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Our best guesses for Spring 2009…


Heyd Fontenot's naked people

Heyd Fontenot: Office in the Front, Party in the Back

Art Palace
January 31 – March 7, 2009

Heyd Fontenot‘s gorgeous paintings and works on paper have a graceful way of presenting the personalities of the models he recruits from his social circles so succinctly and lovingly that the "nakedness" (his word) in the portraits becomes an afterthought; more metaphoric than libidinal. Fontenot’s previously cherubic figures in bucolic settings that bordered on caricature have evolved into more mature, elegant and restrained compositions of fragmented bodies, all fleshy forms and confident strokes. – Ivan Lozano


The 2009 Texas Biennial

Various Venues
March 6 – April 11, 2009

This spring in Austin, the 2009 Texas Biennial is THE show to look forward to. Officially, this is the third edition of Austin’s "Independent Survey of Contemporary Texas Art," although quite a significant number of changes were instituted this time around. The most important are probably the hiring of a sole, independent juror/curator (Michael Duncan) and the decision to spotlight individual artists from one of four quadrants of the state (Lee Baxter Davis from the North, Jayne Lawrence from the South, Kelli Vance from the East and William Cannings from the West). While there have been rumblings in the community questioning some of the artists Duncan selected for this edition of the Biennial, only time, or more accurately, the coming of March 6, 2009, will tell whether this new direction and the class of 2009 measures up to the previous two editions. – IL


WorkSpace: Lisi Raskin
Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin
March 6 – June 21, 2009

By the time Armada, Lisi Raskin‘s contribution to the Blanton’s Workspace series and first curatorial effort by rookie Blanton curator Risa Puleo opens, Obama will have fixed everything. Raskin’s investigations into "a culture of anxiety stemming from the Cold War and resonating with our current cultural and political climate" will feel like a half-remembered bad dream, a perfect state of mind for experiencing the deliberately clumsy fabrication and installation of sculptural forms found by the artist at a storage facility for military aircraft near Tucson, Arizona. Will we still feel an emotional connection to the pre-Obama anxieties over WMDs, dirty-bombs and the machinery and technology of wars alluded to in Raskin’s cardboard, foil and Sharpie constructions? – IL


Lisi Raskin

Lone Star Still Lifes
Panhandle Plains Historical Museum
April 11 – June 14, 2009

The Panhandle Plains is one of the few institutions in the state that reliably shows early Texas art. This exhibit of still life painting will look at immigrant artists of the 1860s and 1870s (Robert J. Onderdonk) as well as the Regionalist painters of the 1930s, including Alexandre Hogue and Florence McClung. They’re also including work by less well-known Panhandle artists such as H. D. Bugbee, Olive Vandruff, Emilio Caballero and Isabel Robinson. This quiet little show should be a treat for visitors to the Panhandle this year. – Rainey Knudson

Dallas/Fort Worth


From the Temple and the Tomb: Etruscan Treasures from Tuscany
Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University
January 25 – May 17, 2009

The Etruscans had a flourishing, wealthy and sophisticated culture in northern Italy until some upstart refugees from Troy, or so they claimed, came along and conquered them in the 3rd century BCE. As soon as the Romans displaced them they began to romanticize them, and their culture has remained, as they say, “cloaked in mystery.” This will be the largest exhibition of Etruscan antiquities ever exhibited in America. It may take away some of the mystery, but it should also show why the Etruscans remain the coolest civilization of the ancient world. – Charles Dee Mitchell

Urn, End of the 3rd c. B.C., Alabaster...From Sarteano (Siena)...Siena, National Archaeological Museum


Richard Patterson
Goss Michael Foundation
February – April 2009

This British transplant to Dallas and YBA has shown only small works locally to date. That’s all about to change. This exhibition will include Patterson’s large paintings, mostly borrowed from museums, along with a room-filling sculpture that will take over the GMF office. Patterson’s paintings have been described as resembling “some bastard child of Richter and Rosenquist.” In photographs, the sculpture, which has been seen in London and Houston, appears to be an architectural take on Barnet Newman paintings plus a motorcycle. – CDM

Richard Patterson...Road Agent, 2005...Timothy Taylor Gallery

FOCUS: Jeff Elrod
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
February 15 – March 29, 2009

For some years now, Elrod has touched down in many parts of the state – in Denton as a UNT undergrad; in Houston, where he ran the brilliant but short-lived "Art of the Century" space with Mark Flood in the 90s; at Texas Gallery in Houston and at Angstrom Gallery (R.I.P.) in Dallas; and recently, living and working in Marfa. The hard-edged taped lines in his abstract paintings have given way more recently to soft, airbrushy, graffiti-looking paint doodles (witness his show last year at Leo Koenig in NYC) – but the occasionally biting wit and the references to thinkers like Marshall McLuhan remain. It’ll be interesting to see what they pull for this exhibit, and a pleasure to do so in the big fancy Temple to Art that is FWMAM. Kudos to them for giving Elrod his long overdue, first solo museum show. – RK

El Paso

Jeff Elrod...Endgame, 1994...Acrylic on canvas 79 x 97 inches...Collection Mark Rosman

Equilibrium: Body as Site
Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, University of Texas at El Paso
January 22 – March 21, 2009

Curated by Kate Bonansinga and Rachelle Thiewes, this is one of those promising shows that we hope, but are not 100% sure, will be great. The description – "art that engages the body as site and alters sensorial experience" – vaguely suggests educational touch and feel exhibits for children, but we appreciate that it promises to "buck the tide of the past several decades of art interpretation, which has favored the intellectualization of art practice and experience." Finally! A show that doesn’t burden itself (and us) with half-baked theory; that encourages us to wallow in our ignorance and intellectual sloth while our ears, noses, hands and eyes get titillated. So toss your unread copies of October, stop brooding over the death of conceptualism (or, you know, whatever), and go get your artsy sensation fix. – RK


Mi-mi Moscow...Waterloo, 7.5 x 2.5 cm, paper, 2006...photo Mi-mi Moscow

Texas Oil: Landscape of an Industry
The Blaffer Gallery
January 17 – March 29, 2009

Texas Oil: Landscape of an Industry by The Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) will “show how the extraction and refining of oil has sculpted the state’s terrain.” This means a lot of photographs and a lot of text. From the Blaffer website, it looks like the photographs will include aerial shots of scenic places like Pasadena. CLUI, based in Culver City, California, was invited to be the first artist in residence for the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts and they collaborated with U of H faculty and students. There is also supposed to be a "’landscan’ video, an extended aerial shot of petroleum refineries and shipping yards that shows the massive scale of these places.” The show could be a revelation or it could be a bunch of Californians pointing out the obvious to Texans. Go and see for yourselves. If you can’t make it, you can check out the hefty accompanying catalog. – Kelly Klaasmeyer

Kinder Morgan Pasadena terminal facility...Photo courtesy of the CLUI Photographic Archive

Rachel Hecker/New Work
Texas Gallery
March 10 – April 18, 2009

Houston pop art legend Rachel Hecker‘s much-anticipated show at Texas Gallery opens March 10. For this show, her first at Texas Gallery since Sad and Pissed in 2002, Hecker will clutter the cavernous gallery with giant trivia: swatches, notes, stickers and doo-dads that normally collect around the edges of life, enlarged a hundred times and crafted with Hecker’s signature wit and precision. – Bill Davenport

Rachel Hecker's giant ephemera


Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave
Menil Collection
March 26 – June 21, 2009

Marlene Dumas likes her paintings “cruel.” Whether she’s painting a child or a corpse, her portraits are riveting but unsettling. There is nothing nice or sentimental in Dumas’ work, mournful maybe, disturbing definitely. Measuring Your Own Grave, the first major American survey of Dumas’ work, will bring 65 paintings and 25 drawings to the Menil Collection. If you are a Dumas fan, it should be amazing. – KK

Marlene Dumas...Death of the Author, 2003, oil on canvas...15 3/4 x 19 11/16 in...Collection Jolie van Leeuwen...© 2008 Marlene Dumas

Perspectives 166: Torsten Slama
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
May 8 – July 26, 2009

Berlin-based "fanatical realist" Torsten Slama brings his chilly East-European dreamland to the sweltering West-American swamp for the Contemporary Arts Museum‘s 166th Perspectives show. Fussy, intricate drawings depict post-industrial, post-apocalyptic worlds filled with neglected avant-garde architecture, esoteric technology and humans and animals engaged in Freudian psychodramas, with titles like Wilhelm Reich Cryogenic Institute and The Walt Whitman Memorial Refinery. Fun! – BD

San Antonio

Torsten Slama

Christian Tomaszewski
March 19 – May 17, 2009

San Antonio is a strange place. One time I found a severed ear in a parking lot. Then some weird dude took me to a lumber yard and beat me up. Oh wait, that wasn’t me, that was Kyle MacLachlan. Anyways, Artpace‘s New Works 09.1, curated by Trevor Smith of the Peabody Essex Museum, brings Christian Tomaszewski‘s immersive reconstructions of elements from David Lynch‘s Blue Velvet to Southern Texas. While it’s almost certain that we’ll get another Blue Velvet project, Tomaszewski is rumored to sometimes drift away from his monomania and engage art-house cinema more broadly, while retaining his obsessive and critical eye. What are you doing in my closet, Glasstire reader? – IL

Christian Tomaszewski

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