Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Texas Contemporary Art Fair - October 20-23, 2011

We drove down to Houston on Thursday, October 20 to attend the Texas Contemporary VIP Preview Party.  The fair was held at the George R. Brown Convention Center. This was my first visit to the center even though I had worked in downtown Houston several times over the years when I was with Texas Commerce Bank.

I suppose I could be like NPR's Michele Norris and recuse myself from covering this event since my partner, Rusty Scruby, had work in the fair. But hey, I'm not a journalist and this is my blog - so I can do whatever I want!  We did not attend the Houston Fine Art Fair held last month also in the GRB Convention Center even though Rusty did have work in that fair also with PanAmerican ArtProjects. Overall, the Texas Contemporary art fair seemed very local/regional to me.  There were no single Dallas commercial galleries represented, but there was one Austin gallery, two San Antonio galleries, eight Houston galleries, and a slew of regional non-profit spaces such as Ballroom Marfa, Artpace and Blue Star Contemporary Art Center both of San Antonio, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Glasstire, Rice University Art Gallery, CADD (the sole Dallas presence), PhotoFest, Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, Skydive, Project Row Houses, the Houston Center for Photography, Art League Houston, Blaffer Gallery and more.  It was fun to meet some of the local Houston visual arts professionals. However, based on the news that has posted since the close of the fair, it does not appear that sales were as great at the Texas Contemporary as they were at the Houston Fine Art Fair or sales were not the main focus of the Texas Contemporary.  I believe sales were in the hopes of the commercial galleries that participated, though.

most of the team from Turner Carroll Gallery with Rusty on the right standing in front of Hung Liu painting

Rusty's reconstructed photograph on the left, a large Rex Ray painting in the middle right, and an Eric Zener mixed media painting on the far right.

Deborah Oropallo, Head Nurse, pigment on canvas, 1/3 

Turner Carroll Gallery had one of the larger booths with outside walls on each end to hang additional works. 

Rice University Art Gallery invited Brooklyn based artist Steve Keene to make and sell hundreds of paintings throughout the duration of the fair. I did not find any information about this in the Rice U booth on Thursday or Friday, so I emailed them today and asked for a statement. Anna Foret of RUAG replied to my request within 20 minutes, thank you very much!  Keene had a month long painting marathon at Rice University in 1998. He has perfected his assembly-line performance based painting style since 1990. The pdf that Foret sent me states, "Keene's populist spirit allows any visitor to the fair to walk away with a painting for a mere $5.  As he says, 'I want buying my paintings to be like buying a CD: it's cheap, it's art and it changes your life, but the object has no status.  Musicians create something for the moment, something with no boundaries and the kind of expansiveness is what I want to come across in my work.' To date, Keene estimates he's sold over 250,000 paintings."
Interestingly, my good friend James Watral has a Keene painting that he bought on the internet a few years ago, so Rusty and I thought we recognized Keene's work when we saw it at the fair.

All of the paintings sold out on Thursday night.  Keene was back at the fair on Friday morning painting more panels.  We were told, however, that the panels would have to dry and would not be available to sell until Saturday.

Steve Keene, Planet of Apes II, paint on panel, 2011

We left Houston on Friday night, so we only purchased this one painting.

These Peter Soriano sculpture/drawings (aluminum, stainless steel cable, and spraypaint) at Lennon, Weinberg, Inc. gallery from New York, NY made for one of the more interesting booths, in my opinion.

Jason Willaford, Out of Site - Out of Sight, chromed oil drums, courtesy of Boltax Gallery

A video was also shown in the Video Theater of Jason Willaford's based on his Out of Site - Out of Sight installation.  Boltax Gallery is from Shelter Island, New York, NY.  Jason lives in Dallas with his wife Ree and their daughter.  Ree owns Galleri Urbane which is under the same roof in Dallas as Cris Worley Fine Arts. I spoke to Ree at the fair, but I never did see Jason.

Cris Worley of Cris Worley Fine Arts and Danette DuFilho of Conduit Gallery represented the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas at the fair on Thursday and Friday.  Other CADD members sat the booth on Saturday and Sunday.

Tracey Snelling, El Diablo Inn, mixed media, 44.5" x 107.5" x 51", 2010, courtesy Rena Bransten Gallery

me in the Rena Bransten Gallery booth with more Tracey Snelling sculptures and prints.

Rena Bransten Gallery of San Francisco, CA brought these wonderful Snelling sculptures. Snelling also shows with PanAmerican ArtProjects in Miami.  I met Tracey at Art Miami in 2007 as she set up her sculptures for PanAm's booth at that fair.

Vic Muniz, Pictures of Paper, White Brazilian Orchid, After Martin Johnson Heade,
digital C-print, edition of 10, 71" x 43.5", 2010

detail of White Brazilian Orchid, After Martin Johnson Heade

Rena Bransten Gallery also exhibited works by Vic Muniz that were amazing for their crisp sharp detail captured in the C-print.  These actually looked like collage.

Elaine Bradford, Tragus Januali (Pushmi Pullyu), taxidermy Aoudad sheep, crocheted yarn, mixed media, 62" x 48" x 60", 2009

I enjoyed this Bradford sculpture at Art Palace.

three Tom Orr prints (middle of wall)
Waterfall I, Waterfall II, and Waterfall III,
Etching, 2008, each are in editions of 20

Lalla Essaydi, Les Femmes du Maroc: Reclining Odalisque, 2008
three chromogenic prints mounted to aluminum and protected with Mactac luster laminate, 1/15

Yigal Ozeri, Untitled; Priscilla in the Park, oil on paper, 2010

These two were shown by Jenkins Johnson Gallery of San Francisco and New York.  I had seen a number of Lalla's works at the art fairs a few years back and then I saw a solo exhibition of her works at Anya Tish Gallery in Houston a couple of years ago.  The Ozeri painting was one of my favorites at the fair, though my pic is not the best representation.

Cal Lane, Untitled (Gas Can), plasma-cut steel, 18" x 14" each, 2008

Samuel Freeman gallery of Los Angeles, CA exhibited these works by Cal Lane.  I recognized Lane's work immediately having seen it earlier this year in Miami at Bernice Steinbaum Gallery. Lane does such intricate work with delicate rusted repurposed metal containers.

Tim Berg and Rebekah Myers, Here today, gone tomorrow, Blue Raspberry, fiberglass, wood, paint, 2011, edition of 20

Tim Berg and Rebekah Myers, All that Glitters, fiberglass, paint, ceramic, and faux gold leaf, 2011, edition of 6

Dean Project brought these cool and yummy sculptures to Houston for the fair.  They had exhibited these at the Dallas Art Fair earlier this year.  These sculptures are also in an exhibition at the Robert V Fullerton Art Museum at Cal State Univeristy San Bernardino.  The title of that exhibition is "Uberyummy" and my good friend John Oliver Lewis also has sculptures in the show.

 Lauren DiCiccio, One Dollar Bill, stitched thread

Lauren DiCiccio, National Geographic, stitched thread

I really responded to these DiCiccio works at Jack Fischer Gallery. DiCiccio spends hours creating these objects by hand to give us pause to consider how much longer will we have printed media, currency and other things such as handwriting that are being replaced with digital information.

Susie Rosmarin, Gray #2, acrylic on canvas, 2011

 Shawne Major, Punctum, plastic toys, mixed media, on fabric, 48" x 36", 2009

detail of Punctum

Rachel Hecker, Sorry We Closed, acrylic on canvas, 60" x 80", 2011

I think I liked everything Texas Gallery brought to the fair.  But I chose these three works to show.  Rosmarin amazes me with her OCD geometric paintings.  The yellow colors of Major's Punctum joyously screamed at me 'take me home'.  Luckily it had a red dot, so someone else must have heard it before me. Hecker's painting is a bold and obvious statement of current economic conditions.

Glasstire had a miniature horse as an added attraction at the VIP opening on Thursday night.  This was just Houston's second art fair, so they took the 'fair' concept a bit more literal than other art fairs might.  But they also served tequila drinks, gratis, at the VIP event, so it was a really fun booth!

On Friday morning the crowd was sparse.  I could see the bar installation that Bill Davenport created for the event.  Bill continued to paint 'liquor bottles' that were being sold for $35.

It was fun to meet friends I've only known on facebook as well as to see friends we've known for ages.  And it was great to see so much work by artists that we know.  As I like to say, it was the reality version of facebook!  I do hope, however, that sales were strong enough to bring the fair back next year. Oh yeah, and it would be nice if it could happen concurrently with the Houston Fine Art Fair or any other fair that might arrive on Houston's doorstep next year.

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