Daytime Televison at Gallery HOMELAND!

daytime checklist smI thought the handwritten price list was a humorous commentary on gallerist Paul Middendorf’s expectations for attendance and sales at the grand opening of Gallery HOMELAND!, a warehouse tucked behind a warehouse on Houston’s still-scruffy Commerce Street. The charming, ad hoc document (the result of a last-minute ink cartridge snafu) perfectly complemented the improvised space. One wall was a clothesline hung with gray blankets, blocking off the working part of the studio from the exhibition space.

Stephanie Hamblin, untitled, 2013

Stephanie Hamblin, (untitled) (2013), wood, joint compound, plaster and cardboard, NFS

Improvised floodlights on extension cords lit Stephanie Hamblin’s mounds of plaster and cardboard just inside the doors. Perched on wobbly stilt-like trestles, like oversized, under-crafted model train mountains, the floodlit lumps and their looming shadows had a silly, clandestine drama.

Trey Ferguson, It Happens All the Time, 2013

Trey Ferguson, Happens All the Time (2013), POR

In the gallery’s middle space, Trey Ferguson’s Happens All the Time projected faces onto white balloons anchored over an old door studded with rusty nails. Too obviously, they could pop, taking the flickering, faces with them.

martinez spiderwebs

Miguel Martinez, I’m Walking Into Spiderwebs So Leave a Message and I’ll Call You Back (2013)

Miguel Martinez’s three bland, aggressively unimpressive paintings raised basic, existential questions: What’s this doing here? What am I looking at? A few months ago, Martinez displayed lozenge-shaped reliefs like custom auto upholstery at the University of Houston’s open studios event. These new rectangular works on canvas have the format and methodology of traditional painting, making their failure to fulfill traditional expectations of dynamism, storytelling, or even decoration more evident, and more unsettling.

The blithesome titles reinforce the paintings’ fey unconcern: Because I’m a Girl after All, and the “Now” is What I Treasure, and I’m Walking Into Spiderwebs So Leave a Message and I’ll Call You Back, were both painted this year. Each is a pastel panel framed with impasto paint like slightly untidy cake icing or a ruffled bedspread, and filled with a slack lattice of crisscrossing diagonal lines, emphatically empty, like birthday cakes waiting for inscriptions, or a lazy TV test pattern.

Miguel Martinez, Because I'm a Girl after All, and the "Now" is What I Treasure, 2013

Miguel Martinez, Because I’m a Girl after All, and the “Now” is What I Treasure (2013)

Art schools are full of no-painting paintings these days, and Daytime Television is curated specifically around the idea of young artists in limbo, but Martinez’s works stand out for their frightening, frippy nihilism among similarly “empty” works in the same space. Hillaree Hamblin’s grid of small paintings are cute swatches of intentionally “bad” art, drawing on a repertoire of crafty shticks like dripping, blotting and scraping, but they succeed too well as decoration. Interesting, varied surfaces and a balanced, informal hanging with just the right touch of chaos belie the artist’s unwillingness to appear gauche.

Hilaree Hamblin, untitled, 2013, dimensions variable

Hillaree Hamblin, untitled (2013), dimensions variable

Ana Villagomez’s video piece, Yes Signal, IS a test pattern, displayed on a small flat-screen monitor; three little musical notes on-screen suggest a soundtrack, but the attached headphones deliver disappointing silence. Similarly, in I Want to Make Things Clear, the handset of a transparent wall telephone hangs by its cord near the floor. A small photograph of opened hands inserted in the wall-mounted base cements the pun—it’s a dropped call. The urge to pick it up is irresistible, but the dead silence on the line is an anticlimax. The pieces, puns aside, are about the desire and the failure to communicate, but dropped calls and malfunctioning soundtracks are too commonplace; even in a gallery space, little glitches like the ones Villagomez sets up don’t make us reflect; just shrug and move on.

For his grand opening show, Middendorf invited artist (and Glasstire contributor!) Debra Barrera to curate. Choosing artists still in school, Barrera likens their experience to “television before the watershed, and therefore subject to censorship,” in the form of constant critiques from teachers and peers. Daytime Television is a chance for them to try stepping out. Middendorf, in black tie, was firing up a celebratory barbecue in the gravel court between his building and the former Commerce Street Artist Warehouse, the site of many a cookout by undergrads tasting the delicious freedom of working outside school, and clustering together to express their uncertainties through art.

Daytime Television is on view at Gallery HOMELAND! by appointment through May 26.
Contact Paul Middendorf at 503-819-9656 or email


also by Bill Davenport

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38 responses to “Daytime Televison at Gallery HOMELAND!”

  1. I have to admit that I never expect to get positive reviews, or any reviews for that matter. Much like everyone else in Daytime Television I am just getting my feet wet not only showing my art but also growing as an artist in the public sphere. As you quite aptly put at the end of your review at this point in my, as well as my peers careers, our uncertainties about our own positions as not only artists but as human beings are ever present and in most cases blatantly on display in everything we produce. With all that said I don’t find the core of your criticism of our show to be valid or invalid. I think it is fair to state your opinion on work that has been put in the world for the public to see and think about. What I do find problematic is the tone of the review. The review comes off as bitter, self-serving, disrespectful and in some instances sadistic. At certain points you seem to take pleasure in publically ridiculing and dismissing a show by a group of young artists. I also call into question the reasoning behind the newly appointed editor writing about a show at a small gallery in a warehouse involving young artists working on their undergraduate degrees and then posting it as front-page material on Glasstire. Although I appreciate the press and the exposure I find it odd that out of all the shows you could write about this is the one you gravitated towards; a show that is the easiest to bash and also politically the most inconsequential. I also might add that the two-day turn around is rather abrupt for a Glasstire review. There are shows at other institutions and galleries that have been up for weeks yet not a single word has been said about them. In the announcement of your newly appointed title as editor a link to your art newsletter of the mid nineties was included. I think you need to step back from your years of being what seems to be a politically concerned coward and re look at a point in your own history when you were critical and snarky with anyone and everyone, not just with the people and places that have no bearing on your position or future.

    1. In art school, they don’t have a class on how to respond to criticism. That’s an oversight. Here’s what would be on my syllabus for such a class:

      Lesson one: A “bad” review is far superior than no review.
      Lesson two: Don’t write letters when you are angry.
      Lesson three: Don’t write letters like this to publications that review your work, lest you be thought of as an embittered idiot.

      1. Jeez, do y’all have any PR at all to say “maybe we should save face here and either not respond to this or thank them for the response.” Telling artists that they are idiots…really? That is ridiculous – no matter the situation. How can anyone take these reviews seriously with a response like that? You are all starting to look very unprofessional – that’s what I’m trying to say.

  2. Haha Robert are you serious? To work off of your “lesson plan” in regards to Miguel’s response I think you are correct in that a bad review is far superior then no review. According to Miguel’s response I think he would agree with this too being that he isn’t calling into question the validity of whether his work is good, bad, functional or un-functional. Working off of the given text he is calling into question the overall tone of the review and its prominence within an art publication by a newly anointed editor who has a history of refraining from critically engaging shows at more prominent institutions and galleries yet has a history of pouncing on youth in snarky and unproductive ways. Should this make Miguel and his peers a little angry? Yes. Is it a bad thing to write letters as a result of feeling unnecessarily attacked, not criticized, but attacked in a way that transcends the work? No. There is a history of correspondence between artists and critics, a very strong one, and I am quite frankly shocked that you would presume otherwise. This brings us to lesson 3 which proposes that there should be no response to criticism at all from artists which leads me to believe you are of the mindset artists should be submissive to people who write about there work as if those people have some authority over them. I find that strange and incredibly problematic and I honestly hope every other artist on the planet agrees that this is an attitude that should be limited to the finite world within your head. I don’t find Miguel’s response to be in poor taste or a response that would lead anyone to think of him as an embittered idiot. I’ll leave the embittered idiot assumption for Bill’s initial review, which comes off as clunky journalism under the guise of rigorous and productive critical thought. I am grateful that Miguel had the poise and the restraint to articulate a response that not only eloquently defends his immediate peers against this so called “critical” inquiry but calls into question the tactics and pretense of a very suspiciously written piece.

    1. ” This brings us to lesson 3 which proposes that there should be no response to criticism at all from artists which leads me to believe you are of the mindset artists should be submissive to people who write about there work as if those people have some authority over them.”

      Good grief. No, I don’t think artists should be “submissive.” I think they should have thicker skins.

      1. That’s not how it reads Charlie Brown. Next time you attempt to smugly educate someone you should be a little more conscientiousness about what you write.

  3. I, for one, am thankful we have folks like Robert and Bill out reviewing shows period. What a thankless job. By all means, take issue with tone when and if you feel it’s needed. Go ahead and start a constructive dialogue… but for heaven’s sake, know your audience.

  4. It appears writers should have thicker skins. Kudos, Miguel! It is great to see an artist publically stand up for themself on a site that is very incestuous.

  5. what are no painting paintings?

  6. I think is great to have reviewers that speak their mind, about good and bad shows, sometimes it helps the artist to see how outsiders perceive their work. But I also praise brave artists that speak out against ridiculous reviews, yeah don’t whore yourself out to the press, after all, you are the best person out there to talk about your work. Keep making art for your own pleasure , nothing else matters.

  7. funny, I thought it was a mostly positive review of Miguel’s work, too. Apparently some are not familiar with Bill’s writing.

    1. “Apparently some are not familiar with Bill’s writing.” +1

  8. I thought is was positive too, also not worth a read. I suppose it is good that Bill wrote something not about a close friend and or the art guys. Although he might be friends with this guy Paul.

  9. Wild Bill, shoot to kill. Jus like in stand-up; slayin’ ’em!

  10. I feel like Miguel is misunderstanding Bill, who typically uses disparaging language to point out what he feels are the best attributes of art work. I mean, he did write several paragraghs about Miguel’s work and wrapped it up with a statement of how Miguel’s work was a standout. I suppose I risk sounding insensitive here, especially if I’m not recognizing crankiness on Bill’s part, but I perceive his tone as supportive and complimentary.

  11. Many times before I’ve heard Bill use words like “bland”, “unimpressive”, and “boring” as the highest compliments. “Agressively unimpressive” is even better.

  12. I shouldn’t have used the word “idiot”–I’m sorry, Miguel! I don’t think you’re an idiot–just that you posted a response without quite understanding the review. I also was irked that you accused B.D. of picking on you all because you’re relatively powerless. He doesn’t write much criticism, but he snarks on big institutions all the time in his news items.

    But being irked that doesn’t justify calling people names–so, I apologize.

  13. This is absurd, kudos to Martinez and Deprez. Boyd is a useless figure in the Houston art scene and gets off on dishing out uninformed, contradictory, and at times incoherent rubbish. Yet somehow he has convinced himself otherwise…

    Glasstire, again, proves to be a constant source of disappointment as they continue to pass off their “circle jerk” approach to art reviews as thoughtful criticism..

    1. I couldn’t agree more! And I admire your courage in saying so publicly, Artist.

  14. Let the crowd have their opinions, but “Glasstire contributor!” seems why certain shows get more attention. Miguel, it is no secret the artworld in general does this. It is just kind of sad that Texas is so large and glasstire is the only source with a somewhat professional approach to covering the region and to only have one big source it shouldn’t be a surprise that they are so cliquish.

    Texas is where it is on a national scale because of institutions and orgainizations like this. Dallas Contemporary is an incestuous place with donors and artists looking to constantly promote themselves. UTSA’s Art Collection is totally a collection of friends of Dr. Ricardo Romo. If you count 4 out of 5 articles on this site they will be about “Glasstire contributors!” Some folks also view it like an extension of the Art Guys website (as loved as they are they don’t need any more pub from Gtire).

    The merit of an artist’s work will propel them beyond Texas borders, but don’t expect credit or a review from Glasstire or Houston Press or any other self-righteous periodical. That doesn’t justify your craft anyway, it is sometimes just nice to see your name in print.

    It would be nice to click on Austin, San Antonio or Houston and read about an East End studio tour or a Mat Kubo or Jimmy James Canales exhibit, or one of the many other Houston gems that are under the radar and work harder than the “Glasstire contributor”. Nothing against Debra either, she is a workaholic who makes fantastic art.

    There are some great artists and curators in this state and then there are some flavors of the glasstire month. It doesn’t matter what is written if your work reaches one or two good people.

    Just like the begining of this thread, this has spun out of control a bit. Sorry, keep up the work Bill.

    (it is great that any one can comment here, most of the insteresting stuff read on this site is from these very posts)

    1. I will totally do an East End studio tour. I want to hear and write about all the good stuff that’s not getting covered, sometimes I just don’t know about it. Send me your press releases!

  15. Will glasstire please notify us where we can pick up the decoder rings we all now apparently need to read the wise Bill Davenport? That seems to make a lot of editorial sense. That the writer’s “quirks” should drown out the discussion of the subject matter.

  16. Yay! That was an exciting discussion on literary tone, folks. Miguel, count your lucky stars you’ve been reviewed, but don’t give up that contentious spirit, either. An interesting read all around. Three cheers!

  17. Bill, now that you’ve gone to such great explicatory lengths [explicate: to analyze in order to reveal meaning], please return to your previous writing style. It is concise, informative, and greatly appreciated!

  18. This discussion reminds me of one of my favorite pieces by Artur Barrio:

    Art Criticism criticizes but, generally, does not like to be criticized.
    Art Criticism has arrived at its current position due, in part, to the concessions made by artists to
    the detriment of their own theoretical work in favour of the theoretical work of the critic.
    From the moment Art Criticism begins to charge the artist in order to represent him, the public
    becomes the victim.
    Recently, there has been a proliferation of Artist Critics. Through this, it’s clear that Art
    Criticism does not have the knowledge, because if it did, there would be no need for its
    metamorphosis into an artist.
    Once in a while, Art Criticism, in agreement with the market and artists, exhumes old formulae,
    generally linked to the Canvas as a medium, rehabilitating them and relaunching them as the new
    vanguard (Kassel and the Paris Biennial obviously support this). It is likewise obvious that they are
    transitory aspects because, as everybody knows, painting has lost its interference/communication
    value to that of investment, thus:
    As I understand it, the only valid Art Criticism is that which has dialogue with the artist on an
    equal footing. Generally this criticism (that exists) is marginalized by the environment, in other
    words, the market, galleries; official criticism; panel and artists interested in maintaining the status
    Artur Barrio 1974/1975

  19. RE: Because I’m a Girl after All, and the “Now” is What I Treasure

    The color of the border is everywhere now, recently, I wanted to use a sea foam color and I had been warming up to it and admiring it for about a year or two now, and then as soon as I said, YES this is the color!… OVER NIGHT it’s everywhere, on everything and it’s a pain. I love it, and yet, I don’t want to admit it.

    It’s a love affair with a friend who has suddenly gone viral and doesn’t have enough time for you anymore.

  20. Houston artists are fortunate to have Glasstire and other interested writers out there to critique their shows. Art critique is one of the more necessary components of a thriving art scene. Interested and active writers, who document shows — with more than simple rewrites of gallery press releases provide artists and galleries with feedback that can prove essential to development of work. Further, in markets where writers are plentiful and understand their roles in the creative sphere, you really see dialogues develop beyond a show’s opening night, and you can see real progression, and a certain refinement of work and presentation.

    I read this review as “good,” and certainly interesting commentary for the artists.

  21. Bill–I love the idea of a secret decoder ring. Will it work in decoding all areas of miscommunication in the universe? Now that would be an invention.

    1. I’m preparing my self addressed stamped envelope today… I want one of those things!

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