Discovery Green

Parking was a hike for those of us not willing to pony up $10 to use the underground garage. It’s like the future civilization described in H.G. Wells’ Time Machine: a race of subterranean masters subsidize an indolent, park-like existence for us surface dwellers, until we are slaughtered.

The architecture parts of the park were very good. The sloping lawn in front of the stage was partially shaded from the late afternoon sun by Lawrence Speck’s boat rental /restaurant building. The air was warm, the sun was shining (but not on me directly), and I began to feel an unaccustomed sensation that living in Houston wasn’t so bad after all. I began to consider the bike routes from my house to downtown, and to feel lucky that I bought a house inside the loop before it became too expensive.

The Lake House restaurant even has reasonable prices- I had feared the same gouging that you find at Reliant park, but $5.95 for a burger and $2 for a coke puts it in the category of "might have lunch there someday." The staff was swamped by the modest turnout for the evening concert, with lines out the door. It’s as if they hadn’t planned for people to actually attend.
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Likewise, there’s a tentative fragility to the park’s unweathered teak decking and litter-free lawns, baby trees and un-slept-on benches. Suzanne Theis, the new park’s program director, hovered near the new mirrored gazebo by junk architect Dan Phillips watching over the event like one watches a kid who’s just taken off his training wheels.
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The re-siting of the splendid Dubuffet sculpture that used to be on Louisiana Street is unfortunate. It’s as if the park’s designers were going out of their way to camouflage the colorful piece against a colorful building, lowering the impact of both, in order to prove that Dubuffet and Mario Bolullo, the Brown Convention Center’s chief designer, were both part of the same modernist color conspiracy.
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Margo Sawyer’s Synchronicity of Color (aka "the stairwell") keeps the same childlike block-stacking aesthetic of the convention center, but with new colors. The rustic redwood enclosure (dumpster corral?) attached to the side messes it up, though.
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It was the music that made me feel as if I was participating in a painfully manufactured version of the urban experience. The eighties cover band was lame, bearing the same relationship to real music that the water-play feature has to real art. There I was, sitting on a blanket, on a lawn, in front of a stage, and I couldn’t help comparing it to the long, long, Max Roach drum solo I heard sitting on a similar lawn at the University of Massachusetts, or Billie Joe of Green Day scorching a ridiculous cover of Survivor’s "Eye of the Tiger" at Lollapalooza ’94.

This is not my beautiful park! This is not my beautiful life!

also by Bill Davenport

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18 responses to “Discovery Green”

  1. “I don’t think that Tucker doesn’t probably have talent. “

    What exactly is your talent?

  2. Writing sentences that piss you off is one I’m proud of.

  3. I haven’t been to see the Tucker show, so I will refrain from weighing in specific to that show. But I would like to strongly second the general rubric that artists should: a) be infinitely concerned with communicating with the/an audience and that b) artists should be using their work as way to address more pressing issues, not simply making art for art’s sake. So while I don’t know whether those comments apply to Brad’s show, I would like to take them as granted for art practice in general.

  4. I think some other problems with this show were the fairly shoddy installation. Poor attention to craft is something that is hard to get over, and unfortunately the content of the work was too weak to make up for it. My main problem was with the flatness of the installation. There was room to look behind the wall but no reward, no reason for exposing the structure, just a way to make an already small space even tighter. You could also see the wall kind of awkwardly bowing forward for no reason. However, I did enjoy the sculptures. They were by far the strongest elements of the show, succeeding in being oddly low-brow in a much more direct and succinct way than the wall of crappy paintings 3 TVs…But overall I found the show safe, surfacey, and unmemorable.

  5. …check out Josh Rios’s review in …might be good.
    http://www.fluentcollab.org/mbg/index.php/mightbegood/reviews/review/92/3

  6. ***”Why won’t you let us in, Brad? How are we supposed to care for you if you won’t care for us?”

    Feeling tough after your first solo show, huh Ivan?
    If you wanted to ask him out on a date, you didn’t have to beat him up on the playground.

  7. Wow, what an unnecessary and homophobic comment.

  8. I like the show.
    The rebus prints were fun to try and figure out. The sculptures were cool in their formality. The videos are difficult (sorry Ivan, video is Greek to me).
    It wasn’t until after going to the artist talk and reading your review that I understood why I like it. I feel like the awkwardness is the key to moving past the production for production’s sake. I see a conflation of a personal state and a more public “art” state of mind. Maybe I’m reading too much into it?
    Oh, and the shoddy installation matches the character of the rest of the work, I think.

  9. No, the comment was homophilic…and quite necessary. I love love, but I hate hate, and Ivan seems a bit pent up. He’s the one calling names. Perhaps it’s just his desperately bloggy way to provoke curious and lonely souls to seek out his solo show.

  10. That’s absolutely ridiculous, payattention. If I was trying, in a “desperately bloggy way to provoke curious and lonely souls to seek out (my) solo show” I would write an entry about it and post pictures and video. You brought up the show. I didn’t and don’t plan on doing it.

    And exactly how is it “homophilic” to imply that sexual orientation is my underlying motivation for writing a review of a show made by a guy (and to assume that i want to “date” someone simply because of that)? If this was a comment directed at a female writer, it would be pretty blatant sexism. But besides that, it’s an ad hominem attack of my opinion on Tucker’s show.

    I made sure I mentioned the reasons I felt the way I did about the show. I encourage you to contradict my opinions on the show and to add your own thoughts, but please try to keep it on topic.

  11. Actually, you did bring up your show…in your very last blog entry. You “let us in.” I followed the link to try to understand how “emotionally expressive and communicative” you were and all I saw was derivative, but I’m not deriding you, just your work.

    After I saw your work, I knew I could afford to be homophilic, because I love the same, same as you. You claim I put forth an “ad hominem attack of [your] opinion on Tucker’s show.” Your blog isn’t an opinion on a show, it’s an attack. Like loves like.

    So, I say again, All You Need Is Love. It’s a song/it’s a metaphor. You brought up the topic “mutual care for one another.” So address that: How do you reconcile an expectation of mutual respect between the artist and the viewer if you personally attack instead of expressing thoughtful opinions? Could it be that you have a crystal ball within which you can see artists’ conviction and emotional investment?

    And again, thanks for the link to your show. It really turns your blog product into, how did you phrase it, “production for art production’s sake”?

  12. It’s somewhat foolish to call this blog art at all. It has no pretension of being that. As for my own “art production,” I don’t expect anybody who might want to write about it to hold their tongue, as long as what’s discussed is the work and the impressions of it. If this blog entry reads as an attack on B. Tucker, I apologize for that and will remove the parts that come off as aggressive and petty. So would you tell me, specifically, which parts of this post you object to?

  13. “Writing sentences that piss you off is one I’m proud of.”

    “That’s absolutely ridiculous…”

    “It’s somewhat foolish to call this blog art at all.”

    Wow, with the insertion of that one little word—“somewhat”—it seems you might be softening into one of those writers/artists with a heart o’ gold.

    You write that the blog has “no pretension” of being art. Well maybe the blog doesn’t, but your intentions for the blog make it art. You are producing text. You are creating context. Text is product. Context is art. You seem to be trying to avoid pretensions while dancing around with the idea that it’s just a blog and you’re just freely blogging away; bloggers rules=no rules. But you’re THE MAN. You’re a hired pen, and GlassTire(d) is paying for your product and banking on the sensational edginess your artsy crafty product provides.

    So, sorry I can’t delineate the objectionable “parts” of your blog entry/product, because your product in its entirety is slanted with a malicious tone.

    I saw a bully and felt compelled to speak up. Sorry if that’s confusing for you.

    Just trying to spread the love!

    Happy VD, Ivan!

    YOUR’RE THE MAN!

  14. payattention is obviously in need of some attention

  15. yeah. it’s all about me alright, blambth. that’s why I cuss and call names and craft snarky short phrases to keep the readers laughing…nope, that’s not me. I’m just a lonely soul in the crowd who finds a one-way smack-down ugly to witness. I simply want to encourage those that might have lost track about how they sound to payattention. kisses… and especially to you, alfitzgerald who also obviously likes to stick-up for the undefended. fight the good fight!

  16. PLEASE STOP.

  17. I guess it’s not really your fault, Ivan. A blog is an intimate space—a bedroom, say. Therein, you can trashtalk to your invited guests and anyone else who might get linked in to the incestuous connection. When your bedroom is plopped onto the front porch of GlassTire[d]’s house, however, it becomes problematic. If your “blog” resided in its own bandwidth and readers sought out your rants, that would be one thing; but your readers are inherited from the house/INSTITUTION of GlassTire(d), and you are PAID by said INSTITUTION for your bedroom antics.

    GlassTire[d] has created a sketchy little place on the front porch subtitled Blogs/Articles. I guess that’s pretty telling as to what is getting priority from the perspective of the INSTITUTION. (GlassTire[d]: How nice! We get all of the sensational blog buzz and we don’t even have to maintain editorial responsibility!) Even with the subtitle though, readers might feel disoriented. Am I reading a blog? Am I reading an article? It feels like a review, even if all he’s saying is…uh, I didn’t like it because I didn’t get it because I absolutely, positively know without a doubt that the artist doesn’t care about me. Those unfounded positions/opinions sound irresponsible, and you are/should be responsible if the INSTITUTION is paying you.

    So I guess I can move on, now. I’ve resolved my urge to participate in your “call to arms” (see next reference). There are things to love about your blog. For instance this sampling from your Austin New Year’s Resolution List (“Barking vs. Biting: getting shit done in 08”):

    - A great bookstore for artists (Domy anyone?).

    - More professionalism from everyone. I’m tired of half-assed juvenile behavior.

    Who doesn’t love books?
    And who could argue with your last hope?

  18. you should go to hermann park.

    their stage is named after another beer and they had an 80 year old jazz pianist last night.

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