- The ghost of Enron still haunts us. The history of Enron's association with Houston's art scene has yet to be written down all in one place. At the very least, it deserves a long post of its own. Even though Enron collapsed in 2001, its ripples still pop up, even in the art world. Jeffrey Shankman had been COO of Enron Global Markets until December 2001. At Enron, he was also on a committee that bought contemporary art for Enron. (That collection was auctioned off as part of Enron's bankruptcy.) In 2003, he built the gallery complex at 4411 Montrose, which is now one of the most important art sites in town, home to five galleries. He declared bankruptcy in 2008 (the same year he was sued for trying to blackmail a New York Gallery--I can't find the outcome of that suit online, though). In 2011, the gallery complex was sold as part of the bankruptcy.
Photo By Johnny Hanson/Houston Chronicle. Used without permission because it's such a cool photo and I couldn't resist.
- Hazmat. Another intersection between Houston art and law enforcement happened this week--homes belonging to Cecily Horton, a partner at M.K.G. Art Management, were raided by the FBI. The raid has nothing to do with art, though. The Chronicle reported that certain chemicals had been ordered that could be used to produce "tear gas or nerve gas." Apparently they were ordered by Horton's son. I guess the FBI watches places where you can order this type of chemicals. The homes were in Houston and Michigan. An apartment in Bryan was also raided. As part of the raid, the FBI blew up some possibly dangerous substances. This sounds like a hell of a story, but whatever is going on, the FBI is staying mum.
- Cop in the Studio. OK, enough with all this crime. I was at Winter Street Studios last weekend for their open house and snapped a few photos. The studios were all cleaned up for guests, so we visitors got a somewhat artificial experience of them. My first stop was Solomon Kane's studio, which he shares with Jonathan Rosenstein and Vonetta Berry. Solomon Kane, in addition to being the nicest guy in the Houston art scene, happens to be an actual cop for Harris County.
Outside the studio hangs this Solomon Kane image of Ganesh.
Inside, each artist has his or her own corner. The color explosion above is Solomon Kane's.
Solomon Kane stands before a wall of Jonathan Rosenstein assemblages.
And Jonathan Rosenstein sits before a wall of photos of Vonetta Berry's work.
Kane told me about a project he's working on which I can't describe because it is not a done deal. There are still some hoops to jump through, apparently. But if it happens, it'll be great! Stay tuned.
Of all the studios I visited, Alex Wilhite's looked the most like a working studio. He had straightened up a bit and hung some pieces, but he still had all his materials out. I had seen his all-white canvases before, and was intrigued to see more colorful variations on the idea of nearly flat monochromatic canvases.
Fellow Memorial High School grad Van McFarland had work in a couple of studio spaces. This space was practically empty except for the paintings one the wall. But one look at the floor and you could tell the space had seen a lot of painting. He had a group of Leger-like abstractions on the wall.
Tuyet Ong-Barr recently had a show at d.m. allison gallery. With the exposed canvas areas, her work recalls Helen Frankenthaler and Sam Francis--in short, Ong-Barr is a third generation color-field painter. (Or would that be fourth generation? Francis and Frankenthaler were both born in the 1920s.)
Camille Warmington is right across the hall from Tuyet Ong-Barr, which is interesting because they both do gestural abstractions. Of course, Warmington also does realist paintings, but they seem much more conceptual. Her abstractions and realist paintings have similar palettes but otherwise feel very different.
In between these two abstractionists is realist house painter Cary Reeder's studio. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good photo of it. She just had an excellent show at Lawndale.
Finally, Monica Vidal had Temple Hive assembled in her studio for this event. I'm going to assume that it is not usually set up. The funny thing was that people were afraid to go into it. I guess we're taught from an early age not to touch the art. But she convinced folks to take the plunge and they loved it.
Monica Vidal from inside Temple Hive.
- Nothing at all to do with crime or police. But it made me laugh.
This is by cartoonist Sean Bieri. (Hat-tip to the Comics Reporter.)