Potato Salad for All! Fredericksburg Mayor Proclaims Charles Beckendorf Day

Charles Beckendorf, Texas Spring

Charles Beckendorf, Texas Spring

On June 17, Fredericksburg Mayor Linda Langerhans proclaimed an annual “Charles Beckendorf Day” in honor of the renowned wildlife artist who helped put that Hill Country town on the map.

The reception, organized by marketing consultants Sales by 5 for Beckendorf”s gallery, was well attended by friends and family, but was only a shadow of  of past public-relations glory. Guests recalled annual citywide cookouts behind Beckendorf’s 16,000 square foot gallery (a former purse factory) on highway 290 where the artist and his wife served steaks and potato salad to 3000 townspeople.  One eulogist (Beckendorf died in 1996) claimed it was “the largest one-artist gallery in the world.” In 1979, Beckendorf published his book Images of Texas in Fredericksburg, having pre-sold 10,000 signed an numbered copies.

Beckendorf grew up in Mathis, Texas, attended the University of Corpus Christi and Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos (now Texas State University) before finally getting a degree in Fine Arts from UT Austin. He worked as an illustrator in Houston in the early 60′s.  Beckendorf brought his family to Fredericksburg in 1965, and opened his first gallery on April 1, 1971, saying, “Any fool artist who opens a gallery in Fredericksburg, TX, should open on April fool’s day.”

beckendorf cake

Van Gogh-go-go with the Bass Collection

vangoghstreetIf you want to see how the one of the great art collecting families of Texas used to roll, mark next spring on your calendar. On Friday the Kimbell Art Museum announced a major loan and exhibition of 37 incredible works belonging to the first royal family of Fort Worth, the Basses. “The Collection of Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass” opening in March 2015 will feature painting and sculpture by the kinds of artists most people will only ever see in museum collections, yet Nancy and Perry got to eat breakfast with these things in their own house(s): Van Gogh, Pissarro, Renoir, Monet, Miró, Léger, Vuillard, Bonnard, Rothko, Chagall, Matisse, and that slouch Picasso.

The intensely private family of course spearheaded the entire redevelopment of downtown Fort Worth with great success. Despite being known internationally as great art collectors and more than partly responsible for the fine art reputation of Fort Worth and its museum culture, this collection has never before been shown publicly. The couple’s adult children have arranged the loan. The value of the collection must be staggering.

(photo: Van Gogh’s “Street in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer,” collection of Nancy Lee and Perry Bass)

Who needs Etsy? Facebook’s the new Salon!

print sampler2In celebration of his upcoming bricks-and mortar art show at Andy Howell’s The Shape of Things Art Gallery and Shop in Houston (wedged into a strip center on Westheimer between ex-Radio Shack and Erotic Cabaret) local “creative Spirit, formerly known as Visual Artist” Dune-Micheli Patten is offering three prints for sale directly through PayPal. Patten created a Facebook event with the title “Fun Happy Little Happening” to publicize the sale, where he asks viewers to look at these photos posted in the event’s comments section, then click through a link straight to a PayPal page to buy them from now until tomorrow night at 11pm.

With more sites hoping to sell art online than there are suckers to buy it, Facebook is growing as a last-ditch populist outlet. Unlike gallery sites like Saatchi, dedicated shopping sites like Etsy, or even wild-and-wooly eBay, which all charge at least a nominal commission, artists like Patten and Natasha Wescoat are, with startling simplicity, using Facebook itself as a gallery. This primer by Charly Mercer tells how to step on the internet rainbow and find your own pot of gold.

Houston artists are good at this public art thing

North-Texas-Sunrise-by-Dixie-Friend-Gay-at-Dallas-Love-Field-Airport_123353Giant art commissions by two Houston-based artists have been selected as among the top public arts projects in the U.S. by the Public Art Network Year in Review. Patrick Renner and Dixie Friend Gay created the works cited in the annual survey, which was founded by the national advocacy non-profit Americans For the Arts and its Public Art Network branch. 37 pieces were chosen in all; the jury for the selection is made up of national artists who specialize in public art commissions.

Patrick Renner’s “Funnel Tunnel” installed along Montrose Boulevard in Houston is a 180-foot long painted reclaimed-wood and steel sculpture commissioned by Art League Houston. Dixie Friend Gay’s “North Texas Sunrise” is a 63-foot long mosaic mural (pictured) in the lobby at Love Field Airport in Dallas, commissioned by Love Field as part of its public arts program. Congratulations to both artists.

(photo: Nathan Cox/CultureMap Dallas)

Tesla Project’s magnetic field hits Austin July 5

Tesla_circa_1890On July 5 East-Austin artist space Canopy and Art.Science.Gallery will host The Tesla Project, an all-day celebration of the genius of Nikola Tesla, the popular scientist/inventor/über-geek. The free extravaganza is open to all ages. Proceeds benefit Girlstart!, a STEM education program for girls.

The day’s events, all linked to Tesla’s interests and history, include robots, t-shirt screen printing, a dove release (Tesla was into pigeons), a costume contest, film screenings, live theremin music, plus food trucks and more. I admit it does sound like a lot of fun. The complete schedule is here.



The Tesla Project: Saturday, July 5, 2014 from 2-10pm at Canopy
916 Springdale Rd. Austin, TX 78702 Free!

(photo: Tesla, aged 34, 1890, by Napoleon Sarony)

Lovely Rita, tow my heart away.

IMG_2419If you’re an artist with a couple of extra hours on your hands today, you might just make the deadline: The City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs has put out a call for entries for artists to come up with ways to spruce up the city’s parking meters, called “One Meter at a Time: A Temporary Public Art Project.”

The Office of Cultural Affairs (paired with the police department) will select three artists for the project; the meter art will stay put somewhere between six months and a year. There is an honorarium.

The OCA states: “Using existing parking meters in three locations identified throughout Dallas, selected artists will be commissioned for ‘creative interventions’ such as decorative paint, removable graphics, or wrapping projects (i.e., yarn bombing or vinyl wraps) to enhance the exterior of parking meters.”

Not surprisingly, the locations are downtown, Deep Ellum, and Oak Cliff. We wonder if the Dallas OCA was inspired by the art-on-city-hardware project going on in North Richland Hills.

So chop chop! Deadline is five p.m. today. Entry requirements and guidelines can be found here.

(photo: Virgina Jones, a meter in Alabama)

San Antonio history on repeat

san_antonio_saga_bc_04Via the San Antonio Express-News: Debuting tonight at 9 p.m. “a 24-minute video collage of images set to music” called The Saga will be projected onto the face of the San Fernando Cathedral. This kicks off what is scheduled to be a ten-year run of the installation, created by a French artist named Xavier de Richemont. Weather permitting, it will start up again at 9 p.m. each Tuesday and weekend night.

The video, projected for the foot traffic at 115 Main Plaza, was commissioned by the Main Plaza Conservancy, and reportedly shows a series of photos in “a tribute to the local culture and history,” which includes historical images of San Antonio’s storied past and extends to photo portraits of current residents. According to the Express-News, Richemont has made something of a career for himself in creating these kind of installation college projections for cities worldwide. His other works, like the San Antonio iteration, take “the form of designs, photography, writing and music” and are then projected onto historic landmarks.

(photo: San Antonio Express-News)

Do you remember… (the Alamo)

622x350The Texas General Land Office announced this week that ultra-wealthy British musician Phil Collins will donate to the state of Texas his massive and massively valuable collection of artifacts from Texas Revolution. Collins has in recent years collected tens of millions of dollars worth of Alamo-related memorabilia, including hundreds of original documents handwritten by the likes of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin, as well as war paraphernalia such as sword belts and shot pouches owned by legendary figures Davy Crocket and William B. Travis.

phil_collins_alamoCollins, 63, has kept most of the collection in his house in Switzerland, and it was documented in his 2012 book, “The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector’s Journey.” It is considered the world’s largest private collection of artifacts from the Texas Revolution.

When the GLO took over the site of the Alamo from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in 2011, the GLO project manager Kaye Tucker caught wind of Collins looking to exhibit the work somewhere. She met with him and the ball started rolling. According to Texas Monthly, “The deal is part of a larger effort by the GLO to improve Texas’s most sacred historical site.”

The collection will make up a permanent collection at the Alamo. Details about the gift, including shipping, insurance, and timeframe for the first exhibition of the artifacts have yet to be determined, but for many pieces in the collection it will mark their first return to Alamo since 1836.

(Photo: J. Michael Short/San Antonio Express-News)

A bit of Lee Marvin with your morning coffee?


photo: CBS-DFW

CBS-DFW ran a story yesterday that brought to light something I hadn’t seen before: North Richland Hills (a small city between Dallas and Fort Worth) has since 2007 taken a cue from a public art project in Santa Fe and wraps its big gray traffic signal boxes in large prints of original art by regional artists. The latest themed edition of the Signal Art Program is called “Hollywood Film Cowboys.” It features images of the likes of Yul Brynner (from “Westworld”of course), Clint Eastwood, and John Wayne. Some of the boxes’ sizes are pretty imposing, so the effect is more striking than one might predict. Graphically, they have a bit of a Warholian quality, which is an interesting and somehow fitting touch for a suburban commuter town. Here is a good clear map of the intersection locations of each.

As of Tuesday, ten boxes have gotten the cowboy treatment and, since the program’s start, a total of 15 boxes have been wrapped in imagery by artists such as Sarah Green and Nancy Lamb. Each piece costs between $500 and $1500 to produce and install and the project is made possible through donations to NRH’s art program. Right now the city is seeking more regional artists to contribute to the initiative.


DFW art expert pleads guilty to ivory smuggling


photo: Houston Press/Mark Kent

A DFW-based art and antiquities appraiser yesterday pleaded guilty to the U.S Department of Justice for trafficking in illegal wildlife horns and ivory. Ning Qiu, 43, of Frisco, is charged with a conspiracy to smuggle rhino horns and elephant ivory valued at approximately $1-3 million; as part of an international smuggling ring he moved the contraband from the U.S. to China. From there these goods were sold to various Asian markets where consumers value the animal parts as superstitious talismans for good health.

Reportedly, Qiu had been a professional art appraiser for seven years and had at one point worked in an unnamed Dallas art auction house. Qiu used his antiques connections to buy goods made from horn and ivory, and scoured the U.S. for more sources, which may have included hunting trophies. To ship them across international lines, he hid the goods inside vases and falsified shipping documents.

Elephant and rhino populations across their natural habitats in Africa have plummeted via poaching due to this illegal trade. In recent years and despite international trade bans, demand for their parts has soared in newly affluent Asian markets.

According to the Department of Justice, “Qiu was identified as part of ‘Operation Crash’ – a nationwide effort led by the USFWS [U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service] and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.”

As part of Qiu’s plea deal for cooperating with authorities by giving them information about the smuggling operation, the D.O.J. states that “…the government agrees to recommend to the sentencing judge that Qiu serve a 25-month prison sentence and pay a $150,000 fine.” His sentencing date has yet to be determined.


FotoFest founder Wendy Watriss lectures in San Fran this Thursday

watrissWendy Watriss, co-founder of FotoFest in Houston, is speaking this Thursday evening at the San Francisco Art Institute as part of Photoalliance‘s 2014 lecture series.

FotoFest is, of course,  the internationally renowned photographic arts and education organization which also hosts a major eponymous biennial (this year is its 15th). Watriss has been its artistic director since 1991, while she’s had a long and distinguished career as a photographer, curator, writer and journalist.

Watriss will speak on Thursday, June 26, 2014, 7:30 pm, at the San Francisco Art Institute Lecture Hall, 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA. Tickets will be
available at the door: $10 General / $5 Students with ID.

Human brains like art (or at least paintings) very much


Max Beckmann, Self Portrait

The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports on a meta-analysis out of the University of Toronto that gathered the results of 15 recent studies from seven countries that mapped the MRI scans of participants while they viewed images of paintings by famous and unknown artists.

Of the 330 participants, ages 19-59, some were asked to use some “aesthetic judgement” when viewing the images, and some weren’t, but overall the paintings activated plenty of regions of their brains, including the visual cortex (which of course processes shapes and colors), and the fusiform gyrus and parahippocampal gyrus (perception, objects and places). The anterior temporal lobe was highlighted, meaning that viewing the art sparked “higher-order mental processing.”

Wait, there’s more! Other regions lit up, one associated with “inner thoughts and emotional experiences” and another that signals “experienced or anticipated pleasure,” but, then, only images of paintings were used in the study. Researchers did not study participants’ brains’ reactions to sculpture, performance, video, or conceptual art.


A rose is a rose is a . . .billboard? Stein texts to caption Houston freeways this summer

we're all about you

not Gertrude Stein

For the next six weeks, 10 billboards along I-10 between Beaumont and Brookshire will bear quotes by modern author Gertrude Stein. Some, like “in the morning there is meaning” and “in the evening there is feeling,” seem apt for the daily commute, but for “How sweet are suns and suns. And the season. The sea or the season, and the roads” (in Katy) you’d better be stuck in traffic.

In addition, the project, titled it is so, is it so, by artist Eve Fowler, will place libraries of modernist classics by contemporaries of Stein, such as Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust, Henry James, Truman Capote, and Anne Carson in roadside venues like Stuckey’s in Anahuac, and the Gator Junction BBQ (24620 Interstate 10, Wallisville), as well as arty hangouts like Inversion Coffee in Montrose and Bohemeo’s cafe.

Fowler’s billboards are only one spoke in a big wheel: her Houston project is the fourth chapter in larger The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project, which will place 100 boards by 10 artists along Interstate 10 between California and Florida by Spring 2015, conceived by artist Zoe Crosher, organized by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division), and curated by LAND’s star curator/director Shamim Momin.

Google map

Click on the map image for the interactive Google map.







CADD stays busy and keeps spreading the love around

Hot on the tail of the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas scholarship winner announcement, the group is releasing information about its upcoming CADD FUNd: Winner Takes All [sic] event happening in Dallas in November.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.07.59 AMModeled on the trend of idea-sharing platforms, CADD says this about the FUNd: It “…was inspired by similar events throughout the United States such as Feast in Brooklyn, Incubate in Chicago and Spread in Santa Fe. Over the past several years, numerous organizations have taken the basic premise of a Sunday soup dinner—collect creative proposals, invite the public to pay, eat, and listen, and then democratically vote for a winner… .”

The goal is to host an evening of current and recent DFW-area M.A.s and M.F.A.s sharing their proposals for “innovative ideas about potential artistic projects,” specifically proposals that would support the local art community. The presentations are meant to unfold at a quick clip, with the audience asking questions and voting for their favorite proposal. CADD estimates that through ticket sales to the event, they can grant the winner somewhere between $2500 and $7500 to realize their project. All FUNd proceeds go to the winning proposal.

CADD needs applicants to submit their proposals online from July 1-September 1, in order to winnow down the pool to the six who will present on the night of the event, which will take place on Sunday, November 16 in Trinity Groves, 3015 Gulden Lane. For more info and presenter eligibility requirements, go here.

Photo-op! Dr. Cornel West visits Lauren Woods’ Drinking Fountain in Dallas


photo: Cynthia Mulcahy

Ivy-League fixture, philosophy dynamo and prominent activist Dr. Cornel West was in Dallas on Friday, June 20, and paid a visit to local conceptual artist Lauren Woods’ permanent installation, titled Drinking Fountain #1, in the Dallas County Records Building. West was in town to speak about race inequality and social justice issues at a gathering of Mothers Against Police Brutality hosted by Friendship-West Baptist Church.

Woods’ Drinking Fountain #1, unveiled last November during the city-wide commemoration of the Kennedy assassination, is a screen smoothly built into a working water fountain; it plays footage of historical civil rights protests when you bend down to take a drink. The Records Building installation is in the spot where, when a metal plate fell off the wall near a water fountain in 2003, a segregation-era “Whites Only” sign was revealed.

For the informal press event, Woods was on hand to greet Dr. West, along with Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

I would make a joke about the “Dog Days of Summer,” but I take this issue too seriously


Photo: Gloria Medina Zenteno

In a bid to raise awareness of the city’s overwhelming stray and neglected dog population, Houston’s DiverseWorks has teamed up with two other non-profits, Barrio Dogs, Inc. and Box 13 ArtSpace, to create a community-based photography enterprise they’re calling No One’s Dog: A Community Art Project.

The initiative calls on Houston residents to document abandoned, overlooked, and suffering dogs (and cats!) around city neighborhoods and upload the photographs to a Flickr group page. Selected photos that have been submitted by July 8 will be included in an exhibition at DiverseWorks that opens with a public reception on July 26 and runs through August 9.

Photos are already filing in to Flickr (I’ll personally lose sleep tonight over the photo showing a chained dog with a inward-spiked collar so tight it’s buried in his skin); this is a smart way to get people invested in a situation they may have otherwise overlooked, or to give them an outlet to illuminate scenes that have troubled them for ages.

DiverseWorks has sweetened the deal by asking Houston artist Michael Bise to create a coloring book “documenting the plight of Barrio Dog Rusty – who was found as a stray and is now one of Barrio Dogs’ greatest success stories.” They also promise that Bise and Rusty the dog will be at the opening, which is cool.

For more info, please go here.

Kitsch alert: Tango frogs are back!

imageThree of the beloved “Six Frogs Over Tango” will return next week to their original Lower Greenville Avenue perch in Dallas after their long exile to the Carl’s Corner truck stop outside of Hillsboro, Texas.

Austin-based artist and Dallas legend (he of the Oak Cliff Four) Bob “Daddy-O” Wade, now 71, created the installation of six ten-foot high frogs in 1983, to mechanically dance along the roofline of the nightclub Tango. At the time, locals embraced the wire-and-foam sculptures as neighborhood mascots, though city officials had to be swayed to let them serve as official signage.

The old Tango spot at 1827 Greenville Avenue is now a Taco Cabana. Todd Coerver and Tim Taft, executives for Cabana and its parent company, worked to get the frogs back as part of an overall effort to rejuvenate the Lower Greenville strip. Taco Cabana purchased the frogs and has had them restored.

Back in the early ’80s, Tango owner Shannon Wynne commissioned Wade to fabricate the frogs, and since Wynne’s father Angus was the man behind Six Flags Over Texas, the sculptures became known as the Six Frogs Over Tango. Tango closed about a year later; the frogs moved to Carl’s Corner, and after a fire there they were partially split up. (Three of the six frogs are still hostages at a Nashville-based Chuy’s. Boo.)

On June 26 starting at 4 p.m., Taco Cabana will host an ’80s-themed outdoor party called Throwback Thursday to celebrate the frogs’ return, with Daddy-O in attendance.

(photo: Bob Wade Collection)

New astroloabe sculpture says “science!” at Texas Tech

imageTexas Tech University in Lubbock has unveiled the newest piece of public art on its main campus as part of its Public Art Program for the Texas Tech University System. The new steel and aluminum sculpture, titled “Astrolabe” (pictured) is by New York-based artist Owen Morrel. The sculpture was craned into place in the courtyard of the Experimental Sciences Building on Wednesday and Morrel should complete its installation this week.

The sculpture is an abstracted interpretation of the same-named ancient navigational tool. As reported by KCBD Lubbock, “The $242,000 project will be… surrounded by a mound of drought-tolerant plants and hardscape that ascends in a spiral pattern, providing a pathway to the art piece and creating a metaphorical reference to an image with broad scientific implications.”

Texas Tech’s Public Art Program was launched in 1998 by the Board of Regents and its effects are visible throughout the university system’s various campuses. So far 98 works of art have been completed, including pieces by such popular artists as Tom Otterness and Terry Allen.

(photo: KCBD News Lubbock)

CADD announces scholarship winner

imageContemporary Art Dealers of Dallas (CADD) has announced the winner of its annual art student scholarship: Christian (Beatle) Gietema, who just graduated from Dallas’ Booker T. Washington High School For the Performing and Visual Arts, will go on this fall to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to study architecture and design.

According to CADD: “Beatle [sic] is a multimedia artist who welcomes a rigorous schedule – having spent the past three summers participating at the California College of Creative Arts and Rhode Island School of Designs summer art programs. He intends to [study] industrial design, furniture design, architecture, and urban design so that he may further… contribute to humane, thoughtful and intentional environments of Total Design.”

CADD launched the scholarship program in 2007 for recent graduates of Booker T. to help fund their continued education; the prize is $2500.

Artpace calls for applications for 2016 residency

imageExcellent and long-running artist-in-residence program Artpace in San Antonio will begin its online call for Texas artist applications on June 25, for a residency in 2016. The call applies to artists living and working in Texas and the work submitted must be (reasonably) recent. The deadline is August 27. Each residency session includes one Texas artist, one non-Texan national artist, and one artist from abroad, though Texas artists are the only ones that submit online applications. Artpace has not yet selected the curator for the session, but past heavy hitters have included Francesco Bonami, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Ute Meta Bauer. Go here for application info.