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)
This year has been exceptionally crazy and ambitious for me! I began 2012 by starting to write this blog. Not too sure what I was doing, my purpose was to document my self employment endeavors, encouraged by a friend. Looking back, the things I did this year amaze me. Five years ago, two years ago, or even just this past year, I could not have predicted the directions in which my career has been expanding. It’s an incredible feeling and I love the unexpected opportunities that constantly come up and having the ability to accept them.
Places I traveled to see art in 2012:
- Fort Worth: Caravaggio and his followers in Rome at The Kimbell, Jan; Lucian Freud at The Modern, September
- Houston: Moody Gallery, CAMH, Jan; Ai Weiwei Zodiac Heads at Hermann Park, MFAH, CAMH, May; Houston Fine Art Fair, Silence at The Menil, September; Houston Artcrawl, November
- Berlin: Gerhard Richter Panorama at Neue Nationalgalerie, Hamburger Bahnhof (Museum of Contemporary Art), Berlinische Galerie, Judische Museum, March
- Budapest: Marina Abramovich Eight Lessons On Emptiness, March
- New York: Cindy Sherman Retrospective at MOMA; Georg Baselitz, David Lynch, David LaChapelle, & Frank Yamrus in Chelsea; March
- Austin: West Austin Studio Tours, May; Hybrid Forms, Austin Museum of Art (AMOA), East Austin Studio Tours, November;
- Marfa: Chinati Open House, October
I had a hard time listing them without going through my blog! That is the most travel I think I have ever completed in one year, ever in my entire life. But I hope it’s just the beginning. All of these trips have introduced me to new artists, new spaces, what is going on in the regional, national, and international art world, and best of all, amazing art. Ranging from major shows that have been written about to discovering many new wonderful artists that are local, I have spent the majority of this year seeing and absorbing as much art as possible. It has brought me much insight and inspiration.
However, I didn’t always have to travel out of town to see amazing art.
- Andy Warhol, Fame and Misfortune at The McNay in April
- Agosto Cuellar at Artpace in May
- San Antonio Collects at SAMA in June
- Governing Bodies at Gallery Nord in October
- Franc-tober Fest at Bismark Gallery in October
Those are just a few of the highlights and a tiny portion of art that I viewed this year. I attended, as well, the majority of First Thursdays/Fridays, Second Fridays, and Second Saturdays. I would say 8-10 out of 12 monthly events of each. Then there are the additional shows at the numerous artist run spaces in San Antonio, I seem to meet new people/artists on a weekly basis. At least my pile of business cards, that I swear I will organize soon, keeps growing. The exhibitions I am hired to work at have not even been included. This year, that primarily consisted of the Southwest School of Art.
The end of the year brought a lot of mixed feelings for me. With my only regular part time job disappearing, I started to feel depression sinking in. Rejection is always difficult, and I am facing the fact that I don’t have another job lined up. The way I know I felt depressed was because when I would start to discuss all my ongoing projects (as I learned in my online class – never answer with just ‘I’ve been so busy’, be specific), it always ended with “and I don’t get paid for any of that.” I can’t say why I decided to be so revealing, I think some of the stress was starting to unnerve me. Apparently, I needed to vent and I’m glad that I did. The responses were amazing, such as being told that I’m doing a fantastic job, I’m doing things that nobody else is doing, and if I can financially afford to keep going, then do it. Overall, I received a positive response and people telling me they admire what I’m doing. I will always be the first to admit that I fall apart sometimes. The stress can be overwhelming, always believing in what you are doing and feeling confident you are heading in the right direction is not always easy. The trick is to learn how to deal with it, because it will not be ignored.
But I would not trade any of this for anything in the world. While those moods set in occasionally, I know I am the girl in the car dancing and singing as I drive to work most mornings. I have also had a few personal career triumphs this year as well. Seven Minutes in Heaven was quite an accomplishment for my first huge public event, I couldn’t have been happier. Getting my own studio space outside of my house for the first time is something I have been dreaming about for quite awhile now. Biding my time and being patient really paid off – a 1000 sf studio space is pretty fantastic! Shortly after getting my space, I went to the East Austin Studio Tours and the Houston Artcrawl. I couldn’t help notice that I had a larger space to work in than 80% of the studios I visited. Of course, you don’t need to have a huge space to create great art, but it sure is nice to have it! So, do I have anything to complain about? Absolutely not!! The more I think about getting depressed about not making money, I laugh. Who am I kidding? I have been working on installation art pieces that are NFS (not for sale). I really haven’t spent too much time or effort job searching or applying, I have too many projects that I have created on my own to work on. I work on my own terms, and for 70% of the work year, I answer only to myself. I get told regularly that I could do portraits when people see the graphite drawing I did of myself as a student. Yes, I could make some money doing that, but it doesn’t interest me. I am a very lucky girl to have the support of my husband for all of my crazy dreams.
I have also realized I have an interesting audience for my blog. Every single day I have readers from around the world. Of course, the US has the most views, but the list of other countries that have viewed my blog is pretty large, 73 different countries, in fact, since I have begun publishing. I started writing my blog in January, but officially publishing it just 6 months ago in June. My most viewed blog entry this year was about Cindy Sherman in New York, followed by Kreuzberg, Berlin, Chelsea, New York, and Agosto Cuellar, San Antonio.
- 1 Cindy Sherman at MOMA March 2012
- 2 Kreuzberg, Berlin: Street Art March 2012
- 3 Exploring Chelsea – Do Bigger Names Mean Better Art? March 2012
- 4 Artpace – Agosto Cuellar taking over May 2012
- 5 Seduction & Private Moments July 2012
Concluding my first year of trying to document, well, at least, something about what I do, has been quite interesting. Many things get easily forgotten when trying to write a self employed resume. Am I any closer to creating a good, representational resume? Probably not. But do I have a better grasp on what I am doing and getting better at setting my future goals? Absolutely! I still have no idea where I will end up, and that is half of the excitement. If life where all planned out for you, what would be the point of living it? I will enjoy where the ride leads me, trying to take in all I can. This year has lead me on some great adventures. I just try to take advantage of the opportunities presented to me that fit and so far, that has led me to a pretty happy life. The main lessons I have learned this year are planning ahead and just going for it. My instincts have led me to an interesting place that I know I have just begun to explore. I am so excited for the upcoming year!
This past weekend I headed to Houston to do more studio tours. This is only my 2nd time going to the Artcrawl, but I really enjoyed it last year, so my friend and I decided to head north. There are almost 200 artists participating, but this event is very different from the Austin studio tours. The biggest difference is that the Artcrawl only takes place in one day, where as the Austin tours are over two weekends. Last year I was a little disappointed in having such a short time to explore so many artists and spaces, but this year I was much more prepared. The fact that all of these artists are all in only about nine spaces really helped, other studio tours are much more spread out with less artists in more locations. In Houston, there seems to be a preference for renting studio spaces in large warehouses, or maybe that is just what is primarily available. While it is always great to work around or be associated with other artists, renting a studio with so many other people usually means there is a lot more bad art than good. But I will continue to look for artists that I want to work with, even though most of the time it does mean sifting through a lot of other art I’m not interested in. That’s ok. I try to prepare as much as I can by going through the artist list first. I still need to see what people are working on, what materials are used, topics being discuss, and how the work is presented. I always have a lot to learn from other artists. Meeting with another friend in Houston, the three of us begin the Artcrawl at Mother Dog Studios, a huge warehouse comprised of easily over fifty artists. Immediately walking in, there is a huge wall filled with the work of Kelly Alison. She is an artist I had previously worked with in Unconscious Desires, an exhibit I curated in 2009. Her colorful depictions of birds are engaging. The works exhibited here are all oil on paper, each measuring 28″ x 22″. There is always so much going on in her imagery, it’s hard not to get pulled in. These pieces are part of a series Tweet, 2011, in which Alison completed a piece every day for 365 days. On display she has 24 out of the 365 pieces. Based on current world events, she presents serious topics in her distinct style, discussing everything from the Japanese nuclear meltdown, local homelessness, to the economy. The work was then tweeted, resulting in this body of work being recognized and published in various sources. A couple have already sold today, which is always great during studio tours. However, she is not here. Since I have already gone through the artist list, I know she will be at her studio at Box 13. It is great to be able to view artists’ work through several different series, especially when it continues to evolve into new concepts. Walking into the studio of Katie Wynne, it is filled with assemblage type sculptures. Random items put together, initially, I’m not sure what to make of them. Then I see this beautiful piece of satin on the ground. It is slowly moving, very sensually, into itself. It is so simple, composed of two items, the satin and a motor in the middle creating the movement. She has a fantastic video of Untitled (Satin) on her website. I also find a massager with knitted covers over the moving parts. Again, creating a mesmerizing movement that draws me in. Both of these pieces are composed of a tactile element using a specific type of material and movement. Meeting Wynne, I discover these more sensual pieces are relatively new, compared to her other works. I discuss Seven Minutes in Heaven (SMIH) with her, these two particular pieces would fit well in the rooms of the Fox Motel. She seems interested and I get her business card. I would love to have her in the show. This is the second year in a row I have been to the studio of John Runnels and he is not there. His vulgar work using the word fuck in various media is very amusing. Creating these works with materials such as dictionaries, letterman jacket letters, money, and other assorted items, I like the variation in media used. He has another series of work on display as well, vintage looking nude photos that are displayed in oven doors. I prefer the Fuck Series much more. Literal and in your face, I think that is what I enjoy about these pieces. I would really like to talk to him about SMIH, I knew that as soon as I saw his work last year. Apparently, he is part of the duo that started the Houston Artcrawl. I’m sure he must be very busy. Unfortunately, I can find no business cards either. Well, I know where to find him. Clint Stone is another elusive artist I have yet to meet. His landscapes have this moody atmosphere that attract me, revealing another reality, a more emotive view of what is there. Finding artists that create something deeper than what is on the surface is always the goal. When I am trying to create a show, my focus is to present art that is not homogeneous. Maybe I am specifically taking on this challenge by curating shows that have strong connotations already associated with them. Currently, the group exhibitions I have been trying to put together include landscape, portraiture, and women and fabric. Those are very traditional topics that I hope to change expectations of. Ana Fernandez is another artist I would love to include in the landscape exhibit. I have written about her large scale oil paintings of homes reflecting the culture of San Antonio, when she exhibited in Austin, at Women and Their Work and also when she gave a lecture of her work in San Antonio, at the McNay Art Museum. The photography of Ken Frederick also catches my attention. His portraits of mannequins are done in a way that gives these lifeless bodies a persona. Staring at the pieces, I feel like it is a portrait of an actual person. Unfortunately, it is a little difficult to get a good photo, the frames are highly reflective. But I think even in this photo there is a sense of emotion. I get to speak with the artist for a little bit about this, discussing how much life I get from these images. This definitely works into my theme of untraditional portraiture. Finding artists with a unique perspective on such a traditional style with a rich history is going to take a while, but will be worth the effort. Box 13 is a gallery that also houses studios. I’ve never made it out here before, so I’m glad I was able to check it out. This is where Kelly Alison has her studio. It is great to talk to her. She shows me her current work, says she would love to show in San Antonio and would be happy to work with me again. That is always the highest compliment – when someone will return to work with you. She is an accomplished artist, exhibiting as far as in China and Peru, as well as extensively in Houston, including two permanent public art pieces. Unfortunately, I am not working specifically on anything that her work would fit into, but I am always coming up with new shows, so I make sure I have her updated contact information. Alison was in the first show I ever worked on as curator with out of town artists. It would be great to work with her again. Maybe I can work on getting her a solo show in San Antonio. Another artist I meet at Box 13 is Elaine Bradford. Her studio is brimming with transformed taxidermied animals that vary in size from birds and ducks to sheep. Bradford gives them new perspective, with a crocheted skin around the figures, creating a colorful outer layer. Completely concealing the original figure, the only revealed parts are the eyes of the animal. Bradford even constructs her own species of animals, complete with their own legends. There is a great description of these on her website, from her exhibit The Museum of Unnatural History. This includes a two headed sheep and another species that fuse their tales in a mating ritual when they have found their partner with the same pattern. While presenting those animals in a traditional setting of taxidermy, as you can see in this photo, other animals are exhibited in new and unusual ways, continuing to surprise in the display, as well as what constitutes as an “animal”, as she merges natural elements with the figures. Women and fabric? Maybe another artist that pushes the boundaries and expectations of a traditional medium that I could work with in the future. I have to admit I am pleasantly surprised with the variation of media I found being presented in this Artcrawl. While I found traditional media such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography being used, that was the extend of what was predictable. Their concepts pushed the media and what it means. Assemblage and crochet were additional methods I saw used to convey their ideas in interesting and engaging ways. This was a great studio tour. If I can find one artist to work with, I consider that a successful studio tour. But I may have found quite a number of different artists for several different projects. These are the things I get really excited about.
November means it’s time for studio tours! The East Austin Studio Tours takes place this month annually, in fact this is the 11th annual E.A.S.T. I have been going for quite awhile now and have always enjoyed visiting artist’s studios. At the time, I didn’t realize how important these tours would become for me or even that they would become something I would do to work. I just knew I liked it, so I kept doing it. Now, there are several objectives I have when doing studio tours. First, I want to see what is out there – what ideas other artists are working on now, the media, their surfaces. Second, I am curating. This began by keeping track of artists I was interested in working with, yes, just in my head. Then I finally started to see enough artists I liked working on similar ideas. The exhibitions I am currently piecing together include nontraditional contemporary portraiture, nontraditional landscape, and experimental process or media. And, of course, my main and largest project by far, Seven Minutes in Heaven 2013. However, a new priority is really observing these studio spaces for, well, their space. I want to compare how they store their work and supplies, divide their work space, display their art, or find new ways to use the space. Yes, I have always noticed, lusting after these large studios. But now it’s all possible. If I want it, I now have a place to make it happen. A little low on funds, I decided to experiment with how I could make this work. The tours take place over two weekends, with over 200 locations on the map, this included hundreds of artists. I could only attend the first weekend, next weekend is the Houston Artcrawl. I meant to rent a room, but I waited to long and couldn’t afford that. So I booked two roundtrip tickets on Megabus to go both Saturday and Sunday. My total was $12 – for both days. That is less than gas for one trip. That is why I love Megabus. The only drawback is that you can’t bring a bike. Luckily, since all the studios are fairly close in proximity, walking is a great option. Day 1 of the tour is very disorganized for me. I forgot how important it is for me to plan ahead and nothing was really going according to my loose plan anyway. Due to an accident on the freeway, I arrived an hour and a half later than expected. A friend from school and her husband met me and we drove not too far into the East Side of Austin. I had been so busy, I did not print a map, I figured I would just pick one up at one of the locations, I knew the general area. Yes, we got to the general area, no, there were no maps or catalogs available. They were all gone, this is a very popular tour. I was disappointed, the catalogs are actually a beautiful highlight of the tour, the one for the West Austin Studio Tours earlier in the year was very impressive. In fact, I feel the Austin Tours are a great model for artist studio visits, one of the largest and best organized. After what seemed like an eternity, I printed a map at the library and we were on our way. By not going through the list to edit, this caused major mistake #2. With a couple hundred of artists to view, I will probably only be interested in 25 – 35% of the art, and only about 10% will I seriously be interested in working with. While exploring is fun, with so much, there needs to be some organization. So a lot of Day 1 was spent trying to gain my bearings. I saw a lot of art, but not really anything that I would seriously consider. So I began to prepare for Day 2 on the ride home. I began to comb through the artist list. This begins by identifying the locations with the most artists there. If I had a catalog, each artist or location gets a page with an image of their work and their website. But no such luck and the catalog is not listed online yet either. That makes trying to form a strategic plan a little difficult. Day 2 was a million times better! First, I arrived on time. Armed with my map, I jumped in a cab and got dropped off at the furthest point away that I wanted to visit. And just spent the day walking back, hitting as many studios as I could. This included Big Medium, Pump Project Art Complex, and ARTPOST. Those three spaces alone had over fifty artists. A major highlight was finding Industry Print Shop. Immediately, I recognized the style of prints by the artist I saw at the Mexi-Arte Museum Graffiti Exhibit. There his work opened the show, overtaking the entire first wall. He has some work up, as well as some smaller prints on a table for sale. The works are sensual advertisements using sex for promotion. To promote what? These pieces don’t have a product to sell, just imagery and catchy slogans. These prints feel nostalgic, designed like vintage signs, but I begin to realize it’s also in the attitude. The sexy tart can always get what she wants. But how do those attitudes work today? Sex sells more than ever. Are these women being taken advantage of or in control of the situation? How have these attitudes changed in the last 50 years? Can a woman embrace her sexuality? While sex sells, there still remains the stigma of being a whore. Sex will make money but the woman better act like she doesn’t know anything about that. I pick a print to purchase, how can not? I also buy an awesome shirt for a gift. All I had to do was ask for more info. The artist is Antonio Diaz, and he is (one of?) the owner(s) of Industry. I let him know I am a fan of his work. Mentioning seeing their work somewhere else is always a great way to begin a conversation with an artists I want to meet. They are interested when you know their work or have seen their other shows. We go into his office and he shows me some more prints. I discuss Seven Minutes in Heaven 2013, inviting him. He would make a great addition to the show. Interested, he gives me his card, I will definitely be in touch. I have just begun to finally organize things for Seven Minutes in Heaven 2012. Working on the Invisible Gallery website for several months now, I have organized SMIH 2012 page with the artists and press. I would love for this to work out. I love that during his open studio tour, Mark Johnson sits facing the corner of his studio, clacking away on a vintage typewriter, not paying attention to the crests of people in and out. His mixed media works include various typography, referencing the home and domesticity. There is a sense of longing, a void was left from all the chaos. I find his work compelling and would possibly like to work with him in the future, although I have no idea right now where he would fit in. Nothing I am currently working on. But that doesn’t mean something won’t come up. I can’t find any cards and I feel awkward trying to talk to him as he is typing away. But I ask if him for his card, he politely stops, hands me the top piece of paper from a pile, each piece freshly typed as I was there. The little piece of art with his most recent words was his card. Yes, it had his contact information. Back to typing. Discovering the Pump Project Art Complex for the first time was cool. There are a couple of collective studios there, such as MAKEatx and Women Printmakers of Austin. There are also quite a few individual artists studios there, as well. I find the ceramic work of Debra Broz. Her manipulation of decorative kitsch is playful. They are incredibly well crafted. Taking these items from thrift shops, she alters them in an amazing way, where you cannot tell that it was not originally like that. But you know it wasn’t. This is her skill, her trade is a porcelain restorer. A multi talented woman, she is also the director of Pump Project. The photography of Jon Oldag catches my interest. Stitching together photos physically versus digitally doing this in Photoshop is a lost craft he is continuing. This gives the image a soul, some motion, in contrast to the flattened quality a computer can often produce. There is always an attraction to the handmade, something exhibiting the artists’ touch. He is actually selling his work for whatever you would like to offer him. As much as I would love a piece, I have no cash and he is not taking credit cards. And then I found a free catalog at a little gallery. I was so excited! It really is a nice book, a great reference for Austin artists, and advertised as the companion book to the West Austin Studio Tours catalog from earlier in the year, which I have. They were for sale at Big Medium, but free at all the other galleries in limited quantity. As usual, I was on limited on funds. What I do have I will spend on art. It’s really good. This was such a productive day, I am extremely pleased with the amount of work I got done. Finding one artist for SMIH is a huge accomplishment. The Austin Studio Tours always have intriguing art, I always find new artists to work with, get explore new spaces, and return to favorite spots. I think this may have been the very first large studio tour that I ever went on, who knows how long ago. Finding diversity in media is always welcome. I really chose to discuss these artists randomly based on how much I like their work. Afterwards is when I noticed I was discussing screen printing, mixed media, ceramics, and photography. Obviously, I feel it still delivers fresh artwork every year.
Second Friday has come around again so I head out to see some art.
One of the artists exhibiting at REM Gallery is Erin Stafford. I have known her since we went to Berlin together a few years ago, when she was finishing her graduate studies. She paints very feminine, classic subject matter, and in this show, displayed them in beautiful baroque frames in contemporary colors. Pearls and jewelry are common themes among her paintings. However, she adds a suggestive touch, updating classic imagery with a more modern, seductive take. Stafford chooses to present us with another view of these female adornments, one not so polished and perfectly manicured. What I enjoy most about this series is her ability be seductive with inanimate objects. When I use words like suggestive and seductive, I expect a portrait, not a still life. I had been considering her for Seven Minutes in Heaven, and this was my first opportunity to discuss this with her. I found out she has moved back to Dallas, but was very excited to be invited to the show.
I decide to check out the art at High Wire Art Gallery. A large space, there are always several artists showing various media. In particular, I notice the photography of Carter Johnston. His unassuming portraits have an interesting take on a personal experience. All of the photos are of people driving in their cars. In his artist statement, he discusses the private world that exists when you are surrounded by four walls of metal, able to push out the rest of the world, only interrupted by other drivers, breaking the magic of solitude. Unaware as Johnston’s shutter clicks, his subjects reveal moments of introspection, withdrawn from reality, if just for a few moments.
I laugh as I see an old, beloved painting displayed. Zagros Memar painted this piece while we were in school, and it has always been a favorite of mine. The imagery of these conservative women with a stud is playful and insinuating. The rawness is very expressive, exposing the secrets that goes on behind the closed doors of society. He has a studio in the back building of High Wire with Holly Simonson and Alex Vargas, but unfortunately it is closed tonight. Normally it is open while they paint or display their art for sale. There is a band jamming together, experimenting with sounds in the open studio area. I know High Wire encourages musicians to jam together, both the owners, Ray and Cindy Palmer can often be found in the middle of the instruments. I have also seen Vincent Valdez join them with his trumpet, although not tonight.
There is also a small space in the front that has paintings, prints, and sculptures for sale, although not a part of the current exhibit. Walking in, there is a portrait being painted of a seated subject. Seth Camm is the artist, explaining to me that portraits are a good way to make extra money. I definitely understand that. I am the queen of making a living from anywhere I can. Still at High Wire, I ran into Thomas Cummins, a photographer that has large scale work currently displayed in the Window Works at Artpace. I was at the opening reception last month and heard him talk about the bridge he photographed. Another Thomas Cummins met his demise off that bridge, so he went and paid a visit. Linda and I recently were going through our artist list and she had brought him up as someone she was interested in having in the show. The three of us have shown together in at least one group show at JusticeWorks last year. He is interested, but a little apprehensive because he is an architectural photographer. I discuss that Barbara Justice is also and she more than rose to the challenge of Seven Minutes, even getting a review of her piece. I tell him to think about it, there still is almost nine months until Contemporary Art Month. He is still interested and I tell him I will get with him to show him the coloring book and reviews from the show. This art evening has been very productive. Anytime I get a little work done on Seven Minutes I am extremely happy. My goal is to have the majority of the artists confirmed by the end of the summer. Now that I have more experience and know better what to expect from putting on a large, independent group show, I am more determined to complete things in a much earlier time frame.
The other night was a membership party at Artpace. I am a member of Artpace because I love all of the contemporary ideas they support. I love their residency program and how it brings art from around the world to San Antonio. I have also seen some great opportunities taken with their annual travel grant. Artpace is a place I always expect to see fresh ideas being experimented with. As per usual, there was great music and plenty of drinks flowing on the rooftop. But the star of the evening was Agosto Cuellar, Designer Extrordinaire. He has successfully run several businesses and has been designing for years. Tonight, Agosto created a fun photo shoot for willing participants. There was no way I could resist! Here is my finished photo taken by Erik Gustafson:
But it took a team of people to create these portraits. It began with Agosto designing you. He had several interchangeable pieces that he had created. Each person got a different look, making this a unique experience. He creates original styles that are fantastic.
Next was off to hair by Angie Riojas. Adding several layers of hair was another part to put together Agosto’s vision. It took many different smaller pieces to shape an entire head of hair. As you can see, it was quite a high wig on me by the time it was complete. It was so much fun!
It was supposed to then be make-up, but since I was next to last, there was no make up left. The last bit used on the person before me. So of course Agosto got creative and took over, deciding to use tulle on our faces instead of makeup. I think I preferred this much more, giving an aire of mystery. Besides, I prefer to be different from the crowd anyway. This was such a memorable evening! The best part was discussing Seven Minutes in Heaven 2013. Yes, there has been talk of the sequel event, since before the first one had even occurred. I love that there has been such a positive response to the show. At the Artpace party, I confirmed my first artist for the next show, Vanessa Centeno. She is a fantastic artist from San Antonio currently going to grad school at the University of New Orleans. It was luck that I ran into her, she was in town for less than a week. The next day I ran into Agosto in Southtown and got to tell him what a fantastic time he had created. One thing led to another…and I have now confirmed artist number two for Seven Minutes in Heaven 2013. I am very excited to have Agosto included in the show. He always brings his originality and electricity to all of his events. I am a big proponent of having a show with many different mediums. To have a fashion element will keep this event fresh and unique. All new artists, all new location. This should be just as exciting as the first one!
Seven Minutes in Heaven in my current project, the largest I have taken on. It is an erotic group show, that will be held in a motel. I came up with the concept and am head curator of the event. It all began with an article about an erotic show in NYC that kept getting the police called on them. I found this upsetting. Why was this a problem in New York? It turned out to be in a conservative, religious neighborhood. Still, I thought this should not be an issue, it’s the twenty first century. My idea grew from there. Discussing my project to have an erotic show in San Antonio was met with positive reactions. There really hasn’t been anything sexually exciting since Danny Geisler’s Peep Shows. I became determined to create this event. Linda Arredondo wanted to work on this project also, becoming co-curator. This was in March. From there, exciting things began to happen. All the artists I discussed this with were excited and wanted to be a part of this. The artists list has been confirmed since August.
Linda Arredondo, Alfonso Espronceda, Ana Fernandez, Catherine Garrant, Jessica Garcia, Wesley Harvey, Mira Hnatyshyn, Barbara Justice, Jung Hee Mun, Kelly Reid Walls, Matt van Hellen, Vincent Valdez, & John Cody Williams
There are a total of thirteen artists that will be showing their work here. When I am curating a group show, it is very important to me to have different mediums. I hate nothing more than walking into a huge show and seeing all paintings or all drawings. If there is a group show, I want to see the diversity and creativity that each artists brings with them. I am very happy with the projects the artists are presenting. Performance, video, installation and mixed media will all be represented at the Fox.
I decided to take the approach of freedom. I just discussed the idea of erotic art with each artist and left it up to their interpretation. Eroticism and sensuality are very subjective topics, and I am really looking forward to see how each artist approaches it.
Linda and I scouted motels months ago and fell in love with the Fox Motel as the perfect location for Seven Minutes in Heaven. It represents the seediest elements of sex and erotica. It is two blocks from Broadway and located between a dead end street and the underpass of a freeway. We are renting out the entire eight room motel. Perfect for an event like this!
Today I am confirming the venue. This is very important because we can’t start advertising without a confirmed location. I am leaving 50% of the total cost to officially confirm the location, making this official. We went yesterday, but the owner that Linda had previously spoken to was out of the country. So Savi, the woman who was there, wanted to confirm over the phone with her before taking our deposit. When Linda originally went, there was kind of a language barrier, she wasn’t quite sure it was clear we were having an event there. So in our best interest I drafted up a small contract stating our intentions for an art show, rental period, agreed price, etc. It was a little difficult to convey no one would be spending the night but a couple hundred people may be there for a few hours. The Fox Motel is the perfect venue, small enough to rent out the entire place, large enough to host a huge party!
This is the biggest project I have worked on to date. I mean, where I was in charge. It is a little overwhelming, but very exciting. The show is two months away and I am just beginning to have something to do every day. Working with twelve other people can get very hectic. I think I am talking to at least one or two of them every single day now. I know I will just continue to get busier as the event gets closer.