Art is long, life is short. Scholarships available!
Only a few months ago, San Antonio’s Southwest School of Art (SSA) announced that it had received accreditation to begin a bachelor of fine arts program next fall, so it launched a fundraising campaign for a scholarship fund. SSA President and CEO Paula Owen told the San Antonio Express-News that, with the latest contribution from the Linda Pace Foundation, it has now raised over $1 million of its $2.5 million goal.
The program will start its first year with 20-25 students, at least four of whom will receive full scholarships. The scholarship deadline is March 1; applications close June 30 for the fall semester.
The latest Texas art installation to live on through the magic of television is Thirst, the big tree that hovered above Austin’s Lady Bird Lake for several months, calling attention to the ecological devastation caused by the 2011 drought (as well as this year’s Central Texas floods).
KLRU will present an episode of Arts in Context entitled “Thirst” on Thursday, January 30 at 7:30 pm. The story of artist Beili Liu’s project, its collaborators and its production will also be posted on KLRU’s website after the show airs.
Insomniacs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area should be forewarned when watching late night infomercials. Those tuned into KTXA Channel 21 on Friday, February 7 at 3 am (known to many night owls as “Thursday night”) may view the 28-minute infomercial entitled FOREVER and catch the migraine-addled Paul-Newman-looking guy promising the secret to immortality. This is actually the last part of the Good/Bad Art Collective‘s Curtains, a “public sculpture”/social project commissioned for the Nasher Xchange exhibition.
We’re not sure about the promised immortality (remember: the title of the work is Curtains) but, hey, go ahead and call the 1-800 number and see what happens.
Welcome new FotoFest Director Steven Evans. Photo: Al Rendon
FotoFest has announced that it has named Steven Evans as its new executive director. This is more than the usual arts administrative appointment—the Houston-based organization’s international photography biennial has been run by its founders, Wendy Watriss and Fred Baldwin, since its inception more than 30 years ago.
According to Molly Glentzer’s Houston Chronicle article, FotoFest has been looking around for a director for four years, conscious that founder-run organizations present unique difficulties in passing the torch and the mission. But Evans seems very aware of the situation. “I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants,” he stated.
Evans has been serving as consulting manager of San Antonio’s Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum since June, after long-time director Bill FitzGibbons stepped down. (It was announced yesterday that Mary Heathcott will be stepping in as Blue Star’s new executive director.) Evans moved from New York, where he spent twenty years at Dia Art Foundation, to act as executive director and curator for the Linda Pace Foundation in 2010.
OFF-TOPIC POSTSCRIPT: If the Artpace/Pace Foundation dance isn’t hard enough to follow, try tracking the Evans/Heathcott/Dia/Menil chronology: Heathcott also served for a while as interim managing director of Artpace after Matthew Drutt left, where he was director after he left the Menil Collection, a few years after Paul Winkler resigned in protest. Dia was founded by Philippa de Menil, her husband Heiner Freidrich, and art historian Helen Winkler (Paul’s sister). Feel free to fill in the family tree gaps in the comment section. It’s a small artworld!
Photo: Nicole Fruge/ San Antonio Express-News
San Antonio artist Stuart Allen has been selected to curate the art program of HemisFair Park’s future “PlayEscape” area, reports Benjamin Olivo of the San Antonio Express-News. Allen, who has worked on other San Antonio public art projects, presented to the Public Art Board on Monday morning. Although the preference for project artists will be local, Allen showed the board works by Jenny Holzer, Belgian artist Mehmet Uysal, and large-scale graffiti art to introduce them to a variety of influences and artistic possibilities.
Since HemisFair Park is what is left of the 1968 San Antonio World’s Fair, Allen may also wish to consider introducing the psychedelically-induced aesthetic of the 1969 children’s TV show H.R. Pufnstuf. That incredibly strange show came directly from HemisFair 1968’s theme character—a dragon named Luther, created by Sid and Marty Krofft for the fair’s Coca Cola pavilion.
The Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation’s website touts its dual slogan: “Celebrating Our History. Building Our Future.” The Riverwalk can celebrate its history and build its future by settling, once and for all, the ongoing battle between Witchiepoo and Pufnstuf, the mayor of Living Island.
Construction on HemisFair’s “PlayEscape” will begin in June and is set to open to the public in May 2015. Olivo reports that Allen will be working with a budget of $250,000—good for up to eight installations. Specific artists and their concepts will be brought back to the Art Board in the coming months.
Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum has named Mary Heathcott as its new executive director.
Since 2012, Heathcott has been the Deputy Director at Artpace San Antonio. In 2011, Heathcott was named Artpace’s Interim Managing Director, overseeing the international artist-in-residence program and curating exhibitions for the organization’s Hudson (Show)Room and Window Works galleries. Heathcott first joined Artpace in 2006, and has helped manage the organization’s development initiatives, as well as its marketing and public relations efforts. Prior to Artpace, Heathcott was Manager of Individual Giving at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
“Blue Star paved the way for contemporary art and artists in San Antonio,” stated Heathcott. “I am looking forward to being a part of such a venerable institution whose commitment to inspiring the creative genius in everyone continues to energize its widespread community.”
Heathcott was born in Houston, Texas. She received her master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a BA in Art History from Trinity University in San Antonio. Heathcott will assume her new post in late February 2014.
The folks at Houston’s Fresh Arts present all sorts of helpful workshops for artists, but on Wednesday evening, they are just getting down to the basics of the creative life: financial survival.
On January 29, 6:30-8 pm, they will present “Budgeting for Unpredictable Incomes: The art of living well between contracts” led by Tara Faircloth, freelance stage director. This is not a workshop for artists who have managed well-enough to have questions about complex tax issues, but will present tips for the daily management of those who live the “freelance lifestyle.” Registration information can be found here.
The Mayor at September’s “Houston is Inspired” event
Tomorrow evening, Monday, January 27th at 5:30 pm, the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) will host the “2014 Elected Officials Reception for the Arts” at the Hobby Center for Performing Arts. Mayor Annise Parker will talk about her priorities for the arts in her next term and welcome Houston’s new City Council and other elected officials.
A lot of the same folks who were at the fall arts kick-off “Houston is Inspired” event at the Menil (which Glasstire’s Bill Davenport declared a “non-event”) will be in attendance, but there might actually be some specifics within the Mayor’s announcement, which HAA’s press release promises will include “positive messages about the future for Houston’s arts and culture.”
Make room for more!
In addition to the ten public sculptures throughout Dallas, ambitiously commissioned by the Nasher Sculpture Center in celebration of its tenth anniversary, the Nasher has also announced that it received an unprecedented number of important gifts in 2013 that have been added to its permanent collection.
The gifts include works by artists David Bates, Tony Cragg, Raoul Hague, Thomas Houseago, Dr. Lakra (Jerónimo López Ramírez), James Magee, Claes Oldenburg, Jaume Plensa, Sterling Ruby and Peter Voulkos. The two works by David Bates will be part of an upcoming career survey of his work, jointly presented by the Nasher and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, which opens February 9.
After recent bummer news posts about Austin street art, it’s nice to hear about SprATX, a positive collective of artists and muralists, as reported by Austin blogger Kit O’Connell. SprATX (pronounced “spray tex”) describes itself as “individual artists who unite as a whole to perform live street art exhibitions, pop up galleries, and custom mural painting.” A couple of weeks ago, SprATX officially opened a gallery/store/office in East Austin.
Find the location. Find the art. It’s yours!
It also oversees a community art project known as #atxfreeartfriday, which connects artists with art lovers, via Instagram and, in the process, gets everybody out of the house. Every Friday, local artists create and hide art out in the community for people to discover; clues are posted on Instagram (@SpraTX). All artwork found is free for the taking with one request:
Leave an “I found it” comment on the artist’s Instagram post, and upload a photo of the art to your own Instagram with the hashtag #atxfreeartfriday. Please thank the artist in your post by tagging them!
“Once you find a piece, you’ll know that artist forever,” SprATX collective member Mouf told O’Connell. “And you’ll talk about it with your friends.” It sounds like brilliant marketing for SprATX and its artists, but Mouf was quick to stress that #ATXFreeArtFriday is open to any artist at any skill level (instructions here).
The Art League Houston and Fresh Arts will host an “Artist Town Hall Meeting” to discuss the needs of artists living and working in the Houston area. The meeting will be on Tuesday, February 18 (6:30-8:30 pm) and will be facilitated by artists Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud, Carrie Schneider and Patrick Renner. It is scheduled to take place at the Art League but it could possibly change to a larger venue, so check back for updates.
Topics of discussion are open, but the press release for the event suggests they could include issues such as “artist stipends, public art and exhibition opportunities, affordable housing, studios and health insurance”—in other words, anything that could make Houston artists better, richer, safer, more interactive and more productive. Start making those lists!
Although there are a huge number of “partnering organizations” for the event, the press release also includes this warning: “If an artist works for a visual arts organization they are welcome to come as their artist self, but NOT as a representative of their organization.”
Those who missed the fact that yesterday was “Museum Selfie Day” have probably also suppressed the memory of the announcement by Oxford Dictionaries at the end of 2013 that it had chosen “selfie” as its word of the year. Museum professional Mar Dixon and the website Culture Themes declared yesterday to be a selfie-celebration and encouraged people to take to Twitter and post their favorite selfie photos from exhibitions past and present. Jay Z (pictured) was one of the first to post a photo from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh; all the photos are still available here.
Laura Lark, Top Depart! (Powder), 2004, included in AMSET’s Mirrored and Obscured
But those who missed yesterday’s festivities may simply be holding out for the January 28 opening of Mirrored and Obscured: Contemporary Texas Self-Portraits at Beaumont’s Art Museum of Southeast Texas (AMSET), a group show of self-portraits (a perfectly fine word, even though it has that pesky extra syllable) by Texas artists. Links to the exhibition’s handsome catalogue are also floating around online (link not provided here), but since the show presents paintings, drawings, sculpture, and photography by local artists who took the theme both literally and abstractly, the exhibition might merit more than a virtual tour.
The Lamar County Sheriff’s Department recently released a sketch of a robbery suspect and the UK’s Metro reprinted the drawing in its news section in order to propose that it may be the “worst police sketch of all time.” Metro adds, “it seems unlikely that the sketch will aid the police in their inquiries given that it appears to depict a confused-looking cartoon man.” Even Art F City linked to the drawing and offered the suggestion that perhaps “a Peanuts character went out on a mugging spree.” The Huffington Post compared the sketch to the famously failed restoration attempt of a Spanish fresco, known as the Beast Jesus.
The Sheriff’s Department stressed that “the sketch is not a true depiction of the suspect, only a likeness” of a man wanted in connection with robbing two women at knifepoint last week. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to contact the Lamar County Sheriff’s Department.
It’s no secret that the people who work at museums have always been predominately white, but the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is now supporting a new initiative at five major museums aimed at diversifying curatorial leadership.
Chicago-based critic Jason Foumberg recently published a report about a new fellowship program to begin next year at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City); and the High Museum (Atlanta). According to Foumberg, the program will connect college sophomores from “marginalized backgrounds” (in quotations marks because the Art F City summary describes the future participants as coming from “underprivileged backgrounds” and those sorts of distinctions get sticky in conversations about diversity) with curators at the five participating museums. Over four years, the students will receive professional mentoring and paid fellowships in “an effort to make art museum curatorial offices as diverse as the communities they serve.”
There will only be four positions in each of the museums, but twenty paid internships (with a $10,000 stipend per summer for four years) at five major museums can do much to offset the seemingly recent recognition that good museum internships are really only for rich kids (who are paying college tuition to get credit for it and also have no need of a summer job).
Both Foumberg and Art F City point to statistics that show that about 80% of museum workers are white and over 50% are men (okay, half men seems fair, until one looks at the gender ratios of those who receive art and art history degrees). Art F City also quotes art critic Ben Davis’ numbers of actual frequent museum-goers and it’s even more depressing at 92% white.
Even as folks like Dave Hickey lament the political correctness that has made its way into the art world, possibly undermining the creation and recognition of bolder contemporary art (as could be construed from Hickey’s recent Glasstire talk), Mariët Westermann, vice president of the Mellon Foundation and an art historian, states that the diversity initiative isn’t just about affirmative action. Rather, “lack of diversity in the museums is a risk to their future relevance,” warned Westermann. “More inclusive and diverse staff including curatorial would allow museums to serve their publics better,” she said.
The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset (1883)
Fans of Claude Monet’s The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset (1883) can now rest easy, knowing exactly when it was painted: February 5, 1883 at 4:53 pm local mean time (plus or minus one minute).
A team of researchers from Texas State University applied some forensic astronomy to pinpoint the location and time the famous scene was captured. Armed with postcard reproductions of several paintings created by Monet during his three-week stay in the area, they were able to find the exact vantage points from which Monet created the paintings. Of all the paintings Monet painted at Étretat, this is the only canvas that includes the disk of the sun, and that one detail opened the door to date the scene precisely.
The team was led by astronomer and physics professor Donald Olson, author of the recently published Celestial Sleuth: Using Astronomy to Solve Mysteries in Art, History and Literature. The team’s findings were published in the February 2014 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine and reported by Zee News.
Texas State students Ava Pope, Laura Bright, and Hannah Reynolds with Olson. Photo: Russell Doescher via Skyandtelescope.com
One year ago at the DMA: the first few dozen Friends arrive
The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) announced that it has enrolled nearly 50,000 visitors in its DMA Friends membership program since its launch one year ago today. Touted as “the nation’s first free museum membership program” (a distinction between free entrance and free membership), the program has received a whole lot of positive attention in the past twelve months. In September, the DMA received a prestigious National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) to teach the program to the Denver Art Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. In November, the Museum received anonymous gift of $9 million, $4 million of which was for the new Friends program.
The program has been written up in the New York Times and papers have been presented about it at conferences, but nothing beats 50,000 new friends! (Well, technically, only 95.4% of DMA Friends self-identify as new members.)
Executive Director Michael Peranteau and Visual Arts Director Jennifer Ash recently redesigned ALH programming to include open calls.
Since the Art League Houston (ALH) announced an open call for exhibition proposals for two shows per year, artists will want to make sure that the ALH folks receive a lot of high quality proposals. This will be the first round since the policy has been reinstated, so they should realize the wisdom of their decision when they receive tons of great ideas for shows.
ALH is accepting submissions for the main gallery, front gallery, and the sculpture garden. The deadline is January 31; get to work!
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! In honor of Dr. King’s birthday, there are a number of parades and celebrations throughout the state this morning and afternoon. This evening, the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture will host the Ninth Annual MLK, Jr. Symposium with journalist/cultural critic/TV host Touré.
For the more meditative type, Houston’s Rothko Chapel will be presenting a sound installation of sorts, playing speeches from his life throughout the day within the quiet of the chapel. The speeches will repeat at 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm.
On your way out, don’t forget to give a nod to Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk (1967). A year after King’s assassination, the de Menils offered to match a federal grant to bring the sculpture as a gift to the City of Houston. But after the de Menils decided to dedicate the sculpture to Dr. King, the city declined the gift. The de Menils purchased the work themselves and installed it in the reflecting pool outside the chapel in October 1970.
Houston art lovers who don’t hang out at hip nightclubs have probably still experienced the sounds of Andre Sam-Sin, known as DJ Sun of Soular Grooves. DJ Sun has been playing music around the city for over 20 years, often at art venues, including the Museum of Fine Arts’ Mixed Media series and the Contemporary Arts Houston’s Steel Lounge Underground (once a monthly event, now presented annually), among many others.
Now that DJ Sun has become managing partner of The Flat bar and lounge, that interaction with the visual arts scene will remain steady at his new home base (which its press release refers to as a “cultural institution”). He and business partner, Phil Marshall of Squad Car Media, have brought in Houston artist Lovie Olivia to give the place a new look and to serve as The Flat’s official art curator. Olivia has been working for months to unify the design aesthetic and has already launched an exhibition including works by Houston artists such as Robert Hodge, Philip Pyle, and Patrick Turk.
Tonight, The Flat will be throwing a re-launch party from 7 pm-2 am with headliner DJ/producer/musical curator King Britt. But before the music, there will be a screening of the docu-short TSUN SET, a short film about DJ Sun’s influence in Houston, created by Folklore Films. Folklore Films, whose motto is “Telling better stories to our city, about our city, through visual poetry,” plans to create a number of docu-shorts of inspiring “mavens and do-gooders in the city” to premiere every last Saturday of the month through September, usually at The Flat.
If you can’t make it to the re-launch celebration (which is bound to be mobbed), keep an eye out for Olivia’s curated exhibitions and Folklore Films’ monthly documentary series.
Artist Suzanne Bocanegra will bring her “Rerememberer” to CounterCurrent 14. The piece involves 50 violinists, a weaver, an accordionist, a DJ and a conductor. Photo By Benjamin Nicholas.
The University of Houston’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts is organizing a brand new festival of experimental performances called CounterCurrent 14, which will debut on April 9-13. Karen Farber, the Center’s executive director told the Houston Chronicle, “We’re trying to put Houston on the map for new performing arts.”
Before April’s new festival, though, the Lone Star Explosion 2014 will also present three days of performance art on February 20-22. In fact, it will be the second iteration of this Houston international performance art biennale. If the first biennale didn’t quite put Houston on the performance art map, the one-two punch of this year’s festivals should do the trick.
If there is such a thing as “more mainstream” in performance art, CounterCurrent will probably win that title. Both festivals will feature both internationally-recognized interdisciplinary and performance artists, as well as local artists, but the posted images from the Lone Star Explosion’s roster includes a pretty high percentage of naked (or near naked) performances. CounterCurrent has yet to finalize its full schedule, but its selection of venues make it unlikely that it will compete in the performance art nakedness category.
CounterCurrent will be free and is being funded through the Mitchell Center’s endowment, with some funds coming from grants from the Houston Arts Alliance, while the Lone Star Explosion is funded mainly through ticket sales ($13 for a single night of tickets/$30 for the full 3-day weekend of events). Performance art fans, though, will want to catch at least some of each festival to experience what Houston has to offer as a new major player in the international performing arts scene.