French & Michigan Gets into the Publishing Game

“Artistic success is established and measured through writing — a creative field often undervalued and overlooked.” So says French & Michigan director Billy Lambert in an email to the organization’s supporters, expressing a sentiment with which we’d happily agree.

The San Antonio design studio, art gallery and workshop just announced another expansion of its scope: FAM, a writing platform that will feature six professional writers responding to the theme of “residuals,” as well as essays by F&M’s own staff. The works will be first published online, but an annual print publication is scheduled for later this year.

Currently there’s a piece by Hills Snyder that starts with the sentence: “It was the smell of weed that first brought us together.”

Go on…


This Week in Texas Art: New Year, New Sincerity

Billboard by Christopher Blay and Gerardo Robles

Billboard by Christopher Blay and Gerardo Robles

The “New Sincerity” movement began with music in the mid-eighties (thanks, Austin!), spread to literary and film criticism in the nineties, and now—from the looks of upcoming events in Texas—the art world is finally catching up. Even the subject line of Monday’s Glasstire newsletter was cautiously sincere: “All the artists this week are either completely sincere or they’re messing with us.” (To sign up for the weekly newsletter, go here.)

In Austin, a show entitled Friendship and Freedom (can an exhibition title be more sincere?), including contemporary queer and feminist art will open at Mass Gallery on Friday night with a gallery talk on Saturday afternoon. On Saturday night in Houston, artists Autumn Knight and Chelsea Knight will present a performance/lecture/dinner/psychology session on “their relation to each other and the world as women.”

On Saturday afternoon, Houstonians can hop from a festive celebration of the life and work Martin Luther King Jr., presented by Phillip Pyle the Second, at the African American Library at the Gregory School (in conjunction with Organized Love: Ideas on Non-Violence) at 1pm to a performance in the Menil’s foyer called “Dances to Songs Beloved by Gandhi” at 3pm (in conjunction with Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence).

Tomorrow night, Dallas’ CentralTrak will present “Dialogues on Race,” a conversation with artists and community leaders about issues connected to race, including presentations by artists that were involved in Make Art with Purpose (MAP)’s “Dialogues on Race” billboard and mural campaign.

Artists Remove Work From Houston City Hall in Solidarity with Ed Wilson

City+Hall+1947Houston artists Nohelia Vargas Bolivar and Liza Littlefield have asked that their work be removed from Houston City Hall as a show of solidarity with artist Ed Wilson, who was selected for a commission for the George R. Brown convention by a HAA review panel, only to have it abruptly withdrawn when HAA’s Civic Art Committee objected.

Both artists were asked to loan works to be displayed in City Hall by HAA, and where it was to be on loan through August 2015. They were each paid $150.

To Littlefield, who first had the idea, removing her art just seemed the right thing to do: “I’m not really a very political person, but I live across the street from Ed, and I’ve known him for years. As a person who’s a voter in this city, I think they certainly have to change the way they do things, it’s not right. It’s just not right.”

Vargas said, “We want to make a statement about the mishandling of the Ed Wilson commission by HAA, and we also want to support Matthew Lennon. We don’t want his resignation to be in vain.”

Vargas also took issue with the way her art was to be shown. “At first, I was very excited to have my work there, but then I felt like they were not embracing the artwork like they are supposed to. They just take it, hang it on the walls, and that’s it. They’re pretty much using the artwork to decorate the walls at City Hall – taking original artworks from local artists as if it were a commodity. Art is a form of education to me.”

There will be no angry mob of Houston artists storming City Hall. HAA will arrange the removal of the work and its return. Said Vargas, “It’s nothing dramatic — we called, they agreed. We have to give back the money.”





The Flower Man’s House to be Demolished Feb. 7; PRH Will Commemorate Him

unnamed-1A year after the death of folk artist Cleveland Turner, a.k.a. The Flower Man, his Houston house on Francis Street and much of its contents have been found unsalvageable due to toxic mold. The house’s owner, Project Row Houses, are working toward a commemorative event for the day of demolition and will “pursue other means of commemorating Mr. Turner’s life.”

PRH convened a special panel to consider Mr. Turner’s legacy, and says “Some salvageable artifacts have already been removed from the space” to be decontaminated. They are having a commemorative website designed now, and have set up a Facebook page in the meantime.

Also, according to PRH: “This past year, the 2014 Houston Thanksgiving Day parade included a ‘Flower Man Float’ designed by artist Philip Pyle II and Everything Records; it now belongs to the City of Houston and will continue to be a living work of art dedicated to Flower Man. Project Row Houses also plans to install a Billboard in Dupree Park to commemorate the time that Mr. Turner lived next door as a neighbor, friend, and fellow artist.”

For more info watch this space.


New Curators and Tame Mayhem at Dallas Contemporary

Well, it certainly has been a busy week at the Dallas Contemporary. First, it announced the addition of two new curators to its staff; then the much-anticipated, five-years-in-the-making, take-over-the-entire-gallery-space exhibition of Loris Gréaud was invaded by vandals in the middle of Saturday night’s opening. (The vandals were just actors; it was part of the show. Read Christina Rees’ full article on the event here. View video, from, of the mayhem here.)

Justine Ludwig. Photography Nathaniel West.

Justine Ludwig. Photography Nathaniel West.

The two curators joining the Contemporary are Justine Ludwig and Alison Gingeras. Gingeras, who will serve as adjunct curator, has spent the last 15 years as the chief curator of the Palazzo Grassi in Venice and as curator of contemporary art at Paris’s Centre Pompidou. She was also and curator at the Solomon R. Guggeheim Museum, New York.

Ludwig most recently worked as assistant and adjunct curator at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, but has also worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Rose Art Museum, the Colby College Museum of Art, and the MIT List Visual Arts Center. She is now the Contemporary’s senior curator and director of exhibitions.

Make a Mess with the Oliver Herring Experience!

herring 3German-born NY artist Oliver Herring is coming to Houston, and Diverseworks Art Space is looking for unpaid “studio assistants” to participate in his performance-based art. Herring will be in residence at DiverseWorks from January 21 through March 7, 2015.

Herring’s exhibition, Areas for Action, requires audience participation in chance encounters with mixed media. This means spitting food dye, getting dumped in glitter, becoming a photo sculpture, and more. Fun!

Herring directs and documents short open-ended performances featuring groups of strangers interacting with each another. Herring records these impromptu activities, to reveal the poignancy of strangers exposing their vulnerabilities and embracing trust. Sort of like Hermann Nitsch, but without the blood or the nudity.

Participants are needed from 11:45am – 6pm, Wednesday-Saturday for the four weeks of the show’s run: Jan 21-24, and Jan 28-31, Feb. 25-28, and March 4-7.

Contact Taylor Hoblitzell at 713-223-8346 or with questions, or to sign up.

Don’t Find Us, We’ll Find You. New Invitation-Only Artist Residency Opens in Marfa

tropicsLook out Chinati! The Tropics, a new residency in Marfa that aims to be “the catalyst of the new artistic zeitgeist in Marfa, TX” has opened. “Curated by invitation only, our residents will be selected because of their enlightened vision, radical practices, and progressive methods,” says the group’s website, but it’s difficult to tell how serious they are- the accompanying photo locates “The Tropics” on an aerial photo of the desert-dry Marfa landscape.

According to the site, “the older cattle-ranching and Air Force periods, and the more recent postmodern art period have given way to a new phase of opportunity for creatives,” and offers a menu of funded residency options: a Primary Residency, which will grant visitors a $1000 stipend, use of an apartment, and a “branded community event” to mark the end of their stay; week long Capsule Residencies to produce specific events in Marfa, with production budgets of up to $2000; exhibitions in the group’s gallery, and product placement in their nomadic boutique.

The Tropics Directors are Alec Michael Friedman, a creative consultant from New York and Ryann Bosetti, a conceptual hairdresser and art director; and Caitlin Murray, co-owner of the Marfa Book Company.

Rick Lowe and Others Honored by Texas Cultural Trust


Artist Rick Lowe is among the honorees.

The Texas Cultural Trust has embarked on its eighth biennial of honoring “amazing Texans who have made powerful contributions to the arts here at home and around the world” with yesterday’s announcement of its list of 2015 Texas Medal of Arts Awards (TMAA). The awards gala takes place the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin on February 25.

The list of honorees typically recognizes “leaders and luminaries who have achieved greatness through their creative talents” and this year’s honorees from the world of visual art in Texas are, for our purposes, highlighted in the complete list below.



·        Music: T Bone Burnett, Fort Worth, TX

·        Film: Jamie Foxx, Terrell, TX

·        Dance: Kilgore Rangerettes, Kilgore, TX

·        Visual Arts: Rick Lowe, Houston, TX

·        Corporate Arts Patron: Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Plano, TX

·        Individual Arts Patron: Margaret McDermott, Dallas, TX

·        Multi-Media: Emilio Nicolas, San Antonio, TX

·        Television: Dan Rather, Wharton, TX; Chandra Wilson, Houston, TX

·        Architecture: Charles Renfro, Houston, TX

·        Theatre: Robert Schenkkan, Austin, TX

·        Arts Education: Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas, TX

·        Literary Arts: Lawrence Wright, Austin, TX

·        Standing Ovation Award: Ruth Altshuler, Dallas, TX

·        Lifetime Achievement Award: The Gatlin Brothers, Seminole, TX


Congrats to all (and a fan’s shoutout to T Bone)!  For more info on the awards, go here.

Sara Kellner Named Permanent Civic Art Director at HAA

Sara Kellner - Photo 2Sara Kellner, quickly appointed as interim Director of Civic Art + Design by the Houston Art Alliance on December 10 after the resignation of former Civic Art Director Matthew Lennon, has been given the job permanently.

Kellner is a veteran arts administrator, who served as executive director of Diverseworks from 1999-2006. Between 2006 and 2015, Kellner was the arts in transit manager for METRO’s Houston Light Rail Expansion, and an outside consultant  for many arts organizations.

Kellner stepped into a maelstrom of controversy over Houston artist Ed Wilson and the on again/off again George R. Brown Convention Center commission, and was charged with clarifying rules governing the selection of artists and panelists for civic art projects so that HAA could proceed quickly with a re-consideration of the project, which HAA announced on January 8.

The old policies, posted on HAA’s website were a mess. Details of the new policies have not yet been made public. “Bringing artists and organizations together” is the top item in the list of services Kellner’s consulting firm offers, and in HAA’s case, she’s got her work cut out for her.



Giant Historic Houston Mural Awaits Pending Restoration

DSC_0147The giant faded mural on the 5900 block of Canal Street in Houston is getting a restoration. “The Rebirth of Our Nationality” was painted in 1973 by artist Leo Tanguma and some of his then-university peers on an East End warehouse, and depicts the history of the Chicano movement. It has since chipped and degraded substantially.

Harris County purchased the warehouse in 2012 and now the mural will be restored along with the building, which will be used as headquarters for the Precinct 6 Constable’s office and to store  county records.

The mural restoration is reportedly budgeted for $70,000. Tanguma, now based in Denver, was a trained artist via Texas Southern University and was a student of Mexico’s “Great Four” social muralists. He’s pleased about the planned restoration, though he personally won’t participate in it. He supports the idea of a Houston street artist named Gonzo 247 to oversee the mural’s facelift. The county has not yet made a decision about Gonzo’s participation.

HAA’s Jonathon Glus Named President of Texans for the Arts

GlusJonathon Glus, President and CEO of the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA), may not have been getting much love in Glasstire’s comment sections since the late November brouhaha over the artwork commission for the George R. Brown Convention Center, but he is receiving praise from Texans for the Arts (TFA). Glus was recently appointed President of the TFA Board of Directors. As HAA’s press release explains, “This appointment recognizes Jonathon’s effective arts leadership in Houston and his commitment to statewide arts advocacy.”

TFA is the official arts advocacy organization of Texas. It provides information about legislative activity related to arts issues and organizes efforts to protect and increase public funding for the arts.

“I am honored to accept this leadership position as Board President of Texans for the Arts,” says Glus. “The 27-member TFA Board of Directors works closely with its membership to educate and advocate statewide.” [Glasstire is a member; for membership list, go here.] “Texas continues to bolster its position as a cultural center,” continues Glus. “Through TFA’s partnership with the tourism industry; the broad arts, culture and creative economy sector; and elected leadership, we are in a strong position to advance support of the sector and further integrate the arts into the very fabric of our communities.”

Artpace Names Sue Graze as Interim Director

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 2.29.21 PMSue Graze, former executive director of Austin’s Arthouse at the Jones Center, has been named the interim director of San Antonio’s artist residency Artpace. This is following the departure of Amada Cruz, who left Artpace after two years to become the director of the Phoenix Art Museum.

Graze has lately, after her 1999-2011 tenure as Arthouse’s director, been a lecturer in the art and art history department at the University of Texas at Austin. Graze resigned from Arthouse and became its Director Emeritus in 2011. Prior to her time in Austin, Graze was a senior curator at the Miami Art Museum, and served as Curator of Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art through the 1980s.

Graze starts at Artpace this Friday.

Local Artists Feed and Fund Each Other

DykonIn spite of Houston’s miserable weather on Sunday evening, lots of folks came out to find out the results of two local micro grants at galleryHOMELAND.

The entrants for the charge grant were all participants in last November’s two-day charge: practicum seminar at Art League Houston (ALH). The $10 participation fee and the bar totals at the seminar’s dance party added up to $889, all of which went towards the grant. The Heimbinder Family Foundation and artist Dario Robleto matched the grant, which was nice, because the charge participants voted and it turned out to be a tie! (To view the proposals and the interesting voting criteria, go here.) The winners:

DYKON FAGATRON by Anna Elise Johnson

The School of Experimental Work: Audio-Visual series by Charisse Weston

HOMELAND's Paul Mittendorf with grant winner Sebastien Boncy

HOMELAND’s Paul Mittendorf with grant winner Sebastien Boncy

galleryHOMELAND put together its own micro grant; for a donation, guests received a big bowl of soup and an opportunity to vote for a nominee of the HOMELAND SOUP grant. One artist was the recipient of the $678 raised at the event. The winner:

Sebastien Boncy

Congratulations to all!

MFAH Will Spend No Less Than $450 Million On Planned Expansion + Endowment


Rendering: Steven Holl Architects

The announcement: Some very wealthy people made some very generous donations that will allow the Museum of Fine Arts Houston to expand dramatically. It will create, essentially, a new campus on the 1000 block of Bissonnet, with the (via Houston Chronicle) “north side as a pedestrian-friendly cultural hub with a lively landscape, two distinctive new buildings, ample underground parking and smooth circulation patterns for vehicles and people.”

The new campus will be called the Fayez S. Sarofim Campus; the project architect is Steven Holl Architects (known for Simmons Hall at MIT and the Bloch Building addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri.) There will be a new Glassell School of Art building. And “a block farther east, a new state-of-the-art conservation center by Lake|Flato Architects will rise two stories above the existing parking garage.” The museum has not yet named a landscape architect.

So far the museum has raised $330 million in its $450 million (overall, including endowment) capital campaign. For more info, go here and here.

Impressionism/Frozen Mashup: MFAH to Present “Monet on Ice”

mouse_skatesThis weekend, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) will present “Monet on Ice,” and transform Cullinan Hall into a full-size ice-skating rink. Entrance to the rink, which can accommodate up to 25 skaters at one time, is free with a ticket to Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River and includes ice skates.

Additional “Monet-inspired” activities are also family-friendly (although Bill Davenport suggested an absinthe drinking contest), such as sketching in the galleries and a Monet “photo op.”

(Image via

Artist and Former MIT Professor Robs Banks Claiming It’s His Art

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Joseph Gibbons robs a bank as an artwork. Photo NYPD.

Joseph Gibbons robs a bank as an artwork. Photo NYPD.

We’ve heard of starving artists going to all sorts of extremes, but this may take the cake. Artist Joseph Gibbons has resorted to robbing banks to make ends meet, and he calls it art, according to a story in the New York Post. The paper calls him a “wacky former MIT professor” who “took cinema verite (sic) to a whole new level by robbing a Manhattan bank and recording the heist.” (Maybe he should look into moving to Queen? See New Queens Building Offering Artists Insane Deal on Studio Space.)

Gibbons videotaped himself liberating $1,000 from a Capital One branch at Bowery and Grand Street in Chinatown on New Year’s Eve. He handed the teller a note demanding a donation for his church, the Post reports.

Gibbons’s semi-autobiographical video Confessions of a Sociopath was shown in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, “Day for Night.” (Watch an excerpt on YouTube.) “Patient is currently on probation, having been convicted of several counts of theft,” says a voiceover in an excerpt. According to the Whitney’s website, the piece “presents a summary examination of the artist’s professed self-destructive tendencies.” In it, “Gibbons documents himself shooting heroin, shoplifting, being counseled by a parole officer, and being analyzed on a psychiatrist’s couch.”

In addition to the Whitney, Gibbons has screened films at the Museum of Modern Art. He won a 2001 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and has received awards and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Capital and the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities.


Follow @briankboucher on Twitter.

Bun B to Join Panel of Scholars at Menil Tomorrow

BunB_PinnIn conjunction with the Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence, Houston’s Menil Collection will present a panel discussion called “The Influence of Gandhi and King on Hip-Hop Culture” at 7pm tomorrow evening, January 13. Rice University’s Anthony Pinn (Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and professor of religious studies) and Houston rapper Bun B (known by Rice U. as Bernard “Bun B” Freeman, the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning’s Distinguished Lecturer), will be joined by Monica Miller (assistant professor of religion and Africana studies at Lehigh University) and “others to be announced.”

Rice students already know that Bun B is up to the job; he has been teaching a popular course with Pinn on Religion and Hip Hop Culture at Rice since 2011. Tuesday’s panel will explore the hip-hop genre’s contribution to nonviolence and social justice.

Art Museums By the Numbers

aamd1The AAMD, or Association of Art Museum Directors, has published it’s first  “Art Museums by the Numbers” report, aimed at informing outsiders of the impact of museums on their communities. It contains some nifty graphics and some interesting facts, drawn from a survey of 220 member art museums in the US, Canada and Mexico.

The average art museum spends just 33% of it’s budget on what the survey terms “art-focused activities”, like curating, storing, collecting, showing and educating people about art. The other 67% is Administration, building maintenance, and fundraising!

The average art museum spends $53.17 per visitor, but collects only $7.93 in admission fees and sales. The bulk of support comes from private philanthropy. No mention of parking, the other great revenue source for big city museums.

Art museums generate revenue through a surprisingly diverse patchwork of sources, represented here by a colorful bicycle inner tube:

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 10.32.07 AM

Art museums take what they are given (or perhaps are given what they ask for): they accepted six objects as donations for every one they bought in 2013-2014.

AAMD art museums are great borrowers. Collectively, they borrowed 93,460 objects last year, and loaned out a measly 27,135.

AAMD museums logged 61,457,283 visitors last year, compared to 17.3 million stadium attendees for NFL football games.




Houston and Chicago to Trade Artists in New Residency Exchange

kouamen gaspar

Left: Rosine Kouamen, Anlu Is Protest” (photo: Alex Barber); Right: Maria Gaspar, I Look For These Past Hands

Houston’s Project Row Houses and Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago have announced the launch of The 2:2:2 Exchange, a new artist residency exchange program, in 2015.

It’s a first-time collaboration between the two organizations, this new program will begin in early 2015. The initiative, titled the 2:2:2 Exchange, features an interchange between two artists, one based in Houston, TX, and one based in Chicago, IL. Houston artist Rosine Kouamen’s will participate in the Jackman Goldwasser Residency at Hyde Park Art Center from February 1 – March 26, 2015; Chicago artist Maria Gaspar’s will be in residence at Project Row Houses in Houston from September 28 – November 20.

The idea is to give socially engaged, site-specific artista an opportunity to localize somewhere else ofr a while in order to enhance their practices at home.

Two New Dallas Galleries Hold an Art Collecting “Conversation” For Newbies


Archival pigment print by Jeremy Couillard, 2014 (Zhulong Gallery)

Two of Dallas’ newer, splashier galleries in the Design District, Cydonia and Zhulong, are holding the first installment of a planned ongoing workshop/seminar called “Art Collecting 101″ next Saturday, January 17 at 11 a.m. Specifically [caps theirs]: “HANH HO, DIRECTOR OF CYDONIA, AND AJA MARTIN, DIRECTOR OF ZHULONG GALLERY, WILL CONDUCT A GUIDED CONVERSATION ABOUT COLLECTING CONTEMPORARY ART.”

This isn’t the first time a commercial gallery in Dallas has hosted a series for budding collectors, and it’s always struck me as an odd combination of useful/servicey with a smattering of self interest. Nonetheless, these two young gallery owners should prove affable guides to what many new to the collecting scene would consider tricky if not intimidating territory. This one is free and really starts with the most basic of basics, such as (per the announcement):

  • -  What is contemporary?
  • -  How do I know that the art will appreciate in value?
  • -  How do I protect my investment?
  • -  Why are the walls always white?
  • -  Why don’t you list prices on the walls?

You get the idea.

The first class takes place at Cydonia, 167 Payne Street, Dallas, Texas 75207, Sat., Jan. 17 at 11 a.m. For more info, contact or call 214-296-4848.