Box 13 ArtSpace on the east side of Houston just opened their first set of summer exhibitions featuring a roster of artists from around the world. At a time when most places have stopped doing exhibitions of international artists, it is encouraging to see an artist-run space still fostering art as an global conversation, budget be damned. The exhibitions are well worth the trip to the east side and the navigation of the light rail construction currently taking place in front of the building. Do not be discouraged! The building with Ariane Roesch‘s window display of soft, outmoded personal computers is still open, and the current exhibitions will be up until June 23. Make sure to catch Roesch’s display before you enter the building as it is much easier to see from the sidewalk. The floppy computers will make you smile and wish that you could cuddle with them.
Shanghai-born artist Miao Jiaxin has an exhibition of performance works in the main space. On the opening night, Jiaxin did a live performance sleeping in a child’s bed in the middle of the gallery while chatroulette was projected on a wall in front of him. Visitors could use a laptop to chat with people from around the world to talk to them about the artwork or whatever was on their mind. Other performances documented in videos and photographs shown in the gallery were of more provocative subjects. In collaboration with Ei Jane Janet Lin, Jiaxin performed on internet pornography websites making such things as “ass prints” and money suits. My impression was that though the images are striking and sometimes shocking, the concepts seem mostly straightforward and do not draw you deeper into the work.
The back gallery has a two-person exhibition curated by photographer and Box 13 member Emily Peacock, who recently had an exhibition at Lawndale. Palinka and Lone Star features two artists who are friends, colleagues, and true believers in the cause of painting, Radu Runcanu and William Witte. Runcanu is a recent transplant from Romania who paints landscape-like abstract canvases that incorporate washes of saturated, cool colors with a gestural sort of drawing reminiscent of Cy Twombly’s automatic marks. Witte’s fun paintings and drawings are sophisticated plays of color and line that merge the absurd and profound, silly and melancholic, iconic and cartoonish. They have some of the most interesting use of drawing that I have seen recently.
Upstairs is a video installation by Britt Ragsdale, who is also Peacock’s collaborator on the Lens Capsule project. Ragsdale’s installation Breathe shows gleaming rippled circles that dilate to sound of recorded breaths. The dark meditative installation is especially impressive given the challenges of adapting an open gallery to a video room. It is a meditative space where it is easy to go into a trance listening to the rhythm of inhale and exhale. Breathing was also a part of the video installation in the Closet Box: Micro Gallery/Wonder Emporium where a video of a man exhaling smoke was projected on a plexiglass box full of fog in a closet of all while clothes and objects. The piece by Harry Dearing III, 7 Minutes of Heaven, has a cool visual effect and references teenage closet escapades in an open, almost abstract way. The exhibitions at Box 13 thus offer a wide range of media and ideas and show why they have one of the most diverse programs of any artist-run space in town.