$70K El Paso Public Sculpture Disappears


Installation photo via Facebook, posted March 3.

A twenty-foot sculpture, entitled Uplift, commissioned by the city for a new roundabout in a West El Paso reconstruction project, has been removed before the completion of its installation. City officials told The El Paso Times that it was because “it was not built as planned.”

Created by artist Margarita Cabrera, with the help of Mexican children who have survived the violence in Juárez, the sculpture was meant to represent a flock of 600 birds taking flight to promote peace and unity on both sides of the border.

A local resident told KVIA News that he saw the sculpture being installed, but that it left as quickly as it came. Both The El Paso Times and KVIA News report that they received no comment from the artist and that public officials were vague about the “inconsistencies” found in the project. “We just want to ensure quality work and something that’s gonna stand the test of time,” El Paso Quality of Life Managing Director Bryan Crowe said. “We had some concerns with the fabrication so we’re gonna be taking those up with the artist.”

Below is a video of Cabrera explaining the original project:

Fort Worth Gets its Art On; Spring Gallery Night is March 28

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Nancy Lamb’s work will be up at Artspace 111.

The Fort Worth Art Dealers Association (FWADA) is preparing for its annual Spring Gallery Night set for Saturday, March 28; this year the 20 host galleries and non-profits will be joined by 13 “Friends of FWADA” venues and nine restaurants as showplaces for artwork.

Like many organized gallery walks in other cities, this one is city-wide (it actually extends to Haltom City, Bedford, and Arlington) and all the venues are open until at least 9 p.m. to host the wandering crowds. Usual suspects include the major museums in the Cultural District, TCU’s two galleries, and stalwarts like William Campbell Contemporary Art and Artspace 111. The Fort Worth Art Collective will have a pop-up for the third consecutive year; the Botanical Research Institute of Texas is participating this year as is the AIA FW Center for Architecture. The event is free (generally speaking) and open to all comers. For more info and a download of this year’s program and map, go here.

Yeehaw! Texan Teen Realist Painters Win Seriously Super Huge Big Money

baggerlyCongratulations if you recently sold a work of art for $100, $1,000, $10,000, or even $100,000! But two high school artists entering the rodeo art contest beat you by a long shot.

Although most entries into the rodeo art contest are usually based on photos and depicted in Prismacolor pencils, both winners are referred to as painters. The grand champion painting by Raina Baggerly, titled There’s Work to be Done, depicts a cowgirl leaning on a saddle. It sold for $150,000 to former art auction committee chairwoman Terry Agris. “We bought this painting in memory of my brother-in-law,” Agris told the Houston Chronicle. “He loved Western art, and this was a great painting he would have loved.”

At the school art auction, buyers pooled money to take home the two top paintings, including spending a record $211,000 for the reserve grand champion work by 18-year-old Vanessa Sosa. Both artists are students in the Pasadena School District.

Luminaria gets Full Time Director: Kathy Armstrong of SSA

armstrong treesLuminaria, the annual multi-disciplinary arts fest in San Antonio, has hired it’s first full time executive director, luring Kathy Armstrong, director of exhibitions at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio into a three-year contract. Luminaria will be seven this year, and Armstrong is looking for ideas to shake up the erratic “Festival of Lights”, including an open call for proposals for this year’s event, scheduled for Oct. 23 and 24.

It’s Official, Again. HAA Merry-Go-Round Makes A Full Turn

HAA_150228WilsonMobileGlasstire reported Wednesday that Houston Arts Alliance had re-awarded Houston artist Ed Wilson the $830,000 commission to create an interior artwork for the George R. Brown (GRB) Convention Center in Houston; now the official press release is out and the whitewashing has begun in earnest.

HAA CEO Jonathan Glus is quoted as saying, “We are delighted to announce that Ed Wilson has been awarded this important commission,” and the smoothing-over of serious conflicts in the process was continued by HAA board chairman Marc Melcher, who said “We took a few weeks to ensure that our policies and procedures are tight and that the process was followed for this important commission. In fact, they were, and with a re-endorsement by the executive committee, we were able to move swiftly to complete the process and deliver this proposal from Ed Wilson to Houston First. We are very pleased to offer this size of commission and level of prominence to one of Houston’s long-time artists, with deep roots in our community.”

HAA described the delay which attracted incredulous reports from the national media thus: “In November, 2014, HAA temporarily halted the review process of artists’ proposals to reevaluate its review process and its own policies and procedures. Once the Executive Committee of HAA re-endorsed its policies and procedures, HAA expedited the review process for the GRB interior artwork by inviting the seven semi-finalists from the initial process to re-submit their projects.”

In fact, the process was made into a fiasco, and more than three months were wasted by disagreements between members of the Civic Art Committee and the staff of HAA’s Public Art + Design department, which led to the angry resignation of Matthew Lennon, HAA’s public art director, and his replacement by Sara Kellner.
Voila! The opacity surrounding composition and authority of the Civic Art Committee in these decisions remains intact. The CAC is still empowered to overrule decisions of staff and independent selection panels, and its deliberations are still secret. The new selection process is indeed exactly the same as the process which chose Wilson in the first place!

Reminder To DFW: Tom Sachs Extravaganza Extends Our Way March 17

unnamedAs we are all well aware, Tom Sachs– the New York-based MacGyver/MacGruber of the art world– has essentially taken over Austin for a spate, but on March 17, he comes to Fort Worth as special guest of the Tuesday Evenings at the Modern lecture series.

This must be a branch off of his protracted spin around Austin, and makes sense in the same way DFW (and especially Denton) has always enjoyed the windfall of great bands stopping off to play shows on their way to and from SXSW. To whet your appetite for an audience with this marvelous artist, the release for the Modern brings us this quote from him: “I’m obsessed with innovation. It’s like that David Foster Wallace thing: If you worship money, you’ll always feel poor. If you worship beauty, you’ll always feel ugly. If you worship power, you always feel powerless. I worship innovation and I always feel like I’m not doing enough new stuff. That’s my impulsiveness.”

Free, as always, but this one will be full; show up early if you want a seat, or relax in the Modern’s restaurant/bar area with a drink for the live feed of the talk. For more info, go here.

Ed Wilson Re-Wins the GRB Commission!

Screen shot 2015-03-11 at 6.53.54 PMHouston Artist Ed Wilson has, finally, been re-awarded the artwork commission for the George R. Brown Convention Center. After Wilson’s original award was strangely withdrawn in late November, it drew much media attention from to Houston Arts Alliance’s selection process, and led to the resignation of HAA’s head of Civic Art + Design, Matthew Lennon, in protest.

We expect a press release from HAA in the morning but, meanwhile, ED RULES!

A Tiny, Cool Art Invasion at SXSW


painting by Eddie Argos

The Show on the Road is a high-low art gallery housed inside a 1993 Chevy box truck; it was founded by gallerist Karen Light and it will be an exhibitor at SXSW’s Music Gear Expo from March 19-22. The Austin-based pop-up space on wheels will be showing drawings and etchings by Sonic Youth’s co-founder/guitarist Lee Ranaldo and paintings by Art Brut’s multi-talented frontman Eddie Argos.

Light founded a gallery called Garde Rail in Seattle in 1998; it specialized in outsider and folk art. Says Light about her year-old truck gallery (which has made dozens of appearances around Austin since it launched) and its inclusion in SXSW: ““My hope is that by revealing the visually-creative side of some of our favorite musicians, people will develop a deeper sense of connection to art and music… The two work so well together!”

Finished! Architectural Master Plan for Houston’s Memorial Park

On Monday evening, more than 300 people attended the final public meeting at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston about the redesign of Houston’s Memorial Park. After a year and a half, eight public meetings, nine focused workshops, 20 expert interviews and an interactive website, landscape architect Thomas Woltz’s firm has completed its master plan for the park.


SAD PARK. Photo by Bruce Bennett

The Houston Chronicle reports that the redesign aims to restore the park’s ecological health (which was devastated in the past few years by a hurricane and the worst drought in Houston history—the park lost half its trees!) by incorporating more native plants and making the park more user friendly. The plan involves rerouting Memorial Drive, building a hill over it, and relocating the sports fields, among other major changes.


HAPPY PARK. Photo By Nelson Byrd Woltz

The plan still has to go to the City’s quality of life committee on March 25 and is on the docket for City Council’s approval the first week of April. And, although the City Council unanimously approved the budget of $100-$150 million more than a year ago, the Memorial Park Conservancy will need to raise another $150 million over 20 or 30 years to achieve all the amenities the plan envisions.

For more information on the master plan, read the Chronicle article or visit the architect’s website. To read about people who are still skeptical about the plan, read this Houston Press blog.


Arlington Museum of Art’s Newest Public Project Hopes to Attract All the Art Stars

cfiles73439The Arlington Museum of Art‘s upcoming public art project is named “Star of Texas” and will feature 20 big fiberglass stars, each transformed by a Texas artist, installed around its downtown and entertainment areas starting this September. The museum, under the directorship of Chris Hightower, is nearing completion of a capital campaign to raise the $150,000 budget for the project.

The idea is that the museum will invite 200 “high-profile” artists from around the state to submit proposals for how they’d doctor a six-by-six foot (and one foot thick) pre-built star, while the selection process remains open to proposals from other artists. A jury will make the selection after the submission window closes, which is in about a month. Chosen artists will receive a stipend, though the museum has not made the figure public. For more info, go here or here, or submit a proposal here:

Mark Flood is a Nice Guy: ALH Receives 24K Gift

Mark-Flood1The Mark Flood School of Painting seems to provoke a lot of conversation. The comment section following Bill Davenport’s article “OK Art at the Party-Tyme Corral” (about another artist’s paintings) is quickly filling up, even though it was only posted on Sunday. This triggered yesterday’s weekly Glasstire newsletter to be titled “When Mark Flood is away, Houston will… bitch and moan?” (To subscribe, go here.)

Last week, though, Christie’s New York auctioned off Flood’s 2014 lace painting Church Window, which Flood gifted to the Art League Houston (ALH), for $24,000. Christie’s had set the painting’s estimate at $30,000-$40,000, but they threw in their usual cut, so the organization will receive the full 24K. The donation prompted ALH Visual Arts Director Jennie Ash’s signature exclamation: “WHOOP!” She added, “We are so incredibly thankful to Mark for his outstanding generosity.”

(Photo courtesy Exhibition A, via Blouin Artinfo)

Zeus Sires Dionysus at the DMA; Semele Has a Role

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The Dallas Museum of Art‘s conservation studio has restored a work by French baroque painter (called “the French Titian” by… some?) Jacques Blanchard. Zeus and Semele, his 17th-century oil painting, will go on view tomorrow in the museum’s second-floor European galleries.

Restoration of the work took six months, and as the painting had been glued on top of another canvas in the 19th century (presumably for support) and its dimensions stretched because of it, the studio also returned it to its original dimensions. Also, (via the DMA): “Layers of discolored varnish and areas of previous re-paint were removed, revealing the depth and beauty of the original painting.” The painting depicts Zeus’ seduction of Semele (a.k.a. Dionysus’ mom).

“Cleaning produced a radical transformation in the appearance of the picture,” said Mark Leonard, Chief Conservator at the DMA. “The masterful handling of the flesh tones of the nude Semele, the creamy highlights of the white bedding, the deep contrasts throughout the figures of Zeus and the Eagle, and the intensity of the flames that are about to engulf the scene came back to compelling presence and balance.”


Catch Up on Your Sleep During Beefhaus Performance

sleepover_catIf your internal clock is still messed up from daylight savings, join the folks at Beefhaus for a multimedia reboot this Friday night. Ex mus will present a live, overnight performance of quiet music and videos from several DFW and Austin musicians and artists. The event is called Expanded Sleep: Performance for Somnolent or Sleeping Audience; doors open at 8pm, music starts at 9 and continues until Saturday morning at 8am. Those unable to stay for the entirety of the performance are encouraged to attend between 9pm and midnight.

The rest should bring a pillow and sleeping bag. Audience members are encouraged to sleep through the performance.

RESCHEDULED: Red Sand Project Aims to Raise Dust Over Human Trafficking

red sand project

UPDATE 3/9/15: “We are POSTPONING the installation that was scheduled for today due to the weather. You are invited to join the community in pouring sand into the large-scale work this Wednesday, March 11 from 3:00 – 7:00 pm. The installation is located at Caroline St & Dennis St. in Midtown.

On Saturday-Monday, March 7-9 Artist/activist Molly Gochman and a crew of participants will spread red sand into sidewalk cracks in Houston as a reminder of the city’s role as a hub of human trafficking. The Red Sand Project invites particpants everywhere to do the same, and share images via #redsandproject on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Sunday, International Women’s Day, the project has official stops in Freedmen’s Town, (Genesee St & Andrews St.) from 1-3pm, at 1:00 – 1:30pm; in the Museum District (Bissonnet/Binz & Fannin) from 2-3pm; and at Rodeo Houston (Fannin St & Rodeo MetroRail Stop) from 3:15-4pm. with a convening tonight from 6-8pm at aurora Picture Show. On Monday, March 9 at 3pm there will be a final major installation in Houston at Caroline St. & Dennis St. in Midtown.

In an interview with Emily Lurence of Affect Magazine, Gochman described the project’s effects: “When you think about sidewalk cracks, they’re overlooked. We just step on them. It made me think about the vulnerable populations that we just turn away from. Red Sand Project is a metaphor for how people can make an impact. [In Miami] people flocked to the exhibit and Tweeted out with the hashtag #RedSandProject. The social campaign caused people — whether they saw the art in person or online — to question its deeper meaning, leading to more people being educated about human trafficking and raising awareness.” According to the artist, “Even if people don’t know what the land art or sidewalk installations signify, these artistic interventions will stimulate contemplation of a previously ignored surface.”


The 6 Best Takedowns of MoMA’s Appalling Björk Show

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Marjan Pejoski's Swan Dress in "Björk" at MoMA Photo: Ben Davis

Marjan Pejoski’s Swan Dress in “Björk” at MoMA
Photo: Ben Davis

In his review titled Ladies and Gentlemen, the Björk Show at MoMA Is Bad, Really Bad, national art critic Ben Davis introduced the news about the blockbuster show that will open to the public on Sunday, March 8, at the Museum of Modern Art:

There has been an immense volcano building up under the Museum of Modern Art for some time, a well of rage from old-school art fans about its turn towards commerce and celebrity and tourism. The current Björk show, celebrating the Icelandic songstress as, in the words of curator Klaus Biesenbach in the catalogue, an “era-defining artist,” will very likely be occasion for an eruption. You may expect an immense Eyjafjallajökull-sized ash-plume of critical bile to appear over midtown any second now. Because, ladies and gentlemen, this show is bad.

I went in ready to defend MoMA. Björk, I thought, is something interesting, the epitome of a certain kind of odd-duck cool. Many, many reviews will be written about MoMA’s “Björk” show fiasco—scathing, hilarious reviews, reviews whose savagery will be in direct proportion to the smarmy hype leading up to it—based on the premise that celebrating a pop star is by itself bad. I don’t agree. Nothing in principle is bad about a Björk show, or even about a little pop-culture populism.

But the pop turn raises challenges that have to be thoughtfully addressed. It has to be done right. You need to nail it, and MoMA has instead stepped on a nail, or rather, hot lava.

Davis isn’t alone. Here are five other critical voices chiming in.

State Of Emergency: Biesenbach’s Björk Show Turns Moma Into Planet Hollywood, by M.H. Miller, ARTnews

MoMA’s Björk Disaster, by Jerry Saltz, Vulture

Björk, a One-of-a-Kind Artist, Proves Elusive at MoMA, Roberta Smith, The New York Times

A Strangely Unambitious Hotchpotch, by Jason Farago, The Guardian

Björk’s MoMA Retrospective: When Technology Fails Innovation, by Jillian Mapes, Flavorwire

Björk will be on view to the public at the Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, New York, from March 8–June 7.

See the “Songlines” exhibition here: Tour Björk’s MoMA Retrospective on Instagram.

Follow artnet News on Facebook.

Hillerbrand+Magsamen’s New Rocketship Commission Installed at IAH

Rocket-Inside-01Hillerbrand+Magsamen, the Houston-based art couple who mine their house and family life for video and performance material, have installed their newest video work at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The Houston Airport system and the City of Houston commissioned “Higher Ground,” a ten-minute video depicting “a crazy family building a 2 story rocket ship in their back yard out of the belongings from their house.”

The video follows a nuclear family, after it watches a NASA rocket launch on TV, who proceed to quietly and systematically disassemble their suburban ranch house and with the materials build an ad-hoc (and impressive!) space craft on their back lawn; they then all suit up in astronaut gear and launch into space. It’s  charming. The video is installed in a customized display case in Terminal A. For more info and images, go here, and here.

DMA Gets Mayan God Vase

precolumbianThe Dallas Museum of Art has announced its acquisition of this Late Classic (A.D. 700–900) Maya effigy vessel from the site of Quirigua in Guatemala, near the border with Honduras. Thought to depict a Maya god, the ceramic piece is scheduled to go on view this summer in the DMA’s Ancient Art of the Americas gallery on Level 4.

Well documented in archeological literature, the piece was sold at auction in November 2014 by the St. Louis Chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America, which had acquired it in 1912 through the St. Louis chapter’s support of field excavations by archaeologist Earl H. Morris during the Third Quirigua Expedition.

City of Dallas Has New Grant Money For Artists


Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs has launched a new funding program for non-profits and individual artists. The “Cultural Projects Program – Special Support Grants” is earmarked for awards ranging from $1000 to $5000 for various kinds of artist-proposed projects that are subject to application and eligibility; the funds are awarded several times a year.

Interim Director of Cultural Affairs David Fisher says, “We are very excited to be launching this new funding program for individual artists and special projects. It will help us continue to support great Dallas arts – and great Dallas artists – and bring fresh ideas, exciting emerging organizations, and passionate new voices into our cultural ecosystem.” That’s cheerful. More usefully, the OCA adds:”Priority will be given to new works by emerging organizations with operating history of at least 3 years, cultural organizations with budgets under $1,000,000 based on prior year’s expenses, and individual artists with at least 3 years of experience in their field.”

For more on this, go here, and the application can be found through here (with sign in).

Worldwide Edit-a-thon Puts Women in Wikipedia

2015editathonIn a 2011 survey, the Wikimedia Foundation found that less than 10% of its contributors were female, obviously skewing much of its content and perspectives. So, last year, Art+Feminism hosted a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in 31 locations across six countries, creating new articles on art and feminism-related subjects.

Well, it’s that time of year again! Art+Feminism is hosting the Second Annual Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at the Museum of Modern Art in New York with 70 satellite events around the world, including Texas. In Austin, UT’s School of Information will host its communal editing fest on March 7, noon-4:30pm. In Houston, the MFAH’s Hirsch Library joins in on March 8, noon-5pm. In San Antonio, interestingly enough, folks will be adding medical articles at the annual meeting for the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics, March 5-6.

Lest the men that make up 90% of the articles feel left out, an article in the Daily Texan is careful to quote Rachel Simone Weil, experimental video-game developer and design historian at UT: “The intent is not to disproportionately overstate the roles of women or downplay the achievements of men through a malicious rewriting of history. Rather, this project seeks to revisit gaps in scholarship and canonical history — places in which the accounts of women’s contributions to society may, for one reason or another, simply not exist.”

All genders—if you have found gaps in Wikipedia’s coverage of women in art (or, in S.A., women in gynecology), bring your laptop and help fill them in.