Impressionism/Frozen Mashup: MFAH to Present “Monet on Ice”

mouse_skatesThis weekend, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) will present “Monet on Ice,” and transform Cullinan Hall into a full-size ice-skating rink. Entrance to the rink, which can accommodate up to 25 skaters at one time, is free with a ticket to Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River and includes ice skates.

Additional “Monet-inspired” activities are also family-friendly (although Bill Davenport suggested an absinthe drinking contest), such as sketching in the galleries and a Monet “photo op.”

(Image via

Artist and Former MIT Professor Robs Banks Claiming It’s His Art

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Joseph Gibbons robs a bank as an artwork. Photo NYPD.

Joseph Gibbons robs a bank as an artwork. Photo NYPD.

We’ve heard of starving artists going to all sorts of extremes, but this may take the cake. Artist Joseph Gibbons has resorted to robbing banks to make ends meet, and he calls it art, according to a story in the New York Post. The paper calls him a “wacky former MIT professor” who “took cinema verite (sic) to a whole new level by robbing a Manhattan bank and recording the heist.” (Maybe he should look into moving to Queen? See New Queens Building Offering Artists Insane Deal on Studio Space.)

Gibbons videotaped himself liberating $1,000 from a Capital One branch at Bowery and Grand Street in Chinatown on New Year’s Eve. He handed the teller a note demanding a donation for his church, the Post reports.

Gibbons’s semi-autobiographical video Confessions of a Sociopath was shown in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, “Day for Night.” (Watch an excerpt on YouTube.) “Patient is currently on probation, having been convicted of several counts of theft,” says a voiceover in an excerpt. According to the Whitney’s website, the piece “presents a summary examination of the artist’s professed self-destructive tendencies.” In it, “Gibbons documents himself shooting heroin, shoplifting, being counseled by a parole officer, and being analyzed on a psychiatrist’s couch.”

In addition to the Whitney, Gibbons has screened films at the Museum of Modern Art. He won a 2001 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and has received awards and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Capital and the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities.


Follow @briankboucher on Twitter.

Bun B to Join Panel of Scholars at Menil Tomorrow

BunB_PinnIn conjunction with the Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence, Houston’s Menil Collection will present a panel discussion called “The Influence of Gandhi and King on Hip-Hop Culture” at 7pm tomorrow evening, January 13. Rice University’s Anthony Pinn (Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and professor of religious studies) and Houston rapper Bun B (known by Rice U. as Bernard “Bun B” Freeman, the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning’s Distinguished Lecturer), will be joined by Monica Miller (assistant professor of religion and Africana studies at Lehigh University) and “others to be announced.”

Rice students already know that Bun B is up to the job; he has been teaching a popular course with Pinn on Religion and Hip Hop Culture at Rice since 2011. Tuesday’s panel will explore the hip-hop genre’s contribution to nonviolence and social justice.

Art Museums By the Numbers

aamd1The AAMD, or Association of Art Museum Directors, has published it’s first  “Art Museums by the Numbers” report, aimed at informing outsiders of the impact of museums on their communities. It contains some nifty graphics and some interesting facts, drawn from a survey of 220 member art museums in the US, Canada and Mexico.

The average art museum spends just 33% of it’s budget on what the survey terms “art-focused activities”, like curating, storing, collecting, showing and educating people about art. The other 67% is Administration, building maintenance, and fundraising!

The average art museum spends $53.17 per visitor, but collects only $7.93 in admission fees and sales. The bulk of support comes from private philanthropy. No mention of parking, the other great revenue source for big city museums.

Art museums generate revenue through a surprisingly diverse patchwork of sources, represented here by a colorful bicycle inner tube:

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 10.32.07 AM

Art museums take what they are given (or perhaps are given what they ask for): they accepted six objects as donations for every one they bought in 2013-2014.

AAMD art museums are great borrowers. Collectively, they borrowed 93,460 objects last year, and loaned out a measly 27,135.

AAMD museums logged 61,457,283 visitors last year, compared to 17.3 million stadium attendees for NFL football games.




Houston and Chicago to Trade Artists in New Residency Exchange

kouamen gaspar

Left: Rosine Kouamen, Anlu Is Protest” (photo: Alex Barber); Right: Maria Gaspar, I Look For These Past Hands

Houston’s Project Row Houses and Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago have announced the launch of The 2:2:2 Exchange, a new artist residency exchange program, in 2015.

It’s a first-time collaboration between the two organizations, this new program will begin in early 2015. The initiative, titled the 2:2:2 Exchange, features an interchange between two artists, one based in Houston, TX, and one based in Chicago, IL. Houston artist Rosine Kouamen’s will participate in the Jackman Goldwasser Residency at Hyde Park Art Center from February 1 – March 26, 2015; Chicago artist Maria Gaspar’s will be in residence at Project Row Houses in Houston from September 28 – November 20.

The idea is to give socially engaged, site-specific artista an opportunity to localize somewhere else ofr a while in order to enhance their practices at home.

Two New Dallas Galleries Hold an Art Collecting “Conversation” For Newbies


Archival pigment print by Jeremy Couillard, 2014 (Zhulong Gallery)

Two of Dallas’ newer, splashier galleries in the Design District, Cydonia and Zhulong, are holding the first installment of a planned ongoing workshop/seminar called “Art Collecting 101″ next Saturday, January 17 at 11 a.m. Specifically [caps theirs]: “HANH HO, DIRECTOR OF CYDONIA, AND AJA MARTIN, DIRECTOR OF ZHULONG GALLERY, WILL CONDUCT A GUIDED CONVERSATION ABOUT COLLECTING CONTEMPORARY ART.”

This isn’t the first time a commercial gallery in Dallas has hosted a series for budding collectors, and it’s always struck me as an odd combination of useful/servicey with a smattering of self interest. Nonetheless, these two young gallery owners should prove affable guides to what many new to the collecting scene would consider tricky if not intimidating territory. This one is free and really starts with the most basic of basics, such as (per the announcement):

  • -  What is contemporary?
  • -  How do I know that the art will appreciate in value?
  • -  How do I protect my investment?
  • -  Why are the walls always white?
  • -  Why don’t you list prices on the walls?

You get the idea.

The first class takes place at Cydonia, 167 Payne Street, Dallas, Texas 75207, Sat., Jan. 17 at 11 a.m. For more info, contact or call 214-296-4848.

HAA To Reconsider GRB Commission!

Pencil erasing a mistakeIn a carefully worded press release Thursday, the Houston Arts Alliance announced the beginning of a new attempt at selecting an artist for a large commission at the George R. Brown Convention center in Houston, a commission that has become fraught with embarrassing errors, including the surprise withdrawal of a contract for the piece from Houston artist Ed Wilson, which has already led to the resignation of HAA’s Public Art + Design director, Matthew Lennon, protests from artists, and a spate of bad publicity.

The new press release does a little massaging of the record, saying the HAA’s Civic Art Committee voted to “delay the possible commission review” for the GRB piece at its Nov. 20 meeting, although in the official minutes of that meeting they voted  to “reconsider” the GRB project.

The reconsideration will begin with proposals from the same seven finalists as last time, but new selection panelists to replace the five who unanimously chose Wilson back in November. According to Molly Glentzer’s story  in today’s Houston Chronicle, they are: Christian Eckart, William Cannings, Jo Ann Fleischhauer, Devon C. Moore, Susan Plum, and the team of Jeff Shore and John Fisher, and Ed Wilson. Glentzer asked Wilson if he would resubmit his proposal to the new selection panel, to which he said “I would have to really think hard about it.” She ends her piece by supposing the other six artist might also decline to compete, and asks, “Then what?”

HAA’s executive committee approved a new set of policies and procedures on January 5, and obtained a deadline extension from Houston First, the clients for the GRB project, allowing the reconsideration to move forward. Marc Melcher, Chairman of HAA’s Board said, “This extension ensures the adherence to the rigorous observation of due process, especially when it comes to decisions on the spending of public monies.” There was no mention of possible reconsideration of other recent commissions awarded under the old procedures.

She Works Flexible: New Houston Gallery Opens Under Curator/Artist Lynne McCabe

unnamedThe art space up to now known as The Brandon, at 1709 Westheimer Road in Houston, is no longer. The new project taking root there and scheduled to open January 16 with a two-person show is called She Works Flexible, overseen by artist/curator/director Lynne McCabe, who is no stranger to Houston’s art scene (older link but there it is). Dan Fergus still owns the space.

Those in charge of The Brandon (Cody Ledvina, Patrick Bresnan and Dan Fergus) have moved on from that project; McCabe took on the physical space months ago, overseeing the planned summer arts program there created by photographer Goeff Winningham, while beginning her launch of a brick-and-mortar manifestation of her own ongoing curatorial project (also called She Works Flexible). The new space, under McCabe, will feature a program of two-person exhibitions, each one featuring one regional artist and one international one. The first is called SENSATIONAL LANDSCAPE and will feature “the work of Texas educated artist Cat Clifford and Arizona based artist Erika Lynne Hanson with an accompanying text by Egyptian artist Malak Helmy.”

An adjacent space on Dunlavy called FLEX will also be overseen by McCabe and “will serve as a site for pop-up shows featuring emerging artists and practices not typically found within the confines of a commercial gallery.”

(And the name She Works Flexible? McCabe says it came from a text in the 2007 book “Taking the Matter into Common Hands: On Contemporary Art and Collaborative Practices.”  The phrase resonated with her for reasons that should be understandable to working artists/curators.)

SENSATIONAL LANDSCAPE opens Friday, January 16 at She Works Flexible. Address above.



Nous sommes Charlie!

charlie _houstonYesterday’s terrorist attack on the Paris headquarters of the weekly French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo left a dozen dead, including four well-known cartoonists: Stéphane Charbonnier, the publication’s top editor, as well as Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinski, and Bernard Verlhac.

The Associated Press (AP) already cropped out a photo of Charlie Hebdo’s now-dead editor holding a Muhammad cover on the AP news wire, telling The Daily Beast, “It’s been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images.” As Jon Stewart said on last night’s show, “I know very few people go into comedy as an act of courage, mainly because it shouldn’t have to be that.”

Gatherings of solidarity were held all over the world (including Houston, above), with most people holding signs reading “I am Charlie.”

Global Reaction To The Terrorist Attack On French Newspaper Charlie HebdoFrance Newspaper Attackcharlie9 (Top image via Facebook, following images via,,

Michael Mazurek Named Curator at Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas

49edef56-0c52-4c42-ac00-08ef32f1b004A couple of days ago the Goss-Micheal Foundation (in)formally announced that it had added Michael Mazurek, the ultra-active Dallas artist and co-founder of the DB/Dallas Biennial series, as its “newest member of the staff.” With some probing, we now know that more specifically he’s been appointed curator at the foundation. Mazurek, through DB and other initiatives, has indeed been curating various kinds of shows for some time, and this is an interesting development in his career. In a later statement to GT, the foundation wrote: “Michael Mazurek has been brought on as curator, working with the Goss-Michael Foundation’s collection, organizing exhibitions and continuing the programming initiated by Kevin Jacobs, such as (FEATURE) and the Artist-in-Residence program.”

As for Kevin Ruben Jacobs, who had a curatorial role at Goss-Micheal? The foundation wrote: “Kevin will continue to work with the foundation in an advisory role, assisting with future programming and curation including the Angus Fairhurst exhibition later in the year. He will devote his extra time to other endeavors including developing the next phase of OFG.XXX, independent curation, and consulting.”


Ballroom Marfa Fashion: First Prada, Now Vogue

For those who haven’t yet seen the latest issue of Vogue, there is a feature article on Ballroom Marfa’s new Executive Director Susan Sutton. Sutton, who assumed the position in late September, is photographed in the down-low high-fashion style appropriate to the Marfa/Vogue combo.

Photo: Zina Saro-Wiwa (via Vogue)

Photo: Zina Saro-Wiwa (via Vogue)

The eleven year-old organization, which Vogue refers to as the Chinati Foundation’s “younger, more carefree cousin,” has been responsible for a number of experimental projects, including Elmgreen and Dragset’s Prada Marfa, erected in 2005. Prada Marfa received a lot of attention this past year. In March, it was vandalized by artist Joe Magnano and then it got dragged into the Playboy Marfa illegal advertising shenanigans about a week before Sutton became E.D. TxDOT has since reclassified Prada Marfa as a museum, allowing the structure to stay, and Magnano pled guilty to the vandalism, agreeing to pay Ballroom Marfa $10,700 in restitution as well as a $1,000 fine.

UPDATE plus UPDATE: Earthquakes Continue to Rattle Dallas, And of Course the Design District is Very Close To the Epicenter


Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 11.01.15 AM

Via CBS Dallas


11:11 a.m. Wed. Okay, they keep on coming, so no more updates from me. Keep an eye on this DMN blog courtesy the intrepid Robert Wilonsky if you like watching the unfolding of this “swarm” (official seismology term), a.k.a. all quakes emanating from the “Jerry Jones Fault” stack up around here.

11.02 a.m. Wed: update.

9:11 a.m. on Wed: So it was nine, or eight plus one after midnight.


9:08 p.m.: It was four. See?

Geez, louise. DO WE FEEL THE EARTH MOVE UNDER OUR FEET OR WHAT, FOLKS? (Still no biggie to Californians…).

Update 8:56 pm. There are officially three quakes today, so far. I felt four. So did everyone else. I will have a hard time sleeping tonight, of course, and my dog and cat’s distress isn’t helping. Murray has been vomiting.

Update 6:52 p.m.: Yes, folks, that was another one. We all felt it.

6:56: Aaaaaannnnd, another.

Update 4:30 p.m: There is damage around town, and I’ve seen posted (thus far private) video footage of it, but more to come… .

4 p.m.: Dallas just enjoyed its 17th earthquake in nine weeks. This one was felt much more widely than the previous ones, with people in high-rise office towers up and down the Arts District and, of course, everyone in the Design District, reporting via social media that they were really rattled around. Also reports from Fair Park, Deep Ellum, downtown, Lower Greenville, East Dallas, Oak Cliff, the Park Cities, North Dallas, etc. If you are an artist or working in the arts in any capacity or a collector in Dallas county, you probably felt it. There’s my tie-in.

The epicenter is around where the old Texas Stadium was–it has been for most of the quakes–which is east Irving, which is the border of the Design District.

Welcome to fracking country, art people.

Call your art pals in Los Angeles for moral support, or jeers.




Another update and map of epicenters of the various quakes thus far. Comments give you an idea of who felt the latest one and how.






Soup’s On and Democracy Rules! Two Artist Grants to be Announced at GalleryHOMELAND

homeland_soupBesides networking and absorbing the interesting lectures and sessions, participants in the two-day seminar charge: practicum—which took place in early November at Art League Houston (ALH)—were invited to apply for a project grant. As of today, the 23 artists who applied are awaiting votes from their fellow charge participants; votes will be received until midnight on January 10. The $10 registration fee for charge and the cash bar from the dance party raised $889 for grant and the winner will be announced this Sunday evening at GalleryHOMELAND.

This democratic style of grant-giving is reflected in the 23 straightforward proposals (now posted on ALH’s website). The artists don’t have to invent some complicated algorithm about how their project will enhance tourism or make up some numbers about the demographics involved. There are just a couple of paragraphs and an image to describe what each artist wants to do.

In conjunction with the charge grant announcement, GalleryHOMELAND will host HOMELAND SOUP, part of the international Sunday Soup Network Micro Grant project. For the price of admission (sliding scale $5-10), guests will receive homemade soup, drinks, music by Daniel and the Thunderheads, and a vote for the HOMELAND grant winner who receives all the proceeds from the evening. The HOMELAND grant nominees are Sebastian Boncy, Angel Oloshove, and Don’L Nicol/Mystic Crystal Revelations Movie Club.

Austin Is Bananas For Printmaking!


Ken Wood “Written Words Fly II-b” Relief, 44 x 40 inches

PrintAustin, a non-profit outfit dedicated to raising awareness of Austin’s impressive status as a hotbed of printmaking, begins its third annual month-long showcase of prints. Beginning January 15 and hosted by a number of studios, institutions and galleries across the city, think of this as a kind of burgeoning SXSW of printmaking.

As of this writing there are 31 spaces signed up to host exhibitions, demos, and events centered on prints and printmaking, including the Harry Ransom Center, Big Medium, the Blanton, and of course Flatbed. In conjunction with the month-long showcase, on Saturday, February 7, PrintAustin is launching its first PrintExpo, held outdoors at Canopy, where local prints will be for sale; it’ll also include a juried print exhibition and other crowd-pleasing, print-tastic shenanigans.

For more info on all of the above, go to PrintAustin’s website and click around.




Cool Show in Marfa on a Weeknight: “Damn!,” Say Most Texans

To most Texans, Marfa is just really, really far away. But too often, there is something going on out there that makes us wish for a bullet train to West Texas. So those who can make it to Marfa on a weeknight should really check this out:

bodycast2Performance/installation artist Suzanne Bocanegra will present a self-portrait in the form a one-hour slide lecture entitled Bodycast this Wednesday, January 7, 7pm, at the Crowley Theater. This is not the regular academic slide lecture, though; it’s directed by actor/writer Paul Lazar (known as a regular in Jonathan Demme films). And Bocanegra does not play herself. “I use an actor to portray me, in my own story,” she explains, “in order to highlight the difference between who we are and who we feel we are supposed to be.” In this case, she feels she is supposed to be portrayed by award-winning actress Frances McDormand. Based on the artist’s childhood church experiences and teenage years spent in a bodycast, Bocanegra adds, “Most of all it is an exploration of how art teaches us to learn the criteria we use to judge ourselves.”

The performance is free and is followed by an after party at Marfa Contemporary.

Rebecca Bass first HISD Dedicated Art Cartist

bassHouston Independent School Distirct has finally hired a teacher just to build an art car with students. Longtime art car specialist Rebecca Bass is in residence at Reagan high school in Houston Heights this spring. As yet the program is informal- there’s no classroom, no grades as it is after school, but Bass, on facebook, is hopeful for the future: “if I can pull this off then the door will swing wide open for other art car artists and students to merge back behind the school by the trash dumpsters and make cool mobile stuff together all across the city.”

Simek’s New Year’s Wish List for Dallas artists: become musicians!

Laure de Margerie of UTD's French Sculpture Census

Laure de Margerie of UTD’s French Sculpture Census

Along with more grants, more galleries, and more artists, Peter Simek’s wish list for the Dallas art scene‘s new year in D Magazine included a couple surprises: he mentioned the continuation of UTD’s intellectual investments in Rick Brettell and the Edith O’Donnell Art Institute, and the French Sculpture Census, a database of every sculpture, 1500-1960, by French artists in US public collections.

On the downside, Simek hoped that “more artists will realize music is more fun than art.”

If New Houston Gallery Has Its Way, 2015 is the Year for Transcendence and Swimming Hole Dreams


From Stock Rooms 5, by Ian James

Self Actualization, a Houston gallery that opened only a few months ago, has some big plans for the new year. Founded by Houston-based artist Monte Large and writer Jon Lindsey, they claim, “Our interest is open-minded exploration of the transubstantiative properties of the physical spaces we occupy.” On January 9, they will open the exhibition, In the Caverns of Your Mind, a show by Ian James of “mixed media and transcendence.” The show sounds as baffling as the gallery’s mission statement; here is a paragraph from the exhibition description:

WE seek to experience in our existence, to rendezvous with our higher self. Through concentrated body movements, meditations within the blackness of our neutral psyches, and conversations with technology we seek a stair-stepping transformation process that will render our former selves unknowable to our future self.

Self Actualization’s Monte Large is also one of the folks behind “Houston Needs a Swimming Hole,” a push to create a large swimming hole near downtown Houston. They seem to be serious and, with only nine days left of their Kickstarter campaign, they are coming close to their goal.

If we get to have a “rendezvous with our higher self” and a quick dip in a downtown swimming hole, it might turn out to be a pretty good year!


Houston Artists Make Artnet’s “50 Most Exciting Artists” List

No one can resist putting out the obligatory year-end listicle, so yesterday Artnet News published “The 50 Most Exciting Artists of 2014.” Art critic/curator Christian Viveros-Fauné states that his selection was chosen from “important (and enduring) artists who were active in 2014, with no apologies and in no particular order.”

We can pretend there was some sort of order, since Houston artist Rick Lowe tops the list. Lowe won a MacArthur Fellowship this year for his work with Project Row Houses, which Viveros-Fauné refers to as “the Demoiselles D’Avignon of social practice.”

Photo via NolaVie/courtesy of Linda Friedman

Photo via NolaVie/courtesy of Linda Friedman

Also making the list is Houston artist Mel Chin, who is enjoying his four-decade survey, which originated at the New Orleans Museum of Art (and curated by ex-Houstonian Miranda Lash, now at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville.) The exhibition Mel Chin: Rematch will take over Houston in mid-January, showing at the Blaffer Art Museum, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Asia Society Texas Center, and the Station Museum of Contemporary Art.

Congrats to Rick and Mel!

PRH Artists Celebrate Kwanzaa Tonight

kwanzaa-candles2001zThe holidays aren’t over yet! Let’s keep it going because now we’re in the midst of Kwanzaa (December 26 to January 1), an African American and Pan-African holiday that celebrates family, community, and culture.

Houston’s Project Row Houses (PRH) is taking the opportunity to present this month’s market day as Kwanzaa Community Market + Talent Showcase tonight from 4-9pm. There will be children’s activities from 2-4pm, while local vendors and performers set up. Evening activities begin at 5pm with a Kwanzaa ritual from 7-7:30pm.

Don’t forget to check out PRH’s Round 41: Process and Action: An Exploration of Ideas and hang out with some of the exhibiting artists: Rabéa Ballin, Julia Brown, Vanessa Diaz, Akua Holt, Rosine Kouamen, and Monica Villarreal.