Lubbock is kind of on a roll right now. Like tumbleweeds borne on the high plains wind, an influx of new visiting and tenure-track professors have rolled into TTU, along with new MFA candidates, artists at CASP, and new artist-run spaces and collective ventures bringing in fresh perspectives and new energy. This coming year is looking very exciting.
Adam Farcus, a new visiting professor at TTU’s School of Art, wasted no time in setting up and opening a gallery space in Lubbock called Lease Agreement. It’s very Chicago-style, and by that I don’t mean “sauce on top.” Rather, it’s an apartment gallery operated out of the front two rooms of Farcus’s house in the Heart of Lubbock neighborhood, in a similar fashion to the plethora of domestic-cum-gallery spaces that Chicago is known for. It comes as no surprise that Farcus has links to the Windy City, having received their MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Farcus and Lease Agreement are also participants in the 2019 Terrain Biennial, a biennial exhibition that originated in Chicago and has since spread around the world, which transforms front lawns and porches into site-specific installations.
Unlike Chicago, Lubbock does not suffer from a lack of space or affordability. But what the Chicago paradigm offers, besides a workaround for artists and curators to “invent” new art galleries in domestic spaces, is the idea of spreading art beyond the usual institutions and inviting encounters with non-traditional audiences. A stated aim of the Terrain Biennial is to open up private spaces that face the public — like a front lawn — for art, thereby “fostering dialogue between neighbors and providing access to new art for a wide range of people.” Now that is something Lubbock needs.
Lubbock’s First Friday Art Trail is spectacularly successful when it comes to bringing in a diverse, wide-ranging crowd, but it is so self-contained the general public may never encounter art elsewhere in the city. And the people who don’t attend First Friday might never see art, period. The Terrain Biennial is changing that, spreading seven art installations over a few Lubbock neighborhoods. Terrain — organized here in Lubbock by another new transplant, architect and artist Sarah Aziz — includes an installation in the Lease Agreement front yard by Milwaukee-based artist Rachel Hausmann Schall, which spells out the words MAKE TIME WASTE TIME in yellow PVC pipe, as well as projects by Farcus, Land Arts guru Chris Taylor, and Aziz in collaboration with local artist and rancher Jack Craft.
Running somewhat concurrently with the Terrain Biennial, Lease Agreement’s first Lubbock exhibition, Of Texas, likewise makes inroads to the local community. Curated from an open call for instruction-based artworks, Of Texas features scores by artists from across Texas, compiled together in a publication, with a select few executed in the gallery space. These include an installation of Post-It notes in a closet (score by Jesús González Flores, executed by Ian Breidenbach), a computer keyboard with the DELETE key removed (score by Pat Lawler, executed by Adam Farcus), and the striking and subtle Score for Two Mammals by S Rodriguez, a wall painting of dots and wavy lines that could be read and interpreted in so many ways — a dance, a linking of arms, telepathic communication between people or animals.
At the opening, various performances took place. Shannon Cannings had a table set up to register voters. Twice, Heather Warren-Crow applied lipstick, executing a score by Indya Finch. Visitors in turn applied lotion to one of their feet at the behest of a score by Heather Joy Puskarich. And at some point the whole gathering (my two kids included) started zooming around the gallery, executing a score by Jane Helslander that calls for participants to “fly around the room.” The atmosphere was buoyant and joyful.
What became apparent to me as I considered the happenings of that night and flipped through the publication was that Farcus’ invitation to create instruction-based art allowed people to step outside of their usual art practices. In short, I think it has really inspired and invigorated the Lubbock art community.
The exhibition in Lubbock concludes this Saturday, November 16 at Lease Agreement with readings and an open-mic for any new poems, performances or scores. But the concept and exhibition can be experienced by anyone outside of Lubbock, or Texas for that matter. Of Texas largely takes place in the imaginary. Many of the scores in the book are impossible to perform; they exist to be read, considered, and simply imagined. So, please, pick up the publication. You can buy it from Blurb for just $6, or even download a copy for free.
At Lease Agreement, Lubbock through Saturday, Nov. 16.