Each of the clips below originally appeared as an editorial recommendation in the arts calendar of the Houston Press.
Michael Pybus: Hive Mind, at Jonathan Hopson Gallery
There’s a transcendental thrill in losing oneself in complete inanity, set a timer the next time you go online and you may be surprised by the results. The absolute zen in submitting to the modern world is likely not lost on Michael Pybus. The London based artist traffics in happy, capitalist realism like Pikachus and Ikea logos, occasionally dragging fingers in the viscous Warhol river, but more often hopping into hyperspeed to commingle in the great singularity he time-shares with artists like Brad Troemel, Ryan Trecartin, Assume Astro Vivid Focus, and Ben Aqua, among others.
The Dream Colony: A Life in Art by Walter Hopps, reading and book signing at The Menil Collection
Anything about the legendary art curator Walter Hopps is worth reading, but his long awaited memoir, The Dream Colony: A Life in Art, finished posthumously by Anne Doran, takes first position for art reads this year, particularly for Houstonians. Hopps was the Menil family’s star, and long before that he was an enfant terrible with a prodigious eye for talent and, reportedly, a photographic memory. His trip through 20th century art was long, fascinating, and storied, and the turnout at this reading and book signing will likely reflect that.
Along Orange Marmalade, at Private Eye Gallery
One drives around the city everyday taking in the endless disused plots, overgrown with loose flora, the mangled construction gear everywhere, the broken up concrete, and that’s the nice part of town. After that idyll, just try walking into a gallery without the succumbing to the creeping sadness of polish and aspiration. It’s like a THX-1138 nightmare in most of these places. It happens that artists Brittney Anele, Ellen Phillips, and Lindsea Varisco have worked up some antidotes for the overdevelopment blues. Their cure: loose art, the kind of art that has a picaresque feeling, wistful, long-traveled, kind of funny, conversational. Brittney Anele’s work is intrinsically comic, but not quite hardy har har. Baltimore-to-Houston transplant Ellen Phillips makes messy, nuanced paintings. Lindsea Varisco’s sculptures recall the giant interior casts of Rachel Whiteread, except run through a shrinking machine and a quizzical Richard Tuttle filter. Which is to say, they’re anti-monuments, cleverly casual. Everywhere you look, the place has that old car smell, musty, stuffed with memorabilia and fast food residue, broken-up in parts, familiar, messy, fingerprinted, handled.
Re/thinking Photography, at the Houston Center for Photography
It was only about 150 years ago that the arrival of photography kicked art into a wholly other plane of activity, and from the start photography, whether rethought or just thought, has included artists whose work has benched po-faced realism and its strictures in order to put higher order expression into the game. “Re/Thinking Photography” is part of an ongoing series sponsored by the Houston Center for Photography and FotoFest that puts the spotlight on Texas based artists. It features work by Kalee Appleton, Rabea Ballin, Rachel Cox, MANUAL, Bucky Miller, Emily Peacock, Molly Shigemoto, and Sherwin Rivera Tibayan, each of whose artistic practices subject the discipline of photography to all kinds of awkward poses.
Focus on the 70s and 80s: Houston Foundations, at Deborah Colton Gallery
Though the title of this survey of Houston artists working twenty to thirty years ago recalls the blood-chilling inhumanity of the Focus on the Family movement; forgive this inadvertance; according to the folklore on the streets, the 70s and 80s were not family-friendly times, to a fundamentalist way of thinking, particularly in the Houston art world. The sepia-tinged era of twenty-five to thirty-five years ago was wild-minded and western in dress, the artists pie-eyed pioneers, many carrying on like a pack of Edmund Hillarys, snow-blind amidst mountains of cocaine. Nor is that to say that hedonism alone triumphed, there was a lot of painting and sculpture, and a little less internet art in those different times. It’s a safe bet that there’s something here for city historians, lay people longing for any relics of a time when Houston was mostly just people and cars, and both of them looked pretty cool, even art enthusiasts. Toga-wrapped art star and director Julian Schnabel was here for a New York minute, but it was Mike Hollis who got him painting. Mel Chin was barrelling down these Houston streets, Dorothy Hood was perhaps the biggest name in town, Dick Wray was the self-crowned Mr Houston Painting, and Jesse Lott was then as now transforming street-sourced debris into incredible sculptures. For the rest of this illustrious cast, there have been quite a few passages, some to the great hereafter, others to the big city, and it’ll be fun to see what the curators chose from such a prolific posse.
Clemencia Echeverri: Sin Cielo (Skyless), at Sicardi Gallery
From the herds of feral hippos descended from Pablo Escobar’s favorite import (the world knows his favorite export) running amok through their rivers and wetland systems to the fact that Romancing the Stone remains their calling card to much of the world, Colombia has suffered. Educated in London and Medellin, Colombian artist Clemencia Echeverri undertakes a series of video and sound works that put the ruin, waste, and violence in centerstage. The exhibition features texts by Jose Roca.
Paul Kittelson: On the Line, at Devin Borden Gallery
Paul Kittelson’s scaled-up sculptures meet a prepared mind somewhere between Claes Oldenburg’s deflated Pop anti-monuments and Arte Povera’s schmutzy surfaces. To an unprepared mind, his sculptures have an easy to like quality that belies the kind of mastery of form and materials that went into their creation. Kittelson has a deft hand, and he likes to mess with the thing-ness of things, but in a way that might make a modernist critic blush.
David Simpson: Interference Paintings, at Gallery Sonja Roesch
We’ve reached a point in looking at art where much of it looks as good or better online as it does in person. Here’s an antidote. California based artist David Simpson has taken to using iridescent pigments in his recent paintings, with such luminous, incandescent properties that they interfere with conventional reproduction techniques. In other words, these are paintings that can only be seen in person.
In Residence, at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Though we have a pretty good handle on what art can be, and a working notion of what craft can do, we remain somewhat hazy on the exact day-to-day meaning of an artist residency. We see the maps described by geo-physical pings off nearby cell phone towers. We see the artists getting coffee in the mornings. And perhaps that is for the best. As time goes by, as we get more and more exposed to the strange things that artists do, mystery flies out the back door. What is an artist residency? Perhaps, after all, it is like The Simpsons definition of brunch: not quite breakfast, not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of canteloupe at the end.
Fetish, at Rudolph Blume Fine Art
There’s a peril close-by any American artist exiting emerging status and striding into the deep woods of real commitment; that is, Americans don’t really get art, beyond it’s shock value, that which used to be called epater les bourgeois. Happily, for this grouping of mid-career Houston artists, each of whom has been working their materials in an original manner for years despite the onrush of silence that attends nuance, subtlety, and sophistication, the gallery has settled on a title, Fetish, that may yet hook some lookie-lous by their more insalubrious bits. For a fetish is a talisman, an amulet, something invested with special powers, as well as being you a master key to various rooms in that dark dungeon of unspoken desires that lies beneath.
Patrick Turk: The Demiurge, at Mystic Lyon
Patrick Turk’s collages can get intense pretty quickly. Seldom satisfied to just hang around on the wall in a manner befitting their two-dimensional status, they often sneak into the third dimension and beyond. Reports that they can be seen cruising the city on the metrorail in the wee hours of the morning are bullroar. After all, the metrorail doesn’t run in the wee hours.
Modern Girls: zine release and art show, at Wired Up: Modern Convenience
Though Saturday looks to be positively crawling with excitement, this reception for Rye Francisco and Dyan Cannon’s zine, Modern Girls: Gemstones, is a mandatory check-in for the beautiful people, much like Chapultepec around one to three in the morning. Though we are surrounded by beauty, as much at least as we are by ugliness, it takes a certain kind of perseverance to collect all the evidence.
Rene Cruz, at Art Palace
Does Rene Cruz want to draw everything? The artist has an inexhaustible work ethic, and the years of obsessive drawing have make themselves known in the distinct feathery lines of his drafting style and a vast, dense Katamari Damacy-like accumulation of subject material, resulting in so many vignettes ala Daumier, Picabia, Pettibon, Panter, and the Royal Art Lodge, that it would seem that, yes, he does. This show in the project room of Art Palace is just a taste. As Hot Chocolate once proclaimed, “Everyone’s a winner.”
Elysia Crampton: Feeling Abolition Through Nonlinear Timescales, at Private Eye
In advance of her performance later this night at Walters Downtown, artist, archivist, activist, and music-maker Elysia Crampton rolls out a lecture on new thinking. To wit, the lecture concerns Aymara Cosmo-Praxis (an alternate way of thinking about thinking and thinking about one’s and others’ participation in the cosmic reel, based on the indigenous traditions of the Aymara people of the Andes). This in contrast to the temporal monism of the Judeo-Hellenic worldview to which we frequently default, and which gives short shrift to a great amount of history and cultural information. Lest this sound dry for your weary eyes (and we don’t suppose it will be in the least—-there’s often a real tingle to cognitive stretching), this event will incorporate an exhibition of works by artists, designers and nu-human groups Ángel Lartigue, Maureen Penders, S Rodriguez El x Shopnonhuman, and syncletica.
Visions, at Deborah Colton Gallery
The Tao says—and the Beatles agree, that “without going out your door you may know the ways of heaven.” Just the same, one might make like Mr Rogers, or at least Joe Jackson, with one’s best stepping-out shoes in order to hit up this mystically-minded group show about the inner life. Though Sharon Kopriva is best known for her ultra-baroque mummified sculptures, her Verde series of mixed-media works are comparatively less macabre. To be fair, these arboreal, deep forest scenes do strongly suggest the rising action in a Grimm folk tale, so they do have a Rorschach quality, alternately radiating a sense of dark action or joyful enlightenment just outside the frame. Amita Bhatt’s paintings investigate the erotic horror and carnal satori of the tantric mysteries from a point of view that is both contemporary and classically informed. Susan Plum’s will be showing recent naturo-alchemical drawings and a series of colorful, decorative paintings enriched by indigenous Mexican craft references. Similarly, Indian artist Satish Gupta’s work attempts to render the invisible, visible, drawing on deep pools of Sanskrit lore and zen philosophy.
Faberge: Royal Gifts, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science
When Willie Nelson sang, “Miracles appear in the strangest of places, fancy meeting you here,” he could just as well have been speaking of the byzantine series of events that led the Queen of England to loan the Houston Museum of Natural Science this collection of prize Faberge eggs, which coincidentally, inaugurate the new Dorothy and Artie McFerrin Gallery within the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals. Do not come hungry, for the biggest surprise is this—the Imperial Diamond Trellis Egg, inside of which is packed an ingenious mechanical elephant. This elephant surprise was the first of many motion-capable mechanisms devised by Faberge. Furthermore, this exhibition marks the reunion of the Imperial Diamond Trellis Egg with its elephant companion piece.
Paper Workshop with Jesse Lott, at 14 Pews
Jesse Lott has been teaching his pinatero method of creating sculptures for years, as his 2016 Artist of the Year exhibition at the Art League Houston served to remind us. More or less, it’s a refined take on papier-mache and figure-making, juiced up with gestural dynamics and resourcefulness where it comes to finding materials.
Unsteady Ground, at Galveston Artist Residency
Filmmaker Kelly Sears curated this exhibition of moving images by artists Mounia Akl, Christina Battle, Maha Maamoun, Lydia Moyer, Adam Sekuler, Adam Shecter. The works in this exhibition span several genres, from virtual reality to neo-butoh dance to narrative filmmaking, but each bears some connection to the shaky nature of the idea of the home, of safe spaces, civil society, the arctic shelves, and other discrete dissolutions of the world beneath our feet.
Dahlia Elsayed: Flag Days, at Apama Mackey Gallery
As the exhibition title “Flag Days” suggests, Apama Mackey Gallery presents an exhibition of conceptual flags by New Jersey based artist Dahlia Elsayed. Lest that scare you off, the images radiate warmth and good humor. The subtitle to the series is “New Flags for New Feelings,” which might tip you off that this is less geopolitics and more a quick run up and down the flagpole of getting on. Formally, they bring a pop art straightforwardness to the tabula rasa that is the future of you and your ability to articulate your own place within it. The exhibition is free, and it looks like a lot of fun, so go buck wild (within reason, no touching, no untimely confessions, no acting out).
Surrealism and the Art of the 1960s, at The Menil Collection
As much as I enjoy speaking the same language as William Shakespeare and Douglas Adams and as much as I loathe an English breakfast, I have often taken comfort in the Surrealist map of the world, which numbers Texas (in fact most of the Southern USA) among Mexico’s holdings. Any group of cartographers so daring and so apt, must have been on to something. No doubt this is the tack that moderator Claire Howard and speakers Dr. Sandra Zalman and Dr. Steven Harris will take at this symposium on the influence of Surrealism on the art of the 1960s. There’s also the whole foregrounding of symbols, simplification in compositions, and fascination with objects stripped of their position within a greater narrative.
Debra Barrera: Menina, at Moody Gallery
Varied in subject matter and media, steeped in an observation of strange consumer materials and more esoteric technological processes, Debra Barrera’s art makes a case for keeping an eye on both sophisticated beauty and the philosophical line. Her work is conceptually curious and engaged with issues of technology and stamina, with an emphasis on exactitude with regard to craft and a hint of suppressed Italian Futurism, sans the fascist apologia. This exhibition of new work, “Menina,” the artist’s third with Moody Gallery, contains a series of stark, floral prints related to the artist’s childhood, as the title suggests. Watch out, a flower is seldom a flower.
Unusually Long Paintings by Brian Zievert, at Bill’s Junk
To the many for whom impasto typically goes hand in hand with endless breadsticks, the idea of appraising a painting’s merit by its square footage makes perfect sense. And so, Brian Zievert in conjunction with Bill’s Junk presents a series of wide-loaders. Appreciate them for the quantity and breadth as much as for their gooey, Guston-esque, gusto.
Thirty Works for Thirty Years, at The Menil Collection
There’s a palpable feeling of sanctity that imbues everything in the Menil Collection, from its ancient Greek artifacts and sundry historical loot to the incredible array of sculptures from Africa and the South Seas, to the Surrealist gems and Dada ephemera, and the wide-spanning and deep-quarried stash of mid-to-late 20th century art. Perhaps it’s the lighting that lends the otherworldly ambience to every object in the place; perhaps it’s the a/c. Maybe there’s some kind of serenity mixed into the white paint. But the magic spell extends to the people, from the guests from far and near to the staff itself. It’s like one always hoped church would be, but never quite was. And like any good church, it’s always free and usually crowded. “Thirty Works for Thirty Years,” featuring a selection of greatest hits from the stacks, celebrates the Menil Collection’s third decade keeping the center of Houston cool, calm, and collected.
Chris Henry: S’wet, at Cardoza Fine Art
Artist Chris Henry’s exhibition “S’wet” is winding up its short stay at Cardoza Fine Art might be so named because it is made up of prints on shower curtains. The nature of these prints evades description, at least for those fortunate people who haven’t found themselves dragged hither and thither along the undertows of the internet, where exactly this kind of imagery—screensaver environments, new age totems, rappers and rap life fetishes plunked out of context—thrives.
Coyote, at Jonathan Hopson Gallery
Summer shows sometimes miss their special opportunity to flash a glimpse or two of artists au naturel, or at least as close to it as is decent. “Coyote,” this short-run exhibition from artists Debra Barrera, Julie DeVries, Lauren Moya-Ford, Erin Joyce, Bradley Kerl, and Jessica Ninci at Jonathan Hopson Gallery offers a close observation of wild things nearer their natural habitats. These artists all imbue their works with rangy and elusive qualities, beyond that clues are scant, just don’t bring any raw meat in your pockets.
Irena Jurek: Just a Phone Call Away, at David Shelton Art Gallery
Born in Krakow, Poland, and apparently shuttling between Brooklyn, New York and Wonderland, Irena Jurek certainly seems to be having a ball with her busy, squiggly, out-of-breath looking ink and colored pencil drawings of sexed-up critters. Too infrequently does art venture to wherever it is that this filthy-minded menagerie is meeting to get fresh with one another, and to wherever it is they end up later, full of regret and remorse. Visually, Jurek’s world overlaps with a substrata of the joyfully psychedelic that also contains Louis Wain’s cats, Bryan Lewis Saunders’ self-portraits, and the general juicy vibe spurted forth by the Butthole Surfers in their heyday. I suppose that there could be those who suggest that making art look fun may not as much fun as it looks, in which case, here’s to appearances.
Jennifer May Reiland: 13 Arenas, at Guerrero Projects
Born in Houston, borne up victoriously in New York City, Jennifer May Reiland drops into Guerrero Projects with “13 Arenas,” an ambitious exhibition of watercolor and ink works and an eleven minute hand animated video. The titular arenas are both literal, including a bullfighter’s arena, Houston’s Astrodome, and the circular lens of a paparazzi’s camera, and figurative, abounding in the way of Daumier’s drawings or a Dickens novel with characters sprung from history and the artist’s mind alike. Visually, the works recall the draftsmanship and well-stuffed frames of Henry Darger, Eugene Delacroix, Martha Colburn, and Mike Judge. The narratives threaded through the watercolors and the animation cast a wide net, encompassing a busy, bloody world of icons, various colorful figures of obsession—including Princess Di, baroque courtiers, bullfighters, and a world of attractive secondary ghouls spanning centuries.
FLATS presents Sovereign
This installment of FLATS, a roving pop-up photography exhibition series, is curated by Jean-Sebastien Boncy, also a conceptual photographer. Sovereign features work by emerging artists Amanda Rivera, Irene Reece, Chad Coleman, Tara Rios, and Jason Dibley, presented via photo book. Irene Reece’s compelling narrative series alone could people editions. Her intimate close-framed photographs capture bits and pieces of people’s lives, casual shots of family members, quotidian architectural details, all imbued with a sharp color sense and the implications that something is happening, just outside the frame.
Matthew Kelly Debbaudt: Motion Pictures, at BlueOrange Contemporary
Earlier, we mentioned that the art works in Matthew Kelly Debbaudt’s “Motion Pictures” contain an unlikely roll-call of references and coordinates including Yves Klein, Raymond Pettibon, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Brion Gysin’s roller works, Keith Haring’s murals, and Matisse’s dancers. In these fairly large-scaled, many of them five feet by five feet, and densely packed canvases, great numbers of rudimentary human figures appear to dance, dogpile, splay, huddle, and otherwise commingle, while framed by scrawled text that also seems to have weathered some sort of cut-up ordeal. The language of the pictures seems to allude to issues of unity and division, the pictograms, likewise, and the overall effect of each individual work is impressive enough, without even considering the ambition of the work en totale. Well, here’s your last chance to see them all together. The show’s coming to an end and the artist will be giving a few words by way of a closing argument.
(Untitled) How Does It Feel, at Private Eye
At this group show, curated by Brittney Anele, featuring work by Alex Goss, Anthony Flores, Andi Valentine, Bradly Brown, Brittney Anele, Disha Khakheria, Dylan Lovorn, Eden Rae, Jessica Ninci, Jacques Gonsoulin, Jamiee Shim, Lindsea Varisco, Michelle Yue, S Rodriguez El, Raquel Elysia Costilla, Rachel Duane, and Mikki Yamashiro, viewers are welcome to touch and feel the art. Having worked as an art handler for much longer than my lack of manual dexterity could warrant, I must tell you that I know how art feels: it feels like dread. It feels like worry. Art feels like a little shaking mouse in the jaws of a bull shark with a guilt complex. But, go ahead, touch it, feel it. I’ll be standing in the corner, staring warily.
Hillaree Hamblin: Short Term Memory, at Spring Street Studios
Let me begin by indicting myself on one count; I seldom read past the first few lines in artist statements, particularly, if I like the visual aspects of the work in question, unless the artist statement reeks of verve or chattiness. We all know how it goes, in hack Latin: artifex dicitur longa, vita brevis (life is short, artist statements are forever). While Hillaree Hamblin’s stalagmite sculptures are connected in some way to memory issues, per the text, I can only speak to their visual charms, which are abundant. They resemble gelatinous mounds from the background of a Dr. Seuss illustration, or the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, or, closer to home, the crawfish chimneys in Gulf coast lawns and ditches.
Though we’ve been living in the age of mechanical reproduction much longer than you may think, sometimes it’s good to remember the early days and the simple ways. To this, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft offers this free artist-led workshop on scratch-foam printing, giving everyone the chance to see if they have what it takes to be a Do-rer, rather than a Don’t-er.
I Tried Really Hard, at 1506 Lorraine
Helen Keller described her life before language as total chaos, sheer sensation, without sense or meaning. In much the same way, many of the artists who work just outside of the gated community of fully-funded (let’s be honest, partially funded) art do so chaotically. Here and there come a show, or a whole season of shows, like this, for artists by artists. Just look at these names, it’s a laundry list of kooks and unregenerates. Many of them have side hustles as musicians, organizers, hustlers, designers. A show like this could serve as an introduction to so much, to those inclined to learn about the world in which they live. So the title’s a little wishy-washy, to be fair it goes wonderfully with the awkardly cropped event graphic. With Mark Armes, Arthur Bates, Eyesore, Heath Flagtvedt, Ryan Francisco, Shelby Hohl, Jonathan Paul Jackson, Spike Johnson, Blake Jones, Alex Larsen, Dann Miller, Josh Nolan, Meredith Richey, Darcy Rosenberger, Bret Shirley, Austin Smith, James Templeton, Traci Thiebaud, Max Toth, Sarah Welch.
Giovanni Valderas, Christie Blizard, and Regina Agu, at Galveston Arts Center
Galveston Arts Center presents three exhibitions by three artists known for their text-based visual work. It may seem reductive to say of artist Christie Blizard that she sneaks text paintings into the background of various television programs, among other places, but it remains true. Of course that’s not the only thing the San Antonio based artist does, she has a pretty wide-reaching and ambitious practice, but it’s exactly the kind of light-as-a-feather situationism that could tip the balance of power from them… to us. You can’t see it coming, and no one knows where it might lead. In a different kind of thing of a place out of place as a thing, recent Artadia grant recipient Alabama Song co-director artist Regina Agu presents Sea Change, a mural-sized vinyl vista of a dune, referencing, among other things, the themes of racial and economic inequality in Jean Rhys’ novel Wide Sargasso Sea. Dallas based artist Giovanni Valderas uses broken up pinata bits to get people thinking and talking about gentrification, personal identity, and other functions of the strange back and forth between the US and Latin America.
Temporary Havens gallery talk with Dean Daderko, at Lawndale Art Center
Artist residencies often achieve more on the astral plane than this temporal one, but with “Temporary Havens” the current round of Lawndale artists in residence Melinda Laszczysnki, Randi Long, and Sarah Welch really put together something special. It’s a scrappy, sparkly, noisy wonderland. Perhaps some of the credit is due to guest curator Dean Daderko of the Contemporary Arts Museum, who will be giving a lecture on the exhibition as part of its closing ceremonies.
Patrick Phipps: Life’s Rich Pageant, at Kaboom Books
Looking at any of Patrick Phipps’ dense, bustling works, whether his ink sketches of messed-up Simpsons characters or his more painterly pictures, one gets the feeling, the correct feeling, that here is a person who has spent long hours studying countless works of art. They’re intensely allusive and surprisingly buoyant, even as they navigate the sooty line between boom-bap off the cuff gesturalism and sculptural projections of volume and mass. The artist’s statement regarding this exhibition mentions an ongoing fascination with the strange landscapes in the backgrounds of renaissance paintings. Phipps was a Core fellow, a founding member of Sketch Clubb, and is a current member of Box 13 artist collective. The exhibition is one-night only.
Jan Rattia: Tease, at the Houston Center for Photography
Americans are obsessed with work. While almost everything else is exposed to the naked internet, work remains a final, semi-permeable taboo, drawing us in with little barbed tendrils. So Jan Rattia’s exhibition, “Tease,” one of four exhibitions opening this Friday at the Houston Center for Photography should speak to our work-related voyeuristic inclinations, seeing as it consists of photographs of male strippers in various states of repose.
Otis Jones, at Gray Contemporary
Born in Galveston, based in Dallas, artist Otis Jones foregrounds a peculiarly Texan sense of dilapidation in his abstract paintings. The small-scale and dingy, oddball vibe of these works recall the paintings of Forrest Bess. At the same time, they bear a resemblance to the iconic Suprematist compositions of Malevich and Barnett Newman’s metaphysical treatises, writ small.
Campions, at Jonathan Hopson Galery
“Campions,” curated by Jonathan Hopson Gallery creative director Debra Barrera, herself a formidably talented artist and poet, presents work by artists Brittney Anele, Linda Arredondo, Steven Evans, Jamil Hellu, Liz Rodda, Talia Shulze. Part of the fun with Jonathan Hopson Gallery, for whom this event marks a one year anniversary, is their willingness to show up-and-coming artists; the other part is their overall grasp of aesthetics, a property as elusive here as anywhere else. The title of this survey references a flower that favors inhospitable environments. It’s rough enough to make one’s way as an artist in a second city, even moreso when that same second city is vulnerable to regular catastrophes. This anniversary reception also serves as a fundraiser featuring affordably priced works and succulents, the proceeds of which will go to Hurricane Harvey relief.
Domokos and Ciriza: Double Action Reversible, at Civic TV
The first show in Civic TV’s new, new Northside digs, “Double Action Reversible” is the most mysterious best-bet on the table for Houston’s fall arts calendar. Purportedly, this is the kind of collaboration (hence the ‘Double’ in the title) in which both artists are pulling out the stops. But there’s been no early walk-through, no vernissage, and very little in the way of advance imagery. What there have been are reports of unsupervised chemistry labs ablaze in the countryside, billowing clouds of noxious fumes, panic in the streets, and heated tempers, but isn’t that just like any block in Houston after sundown? Back to the show itself, each of the artists approaches art with a wilderness-tested ethic, less white cube and more black hell. Both work on any number of media in the way of most natural and industrial processes. There’s something scratchy and uncontainable in the spotlight here. As seen in previous exhibitions at Gallery Homeland, Civic TV, Self Actualization, and Lawndale Art Center, where he was a 2012-2013 artist-in-residence, Domokos’ work has a striking graphic quality. His posters advertise a world hitherto unseen, jumbled in glossolalia and strange romance. His installations perambulate rusty sex robot dungeons of the future. His art reeks of cryptic intentions, interdimensional portals, new pleasures, alternate endings, and, fundamentally, escape. Coming from the petrified dream deserts of Southern California, Ciriza brings a lot of high-proof early medicine to the lab. Whereas Domokos’ work is often as elusive as it is stark, Ciriza contributes visceral, tactile elements to the show. She works sculpturally with hair, with fabrics, with rubber, plastics, crystals, and metamorphic processes, deforming and reforming the material essence of materials. Some art deals with stasis, some with hesitation, some with the endless work of archiving and footnoting the art that preceded it, and some art reckons on change and transformation. Ciriza’s work as an artist, film maker, performer, a musician, and as a doula, connects fiercely and closely to the idea of becoming, in the most palpable, existential sense. Both artists recall the ritualistic performances of the Viennese Aktionists (hence the ‘Action’ in the title). Both have a penchant for the occult, fetishes (in both the anthropological and erotic sense of the term), the outre, and the root chakra locale of the mind-body map. As to ‘Reversible”, nothing is truly reversible, not even a rain coat. Exhibition closes with a reception November 4, 6pm to 9pm, with an outdoor projection event from members of the Eyebeam video collective.
The Creeping Vine Project, at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
In their natural state, kudzu and other creeping vines are indifferent to our offers of assistance; quite the contrary, they’re positively Audrey II. But in art they need a little prodding and poking, weaving and warping to envelop, to proliferate, and otherwise do their thing, and as art they’re much better behaved. Artist Rebecca Braziel invites children over eight years old and adults of all ages to help with the creation of large-scale fiber-and-wire installation. The workshop is free, said to have meditative value, and resources and space are limited, so RSVP to secure a space.