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.

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.”