Purity Ring is an amazing electronic band from Canada. Their debut album, Shrines, is amazing. Their show sold out in Austin before I could buy tickets! However, they were also playing in Dallas, so my friend and I decided to go. We took the five hour trip on the Megabus for less than $5 roundtrip for both of us. Since my friend works at the Hyatt, we also got a free hotel room. The current exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) looks like an interesting show. This should be a good trip. I set up a meeting with Erin Stafford, one of the artists in Seven Minutes in Heaven (SMIH), currently living in Dallas. I have known her for a few years, however, this is the first time I will be working with her. Although, I have seen her work exhibited several times and wrote about one of her recent San Antonio shows in Seduction and Private Moments. We meet at bar belmont at the Belmont Hotel. It’s a cute bar up on a hill with a fantastic view of downtown Dallas that apparently used to be a crack house. Interesting. Sounds like something I would move into with a bunch of other artists. I have always been attracted to the raw, gritty, real aesthetics of dilapidated, old buildings. I always want to move in and turn it into something I can use. We discuss several different projects she is working on and all of Stafford’s ideas are fantastic and fit right into SMIH. She has a couple of great pieces already completed that I love. That is great for press, as well, being able to make the deadline to include in our press kit and any additional requests for images. Best of all, it relates to her paintings, but is an entirely different medium. I really want the artists in this show to push what they normally would create for an exhibit.
After drinks, we head back to the hotel to get ready for the show that evening. We are staying in the middle of Downtown Dallas, and it is nice to stroll through, well lit up. I love neon and it is everywhere! I know I have previously written about light pieces from various artists, particularly my favorite, Dan Flavin and several pieces at The Houston Fine Art Fair. The vintage Greyhound sign is my favorite. The way the area is lit up makes it fun to walk around and explore. It’s definitely a different feel from Downtown Houston, where it seems to become a ghost town at night. I will always be a City Girl, a Downtown City Girl. Never growing up quite so metropolitan, it all changed when I went to high school in the middle of downtown. I had so much fun…I never looked back. It’s the center, where everything and everyone meets. When I was in high school, I couldn’t realize that my life would be wrapped around a ten mile radius of that school – where I work, where I live, and my studio. The show is great! Purity Ring sounds amazing in person. It is electronic music, with the experimentation being the best part. I am really amazed this is their first album, I hope they can continue making music without losing what they have captured here. Although their stage presence could use a make over, they were still fantastic to see live. It was their first tour, after all. Check them out: Purity Ring: Fineshrine Purity Ring: Amenamy The Granada was a nice location, I had never been there before. One thing that highly interested me was their social media. On both sides of the stage were huge projection screens. In between the two bands, they projected their twitter feed. This caused people to twitter just to see it up on the screen. Genius! I think we may have to do this for SMIH. We haven’t started a twitter account yet, but plan to have that up and running by the show. It was just a fun way to promote the event. The comments did get a little “adult” but I would expect no less for SMIH… Of course, I have to fit in art before we leave and head to the Dallas Museum of Art. I already have plans to visit in May to see the Cindy Sherman Exhibit. I made a special point to go to New York to see it before, of course I will travel 5 hours to see it in Texas. It was that amazing. But today is another show, Cindy Sherman has not yet entered Texas. One of the current exhibits is presenting all women artists, Difference?. Encompassing various media and themes, the fact that the work was all created by females in the past fifty years is the only connection between the artists in this exhibit, an interesting choice. Yes, I feel women have a point of view that needs to be expressed. No, I don’t think it should be exclusive. Art is in your soul, not your sex. What I do believe is that both sexes have a different message and have had different experiences. Art would not be complete if one side was missing, as it was for centuries. Without these pioneers, my work today might not be taken as seriously. Louise Bourgeois is a great example. Seeing her Small Spider sculpture in New Orleans was amazing. The works exhibited here, at the DMA today, seem so simple, yet carry complex ideas. Of course, feminist work is included, such as a fantastic piece made out of snaps and latex by Hannah Wilke. It would be ignorant to ignore such a strong point of view. But this show encompassed so much more than that one viewpoint that is often associated or blindly labeled with female artwork. Feminist work was a small part of this exhibit, in no way highlighted or called attention to. Square Tubes (Vierkantrohre), 1967/2009 by Charlotte Posenenske is intriguing and amusing. Removing the artists’ hand completely, this piece is made of six industrial geometric hollow tubes. Though Posenenske was in Germany, Donald Judd was working on his minimal pieces fabricated with industrial materials in the US during this same time. Also removing his hand from the work, his work differs because it is not interactive, he has made all of the decisions. Posenenske’s work is to be put together by the installer/owner, taking the removal of the artists’ touch even further, while using a considerably masculine material, removing any possible feminine qualities. In stark contrast to the smooth polished metal, is a piece by Tara Donovan. Untitled (Toothpicks), 2004, this work is anything but inviting. Created by possibly thousands of toothpicks, this speaks to my love of ritual and repetition. It is rough, sharp looking, and full of chaos, yet is neatly compartmentalized in a square, uniform shape. Also in contrast to Posenenske’s work, Donovan uses common daily items, not industrial, specific materials. This inspires my current series of work greatly. I have been choosing to work with common items with history and re appropriate them with a different, emotional meaning, expanding them from their strictly utilitarian use. So, if I didn’t know the title of this exhibition and just viewed the pieces independently, no, I would not have assumed this was an all female show. It wasn’t all pink and made of roses. Point made. Thank you. Another show on exhibit is Variations on Theme: Contemporary Art 1950’s to the Present. Themes included Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and the Figure. Composed primarily from pieces in the DMA collection, This included work from quite a few of my favorite artists. There is a huge Donald Judd that looks like it goes a couple of stories high and also a Gerhard Richter that differs greatly from his stylistic blurry paintings. This piece was a mirror. A blank canvas for the viewer to interact with. What was interesting to me was that Richter was displayed near the piece by Michaelangelo Pisoletto, which varied greatly from the last pieces I viewed by him in New York, which were paintings on mirrors. Again, interacting with the viewer, but putting them in an specific environment. Today, Pistelleto’s piece is a box on the floor, I believe made out of mirrors, but turned backwards, revealing no reflections, just the coated backside. Paintings by Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock also grace the walls. There is a fantastic neon piece by Bruce Nauman. Again, I find what people do with light is compelling. Besides this neon piece, I have seen Nauman create in many different mediums, including sculpture, video, and also a sound installation, Days, at MOMA a few years ago. This exhibit is displayed in the Barrel Vault, a huge and open gallery space, allowing plenty of room to view or interact with the art.
This was a fun, quick trip where I feel I got a lot accomplished. Meeting with Erin, an artist in Seven Minutes, seeing Purity Ring, a great show at the Granada, and the fabulous art at the Dallas Museum of Art is a lot to pack into an overnight trip! If I’m going to travel five hours, apparently I will make it worth my while. Now that the DMA offers free general admission, hopefully more people will get exposed to this fantastic collection and amazing travelling exhibits.
- Figuring Out 2013 – Whatever That Means (hownottomakealivingasanartist.com)
- Heading to the Big Easy: New Orleans (hownottomakealivingasanartist.com)
My friend invited me to head to Austin to see Weekend, 1967 by Jean-Luc Godard. Having seen a few of Godard’s films, this was a new one for me. A great director of French New Wave, I always enjoy watching experimental film. We take the Megabus, a bus service that has expanded their market from the East Coast into Texas. For less than $5 round trip for both of us, it is an easy and worry free journey. Weekend is showing at the Paramount Theater, a beautiful and classic venue, located in downtown Austin. It’s a nice experience viewing a movie here. Playing with the convention of both the plot and editing, Godard gives a small portrayal of the broken and fragmented minds that covet money and possessions over the value of life. Roland and Corinne are a married couple taking a trip to collect an inheritance. Quickly understanding there is little else they care for, they attempt running over pedestrians, nonchalantly walk through dead bodies, and have a disdain for even each other, as they plot the death of one another. Throughout the movie, Corinne collects clothing from each event, changing her outfit several times. This is a great trailer for Weekend, the entire movie done in this random sort of format. Flashing words, inappropriately played music, and including the breaking of the picture reel at one point, are all Godard’s stylistic way of portraying his observations of society. This is another fantastic collage of Godard’s imagery: Original French Weekend Trailer. While no dialogue is in the beginning of this clip, the silhouetted figures are a great representation of the dead, emotionless conversation they are having, illustrating their feelings for everything and everyone, including each other. Roland is very disinterested as Corinne describes a threesome she had, asking her only “and then” in a bored voice and “is that all.” Her casual body language in this still, reflects her careless attitude as well, her head propped up by her hand. Although, I wish this trailer had subtitles to understand a few parts. The first young woman covered in blood and screaming is yelling how her rich, dead boyfriend is the one worth living, the life of a poor peasant is worth nothing. Another crash, the cars are on fire, and the only time Corinne is screaming, she is hysterically shrieking “My purse! My purse!”, as Roland rolls out from the burning car. And at the end, when she is eating, she is told she is eating her husband. She calmly asks for a second helping to go, for her to eat later. Ending the film with Fin de Cinema, the End of Cinema, this was also the last film Godard did in this manner, choosing to focus on a documentary style. Because I always love hearing German, here is a another clip I found, Weekend Dubbed in German. Why am I not surprised that this consists mainly of her taking a bath? Well, it’s perfectly natural as the portrait she is imitating suggests. Even though the camera is focused on Corinne as she bathes, the entire time Roland is lecturing her, the only nudity is the portrait hanging behind her. If you’re really interested in Weekend, here is the famous Weekend Traffic Jam Scene With Commentary that brings the story to a halt and lasts seven minutes. It is discussed how Roland and Corinne are breaking the rules, an example of how they treat societies civilized mores “visual variety”. There is also a longer 15 minute clip, with two great monologues juxtaposed with an interesting choice for imagery. Update: Weekend has been added to the Criterion Collection! If you want to watch amazing movies, they are usually released by Criterion or Janus Films. Since I didn’t plan this weekend trip, I had no art itinerary planned. But walking down Congress, we passed the Mexic-Arte Museum that was advertising a graffiti show, so we had to stop in. Having never been in here before, I was impressed with the layout, very spacious – a great place to exhibit. Walking into the exhibit, the first wall is taken by a huge pop mural, grabbing my attention immediately. I have always been a fan of pop and Andy Warhol, particularly loving the bright, bold colors. Not one for subtly myself, I appreciate not being afraid to express something in a loud manner. The subject matter always intrigues me. Usually comments on society, I think it is very clever to pick up on everyday thoughts and imagery that has seeped into our subconscious and realize that even though we are bombarded with this now, it is actually a fleeting experience that is unique to our society at this particular moment. I love that art can actually document something as intimate as our attitudes. While a time capsule may preserve history and reveal many things, pop takes it in a different direction. Loud, brash, and unapologetic, it has always stated the obvious right now. Focusing on subjects like commercialism and consumerism, these pieces force you to contemplate the same things that overload your brain everyday, hopefully, making you aware and rethink the things that are constantly blurred in the background of everyday life, buzzing around you. I am very interested in the fact that a graffiti exhibit is making my thoughts go to Warhol and his philosophies.
I recognize the work of another artist in the show, Miguel DonJuan. It’s weird because the imagery is very different than what I’ve previously seen of his work. In fact, there is very little exposed wood, normally characteristic of his pieces. But there are masked faces and graffiti, and although done differently, they still seem familiar to me. The work still seems to deal with the topic of concealed identity, a particular issue for graffiti artists. In this series of work, the figures are animals or donning an animal mask. This work incorporates some words in Spanish, another varied element, I normally see his work as referencing other cultures. He was in the Graduate program at UTSA when I attended there. I have seen his work under Carlos DonJuan, Carlos SourGrapes, and now Miguel DonJuan. I’m not sure why the use of different names, although his bio explains he is part of the Sour Grapes Collective. There is an interesting piece by Niz, I believe the only solo female artist in the show. Created with aerosol paint, I love the use of an old window as the object to directly paint on while also framing the work. There are so many windows already in my collection…It’s nice to see old materials being incorporated into art. This particular piece is political, discussing current concerns about the border. Old, weathered items can help illustrate a mood or certain points you are trying to make. A new window wouldn’t suggest an issue that as been there for a while, having a history. More images from the show by Origin of Cool. Since my friend collects vinyl, we head to End of an Ear, a fantastic record store. Interestingly enough, we run into an album with the artwork of one of the artist that I represent, Linda Arredondo. It is always great to see artists I am working with have their art exposed to different viewers. This piece was actually purchased at Justiceworks, I remember their farewell show late 2011. Designed by fellow San Antonio artist, James Woodard for the band The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. This was from her Monsters in Love series of mixed media pieces. Austin is a fun little town just a jump away from San Antonio. I love that I can change scenery so easily. As usual, I packed quite a bit into an overnight trip, experiencing film, art, and music here.