On March 2nd of this year I wrote a Letter From the Editor for our weekly Tuesday newsletter which read, in part: “The Louvre is closed. I assume other major museums around the globe, and in this country, will follow suit in the coming weeks.” I followed that with: “I’m actually grateful for the internet right now. Artists: please keep making your art, and we will keep looking it it, however we can.”
On March 11th, Glasstire published a news story titled Coronavirus Closings and Cancellations In Texas Art. That week Glasstire’s staff met at our Houston office for the last time this year, to discuss how we could cover Texas art in a world that was shutting down.
As we now know, artists certainly did keep making art throughout 2020, and venues and organizers kept showing it, both in person and online, and Glasstire kept covering it. And our readers stuck with us. Glasstire’s traffic increases every year — and this year, an ultra-weird and bracing one, was no exception. (Given that Glasstire has always been an internet-only magazine, we shouldn’t have been too surprised that our accessibility has been a plus these past ten months.)
I wouldn’t say that all the Glasstire stories that attracted the most views in 2020 were related to the greater tumult — Covid, Black Lives Matter, the election — but many of them were. Art intersects with life on every level and in every sphere. Art shows up for everything.
As listed, the selections below may make for a strange reading, unless you keep them in chronological order, and keep in mind the year we’ve had. I’ve indulged and listed the top 15 most-visited stories, if anything to give you a sense of the scope of what this year in Texas art felt like on the ground.
What a year. Here’s to a more stable 2021.
Jones, a well-known and liked Houston-based artist, accepted a residency spot with a new local program, hosted in an apartment complex. The organizers ran background checks on the artist residents after they were already selected to be residents. This raised all kinds of questions around when a debt is truly paid.
The beginning of the year 2020 as we now know it and will remember it. The world was shutting down.
This was Glasstire’s initial response to the pandemic. (The idea: If we can’t get to your show, please send us a video walkthrough of it.) Our series Five-Minute Tours continues to this day. Glasstire hosts more than 200 tours thus far, on both our site and Youtube channel. As long as venues continue sending us video files, we’ll continue the series.
March 16: Paula Newton, 1962-2020:
Houston lost a beloved artist, writer, and educator, who died of natural causes. Three of Glasstire’s most-read stories this year were obituaries (the one below notwithstanding) — all were Texas artists who died long before their time.
May 30: An Obituary for 120 Portland:
Houston historian Pete Gershon, author of Collision: The Contemporary Art Scene in Houston, 1972–1985, dug into the strange and charming history of this mystery building as he continues his research on Houston’s alternative art community.
In the first days of the Black Lives Matter marches and the upending of many of art’s sacred cows, including the vandalization of some public artworks, Christopher Blay talked with artist and educator lauren woods about intervention, inventiveness, and introspection.
June 4: Jeremy Joel [1982 – 2020]:
A Fort Worth artist who defied convention died at 37.
In early June, the iconic 1974 public art sculpture by Ant Farm in Amarillo — a 3D canvas of a million spray-painting tourists — got a fitting overnight makeover.
July 6: That Wasn’t the Whole Story:
In mid-summer, Houston artist Emily Peacock wrote a follow-up to her initial (also heavily trafficked) essay on making art during the pandemic. She had decided to make a few searingly honest adjustments to the picture she’d painted in April.
Aug. 15: A Visit to MuseoBenini in Marble Falls:
A sleeper! And an upbeat one at that. This one is about “the Italian guy with his own art museum in Marble Falls,” and far more people than we realized knew this story, this man, and his museum.
Aug 17. Alvaro Perez [1979-2020]:
Bad news. And for many of us, by mid-August, news this bad felt like insult to injury. Rest in peace, Alvaro.
Austin contributor Lydia Pine reviewed an art book that looks at the western art canon through a sardonic #metoo lens. Some like the book’s humor; some do not.
In the wake of just about every art fair in the world canceling, Dallas Art Fair found itself embroiled in a widely discussed controversy.
The popularity of this straightforward news post, about how one Dallas art organization (and biennial Dallas event) reinvented itself for Covid times, spoke to how hungry art-lovers were, and still are, for in-person art experiences they can negotiate safely. We also ran a review of it, with lots of photos, by artist Colette Copeland.
On Brandon Zech’s second preview spin through the MFAH’s newest addition, he took a kajillion photos, and we ran them. Curious art lovers from all over the country and the world clicked on this story.