Ratcliff: Why Worry About Art Criticism When the House is On Fire?

Trash art self portrait by Tom Deninger

Trash art self portrait by Tom Deninger

Dallas arts writer (and sometime Glasstire contributor) Darryl Ratcliff blogged yesterday for CentralTrak’s Canvassing that : “The Whole Arts World Is Totally Fucked. And Everyone’s Talking About Arts Criticism?

Responding to Glasstire’s Christina Rees recent article on crowdsourced curating at museums, Ratcliff argues that museums aren’t necessarily to blame: wacky, populist curatorial strategies are symptoms of a larger campaign against creativity in general.

Bringing in the Newly released W.A.G.E. guidelines, Robert Boyd’s blog about them, and spiraling art-school tuition, Ratcliff says the end is near, just in time for Halloween!


Lecture Series for WWI Postcards Show Starts TONIGHT in Houston

unnamedTo accompany its current exhibition “Postcards from the Trenches” (which looks like a good one), the Printing Museum in Houston is launching a lecture series which begins this evening at 7 p.m., with a talk by Steven Fenberg, author and filmmaker. The title of tonight’s discussion is “Give Until It Hurts: Jesse Jones, Houston and World War I.”

The series will continue on November 6, with a talk by author and filmmaker Jay Winter titled “The First World War: A Transnational Approach,” and will conclude on November 20 with national radio host and music historian Michael Lasser with “’Smile the While You Kiss me Sad Adieu’: The Love Songs of WWI.”

These lectures are free, but seating is limited and RSVPs are encouraged: call (713) 522-4652. For more info, please go here.


The Museum of Printing History · 1324 W. Clay Street, Houston, Texas 77019

Artists and Writers to Decide If They Have Anything in Common

ligaturesGulf Coast Magazine has put together a “conversation,” which will take place tonight at 7pm in Houston’s El Dorado Ballroom. They have lined up two authors (Jennifer Scappettone and Ilya Kaminsky) and two artists (Autumn Knight and Clarissa Tossin) for “Ligatures: Authors and Artists in Conversation.” They will discuss the artistic process and how to actually get stuff done. Conversation from the audience is encouraged.

Of course, there are a number of artist/authors who have already figured it out (Glasstire’s own Laura Lark, for one), but it probably wouldn’t make for as good of a conversation.

Belo Auction Sets Records for Some Texas Artists’ Prices

heritageAs mentioned in this space the week before last, the auctioning off of Belo Corporation’s art collection on Oct. 18 in Dallas was sure to be a big success, and it turns out it was. According to, the auction, which was made up of decades’ worth of Texas art, was standing-room only and brought in more than $620,000. This surpassed high-estimate expectations.

FYI: David Bates’ “Blue Heron,” considered the big-ticket item, “took top lot honors early in the auction when it crossed the block for $106,250, a new record for the artist.”

A record was set for Dennis Blagg’s work: two of his works sold after multiple bids, for $40,625 and $37,500. Also of note: “Two paintings by abstract artist Billy Hassell also saw interest by multiple bidders,” with works selling for $21,250 and $20,000, “both fresh records for the artist.” And, a “geometric abstract work by artist Dan Rizzie, ended at $32,500, also a record for the artist.”

For more on this, go here.





Halloween in Texas: What’s an artist to do?

If you’re not one of those people who stay in, turn off the porch light and pretend you’re not home when the doorbell rings, you might still be looking for something to do for the Halloween weekend. Here are some vaguely arty events that have shown up in the Glasstire inbox recently.

warhol_pumpkinHalloween Exhibitions and Museum/Gallery Events
Houston’s Civic TV Collective will open the show Domokos/Future Blondes: Fekete 31 on the 31st with a “Halloween Horror Show of art.” On the same night, Houston’s El Rincon Social closes its show of Ratio with a Halloween costume contest. Houston’s MKT BAR at Phoenicia will host the “Love Street Art Ball Halloween Bash,” inspired by Andy Warhol’s Factory. They promise ’60s mod fashion, groovy tunes, “urban trick-or-treat stations,” and lots of art. On October 30, San Antonio’s McNay Art Museum will present “Have No Fear of Art” with trick-or-treating and an outdoor screening of Creature from the Black Lagoon, followed by an 21+ After-Party. In conjunction with the closing of I, Daughter of Kong: Primum Movens (already an eerily strange show), Austin’s Co-Lab is holding a Halloween party on November 1.

Stuff for Kids
The International Museum of Art & Science in McAllen is open on Halloween from 9am-8pm with all sorts of kid-friendly activities. The Thinkery (we’re finally thinking that the doofy name is more appropriate than calling children’s educational centers “museums.”) in Austin is holding a “Halloween Hootenanny” from 6-8:30pm. And Orange, TX boasts “the largest Scarecrow Festival in Texas,” which runs October 29-November 1.

Día de los Muertos
If you missed bidding on artworks at the retablo show, you can still check it out when you go to the “Family Day Fiesta” at Houston’s Lawndale Art Center on November 1. Also, Houston’s Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts (MECA) will celebrate Day of the Dead all day Saturday and Sunday. East End Studio Gallery in Houston will hold festivities in conjunction with the closing of its show Día de los Muertos in the East End on November 2. Blackwell School Alliance, The Chinati Foundation, and Marfa ISD will host Día de los Muertos with a gathering and ceremony beginning at 2pm on November 2, followed by a community potluck beginning at 5:30pm.

Dallas will celebrate Day of the Dead with its Mariachi Quetzal at Sammons Park on October 30; Austin’s Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center parties on November1; and Round Rock will host a festival on November 8 (okay, that date’s way off).

Dia_dogSan Antonio should be the queen of Día de los Muertos celebrations. They have huge festivities at La Villita Historic Arts Village and at Historic Market Square the whole weekend and Say Sí has a “Muertitos Fest Friday” on Friday night. Corpus Christi challenges S.A. with its boast that its street festival was selected as “one of the Top 10 Día de los Muertos celebrations in the US by MSN” (Saturday from 3pm-midnight). But Dallas’ McKinney Avenue Contemporary (MAC) is holding a very, very special Día de los Muertos all day on November 1: “A Celebration to Cherish the Lives of Our Furry Friends/Day of the Dead for our Beloved Pets.”

Scary Movies
Lots of screenings! Here are some: Night of the Living Dead at Dallas Children’s Theater at 7:30pm on Friday; Creature from the Black Lagoon at the Plaza Theatre in Garland at 7pm Friday; Nosferatu the Vampyre (the Herzog version) at the MFAH; Fritz Lang’s M at 14 Pews; and Rocky Horror Picture Show at Beaumont’s Jefferson Theatre.

Other Stuff
There’s a “Michael Jackson Sing-Along and Dance Party” (that sounds scary!) at the Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson on Thursday night. There are a number of Dallas pubs holding pumpkin carving contests because alcohol and knives are just made for each other. And Galveston is going crazy this year with the haunted houses and ghost tours!

Good luck! Scary times! And feel free to add interesting Halloween and Día de los Muertos activities that you’ve heard about in the comments section below.

(Top image via

TWO x TWO Fundraising Gala Hits Record High Sale: $2.6 Million for Guyton

Guyton, Wade_Petzel Gallery-580x872

THIS ONE. Wade Guyton, UNTITLED, 2008, epson ultrachrome inkjet on linen, 93 x 55 x 1 1/2 inches

The big splashy TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Gala has been one of the biggest art events in Dallas for sixteen years. Held at Howard and Cindy Rachofsky’s Richard Meier-designed house (and tent on the lawn), the party attracts big spenders and networkers internationally; the Rachofskys spend a good chunk of each year traveling to various cities worldwide to secure the lots for the auction (and asking some local artists and galleries to contribute as well).

Many of the lots are silent auction, but each year there’s a marquee lot for the live auction, usually accompanied by the artist and his or her primary dealer, and this year’s super special broke the price record: Wade Guyton’s piece sold for $2.6 million to an anonymous bidder on the phone to Cindy Rachofsky. Sotheby’s veteran Jamie Niven was the returning auctioneer. He is quoted in the DMN: ” “I’ve never seen that…  Not in a charity auction. I’ve never seen that.” It’s a big inkjet on linen, of course, and its estimated retail was $350,000. The last record was set three years ago by a Mark Grotjahn piece for $1 million.

All TWO x TWO proceeds are divided between the American Foundation for AIDS Research and the Dallas Museum of Art. The total take this year also set a record at $7 million.




Austin Artist to Build Giant Lady Parts

vulvaThe interns over at the Huffington Post who dig through the Internet have discovered a Kickstarter campaign called “Texas Women.” A young Austin artist named Chloe (c’mon, let us know who you are!) wants to raise $600 to build a six-foot tall vulva. Chloe explains her protest against HB2, the recent anti-abortion bill that closed almost half of Texas’ clinics:

I am a girl with a dream. I want to help women. I want to change the world. I want to create a statue of lady parts. I am really excited about this project because I think that it can make a difference in the lives of women in Texas. I am ready to say “fuck you” to the rich, white, men in Texas who are limiting my rights to my own body and I am ready to make something hilarious.

As of this morning, she has raised over $1,200 with more than a month to go on the campaign. She has pledged that all extra money “will all go to starting a fund to help women in Texas.”

Texas Artist Tracy Hicks Dead at 68

unnamedSadness all around. Tracy Hicks, beloved Texas artist who was Dallas-based until a few years ago, died of a heart attack on Friday. He was an active and vocal member of the Texas art scene (even from his mountain home in North Carolina) up until the very end.

Here is a lovely obituary on Hicks, by Michael Granberry at the Dallas Morning News, that includes a description of Hicks’ career, his later-in-life post in the Smithsonian’s Artist Research Fellowship Program, and his longtime advocacy of responsible environmentalism.

He will be missed.





DFW Art Lovers: Take This Personality Quiz!

Please choose “1” or “2” from each section:

  1. Johnny Quest
  2. The Jetsons
  1. Architecture
  2. Animation
  1. Aged Parmesan
  2. Kraft Singles
  1. Longing
  2. Pleasure
  1. Quotation: “Spiritual practice can provide a conversation about ethics that is often missing from art education.”
  2. Quotation: “They tear you apart if you turn your back for one second. You have to keep fighting.”

We’re just trying to make your decision easier for you, since there are two competing art talks in the DFW area tomorrow night. So tally up your answers and make your plans.

Ann_HamiltonIf most of your selections were “1,” go to the UNT Nasher Lecture Series, featuring artist Ann Hamilton, tomorrow evening at 7pm.



Kenny_ScharfIf most of your selections were “2,” go to the Kenny Scharf lecture at the Fort Worth Modern tomorrow evening at 7pm.

Blanton Gets Digital with Koven Smith

smith kovenInteractive technology is the new museum arms race, and the Blanton Museum in Austin has appointed museum-tech expert Koven Smith as to the new post of “Director of Digital Adaptation.” Smith will oversee the creation of a digital strategy of the university museum, including a new website, technology in the galleries, and other neat-o stuff.

Smith served most recently as Director of Technology for the Denver Art Museum. Prior to that, he was Manager of Interpretive Technology at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Museum Systems Architect at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Smith was as an advisory board member and co-principal investigator for the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report (Museum Edition) 2011—2013, and served on the Board of Directors for the Museum Computer Network from 2010-2013. In 2011 he founded the popular “Drinking About Museums” program—an international “meet-up” group for museum professionals with thirty chapters around the world.

“I’m incredibly excited to begin working at the Blanton,” remarked Smith. “Over the next few years, the museum will implement a comprehensive digital strategy that encompasses web, mobile, social media, and public-facing technologies, and I look forward to leading that effort—particularly in Austin, a celebrated hub for technology.”

New Texas Art Book Debuts in New Mexico Today!

texas abstractTexas Abstract: Modern/Contemporary, a new picture book featuring the works of 33 abstract painters working in Texas debuts today—in New Mexico!

Published by SF Design / FrescoBooks out of Albequerque and written by Michael Paglia and curator Jim Edwards, the new book “documents the unexpected role Texas played in the history of Abstraction, and continues to play in the contemporary art world today.” Wade Wilson is holding a book signing and reception from 5-8 their gallery at 217 West Water Street Santa Fe. The signing kicks off an exhibition of some of the artists works.

This is Edwards’ second go-round at recapitulating Texas abstraction- in 2007 he curated Texas Modern: The Rediscovery of Early Texas Abstraction, an exhibition of more than 50 paintings and sculptures at Baylor’s Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. Denver-based art writer Michael Paglia has co-written several similar books for Fresco: Colorado Abstract with Mary Voelz Chandler in 2009 and Colorado Landscapes with curator Ann Scarlett Daley in 2007.

Blanton Museum Gets Itself Some Okay Mountain


Okay Mountain “Roadside Attractions” (2012)

Mark Moore Gallery (Los Angeles), which represents the (mostly) Austin-based art collective Okay Mountain, has announced that the collective’s piece “Roadside Attractions” (2012) has been acquired by the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin. This is a nice sort of homecoming, since many of Okay Mountain’s members are UT alumni.

The piece was originally commissioned as part of a visiting artist series for the Cress Gallery of Art at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. In solid Okay Mountain form, it’s a deadpan sculpture + print edition in the form of a wooden stand full of various travel brochures, just as you might find in a hotel lobby or welcome center, though all the content of the brochures is pastiche, created by the members of Okay Mountain. Per Mark Moore’s announcement: “Through calculated exaggeration and espousal of the absurd, Okay Mountain creates farcical caricatures of a national identity. Faux infomercials, flyers, guidebooks, and memos are rife with satirical imitations of salesmen, tour guides and mascots – playing on our communal tendency for insatiable want.”

Okay Mountain’s work has been acquired by a handful of other national and Texas museums. For a list look toward the bottom of this page. Nice work and congrats to the Blanton and Okay Mountain!


Texas Director Drought Worsens as Diverseworks’ Dunbar Heads East

dunbarDiverseWorks Artspace has announced that its director, Elizabeth Dunbar, will be leaving for a new job as Director of the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY by the end of the year, adding another vacancy to already long list of empty chairs at Texas nonprofits. The Rothko Chapel, Houston Center for Photography, Project Row Houses, Galveston Arts Center, Linda Pace Foundation, and the El Paso Museum of Art are all looking for new chief executives.

Dunbar came to DiverseWorks in January 2012, not quite three years ago, fallout from the stormy implosion of ArtHouse in Austin, and immediately fell into a similar crisis here, as DiverseWorks left its longtime home, a beloved but grungy hangar under the East Freeway, for Midtown, lured by the promise of a spot in the nascent MATCH arts complex. DiverseWorks moved into its current midtown space, and was forced to shed its active performance programming along with its theater space, and lost Sixto Wagan, the program’s highly-regarded director. During her tenure, Dunbar shifted the organization’s curatorial focus onto presenting and commissioning multidisciplinary projects, and curated shows by Keren Cytter, Tony Feher, Liz Magic Laser, Franklin Evans, Wu Tsang, and Heather and Ivan Morison.

2015 programming will continue as planned, including projects with Oliver Herring, Dean Moss, and Tahni Holt. The DiverseWorks Board of Directors and staff are developing a transition plan and a search for a new director will be announced at a future date.

Bagley and Orr’s “Water Theater” Makes the National Endangered List

Water-Theater-in-dis-repairYesterday, Art and the Landscape published a new list of endangered national public artworks as part of its Landslide Project (launched 2003), and “focuses attention on threatened and at-risk landscapes and landscape features and includes an annual thematic compendium.” Frances Bagley and Tom Orr’s White Rock Lake Wildlife Water Theater is a featured artwork. There are eleven works in all. This should help push the visibility and plight of the work into a national spotlight.

The site includes a terrific and thorough description of the work as well as its current standing, including: “In 2009 the City of Dallas cut out its maintenance funding for public art, a situation made worse because the Percent for Art program was not structured to include a maintenance budget.” Go here for more, and here’s Glasstire’s latest on the issue.

Luis Jiménez Studio Declared Cultural Property by New Mexico and Nominated for National Historic Landmark

JimenezThe New Mexico Historic Preservation Division announced yesterday that the home and studio of artist Luis Jiménez are now listed in the State Register of Cultural Properties and forwarded for consideration in the National Register of Historic Places, reports the Ruidoso News. The registers are the state’s and the nation’s lists of cultural properties and resources considered worthy of historic preservation.

Jiménez was born in El Paso, studied art and architecture at the University of Texas in Austin and El Paso, and taught art at the University of Arizona and later the University of Houston. Jimenez and his wife purchased the adobe school and gymnasium in rural Hondo, New Mexico in 1985. They adapted it to a home and studio that Jimenez worked in until his death in 2006 when a portion of his largest piece, “Blue Mustang,” fell and severed an artery in his leg.

“We have preserved a lot of the studio as is so people will understand the influence of Hondo Valley, which gave him the space to think,” said Susan Jimenez, who attended the Historic Preservation meeting and has worked to preserve her late husband’s legacy. Jiménez’s property would join the Georgia O’Keeffe Home and Studio as a New Mexico State and U.S. National Historic Landmark.

(Photo: Smithsonian American Art Museum)

College Grads Like Houston and are Moving There; Yes They Still Like Austin Too

A man walks down an empty street at Houston's downtown as Hurricane Ike approaches at the gulf coast in TexasIn a study released Monday tracking the movement of recent college graduates, which is considered an incredibly valuable demographic of course (and for our purposes also a generally art-friendly one), Houston tops the list of American cities attracting them at a high rate. This is not to say Houston has more college grads, only that that’s where they’re heading these days. Austin came in at fourth place in this race, just under Nashville and Denver.

Reports the New York Times: “And as young people continue to spurn the suburbs for urban living, more of them are moving to the very heart of cities… .” This is where Dallas is doing well, with an 89% increase in the number of educated 25-34 year olds choosing to live close to downtown rather than the suburbs.

Via the Times: “Even as Americans over all have become less likely to move, young, college-educated people continue to move at a high clip — about a million cross state lines each year, and these so-called young and the restless don’t tend to settle down until their mid-30s. Where they end up provides a map of the cities that have a chance to be the economic powerhouses of the future.”

The whole report is interesting and entertaining and it looks great, too. (What is that font? I love it.) Take a look when you get a chance.



Houston’s MATCH is Getting Real: It Has Concrete AND an Executive Director

stillThe Board of Directors of the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (The MATCH) has announced that it has selected Chuck Still, currently the Executive Director of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (“The Kate”) in Old Saybrook, CT as the organization’s first Executive Director. Still will assume his new role by January 1.

“We are thrilled that our national search has brought us a strong and immensely capable leader for the MATCH,” says Board President Emily Todd. “Chuck’s experience, way with people, and creativity make him well suited to open this amazing new performing and visual arts center. He can build the programming and partnerships that will make the MATCH a success and put us on the national map.”

The MATCH, which broke ground in May and began to pour concrete last week, will be a multi-venue arts facility where Houston-area arts organizations will exhibit, rehearse, perform, educate, and office. It will mainly house theater and dance organizations, but there are strong rumors that it will also serve as DiverseWorks’ new space (although no word yet on whether papers have been signed). The MATCH facility is expected to be completed in the summer of 2015.

Oscar de la Renta, 1932-2014

De_la_Renta_BushOnly two weeks after the closing of Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style at The George W. Bush Presidential Library on Dallas’ SMU campus, the legendary fashion designer has died at the age of 82 from complications from cancer, reports The New York Times.

De la Renta was born in the Dominican Republic in 1932 and left for Madrid at the age of 18 to study painting. He decided instead to pursue fashion design, eventually working as an apprentice to Spain’s most celebrated couturier. He became well known after he began designing dresses for Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1960s. When he launched his own line, de la Renta was a groundbreaker in the industry, as noted by The Washington Post: “He was the first Latino to be accepted into the exclusive ranks of Parisian fashion houses. Later as a U.S. citizen, he became the first American to design for a French couture house.”

Although de la Renta was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, he showed few signs of slowing down. He presented his Spring 2015 collection at New York Fashion Week in September and designed the wedding gown for Amal Alamuddin’s recent wedding to George Clooney.

De la Renta is survived by his second wife, the socialite Annette Engelhard de la Renta.

(Photo: Tina Hager/The George W. Bush Presidential Library.)

Susan Sollins, the force behind ART21, Has Died

NYT-1000665896-SOLLINSS.1_012917Well this is awful. Susan Sollins, the still-young creator and executive director of the long-running and beloved PBS visual arts program ART21, died suddenly on October 13. Her cause of death has not been disclosed. Sollins’ death was announced only three days after she led a jury in granting the ArtPrize 2014 grand prize totaling $200,000 at an awards ceremony in Grand Rapids.

Sollins was in Dallas a few weeks ago to co-host a public preview at the Texas Theater of an episode in the upcoming (seventh) season of ART21 that features Katharina Grosse at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Colette Copeland wrote about it for Glasstire here.  Sollins was also the co-founder of Independent Curators International and an independent film producer.

You can read a little more about the bad news here, and the NYTimes obituary is here.

Ah, the Internet: Banksy Arrested. Not!

BanksyWhile most people were sleeping last night, the National Report (“America’s #1 Independent News Source”!) released a story with the headline “Graffiti Artist Banksy Arrested In London; Identity Revealed.” The in-depth story recounted the bust made by London’s Anti-Graffiti Task force, beginning with this paragraph:

London, England — The elusive graffiti artist, political activist, film director, painter and long time fugitive that for years has gone by the pseudonymous name of Banksy, was arrested early this morning by London’s Metropolitan Police. After hours of questioning and a raid of his London art studio, his true name and identity have finally been revealed.

Within hours, the story was shared over 200,000 times on Facebook and Twitter and picked up by a number of major online sites, including the Gawker blog Jezebel. The story quotes “London Police Chief Lyndon Edwards” at a press conference “confirmed by the BBC” and includes an “AP” photo of the real Banksy.

This morning, though, several news sites have reported that the whole story was a hoax. Then again, this very story could be a hoax planted by Banksy fans while he sits in jail. But, no—because everything you read on the Internet is true.