“Merry Christmas, you’re evicted!”

I finally got around this morning to wading through the
lengthy breakdown on the message boards of CSAW ’s implosion down Houston way. Fascinating drama – or comedy of errors. This is
exactly what message boards are best at. Kudos to the posters for being
thorough, informative, and balanced, while still venting spleen. It
demonstrates the pure power of information, disseminated for its own sake. 

metro7x.jpg
(altered photo credit to b.s.)

I had dinner at a group studio the other night with some of
our best and brightest here in Dallas, and a
number of people were talking about how badly Dallas needs something along similar lines – a
large (20-50) communal studio situation, with affordable spaces and a collective
mindset. So it’s all the more unfortunate that things went down so badly with
CSAW. I’m feelin’ ya. I hope, and trust, that it can resurrect soon,
reinvigorated from the fight to survive.

It seems pretty clear that the only thing any of the artists were
guilty of was being artists: to wit, maybe being a little flakey. Rent
a little late, perhaps a late night insprational toke on occasion, while turning up the
stereo to get the juices flowing. Duh – they’re artists. But hey, the dealer changed, and the new game was rigged. New owners are invariably bad news in these situations, because they want a return on their investment, and they’re gonna shake the piggy bank. Who could claim to be surprised? What is disturbing is that
the hammer they chose to employ (a volunteer) was a member. Move over, Benedict A. To Maggi
Battalino
, one simple question: do you realize how small the art world is in Texas? Will your real
estate investing pals provide you the meaningful connections and artistic comradery
to help genuinely further your work? Because it looks like you’ve pissed off (and on) a fair number of the more visible artists in Houston – and you don’t come off all that charming to the rest of us. Reading between the lines, I imagine she feels
that most of those folks are just flakey losers who aren’t "real" artists
anyway. Screw ‘em. Well, we’ll see how it all shakes down…

Without my knowing any party first hand, Battalino would appear to have possessed
some patina of professionalism and business acumen; the kind that would allow
an artist to score a little commission from the transit authority, and to appear to be able to handle the
books for some artists who would mostly be glad to have someone to pass
that to. She was accepted in CSAW so recently, too (2006, I think I read) – didn’t take her
long to show her true colors (which don’t happen include the shocking orange
of her hair.) Shame on you, Maggi. But then, they don’t call it "shamelessness" for nothing. No doubt it has its own rewards.

Keep kicking against the pricks, artists of CSAW!

PS I can’t resist quoting Battalino’s artist statement:

Evolving from my METRO-Light Rail design, my focus has concentrated on
materials, and I am working on mixed media and concrete on steel
plates. Allowing contrasting materials to dominate, the imagery is
minimized and focuses on shape, line and fields of values, whose
priority varies from work to work, in terms of the interplay of
foreground and background components.

… 

what a complete pile of meaningless, pseudo-formalist hoo ha. 

also by Titus OBrien

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