Our Alternate Awards from the Austin Critics’ Table

Last week the Austin Critics’ Table held their informal and highly irreverent annual awards ceremony.  With their fair share of salty language and off-the-cuff humor, writers from The Austin Chronicle and The Austin American-Statesman highlighted achievements of the past year in visual art, theater, classical music, and dance. With a grip on the mic that belied his punk rock past, Tiny Park curator Brian Wiley pointed out that the visual artists, being the only strangers to the stage, had a disadvantage under the spotlight. Nonetheless, this demographic held their own, likely due to the overwhelming support from this year’s crowd. Both Big Medium and Blue Genie Arts Industries were inducted into the Hall of Fame, and their ranks of participants and supporters easily doubled the visual arts turnout.

After the ceremony it seemed clear that further awards should be handed out for stellar performances of the evening. A few suggestions follow:

Best Drinking Game Suggestion
Robert Faires (arts editor at Austin Chronicle). “Every time one of us says,  ‘It was a difficult decision,’ drink.”

The F-bomb Award
Madge Darlington of the Rude Mechanicals for opening up the stage to a broad spectrum of language. In their acceptance speech the troop gave a planned Freudian slip for the critics seated at stage right: A heartfelt “Fuck you – I MEAN -  Thank you, critics of Austin.” The profanities picked up pace from there.

Best/Worst Irony
Tiny Park receiving Best Gallery Body of Work just months after they’ve shuttered their space.

Best Indecision
The Visual Artist of the Year award was handed out to both Claude Van Lingen and Michael Sieben. This recognition had the visual artists in the room applauding louder than any other moment.

Most Noted Visual Arts Absence
We have a tie! The Blanton Museum and The Contemporary Austin were M.I.A. (We’d really like to see more of you outside the institutions.)

Best Reference to Austin Real Estate
Jeanne Claire Van Ryzin (arts editor at Austin American-Statesman) for her tongue-in-cheek accusation of Big Medium raising her property taxes in the East Side through the phenomenal growth of East Austin Studio Tours.

Best Dressed
Texas Choral Concert’s Brent Baldwin’s sharp vest and tie, perfectly resembled the attire he had been wearing in the press photo on the large screen behind him. He really, really likes that outfit.

Best impromptu Plug
A’lante Flamenco. After their acceptance speech for Best Dance Ensemble, the performers gave the crowd a brief heart-racing performance that has many itching to see them again.

Best Ceremony Closing
Robert Faires ending as he began with martini glass raised. His short speech included such gems as “I have to take a wicked piss right now.”

The full list of real awards and their winners can be found here.

“Tattletale Culture”: City Audit Reveals Major Dysfunction at McAllen Museum

According to a lengthy report from city auditors, South Texas’ International Museum of Art and Science (IMAS) has some serious issues with governance, ethically questionable behavior, and protection of its artwork.


Problems seem to have started in April 2013 when the executive director abruptly quit after clashes with the board president. Board member Kevin Graham took the interim position on a volunteer basis, but stepped down when Ingram started aggressively asking questions. One of the audit’s findings was that staff claimed that a board representative “asked them to arrange discounts or special prices for art from artists doing business with IMAS.” Graham believes that particular allegation was leveled at him and denies it, adding, “I think it’s symptomatic of a behavior that exists within the museum, kind of a tattletale culture.”

After another board member quit the executive committee to accept the interim directorship for a salary of $60,000, the taxpayer-funded museum requested an additional $41,288 from the McAllen City Commission (bumping the starting salary from $84,000 to $125,000) to help attract qualified applicants. The request prompted the audit, although the additional funding was approved.

Other allegations include “inappropriate meddling” by the board (who reportedly asked the staff members to copy them on all emails and, during the audit process, then instructed them to delete the emails), issuing a “Letter of Charitable Contribution” to a staff member’s wife without proper appraisal, and storing a $1.7 million Picasso yards away from a 18-month-old leak from the ceiling.

Some have stated that the final audit report has been “scrubbed a little bit” in order to avoid lawsuits and protect the museum’s reputation, although the current interim director now points to the report’s vagueness with her response: “Some of the issues were difficult and challenging to resolve because there was a lack of information.”

For more details of the IMAS staff/board/city dysfunction, read Dave Hendricks’ in-depth article in The Monitor.

Texas Cities Making the Wrong Lists of Creative, Exciting Places

Recently, the website PolicyMic published a list of “15 Cities for Creative 20-Somethings That Aren’t New York or Los Angeles” and Abby Koenig took to her Houston Press blog to take offense at Houston’s absence from the list. Weighing the pros and cons of the art scene in her adopted city, Koening concludes that the problem is basically “an issue of branding.” (She also points out some obvious flaws in the list; the only Texas town to make the cut is Austin, “well known as a place to live easy and cheaply.” Koenig replies that the description “makes me wonder if Goldberg wrote this list ten years ago.”)

Lubbock Pride!

Lubbock Pride!

The same day that Koening posted her thoughts on this list, Business Insider released another list: “The 10 Most Boring Cities In America.” Houston and Austin were both spared, but four Texas cities made the top ten. FOUR. Lubbock is ranked number one! (“We guess if you’re an older college student who isn’t into art, who’s living on fast food and cheap drinks, Lubbock might be for you.”) Also on the list: Irving (#4), Plano (#6), and Laredo (#10).

The Biggest Mural in Houston, a Temporary Ode to Preservation, is Unveiled Today

Photo: Peter Molick

Photo: Peter Molick

Even Houstonians who have spent the past month watching that giant mural go up in Midtown (off Fannin, behind the five-story building at 2800 San Jacinto) may have skipped the $100 VIP preview on Thursday evening, but the official unveiling of Preservons la Creation takes place today from 3-11 pm. Tickets are $10, though the $100 tickets are still welcome, and the proceeds will benefit an upcoming children’s hospital mural project. Festivities include an art market, music, food, beverages and a gallery show of the mural artist.

Billed as “the biggest mural in Houston” (its website is, the project is the work of French-American artist Sebastien “Mr. D” Boileau, who established Eyeful Art Murals and Designs in Texas in 1998. The event is presented by Eyeful Art and UP Art Studio, with community partners Texan-French Alliance for the Arts and The Midtown District.

One of the stated objectives for the project is to further “the discussion of conservation and preservation.” As a former graffiti artist, Boileau is familiar with the impermanence of often illegally installed street art. In this case, though, he was invited by urban real estate developer Adam Brackman. The Houston Chronicle explains Brackman’s objectives:

Brackman’s company, Common Ground, invests in Midtown properties with redevelopment potential. He’s enlisted muralists before to bring attention to his buildings and deter crime, also appreciating how street art can temporarily enliven a neighborhood in transition. Most of the buildings he buys and sells eventually will be razed, he reasons, “but in the meantime, let’s make them something.”

Preservons la Creation, which translates to “Let’s Preserve the Creation,” is a riff on The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo’s fresco painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel over 500 years ago. Boileau’s mural will not last a fraction of that time (nor will the current state of Midtown), so go check it out today, join the festivities and get in on that “discussion of conservation and preservation” the project is meant to provoke.

Microscopic Landscapes: D-Day After 70 Years

Donald Weber, "Omaha Beach Shrapnel #188, Sector Dog, White" (detail) from the series War Sand, 2013. Photo via Circuit Gallery.

Donald Weber, “Omaha Beach Shrapnel #188, Sector Dog, White” (detail) from the series War Sand, 2013. Photo via Circuit Gallery.

In honor of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, we post these photographs by architect-turned-prize-winning-photographer Donald Weber, part of his series-in-progress War Sand.

Last year, Weber visited the beaches at Normandy and collected sand samples. He then enlisted the help of physics professor Kevin Robbie to determine that they contained steel remnants and were indeed seventy-year-old tiny bits of shrapnel from the unimaginable amount of artillery fired that day and in the following weeks. Using a scanning electron microscope and optical microscope, Weber and Robbie photographed the artifacts. They created a color code (blue for iron, yellow for silicon oxide and green for sodium chloride) for the resulting photographs using a palette that closely resembled the physical landscape of the Normandy beaches, reports CBC Radio Canada.

Said Robbie: “History never goes away. There’s always a trace here or a remnant there.”

Donald Weber, clockwise from top: Gold Beach, Sample #213, (Assorted Shrapnel, Seashell and Glass), Sector Jig, Red; Omaha Beach, Sample #144 (Assorted Shrapnel, Seashell and Glass), Sector Dog, White; Juno Beach, Sample #073 (Shrapnel Fragment), Sector Nan, Green; Juno Beach, Sample #016 (Assorted Shrapnel), Sector Nan, Green, all from 2013. Photo via Circuit Gallery.

Donald Weber, clockwise from top: Gold Beach, Sample #213, (Assorted Shrapnel, Seashell and Glass), Sector Jig, Red; Omaha Beach, Sample #144 (Assorted Shrapnel, Seashell and Glass), Sector Dog, White; Juno Beach, Sample #073 (Shrapnel Fragment), Sector Nan, Green; Juno Beach, Sample #016 (Assorted Shrapnel), Sector Nan, Green, all from 2013. Photo via Circuit Gallery.

From Chin to Flynn: Menil Presents Encyclopedia in Art and Poetry

funk_and_wagTomorrow evening at 7 pm, the Menil Collection will host an “Illustrated Lecture & Book Signing” with Houston-born artist Mel Chin, fresh from his retrospective at the New Orleans Museum of Art, which was curated by once-Houstonian Miranda Lash. With Chin will be joined by sometimes-Houstonian Nick Flynn, who teaches creative writing at the University of Houston.

Chin has put together a book called The Funk & Wag From A to Z, for which he made hundreds of collages created from images found in a 25-volume set of Funk & Wagnall’s Universal Standard Encyclopedia. (Sebastien Boncy reviewed the images’ 2012 “arresting” installation at The Station Museum and called it “one with which I crave further encounters.”) Poet/memoirist Flynn served as editor for the twenty-five poems commissioned for the book project. Contributors include some pretty great poets as well as some intriguing choices, such as Barry Schwabsky, Ravi Shankar, and Flynn’s wife, actress Lili Taylor. Yale University Press says the oversized book “offers mischievous fun with pointed commentary and hilarity.”

Chin will talk; Flynn will read; books will be signed.

Public Art Goes Missing in San Antonio


Kate Garner, Phrenic Transit, at 24 E. Houston. [via]

Tonight is the opening of the second annual X Marks the Art exhibition in downtown San Antonio. An initiative of Public Art San Antonio (PASA), the city’s public art program, X Marks the Art involves giving over vacant storefronts downtown to local artists. This year features recent Texas State University art graduates Julio Barrientos, Kate Garner, Darby Hillman, Hope Mora, Kameron Richie, and John Tennison.

As reported by the San Antonio Express-News, some of Barrientos’ artworks have been stolen in advance of tonight’s opening. About 10 of his 15 wooden bird cutouts that were attached to grates on the old Solo Serve building had disappeared after they had been up only a few days.

“I guess it’s just ironic, I was trying to create a connection between man and nature and they just proved my point,” Barrientos said. “Humans are constantly disrupting animals and their environment.” Barrientos is making new birds in time for tonight’s opening reception.


One of Julio Barrientos’s bird cutouts, at 114 Soledad St.



Van Gogh’s Missing Ear Now on Display

One of the most famously weird stories in art history is the tale of Vincent van Gogh’s 1888 psychotic episode during which he chopped off his own ear and presented to a prostitute. Or, as some art historians have more recently posited, got it sliced off by Paul Gauguin’s sword during an argument and lied about the incident to keep his friend out of jail. Whatever—it’s a still a weird story.

Photograph: Diemut Strebe.Sugababe/AP

Photograph: Diemut Strebe.Sugababe/AP

This might be weirder. A German museum is now displaying a “copy” of Van Gogh’s ear grown from living cell samples provided by Lieuwe van Gogh, the great-great-grandson of Vincent’s brother Theo (making it contain one sixteenth of the same genes as Vincent), reports

The US-based artist Diemut Strebe, who states that “crossover between science and art has increasingly become the main focus in my work,” said the ear, which was grown at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is being kept alive inside a case containing a nourishing liquid and could theoretically last for years. A 3-D printer was used to shape the material to resemble Van Gogh’s ear.

Strebe plans to display the ear in New York next year.

Kara Walker Sculpture Attracts Mostly White Crowd and Many Seem to be Twelve Years Old

Photo: Jason Wyche/Courtesy Creative Time

Photo: Jason Wyche/Courtesy Creative Time

Kara Walker’s new installation, A Subtlety, located in Brooklyn’s abandoned Domino Sugar factory, is drawing large crowds and provoking some pretty interesting discussions. Its longer title, A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant, certainly points to a number of conversation starting points, both subtle and not so subtle.

This photo is tamer than many taken from the backside of the sculpture.

This photo is much tamer than many taken from the backside of the sculpture.

After standing in the long lines of predominately white viewers, Jamilah King was moved to write a thought-provoking article in Colorlines last week entitled “The Overwhelming Whiteness of Black Art.” If her challenging questions about content and viewership sound too serious, don’t fret. Artnet has now posted a collection of some of the juvenile selfies-with-sculpture beginning to appear on Instagram with the hashtag #KaraWalkerDomino. Before we get too far into a heavy conversation, we apparently need to get the naked-body-parts giggles out of our system.

An Original Punk Performance Art Collective Reunites: The Urban Animals

Photo by George Hixson

Photo by George Hixson

Long before the term “flash mob” was coined in 2003, long before loose-knit groups of fun-loving disruptive anarchists learned to call themselves “performance art collectives,” and long before there was any activity in downtown Houston after dark, there were the Urban Animals.

Formed in 1979 by Edie Scott and Scott Prescott, the Urban Animals were a group of street skaters whose activities included roller hockey, parking garage surfing, midnight crosstown skating, bar hopping, roller jousting, and graffiti art. There was a definite punk rock mentality to the group but, by the late 1980s, they numbered in the hundreds, included folks from all walks of Houston culture, and were known for their generous charitable efforts.

In celebration of the Urban Animals’ 30th anniversary, there were some nostalgic screenings of the 1985 documentary Speed Street in conjunction with the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s No Zoning: Artists Engage Houston. For the 35th, they are going back to their punk roots with a good old-fashioned raucous reunion at Houston’s Numbers nightclub. On Saturday, June 14, 8 pm-4 am, there will be a public celebration with DJ LP spinning tunes and special guests Mydolls, Bad Samaritans, Herschel Berry and the Natives, and The Footnotes.

Also, a popup shop, “Le Urban Animal Boutique,” has been set up for Urban Animal swag (their t-shirts were a must-have for cool but non-skating wannabes of the 80s). If you think true punk and merch don’t go together, remember that the 80s were a bit confusing, as is exemplified by this amazing Urban Animals/Foley’s department store commercial rediscovered by the Mydolls’ Trish Herrera:

For more information on the Urban Animals 35th Reunion and Le Urban Animal Boutique, visit their Facebook events page.

Hello, Project: New Gallery for Houston

hopsonHouston artist Jon Hopson is opening a new commercial gallery space in Houston this summer. Hello Project will be located within the venerable McMurtrey Gallery‘s former project and storage space. Hopson plans to primarily feature artists with limited previous exhibition experience and no gallery representation. There won’t be much overlap between the programming at McMurtrey and Hello Project, and openings at the new space will not be held the same night as the legendary white wine open container “Gallery Walks” on Colquitt Street.

Hello Project will will open on July 18 with SUMMER PARTY, a group show featuring Alika Herreshoff, Angel Oloshove, Michelle Rawlings, James Scheuren and Carlos Rosales-Silva. Look for the Good Dog Houston hotdog truck, with beer by Karbach Brewery. (Follow the space’s physical transformation, including lighting, paint and floor epoxy here!)

Installation view of James Scheuren's 2014 MFA show at the UT Austin VAC

Installation view of James Scheuren’s 2014 MFA show at the UT Austin VAC


Tonight! Museum Directors Talk Culture

The annual meeting of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) is now underway in Dallas/Fort Worth. In between tours of area art collections, the country’s museum bosses are getting together to discuss art issues, best practices, fundraising and other museum boss business. For those who would like a hint of the conversation, or just want to mingle with the head honchos, there is one event open to the public.

These people are wandering the streets of DFW (AAMD members at the New Orleans Museum of Art in January)

These people are now wandering the streets of DFW!

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is hosting a panel discussion this evening at 5:30 pm at the Horchow Auditorium. A conversation about cultural investment in major urban centers entitled “Cities and Cultural Investment: A Snapshot” will be moderated by DMA Director Maxwell Anderson. The panelists will include John Rossant, Executive Chairman of Publicis Live! in Paris, and Chairman of the New Cities Foundation, based in Geneva, and Zannie Voss, Chair and Professor of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship in the Meadows School of the Arts and the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, Director of the National Center for Arts Research, and an Affiliate Professor at Kedge School of Business in Marseille, France.

Admission is free, but tickets are required.

Dallas Artists: You’re in the Show!

Willem van Haecht, 1628

Willem van Haecht, 1628

Dallas’ 500X Gallery is gearing up for its annual unjuried show, Hot and Sweaty 3: The Open Show, which will run June 14-June 21. It doesn’t seem like the $10 entrance fee would be enough to keep this from becoming unmanageable chaos, but the gallery keeps doing it “in the spirit of our mission statement.”

To clarify: “unjuried” means that any artist who drops off work between noon and 5 pm today or tomorrow is in the show. Sometime in the future, entrance fees are bound to increase, or size restrictions will decrease, or the gallery staff will go on strike against that pesky mission statement, so get in on it now!

Details and drop off forms are available on the gallery’s web site.

Dibs on Nothing!!! Extreme Minimalism Leads to Artist Feud


Carroll, left (Photo: Courtesy Mary Ellen Carroll) and Abramović, right (Photo: Marina Abramović for the Guardian)

Yesterday, The Guardian and a few arts journals reported on a tiff between performance artist Marina Abramović and conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll about Abramović’s upcoming show at London’s Serpentine Gallery. The exhibition, entitled Marina Abramović: 512 Hours, will involve the artist appearing in the gallery from 10 am-6 pm, six days a week, from June 11-August 25. It is billed as “a unique work created for the Serpentine” and apparently emphasizes the importance of “nothing.”

picEmperors-New-Clothes1The problem is that Carroll already has an ongoing conceptual work called Nothing, so a group of concerned curators and art historians have written letters to Serpentine curator Hans Ulrich Obrist (not to be confused with Hans Christian Andersen, author of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which simply has to tie into this story somehow) complaining about the lack of acknowledgement of Carroll’s precedence and influence.

Because of the subject matter, The Guardian article contains some amazing quotations. It states that the art experts fear that without acknowledgement, “Carroll would find it difficult to perform ‘Nothing’ in future.” Says one art historian, “I am not prepared to say Marina Abramović is involved in plagiarizing or anything like that,” but adds that he told Obrist that it was important for the gallery and Abramović to “acknowledge this genealogy.” Another says he wouldn’t expect Abramović to “reel off the history of nothing, but the gallery should be responsible about the claims they make.”

Mary Ellen Carroll’s most radical incarnation of Nothing was presented in 2006, when she walked out of the door of her New York residence with “nothing” but her passport and the clothes on her back to travel for six weeks in a foreign country. (This prompted another comparison from one of the Serpentine complainants: “Mary Ellen’s work, when she left for Argentina, is in many ways more extreme.”) The conceptual artist, who works out of New York and Houston, is probably best known by Texans for her inclusion in the 2009 Contemporary Arts Museum Houston exhibition No Zoning: Artists Engage Houston, for which she took a suburban Sharpstown house and rotated it 180˚ on its original location. (Actually, that project was not completed until later; her exhibition work was a large table called prototype 180: table, the site of an interesting and eclectic series of performances and community activities—though as a round table, it should have merited 360˚.)

Carroll’s round table at CAMH (Photo: Kenny Trice) and Abramović’s square table at MoMA

Carroll’s round table at CAMH (Photo: Kenny Trice) and Abramović’s square table at MoMA

The Serbian-born performance artist Marina Abramović began her career in the early 1970s, but became a full-fledged super art star after her 2010 Museum of Modern Art retrospective, The Artist is Present, winning new fans and befriending celebrities such as Lady Gaga, James Franco and Jay Z. Her original performances created for that exhibition were seemingly very similar to the upcoming “unique work created for the Serpentine.” The Complex Art+Design article reports that Abramović came up with the idea of “nothing” in the middle of the night and she explained to BBC the origin of this new exhibition: “I called Hans Ulrich and I said ‘I don’t know how you’re going to take this, but this is what I want to do: nothing…there’s nothing.’”

Although there is a longer history of artists’ celebrations of “nothing” which can be added to the groundbreaking work of both Abramović and Carroll (John Cage’s 4’33” comes to mind), Abramović’s pitch to Obrist might also sound awfully familiar to network TV sitcom fans:

The End of the Original Cheesecake: Photographer Bunny Yeager

Bunny Yeager Self Portrait

Bunny Yeager Self Portrait

Those who think selfies simply coincided with the widespread use of cell phones and the arrival of self-absorbed Millennials may want to track down a copy of Bunny Yeager’s 1964 how-to book How I Photograph Myself. And those from the earlier generation, who tend to credit Madonna for bringing feminist self-empowerment to the world of erotic, sultry imagery, may wish to pick up her 2012 Bunny Yeager’s Beautiful Backsides, her nostalgic photographic archive of the sweet and sexy butts of models from the 1950s to the 1970s.

The model-turned-pinup-photographer died this past weekend of congestive heart failure in North Miami, Florida, at the age of 85, reports The New York Times. Born in 1939 near Pittsburgh, Linnea Eleanor Yeager’s family moved to Florida when she was 17. The self-described “shy” girl adopted the name Bunny and became a model and, in her early 20s, Yeager took a photography course in order to affordably make her own reprints for her modeling portfolio. But in the next couple of decades, she became a prolific photographer of what The Washington Post called the “golden age of cheesecake.” Best known for her pictures of the famous pinup model Bettie Page, she also photographed eight Playboy Playmates, some of whom she discovered herself. In a recent interview with the Associated Press (posted below), she stated, “It’s easier for a woman to ask a girl to take off her clothes.”

Other well-known photographers recognized her unique blend of celebratory naïveté and self-aware sexuality. Diane Arbus once described Yeager as “the world’s greatest pinup photographer” and Yeager’s self-portraits are cited as a major influence on the work of Cindy Sherman. Later, when men’s magazines became more explicit (a style which Yeager described as “kind of smutty”), she stopped shooting altogether.

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in her work. In 2010, the Andy Warhol Museum presented an exhibition of Yeager’s self-portraits, followed three years later by a career retrospective at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale. Dallas’ Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery presented a solo show of her work last September.

Plainview Museum for Jimmy Dean the Sausage King


Jimmy Dean in his days as a recording artist, c. 1960

The Museum of the Llano Estacado on the campus of Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, TX, has announced plans to build a Jimmy Dean Museum. The museum will house memorabilia from Dean’s personal collection, examining his “dirt poor” childhood in the nearby town of Seth Ward, as well as his success as an entertainer and businessman. Known primarily today for his eponymous sausage company, Jimmy Dean was a popular singer and entertainer in the 1960s and 70s. His song Big Bad John, a classic western dramatic monologue, reached number 1 on both country and pop charts, and won the Grammy for best C&W recording for 1961. Later in his career, Dean was a frequent guest host on The Tonight Show for Johnny Carson, and he played the reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte (a character based on Howard Hughes) in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds are Forever. In 2004 he published one of the best-titled autobiographies ever, Thirty Years of Sausage, Fifty Years of Ham.

“In addition to Dean memorabilia, the museum will feature audio visual elements, allowing visitors to hear his music and witness his skills as a sausage pitch man. A bronze statue of Dean, designed by Paul DiPasquale, will usher visitors in through the front doors,”  reports the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Jimmy Dean (as reclusive Texas billionaire Willard Whyte) and Sean Connery in Diamonds are Forever

Jimmy Dean as reclusive Vegas billionaire Willard Whyte alongside Sean Connery in Diamonds are Forever

Located in the Panhandle halfway between Amarillo and Lubbock, Plainview is perhaps best known for the 2013 shuttering of its Cargrill meatpacking plant, due to the shortage of cattle from the record drought in the Southwest. As reported in the New York Times, ten percent of the town’s population was employed by the plant and its (hopefully temporary) closing was devastating to the local economy. The actor Don Cheadle recently visited the town for the documentary Pray for Rain, which explores the causes of the drought.

Don Cheadle in the documentary Pray for Rain, shot in Plainview, TX

Don Cheadle in the documentary Pray for Rain, shot in Plainview, TX



Massimo Vignelli, Legendary Designer of NYC Subway Map, Dies at 83

Photo: Amal Chen/The Epoch Times

Photo: Amal Chen/The Epoch Times

Massimo Vignelli died yesterday at his Manhattan home after a long illness, reports The New York Times. Vignelli is survived by his wife and business partner, Lella, as well as their son, Luca Vignelli, and daughter, Valentina Vignelli Zimmer, and three grandchildren.

The renowned graphic designer and self-described “information architect” was the mastermind behind the logos of American Airlines, Ford and United Colors of Benetton, among many others. Vignelli was perhaps best known for creating the iconic 1972 NYC subway map, which was initially considered controversial for its lack of geographical accuracy. Most designers considered the map, which Vignelli referred to as “a diagram,” a graphic masterpiece of simplicity.


Vignelli was born in 1931 in Milan and, by age 14, decided to become an architect. He studied at the Politecnico di Milano and later at the Università di Architettura, Venice, and, in the late 1950s, visited America on a fellowship. He returned in 1966 to help start the New York branch of a new company, Unimark International, which became one of the largest design firms in the world. In 1971, Vignelli and his wife founded their own firm Vignelli Associates, later Vignelli Designs. The collaboration of Lella and Massimo Vignelli, as well as the scope of their work, was captured in the 2012 documentary Design is One (trailer posted below).

In the last weeks of Vignelli’s life, his son Luca sent out a request for letters from anyone influenced or inspired by his father’s work, many of which can be found at #dearmassimo.



Get Your Fancy Pants on with Us at FPSF


This weekend, come by our Fancy Pants tent at Free Press Summer Fest, the annual mega music festival at Eleanor Tinsley Park in Houston. Co-sponsored by KPRC, our tent will feature a 100-foot mural by Alex Rosa and Glasstire beach balls for everyone, while supplies last! Fancy Pants ticket holders get to enjoy these air conditioned luxury tents with shorter bar lines and groovy decor. Come say hi!

Mark Flood Floods the (Skateboard) Market

supreme-mark-flood-skateboard-decksMARK FLOOD UPDATE: A couple of weeks ago, Glasstire reported that Houston artist Mark Flood is funny and, a few weeks earlier, we reported that Mark Flood knows how to promote himself in his bad-boy prankster, poke-fun-at-everyone-including-himself way. In March, we reported that Mark Flood is astonishingly collectible and, a few months previously, we reported that Mark Flood had infiltrated the small screen. Now, it looks like Mark Flood is also soon to be deemed super skater cool.

According to Hypebeast and other hipster guy lifestyle magazines, Supreme will be releasing two limited-edition skateboard decks designed by the artist. On the underside of the decks are the messages “MOM DIED” and “DAD DIED.” When explaining his motivation for the collaboration to Purple Fashion Magazine’s Annabel Fernandes, non-skater Flood stated simply, “Supreme asked. I have skater friends and acquaintances and they told me to do it.”

AF: Why “Mom Died” “Dad Died” specifically?
MF: I’m interested in the relation between heavy emotions and the mask of coolness.
AF:  Is there a message you want to convey in your skateboards?
MF: Fuck the world.

Okay then. The skateboard decks will be available in Supreme stores (in NY, LA and London) and online beginning May 29.