Bonus: a whopping $20K (plus a slick exhibition) to art majors in DFW

Artists and installers put up the new art installation at Mercedes Benz Financial Services in Fort Worth, Texas on June 26, 2015. (Photo/Sharon Ellman)

Artists and installers put up the new art installation at Mercedes Benz Financial Services in Fort Worth, Texas on June 26, 2015. (Photo/Sharon Ellman)

Who says an art degree doesn’t pay? (Most of us say that, actually, but read on.)

The Mercedes-Benz Financial Services corporate office in Fort Worth has a tradition (since 2008) of giving big cash awards and a year-long exhibition to MFAs and BFAs (and recent alumni) who attend SMU and TCU. The hand-in-hand programs are called ‘Experiencing Perspectives Art Exhibition’ and the ‘Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Texas Art Awards,’ and very recently M-B announced this year’s cash awards (there are six) and chose work for the exhibition, which includes a catalog. (Representatives from M-B visit both campuses and conduct studio visits in the process of shaping the awards and show.)

This year M-B will have 135 artworks installed in its business center, and it’s a pretty pro arrangement: the company offers framing and professional photography of the work; it hires professional art handlers to help pack, transport and install it all. Plus: there’s a public reception and the art is for sale; proceeds go to the artists.

Via Mercedes-Benz: “On November 5, 2015, Mercedes-Benz… will host the opening reception for its annual Experiencing Perspectives Art Exhibition at its Fort Worth Business Center located at 13650 Heritage Parkway, Fort Worth, Texas 76177. This event is open to the community. Artwork is available for sale through the artists and can be claimed by new owners when the exhibition is over.”

For more info and some nice images, go here. 


Rothko Chapel Has a New Director

Photo: Rothko Chapel via Houston Chronicle

Photo: Rothko Chapel via Houston Chronicle

After Executive Director Emilee Dawn Whitehurst left the Rothko Chapel left last summer, the Rothko now has a new director in David A. Leslie, reports the Houston Chronicle. Like Whitehurst, Leslie is Presbyterian and holds a master’s in divinity.

Originally from East Texas, Leslie’s mother was a teacher and his father a Presbyterian minister. In the 1990s, he directed Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston for almost five years, but left to lead the interreligious association Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon for the past 18 years.

“The root of my work has been a focus on justice, peacemaking and building interfaith and intercultural relationships—all values that are completely congruent with the Chapel’s commitments,” Leslie told the Chronicle. In an interview with Houston Public Media’s Arts and Culture Reporter Amy Bishop, he praised the Chapel for having “a pretty clear plan right now,” adding, “It’s sort of like getting on a train and the train is already moving.”

Ransom Center archives go online! (Artists: this is a goldmine.)


Thomas Hardy, exposed! (in a good way)

The excellent Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas at Austin (which houses the papers of many a literary giant) — one of the true research gems of our nation — has spent the last year digitally archiving some of its most important holdings in a project called REVEAL (“Read and View English and American Literature”), and it recently went live.

Around 22,000 images and documents are now available online as part of the Center’s open-access policy for public domain materials, including its collections of drawings, photos, letters, lists, journals, and typed and handwritten manuscripts by greats such as Oscar Wilde, Henry David Thoreau, Joseph Conrad, and many more. The policy for use makes these materials accessible to anyone for any purpose. These are high-resolutions scans, so images and even handwritten scrawls are super crisp. Here, for example, is a portal to the Center’s Thomas Hardy collection.

Dig in!

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 5.49.57 PM

I zoomed in on this because I wanted to see the phrase “degenerate artist” in Oscar Wilde’s handwriting


Closet Curators: Send in Your Great Ideas

C’mon, you know you have some great ideas for exhibitions—now’s your chance. New York’s CUE Art Foundation, a nonprofit presenting exhibitions and programs designed to foster the growth of up-and-coming artists, has extended its deadline for its Curatorial Project Open Call to July 15.

2014 Selection: Country, Home. Curated by Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell

2014 Selection: Country, Home. Curated by Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell

Every year, CUE gives one curator or curatorial team the necessary time and resources to realize an innovative project with the aim of encouraging curatorial research in tandem with exhibition planning. CUE provides institutional guidance and resources to the curator, who produces a group exhibition in CUE’s space with related public programming and an accompanying exhibition catalog.

The selected curator will receive mentor support, including a studio visit and installation guidance in preparation for the exhibition, and will be awarded a $2,500 unrestricted stipend and travel allowance; a budget of $2,500 to divide amongst the participating artists and program speakers; and a production budget.

A big time NYC show, a big time catalog, big time support, and a bit of money. For more information, go here. Give it a shot!

This Saturday: Go indoors for an air-conditioned Dallas Gallery Day!

unnamedThis coming weekend is the 4th annual Dallas Gallery Day: All-City Edition event, which is actually the evolution of earlier East Dallas and Design District gallery days.

This version, which takes place Saturday, July 11 from  noon-8 p.m. is truly all over the city. There are (as of this writing) 30 spaces participating (double last year’s number) and the geographical range runs from the Design District to the Cedars to Trinity Groves and Deep Ellum, all the way up to Valley House in the far north of the city. For a list, go here.

Dallas Gallery Day was founded by Brian Gibb of the Public Trust in 2012, originally as the East Dallas Gallery Day. The official DGD Gallery Guide is available at each participating gallery.


Which Texans are Big-Time Collectors?

Howard and Cindy Rachofsky. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art.

Howard and Cindy Rachofsky. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art.

Want to know which Texans are buying art? The editors at ARTnews magazine have just released their 25th anniversary edition of the “200 Top Collectors” and seven Texans made the list:

Laura and John Arnold (Houston), Marguerite Hoffman (Dallas), Jeanne and Michael L. Klein (Austin and Santa Fe), Cindy and Howard Rachofsky (Dallas), Louisa Stude Sarofim (Houston and Santa Fe), Fayez Sarofim (Houston), and Alice Walton (Fort Worth).

Fayez Sarofim has been on the list every year since 1990, when ARTnews first began putting the list together. The Arnolds are the newest to the list, although they have been on it for the past five years. The rest of the names have made the list for at least ten years, which suggests a stability of committed collectors in the state. This year’s “200 Top Collectors” includes 23 who are brand new to the list (including Leonardo DiCaprio).

There are a number of collectors who insist on remaining anonymous, so there are some who should be on the list but aren’t. But there’s a whole lot of money flying around the art market, as ARTnews reports, “starting bidding at $100 million is no longer a hurdle.”

Lesley Dill premieres performance at the McNay

pamelasinging_Cal_listingA big retrospective of Lesley Dill’s work (especially her work as it relates to theater and performance), called Lesley Dill: Performance as Art, has been on show since June 10 at the McNay in San Antonio. This Thursday, the New York artist will premiere a performance piece at the museum. It’s called “Drunk With the Starry Void” and it’s in collaboration with “composer/vocalist Pamela Ordoñez, motion graphic designer Laura Oxendine, and featuring singers Kyrenda King and Andrew DeVoogd from San Antonio’s Copperleaf.”

The word “premiere” is a little loose here: this is an expansion of a performance that debuted in 2012 at George Adams Gallery..

Here’s a description of the 35-minute piece: “The performance consists of songs composed by Dill and Ordoñez that explore the philosophical conundrums of evil and grace. With words, music, and voice, the listener is carried through meditations on thoughtfulness, lust, heaven, hell, torture, and bliss. Animated projections of Dill’s drawings created by motion graphics designer Laura Oxendine complete the visual environment.”

For more info, go here.

“Drunk With the Starry Void” will take place Thursday, July 9 at 6:30 pm in Leeper Auditorium at the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio.



Alamo Basement NOT a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

The Alamo and four Spanish colonial Catholic missions in Texas are being designated U.S. World Heritage sites by the United Nations, as is reported by USA Today. The designation, announced Sunday, marks the first time that a Texas site has been deemed of “outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity” by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, sometimes referred to as the “intellectual” agency of the UN.

Perhaps the donation of tens of millions of dollars worth of Alamo-related memorabilia by musician Phil Collins sped up the process, as was reported last year by Christina Rees. The UNESCO designation is expected to add tons of tourist dollars to the Bexar County economy.

The Boston Tea Party or the Mad Hatter Tea Party?

Alice's Day at UK's Story Museum

Alice’s Day at UK’s Story Museum

American history: In defiance of the Tea Act of 1773 and the whole idea of the “taxation without representation” thing, demonstrators threw an entire shipment of tea into the Boston Harbor, an act that really pissed off the British and eventually escalated into the American Revolution (1765-1783), during which the colonies declared themselves independent and no longer a part of the British Empire. The adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, is now celebrated every Fourth of July with fireworks, hot dogs, and Willie Nelson.

British history: In many places, July 4th is also known as “Alice’s Day” in commemoration of the day that Lewis Carroll first told his famous children’s story, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, to his young inspiration, Alice Liddell. If you happen to be in Oxford, England, they may not be celebrating American Independence Day, but there will still be picnics, barbeques, and other festivities in celebration of this important date in the history of English literature.

If you happen to be in Austin, Texas, you can celebrate by catching the last few days of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at the Harry Ransom Center (it closes July 6). The Ransom Center always puts on a good show—fascinating, in-depth, historical stuff that keeps you poking through the displays much longer than you intended. For Alice, it has one of the few surviving copies of the first edition, a 1933 paper filmstrip that has been carefully treated by Ransom Center conservators, and artifacts that show how the story has inspired artists from Salvador Dalí to Walt Disney.

In Houston, artist Bridgette Mongeon has announced that she has found a location for her elaborate sculpture, Move One Place On, which includes monumental figures of Alice, the March Hare, Cheshire Cat, Dormouse and the Mad Hatter. The sculpture was commissioned by Jerry and Maury Rubenstein in honor of their mother Evelyn, and will reside within Evelyn’s Park at 4400 Bellaire Boulevard (the former site of Teas Nursery) with an anticipated completion of late 2016. Below is a short video about the odd project.

Happy Alice’s Day!

Artists make real money at this annual Houston market


The annual juried Winter Holiday Art Market in Houston, hosted by Fresh Arts, brings in real cash for exhibiting artists (average haul: $1561; a third of the artists make more than $2000). It’s a three-day “exhibition, sale, and art festival” held at Winter Street Studios and takes place in late November. Deadline for submission is August 23rd, and there’s no fee to submit.

Via Fresh Arts: “WHAM is a juried market featuring 60 local artists representing a wide variety of arts and crafts, including paintings, prints, sculpture, photography, jewelry, clothing and fabric arts, soaps, and other hand-crafted items.” In other words, it is pretty craft-y, but there’s some ART-art on hand as well. The jurors have not been announced, but for all the info you need on how to submit, please go here.

Houston Artists in an Archive

Jonathan Leach scanning slides for artist Toby Topek for the CALL Project, 2012. Photo courtesy of Patricia Hernandez and DiverseWorks.

Jonathan Leach scanning slides for artist Toby Topek for the CALL Project, 2012.
Photo courtesy of Patricia Hernandez and DiverseWorks.

Studio One Archive Resource announced its official launching as a service organization that will work with members of the Houston arts community to help preserve their history so the stories of those who built the community may be captured and shared. Creating A Living Legacy (CALL) Project is a program of the Joan Mitchell Foundation that, under the sponsorship of Fresh Arts, granted $50K to complete a pilot program of the Houston version of the CALL Project.

 Local artist, art educator, and archivist Patricia Hernandez, who will serve as Studio One’s Founding Director, named the organization for William Steen​’s studio and artist-run space in downtown Houston during the early 80s. Steen’s Studio One was one of the earliest alternative art spaces in the city, presenting exhibitions, lectures, musicians, performances and inspiring the founding of DiverseWorks. Hernandez explains the genesis of the project:

“When I learned about William’s space downtown in 2007 and how it really started something that has grown over the years, I couldn’t believe it took me so long to discover. I’d known him since 1992 and knew so many other things about him, but not this. It seemed that it was probably one of many stories that, unless they were collected and preserved, could be lost or forgotten. Starting an organization to help preserve them felt like a good idea. It would provide a valuable and highly needed service to small and mid­size arts organizations who pour everything they have into their current and future programming, there’s rarely time, money or energy left to devote to their past. This history is too important not to preserve and share. It accounts for so much of the city’s creative energy and has a tremendous impact on, especially, a younger generation of artists and arts professionals.”

During the Houston CALL Project’s pilot phase, eight local artists, including Rachel Hecker, Terrell James, Mary Jenewein, Charles Mary Kubricht, Bert Long, David McGee, Beth Secor, ​and Toby Topek,​ received assistance with collecting, organizing and digitizing their history. Studio One is now seeking nominations (deadline: August 15) for its next round of visual artists. For qualifications and details, go here.

(Lower image: William Steen, polaroid self portrait, 1980s. Courtesy of Menil Archives, The Menil Collection, Houston.)

SXSW Looking for Artistic Tech Trend Nerds with Interesting Ideas

The “Unfiltered: Do Women Need to Get Real on Instagram” panel at SXSW Interactive 2015 came out of the PanelPicker process. Photo by Dawn McGee.

The “Unfiltered: Do Women Need to Get Real on Instagram” panel at SXSW Interactive 2015 came out of the PanelPicker process. Photo by Dawn McGee.

The 23rd annual SXSW Interactive Festival, an “incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity,” will return to Austin from March 11-15. For 2016, the Interactive Festival’s Hugh Forrest has specifically expressed that they would “love to get more cool/fun/interesting art-related proposals into the mix.”

The SXSW PanelPicker (where you can also cast your vote for others’ panel ideas) proposal entry process is open through Friday, July 24. If you’re unsure of how to do all this, SXSW has helpfully posted “Tips For SXSW PanelPicker Failure.” Remember: that’s how NOT to be selected.

So think of you your craziest, trendiest ideas, put together a panel of totally weird, yet diverse folks to speak to the topic, and get it in by July 24!

CADD announces this year’s scholarship winner

unnamedEvery year Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas presents a scholarship to an outstanding visual art student at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and they recently announced this year’s recipient: Byron Otis, a graduating senior who will attend Washington University in St. Louis. The scholarship can be used by the student for any expense associated with his academic experience.

For info on CADD, Otis’ artist statement, and a look the young artist’s work (he makes paintings), go here.

Helfenstein to Leave the Menil for Switzerland

Josef Helfenstein im Foyer der Menil Collection in Houston, Texas.Josef Helfenstein is leaving the Menil!

The Menil Foundation’s President Janet Hobby sent out an email early this morning stating, “At the same moment as I am sending you this message, he is participating in a press conference in Basel, Switzerland, where the local authorities are introducing him as the new director of the Kunstmuseum Basel.”

Helfenstein will remain at the Menil until the end of the year while the museum’s search committee looks for his replacement. After his twelve-year tenure, Helfenstein leaves the Menil Collection with the master plan that he helped initiate now going forward, with its important campus projects led by construction of the Menil Drawing Institute.

Hobby continues her statement, wishing him success in his new endeavor: “Josef has spoken to the Menil’s board and staff of his abiding love for this institution. He has explained that he is willing to say good-bye only because of the unexpected opportunity to return with his family to Switzerland and take up a directorship that he views as the culmination of his career.”

(Photo: Lynn Lane)

Houston Native Alison Weaver to Run Moody Center at Rice University

alison weaver

Alison Weaver has been named the first Executive Director of the new Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University. She will begin on September 1, 2015.

A native Houstonian, Weaver was previously the Guggenheim’s Director of Affiliate Museums (a.k.a. non-New York locations) in Berlin, Bilbao, Venice and Las Vegas. With an MBA from Yale and an MA in art history from Williams (and soon, a PhD from CUNY), she brings to Rice both administrative chops, along with art historical expertise in American and European art since 1945.

The Moody Center is described by Rice as an “interdisciplinary center [that] will provide space for arts education, performances and gallery exhibitions on campus and promote collaborations with Houston’s world-class art museums.” If this sounds like CAST at MIT, the Stanford Arts Institute, or, closer to home, the Mitchell Center at UH, that’s because it probably is Rice’s answer to those spaces, which seek to foster collaborations among different areas of the arts.

The Moody Center’s building has not been without controversy on campus, as students and faculty from the visual and dramatic arts departments complained about their lack of inclusion in the design, going so far as to hold a town hall meeting on the subject last year.

Let’s hope Weaver will usher in a new era for the arts at Rice (my alma mater), which has always had its bright spots, but which has never really been able to get its artistic act together as a university.



Your Artistic Skills Can Get You Out of Jail!

John Mulligan, who served two and a half years in prison with Richard W. Matt, with some of Matt's paintings. Photo by Heather Ainsworth via The New York Times.

John Mulligan, who served two and a half years in prison with Richard W. Matt, with some of Matt’s paintings. Photo by Heather Ainsworth via The New York Times.

After more than three weeks, the search for the two escaped prisoners in northern New York is over. According to The New York Times, David Sweat was discovered and shot yesterday afternoon, and remains in critical condition at the Albany Medical Center. His partner in crime, Richard W. Matt, was shot and killed by a federal agent on Friday. Two days earlier, a second prison employee, Gene Palmer, was arrested for helping the two convicted murderers in their prison escape.

Palmer admits to smuggling in a few tools to the prisoners and allowing them into unauthorized areas, but says he was misled as to the purpose and had no idea of escape plans. So why would a correctional facilities guard risk a decades-long career and possible arrest for a couple of murders? ART!

Before the flathead screwdriver and the needle-nosed pliers, Palmer had also made a few trips to Michael’s, and on his shopping list: paintbrushes and tubes of white zinc and white titanium paint for Mr. Matt, painter extraordinaire (not the van Gogh looking guy; he’s more of a Gauguin type).

NBC, among several major news sources, reports that Palmer was so infatuated with Matt’s artistic skills that he began smuggling in the other contraband in exchange for paintings and drawings. After the prisoners escaped, Palmer burned some of the artworks and buried others under leaves in the woods, some of which were recovered by authorities.

Yes! So who’s gettin’ hitched?


Who in Glasstire territory (that’s Texas, natch) is getting married? Whose existing marriage is now recognized in Texas? Gay or straight, and gettin’ hitched in solidarity or at long last? We’ve seen some things on social media that we’d like to post, but we don’t want to speculate or announce things ‘off the record’… . Who’s attending a ceremony? Who’s an ordained Universal Life minister and can do the hitching?






Houston Performance Artists: Get Really Really Real!

Sophia Narrett, “Something Went Wrong” (2014–15), embroidery thread and fabric, 59 x 35 in (image courtesy Arts+Leisure via Hyperallergic)

Sophia Narrett, “Something Went Wrong” (2014–15), embroidery thread and fabric, 59 x 35 in (image courtesy Arts+Leisure via Hyperallergic)

The above image is from a current exhibition by Sophia Narrett at Arts+Leisure (NYC) entitled This Meant Nothing, a series of embroidered fictional narratives about two women who meet on the set of The Bachelor and fall in love (inspired by the true story of a writer and an actress who fell in love on the set of Orange is the New Black).

There is so much drama in reality shows and, now, Houstonians can join in on all this repellent fun. According to, The Real Housewives of Houston is now casting and looking for “an affluent woman or couple who have always wanted to be part of a TV production.” (The web site asks for women aged 27-49, but elsewhere listed as 27-29.)

Houston performance artists! This is totally begging for some sly intervention!

Patrick Renner’s ‘Funnel Tunnel’ does New Orleans


photo via the Times-Picayune and

“Funnel Tunnel,” the people-pleasing public art installation that writhed along Montrose Boulevard in Houston for 18 months (until early this year) as part of Art League Houston’s Esplanade Project, is making a tour stop in New Orleans.

Its creator Patrick Renner was in the Big Easy recently, along with a construction crew and local volunteers, to install the 7,000 pound wood and steel sculpture on Poydras Street near the corner of S. Claiborne Avenue. It’s been described as an “abstract rainbow dragon.” That works.

The 155 foot-long tunnel came to the city via Sculpture for New Orleans, a non-profit that brings public artworks to the New Orleans to help with its revitalization since the 2005 hurricane; “Funnel Tunnel”‘s residency is paid for with funds from the Helis Foundation. The tunnel was trimmed by about thirty feet to fit the site.

Next stop: Atlanta.


Photo: Patrick Renner

Felony arrest warrant issued for Shepard Fairey


Shepard Fairey last month in Detroit, image via Detroit Free Press

Famous street artist Shepard Fairey (and creator of the iconic Obama “Hope” campaign poster) visited Detroit last month to paint the largest mural in his career — commissioned for the One Campus Martius building — but admitted at the time he’d be doing some unplanned tagging elsewhere in the city. Today the 36th District has issued a felony arrest warrant for the Los Angeles-based Fairey which, according to the Detroit Free Press, will “bring a maximum penalty of five years in jail, plus fines that could run higher than $10,000.”

Detroit police accuse the artist, 45, of causing roughly $9,000 worth of damages and “that the next time he comes back to Detroit, they will arrest him if he doesn’t turn himself in first.”

When Fairey was in Detroit last month he told the Free Press: “I still do stuff on the street without permission. I’ll be doing stuff on the street when I’m in Detroit.” It’s been reported that his distinctive  Andre the Giant face and other images have shown up, in poster form, plastered on some downtown buildings “in Eastern Market and along Jefferson Avenue.”  It’s unclear at this time if he used paint on any of the properties.

It’s possible that Fairey illegally tagged up to 14 locations, though some of the property owners won’t press charges. Fairey has been arrested more than a dozen times in his career.


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