Houston Art Collective to Unveil Mural and Public Health Program

lawndale_OJATomorrow evening, the Houston art collective Otabenga Jones & Associates (OJ&A) will officially unveil a new mural at Lawndale Art Center. A project of Creative Capital, the mural kicks off The People’s Plate, OJ&A’s year-long collaborative art project/public health program. Programs at Lawndale and other venues will include cooking classes, a foraging workshop, an urban gardening workshop, an instructional cooking video and a line of mass-produced lunchboxes that will be made available to the public. OJ&A cite the Black Panther Free Breakfast for School Children Program as inspiration for the program. The artwork for both the mural and the upcoming lunchboxes are inspired by the graphic art of the Black Panther’s Minister of Culture, Emory Douglas.

OJ&A may need more than four members (who are Dawolu Jabari Anderson, Jamal Cyrus, Kenya Evans, and Robert A. Pruitt) because it will be a busy year: next month, the collective will open Monuments: Right Beyond the Site at Project Row Houses (PRH), in which they will utilize all seven of the Art Houses for PRH’s Round 40 through installations that happen on and off-site.

George W Gets His Own Museum Painting Exhibition

The former President’s portrait of Barney Bush (2000-2013) will probably not be included in the exhibition, although some conspiracists believe he may have served as a mascot for some sort of “shadow government.” It is rumored that, like both Presidents Bush, he was a member of the secret society, Skull and Milk-Bones.

The former President’s portrait of Barney Bush (2000-2013) will probably not be included in the exhibition of world leaders, although a few conspiracists believe Barney may have served as a mascot for some sort of “shadow government.” It is rumored that, like both Presidents Bush, he was a member of the secret society, Skull and Milk-Bones.

Some people have been following George W. Bush’s recent painting career with a bit more affection than they did his political career but, with last month’s reported arrest of the notorious hacker Guccifer, there were some fears that the public would no longer have access to the former President’s artistic journey. Guccifer was the original email hacker who released images of Bush’s self-portraits in the shower, pet portraits and the occasional landscape. A few months ago came the interesting announcement that Bush was working on a series of portraits of world leaders but, without Guccifer, would we ever see them?

On Monday, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum sent out a press release announcing the exhibition of The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy, which will open in early April at the Presidential Library, located on the campus of Dallas’ Southern Methodist University. The show will feature more than two dozen never-before-exhibited portraits painted by Bush, along with artifacts, photographs, and personal reflections which “will explore the relationships that President George W. Bush forged with world leaders to shape international policy and advance American interests abroad.”

Vote Now: Countdown to DMA Art Madness

John Hernandez, HI-C Avenger, 1992. Will it make it to the Final Four?

John Hernandez, HI-C Avenger, 1992. Will it make it to the Final Four?

In celebration of March Madness, the Dallas Museum of Art is presenting the DMA Art Madness Tournament online. Hokey? Yes, but everybody just loves to vote on stuff! Art lovers can vote once a day through March 16 to determine the Elite Eight, Final Four, and the DMA Art Madness Champion. Voting for the current round ends this Friday, February 28th. The Art Madness bracket can be downloaded here. May the best aesthete win!

Now, we’re just waiting for the online personality quiz, “Which DMA artwork are you?”

SAMA Curator Resigns!



David Rubin, San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA)’s Brown Foundation Curator of Contemporary Art, submitted his letter of resignation on Tuesday effective immediately, reports the San Antonio Express-News.

Rubin joined SAMA in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, where he had been serving as the Contemporary Arts Center’s Curator of Visual Arts for almost seven years. At SAMA, Rubin has been responsible for the permanent collection, exhibitions, as well as programming such as the popular Artist Conversation Series.

If there is any more to the “effective immediately” resignation, it doesn’t look like it will come from the museum. “David has contributed so much to this museum,” states SAMA Director Katie Luber, “and I think he’s decided to pursue some other options and looking for some other great possibilities to further his desire to support the local artists in this community,” The museum does not expect to have a replacement in place until January of next year.

Tonight! Timed Chit-Chat at Blue Star

PKNPechaKucha (Japanese for “chit-chat”) is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (six minutes and 40 seconds total for each presenter). The format was devised in 2003 by the Tokyo-based Klein Dytham Architecture firm (they even registered “PechuKucha” as a tradename!), to allow young designers to meet, show their work, and exchange ideas. PechaKucha Nights (PKNs) have caught on and are now held in hundreds of cities worldwide.

San Antonio is one of those cities where PKNs are popular and Blue Star Contemporary will be hosting PechaKucha San Antonio Volume 13 tonight, February 25. Happy hour begins at 6:30 pm; presentations start at 7:30 pm. Here is tonight’s lineup:

1. Mike Casey, urban pioneer
2. Mark Schlesinger, artist
3. Danette Schweers, emergency veterinarian
4. Mary Cantu, master reuser
5. Ryan Beltran, start-upco-founder
6. Angela Michelle, photographer
7. Doris Palmeros, graphic designer
8. Alex Rubio, artist

Art Trucks! A (Not So) New Trend

showontheroadSeattle gallerist Karen Light moved her Garde Rail Gallery several times before deciding to physically move to Texas in 2009. After five years, Light has now decided to open a new Austin gallery of early to mid-career contemporary artists but, rather than worry about moving all the time, she’s setting up shop in a 1993 Chevrolet box truck. Apparently inspired by the 1,400 registered food trucks in the area, Light has decided to open a “visual food truck”—a gallery called The SHOW On The Road. “This innovative model of an art gallery in an unexpected setting,” Light explains, “is disarming and accessible.”

Good luck to The SHOW (set to open late this month) but, just like sandwich trucks and taco trucks existed eons before foodies “invented” the concept, so existed art trucks. In a fit of nostalgia, artist Liz Ward recently posted a picture of the Effemmera Museum, created by Ward and fellow artist Beth Secor, which was parked outside Lawndale Art Center in 1988. Not sure if it was truly mobile, but it was pretty darn cool.

Lens Capsule, 2012. Photo via

Lens Capsule, 2012. Photo via

In 1993, Arena Productions (Sean Thorton and Chris Ballou) organized a show in the back of a moving van that they drove around Houston’s five wards, allowing residents to trade their own art for anything on the truck. In conjunction with FotoFest, Bennie Flores Ansell organized a similar mobile group show in 1998 called How’s My Driving? For Houston’s FotoFest 2012, artists Emily Peacock and Britt Ragsdale Thomas put together an ambitious series of exhibitions in their mobile Lens Capsule. Peacock and Thomas are again presenting Lens Capsule exhibitions, scaled down to two shows this year. The first will open this Friday, February 28, presenting work from High School for the Performing and Visual Arts students in the parking lot of the Lawndale Art Center. The second will show the work of Bryan Forrester in the parking lot of the Houston Center for Photography on March 14.

Houston Artist Bert Long Celebrated in Documentary Film

 Bert L Long, Jr., 1940-2013. Photo by Brett Coomer

Bert L Long, Jr., 1940-2013. Photo by Brett Coomer

Since iconic Houston artist Bert Long died last year, friends and fans have been busy paying tribute. Last month, there was a celebratory fundraiser to help publish a posthumous book on the artist and now, in conjunction with the exhibition Bert: Back and Beyond on view through March 8, Deborah Colton Gallery will be screening the documentary, Bert, on Wednesday, February 26. Written, produced, and directed by Houston-based arts patron, John Guess Jr., the film follows Long’s life as seen through the eyes big-time admirers in the art community.

For those who couldn’t get past the overflowing crowd at the Menil Collection’s Valentine’s Day screening of the documentary will want to arrive early. There will be a 6:30 pm reception; the film starts at 7 pm, followed by a Q&A with Guess, CEO of the Houston Museum of African American Culture.

Search for Miss CAM Antonio to Promote SA Arts!

miss-usa-2009-1The folks who organize San Antonio’s Contemporary Art Month (CAM) will again host the Miss CAM Antonio contest, a virtual pageant to find the perfect person to represent the local contemporary art community. The contest is open to anyone currently living in San Antonio—male or female, young or old (the pageant’s Facebook page reiterates: “Open to everyone…and we mean EVERYONE!”)

There is no swimsuit competition involved; contestants will be judged merely the on answers to the pageant-inspired question, “As Miss CAM Antonio, how would you promote contemporary art in San Antonio?” Entrants must post answers, in the form of text, videos or photos, to the contest’s Facebook page before midnight on March 4. The final four will be selected by popular vote (“likes”) and the winner will be chosen by a panel of CAM board members. Miss CAM Antonio will be crowned (with a custom designed crown by local artist Marlys Dietrick). during the CAM kick-off party at Blue Star Art Contemporary Arts Museum on Thursday evening, March 6.

Ex-Houstonians Wow New Orleans Art Scene

Photo: Doug MacCash/|The Times-Picayune

Photo: Doug MacCash/|The Times-Picayune

Native Houstonian Mel Chin’s 40-year retrospective of sculpture, video and installations at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) opened on Thursday with a panel discussion and on Friday with the opening reception party. Organized by NOMA Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Miranda Lash (an honorary Houstonian for her tenure as curatorial assistant at the Menil Collection), the exhibition is already getting a lot of attention, enthusiasm and press. It’s not just New Orleans art lovers who are enjoying the show; there seems to be a refreshing mutual admiration between the artist and curator, as recorded by Gambit (

Finishing up an interview on the eve of the opening of his first-ever retrospective, Rematch, which includes more than 70 works of a lifetime of art, the artist looked dapper and pleased, crediting the museum’s curator of contemporary art, Miranda Lash, for the show’s exquisite use of space. “It’s her show,” he said smiling.

Miranda Lash in front of Chin’s Cabinet of Craving, 2012. Photo: Jim Mulvihill

Miranda Lash in front of Chin’s Cabinet of Craving, 2012, at a concurrent show at Jonathan Ferarra Gallery. Photo: Jim Mulvihill

Congratulations to Mel and Miranda!

New Gallery to Open in El Paso!

cubeThere’s a new gallery coming to the El Paso art community called the Cube (or, according to its letterhead and Facebook page, the “CUB3″). Plans are for three-week exhibitions, with opening receptions to take place on the last Thursdays of each month, coinciding with the El Paso Downtown Arts District Art Crawl. The Cube is positioning itself to be a more experimental gallery; it describes itself as “a new art venue that will bring forth innovative thought and education in the arts, created to show that art is more than an object that hangs on the wall or sits on a pedestal.”

The Cube’s Director/Curator Angel Cabrales has scheduled the first exhibition, Borderlands, set to open next week on February 27th, with an opening from 6-9 pm. Borderlands will feature two installations by artist Angel Cabrales. Wait—that name sounds familiar! Oh well, support a new gallery with an ambitious mission, check out the art, and ask Director Cabrales for more details about the long-term exhibition schedule.

The Menil Unveils Very Menil Plans for Drawing Institute

Screen shot 2014-02-21 at 8.39.39 AM

Menil Drawing Institute (Johnston Marklee / The Menil Collection)

The Menil Collection unveiled plans for its new freestanding drawing institute on Wednesday and the reviews are starting to come in. One might think that Culturemap Houston’s hometown familiarity with the Menil aesthetic may have influenced its headline description of the building as a “modest stunner.” But Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne seconded the assessment, deeming the plans “deceptively simple.”

So it would seem that architects Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, of the LA-based firm Johnston Marklee & Associates, might actually get the Menil thing. Hawthorne called the plans for the flat-roofed, pavilion-like building seemingly “self-effacing.” The Menil Drawing Institute will be modestly scaled: Hawthorne describes it as “bigger than a house but smaller than most museum buildings”; the Houston Chronicle points out that its16-foot height makes it no taller than the surrounding neighborhood bungalows.

Menil Drawing Institute at dusk, looking past the west entrance courtyard. (Johnston Marklee / The Menil Collection)

Menil Drawing Institute at dusk, looking past the west entrance courtyard. (Johnston Marklee / The Menil Collection)

Hidden behind a group of large oak trees, half of its square footage will be underground storage. The ground level will contain a large, main gathering space called the “Living Room,” a private study space called the “Drawing Room” (get it?), an exhibition space, a library, rooms for seminars, courtyards and a conservation lab.

Hawthorne also points out that the design’s subtlety could make fundraising trickier than a campaign for a flashy building to be built by a flashy architect. But Menil Director Josef Helfenstein seems not to be worried about that at all. “We’re in good shape with the fund raising,” he stated. “We wouldn’t go public with the announcement if we weren’t.”

Construction is slated to break ground early next year and the building is set to open in 2017.

Washington’s Corcoran Gallery Announces Takeover Deal

corcoran-galleryThe Corcoran Gallery of Art, the oldest privately supported art museum in the US, has reached a preliminary agreement with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University (GWU) to take stewardship of its art collection, college and landmark Washington, DC building. Under the proposed three-way agreement, the Corcoran’s College of Art and Design, as well as its Beaux-Arts home near the White House, would fall to GWU.

The Corcoran’s collection of some 17,000 world-class artworks would go to the National Gallery, who will oversee exhibitions of modern and contemporary art in the building under the name Corcoran Contemporary, National Gallery of Art. They will also maintain a Corcoran Legacy Gallery, featuring works closely associated with the Corcoran’s history. The plan is that the National Gallery will absorb as much of the collection as possible, especially in areas in which it is lacking (such as the Corcoran’s excellent contemporary collection) and redistribute the rest to other museum collections, with a preference for DC area museums. But, as the Washington Post reports, “much of the collection could end up in Tennessee or Alaska.”

Most involved in the proposal seem to be trying to put a positive spin on it (The National Gallery is free and more accessible! GWU will pay for the building’s much-needed renovation! Most of the art will stay in DC!), yet most comments include a tinge of sadness at the loss of the Corcoran’s 140-year-old independent spirit. “There is no way to continue the Corcoran as we knew it or as we know it,” Peggy Loar, interim director and president of the Corcoran told the Washington Post. “That’s going to be the kernel of pain for some people.”

DFW Museums Join the Google Art Project

Most people in the arts actually visit museums, but many others experience images—even museum paintings that art history students initially learned from textbooks—almost exclusively through the Internet. Today, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center announced that together they are adding more than a combined 1,700 high-resolution works of art to the Google Art Project.

Now Online! Vincent van Gogh, Sheaves of Wheat, 1890. Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection. Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art.

Now Online! Vincent van Gogh, Sheaves of Wheat, 1890. Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection. Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art.

The Google Art Project is an online platform, originally launched in 2011, of high-resolution images of artworks from its partner museums (It started with 17 museums including the Tate, the Met, and the Uffizi; now there are images of 57,000 objects.). Its development grew out of Google’s “20-percent time” policy, by which employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on an innovative project of interest. Enough Google employees were into it that, eventually, curators and museums were brought on board. Visitors to the Google Art Project can now browse works by the artist’s name, the artwork, type of art, the museum, the country, collections, and the time period. The hi-res images can withstand super microscopic viewings and users can become virtual curators, creating and sharing their own “collections.” Some works have audio/visual content and educational components for teachers and students. (Google+ is a plus for the fancier features.)

Two Hums Make a Whole: DiverseWorks to Present Sound Performances in the Sky and Underground

And when you’re in tune, you’re in tune.
-Bonnie Barnett to the LA Times on a HUM performance in a MacArthur Park tunnel

Bonnie Barnett. Photo by Steve DeGroodt, 2012

Bonnie Barnett. Photo by Steve DeGroodt, 2012

One of the many, crazily ambitious avant-garde events that took place during the New Music America 1986 (NMA) was Bonnie Barnett’s participatory performance of HUM in the downtown Houston tunnels (and simulcast on KPFT radio). Twenty-eight years later, the Los Angeles-based vocalist/composer/improviser has returned to Houston to recreate the piece. Twice.

On Thursday evening, Barnett will bring HUM to James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace, located adjacent to the Shepherd School of Music on the Rice University Campus. Skyspace HUM will begin at 7 pm and all are invited to participate—no musical or vocal experience is necessary. Then, on Friday at noon, she’ll be doing it underground again! Audience participants can go to the Esperson Building, 808 Travis Street, enter through the lobby and take the elevator down to the tunnels.

The two performances are being held in conjunction with the exhibition SonicWorks at DiverseWorks, a show of sound art originally inspired by NMA, which was headquartered at DiverseWorks back in 1986. For some history of the NMA, read Peter Lucas’ recent article “SonicWorks Echoes Past Blasts.” The exhibition, which includes NMA ephemera, will be on view through March 1.

Obama Apologizes to UT Art History Department

apology2Like a lot of people who work in the arts, University of Texas Art History Professor Ann Collins Johns was a little perturbed at President Obama when he dissed art historians during a talk at a GE plant a few weeks ago. “I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art-history degree.” Although he finished his statement with, “I love art history—I don’t want to get a bunch e-mails from everybody,” it was too late.

Johns got on the White House web site and defended her profession. She told Hyperallergic that she couldn’t quite remember what she wrote (“I’m pretty sure that my email was not so much one of outrage at his statement, but rather a ‘look at what we do well’ statement.”), but was totally surprised when she received a hand-written reply from the President a few days ago, which was published in today’s Hyperallergic.


Let me apologize for my off-the-cuff remarks. I was making a point about the jobs market, not the value of art history. As it so happens, art history was one of my favorite subjects in high school, and it has helped me take in a great deal of joy in my life that I might otherwise have missed.

So please pass on my apology for the glib remark to the entire department, and understand that I was trying to encourage young people who may not be predisposed to a four year college experience to be open to technical training that can lead them to an honorable career.


Barack Obama


Artists Unite! It’s Tonight! Houston’s Artist Town Hall Meeting

Ben Shahn, Demonstration, 1933. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Richard Norton Memorial Fund, 2011.12

Ben Shahn, Demonstration, 1933. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Richard Norton Memorial Fund, 2011.12

Houston artists should be finishing up their lists of hopes, dreams, and gripes because this evening is the “Artist Town Hall Meeting,” organized by Fresh Arts and Art League Houston. All artists are invited (as individual artists, stress the organizers, not as representatives of arts organizations) and all issues are up for discussion—creative, social, or financial, whether utopian or practical.

The meeting’s location has been changed to the Eldorado Ballroom, 2310 Elgin Street, and will begin at 6:30 pm.

Another Statement-Making Artist/Art Vandal at Work

Photo: Craig O’Neil via Miami New Times

Photo: Craig O’Neil via Miami New Times

On Sunday, a visitor walked into the Ai Weiwei: According to What? exhibition at the new Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), picked up a vase and, when approached by security, purposefully dropped it to the floor.

The art smasher was Miami painter Maximo Caminero, who said he broke the vase to protest that the museum only displayed art by international artists, according to the police report.

The vase, reportedly valued at $1 million, was part of the installation “Colored Vases,” in which the Ai dipped vases from China’s Neolithic period into brightly colored industrial paint. While some view that very process as an act of vandalism, it is meant to serve as a “metaphor for the conflict between East and West, a conflict between culture and commercialism.” Ai has long attracted international attention for criticizing China’s government policies on democracy, free speech and human rights. On a local broadcast, CBSMiami’s Gary Nelson stressed the distinction between the acts, stating that Caminero’s vandalism was ”based not on politics, but on jealousy.”

Caminero said he planned to host a news conference on Tuesday to explain his actions. Maybe it will make more sense than Uriel Landeros’ lawyer’s explanation for his June 2012 defacement of a Picasso painting at Houston’s Menil Collection: “what he did to the painting was not criminal mischief, it was an artistic statement, an expression, much like graffiti art is.”

Photos displayed behind the vase installation: Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn. 1995, B/W-triptych. Photocredit Ai Weiwei © Ai Weiwei

Note photos displayed behind the vase installation: Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn. 1995, B/W-triptych. Photocredit Ai Weiwei © Ai Weiwei

A Call for Artists for Austin’s New Public Art Project

Place family-friendly art here.

Place family-friendly art here.

The City of Austin is looking for a professional artist, or artist team, to design and fabricate artwork for the city’s Montopolis Neighborhood Center. Through its Art in Public Places program (AIPP), the commission will include a $42,000 budget. The submission deadline is Thursday, March 20.

That may seem like plenty of time to work up a proposal, but if the stated goal of the project seems vague (“to develop a family-friendly experience that is integrated into the campus, to engage facility users, and to reflect the diverse community served by the Center”), artists may wish to attend one of the Artist Information Meetings. One will take place on Wednesday, February 19th from 5- 6:30 pm at the Cultural Arts Division offices at 201 E. 2nd Street; another will be on Wednesday, February 26th from noon-1:30 pm at the Montopolis Neighborhood Center, 1416 Montopolis Drive.

Proposals will be accepted from artists living or working within 150 miles of Austin. Download the complete Request for Qualifications here.

Old-Fashioned Hashtag Photo Contest at MFAH

George S. Zimbel, Marilyn Monroe and Billy Wilder, “The Seven Year Itch,” New York, 1954, gelatin silver print, printed 1993, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by Jonathan and Cynthia King. © George S. Zimbel

George S. Zimbel, Marilyn Monroe and Billy Wilder, “The Seven Year Itch,” New York, 1954, gelatin silver print, printed 1993, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by Jonathan and Cynthia King. © George S. Zimbel

To draw attention to its current exhibition Made for Magazines: Iconic 20th-Century Photographs, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) is holding an old-fashioned photo contest. Of the 80 works on display, the MFAH has selected seven photographs to inspire contest entrants, including O. Rufus Lovett’s Kilgore Rangerette, George Zimbel’s shot of Marilyn Monroe over a subway grate and Peter Stackpole’s portrait of Alfred Hitchcock.

With the popularity of social media, images come and go in milliseconds, and the MFAH hopes that this exhibition will show that “the impact of important images made for magazines still resonates in the 21st century.” Of course, the contest itself takes place on social media and the name of the contest is “#made4magz.” Open to all skill levels, whether using fancy cameras or smart phones, maybe the contest will at least inspire some obsessive photo posters to put a little bit of forethought and classical inspiration into their selfies.

Arts Publisher Gets Dissed, Shamed and Sued


CEO Louise Blouin

Louise Blouin seems to be in trouble these days. Her reputation as an employer is so clouded that when the CEO of Blouin Media, publisher of and Art + Auction, called a snow day yesterday, Dan Duray of the Gallerist suggested that it was simply because it was payday and, since Monday is a holiday, the company could avoid paying its employees until at least Tuesday.

The snow day came only a day after Blouin and the company president were served with lawsuit papers, filed by two former top executives who claim that they were fired after complaining about missing paychecks and commissions. A Blouin spokesperson said “there were disputed commissions that did not belong to them, and that is why they were terminated,” but the lawsuit claims that Blouin explained to other staff members that the plaintiffs were “greedy,” “evil,” and “stole” money, clients and commissions. The New York Post reports that the two plaintiffs are among a number of former Blouin staffers who have left to join Artnet News, a digital publication that aims to compete with

Blouin’s reputation as a fair employer has been nose-diving for a while now. Last month, C-Monster Carolina A. Miranda, freelance arts writer, launched a relentless Twitter campaign called #BlouinShaming:
Screen shot_C-MonsterThe two plaintiffs also charge that, despite many years of service at Blouin Media, they were classified as independent contractors when they should have been classified as full-time employees. It should be noted that all Glasstire writers are part-time freelancers, which, as Glasstire contributor Laura Lark explains in her recent article “The Lark Guide to Artworld Behaviors,” makes it “not a ‘real’ job, but then here is a little bit more of that sentence (the all caps are hers):

…it really boils down to money—and though Glasstire PAYS ITS WRITERS BETTER THAN ANY PUBLICATION I’VE EVER WORKED FOR, it’s not a “real” job…