Next Weekend: Art Tour in Oak Cliff!

11244896_10153295094449592_5389591988461506208_nDFW: Here’s a great way to kick off your summer.

An annual neighborhood art studio tour in Oak Cliff called the Visual Speedbump Art Tour started in 2000, and the 2015 tour is Saturday, May 30! There are 30-plus artists and art spaces opening up for the public.

Visual Speedbump is a self-guided, open-house style tour that runs from noon to 6 p.m. It’s free, and there are printed maps at each stop. Included this year are Chuck and George, Kim Cadmus Owens and Lily Smith-Kirkley, and the Safe Room at Texas Theater.

“Come out and see artists in their natural habitat… .”  Why yes, we will.

Saturday, May 30. Go here and here for details on the participants and printable maps.

San Anto, the San Antonio Arts Non-Profit, Announces New Director

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 5.58.11 PMSan Anto Cultural Arts, a San Antonio-based non-profit arts outfit that gives support to artists and creative people of all socio-economic backgrounds, has just announced its appointment of a new executive director, Pablo Miguel Martínez.

San Anto, established in 1993, is known for its public arts and education art programs, its youth outreach and mentorship programs, and its inclusive M.O. around building skill sets for young people around the arts.

San Anto’s board of directors writes this about Mr. Martínez:

Mr. Martínez is a San Antonio native who previously held senior management positions at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, the New York State Council on the Arts, and Meet the Composer, where he developed and implemented a large-scale international artist-exchange initiative. Most recently he has held teaching positions at Our Lady of the Lake University, Lone Star College, and the University of Louisville. A published poet and essayist, his work has appeared in various literary journals and newspapers. His collection of poems, Brazos, Carry Me (Kórima Press) received the 2013 PEN Southwest Award for Poetry. Martínez’s poetry chapbook, Cuent@, will be published by Finishing Line Press later this year. Martinez will begin on June 9, 2015.

For more info, go here and here.





OPINION: If Abramović Had Any Cred at All, It’s Totally Gone Now

Jay-Z and Marina Abramovic. Photo:, from YouTube video

Jay-Z and Marina Abramovic. Photo:, from YouTube video

(Disclaimer: This is not really news, but a personal reaction to current art news. After this post, I will return to the usual semi-objective news.)

Performance art, to me, is like poetry—when it’s good, I adore it, and think that nothing else could have ever communicated those very specific thoughts, those intense longings and anger, those confusing and often simple emotions, so precisely. But I also hold the belief that the majority of performance art, like most poetry, just plain sucks. Usually, it just prompts me to figure out the most polite and fastest exit strategy.

So I don’t hate all performance art. But I have to say, Marina Abromović has been aggravating me big time for a while now. This week, though, the “grandmother of performance art” didn’t just lose me—she pissed me off.

In her interview with Spike Art Magazine published the other day, she whined that she was “disappointed” with rapper/producer Jay Z, husband of Houston’s beloved mega-star Beyoncé, about the video “Picasso Baby,” stating, “I am very pissed by this, since he adapted my work only under one condition: that he would help my institute. Which he didn’t.” Apparently, she felt that Jay Z fell through on his promise to make a big donation to the new Marina Abramović Institute.

Marina is very sensitive and was really, really hurt, adding, “I will never do it again, that I can say. Never. I was really naive in this kind of world. It was really new to me, and I had no idea that this would happen. It’s so cruel, it’s incredible. I will stay away from it for sure.”

A few thoughts:

Even if the Jay Z video was inspired by Abramović’s performance of “The Artist is Present” at the Museum of Modern Art, the dancing, laughing, and dorkiness (of Jay Z’s performance at Chelsea’s Pace Gallery in July) is simply more joyous than the uncomfortable, arduous, and occasional weepiness (of Abramović’s performance at MoMA). I already know I’m dork and I sometimes weep about it, but I happen to think that dancing and laughing are very profound activities.

Really, Marina? Jay Z was riding the Abramović fame train? IT’S JAY-Z! What kind of insular art world are you living in???

Speaking of borrowing (very obvious) art ideas—whatever happened with artist and sometimes-Houstonian Mary Ellen Carroll’s claim that you stole her idea of doing “nothing” in the gallery? Did you make a large donation to the MEC Institute?

Artnet News reported that “Picasso Baby” video producer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn (of Salon 94) holds a receipt from the Institute for a substantial donation from Jay Z. Yesterday, after the Abromović interview went semi-viral, the Institute issued a statement: “Marina Abromović was not informed of Shawn “JAY Z” Carter’s donation from two years ago when she did an interview with Spike Magazine in Brazil. We are sincerely sorry to both to Marina Abramović and Shawn “JAY Z” Carter for this, and since we have taken appropriate actions to reconcile this matter.”

The histrionic interview was published within hours after activist/author/filmmaker dream hampton (lower case intentional) leaked, through a series of tweets, that Jay Z and Beyoncé had donated tens of thousands of dollars to post bail for protesters in Ferguson and Baltimore. hampton wrote on Sunday, “I’m going to tweet this and I don’t care if Jay gets mad,” and then, “When we needed money for bail for Baltimore protesters, I hit Jay up, as I had for Ferguson, wired tens of thousands in mins.” The tweets were quickly taken down, probably at the behest of J&B, who wanted to remain anonymous. (And, according to the New York Times, Jay Z was most likely in on the sneaking in of the “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts into the December Nets’ basketball game. And then there’s the Shawn Carter Foundation, which helps tons of socio-economically disadvantaged go to college.) So, I must state again: What kind of insular art world are you living in???

Although J&B are serious contemporary art collectors, I initially thought the “Picasso Baby” video was a bit ridiculous—another pop star wanting to be “a serious artist” (à la Miley, Gaga, Franco, etc., etc., etc.). But, in light of this recent reaction, I’m beginning to think Jay Z might be a performance art genius by allowing a serious artist such as Marina Abromović to make an ass out of herself. And, we won’t even talk about making room for critic Jerry Saltz’s star-smitten reaction to the event. Oh, yes we will:

I, too, am an older, hippy, wispy-haired artist lady looking to make sincere connections. But I didn’t invent emotionally intense staring, nor did I patent it. (But I’m pretty good at it.)

Two Things You Should Know About 500X Right Now: New Open Show and Project Space Rentals


500X, the storied building and long-running artist co-op in Dallas, has released two intriguing bits of information.

1) They are hosting something called Project Space Rentals, which is sort of like a mini-residency, and means that artists can make a proposal in a bid to get studio space in the building to make work and then exhibit it. The charge is $200 for a month. Your opening would correspond with openings in the main gallery space. Via 500X: “You can drop off proposals at the gallery on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 or mail to 500X Gallery 500 Exposition Avenue Dallas, TX 75226 214-828-1111.”

2) 500X is hosting an open show this summer called, appropriately, Hot and Sweaty. This is truly an open show; no jury, no curating. If you have work that is no bigger than 48 inches in any dimension, it’s ready to hang, and you can pay the $10 entry fee for each entered work, you’re in. Drop off is June 6 and 7 between 2 and 5 p.m., and expect a salon-style hang. Limit six works per artist.

Also, via 500X:

“500X staff will be on hand to assist in placing and hanging work. All work must have adequate hanging hardware, wire and/or D-rings. Works that are not fit for display will not be accepted. Pedestals are available first-come first-serve basis.
All media is accepted, however, video/sound/electronic works must have all equipment provided by the artist. 500X will take a 40% commission on all sales. All participating artist must sign the contract stipulating the full terms of exhibition in gallery.
Show Runs June 13th – June 28th
Opening Reception: June 13th 7-10pm
Pick up: June 28th 5-7pm; June 29th 6-8pm
Works not picked up by June 29th will be discarded.”

DiverseWorks Signs Up for Fair Pay to Artists

norma_raeWorking Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) has announced that five more arts organizations are choosing to become W.A.G.E. Certified, including Houston’s DiverseWorks. W.A.G.E. is a New York-based activist organization whose advocacy is focused on regulating the payment of artist fees by nonprofit art institutions and establishing a sustainable model for best practices between artists and the institutions that contract their labor.

W.A.G.E. was formed in the spring of 2008 with the writing of the “wo/manifesto.” Like any decent manifesto, this one is written in all caps. It makes a number of statements, beginning with, “W.A.G.E. (WORKING ARTISTS AND THE GREATER ECONOMY) WORKS TO DRAW ATTENTION TO ECONOMIC INEQUALITIES THAT EXIST IN THE ARTS, AND TO RESOLVE THEM,” and ending with, “W.A.G.E. DEMANDS PAYMENT FOR MAKING THE WORLD MORE INTERESTING.”

These five new arts organizations brings W.A.G.E.’s total to ten (mostly from NY and LA), including Art League Houston (go Houston!), which have been certified or are seeking certification. The list of individual artists and independent curators who have joined the coalition, though, is long and impressive. To add your name, go here.

New S.A. Galleries: A FitzGibbons Family Gathering

Photo By William Luther/San Antonio Express-News

Photo By William Luther/San Antonio Express-News

The South Flores Arts District will soon have two new galleries, both in the Lone Star Studios building, reports the San Antonio Express-News. Bill FitzGibbons, artist and former director of the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, will open Dock Space, which will debut during June’s Second Saturday with an exhibition of sculptor Susan Budge. His son, Sean FitzGibbons, is set to open Pocket Space during July’s Second Saturday.

The two galleries join the Freight Gallery & Studios, which also opened within the same compound earlier this month.

Progress! Looks Like Museum Tower Might Take Care of its Own Glare

Joleen-ChambersAfter Museum Tower in Dallas sprang up three years ago with its accompanying blinding glare– which proved detrimental to its neighboring Nasher Sculpture Center’s whole reason for being– an internationally watched feud kicked in around which party (Tower or Nasher) would be responsible for addressing the relentless burn. (Just typing this sentence takes me back into a kind of fugue state of disbelief.) But the stubborn head of the fund that developed the Tower was ousted from position last summer in a storm of controversy around his overall longterm handling of the fund, and in the meantime the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System, which still owns the building, has been exploring the idea of selling the building and also getting more serious about finding ways to reduce or end the glare on the Tower’s side.

There are might be several options on the table, and at least one of them is such new technology that more info is needed before moving ahead. But the takeaway is that the Museum Tower owners are willing to take responsibility for doing something–something–to meaningfully de-glare its glassy facade, and that it’s no longer putting the onus on the Nasher to change the design of its spectacular ocular roof or the design of Nasher’s landscaped outdoor sculpture garden.

If the conversation continues in this direction, this is progress.

For more info, go here and here.




Texas Tech to Offer Degree in ADHD Nerd Art!

Rauschenberg and Klüver working on Oracle, 1965, via

Rauschenberg and Klüver working on Oracle, 1965, via

Above is a photo of artist Robert Rauschenberg and engineer Billy Klüver working on Oracle (1965). Klüver explained the origins of the artwork: “Bob Rauschenberg… had asked me to collaborate on a project with him. He wanted to build an interactive environment, where the temperature, sound, smell, lights etc. would change as you moved through it.” Two years later, the two would help co-found Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), to develop collaborations between artists and engineers.

Fifty years later, Texas Tech University College of Visual & Performing Arts (CVPA) has announced that it’s catching up to these guys. The newly created Interdisciplinary Design, Arts & Technology (IDAT) track is a liberal arts degree that features specialized training in the arts with an orientation toward technology and design. The Texas Tech press release states that it “may be of particular interest to students preparing for a career combining or integrating such fields as art direction, game design, event design, interactive and convergent media, animation, app design, song writing, sound design for time-based media and concept art.”


Galveston Arts Center receives $1M to finish restoration of historic Strand building

galveston8Nearly seven years after being devastated by Hurricane Ike, the Galveston Arts Center has received a grant for $1 million from the Moody Foundation to complete the restoration of their original home in the 1878 National Bank Building on the Strand.  This grant will enable them to complete the renovation of the downstairs and upstairs. They plan to move back into the building this September, with their inaugural exhibition opening in October. Their exhibition space will be increased threefold, and they will also have a studio/classroom for more on-site educational programs.

For photographs from a 2012 visit with curator Clint Willour and then-Executive Director Alex Irvine, click here. Congratulations to Clint, Alex, current ED Jennifer Justice, and everyone else who has worked to restore the wonderful old GAC building. It will be good to have it back.

Why Would an Entire MFA Class Quit School in Protest?

There’s been a lot of discussion around this in the past couple of days, of course, but to get a better idea of the big picture, please read Carolina A Miranda’s piece in the LA Times.

It’s impossible to grasp a story like this and not consider the implications for MFA programs here and across the country, and the state of and expectations for advanced art degrees today. This particular story is new, but then not really new to those of us who’ve had intimate knowledge of the academic wranglings, funding decisions, faculty shake-ups and insider politics at universities with art programs.


Bill Steffy, 1933-2015


Betty Moody and Bill Steffy in 2013.

Bill Steffy (William George Steffy), beloved artist and mainstay of the Houston art scene, died this morning. He was 82.

Steffy was born in Moline, Illinois, in 1933. He studied at Arizona State University and the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, before settling in Houston in the late 1960s. Known primarily as a silversmith, his jewelry could be seen adorning many Houstonians, including his wife of many years, the gallerist Betty Moody, and his daughter Lee Steffy. One of his most remarkable pieces is a life-sized skull cast in solid silver.

The Moody Gallery is closed in remembrance of him until May 19.

A celebration of his life is being planned and we will update this information as we receive it.



Fox News Censors the Boobs in Picasso’s Cubist Painting

While reporting on the record-breaking Christie’s auction sale of Picasso’s “The Women of Algiers” ($179 million), Fox News evidently decided that highly abstracted boobs and crotchal regions of the women depicted in the 60-year-old masterpiece were too indecent for their highly educated viewers. So they blurred them out and also covered them with a title banner.

Let’s let this sink in. Picasso. 1955. Painting. Abstract. Cubism. Women’s bodies.

Way to be Fox News, Fox News. We’d expect nothing less of you, and thank you for contributing to our cultural apocalypse.


Where Does Houston’s Future Mayor Stand on Issues of Arts and Culture?

Photo by Christina Uticone via Houston Press

Photo by Christina Uticone via Houston Press

Mayor Annise Parker wants to get Houston’s Arts and Cultural Plan in order before she leaves office. The City has hired consultants, held a number of public meetings, and is getting online thoughts on its interactive website. Now, the mayoral candidates who want to replace Parker are going to weigh in on the arts.

The race is already pretty crowded; it seems to be currently at seven candidates, although the Houston Chronicle reports that another half dozen may throw their names in. Now, Houston gets to attend yet another meeting when the Asia Society Texas hosts the candidates to speak at “The Mayoral Forum on Arts & Culture” on June 3rd at 6:30pm, with a reception at 5:30pm.

So, keep your eyes peeled for the final results of Mayor’s Arts and Cultural Plan but, after all the research the City has done on the issue, don’t expect the upcoming candidates to say anything groundbreaking—except for the crazies, which is usually entertaining, at the least.

Calling All Artists! All-Night Public Art Event Wants Your Art!

3_Search_Blueprints-and-Perspectives_photo-by-Mark-Ford-Photography_web1-563x800The established Aurora Festival might be Dallas-based (not to be confused with Houston’s Aurora Picture Show), but you don’t have to live in DFW to be featured.

The big multi-media festival, which specializes in projecting light, video and sound across the downtown Dallas Arts District and Klyde Warren Park for one night every two years, is gearing up for its 2015 iteration, which takes place in October. Right now there’s an open call for artists to submit proposals.

Aurora likes to mix up local, regional, and international artists; feel free to submit something if your art has a sound, video, internet, light, digital/mobile platform or performance component. This is a truly varied and fluid affair. There is no submission fee.

Via Aurora: “Visitors are offered the unparalleled opportunity to see their familiar urban environment converted into an interactive site for some of the world’s most innovative contemporary art. Aurora’s aim is to liberate art from space and disciplinary confines, involving the general public and the international arts community in an inclusive and larger cultural conversation about artistic experience.”

In other words, think big. Or tiny and subtle. It’s up to you. This year’s curators are Aja Martin, Tim Goossens, Carson Chan, Shane Pennington, Joshua King, and Julia Kaganskiy.

For more information on how to submit a proposal, please go here.

A History Lesson for Serious Students of the Houston Art Scene

Bert L. Long, Jr, James Surls, and Bob Bilyeau Camblin at Lawndale Annex, c. 1980. Photo by Frank Martin.

Bert L. Long, Jr, James Surls, and Bob Bilyeau Camblin at Lawndale Annex, c. 1980. Photo by Frank Martin.

For younger artists who think the Houston art scene began when they emerged from grad school, attendance should be required for this event: a presentation and panel discussion entitled “Pow Wow: Contemporary Artists Working in Houston, 1972-1985.”

Writer Pete Gershon has organized the public panel discussion featuring Lynn Randolph, Marilyn Oshman, Richard Stout, Earl Staley, and Kelly Alison, which will take place this Sunday, 2-4pm, at the Glassell School of Art. Hear from folks who were actually there for the craziness that was the 1970s and ‘80s.

To prepare for the panel discussion, read artists grousing about the current art scene as compared to earlier times in Bill Davenport’s article (and the comments!) from just a couple of weeks ago and Robert Boyd’s 2010 article “Fresh Paint 25 Years Later.”

DMA Gets Two Days With the Supercool Visitor Kevin Beasley

kevin-beasley-2-760x1147Kevin Beasley, the young New York artist on a meteoric rise due to his sound and sculpture hybrids, will be at the Dallas Museum of Art this week, on both May 14 and 15, as part of Dallas’ Soluna Festival.

Beasley, a standout in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, will be in conversation with DMA curator Gavin Delahunty at the museum this Thursday at 7 p.m. Expect to hear him talk about some of what goes in to his resin/sound/immersive/process/performative installation work (some of which makes for a pretty haunting experience). Then, for the DMA’s monthly Late Night on Friday, Beasley will actually do his art for museum goers. The performance is called “Black Rocker” and happens from 6 p.m. and midnight.

For more info, please go here.

DMA Hands Out its 2015 Awards for Artists

art_awardThe Dallas Museum of Art announced its 2015 Awards to Artists and, this year, ten awards were given out. Congratulations to all!

The four 2015 Clare Hart DeGolyer Memorial Fund Award recipients (open to artists between 15-25 years of age who reside in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, or Colorado) are:
Zoe Berg
Sagar Ramesh
Cat Rigdon
Narongsukchai Tintamusik

The four 2015 Arch and Anne Giles Kimbrough Fund Award recipients (open to residents of Texas under the age of 30) are:
James Canales
Kelly Kroener
Brandon Nichols
Austin Queen

The 2015 Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant recipients (open to artists at least 30 years of age who reside in Texas) are:
Stephen Lapthisophon
Lorraine Tady

DiverseWorks Names New Director/Chief Curator: Xandra Eden

Xandra Eden headshot

Xandra Eden

The board of directors of DiverseWorks in Houston has announced the appointment of Xandra Eden as its new Executive Director and Chief Curator. Eden comes to DiverseWorks from the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. She has served as curator there since 2005, and was also an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She was born in Canada but raised in Houston, so this is something of a homecoming for her.

Via DiverseWorks:

Eden’s recent projects include solo exhibitions of the work of Nancy Rubins, Diana Al-Hadid, and Yoshua Okón; the 2014 Art on Paper biennial; and thematic exhibitions such as Zones of Contention (a multi-year project focusing on artists who address issues related to borderlines across the globe) and Persona: A Body in Parts, which included the work of Carter, Nick Cave, Kate Gilmore, Nikki S. Lee, Barbara Probst, and Gillian Wearing. Over the course of her career, Eden has curated exhibitions by a number of Texas-based artists including Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher: Reel to Reel at the Weatherspoon, and Dario Robleto: Chrysanthemum Anthem, which traveled from the Weatherspoon to the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT.

Eden’s appointment is the culmination of a search that began when DiverseWorks’ former director, Elizabeth Dunbar, left late last year to become director of the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York.


Chris Burden (1946-2015)

“Limits” is a relative term. Like beauty, it is often in the eye of the beholder.Chris Burden


Photo via Magasin III

Artist Chris Burden died yesterday of a malignant melanoma at his home in Topanga Canyon, California, reports Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times. Paul Schimmel, a close friend of the artist and the former chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art who had organized Burden’s first retrospective exhibition in 1988, said Burden was diagnosed 18 months ago, but kept the information relatively private.

Most students of art history know him for the extreme performance art of his youth, which included getting shot in the arm, crawling through glass, and crucifying himself on a VW Bug. Some of these works were among the TV ads he aired in L.A. on KHS-Channel 9 in the 1970s (a video below). Artforum states that, “Burden has made an indelible mark on the history of art and he will be an enduring symbol and spirit of how far bravery, imagination and a little pain can take the artist.”

Later, Burden became known and respected for his large-scale sculptural works, most notably for the famous streetlamp installation outside of LACMA. His Porsche with Meteorite is on view now at Gagosian Paris. In 2009, a deal that Gagosian Gallery had struck to buy $3 million in gold bricks for Burden’s work One Ton, One Kilo was frozen when it turned out that the bricks had been acquired from a Houston-based company owned by financier Allen Stanford, who was later sentenced to 110 years in prison for cheating investors out of more than $7 billion over 20 years in one of the largest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history. As of 2013, the gallery’s gold has been frozen while the SEC investigates Stanford and One Ton, One Kilo cannot be mounted until the gold bullion is released.

Burden_LACMABurden was so influential in the seventies performance art scene that he was the subject of the 1977 Laurie Anderson song “It’s Not the Bullet that Kills You—It’s the Hole (for Chris Burden)” and, in the same year, David Bowie released the classic “Joe the Lion” with the lyrics “Nail me to my car and I’ll tell you who you are” and “Guess you’ll buy a gun/You’ll buy it secondhand.” Burden’s final sculpture, a lyrical homage to Alberto Santos-Dumont, the Brazilian aviator who flew the first practical dirigible around the Eiffel Tower in a momentous 1901 flight, will be shown for a month at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in a special exhibition beginning May 18.

Burden was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1946, and lived and worked in Topanga, California. He is survived by his wife (and sometimes collaborator) Nancy Rubins, his second wife.

The Wall Street Journal quotes his dealer, Larry Gagosian, who began working with Burden about 1978 as the first artist his gallery represented: “He was every inch an artist, as tough and uncompromising as any I have ever met.”