Bathroom Art! ALH is Now the Snazzy Place to Pee

ALH_bathroom2In the midst of all the HAA public art controversy, the Houston arts community may not have noticed a more private art addition to the city. Art League Houston (ALH) recently unveiled new artwork in its restrooms!

A quick Google search reveals that most retailers have a subsection for “bathroom art,” but most of the framed pictures of beaches, flowers, and vintage-looking bathroom products seem to suggest that they are simply cheap enough to toss when they get moldy. Zazzle and Wayfair also have some funny, passive-aggressive posters on proper bathroom hygiene. But artists Nina Marinick (also ALH’s evening gallery manager) and Jajah Gray went all out on the immersive bathroom art experience.

Just relax, take care of your business, and enjoy the colorful semi-psychedelic art appropriate to the occasion.


Symbiotic Bubble, 2014. Nina Marinick and Jajah Gray. Photos by Bel Cuenca.

Mark Flood Floods Miami This Week

Flood-M_Tittle-tbc_Long-Lace2Mark Flood will have a mighty presence during this week’s giant international art shenanigan, Art Basel Miami Beach, which opens to the public Dec. 4. His work will not only show up in Zach Feuer‘s NADA booth, but he’s one of six artists having commissioned solo shows at the Rubell Family Collection–always an important stop of the week–and Flood has transplanted his own Mark Flood ResenTS gallery/project from its run in Chelsea NY to 633 Washington Avenue in Miami. REsenTS is Flood’s showcasing of artwork by artists he likes/envies/buys for himself, though the work isn’t really for sale. Stuart Shave/Modern Art, Flood’s London gallery, is an exhibitor at Miami Basel proper, though we don’t know if the gallery will be showing Flood’s work in their booth as well. Probably, because when in Rome… .





Mel Casas, 1929-2014


Image via Express-News

After a two-year battle with cancer, artist Melesio “Mel” Casas died at home on Sunday. Grace Casas, his wife of 35 years, told the San Antonio Express-News that he was surrounded by family. Mel Casas is best known for his humorous, political works and was considered one of the elder statesmen of the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

Casas was born in El Paso, Texas, on November 24, 1929. He joined the army after high school and fought in the Korean War (1950–53), during which he was injured. He returned to the states and attended Texas Western (now the University of Texas–El Paso), where he earned his BA and completed his MFA from the University of the Americas in Mexico. Casas was professor emeritus at San Antonio College, where he taught for 29 years before retiring as chairman of the art department in 1990.

In the early ’60s, he helped found the Chicano art group Con Safo at a time when Chicano art was not being shown at mainstream venues. Until very recently, Casas painted tirelessly throughout the decades. In 2012, the Smithsonian purchased its second work by Casas, Humanscape 62 (Brownies of the Southwest). He has had a number of solo exhibitions, including one earlier this year at San Antonio College, entitled Mel Casas: Artist as Cultural Adjuster. A book by the same title by art historian Nancy L. Kelker was published last year.

Humanscape 62 (Brownies of the Southwest), 1970

Humanscape 62 (Brownies of the Southwest), 1970

Organizers behind Dallas VideoFest Launch a New Dallas Medianale This January

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 3.53.25 PMA new film and video showcase organized by the Video Association of Dallas, called the Dallas Medianale, will launch at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary in Dallas on Jan. 9 and run on various weekends through March 17, 2015. Screenings and performances will include newer local offerings as well as international iconic video and multimedia work by the likes of Joe Sola, Bruce Nauman, and Francis Alÿs.

The various installments and installations are curated by Michael A. Morris, Carolyn Sortor, Danielle Avram-Morgan, and Charles Dee Mitchell. (Disclosure: Mitchell is a Glasstire board member.) There’s also a workshop co-hosted by Oil+Cotton on Jan. 10 “by Kyle Evans and James Connolly of Cracked Ray Tube [who will] instruct students in building DIY audio/video synthesizers and analog video transmitters to create their own audio/visual works of art.”

 A quick rundown of dates: 

January 9 and 10:  Screenings and Performances in the MAC’s Black Box Theater, curated by Michael Morris

January 10 afternoon: Cracked Ray Tube Workshop with Oil and Cotton

January 17 and Feb 13th: The opening of the first and second exhibitions of installations in the MAC’s galleries, including “Call and Response” and the screening of films from Experimental Response Cinema, curated by Danielle Avram-Morgan and Charles Dee Mitchell.

March 17: The closing evening event in the MAC’s galleries, curated by Carolyn Sorter.

For more info on the organizers, schedule, curators, works included (and an updating list of works to be included) in the Medianale, please go here.





Yeah, Holiday Shows are Here, But “Schools-Strut-Their-Stuff Season” Officially Starts Now

artstudioThere are usually a few unexpected gems to be found in sleepy summer gallery group shows and, as the holiday season descends, there are endless group shows of “affordable” art for cultured gift giving. But for betting folks who like to speculate on which artists are going to be hot within the next few years, universities and art schools are also beginning to put up their group shows.

Since most MFA exhibitions pop up in the springtime, this is the time for the serious art gamblers with good eyes for the future. The shows starting up now are of faculty (who are teaching the upcoming artists) and BFA candidates (some of whom might take a couple extra years to fully cook). Feel free to add your own in the comments below, but here are a few openings this week:

On Wednesday, Sam Houston State University will show off its video and performance art student projects in Here Today, Gone Tomorrow V. And, on Thursday evening, the University of North Texas will open its faculty and staff exhibition; West Texas A&M will present its graduating seniors; and Texas Lutheran University opens its senior show.

You can also check out these exhibitions just to support and congratulate some hard-working art students and wish them luck in their future careers!

Buy Some Art: Art From The Streets’ Annual Art Show Supports Austin’s Homeless Artists

afts_9Art From the Streets is a 22-year-old non-profit outfit in Austin that provides art studio time to Austin’s homeless throughout the year, and in December holds an annual show and sales event of this artwork. This year the Art From the Streets Annual Show is the weekend of Dec. 6 and 7 at the Austin Convention Center.

Per Art From the Streets: “This year our annual exhibition will feature more than 2,000 new pieces for sale, including paintings and drawings, photography, jewelry, and pottery. Prices start at $35, with a $5 suggested donation at the door to help fund the program year-round.” Last year the event represented 100 artists and made more than $80K for them.

All proceeds–ALL PROCEEDS–go to the artists.  For more info, go here.

Ed Wilson Releases GRB Proposal Pics, Will Not Talk Sunday in SA

wilson piece 2

Houston artist Ed Wilson has released pictures of his proposal for the George R. Brown convention Center in Houston. The 90 x 90 x 40 foot atrium will be filled with shiny metal clouds and cutout birds.

Wilson will be giving was scheduled to give a talk at his solo show, “One-Offs” at Fl!ght gallery in San Antonio’s Blue Star Arts Complex at 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 30. But it has been cancelled, he says, “because he needs to be in Houston right now.”  He may appear via Skype.

Normally, it would be the closing of Wilson’s retrospective, but the artist is at the center of a struggle within the Houston Arts Alliance, which withdrew a proposed contract with him for an $830,000 sculpture commission last week, leading the the resignation of HAA’s Civic Art and Design Director, Matthew Lennon, in protest.



Houston Thanksgiving Parade to Honor Flower Man

Flower_Man_floatHappy Thanksgiving! There’s still time to get downtown to catch the 65th Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade, which starts at 9am and goes on until noon (parade route here). Among the over 250 entries, including a six-ton potato on wheels (?) and another skateboard-themed entry, is a tribute to Cleveland “The Flower Man” Turner. Long-time Houston fixture and visionary artist, the Flower Man died last December and his colorful presence is still missed. After days of marches of frustration, take a couple of hours for a celebration parade.

Happy Holidays, Austin. You Have a Totally New Daniel Johnston Mural

danieljohnston03Daniel Johnston, one of Austin’s most insider outsider artist/musician/personalities, has designed a new mural which will be unveiled on Monday, December 1 at Nau’s Enfield Drug in West-Central Austin. The outside wall of the vintage pharmacy/soda fountain will not be the first site of a Johnston mural in Austin. (Johnston’s iconic “Hi How Are You” mural on the site of the now-former Sound Exchange went up in 1992 and is an Austin landmark. It’s currently undergoing restoration and the brass plaque treatment.)

The Austin ad firm GSD&M will present the new, as-yet-unseen mural at a press unveiling to Austin’s mayor Lee Leffingwell at 11 a.m. on Dec. 1 at Nau’s. Tom Gimbel, Daniel Johnston’s manager will attend. (First reader to catch sight of the mural: snap a pic for us, please.)

Also, “because of Daniel Johnston’s love of superheroes, GSD&M chose the Superhero Kids organization, a longtime community partner whose tireless work goes to fight childhood cancer, to benefit from the sale of T-shirts featuring the mural and a social campaign running through December 31.”

Nau’s Enfield Drug, 1115 West Lynn St (12th and West Lynn St.).


Tilda Swinton in Houston! Tilda Swinton at The Menil!

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 3.48.40 PM

Swinton wears Zac Posen in the de Menil’s dressing room.

For the third installment in a series of globe-trotting portfolios shot for W Magazine, humanoid space alien/Orlando/wonder woman Tilda Swinton descended on The Menil Collection in Houston a couple of months back to shoot a fashion spread based vaguely on a surrealist theme. The issue is hitting stands soon and the magazine’s website offers a sneak peak of sorts.

In a nod to the collecting and style tastes of the museum’s founders Dominique and John de Menil, Swinton is pictured swanning around in the museum and the de Menil’s Houston residence wearing new Balenciaga, Delpozo, and Carolina Herrera; the artworks themselves, by Max Ernst, Joseph Sacco, paleolithic carvings, etc., act as sort of glorified set props.  Judge for yourself here.


Portfolio photographs by Tim Walker.



HAA’s Statement vs. Lennon’s Resignation Letter

The Houston Arts Alliance has released an official statement on their sudden change of heart about awarding high-profile commission to Houston Artist Ed Wilson:

Houston Arts Alliance Statement

The review process for the commission of a large-scale work of art for the new lobby to be built at the George R. Brown Convention Center is currently on schedule, with an anticipated installation of the artwork by November 2015.

It is unfortunate that artist Ed Wilson received a premature communication regarding the status of his proposal in the review process.

As for Mr. Mathew [sic] Lennon’s resignation to the position of Director of Civic Art + Design, it is with sadness that we accept his resignation. He has dedicated his life to the arts, and we hope his passion and commitment to it continue to serve our city and its artists. Respected art consultant Sara Kellner will serve as HAA’s Interim Director of Civic Art + Design.

The release goes on to list Kellner’s substantial qualifications for the job, but fails to address any of Lennon’s reasons for leaving, which he detailed in a detailed letter of resignation to Marc Melcher, Chariman of the HAA Board, dated November 22. In the letter, Lennon places the blame for the commission snafu squarely on HAA’s Civic Art Committee:

Dear Mark [sic],

The recent CAC meeting was disingenuous.

Everything being sought had been requested of the CAC [Civic Art Committee] by staff many times over the past years.  Staff has asked for a sub committee to review and amend the ordinance and other policies on a number of occasions.  There was plenty of time to form a subcommittee for GRB [the George R. Brown project] while I negotiated the contract.  The leadership did not facilitate this.  Blaming staff is hypocritical.

CAC was informed of the GRB requirements in August and asked to put forward names for the artist list.  Only Janet Hobby responded.  Had the committee thoroughly read the September minutes they would have seen that the artists list was vetted at committee, had support by the attending members and that Paul Kittleson had been endorsed as a panelist by their Chair.  Not acknowledging that reveals the lack of consistency within the CAC and demonstrates the need for the team’s self- sufficiency.

To undermine a process that has served HAA well, to denigrate local art professionals and belittle local talent- no matter how cleverly masked- is not the job of CAC.  They were not formed to select or reject artists or to decide who or what is ‘Blue Chip’ (see September Minutes). They certainly aren’t there to depreciate the value of staff. Our leadership did nothing to divert that, its silence encouraged it.
No Civic Art Committee changes policies during an active contract. It’s unprofessional.

Ed Wilson, and the other artists, followed the procedures provided. A professional panel with stakeholder representation was formed. Ed was selected unanimously by a blind vote.  Derailing that process is naïve and insults everyone engaged.  Depriving Ed Wilson of his commission is unethical.
The CAD team has successfully delivered permanent and temporary projects.  To treat those successes as insignificant because they’re not perceived as iconic, displays an insular understanding of civic art.  As director I negotiated the first 3 year contract, the 17% fee, the contracts with SWA and GRB.  I did this with the benefits to HAA in mind and fully aware that it’s the clients requirements that drive the projects.

It’s quite evident that the program now needs an Arts Administrator with a submissive nature.  Therefore I am resigning effective immediately.  Please forward any paperwork to my personal Email.

Matthew Lennon
Independent Curator, Artist, Writer and
Professional Public Art Facilitator

Several times in his letter, Lennon mentions the minutes of the reportedly dramatic September meeting of the CAC about the GRB project where HAA staff presented CAC with a list of seven artists and five selection panelists, and  CAC members, according to Lennon, “denigrate local art professionals and belittle local talent.”

This morning, Glasstire made a request to HAA Communcation Director Marie Jacinto to see a copy of these minutes, which are public records, offering to visit the HAA offices to do so. Jacinto said she would “forward the request on to the CEO and COO, who could pull the records” and she would make them avaliable. So far, there has been no action.


UPDATE: Details of the Fall CAC meetings and the HAA’s big do-over here.

CADD Awards $5500 To Winner of Its Idea Incubation Event

Slide06Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas held its first CADDFUNd Competition on Nov. 16, and the winner of the contest was a University of North Texas MFA named Julie Libersat. CADD presented Liberstat with a check for $5500 after she won the crowd-voted competition, which was launched this year by CADD as a platform for area grad-student artists to propose “innovative ideas about potential artistic projects.”

Liberstat competed against five other artists; each gave brief pitches for their proposals in front of a ticket-buying crowd and a three-person jury; the audience was encouraged to ask questions of the artists before making a decision. Liberstat’s winning idea is a mobile app titled “ROAM” which “is an interactive urban exploration and mapping game for smart phones that helps players ‘get lost.’  She states that the mobile app is a creative tool that helps players get lost as a prompt to have an artistic interaction with the environment through disorientation.”

I was taught in a college Psych class that there’s some scientific backing to the idea that switching up your normal routes and getting out of your comfort zone can indeed inspire creative thinking and problem solving, so maybe she’s on to something. Congrats Liberstat and hats off to CADD for the initiative.

For more info on this year’s CADDFUNd event, go here.



Foundation Established in Honor of Artist Wendy Wagner

Wagner_WendyIn honor of Houston artist Wendy Wagner, who lost her two-year battle against brain cancer a couple of months ago, a foundation for artists has been established. The Foundation’s website (which now only has a front page, but is set to launch in January) sets out the purpose for the Foundation:

The Wendy Wagner Foundation for Funding Creativity empowers artists working across a wide array of disciplines and in all stages of professional development. Preserving the spirit, vision and legacy of its professional namesake, the Foundation provides scholarships, grants, project support and emergency healthcare resources to those who color our world.

Wagner, who loved all things creative, would be pleased to help emerging artists fulfill their projects and to help artists with healthcare issues. Although the website is not yet complete, there is a page to make donations to the Foundation.

Most artists need all the help they can get, so send a special thanks to Wendy, her husband, and her many friends!

Midwest Looks at Mid-Texas: Fort Wayne, Meet Austin!

Art by Brandon Snow

Art by Brandon Snow

In their new exhibition series, “Crossing Lines: Contemporary Art From Coast To Coast” the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Indiana is looking to showcase art from “all corners of the land” but, strangely, they’ve decided to start in the middle, with Austin. Their recently opened show, curated by Curated by FWMoA Adjunct Curator Josef Zimmerman, includes Austin artists Adrian Landon Brooks, Brandon Snow, Brian Imler, Erin Cunningham, Graham Franciose, Jamie Spinello, Jason Eatherly, Laura Latimer, David Lowell, Jason Webb, Nimer Aleck, Mike Johnston.

The nationwide survey is becoming a meme: In September, the splendiferous and deep-pocketed new Crystal Bridges museum kicked off its people-pleasing “State of the Art,” curated by Don Bacigalupi and Chad Alligood after a massive road trip of discovery.

DMA Acquires Frank Bowling Painting in Advance of 2015 Exhibition


(This painting is eighteen feet long.) Frank Bowling, Marcia H Travels, 1970, acrylic on canvas, 120.1 x 224.5 in.

As part of an initiative by still-new Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Gavin Delahunty, the DMA plans to originate more exhibitions of underrepresented artists, and in early 2015 the museum will open a show of works by Frank Bowling  (b.1936).

Frank Bowling: Map Paintings will feature four massive paintings that have not been seen together since their showing in 1971 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and in advance of this show, the DMA has acquired  “Marcia H Travels” (1970), which is “the first work in the DMA’s collection by the Guyanese-born British painter.” The other three will be on loan from private collections.

Writes the DMA: “Bowling, widely celebrated for his contributions to the field of abstraction and his advocacy of black artists internationally, created a number of paintings in the 1970s characterized by his use of world maps as organizational tools to explore color as its own subject—a recurring theme in his work.”

Bowling made the Map Paintings while living in New York. “Marcia H Travels,” with ghostly map-like outlines of South America, Africa, and Guyana, refers in its title to Bowling’s friend and fellow artist Marcia Hafif. The exhibition Frank Bowling: Map Paintings will open in February and run through July 2015.

For more info, please go here.



Wow! ArtPrize Is Coming to Dallas!

ArtPrize_Crowd_(3)ArtPrize, the high-profile organization and event founded by web entrepreneur Rick DeVos and launched five years ago in Grand Rapids, Mich., is the contemporary art competition in which the public can bestow up to $200,000 in prize money to winning artists, and another $200,000 is awarded by a jury of art professionals. Total prize money has reached $560,000. ArtPrize announced today that it is expanding into Dallas.

For an agreed-upon three years, starting April 2016, “Invited artists from around the world will show works over several days in galleries, stores, coffee shops, public plazas, parks and other unconventional locations,” (via NYTimes). The money is generated locally, by businesses, grants, and private sources, and, like a sort of mini-art Olympics, the publicity and tourism around the event has generated millions of dollars for Grand Rapids. (We’re talking $22 million in 2013 alone.)

Other cities have shown interest in hosting ArtPrize, but Dallas is the first outside Grand Rapids to formalize the arrangement. The most recent ArtPrize awarded in Grand Rapids a month ago generated nearly 400,000 public votes and awarded the $200,000 public prize to Anila Quayyum Agha, “an artist born in Pakistan and educated in Texas.” Sonya Clark, an artist from Virgina, won the jury prize.

Ariel Saldivar will serve as the Executive Director of ArtPrize Dallas.

Lonely Crates: Marty Walker’s Clever New Business

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 3.40.55 PMGood art shipping crates and travel frames are incredibly expensive to have made by professional art handling services; they’re bulky, made to stand up to rough shipping conditions, and can be nearly as beautiful as furniture. Dumping them after one journey can be heartbreaking. For many galleries and artists, chopping them up to recycle the wood just isn’t viable.

Marty Walker, formerly of Marty Walker Gallery in Dallas, has been brewing a great idea for a while, and now it’s launched. Lonely Crates is an art-crate-matching service: now some of those high-end art shipping crates that would otherwise be junked after one use can find new users.  The site is clear and looks like it’ll be easy to use. If you want to sell your crates, list them; if you’re looking for a crate for shipping or storing artwork, type in the specs. The site matches you up (including by zip code), like online dating! Since crates are originally built for specific works, it might mean a new user needs to tweak a bit, like add a bit of extra padding or foam, but otherwise they should be good to go. The new user makes an offer, and will ideally pay a fraction of the original build price.

I don’t know of any other company offering this exact kind of as-needed service, and I’d like to see it not only take off, but become the norm in the art world. It’s green, smart, and economical, and struggling artists, galleries, regional museums and the like can save a ton of cash, or even make a little on the side.




Tonight! Austin to Learn About Placemaking, Fluxus, and Cat Videos

Schultz_SarahSarah Schultz, former Curator of Public Practice and Director of Education at the Walker Art Center (WAC), will be speaking tonight at 7pm at the Arthouse at the Jones Center. After 22 years at WAC, one of the most successful museums in terms of experimental programming, she can share some serious history of now-common buzzwords like “placemaking.”

We’re not sure what “placemaking” is (it sounds like an artsy version of colonialism; should it be called “placebranding”?; didn’t the place exist before the cultural folk “discovered” it?), but Schultz and her team certainly created a place with the Walker’s experimental Open Field. They didn’t make or discover the place; it’s actually just WAC’s four-acre backyard. They turned it into summer-long (it’s Minneapolis!) experiments in how museums can engage the public in new ways. Open Field hosts over 100 activities each summer season, created and led by interested members of the general public, alongside invited artists-in-residence and activities generated by the Walker.

Open Field is also home to the Internet Cat Video Festival, which on its first opening night, drew a humongous crowd that must have made the “real” art curators jealously insane. In conjunction with WAC’s current exhibitions, Art Expanded: 1958-1978 and Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art (curated by CAMH Senior Curator Valerie Cassel Oliver), both of which have a strong Fluxus presence, the Walker programmed a ton of “FluxField” artist events. Schultz recently interviewed former Houstonian (now L.A.-based) art critic Natilee Harren about the connection between Fluxus and social practice. (Read it here.)

Photo by Gene Pittman, Courtesy Walker Art Center. Internet Cat Video Festival at Walker Open Field, 2012

Photo by Gene Pittman, Courtesy Walker Art Center. Internet Cat Video Festival at Walker Open Field, 2012

StoryCorps’ First Dallas Interview Is With Artist Christopher Blay


Christopher Blay

StoryCorps is a national non-profit that uses a “MobileBooth”–an airsteam trailer decked out with a recording studio– to make stops in cities across the country in order to record citizens’ personal stories.

The trailer will be parked at Sammons Park in front of the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas from November 20 to December 20 and, tomorrow, as part of the opening ceremony co-hosted by KERA at 10 a.m., the first two recorded interviews will be with DFW artist Christopher Blay and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Good move, StoryCorps!

The interviews are conducted along with a trained facilitator who guides the 40-minute process. The interviewee receives one CD copy (I wonder if they should switch to thumb drives?) and “With participant permission, a second copy is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.”

Also: “KERA FM will air a selection of the local interviews recorded in the StoryCorps MobileBooth. Segments of select interviews may air nationally on NPR’s Morning Edition.”

For more info on this and the other opening ceremony festivities, as well as information on how to sign up to be interviewed, please go here.

From Walmart to Star Wars: Former Texan Bacigalupi Makes a Big Move

don-bacigalupiAfter all this week’s departure news (Annette Carlozzi leaving the Blanton; Amada Cruz leaving Artpace; and Hills Snyder leaving Sala Diaz), here’s another: former Texan Don Bacigalupi is leaving Crystal Bridges to become the founding president of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. The Lucas Museum and Crystal Bridges made a joint announcement on Monday, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Bacigalupi receives honorary Texan status since he spent two decades here. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Houston (’83) and his M.A. (’85) and Ph.D. (’93) from the University of Texas. He was then curator at the San Antonio Museum of Art (’93-95), and chief curator and director of the Blaffer Art Museum until 1999.

After a couple of other director stints elsewhere, Bacigalupi joined the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (sometimes referred to as “the Walmart museum”) in 2009, which opened to the public in Bentonville, Arkansas in 2011. Now, still basking in the success of the mega-exhibition State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now (he was even featured on warm and fuzzy CBS Sunday Morning show earlier this month), it turns out that he will be assuming his new position in Chicago on January 15 (four days before State of the Art closes). The $700 million, futuristic Lucas Museum building will be funded by billionaire Star Wars creator George Lucas and has a proposed opening date in 2018.


Rendering of the future Lucas Museum of Narrative Art on Chicago’s lakefront