Menil Breaks Ground for New Drawing Center

At a ceremony on Saturday morning, March 28, the Menil collection formally began work on a new $40 million  freestanding building for the Menil Drawing Institute.

A plan for a park-like extension of the Menil Campus towards Richmond Ave. was outlined amid the usual congratulatory banter. The new building will link the main Menil building, the Twombly Pavillion and Richmond Hall with walking paths. The plan also extends West Main St., which used to dead-end into the old Richmont Square apartment complex, which has been torn down to make way for the Menil expansion.

The 30,000-square-foot, $40 million MDI building was designed by the Los Angeles architects Johnston Marklee, and principals Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee were in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony, along with Mayor Annise Parker,  the Menil brass, and assorted Houston culture mavens.

The new construction for the MDI building is scheduled to be finished in mid-2017.

menil drawing plan


Art Bus Parks in Midtown Today: Dormalou Project Visits Renner Book Launch

suberHouston artist Chasity Porter’s art-space-in-a-bus will be coming to Gallery Jatad in midtown Houston this weekend bearing works by Houston artist Anthony Suber, in conjunction with Patrick Renner’s artist talk and book signing. Suber’s project, titled Archaic Habitat, will be the gallery’s first whole-bus installation.

Dormalou Project, as the bus and its roving offerings of emerging artists and community-based art projects are called, debuted in the fall of 2014, and has since appeared outside Independence Art Studios, Art Crawl, and the Next Wall Gallery, and various outdoor events. Advertising “No Themes, Jut Fun!”, the bus is also available for hire to visit schools, kids parties, and pretty much anywhere there’s a need for a pop-up temporary art studio. Upcoming appearances/exhibitions include Write On!, a group show of artists artists who combine visual and literary works on May 16 at Hardy and Nance Studios in Houston, and again on May 30, at Art Market on Market, Galveston, during Galveston Artwalk.


Dormalou Project will be outside Gallery Jatad,  1517 Blodgett St., Houston on Saturday, March 28 from 2-6 pm.

Someone Knocked Over a Cy Twombly Sculpture in Houston

toppled TwomblyHouston already knows this, so this is for the rest of the art-loving, trainspotting Texans that keep tabs on such things: Last Sunday a museum goer at the Menil Collection backed into a Cy Twombly sculpture and knocked it over. Everyone knows that sculpture is something you bump into when you back up to look at a painting. (Ad Reinhardt, comedian.)

John Hovig took the above photo and Robert Boyd posted it on his blog The Great God Pan is Dead.

It was, by all accounts, an accident. No one was hurt. The 1954 untitled piece is now with the museum’s conservation team. I can’t tell exactly from the photo and title but I believe it’s this one:2

And here is a nice picture of Dominique de Menil and Twombly in 1995.

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Report: Arts and Cultural Plan Town Hall Meeting

TownHall2Houston’s Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs held its Arts and Cultural Plan Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday evening to a pretty packed house at the basketball court-sized Metropolitan Multi-Service Center. It was presented in the standard format of introductions, PowerPoint presentations, a facilitator cracking jokes to try and make everyone feel comfortable, free tiny water bottles and snacks, handouts and breakout sessions.

In the development stage of creating a new Arts and Cultural Plan for the city, the meeting was held to get input from the public. (They also have an interactive website for concerned citizens to add their two cents.)

The City’s consulting team and advisory committee had already gathered perceptions and thoughts from “community stakeholders” and organized them into six overall themes. In the breakout sessions, each table was asked to address them. The half hour allotted for discussion was barely enough to allow everyone to ramble on and off topic about:

Theme 1: Equity in the distribution of City arts grants
Theme 2: Sustainability of Houston’s mid-tier organizations
Theme 3: Access to arts programs and services in neighborhoods
Theme 4: Development of cultural and support facilities
Theme 5: Updating the civics arts program
Theme 6: Arts programs structure


Tony Diaz and HAA’s Jonathon Glus

Then, volunteers from various tables were asked to stand up and report what their group came up with on a particular theme. Most tables probably had similar thoughts about each theme, although Tony Diaz of Nuestra Palabra presented an interesting idea (Theme 3) of assigning a certain amount of grants to each City Council member to bring in more neighborhoods and to raise the awareness of Council members about arts activity in their districts.

The room was filled with people from the visual and performing arts, as well as the general public. Those who have been following the ruckus of the past number of months aimed at the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) were sure to catch some of the coded references to it. Others must have been quite confused when Tracey Conwell stood up to present on Theme 5 and was interrupted by an annoyed table-mate who felt the need to inform the room that Conwell was making everything out to be pro-HAA versus anti-HAA. This is the same Conwell, “attorney, an artist, and an advocate for the arts,” who made allegations of misconduct against Brad Bucher, HAA’s Civic Art Committee Chair, to the City Council. (Read Bill Davenport’s report of that meeting here.) The situation was made more uncomfortable by the fact that Sara Kellner, who replaced Matthew Lennon after he resigned in protest as HAA’s Director of Civic Art + Design, was sitting at the same table. But, when asked after the meeting ended, Kellner reported no enmity during her table’s 30-minute discussion period.

Mayor Parker has directed that the plan be finished before she leaves office at the end of 2015.



Christine West Resigns from Lawndale

christine-west-lawndale-art-center-my-top-5After eight years as Executive Director at Lawndale Art Center in Houston, Christine West has announced her resignation, effective May 8. West says she is leaving “to pursue independent projects and other opportunities.”

West started in the position at Lawndale in 2007, and during her tenure shepherded in key initiatives such as the Artist Studio Program and the Mural Project.  West also served on the board of directors of the Texas Association of Museusm, Glasstire, and the Houston Museum District Association.

The current Chair of Lawndale’s board of Directors, Nicole Romano, writes: “We have been incredibly lucky to have Christine lead Lawndale for the last eight years. She leaves Lawndale in very capable hands with a dedicated Board and staff and together we are making plans for a smooth transition.” The Board of Directors will be putting together a search committee for a new director and will appoint an as-yet-unnamed interim director.




Free Yard Art Activism in Houston!


Some Houston folks have teamed up to create an art activist/environmental awareness project that they hope will take over the city. In a polite, generous way. Fossilized in Houston is offering hundreds lawn signs and thousands of posters and stickers to Houstonians for free. The group is commissioning 20 local artists to contribute images of species endangered by climate change. Each week, from March through July 2015, a new species will make its appearance. So far, they have released images created by Natasha Bowdoin, Jules Buck Jones, Josh Bernstein, and JooYoung Choi.

yardsignThe masterminds behind Fossilized in Houston are Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences at Rice University; Lina Dib, a 2014-15 Lawndale Art Center studio artist in residence and an affiliate artist with the Topological Media Lab at Concordia University; and Houston artist/teacher/ laugh yoga guru Tony Day. “Our goal is to contribute to an enhanced intellectual and emotional awareness about climate change and the ongoing mass extinction,” the group states, “and hopefully push decision-makers in energy companies, city planners and individual citizens to reconsider collectively destructive yet normative behaviors.”

To request your free lawn sign, window poster or stickers, go here.

(Top image: African wild dog, by Natasha Bowdoin. Lower image via Facebook.)

Hunting Art Prize Posts a Big Online Preview of the Finalists’ Work



Nola Parker, “Pink House”

The Hunting Art Prize, the annual Texas-wide contemporary art competition that awards $50,000 to the winning artist, is now in its 35th year. Last month the open-call competition announced the 110 finalists who’ve made it into the final round of judging and are up for the grand prize (some familiar names and some newbies), and in the last few days the Prize has loaded up its newest Facebook post with pics of work by these artists, which is quite efficient. If you click on each image it’ll give you the name of the artist and the title of the piece.

(Eagle-eyed Houstonian Robert Boyd has posted an entertaining assessment of the Prize and this 2015 finalists preview on his blog, The Great God Pan is Dead. Read that here.)

The jurors for this year’s prize are Adam Justice, Curator of Art at the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, Florida; Amy Moorefield, Deputy Director of Exhibitions at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia; and Julien Robson, Curator of the Shands Collection in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Hunting Art Prize winner will be announced at the May 2 gala in Houston.



SMU’s School of the Arts and Museum Receive $45M from Meadows Foundation

SMUMeadows1The Meadows Foundation, Inc. has pledged a whopping $45 million to SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and the Meadows Museum, the largest single gift in SMU history. $20 million is going to the School of the Arts and $25 million is being given to the Museum. The “Prado on the Prairie,” which has one of the most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The Meadows Foundation was established in 1948 by Dallas businessman Algur H. Meadows and his wife Virginia. In 1962, Algur Meadows donated funds to establish a museum at SMU to house his private collection of Spanish art, which opened to the public in 1965.

Since its inception, the Foundation has disbursed more than $700 million in grants and direct charitable expenditures to more than 7,000 Texas institutions and agencies. But Linda Perryman Evans, president and CEO of the Meadows Foundation and great-niece of Algur Meadows, sums up the importance of the gift: “This is a huge, big deal,” she told The Dallas Morning News. “This is the biggest gift we’ve ever made.”

(Image via SMU.)

Michael Craig-Martin Invades All of Dallas


A young Craig-Martin standing beneath his seminal piece, An Oak Tree, circa 1973

Michael Craig-Martin, artist/former Goldsmith’s professor and so-called godfather of the YBAs, is on his way to Dallas for his big takeover of ten different venues. That’s hyperbolic, of course, but barely: his work will be on display across a number of sites in conjunction with his being guest of honor at MTV’s RE:DEFINE auction gala (which takes place April 10), co-hosted by the Goss-Michael Foundation and the Dallas Contemporary (and MTV).

Here’s a list of places around town where you can see Craig-Martin’s work (painting, prints, sculpture) starting in early April and in many cases running through summer: Goss-Michael, the Contemporary, the Nasher, DMA, the Joule Hotel, Northpark Center, SMU, the Meyerson, the restaurant le Bilbouquet, and the downtown branch of the Dallas Public Library (yes!).

RE:DEFINE is in its fourth year in Dallas; proceeds from the auction go to HIV/AIDs research and the Dallas Contemporary.



Austin: It’s Okay Mountain Month!

OK_grouppicAustin’s Okay Mountain, the nine-member artist collective, is about to have a busy few weeks. The Blanton Museum of Art announced the acquisition of Roadside Attractions, a 2012 installation by Okay Mountain, which will go on view at the museum beginning tomorrow. Also, the Blanton has commissioned the collective to create an outdoor mural on March 29-30 at the Frank Public Art Wall (4th Street and Colorado in downtown Austin). The public is invited to watch them install the mural, which will remain on view throughout April. There will be an opening reception for the mural at Frank on April 15 from 6-9pm.

Roadside Attractions. Viewers are invited to take the goofy brochures, which can be seen here.

Roadside Attractions. Viewers are invited to take the goofy brochures, which can be seen here.

On April 4 at 2pm, the Blanton will host a lecture with all nine current members of Okay Mountain. Formed in 2006 and based in Austin, the members are scattered around a number of cities. This lecture will mark the first time that the entire group has ever spoken together in Austin.

From One Warehouse to Another: Houston Makerspace Moving

makerspace sawAfter a year in its Hutcheson St. warehouse, Houston Makerspace has announced it will be moving to a new building at 3605 Texas Street as of May 1st. It’s not such a big move: the spaces are three blocks from one another in Houston’s burgeoning East End, and about 50 yards from the Coffee Plant stop on the soon-to-be-opened MetroRail green line.

Hard on the heels of the move comes gentrification: the old building’s owners plan a teardown to make way for townhomes.

Saturday May 16th there will be a grand re-opening and one year anniversary party at the new space.

Preview of ArtPrize’s Public Appeal Comes to the Dallas Contemporary in April


Anila Quayaam Agha’s prize-winning “Intersections”

Dallasites looking for clues of what the next year’s ArtPrize is all about might want to go check out an installation opening April 9 at the Dallas Contemporary. Anila Quayaam Agha’s large-scale Intersections won both major categories of the high-profile, Grand Rapids-based art competition (one category is voted on by the public, one is juried), and Dallas will debut its own iteration of the ArtPrize next year– the first city outside of Grand Rapids to franchise the competition.

The Pakastani-born, Indianapolis-based Agha studied Fiber Arts at UNT. She won $300,000 for Intersections in Grand Rapids last year; around 400,000 people voted in the competition. The Contemporary’s new senior curator Justine Ludwig, who specializes in South Asian contemporary art, was instrumental in bringing the piece here. The installation will open at the Contemporary alongside two other exhibitions: David Salle and Nate Lowman.

Bastrop Boosters Get into Sculpture: Stroll Set for Sunday

Bastrop art

The city of Bastrop’s Art in Public Places Task Force has scheduled the town’s first Sculpture Stroll for 1 pm Sunday March 22.

Strollers begin at City Hall at 1311 Chestnut St. following a free map, and tour works by  Benjamin McVey of San Antonio, Cat Quintanilla of Sunset Valley, Dan Pogue of Marble Falls, Jennifer Chenoweth of Austin, Julia Ousley of Arlington,  Peter Mangan of Blanco, Tom Tischler of Perth, Australia, Warren Cullar of Austin, whose works will be on display around the city’s historic downtown for a year.

It’s a contest, too: pieces were selected from an open call for entries last summer, and the top three sculptures will be awarded $1500, $1000, and $500 prizes at a reception at 3pm at the First United Methodist Church, 1201 Main St.

This is the latest in a series of public artification projects by BAIPP, and follows a popular initiative that hired local artists to paint transformer boxes around town.

Marfa Gets A New Mural by Musician/Artist Grouper


photo via

The massive SXSW in Austin has led to a number of smaller overspill festivals in other Texas cities eager to take advantage of so many music acts passing through, and last weekend Marfa enjoyed its second annual Marfa Myths festival, organized by New York record label Mexican Summer and Ballroom Marfa. Globe-trotting musician/artist Grouper was one of the dozen or so acts in the international festival lineup and has stayed on in Marfa to create an outdoor mural on a wall in the Lumberyard.

Grouper (Liz Harris), got to know Marfa during a music residency there in 2010, and splits her time between making music and making art. She tells blouinartinfo that this mural is ” mainly improvised;” it’s a long wall of blocks of lines set in a diagonal weave pattern, painted in black and white. The plan is for the mural to be semi-permanent. To read more about her process and inspiration, go here.


ISIS: Leave the Art Alone!

For generations, Italians tolerated the Sicilian Mafia as a fact of life, even as horrible crimes and murders were committed. But, in 1993, a car bomb went off next to Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, damaging and destroying some serious artwork. Suddenly, Italians thought that the Mafia had gone too far.

Mosaic-the-Bardo-Museum-Tunis-Tunisia-Artist-Nick-BoardIn the past few weeks, videos have been released showing ISIS (or ISOL, or the Islamic State) destroying sculptures in Middle Eastern museums. Now, authorities have arrested nine people in connection with a gun attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunis that killed 22 people and two alleged attackers, a spokeswoman for the Tunisian presidential office told ABC News.

In New York overnight, extra police were assigned to the city’s most popular museums in a direct response to the attack at the museum in Tunisia.

Most people, artists and art lovers included, tend to think that art is removed from the realities of the political world. But it’s often the case that, when the real world disrupts art and culture, people finally pay attention. Maybe art really does have the power to disrupt the more awful realities of the world.

Big Medium Announces Monster List for West Austin Studio Tour 2015

unnamedBig Medium, the Austin non-profit responsible for the Texas Biennial as well as the annual East Austin Studio Tour and West Austin Studio Tour (among other efforts), has just announced the participating studios and venues in this year’s West Austin Studio Tour. It is huge. For a list of this 4th iteration of the ever-growing event, go here.

To brush up, the West Austin Studio Tour, like the older East version, takes place over two weekends– this year it’s May 9-10 and 16-17. It’s self-guided and gives people an opportunity to wander in and out of hundreds of artist and artisan studios and other art venues and non-profits. Artists and art professionals chat with visitors about their work and processes. The studio tour is free; there is event programming over the course of the weekends and some events charge admission. In advance of the tour on April 30, Big Medium will hold a fundraising event called Due West to raise funds for the tour catalog and special West group exhibition. For all pertinent info, please go here.



In Houston, It’s All About Drawing

Drawing Symposium and Panel Discussion (MAR 20)This Friday, the Rice Media Center will host On Drawing: Symposium and Panel Discussion, presentations and discussions about drawing with Claire Gilman, Curator at The Drawing Center in New York; Michelle White, Curator at the Menil Collection (and, as Glasstire reported yesterday, one of the “25 Women Curators Shaking Things Up” according to Artnet’s new list); and Los Angeles-based artist Robyn O’Neil (and former Kingwood resident, winner of the 2009 Hunting Art Prize).

For those who love the simple process of drawing, this group definitely shares that passion. Presentations begin at 11am and lunch will be provided afterwards.

The panel discussion should get Houston all geared up for groundbreaking celebration for the Menil Collection’s new Drawing Institute, which will take place on the following Friday morning.

Three (Women) Texas-Based Curators Make a New Artnet List


Michelle White of the Menil (photo: Eric Hester)

Whatever one thinks of Top-Whatever lists and segregating women from men for the sake of online clicks, we are pleased to see two Houstonians and one Austinite on Artnet’s new list of “25 Women Curators Shaking Things Up” (we interpret this as a.k.a. “25 women curators under 50,” and that’s fine).

Rachel Cook of DiverseWorks (sporting the liveliest pic) and Michelle White of the Menil Collection are included, as is Heather Pesanti from the Contemporary Austin. The list is a very international one; we’re happy to see Texas so well-represented on such a short list. Nice work, curators!

$70K El Paso Public Sculpture Disappears


Installation photo via Facebook, posted March 3.

A twenty-foot sculpture, entitled Uplift, commissioned by the city for a new roundabout in a West El Paso reconstruction project, has been removed before the completion of its installation. City officials told The El Paso Times that it was because “it was not built as planned.”

Created by artist Margarita Cabrera, with the help of Mexican children who have survived the violence in Juárez, the sculpture was meant to represent a flock of 600 birds taking flight to promote peace and unity on both sides of the border.

A local resident told KVIA News that he saw the sculpture being installed, but that it left as quickly as it came. Both The El Paso Times and KVIA News report that they received no comment from the artist and that public officials were vague about the “inconsistencies” found in the project. “We just want to ensure quality work and something that’s gonna stand the test of time,” El Paso Quality of Life Managing Director Bryan Crowe said. “We had some concerns with the fabrication so we’re gonna be taking those up with the artist.”

Below is a video of Cabrera explaining the original project:

Fort Worth Gets its Art On; Spring Gallery Night is March 28

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Nancy Lamb’s work will be up at Artspace 111.

The Fort Worth Art Dealers Association (FWADA) is preparing for its annual Spring Gallery Night set for Saturday, March 28; this year the 20 host galleries and non-profits will be joined by 13 “Friends of FWADA” venues and nine restaurants as showplaces for artwork.

Like many organized gallery walks in other cities, this one is city-wide (it actually extends to Haltom City, Bedford, and Arlington) and all the venues are open until at least 9 p.m. to host the wandering crowds. Usual suspects include the major museums in the Cultural District, TCU’s two galleries, and stalwarts like William Campbell Contemporary Art and Artspace 111. The Fort Worth Art Collective will have a pop-up for the third consecutive year; the Botanical Research Institute of Texas is participating this year as is the AIA FW Center for Architecture. The event is free (generally speaking) and open to all comers. For more info and a download of this year’s program and map, go here.