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There’s a story in the Houston Chronicle detailing Clint Willour’s report on flooding at the Galveston Art Center. Four feet of water in the  first floor gallery, Helen Altman‘s quilt pieces presumably soaked, floorboards buckled- a mess.

also by Bill Davenport
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  1. tobrienwriter

    while just googling for an image of one of the original works Wiley references in this show, one of the first listings that came up was a nauseating diatribe from some Nazi racist scumbag that I refuse to link to or recommend finding again. It’s a thread on some racist message board, that reprints my colleague and friend Gaile Robinson’s (favorable) article on Wiley in the FW Star-Telegram, showing some of KW’s paintings, and saying inexcusable things about it all.
    I am disturbed to have read even what I did; there’s no even discussing it. It just made me wish to reiterate what I hope my review makes clear – and that any difficulties I have with Mr. Wiley’s work are purely formal/aesthetic, and not political/social. The monstrous racist screeds I just encountered make me wish I’d just written a glowing tribute to Mr. Wiley, so as to help disseminate his work far and wide. It’s clearly still a crucial message, and I would hate to undercut it in any way. Luckily, the Today show interview with him (that I also just encountered) did a much better job of getting it favorable exposure than I could. His is a great success story, and whatever my critique, I honor him for what he’s accomplishing. Go, man, go.

  2. missssk

    I appreciate the author’s previous comment. However, I have to point out what was, for me, a glaring misrepresentation in this piece.

    In the third paragraph: “Call Wiley’s paintings good gateway art – get ’em hooked young, by any means necessary. But the distinction for me is that, while inarguably clever, the real goods aren’t in the actual experience of Wiley’s work itself. It’s literally just kind of…kids’ stuff.”

    From the point of view of an educated art and hip hop enthusiast well seasoned in street culture, I think this statement is pretty outrageous. I totally understand the author’s point, but I don’t like the inference that the appreciation of hip hop culture and art are mutually exclusive. For someone who is familiar with the finest of both, something like Wiley’s work is an amazing feat at bridging two, often alienated worlds. I highly object to the association of simple-mindedness or lack of sophistication with hip-hop. High school students, fine. But to say that using hip hop culture is “kids’ stuff” is problematic. Let’s remember that true hip hop was born in the late 70s, so those who really know how to appreciate it are certainly not kids.

  3. tobrienwriter

    but to be perfectly clear, I am in no way calling hip-hop “unsophisticated” or simple minded. Nor do I think this work is those things (I say it is clever, well crafted, and brilliant in its way) – but I do think it, this particular art, is kind of juvenile.
    I love hip-hop culture, was raised on and in it (sort of.) I was the first kid I knew to buy a rap record (it was a very pale neighborhood) – LL Cool Jay’s ‘Radio’, 1985. I can’t help it if that’s all I had to go on (its still a good record.) I was a huge fan of Public Enemy and the Wu Tang. I agree with Jim Jarmusch that the RZA is the Thelonius Monk of rap, and worthy of that level of respect. And my wife calls MJB “my girlfriend.” I mean, that’s hardly even a start, I could go on and on, anybody could. Hip-Hop is arguably the most vital and transformative cultural force since the birth of rock and roll – you can’t hate on that.
    But you can’t love it all either. If you read carefully, what I criticize and have problems with is the superficiality of this work in particular. Have you seen it? In person? Like I say, it looks respectable in jpgs, but I found the experience gratingly thin in person. These paintings traffic in hip hop tropes, authentically so, and I understand the mechanisms (aesthetic and otherwise) that are in play – in fact, you’re ever so gently beaten over the head with them. But the sum isn’t more, for me, than the parts. That has nothing to do with hip-hop. it’s about this work. There are some much better visual artists, in my opinion, who embody the hip-hop spirit, and work from within its traditions to a more visceral effect. I also think, however, this is somewhat a question of taste. These paintings aren’t to mine, in the same way that I think Kanye is overrated, most of all in his own estimation. I am however lately fond of Lupe Fiasco.

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