Helfenstein to Leave the Menil for Switzerland

Josef Helfenstein im Foyer der Menil Collection in Houston, Texas.Josef Helfenstein is leaving the Menil!

The Menil Foundation’s President Janet Hobby sent out an email early this morning stating, “At the same moment as I am sending you this message, he is participating in a press conference in Basel, Switzerland, where the local authorities are introducing him as the new director of the Kunstmuseum Basel.”

Helfenstein will remain at the Menil until the end of the year while the museum’s search committee looks for his replacement. After his twelve-year tenure, Helfenstein leaves the Menil Collection with the master plan that he helped initiate now going forward, with its important campus projects led by construction of the Menil Drawing Institute.

Hobby continues her statement, wishing him success in his new endeavor: “Josef has spoken to the Menil’s board and staff of his abiding love for this institution. He has explained that he is willing to say good-bye only because of the unexpected opportunity to return with his family to Switzerland and take up a directorship that he views as the culmination of his career.”

(Photo: Lynn Lane)

Houston Native Alison Weaver to Run Moody Center at Rice University

alison weaver

Alison Weaver has been named the first Executive Director of the new Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University. She will begin on September 1, 2015.

A native Houstonian, Weaver was previously the Guggenheim’s Director of Affiliate Museums (a.k.a. non-New York locations) in Berlin, Bilbao, Venice and Las Vegas. With an MBA from Yale and an MA in art history from Williams (and soon, a PhD from CUNY), she brings to Rice both administrative chops, along with art historical expertise in American and European art since 1945.

The Moody Center is described by Rice as an “interdisciplinary center [that] will provide space for arts education, performances and gallery exhibitions on campus and promote collaborations with Houston’s world-class art museums.” If this sounds like CAST at MIT, the Stanford Arts Institute, or, closer to home, the Mitchell Center at UH, that’s because it probably is Rice’s answer to those spaces, which seek to foster collaborations among different areas of the arts.

The Moody Center’s building has not been without controversy on campus, as students and faculty from the visual and dramatic arts departments complained about their lack of inclusion in the design, going so far as to hold a town hall meeting on the subject last year.

Let’s hope Weaver will usher in a new era for the arts at Rice (my alma mater), which has always had its bright spots, but which has never really been able to get its artistic act together as a university.



Your Artistic Skills Can Get You Out of Jail!

John Mulligan, who served two and a half years in prison with Richard W. Matt, with some of Matt's paintings. Photo by Heather Ainsworth via The New York Times.

John Mulligan, who served two and a half years in prison with Richard W. Matt, with some of Matt’s paintings. Photo by Heather Ainsworth via The New York Times.

After more than three weeks, the search for the two escaped prisoners in northern New York is over. According to The New York Times, David Sweat was discovered and shot yesterday afternoon, and remains in critical condition at the Albany Medical Center. His partner in crime, Richard W. Matt, was shot and killed by a federal agent on Friday. Two days earlier, a second prison employee, Gene Palmer, was arrested for helping the two convicted murderers in their prison escape.

Palmer admits to smuggling in a few tools to the prisoners and allowing them into unauthorized areas, but says he was misled as to the purpose and had no idea of escape plans. So why would a correctional facilities guard risk a decades-long career and possible arrest for a couple of murders? ART!

Before the flathead screwdriver and the needle-nosed pliers, Palmer had also made a few trips to Michael’s, and on his shopping list: paintbrushes and tubes of white zinc and white titanium paint for Mr. Matt, painter extraordinaire (not the van Gogh looking guy; he’s more of a Gauguin type).

NBC, among several major news sources, reports that Palmer was so infatuated with Matt’s artistic skills that he began smuggling in the other contraband in exchange for paintings and drawings. After the prisoners escaped, Palmer burned some of the artworks and buried others under leaves in the woods, some of which were recovered by authorities.

Yes! So who’s gettin’ hitched?


Who in Glasstire territory (that’s Texas, natch) is getting married? Whose existing marriage is now recognized in Texas? Gay or straight, and gettin’ hitched in solidarity or at long last? We’ve seen some things on social media that we’d like to post, but we don’t want to speculate or announce things ‘off the record’… . Who’s attending a ceremony? Who’s an ordained Universal Life minister and can do the hitching?






Houston Performance Artists: Get Really Really Real!

Sophia Narrett, “Something Went Wrong” (2014–15), embroidery thread and fabric, 59 x 35 in (image courtesy Arts+Leisure via Hyperallergic)

Sophia Narrett, “Something Went Wrong” (2014–15), embroidery thread and fabric, 59 x 35 in (image courtesy Arts+Leisure via Hyperallergic)

The above image is from a current exhibition by Sophia Narrett at Arts+Leisure (NYC) entitled This Meant Nothing, a series of embroidered fictional narratives about two women who meet on the set of The Bachelor and fall in love (inspired by the true story of a writer and an actress who fell in love on the set of Orange is the New Black).

There is so much drama in reality shows and, now, Houstonians can join in on all this repellent fun. According to, The Real Housewives of Houston is now casting and looking for “an affluent woman or couple who have always wanted to be part of a TV production.” (The web site asks for women aged 27-49, but elsewhere listed as 27-29.)

Houston performance artists! This is totally begging for some sly intervention!

Patrick Renner’s ‘Funnel Tunnel’ does New Orleans


photo via the Times-Picayune and

“Funnel Tunnel,” the people-pleasing public art installation that writhed along Montrose Boulevard in Houston for 18 months (until early this year) as part of Art League Houston’s Esplanade Project, is making a tour stop in New Orleans.

Its creator Patrick Renner was in the Big Easy recently, along with a construction crew and local volunteers, to install the 7,000 pound wood and steel sculpture on Poydras Street near the corner of S. Claiborne Avenue. It’s been described as an “abstract rainbow dragon.” That works.

The 155 foot-long tunnel came to the city via Sculpture for New Orleans, a non-profit that brings public artworks to the New Orleans to help with its revitalization since the 2005 hurricane; “Funnel Tunnel”‘s residency is paid for with funds from the Helis Foundation. The tunnel was trimmed by about thirty feet to fit the site.

Next stop: Atlanta.


Photo: Patrick Renner

Felony arrest warrant issued for Shepard Fairey


Shepard Fairey last month in Detroit, image via Detroit Free Press

Famous street artist Shepard Fairey (and creator of the iconic Obama “Hope” campaign poster) visited Detroit last month to paint the largest mural in his career — commissioned for the One Campus Martius building — but admitted at the time he’d be doing some unplanned tagging elsewhere in the city. Today the 36th District has issued a felony arrest warrant for the Los Angeles-based Fairey which, according to the Detroit Free Press, will “bring a maximum penalty of five years in jail, plus fines that could run higher than $10,000.”

Detroit police accuse the artist, 45, of causing roughly $9,000 worth of damages and “that the next time he comes back to Detroit, they will arrest him if he doesn’t turn himself in first.”

When Fairey was in Detroit last month he told the Free Press: “I still do stuff on the street without permission. I’ll be doing stuff on the street when I’m in Detroit.” It’s been reported that his distinctive  Andre the Giant face and other images have shown up, in poster form, plastered on some downtown buildings “in Eastern Market and along Jefferson Avenue.”  It’s unclear at this time if he used paint on any of the properties.

It’s possible that Fairey illegally tagged up to 14 locations, though some of the property owners won’t press charges. Fairey has been arrested more than a dozen times in his career.


DFW Area Arts Center Announces New Director

irving-arts-centerThe Irving Arts Center (a Smithsonian affiliate and home to two theaters, four galleries, meeting/classroom/reception/rehearsal facilities, and a sculpture garden) has announced that Todd Eric Hawkins has been named executive director, replacing outgoing 20-year director Richard Huff, reports the Dallas Morning News. Hawkins led the implementation of public arts programming in New York City, where he served as project manager for Public Art for Public Schools since 2008. He also served as co-chair of the Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders Council.

Todd Hawkins

Todd Hawkins

Hawkins will start July 15 and Huff will retire August 1. There will be a public reception/retirement party on July 30, 4-6pm in the IAH’s Carpenter Hall lobby.

UPDATE: Oak Cliff artists welcome help on a spay-and-neuter mural


A rendering of the proposed mural.


UPDATE June 29: The location of this planned mural and the date of its installation have changed. For info go here. (Via Sharon Grigsby at the Dallas Morning News)


After moving to the neighborhood, Dallas artists Teresa Megahan and Joachim West were sad to see so many packs of unclaimed dogs and stray cats roaming Oak Cliff, and decided to do something they hope will help: This weekend, they’ll start painting a large mural on the side of a Bishop Arts building with the logo “Balls are for fetch. Spay and neuter your pets,” and they’re inviting others to join them.

The mural painting party takes place Saturday, June 27 at 7 p.m at 520 West Davis Street, in the parking lot of the Bishop Arts Co-Op (the building’s owner/landlords have approved the project); by then, Megahan and West will have the basic design mapped out on the building’s wall and scaffolding in place, and they say some mural painters have already offered to help. Per the invite, they are looking for any volunteers to help paint; all amateur artists and animal lovers welcome.

This event is open to the public. For more info, please go here.


Houston Artist/Science Nerd Completes Rice Residency With New Installation

barrera_rice2Houston artist Debra Barrera, along with artist Carlos Hernandez, recently completed an understated installation entitled Asymmetric Seekers in Rice University’s Brockman Hall for Physics. Barrera has spent the past year as artist-in-residence at Rice’s School of Physics and Astronomy (How does one get that gig?) and worked with the students and faculty to obtain and research images of science.

barrera_riceBarrera, who refers to the folks at the School of Physics and Astronomy as “rock stars,” says her residency led to a deeper understanding of the connection between artists and scientists. She told the Rice University News, “We are ultimately excited by the same idea: making the impossible possible.”

To view more about this project, commissioned by the Rice Public Art Program, here is a short video. (Video posted by Rice, created by Brandon Martin. Other images via Rice University Public Art Facebook page.)

Are you a Texas artist who needs legal advice?

Your lawyer will probably not look like this. That’s okay!

The Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts will offer a free clinic in Houston on June 30 for Texas-based artists and arts-related non-profits; people can meet one-on-one with volunteer legal professionals who can answer their questions “related to the creative sector.” TALA continues, “Musicians, artists, and representatives of arts nonprofit organizations will be provided up to 30 minutes consultation… . This legal clinic will give participants the opportunity to gain valuable advice on music and art-related issues.”

Note: the clinic is free to artists who make less than $50K annual income, and non-profits with annual gross revenue less than $200K (and less than $500K in total assets).

You have to register to get your spot. Do that here.

The clinic takes place on Tuesday, June 30, from 6:30-8:30 pm at Fresh Arts, 2101 Winter St., Studio 11, Houston, TX 77007

For more info go here.

How Do Local Arts Communities Organize?

HAA’s Jonathon Glus (Photo by Mark Hiebert via OutSmart Magazine)

HAA’s Jonathon Glus

How do local arts communities organize?

In a few weeks, the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) is setting out to answer that question, or at least to see how Houston stacks up to other arts communities. HAA President/CEO Jonathon Glus will moderate a panel of national folks who hold similar positions in their communities:

  • Danielle Brazell General Manager, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
  • Michael Killoren, Local Arts Agencies & Challenge America Director, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Matthew J. Nielson, Deputy Commissioner, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events-Cultural Planning and Operations Division
  • Jodi Ulich, Director of Convention & Cultural Services, City of Sacramento

HAA promises “an in-depth conversation on how other American cities organize themselves through the arts, the form and function of their LAA models [Local Arts Agencies], and trends across the country.”

“A National Conversation: How Local Arts Communities Organize” will take place on Tuesday, July 14, at 2:30pm at the Founders Club, The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. There will be a reception afterwards from 4-5pm. NOTE: This event was originally planned for this week, but has been rescheduled to the new date due to a calendar conflict.

(Photo by Mark Hiebert via OutSmart Magazine.)

Guy Clark collapses in Austin before his Hall of Fame induction

Guy_Clark_BW_Press_04For some music news on your Saturday: Guy Clark was one of five acts inducted to the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame on Thursday night, but instead of enjoying the ceremony at the Moody Theater he spent the night in an Austin hospital. Clark, 73, was taken by ambulance to an area hospital, and according to ACL producer Terry Lickona (via had “apparently had a bad reaction to medication he’s been taking for some recent surgery.”

Guy Clark’s Facebook page was updated (not sure of the poster) last night to read:

I’m sorry this update didn’t come sooner but this is as quick as I could get to it. Many of you have seen the news stories about Guy collapsing at the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame event last night. The trip from Nashville was rough on him and he did indeed get sick and have to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. His Austin doctor was on top of things and they did a battery of tests and kept him overnight. The last I heard he was doing much better and they were releasing him from the hospital. His vitals are good and the MRI showed no stroke or any such event. I have not seen him since he collapsed as I had to fly to Phoenix this morning to visit my mother. Guy’s sisters are with him in Austin, as is his caretaker Joy along with his long time doctor so I know he is in good hands.

It’s a shame that Guy missed the tribute to him. It was lovely. Lyle Lovett sang “Step Inside This House” and “Anyhow I Love You” and presented the award (and, as it turns out, also accepted on Guy’s behalf). Jason Isbell sang “Desperados Waiting For A Train” and “Black Diamond Strings.” I’m sure Guy is disappointed to have missed it.

The other inductees were Loretta Lynn, Flaco Jimenez, the late Townes Van Zandt and Asleep at the Wheel. The list of performers for the evening is impressive, and the night was hosted by Dwight Yoakam.

Godspeed, Guy.

For more info on Guy Clark and the ceremony, go here.


Lawndale announces newest artist residents and you’ve heard of them!

220px-LawndaleArtCenterFacadeLawndale Art Center in Houston has announced the three artists who will participate in the tenth round of its Lawndale Artist Studio Program: Bradly BrownCobra McVey and Anthony Sonnenberg. The three begin their nine-month residency in September and will talk about their work on on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 at 6 p.m. at Lawndale.

Included in the residency is a non-residential studio, and the artists “will have full access to their studios 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each artist will receive a $500 monthly stipend for the duration of the program and a $1500 unrestricted materials allowance.”

These three were selected from a pool of 101 applicants. The jury for this round were Emily Peacock, artist and Lawndale programming committee member; Bob Snead, artist and director of Press Street, New Orleans; and Clint Willour, curator at Galveston Arts Center.

For more info on the program and the artists, please go here.

Happy Juneteenth 2015?

Juneteenth2People all over the country have been holding vigils for the nine people who were killed in the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday, and today (and throughout the weekend) people will be celebrating Juneteenth with parades, picnics, and music. While it’s difficult to reconcile the grief with the celebrations, it seems like a crucial year to show up to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the day Texan slaves were freed.

JuneteenthJuneteenth (then called Emancipation Day) celebrations have been taking place every year since, but it was not until 1979 that a bill was introduced to make it a state holiday (and many other states later followed suit). It was not until last year that a historical marker (photo above) was erected in Galveston on the spot where the original announcement of emancipation was made. And the spellchecker on the computer used to write this post still does not recognize the word “Juneteenth.”

So here are a few links to some of the festivities throughout the state (but check for weather-related updates).

Dallas Juneteenth, also the 1st Annual Black Music Festival
Houston Area Juneteenth Celebrations
Austin: Juneteenth Central Texas
Missouri City Juneteenth Celebration
Fort Worth Juneteenth Freedom Fest
Juneteenth San Antonio
El Paso Juneteenth in the Park
Waco Juneteenth Celebration
Corpus Christi Juneteenth
Beaumont Juneteenth
Lubbock Unified Juneteenth
Galveston Juneteenth Festival

For those who wish to honor the day by looking at a lot of art, the University Museum at Texas Southern University (TSU) will be hosting the opening and awards celebration of the Citywide African American Artists Exhibition this evening from 6-8pm, presented by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in collaboration with the Museum’s Five-A patron group, and the University Museum at TSU.

(Top image: Photo by Billy Smith II/Chronicle staff. Lower image: Martha and Pinkie Yates in a buggy decorated for Juneteenth, Houston Library. Photo via The Ultimate History Project.)

Jesús Moroles Memorial Service Announced for Saturday


Photo via Delilah Montoya and

In the wake of artist Jesús Moroles’ death on June 15:

Visitation to be held Friday, June 19th from 5- 9 p.m. at:

Charlie Marshall Funeral Home
814 E Main Street
Rockport, TX 78382
(361) 729-2451

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, June 20th at 10 a.m. at:

Martha Luigi Auditorium
Rockport – Fulton High School
1803 Omohundro Street
Rockport, TX 78382

“In lieu of flowers, contributions could be made to the charity of your choice or Arco Iris Earth Care Project non-profit 501c3, HC70 Box 17A, Ponca, Arkansas, 72670.”

For more information, please go here.

McNay Director Gives 67-Week Notice

Chiego2William J. Chiego, Director of San Antonio’s McNay Art Museum, has informed the museum’s board of trustees of his intention to step down from the directorship of the McNay on September 30, 2016.

The McNay board will need that time to figure out how to organize a search for its new director, a task with which it has little experience. By the time Chiego retires, he will have served more than 25 years as director, only the second leader of the museum in its 62-year history.

“The timing of this announcement is to ensure that a succession-planning process will be deliberate and seamless until the best qualified candidate is secured and a smooth transition follows,” stated Board President Sarah Harte in a press release. The McNay has appointed a transition committee, which will direct the international search for a successor.

During Chiego’s tenure at the McNay, the collection more than doubled from 9,000 to over 20,000 works of art and the museum’s footprint nearly tripled. Chiego spearheaded a $51 million capital campaign that culminated with the 2008 opening of the Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions.

Chiego Iooks forward to a continued association with the McNay and having more time to spend with his wife and family.

(Photo: Courtesy McNay Art Museum)

DiverseWorks’ Rachel Cook Among Warhol Fellowship Winners


Rachel Cook

Rachel Cook, associate curator of DiverseWorks in Houston, has been named as one of four national recipients of the Spring 2015 curatorial fellowship granted by the Andy Warhol Foundation. The foundation has been granting these fellowships since 2008 with funds of up to $50,000 per curator project, which ” …are designed to support travel, archival research, convening of colleagues, interviews and time to write.”

The fellowship category is Travel and Research, and Cook’s project will entail travel to New York and Africa to research Walker Evans’ photographs of African art and artifacts. In preparation for an exhibition around this research, she’ll also conduct studio visits in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, and Houston, and the project will culminate with discussions, shows and events at the Menil, MFAH, and DiverseWorks.

For more info, go here.


FOOD. ART. HCP Brings Slideluck to Houston!

SlideluckDallas has held two successful Slideluck events; Austin has held seven. Now, the Houston Center for Photography (HCP) is holding the very first Slideluck Houston!

Part slide jam, part pot luck dinner (although both slides and pot lucks are pretty rare these days), the event is presented in cooperation with New York-based Slideluck, a non-profit organization dedicated to building and strengthening communities through the mixture of food and art. Since 2000, Slideluck has shown the work of roughly 10,000 emerging and established artists in over 100 cities worldwide.

Slideluck Houston will take place at Cottonwood (3422 North Shepherd Drive) on Wednesday, July 22, from 7-10pm. Artists are invited to submit their photographic or video works for consideration by Friday, June 26. (Guidelines on submission specifics and entry form may be found on HCP’s website.) The theme of the Houston presentation is “Cruel Summer,” inspired by the Bananarama song of the 1980s.

Jesús Moroles, 1950-2015 (Updated)



Jesús Moroles, Sculptor, 1950-2015.

Jesús Bautista Moroles died yesterday in a car accident north of Austin, near Georgetown. The Rockport Pilot reports that the artist returned to Rockport from an installation in Dallas in order to report for jury duty on Monday, then left in the evening, headed towards Oklahoma to begin work on his next commissioned piece. As he was traveling on IH35, Moroles was involved in the deadly car accident.

Born in Corpus Christi in 1950, Moroles was an internationally renowned sculptor and National Medal of Arts honoree whose work has been featured in museums and institutions around the world, including the White House and the Smithsonian Institute. In 1978, he received his BFA at the University of North Texas, Denton, after which he served as apprentice to sculptor Luis Jiménez and then spent a year working in Pietrasanta, Italy.

In 1981, Moroles purchased his first large diamond saw, which began his long-term commitment to create a studio in Rockport. By 1983, the Moroles studio became a family effort involving his parents Jose and Maria, his brother, Hilario, his sister, Suzanna, and brother-in-law, Kurt Kangas. In 1987, Moroles completed his most visible work, “Lapstrake,” a 64-ton, 22-foot-tall sculpture located across the street from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His largest single work is the 1991 site sculpture, the “Houston Police Officers Memorial.” There are also several sculptures by Moroles in his hometown in the sculpture garden at the Rockport Center for the Arts.