that exceed expectations or disappoint surprisingly. In addition, many smaller spaces and galleries don't have their calendars firmed up beyond the next show. One has to work with what's known. With those caveats out of the way, we present fourteen shows ordered by opening date that we believe will stand out this fall. Summer's over; let the season begin!
1. Renee Lotenero: Ruins of Tiled Fantasies
September 6 – 29, 2007
Some readers might have seen Lotenero's work in THING: New Sculpture from Los Angeles at the Hammer in 2005; or more recently at this summer's New American Talent show at Arthouse, where some of her drawings were included. Both her sculptures and drawings involve collage and intricate pattern; and the sculptures incorporate materials like handmade tiles and Plexiglas, forming puzzle shapes that fit together in a precarious jigsaw. Should be a nice show.
2. Dante Marioni: Form-Color-Pattern
Amarillo Museum of Art
September 7 – October 28, 2007
Marioni, a product of the Pilchuck school, is a remarkably gifted glass artist. He strictly makes vessels, so if that's not your cup of tea, move on — but if you're the type to linger in the ancient Roman glass galleries at the Met, you'll appreciate Marioni's craftsmanship and classical forms. The AMA's new director Dr. Graziella Marchicelli arrived last year from the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, and brought with her an eclectic curating history with a focus on objects and traditional materials. She's shaking things up a bit, up yonder in the panhandle.
3. Mike Osborne: Enter the Dragon
New Photographs from China and Taiwan
Holly Johnson Gallery
September 8 – October 13, 2007
Osborne, a 2006 MFA from UT Austin, returns to Texas after spending nine months in Taiwan on a Fulbright Scholarship. This show will be the first peek of the images he made during his travels. Readers may remember his eerie photographs of highway interchanges in the 2005 exhibit 22 to Watch at the Austin Museum of Art. We look forward to seeing his output in the future; in the fall of 2008, he will be a resident artist at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany. This emerging artist sure seems like the real deal.
4. Mike's World: Michael Smith & Joshua White (and other collaborators)
Blanton Museum of Art
September 11 – December 30, 2007
Blanton Museum of Art
September 11 – November 18, 2007
Mike's World is the first retrospective of the infamous Mike Smith, who currently teaches in the Trans Media department at UT while shuttling between NYC and Austin. Known for his quirky videos starring Mike, a sweet but hapless Everyman character, Mike's World will transform the Blanton into a theatrical set that tells the story/history of Mike alongside real world current events.
Transactions is the last show curated by Kelly Baum, who leaves the Blanton for the Princeton Art Museum this December. The show focuses on artists who have adopted a radical approach to artistic production and distribution, ranging from personal web sites to artist-run business ventures, email spam and "counterfeit" currency. We like that the show features artists who are subverting the art commerce system in one way or another. Both these shows explore ideas of performance and interaction, which you don't see much in a museum setting these days.
6. The Sculpture of Jeffrey Mongrain: Secrets and Revelations
San Angelo Museum
September 13 – November 4, 2007
Next time you head out to Marfa, schedule a stop in San Angelo, where the wonderful swaybacked museum is a surprising treat. Founding director Howard Taylor has focused the musuem's efforts on ceramics for over two decades, and this exhibit of Jeffrey Mongrain is a highlight of recent years. Mongrain runs the ceramics department at Hunter College, and he makes contemplative, great-looking work.
7. EVERY REVOLUTION IS A ROLL OF THE DICE
Organized by Bob Nickas
22 September 2007 – 3 February 2008
Truth be told, we're not entirely convinced by the premise of this show: organizer Bob Nickas, a longtime New York-based critic and freelance curator, will place sculptures in galleries filled with black or white sand. Visitors will only be able to walk around the perimeter of these "desert islands;" we are told that "the objects may appear… as stranded, as castaways. This staging calls to mind the poignancy and absurdity of a Samuel Beckett play." Yeaaah. Whether you'll actually experience your own little theater of the absurd moment at Revolution, we're recommending the show for the list of artists themselves, an international hodge podge making wildly divergent and interesting work, all currently living in New York. Yes, Marfa is getting more precious by the minute and it's an absolute pain in the fanny to get to, but this show should make the trip worthwhile.
Kirsten Hassenfeld: Dans la Lune
Rice University Art Gallery
September 27 – December 9, 2007
Director Kim Davenport never ceases to amaze us with her original choices of artists (always from outside Texas) to fill the installation-only Rice Gallery. Hassenfeld should be another interesting fit for the elegant, yet tricky space, as her work combines elements of design, sculpture, light, architecture and even decorative art to create a fantasy world that viewers can walk through.
September 28 – November 10, 2007
What Austin's Volitant does best is a giant group show! This past year there was Take Me To Bed or Lose Me Forever, curated by Leona Scull-Hons, and the fun Wild & Bushy, featuring all-Texas artists. Both shows made use of the entire space with performances, video, sculptures, cupcakes, wood animal cut-outs and loads more. Femme Fantastique features an outstanding roster of women artists, most of whom currently live in New York. It'll be another jam-packed show, with the extra addition of a film festival at the gallery every Tuesday night!
Raychael Stine: Dogs, Rats, and Weasels
Road Agent Gallery
October 20 – November 24, 2007
Coming out of the Oh6 collective, Stine, a Dallas native, has really blossomed in the past year. Her first quasi-solo show with Road Agent was part of last summer's series of exhibits Ambush, where her paintings were a smash hit. The title of this show suggests Stine has more arresting paintings of animals in store for this fall, and we look forward to seeing the newest work.
11. A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s
The Menil Collection
October 25, 2007 – January 13, 2008
Nauman's recent efforts have been a bit uneven (Mapping the Studio (Fat Chance John Cage) was a fun video from 2000 that tracked the nocturnal activities of Nauman's cat and a mice infestation at his studio; while the 1999 video Setting a Good Corner, in which the artist works on a fence at his ranch, was tedious — and not in the good way.) Still, Nauman is rightly viewed as one of the greats, as the early works in this show should testify. Organized by Constance Lewallen, curator at the University of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, where the exhibition was first presented, A Rose Has No Teeth presents the early Nauman works that have been so widely influential (many would say outright copied) in the intervening decades. A Rose Has No Teeth will include a variety of artworks, including video, performance, sculpture and ephemera. Not to be missed.
Nan Goldin: Stories
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
November 4, 2007 – February 10, 2008
The title of this show is fitting: steadfast and sincere, Goldin has been telling stories with her images from her earliest work. This exhibit will not only include single images, but five large grid pieces as well as some of her more recent videos about her sister's suicide in 1965, when Goldin was 14 years old. If you have not seen them before, do not miss the opportunity to experience Goldin's slide shows, the most well-known being The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1981 to 1986).
Phil Collins: the world won't listen
Dallas Museum of Art
November 9, 2007-March 23, 2008
The DMA will be the first venue to screen all three parts of the video installation the world won't listen by British artist Phil Collins (no, not that Phil Collins). You might have seen one part of the film two years ago in Austin, when it showed at Cinematexas and at Lora Reynolds Gallery. Each part was filmed in a different country (Colombia, Turkey and Indonesia), where Collins posted open calls for fans of the band The Smiths to perform karaoke versions of their favorite song from album The World Won't Listen. The result is at once goofy and touching, and a graceful reminder that it's a little world we live in — and we all share the capacity to be comically heartfelt.
Landscape vs. Netscape
Unit B (Gallery)
November 9, 2007 – January 4, 2008
Unit B is one of the few spaces in San Antonio that has consistently delivered quality exhibitions over the past year. For a small space located in a little bungalow, Unit B has been more than impressive. Landscape vs. Netscape looks to be another strong group show. It features a great group of artists from around the country, including Kota Ezawa, a 2006 Artpace resident; Mark Schatz, who might be called the hardest working artist in Houston these days, with back-to-back shows in every corner of the state; and Austin artist Joseph Phillips, who really shined this year, both at dberman and in New American Talent at Arthouse. Keep up the good work, Unit B!
and two spring '08 shows worth mentioning:
Chantal Akerman: Moving Through Time and Space
January 19-March 29, 2008
Points of Convergence: Masters of Fine Arts
The Gallery at UTA
January 22 – March 4, 2008