A stop in Austin led me to Roadhouse Relics. Passing by on the way to End of an Ear, the neon lights in the window called to me. I always enjoy experiencing light installations or how lighting can be used to change the way a piece is viewed. However, these pieces are different, vintage signs updated with neon mixed in with original signs referencing pop culture. The work is fun and whimsical, I would love to have one of these pieces. The front is the gallery houses the work of Todd Sanders, the back and outside of the building house his studio. Looking out the window, there are many more vintage signs waiting to be revived back to life with light.
Last year was crazy, unpredictable, and exciting! All that without a full plan. Well, that’s not entirely true. I work pretty hard at what I do, whatever that is, put myself out there , and accept most opportunities that I’m lucky enough to have come my way. A new year to me means new opportunities and adventures. I do not return to the same boring desk job after Christmas. I get to plan my year out however I would like. I am very lucky.
With that in mind, how do I begin to plan for the new year? Some things are already on my calendar, such as Seven Minutes in Heaven (SMIH) 2013, which will be March 2, 2013, my first CAM studio tour on March 24, 2013, and the show I am curating at Alex Rubio’s gallery, R Gallery, of my five artists July 13, 2013. That’s a lot to be excited about already, but doesn’t take up nearly enough of my calendar. That means work to do and new opportunities to find.
Beginning January 1, Megabus put up travel through April, so travel is my next stage of planning. My husband and I are heading to New Orleans in a week with friend, although we will be driving there. Then I head to Dallas before the month is over for a music show with a friend. Both trips include meetings with artists in SMIH and visits to the Museums of Art. Technically “pleasure” trips, work and art are, as usual, always included. I know I will be in Austin for a music show in March, a few days after SMIH. I know the West Austin Studio Tours are in April this year, and last year was so much fun, I won’t be missing that! In May I will be heading back to Dallas for the Cindy Sherman exhibit. That will be such an exciting trip! I spent several hours in the exhibit at MOMA last March and look forward to doing that again.
I will also be in Detroit visiting someone very dear to me, I think in the beginning of June, but I will be flying there. However, it would be really easy to hop on the Megabus to Chicago. I have visited both cities before, although not in quite a while. I was lucky enough to see Throbbing Gristle perform in Chicago a few years ago. That was a pretty legendary show I was lucky enough to attend. Detroit has some great art to visit such as the DIA, Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, and cool galleries like CPOP. In Chicago, there is the Art Institute, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, and I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to visit my friend, artist, Grayson Bagwell, currently attending Grad School at Columbia. He is in SMIH this year. I keep dragging him back to San Antonio to exhibit. And I keep visiting him. He used to live in Brooklyn, so of course I would pop up there. When he attended Pratt he was fantastic enough to take me on a tour and to the Grad office. It is the school with my dream program, a dual masters program in Art History and Information Sciences (Library Sciences). They offer a summer program to study in Venice and do internships with the Met. Their main campus is in Brooklyn, but their Art History campus is on Manhattan. It would be perfect since my husband is also interested in attending Grad School in New York, at the New School. He is an experimental writer looking for an untraditional program. Although with his high GPA and great references, I’m pretty sure he could get in anywhere. It’s me I’m a little worried about. My GPA is slightly lower due to not dropping a one class in time. Really. That killed my GPA for a few semesters. I am now just thrown in the average pool. Which is why I am hustling everyday, trying to build my resume and get my name out there so I stand out when I do apply. I need scholarship money to live in New York. Oh yes, please let me learn all about curating in New York!
And what about “work?” I mean, I am always working, always glued to my phone or laptop, always attending art exhibits and meeting people. What I really mean is paying work. Regularly. Money is a funny thing. I swear I don’t live by it, but it sure does make my plans come together much more smoothly. As of now, I don’t have anything scheduled until February. January is always the slowest month for me work wise. Everyone has already taken their vacations during December and won’t take time again until the summer. It’s a little tough financially, but I always have a lot to do. Last year I learned I better focus on SMIH or it definitely catches up with me all at once. Not to mention I need to organize my life again. Spring cleaning is serious business to me, after the whirlwind of my first open studio, the holidays, art events, and parties, I am completely disorganized. My house and studio are normally a wreck. So is my brain. I will set up my calendar and travel, begin to work on my house so it no longer looks like a war zone, clean my studio, go back to yoga to relax my mind, oh, and breathe. I have to be able to clear through some of these things before I can focus on my art again.
Being self employed is not for everyone. You have to be a go-with-the-flow kind of person, which I am only sometimes, and have lots of confidence, which I do most of the time. Inviting people you’ve never met before to work with you at a place/event they have never heard of (mainly out of town artists), you have to sound like you know what you’re doing, or they’re not interested. Sometimes they’re not interested even when they do know you and what your doing. Marketing to strangers. Yes, I have definitely built up this skill in the last year. Also fundraising. I could not possibly afford everything I want to do, so I do need help. I’m very fortunate to have people believe in me. I have produced a few events now, worked with quite a few artists, and have had a good track record by showing up and supporting many artists and art events. Believing I will make enough money by the end of the month to pay for my studio rent, my art supplies, and any art events/parties I am throwing. That is the most go-with-the-flow-part. Sometimes that gives me a huge headache, but again, I am learning to breathe and take it one day at a time.
I am excited to work on my art again. I have several big projects that I am working on and now have the space to begin to put them together. I have to be ready with my work for the studio tour in March. Both displaying my older work and really putting in some time on my newer projects. The studio tour is in about eleven weeks and I want to have something to show. I have been fortunate to receive so many opportunities when I have shown I am serious about curating. Who knows what will come up when I show I am interested in showing my art again. The last few shows I have been in were invitational group shows, but I will be ready this year to exhibit some of the major projects I have been working on.
So I begin to prepare for the new year. Whatever that means.
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.
As an artist and curator, I am always searching for new artists to work with. I have attended the East Austin Studio Tours for a few years, but for the first time, they are hosting the West Austin Studio Tours. Only about an hour drive from San Antonio, I will always try to take advantage of an opportunity to meet a lot of artists and see their work all at once. Huge open studios like these often have over one hundred artists participating. Another perfect day for exploring art! My first stop is to see Ana Fernandez at Women and Their Work. Real Estate and Other Fictions, is a show of her large scale paintings. Fernandez is a native Texan from Corpus Christi, currently living and working in San Antonio. Depicting common San Antonio scenes, one starts to realize it may not be so common after all. It is a unique city that creates its own culture, with a strong past.
While being a top ten city in the country for population, it often feels much smaller, with all its eccentricities. Fernandez captures these moments, reminding me these scenes probably only exist here. She was able to make it up to Austin for the open studio, and besides her paintings, she was running her Botanica. Selling powders and potions to ward off controlling people and more modern bruharia to have someone unblock you on facebook, I love Fernandez’s sense of humor and how she embraces the culture I grew up in and sometimes take for granted. While botanicas don’t seem to be around anymore, they still exist, low key and hidden in the neighborhoods, much like the scenes she finds dispersed throughout the city. Fernandez is giving these beliefs a make over, refusing to let old traditions die. Looking at her paintings is like driving around in the neighborhood. Even if you haven’t seen the exact house she has decided to paint, you know you’ve still seen this house, know these people. Some of them are in my family. Women and Their Work was a fantastic, huge space. It was a great location to showcase such large paintings. They also had a fantastic gallery shop with interesting books and art.
One of the best studios visited belonged to Adreon Henry and Jennifer Bradley. Both living quarters and art studio for the couple, it was quintessential Austin. Their unique space had a living room floor covered in laminated book pages, while art, books, and collectibles were displayed everywhere. The printing equipment was an impressive set up in the side room. Henry was an interesting guy, into experimental music, books, and seriously making art. His house was a bed of creativity and inspiration. A drink was offered as we talk about the Bruce Haack vinyl playing. We discussed putting on shows in alternative locations. He had held one in an abandoned convenience store and I talked about Seven Minutes in Heaven at the Fox Motel. Artists are the most interesting people. Henry worked in many types of media, including painting, drawing, music, and mixed media. His sense of humor comes out as he draws alien figures on found art.
There were a number of portrait painters that I was surprised drew me in. I felt these artists took something as traditional as a portrait and kept it
interesting, which is often hard to do. I love the moments that Karen Offutt chose to depict, one invading a private moment as this girl sneaks some food while she cooks. The expressive look on her
face as she is caught is what makes this painting stand out for me. Painting everyday scenes of everyday people can be a tiresome subject if there is not some kind of excitement behind it. I came upon H. Chase Seal’s work by accident. I don’t believe it was listed on the tour, running into it as I stopped in an interesting looking store. The large, closely cropped portraits drew my attention. Also included was a pastel drawing I liked. While much more minimal in medium, it was just as expressive. My head was already starting to curate, a contemporary portrait show would be nice. Portraits can often be over looked as a contemporary subject matter, but these artists were proving otherwise. I always enjoy seeing artists who love what they do. That should always come across clearly in their work. But the most fun and interactive piece was by far the Quick Draw Photo Booth by Aron Taylor at Big Medium. Dealing again in portraiture, this was definitely a new concept. Just a loud voice coming from a speaker on this home made photo booth was inviting you in for a fun time. Not knowing what to expect, my friend and I decided to participate. I didn’t realize until after I was in the booth, that we were not alone. Hidden behind the camera wall, we could not see the artist as he directed our “photo shoot”. A cowboy with a Texas draw talked to us the entire time, making this such an engaging experience. This guy was hilarious! Combining art and comedy, photography and drawing, this was quite a memorable booth. Everyone’s experience was completely unique, as each participant was given different instructions.
For our shoot, we were playing the role of celebrities, expressing moments with paparazzi hounding us, and ending with the death of the celebrity.
I laughed the entire time and enjoyed that this was something I had never experienced before. Still not knowing what to expect, he told us it took about three minutes to develop the photos and didn’t want to burn himself with chemicals. We continued to walk around the gallery space until he loudly announced they were done. This original drawing on the right is what the photo booth spit out, in traditional fashion. If I ever curate this portrait exhibit, I would love to include Taylor. Someone like this definitely shakes up the typical perceived notion of portraiture. On my way out of Austin, I made a final stop at Art on 5th, to see the art work of Dr. Suess. While I have known this gallery has been representing his work for a while, this was the first time I ever paid a visit. I have always liked his art and have a book, The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss, that included images of most of the work on display. He has always been a
playful illustrator and I find his other works just as whimsical. Unmistakably his work, these are entirely new worlds Seuss has created, often exposing a much darker side. There are no rhymes to happily bring a conclusion to these works. Yet, these creatures live in this colorful, fantastic existence. Dr. Seuss will always be a childhood favorite of most people. It’s great to connect with his “secret” art work, not intended for children’s books. It is always a pleasure to lose yourself in these exotic places that only exist in the mind of Dr. Seuss.
Amid the many pieces from Dr. Seuss, other artists are represented by Art on 5th. One landscape painter in particular caught my attention, Debbie Mosely. I was drawn to the atmospheric mood she was creating with her paint brush and drips. Looking at her pieces, I felt that I had often been there, in that desolate place, even if just in my mind. The West Austin Studio Tours were a fantastic experience. A little different from East Austin with more gallery spaces, but the creativity continues to flow on the other side of IH-35. Austin is greatly known for their music scene, but this weekend I got to take a closer look at the expanding art community and it was a great experience I hope I get to enjoy again. I am already waiting for the East Austin Studio Tours in November.