Texas has Appointed Its Official Visual Artists, and You Know Them!


Vincent Valdez

Tomorrow, the Texas State Legislature will officially appoint two-dimensional and three-dimensional visual artists (along with representatives of poetry and music) to officially represent Texas for the years 2015 and ’16; this is a state initiative much like a country appointing a Poet Laureate.

Don’t worry: you know these artists. Vincent Valdez (2D) of San Antonio and Margo Sawyer (3D) of Elgin are your new state art reps for 2015, and Dornith Doherty (2D) and Dario Robleto (3D) are your reps for 2016. The positions are created by “SB 1043 of the 77th Legislature” and “appointees will be formally announced through House and Senate Resolutions at the Capitol.”

Via the Texas Commission on the Arts:

“The great talents of the 2015-2016 State Artists, along with all of those who were nominated, help contribute to a distinctive cultural identity that makes Texas a great place to live, work and visit,” said State Representative Ryan Guillen, Chairman of the House Committee on Culture, Recreation, & Tourism. “It is important that we celebrate the distinguished career achievements of these artists which have enhanced the lives of so many.”

For more info on how the appointments are made and to see the names of other appointees in the other fields (like Joe Ely), please go here.


Texas Director Honored for Museum Career

LivesayThe American Alliance of Museums (AAM) has given its 2015 Award for Distinguished Service to Museums to Thomas A. Livesay, executive director of San Antonio’s Briscoe Western Art Museum. The award was established in 1981, but is only given in years when there is a worthy nominee.

Livesay, who joined the Briscoe in late 2014, has had a forty-year career in museums, holding leadership positions with the Museum of New Mexico System, Louisiana State University Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Longview Museum and Art Center and the Amarillo Art Center (now the Amarillo Museum of Art).


Artists: Lawndale Wants to See Your Art

Lawndale-Art-Center-_-1-2The Big Show, which is Lawndale Art Center‘s annual juried open show, has been around in one iteration or another in Houston since 1984, and is now open for submissions for The Big Show 2015, which will open on July 10.

This year, for a change, the Lawndale is asking for submissions online, rather than having artists physically drop off the work; the deadline is June 3. Go here for info on how to enter, etc; the call is open to artists living within 100 miles of Houston, and the submitted work needs to be (relatively) new and never before exhibited.  It cost $30 to enter three works.

This year’s guest juror is George Scheer, a founder and director of the museum/artist residency Elsewhere in North Carolina.




Marfa and West Texans Fight to Keep Out Pipelines

Photo via Fronteras Desk

Photo via Fronteras Desk

Marfa visitors and residents know that Marfa is bigger than Marfa, bigger than Chinati and the Judd Foundation, bigger than Big Bend—it’s the whole West Texas sense of independence, self-reliance, quirkiness, freedom, and stubbornness.

And now that Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad, its federal electricity commission, has awarded a contract to a group of Texas companies to build two pipelines through West Texas ranch land, folks are up in arms. A group called the Big Bend Conservation Alliance (BBCA) has put a petition online seeking the 100,000 signatures needed to evoke a presidential response. The petition asks President Obama not to issue the permit that would allow the Trans Pecos Pipeline to cross the international border.

According to Fronteros Desk, Texas pipeline builders can seize private land because many pipelines are classified as being in public good because they carry commodities to customers who might otherwise not be served.

An email forwarded to Glasstire from states: “Proposed routes have it going through neighborhoods, school, next to our only hospital, under the airport runway….. We want to stop this pipeline that will carry the dirty fracked gas through our pristine environment to Mexico. This is a project that is funded by the Mexican government and will not benefit anyone in the U.S. other than the wealthy billionaires who own these multi-national companies.”

The deadline for the petition was today and, at last check, BBCA has fallen far short of the needed signatures. But the Alpine City Council will meet in special session this afternoon at 4pm at the Alpine Civic Center to discuss the agenda item “Trans-Pecos Pipeline and the Environmental and Economic Impact on this area.”

Here is a short video posted by Austinite Carly Shiell, lamenting the proposed pipeline as serious as the loss of the voice of Willie Nelson:

Science Fiction (yes please!): Fifth Annual CineMarfa Kicks Off May 7

crowleyextwebCineMarfa, the annual art-meets-film festival founded as a non-profit in 2011 in Marfa by Marfa-based film lovers, is going with a science-fiction theme this for this year’s lineup. The screenings and presentations will take place from May 7-10 at the Crowley Theater. If you’re looking for a reason to go west, we can attest that the weather out there is great right now, and the view of our Milky Way is a perfect scene setter for this year’s theme.

The program blends regional filmmakers and visiting artists, and among this year’s highlights are Afro-Futurists shorts by the likes of Sun Ra and George Clinton, presented by one of the genre’s experts, author John Corbett; Scott Reeder’s feature debut Moon Dust; a program of six remastered shorts by Austin filmmakers which will recreate a circa-1981 “screening organized by Jonathan Demme at the Collective for Living Cinema in New York City;” and a definitive documentary on the one-and-only H.R. Giger. Also, if you haven’t seen it: Lizzie Borden’s 1983 fantastic mindbender Born in Flames. There’s far more than this, though.

For more info and a full rundown of what will be on show, go here.


Two Killed at “Free Speech” Art Contest in Garland TX

 Wilders and Geller award prize to winning artist. Photo by Gregory Castillo/AP

Wilders and Geller award prize to winning artist. Photo by Gregory Castillo/AP

Last night, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) held its “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” in the Curtis Curwell Convention Center in Garland and, just as the event was about to end, two men drove up to the center and shot at it, hitting a security guard in the ankle. Within seconds, police shot and killed the shooters.

The exhibition, billed as a free speech event, was the brainchild of political blogger and AFDI president Pamela Geller. Organizers say they received more than 350 art entries and that the event was attended by 200 people, which Geller considered “sold out.” The keynote speaker was Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch politician, well known for his anti-Islamist views. The contest featured a grand prize of $10,000, and a people’s choice award of $2,500 prize. Both prizes were awarded to Albanian-American cartoonist Bosch Fawstin, who was raised Muslim but now says he worships at the church of Ayn Rand.

Wilders poses with Garland security. AP photo.

Wilders poses with Garland security. AP photo.

Alia Salem, head of the Dallas chapter of the Council on Islamic Relations explained to the Daily Beast that she had “passionately urged” Muslims to ignore Geller, as did many other Muslim leaders. While organizers said it paid more than $10,000 for off-duty police officers and other private security, no protesters showed up before the two shooters, who were from Phoenix.

But CNN reports that Geller said the shooting won’t deter her group from hosting similar events in the future, stating, “I will not abridge my freedoms so as not to offend savages.”

Houston Artist Kevin Peterson Wins Hunting Prize


Kevin Peterson, Fire, 26 x 36, oil on panel

Houston artist Kevin Peterson has won this year’s $50,000 Hunting Prize, for “Fire,” a photorealistic painting. Peterson received his BFA from Austin College in Sherman TX (north of Dallas) in 2001, and has shown regularly since 2007, often in shows dedicated to figurative art. He works out of Winter Street Studios in Houston.

Peterson’s artist statement reads in part, “These paintings are about trauma, fear and loneliness and the strength that it takes to survive and thrive. They each contain the contrast of the untainted, young and innocent against a backdrop of a worn, ragged, and defiled world.”

The Hunting Prize is awarded annually by Hunting PLC, an energy services company, during the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), a major international trade show for offshore oil drilling that occurs in Houston. The award goes to an artist living in Texas for a 2-D drawing or painting. The award was established in the UK in 1981 and relocated to Houston in 2006.

Past winners include Winston Lee Mascarenhas, Marshall K. Harris, Michael Bise, Leigh Anne Lester, Lane Hagood, Robyn O’Neil, Wendy Wagner, Michael Tole, and Francesca Fuchs.

May Day Labor Protest at the Guggenheim

Image via Al Jazeera.

Image via Al Jazeera.


As reported by Hyperallergic, yesterday the Guggenheim museum on 5th Avenue in New York was effectively shut down by protestors calling for a change in labor conditions at the museum’s Abu Dhabi location (which has yet to begin construction). Protestors included members of Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (known as G.U.L.F.), the Gorilla Girls, and others. When the group of protestors finally vacated the (mostly empty) Guggenheim at 5:30 pm, it was met with 20 pizzas sent by the public art organization Creative Time.

The Guggenheim released an annoyed statement, citing the potential “dynamic cultural exchange” of its Abu Dhabi outpost.


First Nasher Microgrant Winners Announced


Christopher Blay

The five winners for the inaugural session of the new biannual Nasher Microgrant were announced today.

The grants are for $1000 each. Here is the list of Spring 2015 winners and brief descriptions of their proposals, via the Nasher Sculpture Center:

Christopher Blay, Fort Worth. Blay plans to realize a video production and installation of the project Kara Walker Texas Ranger which considers the history of violence toward African Americans by police and other armed authorities. The project will be done in collaboration with New York puppeteers Lake Simons and Christopher Green.

Brick Haus Collective, Denton.  Artists Rachel Fisher and Abby Sherrill will use funds to establish an artist-run incubator space in Denton which will include affordable studio spaces as well as opportunities for artists to collaborate and participate in exhibitions, performances and instructional workshops.

Celia Eberle, Dallas. Eberle has been using stone and natural materials in her work in recent years which require pneumatic tools to carve, so she plans to use her microgrant to purchase a new compressor to operate carving tools.

 Jeff Gibbons, Arlington. Gibbons will use his funds to rent a studio space in Dallas and pay for the transport of his work to national and international exhibitions at this critical point in his career.

Margaret Meehan, Dallas. Meehan often uses clay in her artistic practice and has always had to rely on outside sources for the use of a kiln to fire the work. However, she recently was able to purchase a kiln, and she will put her Nasher microgrant funds toward hiring an electrician and purchasing an environmental vent to make it function safely in her studio.

This session’s grant jurors were DFW artists Frances Bagley, Annette Lawrence, and John Pomara; the Chicago artist Tony Tasset; and the Nasher’s own Leigh Arnold and Anna Smith. The grant was made possible by contributions by Michael Corman and Kevin Fink, and  Christen and Derek Wilson.

The next session takes place this fall. For more info on the microgrants, go here.


Big New Blanton Gift Advances Black Studies Initiatives on UT Campus


Charles White, Homage to Sterling Brown (1972) Oil on canvas.

Big news: Twenty works by the prominent African American artist Charles White (1918–1979) have been gifted to the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin by Drs. Susan G. and Edmund W. Gordon of Pomona, New York. The Gordon collection of White’s work is considered one of the (if not the) most important in the United States. The works include paintings, prints and drawings, and will become part of the museum’s permanent collection. Among the gifted works is one of White’s most celebrated paintings, Homage to Sterling Brown, from 1972.

Blanton director Simone Wicha states, “White was not only one of the most renowned draftsmen of the 20th century, but also a distinguished educator and revered mentor. He profoundly influenced countless younger artists and paved the way for generations of African Americans in the field.” Alongside the gift of the White’s artworks are the papers of Dr. Edmund W. Gordon of Columbia University, who is one of the world’s leading educators of African American studies. His papers will go to UT’s Benson Latin American Collection and add to its library of “growing Black Diaspora Special Collections.”

For more info, please go here.

Christian Marclay to Return to S.A. with Difficult Video

Photo via

Photo via

Among the works created during his Winter 1999 Artpace residency, artist/composer Christian Marclay made a piece called Guitar Drag, but decided not to show the work in Texas due to its sensitive content. The piece was inspired by the then-recent, horrific murder of James Byrd Jr., an African-American who was murdered in Jasper, Texas by three men by dragging him for three miles behind a pick-up truck along an asphalt road.

At the time, the piece may have indeed been too sensitive for Texans (not to speak of Byrd’s family), but is certainly relevant to this past year’s controversial deaths of black men caught on camera throughout the nation, and the ensuing protests. So, Marclay will return to San Antonio to give a free lecture at Trinity University on May 27 at 6:30pm. Artpace will present the Texas premiere of Guitar Drag on May 28.

Marclay, whose work explores connections between sound, noise, photography, video, and film, is perhaps best known for The Clock (2010), which won the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion award, and Telephones (1995), as well as his work with Sonic Youth. Although Guitar Drag (2000) is often referred to as an installation, here is the YouTube version:

New Locally Owned Hotel Going Up in Marfa Hopes to Ease Crowding

Marfa_TX_-_courthouse_downtownDispatch from Marfa:

Tim Crowley, Marfa’s own BMOC (philanthropist/owner of the Crowley Theater/former president of the Chinati Foundation), is in the process of building a new four-story, 55-room hotel in the middle of the town on El Paso Street, right near the railroad tracks. It’ll be called the Saint George, and the target date for opening is the end of this year. Currently construction is in full swing.

The new hotel would, as residents hope, pre-empt the building of a national chain hotel or motel. (For some time there’s been some understandable dread amongst locals that a La Quinta or Marriott-type monolith could mar the singular feel of the center of town.) Marfa has been ripe for more hotel rooms for some time, and the old standbys such as the Thunderbird, Hotel Paisano and El Cosmico are often booked solid months in advance year ’round. (Even the last week of April.)

There has been some administrative back and forth over building height and parking, but as of now the plans are moving forward. Houston architecht Carlos Jimenez is involved. Expect clean lines and thoughtful attention to light and climate.

Crowley has been tight-lipped about some of the particulars about the hotel so far, but we know the following, via the The Big Bend Sentinel: It’s on the sight of a former hotel named the Saint George, which was torn down in 1929. The ground floor will house the Marfa Book Company (temporarily relocated to the Lumberyard during the hotel’s construction) as well as a restaurant, bar, and pool, and Crowley is maintaining that the room rates should remain competitive with other hotel rates in the town. Marfa Public Radio, also relocated during construction, has taken up permanent residence just a couple of blocks away from its old headquarters.

For more info, go here.

Not Just an Empty Stadium, But Empty Art Museums in Baltimore

In the midst of the current problems in Baltimore, the public schools reopen today but, after two postponements, the Orioles’ home game this afternoon against the Chicago White Sox will be closed to fans. This is the first time in the sport’s 145-year history officials have taken this action.

Also, many of the city’s museums have remained closed. The Baltimore Museum of Art posted the following on its website:

Thank you everyone for your concern about the BMA. We are so grateful for your support at this time of unrest in our city. The Museum is closed, as always, on Mondays and Tuesdays, and was not impacted during yesterday’s events.

The museum and its offices will be closed on Wednesday so that our team can be home with their families and help their communities during this difficult time in our city.

The Walters Art Museum is open today, but Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum has postponed this Saturday’s annual Kinetic Sculpture Race with this announcement:

The Baltimore City Mayor’s Office has offered additional security for our beloved race, now in its 17th year, that has always been dedicated to the delight, communal participation, peace and love of our City. We are working with city officials now to find a new date for the race that will allow as many people as possible to safely enjoy this special community event.

CornishBut art can still be viewed outside the West Baltimore studio of artist Loring Cornish. The artist has hanged about 40 black dolls of various shapes and sizes from nooses in a nearby tree. The display has been up since April 13, following the death of Walter Scott in South Carolina two weeks earlier. The installation reads, “LYNCHING STILLS EXIST, WHITE POLICE USE BULLETS AND LAW TO LYNCH BLACKS LEGALLY. REST IN PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE LYNCHED YESTERDAY & TODAY.” According to Baltimore’s ABC news affiliate, the neighborhood is divided between opinions about the installation: it’s either crazy or bold.

TX State Naked Art Student Project Goes Viral

Photo by Mendoza, Madalyn S/Twitter via

Photo by Mendoza, Madalyn S/Twitter via

Yesterday, Texas State art student Monika Rostvold sat on the steps of the school’s library, blindfolded and almost completely nude (except for a nude-colored thong and pasties), for 45 minutes, reports the San Antonio Express-News.

Perhaps Rostvold was inspired by the Columbia student who carried a 50-lb mattress around campus this fall in protest of the University’s lack of action against her alleged rapist, a project entitled “Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight)” that doubled as her senior thesis for the visual arts department. In October, women at more than a hundred college campuses were toting mattresses and pillows in solidarity. The story has resurfaced in the past week as the alleged rapist, who was cleared of the claims by the University, is now suing Columbia because it “first became a silent bystander and then turned into an active supporter of a fellow student’s harassment campaign by institutionalizing it and heralding it.”

Rostvold explained her project to the Express-News: “I wanted people to view my body as beauty and power and not a sexual object. The fact that it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month I wanted to create a piece about the standards that exist in our society. Being a victim and having friends who are victims of sexual assault I wanted to take control of my body by eliminating my presence and exposing myself.”

naked_tweetThis was the student’s first live performance piece and she said she was “very nervous.” The Texas State Campus Police arrived, but allowed her to carry out the rest of her project.

As one would expect, pictures and tweets went viral. Websites such as (yes, “Bro Bible”) had their own comments:

As I’m sure everyone could’ve probably guessed, campus police came to remove her but apparently pulling shit like this is protected by the First Amendment since she wrapped her nips up in tape. That’s not to say that you should rip your clothes off and go struttin’ round campus with your dick wrapped in a sock, of course, but I suppose if you did no one could really stop you.

Another site,, chimed in as well: “I get that she has a statement to make—and our awesome country gives her the right to make it publicly. On one hand, she’s definitely getting some attention. People hear ‘titties out in the quad,’ and everyone comes running.”

Want to Screen Your Video Project at the Menil? Here’s Your Chance.

unnamedFor the second year, the Menil (via Aurora Picture Show) in Houston will participate in a new-ish international public art event-slash-series: BYOB. It means Bring Your Own Beamer, and here “beamer” means projector. BYOB invites artists and other moving-image fans to use the facade of the Menil as a giant screen for projected images on the evening of May 1 at 8 p.m, viewed from the Menil lawn. Basically it’ll be like an open-mic night for video, slideshows, etc.

Here is a link that provides examples of how this looks and has played out in cities such as Copenhagen, Paris, and Moscow. As of today the call for submissions though Aurora Picture Show is still open. Go here to learn how to register or submit a proposal. The event itself is free and open to the public.



Censorship? Artist to Sue for Breach of Contract

Photo courtesy the artist

Photo courtesy the artist

In late 2012, the City of El Paso hired artist Margarita Cabrera to create a metal sculpture for a roundabout in the City and, after extensive delays (due to the reconstruction of the road), Cabrera began installing UPLIFT this past March. Only days later, while out of town, she received a call from her studio manager that the City was cutting up her sculpture and hauling it away. Cabrera checked her email and found the following message from the City’s Public Art Program Manager:


It has come to our attention that your art piece “Uplift” currently being installed at the Country Club roundabout does not conform to the design accepted by the City of El Paso. Your final approved documents (attached) indicate that the metal shavings would be tossed into the concrete foundation but this is not the case you have significantly altered the design by adding actual guns to the work and compromised the structural integrity. You are to cease and desist all work and meet with us first thing Monday morning to discuss this matter. Please let us know as soon as possible at what time you will be at our offices to discuss. Thank you.

According to Cabrera, the sculpture was structurally sound and she provided an expert structural engineer to ease their concerns. Apparently, the City now claims that it was the incorporation of the gun elements that was not approved, though Cabrera says the City was well aware of the fact that the sculpture included components from guns that had been confiscated by the Sheriff’s Department.

“Under the circumstances,” says Cabrera, “it has been suggested to me that what is truly at work here is a form of censorship.”

Cabrera adds: “the City’s failure, to date, to deal with this in an open and reasonable way has compelled me to speak, including through having to seek legal representation.” Her attorney sent an “Application for Remedy Prerequisite to Suit Against the City” to the El Paso Mayor and City Council demanding $500,000 in damages to her artwork and reputation.

DMA Crane Flip Video

The Dallas Morning News has posted surveillance video showing the upending of a crane outside the museum on April 3, 2015 as it raised a section of a tent structure for the Art Ball. According to the paper, the crane operator was “dinged” slightly and shaken up, but otherwise no one was hurt, not even the diSuvero!

Helmreich New Dean of Fine Arts at TCU

helmreichProvost Nowell Donovan announced friday that Dr. Anne Helmreich will be the new Dean of Fine Arts at TCU in Fort Worth. Helmreich taught art and art history at TCU from 1996-2003, but has been Senior Program Officer at the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles for the past four years.

Helmreich replaces Scott Sullivan, Dean of TCU’s College of Fine Arts since 2000 as the college is set to begin “exploding nationally in terms of visibility,” in the words of Dr. Harry Parker, chair of the TCU theatre department and a member of the dean search committee.

She discusses digital publications in museums in this Youtube video:

Who WOULDN’T Want a Liam Gillick Paddleboard?


Gillick’s paddleboard.

The art apocalypse continues apace. The Contemporary Austin has commissioned six well-known artists to create bespoke…ahem… paddleboards to be auctioned off at the non-profit’s fundraising art dinner on May 9. They’re pretty cool, actually. See them here.

(The first time I spotted stand-up paddleboarders on White Rock Lake I just kept thinking Dear Lord, why. Why? Is this just a trendy hedge against surfing? Swimming? Kayaking? Any other physical activity involving water?) They’re valued by Paddle 8 at $1200 apiece. The artists are Andy Coolquitt, Liam Gillick, Jim Hodges, Angelbert Metoyer, Tom Sachs, and Marianne Vitale. The Metoyer would almost convince me to try stand-up paddleboarding. Almost. Not really.

Have fun and be careful out there, kids! At the auction I mean.


New Art Lands in the Woodlands

The Houston Chronicle reports on four new sculptures being installed at Hughes Landing, a new development in The Woodlands, developer George Mitchell’s suburban enclave north of Houston. The pieces are the most recent of 80 purchased so far and sited in the Woodlands with money from the Woodlands Art Fund, set aside from commercial land sales and fees by George Mitchell.

Yvonne Domenge,Wind Waves

Yvonne Domenge,Wind Waves

Yvonne Domenge’s flashy, red Wind Waves, which was displayed temporarily at Hermann Park last year, will be permanently sited by a lake.

“We think it’s dramatic and it fits the concept of the lake situation,” said Peter Doyle, executive vice president of design and construction for The Howard Hughes Corp., which chose the piece. “We want things to be provocative and contemporary.”

Fenris Glacier by Julie Speidel Photo: David Hopper

Fenris Glacier by Julie Speidel Photo: David Hopper

West coast artist Julie Speidel‘s Fenris Glacier, a set of angular, ten-foot stainless steel boulders, will be sited nearby on Hughes Landing Boulevard.

“We wanted something that was strong, dramatic,” Doyle said.

John Runnels' piece at Sabine St.

John Runnels’ piece at Sabine St.

Houston artist John Runnels’ Dream Boat, a steel canoe like those by the Sabine St. bridge in downtown Houston, will be installed at the entry to a Wetland Garden on Aviator Way and Hughes Landing Blvd.

“We wanted something that related to water,” Doyle said. “It’s a provocative structure.”

John Clement, Firefly

John Clement, Firefly

One of New York artist John Clement’s Fireflies, a bright yellow coil of steel pipe, will be installed in front of a nearby office building.

“Our intent was to do something interesting and different,” Doyle said.