Sunday, June 21, 2009

Art + Art

Nice, huh. A beautiful Pogo daily from 1951 by Walt Kelly. Despite all that fine brushwork, Kelly worked pretty small--that original is only 17.5" x 6" with the strip itself 16.5" x 4.75".

But check this out:

If you look closely, you can see Kelly's underdrawing. He uses blue pencil which would disappear in the photographic process for making the strip print-ready. His blue pencil drawing is very tight, except (curiously) on the lettering and (less curiously) on Porky Pine. But what is amazing is not his pencils but his inks. Not a single correction on the page. What an amazingly skilled brush-handler he was! It's freaky that a guy who was such a brilliant writer and satirist should also be such a skilled artist--but that combination describes many (but not all) of the greatest cartoonists, of whom Kelly is one of the very top ever.


This photograph is "Untitled from Rabbits in the Land of Squirrels" by Elaine Bradford. If you are from Houston, you might have seen her recent show at the Art League called the Museum of Unnatural History. This show was half Museum of Jurassic Technology and half knitting. I understand a fake museum--museums are so central to art in our day that basic postmodern theory practically demands that artists create pastiches and parodies of museums. You see it in David Wilson's and Hans Haacke's work, among others. It's a form of conceptual art, but it involves a lot of precise craft.

Likewise knitting. Knitting is kind of a new thing in art. I don't know what it means. Maybe Bradford can enlighten us a little with some words from her own website.

Through crocheting sweaters for inanimate objects, she references connotations associated with the handmade, and personal ideas of comfort and warmth. These ideas about the process of crocheting are juxtaposed with the absurdity of its application. She has covered a variety of items in handmade sweaters, including trees, vacuum cleaners, and groceries. Her most recent work involves crocheting sweaters for taxidermied animals.
So OK. I thought it may refer to early feminist artwork that often used traditionally female artforms (like sewing) and wrenched it into the man's man's man's world of contemporary fine art.

This was one of the pieces for sale for either $50 or $100 at theApama Mackey Gallery. This was a one-day show called the "The AMG Visual Stimulus Package" that was co-sponsored by Houston video site, Keep Houston Rich.

Anyway, I bought these two pieces of art, adding them to my "collection," such as it is.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Visiting Every Art Gallery in Houston

Not me. Beth Secor. She is an artist, a curator, a writer and a blogger over at Glasstire, and she sets out to visit and report on every art gallery in town.
There are at least 100 galleries, if not more in Houston, and I would fathom a guess that few among you, my dear readers, have even visited 25 of those, if that many. And why is that? Why don’t we go to more galleries? Is it because they are too far away and gas is too expensive? I know why you don’t go. It’s because those other galleries don’t show Core Fellows, and you are really worried about appearing uncool. That’s the real reason. Admit it.

Well, I already know I’m not cool and because of this I have the freedom to visit every friggin’ gallery in the whole damn town. I am going to start out in the Heights and then spiral out to other parts of the city. I don’t want anyone to have any false expectations - these aren’t going to be full on reviews and I am not going to give you the entire history of the space, I might even get the name and address wrong, and if a place is too far away, I’ll just make up shit about it. And no, I don’t have air conditioning in my car and yes, I have bursitis in my right elbow and am typing everything out with my left hand.
Her first visit is to a gallery in the Heights that really gets the business. My recommendation to the galleries--let Beth Secor take pictures. Because even if she offers up a negative review (as she does here, oh, boy, does she!), at least the photos will let the gallery speak for itself, and frankly, you are trying to sell art and not letting someone photograph it for a review is pretty piss-poor marketing. Plus, if you don't let her take pictures, you might get the "honor" of having her recreate the artwork for you.
The very worst pieces in the show [...] were both made by a person whose name I will not reveal, in order to spare them the public humiliation. These works were constructed of orange peels, which in one case had been tacked to the wall behind the gallery desk [...].

Since I can’t show you the original because of the no photo rule, and in order to help you understand my extreme annoyance, I recreated and photographed one of these “whatevers” at home. Granted the gallery attendant did not look like Humpty Dumpty, and the “artist” did a better job of peeling her oranges in long coiling strands, but you get the general idea. Except I kind of like my photograph, so maybe you won’t get what I’m saying after all.
Gallery owners--this is what you might get if you don't allow a reviewer (particularly Beth Secor) to take photos:
Artwork cruelly recreated for the purpose of mockery by Beth Secor.