Dallas Contemporary commissions Sieben mural in Trinity Groves

imageMichael Sieben, an artist and co-founder of Austin’s Okay Mountain collective as well as an acclaimed graphic designer and illustrator, was recently commissioned by the Dallas Contemporary to create a mural for the growing and thriving Trinity Groves neighborhood just south of downtown Dallas. The Austin-based artist, who wrapped up a residency and solo exhibition at the University of Texas’ Visual Art Center in Austin just last spring, is a busy, busy man as an editor of the national skate rag Thrasher when he’s not working on campaigns for such heavy hitters as Adidas and Vans.

Sieben, assisted by Austin-based designer Josh Row, finished the mural at 354 Singleton Boulevard on Wednesday. The piece, which depicts two thunderbirds/birds of prey in Sieben’s distinctive style, is on the side of an unassuming building near the Calatrava bridge entrance to Trinity Groves– an area that has in the last few years blown up with restaurants, warehouse art spaces, artist studios, bars and the like. Kudos to the Contemporary and Sieben for the initiative; it’s a welcome symbol of the continued spread of Dallas’ art and culture scene.

Problem pit stop in Sulphur Springs


Monica Bonvicini, Don’t Miss A Sec, 2004

There’s a public toilet-as-tourist-attraction in Sulphur Springs, Texas, next to the giant chess board in its town square, that may or may not be a knockoff of artist Monica Bonvicini’s art-as-toilet-as-art that was installed outside of London’s Tate Britain eleven years ago. It certainly looks like a knockoff, and as Eric Nicholson of the Dallas Observer reports, Bonvicini and her lawyer have sent a cease-and-desist letter to the town’s leaders and have considered taking the matter to court.


Sulphur Springs’ mirrored public restroom

In both cases, the object in question is a tall polished cube of one-way mirrored glass, built so the urinator can watch the world go by but the world can’t see the urinator. For Berlin-based Bonvicini, the original piece, titled “Don’t Miss a Sec”, was a bundle of multi-layered meaning when she created it, and I’d agree it was quite prescient when it was unveiled in London in 2003. Bathroom humor aside, though that’s part of its appeal, it was a decent earlier examination of the document-everything/uber-surveillance/don’t-miss-a-thing human condition we’re now so plagued by. I’d also argue that in the context of Sulphur Springs the toilet takes on a more basic one-joke-wonder or thrill-seeker tone. On its unveiling in East Texas in 2012, at least one local media report directly referenced Bonvicini’s piece.

In the face the controversy, the powers that be in Sulphur Springs have stopped boasting about the toilet but haven’t removed it, while an intellectual property and media expert at Columbia University’s Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts has speculated that the copyright issue would be hard to prove in court due to the simplicity of the installation’s structure and use. The skirmish is ongoing.

Stanley Marsh 3, troubled Amarillo art tycoon, dead at 76


photo: Amarillo Globe-News

Via the Amarillo Globe-News, Stanley Marsh 3, the “merry prankster and eccentric multimillionaire” died Tuesday, according to Marsh family attorneys. He was 76.

For years he was best known as an unapologetic and energetic media tycoon, an Amarillo fixture who commissioned the California-based art collective Ant Farm to build the famed Cadillac Ranch west of the city in 1974, and masterminded a host of other brash and unlikely (for a Texas panhandle city) art installations in and around the area.

imageIn recent years, he’d become known as a man fighting myriad charges of child sex abuse, some of them dating back to the 1990s as he oversaw a long-running art project called The Dynamite Museum, which employed mainly teenage boys to create artworks in his business offices and around town. For more coverage on Marsh’s life and the civil and criminal cases surrounding him, go here and here.

Heads up, Houston. You’ve got a live one heading your way.


photo: Kevin Todora

Sally Glass, newly-minted MFA and founder of semigloss Magazine, the quarterly art publication, is moving from Dallas to Houston by the end of this summer. A Dallas native, Glass started the much-loved print magazine nearly two years ago with co-founder Bradly Brown, and just completed both her degree and residency at the University of Texas at Dallas and its CentralTrak program.

One of the more energetic and productive fixtures on the Dallas art scene in the last few years–someone Malcolm Gladwell would call a Connector–Glass is determined to step up her art making in Houston, but plans to continue semigloss (which she counts as part of her practice, really) and hopes the magazine will promote more connectivity between Houston and Dallas. Aside from her work in and around the magazine, she’s a photographer and sculptor; some of her mixed-media installations were included in the most recent Texas Biennial.

Glass chose Houston as a stepping stone away from her hometown when CentralTrak collaborated on a project with Lawndale Art Center last spring and she spent some meaningful time there. “I’ve lived in Dallas my entire life,” she says. “I wanted to relocate to a place where I’m less comfortable, a place that presents a new challenge and expands my opportunities and experiences. But I love that my [Dallas-based] family is still so close.”

As for the magazine, Glass picks a theme for each issue and asks artists and other creative sorts to contribute content based on the theme, with entertaining results. Each issue looks and feels entirely different from the last. (Disclosure: I contributed a piece to the “Failure” issue last summer.) And Glass admits that another major reason for her choice of Houston is so she can continue to work with semigloss’ design-and-layout guru Bradly Brown. Brown (who also co-founded Fort Worth-based art collective Homecoming) moved to Houston just last week.


Trending: Austin Social Media Art

Sometime Glasstire contributor Seth Orion Schwaiger defined an emerging Austin wave in social media art in Friday’s Austin Chronicle. Schwaiger cites a spate of recent shows that exploit Twitter posts, smartphones, Facebook pages and the blogosphere as phenomena for critique, or tools for emerging artists.

Danielle Georgiou in #hashtag

Danielle Georgiou in #hashtag

Dallas artist Danielle Georgiou’s #hashtag at Women & Their Work through July 3 uses selfies to provide TMI, Blog/Reblog, Max Marshall and Paul Paper’s laissez-faire, mix ‘n’ match photo at Big Medium experimented with un-curating, and Wura-Natasha Ogunji’s use of smartphone footage in Your heart is clean at MASS Gallery are all taking Austin art, “beyond expected Twitter debates and art-show announcements.”

Tine Bek and Alexander Binder  paired in Blog/Reblog

Photos by Tine Bek and Alexander Binder paired in Blog/Reblog

He goes on to link these local efforts with the sometimes strange social media mutations emanating from celebrity art events like HowDoYouSayYamInAfrican?’s spectacular withdrawal from the Whitney Biennial and Kara Walker’s sugar sex sphinx in Brooklyn, Saying “Austin artists are addressing this new relationship well – better certainly than some institutions on the national stage.”






Trading Post disappears into the mean streets of big D

imageLiliana Bloch, owner of her eponymous gallery (carved out of the front section of the Public Trust) in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood, last week reported that part of artist Ann Glazer’s outdoor installation had been nicked. One of Glazer’s two large painted tarp-as-carpets (pictured), titled Trading Post, was stolen by God knows who about two weeks ago. Up since the April weekend of the Dallas Art Fair, the tarps were meant to stay put over months of slow organic decay (a sort of urban earthwork, if you will).

Bloch, after surmising the piece had not simply blown away, filed a police report. (It wasn’t just draped there; it had been professionally installed.) Though I would suggest that the tarp was the victim of the Deep Ellum elements, just as it was meant to be: drunk and sober vandals are as much a part of the flora and fauna of Commerce Street as the wind, rain, heat, graffiti artists, etc.

Texas Artists Win $20K Tiffany Awards

Image via

Image via

The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation has announced the latest winners of its biennial award, which comes with an unrestricted check for $20,000. Every two years, artists from throughout the US are nominated and an invited jury whittles them down to a selection of “artists whose work shows promise, but who have not yet received widespread critical acclaim or commercial recognition.”

The list of thirty artists is decidedly less New York-centric than many similar awards and includes former Houstonians Leslie Hewitt and Steffani Jemison (both held dual residencies at the Glassell Core Fellow program and Project Row Houses), San Antonio’s Sarah Sudhoff (director of Photohive and cofounder of Austin Center for Photography) and painter Daniel Rios Rodriguez, and Houston’s artist/curator Mark Ponder. Congratulations to all!

Wake Up, Dallas! It’s Time to Check Out Some Art!

edgd_shirtEast Dallas Gallery Day is today from noon to 8 pm! Returning for its 3rd year to kick off the summer for the galleries in Downtown, Deep Ellum and Expo Park, this year’s participating galleries include: Barry Whistler Gallery, BEEFHAUS, Liliana Bloch Gallery, Kirk Hopper Fine Art, WAAS Gallery, 500X, The Reading Room, UNT Artspace Dallas, RO2 Art, The Public Trust, Cohn Drennan Contemporary, Kettle Art, The Power Station and CentralTrak.

The first twenty people at each gallery will receive a gift bag, which includes the cool t-shirt shown. Don’t worry if you’re spending the weekend at the Elm St. Music & Tattoo Festival (Reverend Horton Heat, Black Flag, tattoo artists and more!), the schedules don’t overlap and, at the East Dallas Gallery Day, there will be hair of the dog provided in the form of ice cold craft beer. And you could probably use a fresh t-shirt to make it through the weekend.

Tettamant Ousted: Thaw in Museum Tower Logjam?

Richard Tettamant (Lara Solt/The Dallas Morning News)

Richard Tettamant (Lara Solt/The Dallas Morning News)

On Friday morning, June 13, the man many people blame for the intractable nature of the Museum Tower debacle, was ousted from his post as top administrator of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System. Richard Tettamant, who headed the fund for two decades, was voted out by a new majority of the fund’s board.

So speculation can begin on what this might mean for the beleaguered Nasher Sculpture Center. One likely scenario: whoever ends up owning Museum Tower (the majority-owner fund could keep it or sell it; Tettamant would not sell while he was in charge) will, like a good neighbor, address the glare disaster on the Tower end, leaving the Nasher’s acclaimed oculi roof intact and its gardens and art unroasted.

Tettamant, the man who spearheaded the Museum Tower project as a pension fund investment and seemed, to this side of the public at least, loathe to take responsibility for the sun-searing problem it created for the Nasher, was increasingly under the microscope over the last year or so due to what plenty of people speculate were his high-risk and unusual real estate investments on behalf of the fund. The Tower was only one of many of the fund’s head- scratching holdings. (For more on this angle of the story, start with Steve Thompson’s excellent DMN coverage here.)

Even more recently the pension system, which covers the retirement of around 9,000 police and firefighters, was rocked by troubling losses and renegotiations around a popular deferred retirement plan; these wobbly numbers also seemed to threaten to tank the fund.

So, while the Museum Tower controversy wouldn’t be the ultimate reason for Tettamant’s ouster, it was certainly a high-profile symbol of the kind of judgement calls Tettamant had been making that had city officials and some members of his board so worried. While city officials have ordered an independent audit of the fund’s books, we art fans will continue to play the depressing road-trip game: “What kind of people have so little shame that they choose to live in Museum Tower?”

But once the owners cut the glare, the answer will be: very rich ones who like living in (or having stake in) the Dallas Arts District. And that’s all right by us.

Artists Discover Israel Exhibition and Are Urged to Withdraw

Catalogue for Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011, curated by Nato Thompson.

Catalogue for Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011, curated by Nato Thompson.

The New York arts nonprofit Creative Time is getting a lot of positive press right now for its current installation of Kara Walker’s A Subtlety at Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar Factory, but the attention it is getting for its touring version of the 2011 exhibition Living as Form is not so positive. Living as Form (Nomadic Edition) has travelled to more than a dozen venues, but its current presence in Israel has prompted more than 100 artists and intellectuals, including Lucy Lippard, Chantal Mouffe, Walid Raad, and Martha Rosler, to call for participants to withdraw from the exhibition at a venue with a “central role in maintaining the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestine.”

Apparently, participating artists learned recently—some only by being contacted by Hyperallergic—that the exhibition is currently showing at The Technion, a university in Haifa with extensive research-and-development links to the Israeli military and defense technology industry. A new group called the BDS Arts Coalition (who subscribe to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement) with “a basic desire to understand how artists and cultural producers internationally can act in solidarity with efforts to seek justice for Palestinians and in Palestine” issued the letter to artists urging withdrawal from the exhibition.

It seems ironic that this show would end up in this messy situation since much of the work is very political and its own press describes it as “cultural works that blur the forms of art and everyday life, emphasizing participation, dialogue, and community engagement.” Creative Time states that its “commitment to the free exchange of ideas” prevents it from participating in cultural boycotts. In a later statement, it added: “At Creative Time, you can count on the fact that we are giving this issue the time, thought and care it deserves.”

But really, how does a show end up touring in Israel for six months “unbeknownst to participants,” as Hyperallergic reports? Creative Time Director Anne Pasternak explains, “When the show opened in Tel Aviv six months ago we were so swamped with Kara Walker, it didn’t register. It should have registered, what we should have done is call the artists then,” adding, “We are taking a look at our internal processes.”

Guccifer Sentenced for Hacking Romanian Email Accounts, No Charges Yet for Unleashing Bush’s Naked Self-Portraits

A Romanian court has sentenced the hacker known as “Guccifer” to four years in jail, reports Reuters. The former cab driver, whose real name is Marcel Lazar Lehel, has been hacking into the email accounts of politicians, business leaders, and celebrities worldwide for years, and released documents to the website The Smoking Gun claiming an amazing array of victims shortly before his arrest in January.

Bush_selfportraitsGuccifer shot to fame last year when he released images from email accounts of the family of George W. Bush. The hacker outed the former president’s newfound artistic ambitions by posting his paintings of pets, landscapes, and his own naked self. Bush told Today Show’s Jenna Bush Hager (his daughter), “It’s an invasion of one’s privacy. And yeah, I was annoyed,” though it led to an exhibition of his portraits of world leaders in The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy, on view until recently at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Southern Methodist University.

Despite being responsible for forever etching images of the unclothed ex-president into the minds of American art lovers (and it should be noted that some art critics are big Bush fans), no mention of the hacker’s activities in the US was made in court. An official at the Romanian general prosecutor’s office told Reuters that the office had no knowledge of any extradition request for Guccifer from the United States.

Ballroom Marfa Drive-In project “deferred”

ballroom-300x239By SARAH M. VASQUEZ of the Big Bend Sentinel (used by permission)

MARFA – Ballroom Marfa’s much-anticipated drive-in theater project has been “indefinitely deferred,” or postponed. In a letter to the editor published in this week’s newspaper, Ballroom co-founders Fairfax Dorn and Virginia Lebermann state that its board of trustees voted this decision because they believe the project has outgrown its original version.

“In its current proposed state, the Drive-In project will require significant fundraising efforts that could compromise the level of innovative and community-minded programming that has been Ballroom Marfa’s priority since 2003,” the co-founders of the art-music-letter said.

Ballroom Marfa proposed the concept to provide space for artists to perform or host outside events, whether it was music, film, or multi-media, for the community at Vizcaino Park. The project was initially projected to cost $4.5 million, which included design by architects Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample of MOS, development and construction costs. Ballroom also received a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts of $250,000 through the Our Town program.

Presidio County also went into a public-private partnership with Ballroom Marfa in 2012 that included a 99-year lease of 8.15 acres of the 20-acre park.

The letter states that Ballroom will now focus on events that the Drive-In would have offered in existing spaces in town.

On Tuesday, Presidio County commissioners adopted a motion requiring Ballroom to respond within 30 days to some nonperformance issues in the agreement. County Judge Paul Hunt added the agenda item because he said he felt Ballroom was struggling to comply with the some of the terms.

“It’s one thing to plan. It’s another to build and execute,” said Hunt.

In the contract between the county and Ballroom, it states that Ballroom would “establish a structure and process for the administration of the Programming of Community Organization” and provide the county a written description of said-structure and process that would also include a schedule of fees and other charges.

“In the contract that we have with them, the real value that the county negotiated for was that in return for access in that public space, the programming would be developed and managed to incorporate public participation on an ongoing basis,” said Hunt.

Hunt said Ballroom had been focusing on fundraising for the construction phase, so they were not fulfilling their obligation.

However, Ballroom recently hosted the Doodlin’ Hogwallops during the Presidio County Fair and also co-sponsored musician A.J. Castillo during last summer’s Marfa Lights Festival.

“I think fundamentally they concentrated on parts of the contract where they said they were going to build the big outdoor theater and they overlooked the development of the public partnership side,” said Hunt.

Commissioner Eloy Aranda asked if Ballroom did any maintenance to the park, which Commissioner Buddy Knight responded with an “absolutely not.”

Dorn and Lebermann stated in the letter that the property for the Drive-in included the undeveloped softball field. The majority of the park, which includes the stage and baseball field, are managed by the county.

Hunt said this situation breaks his heart, because he viewed the public-private partnership as a way to build a bridge between the different communities in Marfa. Hunt said he gave Ballroom informal notice in the past, but now he wants to give them formal notice, which is allowed in the contract. He also recommended tabling the issue until the next meeting at the request from Ballroom so they have time to prepare a response.

However, Commissioner Jim White III made the motion to give Ballroom 30 days to respond.

Ballroom Marfa Drive-in Project Manager Melissa McDonnell Lujan, who presented the idea to the county two years ago, declined to comment, as she hasn’t received the formal communication from the county, and referenced the letter from Dorn and Lebermann. She did add that she understands Presidio County wants to discuss some issues regarding the lease and that it was on the agenda.

Sign Up Now! Open Mic for Artistic Freaks

open_micThe Houston Fringe Festival is busy organizing its upcoming carnival of chaos, now in its seventh year. The five-day event (September 24-28) features local and international performers and artists who “present daring and conceptually challenging performances that fit outside the mainstream.” On the final day of the festival is the “Anything Goes” event, a fast-paced series of ten-minutes-or-less performances by local artists.

The Festival is now accepting “Anything Goes” proposals through June 30.  Application details are available on the website but, as always, they provide this encouraging summary of qualifications: “the weirder, the better”!

Automakers Pledge $26 Million to Help Keep DIA Art Off the Auction Block

Photo: Credit Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Photo: Credit Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Detroit may finally be close to saving its city’s art collection, held by the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). The nation’s three major automakers, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, announced yesterday that they will donate a combined total of $26 million, reports the New York Times. Through Detroit’s “grand bargain,” a plan aimed to save the city’s pension funds and to keep DIA’s collection off the auction block, the donation will join funds to be raised by DIA, private donations and state funding. The plan also puts ownership of the museum under a private nonprofit organization, shielding the city’s 66,000-piece art collection from future municipal threats.

More funds still need to be raised; pensioners will need to vote; and a federal bankruptcy judge will have to sign off on the deal this summer. And many creditors are still calling a massive art sale, upset that the plan “favors retirees over banks.” But there is definitely a sense of optimism about the future of DIA and Detroit. “Let’s build on this,” Governor Rick Snyder said at yesterday’s announcement. “We’re accelerating.”

Since the city filed for bankruptcy almost a year ago and the possibility of selling its collection was first suggested, the art world has come forward in support of the museum. In August, many arts organizations participated in “A Day for Detroit,” posting their favorite works from the DIA collection. In September, the American Association of Museum Curators announced that it would move its annual conference from Houston to Detroit in support of DIA. But perhaps the most inspirational boost to the museum was in December when the Huffington Post unearthed a 1970s promotional campaign for DIA called “You Gotta Have Art!” (Yes, we posted this six months ago, but it’s well worth another viewing.)


Our Alternate Awards from the Austin Critics’ Table

Last week the Austin Critics’ Table held their informal and highly irreverent annual awards ceremony.  With their fair share of salty language and off-the-cuff humor, writers from The Austin Chronicle and The Austin American-Statesman highlighted achievements of the past year in visual art, theater, classical music, and dance. With a grip on the mic that belied his punk rock past, Tiny Park curator Brian Wiley pointed out that the visual artists, being the only strangers to the stage, had a disadvantage under the spotlight. Nonetheless, this demographic held their own, likely due to the overwhelming support from this year’s crowd. Both Big Medium and Blue Genie Arts Industries were inducted into the Hall of Fame, and their ranks of participants and supporters easily doubled the visual arts turnout.

After the ceremony it seemed clear that further awards should be handed out for stellar performances of the evening. A few suggestions follow:

Best Drinking Game Suggestion
Robert Faires (arts editor at Austin Chronicle). “Every time one of us says,  ‘It was a difficult decision,’ drink.”

The F-bomb Award
Madge Darlington of the Rude Mechanicals for opening up the stage to a broad spectrum of language. In their acceptance speech the troop gave a planned Freudian slip for the critics seated at stage right: A heartfelt “Fuck you – I MEAN -  Thank you, critics of Austin.” The profanities picked up pace from there.

Best/Worst Irony
Tiny Park receiving Best Gallery Body of Work just months after they’ve shuttered their space.

Best Indecision
The Visual Artist of the Year award was handed out to both Claude Van Lingen and Michael Sieben. This recognition had the visual artists in the room applauding louder than any other moment.

Most Noted Visual Arts Absence
We have a tie! The Blanton Museum and The Contemporary Austin were M.I.A. (We’d really like to see more of you outside the institutions.)

Best Reference to Austin Real Estate
Jeanne Claire Van Ryzin (arts editor at Austin American-Statesman) for her tongue-in-cheek accusation of Big Medium raising her property taxes in the East Side through the phenomenal growth of East Austin Studio Tours.

Best Dressed
Texas Choral Concert’s Brent Baldwin’s sharp vest and tie, perfectly resembled the attire he had been wearing in the press photo on the large screen behind him. He really, really likes that outfit.

Best impromptu Plug
A’lante Flamenco. After their acceptance speech for Best Dance Ensemble, the performers gave the crowd a brief heart-racing performance that has many itching to see them again.

Best Ceremony Closing
Robert Faires ending as he began with martini glass raised. His short speech included such gems as “I have to take a wicked piss right now.”

The full list of real awards and their winners can be found here.

“Tattletale Culture”: City Audit Reveals Major Dysfunction at McAllen Museum

According to a lengthy report from city auditors, South Texas’ International Museum of Art and Science (IMAS) has some serious issues with governance, ethically questionable behavior, and protection of its artwork.


Problems seem to have started in April 2013 when the executive director abruptly quit after clashes with the board president. Board member Kevin Graham took the interim position on a volunteer basis, but stepped down when Ingram started aggressively asking questions. One of the audit’s findings was that staff claimed that a board representative “asked them to arrange discounts or special prices for art from artists doing business with IMAS.” Graham believes that particular allegation was leveled at him and denies it, adding, “I think it’s symptomatic of a behavior that exists within the museum, kind of a tattletale culture.”

After another board member quit the executive committee to accept the interim directorship for a salary of $60,000, the taxpayer-funded museum requested an additional $41,288 from the McAllen City Commission (bumping the starting salary from $84,000 to $125,000) to help attract qualified applicants. The request prompted the audit, although the additional funding was approved.

Other allegations include “inappropriate meddling” by the board (who reportedly asked the staff members to copy them on all emails and, during the audit process, then instructed them to delete the emails), issuing a “Letter of Charitable Contribution” to a staff member’s wife without proper appraisal, and storing a $1.7 million Picasso yards away from a 18-month-old leak from the ceiling.

Some have stated that the final audit report has been “scrubbed a little bit” in order to avoid lawsuits and protect the museum’s reputation, although the current interim director now points to the report’s vagueness with her response: “Some of the issues were difficult and challenging to resolve because there was a lack of information.”

For more details of the IMAS staff/board/city dysfunction, read Dave Hendricks’ in-depth article in The Monitor.

Texas Cities Making the Wrong Lists of Creative, Exciting Places

Recently, the website PolicyMic published a list of “15 Cities for Creative 20-Somethings That Aren’t New York or Los Angeles” and Abby Koenig took to her Houston Press blog to take offense at Houston’s absence from the list. Weighing the pros and cons of the art scene in her adopted city, Koening concludes that the problem is basically “an issue of branding.” (She also points out some obvious flaws in the list; the only Texas town to make the cut is Austin, “well known as a place to live easy and cheaply.” Koenig replies that the description “makes me wonder if Goldberg wrote this list ten years ago.”)

Lubbock Pride!

Lubbock Pride!

The same day that Koening posted her thoughts on this list, Business Insider released another list: “The 10 Most Boring Cities In America.” Houston and Austin were both spared, but four Texas cities made the top ten. FOUR. Lubbock is ranked number one! (“We guess if you’re an older college student who isn’t into art, who’s living on fast food and cheap drinks, Lubbock might be for you.”) Also on the list: Irving (#4), Plano (#6), and Laredo (#10).

The Biggest Mural in Houston, a Temporary Ode to Preservation, is Unveiled Today

Photo: Peter Molick

Photo: Peter Molick

Even Houstonians who have spent the past month watching that giant mural go up in Midtown (off Fannin, behind the five-story building at 2800 San Jacinto) may have skipped the $100 VIP preview on Thursday evening, but the official unveiling of Preservons la Creation takes place today from 3-11 pm. Tickets are $10, though the $100 tickets are still welcome, and the proceeds will benefit an upcoming children’s hospital mural project. Festivities include an art market, music, food, beverages and a gallery show of the mural artist.

Billed as “the biggest mural in Houston” (its website is, the project is the work of French-American artist Sebastien “Mr. D” Boileau, who established Eyeful Art Murals and Designs in Texas in 1998. The event is presented by Eyeful Art and UP Art Studio, with community partners Texan-French Alliance for the Arts and The Midtown District.

One of the stated objectives for the project is to further “the discussion of conservation and preservation.” As a former graffiti artist, Boileau is familiar with the impermanence of often illegally installed street art. In this case, though, he was invited by urban real estate developer Adam Brackman. The Houston Chronicle explains Brackman’s objectives:

Brackman’s company, Common Ground, invests in Midtown properties with redevelopment potential. He’s enlisted muralists before to bring attention to his buildings and deter crime, also appreciating how street art can temporarily enliven a neighborhood in transition. Most of the buildings he buys and sells eventually will be razed, he reasons, “but in the meantime, let’s make them something.”

Preservons la Creation, which translates to “Let’s Preserve the Creation,” is a riff on The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo’s fresco painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel over 500 years ago. Boileau’s mural will not last a fraction of that time (nor will the current state of Midtown), so go check it out today, join the festivities and get in on that “discussion of conservation and preservation” the project is meant to provoke.

Microscopic Landscapes: D-Day After 70 Years

Donald Weber, "Omaha Beach Shrapnel #188, Sector Dog, White" (detail) from the series War Sand, 2013. Photo via Circuit Gallery.

Donald Weber, “Omaha Beach Shrapnel #188, Sector Dog, White” (detail) from the series War Sand, 2013. Photo via Circuit Gallery.

In honor of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, we post these photographs by architect-turned-prize-winning-photographer Donald Weber, part of his series-in-progress War Sand.

Last year, Weber visited the beaches at Normandy and collected sand samples. He then enlisted the help of physics professor Kevin Robbie to determine that they contained steel remnants and were indeed seventy-year-old tiny bits of shrapnel from the unimaginable amount of artillery fired that day and in the following weeks. Using a scanning electron microscope and optical microscope, Weber and Robbie photographed the artifacts. They created a color code (blue for iron, yellow for silicon oxide and green for sodium chloride) for the resulting photographs using a palette that closely resembled the physical landscape of the Normandy beaches, reports CBC Radio Canada.

Said Robbie: “History never goes away. There’s always a trace here or a remnant there.”

Donald Weber, clockwise from top: Gold Beach, Sample #213, (Assorted Shrapnel, Seashell and Glass), Sector Jig, Red; Omaha Beach, Sample #144 (Assorted Shrapnel, Seashell and Glass), Sector Dog, White; Juno Beach, Sample #073 (Shrapnel Fragment), Sector Nan, Green; Juno Beach, Sample #016 (Assorted Shrapnel), Sector Nan, Green, all from 2013. Photo via Circuit Gallery.

Donald Weber, clockwise from top: Gold Beach, Sample #213, (Assorted Shrapnel, Seashell and Glass), Sector Jig, Red; Omaha Beach, Sample #144 (Assorted Shrapnel, Seashell and Glass), Sector Dog, White; Juno Beach, Sample #073 (Shrapnel Fragment), Sector Nan, Green; Juno Beach, Sample #016 (Assorted Shrapnel), Sector Nan, Green, all from 2013. Photo via Circuit Gallery.

From Chin to Flynn: Menil Presents Encyclopedia in Art and Poetry

funk_and_wagTomorrow evening at 7 pm, the Menil Collection will host an “Illustrated Lecture & Book Signing” with Houston-born artist Mel Chin, fresh from his retrospective at the New Orleans Museum of Art, which was curated by once-Houstonian Miranda Lash. With Chin will be joined by sometimes-Houstonian Nick Flynn, who teaches creative writing at the University of Houston.

Chin has put together a book called The Funk & Wag From A to Z, for which he made hundreds of collages created from images found in a 25-volume set of Funk & Wagnall’s Universal Standard Encyclopedia. (Sebastien Boncy reviewed the images’ 2012 “arresting” installation at The Station Museum and called it “one with which I crave further encounters.”) Poet/memoirist Flynn served as editor for the twenty-five poems commissioned for the book project. Contributors include some pretty great poets as well as some intriguing choices, such as Barry Schwabsky, Ravi Shankar, and Flynn’s wife, actress Lili Taylor. Yale University Press says the oversized book “offers mischievous fun with pointed commentary and hilarity.”

Chin will talk; Flynn will read; books will be signed.