The Arts Make a LOT of Money For Texas But We Guess Greg Abbott Doesn’t Care

TCTC Logo - JPGYesterday the Texas Cultural Trust (TCT) released its State of the Arts Report, which looks at the economic (and for the first time, educational) impact of the arts on the state.

As expected, it’s a big ol’ super-positive impact. Long story short:

“The economic results, compiled from state and federal data sets, highlight how the 42 Art and Culture Industries collectively generate $5.1 billion for Texas’ economy, and contribute nearly $320 million in state sales tax revenue annually. TCT research over the years shows how this economic impact has grown steadily since 2003, increasing 24.6 percent over the past 10 years.”

Here is the full report.

(And yet it seems our new governor Greg Abbott’s first order of business was to fire Casey Monahan, the director of the Texas Music Office, who served under four governors and is widely recognized for cultivating the health and economic vibrancy of the state’s music scene.)

Selma Composer Returns to Houston to Collaborate with Artist Robert Pruitt on “The Rauschenberg Project”

Jason_MoranThis fall, Houston native Jason Moran began a multi-year residency with Da Camera in partnership with the University of Houston’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. Besides working with local schools and the Da Camera Young Artists program on year-long projects, the jazz pianist/composer is creating The Rauschenberg Project: Holed Up, a new multimedia performance inspired by Texas-born artist Robert Rauschenberg and his work in the Menil Collection, along with Moran’s response to his native city.

It’s not the first time Moran worked with, or been inspired by, contemporary art. The MacArthur “genius grant” recipient has created a number of projects for museums and collaborated with many contemporary artists (although he has recently received much attention as the composer of the Selma soundtrack). Among the many influences from his Houston upbringing that Moran cites are his visits to the Menil Collection, where he first discovered the art of Rauschenberg. For this project, he is collaborating with Houston artist Robert Pruitt (of the collective Otabenga Jones & Associates).

On February 5, the Menil Collection will feature a free program of Moran and Pruitt in conversation about the project. On January 31, Project Row Houses‘ El Dorado Ballroom will present a Listening Party with Moran, co-hosted by Houston artist Tierney Malone (and host of KPFT’s Houston Jazz Spotlight). The world premier of The Rauschenberg Project: Holed Up, a ticketed event, will be held at the Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center, on February 7.

Manchild Artist Tells a Dallas Arts Writer to Get Laid; Jezebel Weighs In Immediately

Louis-Gréaud_784x0Amongst Dallas-based arts writers who actually write critically about visual art, Loris Gréaud’s show at the Dallas Contemporary is zero for three. (We won’t count the glowing PR blurbs from machines that masquerade as glossy magazines, even though he does). Gréaud chose to respond to one writer, the Dallas Observer’s Lauren Smart, with a series of Facebook personal messages that Smart screen grabbed and reprinted today on the Observer’s site. It seems the 35-year old French art star believes the Texas writer might better understand his work if she had a boyfriend who takes an erection enhancer. He believes in this strategy enough to mention it twice. Oh, that old nugget of a takedown.

It took Gawker Media’s heavily-trafficked website Jezebel all of five hours to get hold of this gem of male posturing and narcissism. Oh, Loris. You’re old enough to know how the press and social media works, n’est-ce pas? (Unless YOU WANTED THIS RESPONSE. CONCEPTUAL ART.)





Lone Star Goes Lonely Planet with Texas/India Art Exchange

texas!According to Blouin Artinfo, the “first ever exhibition of contemporary art from the state of Texas in the United States of America to be hosted in New Delhi” opened this past Saturday. Texas!, organized by the Texas Art Alliance—cofounded by Bill FitzGibbons and George Tobolowsky—is now on view at the Lalit Kala Akademi (the national gallery of art) in India.

The thirteen featured artists from five Texas cities are Ricky Armendariz, Amita Bhatt, Bill FitzGibbons, Wayne Gilbert, Christy Karll, Sharon Kopriva, Catherine Lee, Charmaine Locke, Rahul Mitra, Sherry Owens, George Schroeder, James Surls, and George Tobolowsky.

A reciprocal exhibition featuring artists based in India will debut at Dallas’ Crow Collection of Asian Art sometime in 2016-2017. The Crow Collection’s E.D. Amy Lewis Hofland states, “We are delighted to support our local Texas artists and help build the reciprocal relationship between museums, artists and institutions.” Participating artist Rahul Mitra says, “As an artist practicing in America and dealing with global social and political issues, this exhibition Texas! is very important to me to show my work to artists in India and to engage in a dialogue with them.”

SMU’S Art Research Center Measures Vibrancy of Art Cities. Washington D.C. #1!

arts vibrancy in TX

SMU’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) has released its first annual Arts Vibrancy Index, which ranks towns according to their “vibrancy”, consisting of a complex mix of supply, demand and government support for arts and culture on a per capita basis.

The top five big cities are:

1.      Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
2.      Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN
3.      New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ
4.      Boston, MA
5.      San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA

The top five smaller towns are:

1.      Glenwood Springs, CO
2.      Santa Fe, NM
3.      Jackson, WY-ID
4.      Breckenridge, CO
5.      Edwards, CO

Surprised? The numbers are only the start of the story, not the end.” said  Dr. Zannie Giraud Voss, Ph.D., director of NCAR.

Saturday is Beer Can House Appreciation Day!

beer canSaturday is National Beer Can Appreciation Day, and there’s no better way to celebrate this holiday of holidays than by paying a visit to one of Houston’s most iconic landmarks – THE BEER CAN HOUSE, Houston’s #1 landmark.

The BCH will be open this weekend from 12 to 5 pm. Entry and tours are $5 per person, and well worth it!

“Some people say this is sculpture but I didn’t go to no expensive school to get these crazy notions”
- John Milkovisch, Beer Can House Creator

Texas A&M At Commerce Commissions a New Public Artwork


An example of Dougherty’s work

Texas A&M University-Commerce has commissioned North Carolina-based sculptor Patrick Dougherty, an artist known for his massive outdoor bent-sapling installations, to create a new temporary public artwork for the campus. The artist, who locally sources his materials, has been gathering branches and saplings in and around Commerce since January 17, and has enlisted local volunteers and university students in the effort. The site-specific piece will be installed in front of the library, and should be completed in early February.

Dougherty has produced at least 230 of these types of works across the country and beyond over the last 30 years, including in Denmark and Japan, and last year at Houston’s Hermann Park. He’s won many foundation grants and awards, including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, the Henry Moore Foundation Fellowship, the Japan-US Creative Arts Fellowship, and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Dougherty will give a public lecture on January 28 at 5:30 p.m. in the campus’ Performing Arts Center theater.

More Crazy Artists on Reality TV!

Houston street artist Gonzo247: nominee for season 2?

Houston street artist Gonzo247: nominee for season 2?

Admit it: Bravo’s “Work of Artwas a great show and the idiotic artistic clichés it portrayed are actually kind of true. For those who are jonesing to watch artists battling it out some more, Artnet News reports that Oxygen TV will present “Street Art Throwdown” premiering on February 3!

There’s no Minneapolis Miles (miss him!) or Juror Jerry Saltz on this show, but it promises ten up-and-coming street artists as they compete for a $100,000 grand prize. According to a press release, “The series tests not only their physical stamina, but also pushes their artistic skills to the limit in hopes of jump-starting their career…furiously scaling walls, climbing fences and navigating underground tunnels, these artists must have the talent, style and hustle to battle it out to the end.”

When street art gets all Kim Kardashian, it’s not so street. But let’s watch!

Cohn Drennan Gallery Closed Indefinitely For Repairs; May Relocate

unnamed-4A five-alarm fire that broke out in a warehouse behind the 4000 block of Commerce Street in Dallas on December 15 has displaced a number of residential and commercial tenants of an unconnected (yet smoke-and-water damaged) building owned by the Gibson Company. Cohn Drennan Contemporary has been in 4118 Commerce since last spring (having relocated from the Design District), but recently announced that the water damage sustained by the space during the firefighters’ work means the gallery needs to close for repairs.

The gallery, on the street-facing ground floor in the Expo Park neighborhood, is a member gallery of the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas. In a statement to the press, the gallery writes “…the gallery sustained water damage to the ceiling, walls, loft and bathroom. We are in the process of moving out of the gallery so property management can begin repairs. There is no timeline of when this will be completed, so we may also consider relocating the gallery. All options need to be considered.” The gallery also expresses its gratitude for the firefighters, the emergency workers, and Gibson Company’s diligence in the matter.

Yesterday was Museum Selfie Day, But It’s Never Too Late . . .

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 Did You Know Today is Museum Selfie Day?

By Daria Daniel

pearl-earring Selfie lovers come one, come all; today is Museum Selfie Day, back for its second iteration. The website Culturalthemes, which was created by a group of museum professionals, proclaimed the event for the first time last year, and it caught on. Today, the site’s purveyors urge you to scamper around town taking photographs with a work of art, a museum edifice, or both at the same time, whilst hopping around in circles on one foot.

Of course, Culturalthemes didn’t start the trend of taking selfies in museums. Nearly 17,000 images on Instagram are currently tagged with the hashtag #artselfie. Earlier this year, Beyonce and Jay Z created a cyberspace frenzy with their visual social media tributes to Picasso, Leonardo, and Warhol. And museum security guards are sprouting grey hairs trying to ward off photo-grubbing Instagrammers from galleries in which photography is prohibited. The artworks themselves have even turned the proverbial tables with @museumofselfies, an Instagram account dedicated to famous works of art “taking” selfies. In this deluge, one must ask, does the ego-madness know no end?

Perhaps the most pertinent question was posed by a Facebook user: How will this be unlike any other day? Yesterday, today, tomorrow and into a dark-holed future, selfies, museum or otherwise, have become ubiquitous fixtures of modern life, just ask the editors of the Oxford English Dictionaries who proclaimed “selfie” the word of the year in 2013 when its usage jumped in frequency to over 17,000 per cent during the preceding 12 months. The selfie has claimed its narcissistic throne in what seems to be an ephemera of culture here to stay.

Artselfies, however, take on a new dimension altogether. They seem to be part of a burgeoning compulsion to appropriate, or render accessible, high art (see Ways of Seeing Instagram). The nascent ability to become part of an artwork, or even, manipulate it, is a powerful development. Customizing widely recognized pictures or cultural icons beckons a formula à la Andy Warhol or Tom Wesselmann, though the instruments may be less sophisticated. How exhilarating to know a $20 million Kandinsky is within our reach and can also be a personalized part of our Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter pages—an outside pawn in our self-promotion.

Having said all this, we have decided to throw in the towel and bequeath some artselfie inspiration because, really, that photograph of your face with a Monet peeking through the bottom right hand corner should garner at least 100 likes. Here are the most coveted selfie spots in New York:

  • Get lost in Toulouse-Lautrec’s seedy french nightlife—The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters at the MoMA
  • Look austere in front of Madame Cézanne at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Go on a mini-whirlwind with Pousette-Dart’s monochromatic spheres at Pace Gallery
  • Flirt with Wang Jianwei’s Time Temple at the Guggenheim
  • Blend into Thomas Hart Benton‘s iconic mural America Today at the Met
  • Wear something colorful for Henri Matisse: The Cut Outs at the MoMA
  • Mark the 400th Anniversary of El Greco’s Death at the Frick Collection

We are expecting some creative and proof-worthy snaps, because isn’t that really the biting question: if there is no museum selfie, did you even really go?




French & Michigan Gets into the Publishing Game

“Artistic success is established and measured through writing — a creative field often undervalued and overlooked.” So says French & Michigan director Billy Lambert in an email to the organization’s supporters, expressing a sentiment with which we’d happily agree.

The San Antonio design studio, art gallery and workshop just announced another expansion of its scope: FAM, a writing platform that will feature six professional writers responding to the theme of “residuals,” as well as essays by F&M’s own staff. The works will be first published online, but an annual print publication is scheduled for later this year.

Currently there’s a piece by Hills Snyder that starts with the sentence: “It was the smell of weed that first brought us together.”

Go on…


This Week in Texas Art: New Year, New Sincerity

Billboard by Christopher Blay and Gerardo Robles

Billboard by Christopher Blay and Gerardo Robles

The “New Sincerity” movement began with music in the mid-eighties (thanks, Austin!), spread to literary and film criticism in the nineties, and now—from the looks of upcoming events in Texas—the art world is finally catching up. Even the subject line of Monday’s Glasstire newsletter was cautiously sincere: “All the artists this week are either completely sincere or they’re messing with us.” (To sign up for the weekly newsletter, go here.)

In Austin, a show entitled Friendship and Freedom (can an exhibition title be more sincere?), including contemporary queer and feminist art will open at Mass Gallery on Friday night with a gallery talk on Saturday afternoon. On Saturday night in Houston, artists Autumn Knight and Chelsea Knight will present a performance/lecture/dinner/psychology session on “their relation to each other and the world as women.”

On Saturday afternoon, Houstonians can hop from a festive celebration of the life and work Martin Luther King Jr., presented by Phillip Pyle the Second, at the African American Library at the Gregory School (in conjunction with Organized Love: Ideas on Non-Violence) at 1pm to a performance in the Menil’s foyer called “Dances to Songs Beloved by Gandhi” at 3pm (in conjunction with Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence).

Tomorrow night, Dallas’ CentralTrak will present “Dialogues on Race,” a conversation with artists and community leaders about issues connected to race, including presentations by artists that were involved in Make Art with Purpose (MAP)’s “Dialogues on Race” billboard and mural campaign.

Artists Remove Work From Houston City Hall in Solidarity with Ed Wilson

City+Hall+1947Houston artists Nohelia Vargas Bolivar and Liza Littlefield have asked that their work be removed from Houston City Hall as a show of solidarity with artist Ed Wilson, who was selected for a commission for the George R. Brown convention by a HAA review panel, only to have it abruptly withdrawn when HAA’s Civic Art Committee objected.

Both artists were asked to loan works to be displayed in City Hall by HAA, and where it was to be on loan through August 2015. They were each paid $150.

To Littlefield, who first had the idea, removing her art just seemed the right thing to do: “I’m not really a very political person, but I live across the street from Ed, and I’ve known him for years. As a person who’s a voter in this city, I think they certainly have to change the way they do things, it’s not right. It’s just not right.”

Vargas said, “We want to make a statement about the mishandling of the Ed Wilson commission by HAA, and we also want to support Matthew Lennon. We don’t want his resignation to be in vain.”

Vargas also took issue with the way her art was to be shown. “At first, I was very excited to have my work there, but then I felt like they were not embracing the artwork like they are supposed to. They just take it, hang it on the walls, and that’s it. They’re pretty much using the artwork to decorate the walls at City Hall – taking original artworks from local artists as if it were a commodity. Art is a form of education to me.”

There will be no angry mob of Houston artists storming City Hall. HAA will arrange the removal of the work and its return. Said Vargas, “It’s nothing dramatic — we called, they agreed. We have to give back the money.”





The Flower Man’s House to be Demolished Feb. 7; PRH Will Commemorate Him

unnamed-1A year after the death of folk artist Cleveland Turner, a.k.a. The Flower Man, his Houston house on Francis Street and much of its contents have been found unsalvageable due to toxic mold. The house’s owner, Project Row Houses, are working toward a commemorative event for the day of demolition and will “pursue other means of commemorating Mr. Turner’s life.”

PRH convened a special panel to consider Mr. Turner’s legacy, and says “Some salvageable artifacts have already been removed from the space” to be decontaminated. They are having a commemorative website designed now, and have set up a Facebook page in the meantime.

Also, according to PRH: “This past year, the 2014 Houston Thanksgiving Day parade included a ‘Flower Man Float’ designed by artist Philip Pyle II and Everything Records; it now belongs to the City of Houston and will continue to be a living work of art dedicated to Flower Man. Project Row Houses also plans to install a Billboard in Dupree Park to commemorate the time that Mr. Turner lived next door as a neighbor, friend, and fellow artist.”

For more info watch this space.


New Curators and Tame Mayhem at Dallas Contemporary

Well, it certainly has been a busy week at the Dallas Contemporary. First, it announced the addition of two new curators to its staff; then the much-anticipated, five-years-in-the-making, take-over-the-entire-gallery-space exhibition of Loris Gréaud was invaded by vandals in the middle of Saturday night’s opening. (The vandals were just actors; it was part of the show. Read Christina Rees’ full article on the event here. View video, from, of the mayhem here.)

Justine Ludwig. Photography Nathaniel West.

Justine Ludwig. Photography Nathaniel West.

The two curators joining the Contemporary are Justine Ludwig and Alison Gingeras. Gingeras, who will serve as adjunct curator, has spent the last 15 years as the chief curator of the Palazzo Grassi in Venice and as curator of contemporary art at Paris’s Centre Pompidou. She was also and curator at the Solomon R. Guggeheim Museum, New York.

Ludwig most recently worked as assistant and adjunct curator at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, but has also worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Rose Art Museum, the Colby College Museum of Art, and the MIT List Visual Arts Center. She is now the Contemporary’s senior curator and director of exhibitions.

Make a Mess with the Oliver Herring Experience!

herring 3German-born NY artist Oliver Herring is coming to Houston, and Diverseworks Art Space is looking for unpaid “studio assistants” to participate in his performance-based art. Herring will be in residence at DiverseWorks from January 21 through March 7, 2015.

Herring’s exhibition, Areas for Action, requires audience participation in chance encounters with mixed media. This means spitting food dye, getting dumped in glitter, becoming a photo sculpture, and more. Fun!

Herring directs and documents short open-ended performances featuring groups of strangers interacting with each another. Herring records these impromptu activities, to reveal the poignancy of strangers exposing their vulnerabilities and embracing trust. Sort of like Hermann Nitsch, but without the blood or the nudity.

Participants are needed from 11:45am – 6pm, Wednesday-Saturday for the four weeks of the show’s run: Jan 21-24, and Jan 28-31, Feb. 25-28, and March 4-7.

Contact Taylor Hoblitzell at 713-223-8346 or with questions, or to sign up.

Don’t Find Us, We’ll Find You. New Invitation-Only Artist Residency Opens in Marfa

tropicsLook out Chinati! The Tropics, a new residency in Marfa that aims to be “the catalyst of the new artistic zeitgeist in Marfa, TX” has opened. “Curated by invitation only, our residents will be selected because of their enlightened vision, radical practices, and progressive methods,” says the group’s website, but it’s difficult to tell how serious they are- the accompanying photo locates “The Tropics” on an aerial photo of the desert-dry Marfa landscape.

According to the site, “the older cattle-ranching and Air Force periods, and the more recent postmodern art period have given way to a new phase of opportunity for creatives,” and offers a menu of funded residency options: a Primary Residency, which will grant visitors a $1000 stipend, use of an apartment, and a “branded community event” to mark the end of their stay; week long Capsule Residencies to produce specific events in Marfa, with production budgets of up to $2000; exhibitions in the group’s gallery, and product placement in their nomadic boutique.

The Tropics Directors are Alec Michael Friedman, a creative consultant from New York and Ryann Bosetti, a conceptual hairdresser and art director; and Caitlin Murray, co-owner of the Marfa Book Company.

Rick Lowe and Others Honored by Texas Cultural Trust


Artist Rick Lowe is among the honorees.

The Texas Cultural Trust has embarked on its eighth biennial of honoring “amazing Texans who have made powerful contributions to the arts here at home and around the world” with yesterday’s announcement of its list of 2015 Texas Medal of Arts Awards (TMAA). The awards gala takes place the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin on February 25.

The list of honorees typically recognizes “leaders and luminaries who have achieved greatness through their creative talents” and this year’s honorees from the world of visual art in Texas are, for our purposes, highlighted in the complete list below.



·        Music: T Bone Burnett, Fort Worth, TX

·        Film: Jamie Foxx, Terrell, TX

·        Dance: Kilgore Rangerettes, Kilgore, TX

·        Visual Arts: Rick Lowe, Houston, TX

·        Corporate Arts Patron: Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Plano, TX

·        Individual Arts Patron: Margaret McDermott, Dallas, TX

·        Multi-Media: Emilio Nicolas, San Antonio, TX

·        Television: Dan Rather, Wharton, TX; Chandra Wilson, Houston, TX

·        Architecture: Charles Renfro, Houston, TX

·        Theatre: Robert Schenkkan, Austin, TX

·        Arts Education: Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas, TX

·        Literary Arts: Lawrence Wright, Austin, TX

·        Standing Ovation Award: Ruth Altshuler, Dallas, TX

·        Lifetime Achievement Award: The Gatlin Brothers, Seminole, TX


Congrats to all (and a fan’s shoutout to T Bone)!  For more info on the awards, go here.

Sara Kellner Named Permanent Civic Art Director at HAA

Sara Kellner - Photo 2Sara Kellner, quickly appointed as interim Director of Civic Art + Design by the Houston Art Alliance on December 10 after the resignation of former Civic Art Director Matthew Lennon, has been given the job permanently.

Kellner is a veteran arts administrator, who served as executive director of Diverseworks from 1999-2006. Between 2006 and 2015, Kellner was the arts in transit manager for METRO’s Houston Light Rail Expansion, and an outside consultant  for many arts organizations.

Kellner stepped into a maelstrom of controversy over Houston artist Ed Wilson and the on again/off again George R. Brown Convention Center commission, and was charged with clarifying rules governing the selection of artists and panelists for civic art projects so that HAA could proceed quickly with a re-consideration of the project, which HAA announced on January 8.

The old policies, posted on HAA’s website were a mess. Details of the new policies have not yet been made public. “Bringing artists and organizations together” is the top item in the list of services Kellner’s consulting firm offers, and in HAA’s case, she’s got her work cut out for her.



Giant Historic Houston Mural Awaits Pending Restoration

DSC_0147The giant faded mural on the 5900 block of Canal Street in Houston is getting a restoration. “The Rebirth of Our Nationality” was painted in 1973 by artist Leo Tanguma and some of his then-university peers on an East End warehouse, and depicts the history of the Chicano movement. It has since chipped and degraded substantially.

Harris County purchased the warehouse in 2012 and now the mural will be restored along with the building, which will be used as headquarters for the Precinct 6 Constable’s office and to store  county records.

The mural restoration is reportedly budgeted for $70,000. Tanguma, now based in Denver, was a trained artist via Texas Southern University and was a student of Mexico’s “Great Four” social muralists. He’s pleased about the planned restoration, though he personally won’t participate in it. He supports the idea of a Houston street artist named Gonzo 247 to oversee the mural’s facelift. The county has not yet made a decision about Gonzo’s participation.