Went to the art crawl yesterday afternoon. It was clear from the 2 o'clock early crowd that this year was going to be the most popular ever, but I couldn't escape the besieged feeling in the warehouses that still housed real artists. Across from CSAW, Waterhill Homes had the nerve to holding an open house, displaying a half dozen painting by the sales rep's uncle in a new three-bedroom tower. The place had a roof terrace with a killer view of downtown, but, looking the other way, it also overlooked CSAW with, I felt, predatory intent.
CSAW from above
Kathy Kelley, Suckling is Continuous, but No Longer Functional
One of the best things I saw at CSAW was these huge, smelly heffalumps made from old inner tubes by Kathy Kelley. Sure, it's a little retro, like an S&M Lee Bontecou, but their enormous flab and powerful grunge are not to be denied. Kelley's worth watching.
Most of the renovated loft spaces I visited were tenanted by designers, architects and artisans, rather than artists, but there's some weird crossover. Matt Pavonetti, AKA POE, a poster entrepreneur explained his business at his house/studio/gallery, where he was selling band posters like these.
For him, it's a backwards business; he designs a poster about a well-known band that is playing a local show. The band and/or venue allow him to use the band's name in exchange for some free posters to use as merchandise or for PR (although I imagine high quality prints like these would be stolen immediately, were they actually posted somewhere). Pavonetti keeps the rest to sell himself. This works?
One could call it graphic design liberation: Pavonetti is his own client, and gets a capitalist's share in any profits, rather than being a wage slave. One could also call it art, but then you would have to raise the prices. Anyway, it explained a lot. Slick, nationwide poster campaigns by Shepard Fairey (Andre the Giant has a Posse, OBEY, etc . . .) cost money, and I always wondered where the money came from.
Another fascinating new phenomenon was embodied by Lauren Bruno, of Pensacola Florida.
Lauren Bruno, Stacie, 2007
She traveled to Houston to set up her paintings in a hallway. Could the art crawl morph into some kind of un-juried free-for-all art fair, drawing hopefuls from all over the world? Sort of a fotofest of crapola! Not being pretty, or smart, or cultured, Houston's niche is inclusion; look at the wild success of the Art Car Parade.
Aidan Owens was playing his horn again in front of Mother Dog Studios. A year older, and a year better, he embodied the improvised, low budget gaiety that can make each year's endless odyssey of bad art OK, even fun.