Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Another Year, Another Artcrawl

Robert Boyd

I've been going to Artcrawl for several years. Some things are always the same, evolving slightly over the years. Like this little dilapidated house at the corner of McKee and Nance.

That's how it looked in 2010. Then in 2012, someone had added this sign to it.

This year, it looked like this:

I look forward to taking a picture of it every year. But let's be honest--it's slowly deteriorating. And that was the feeling of Artcrawl this year. For example, every year I've gone to Artcrawl, the building on Richey Street where Oxheart is located always has had a big bunch of exhibiting artists in a large central room. This year, nothing:

At least the tattoo parlor next to Oxheart had some art up--not to mention some tattoo artists at work.

Not only were there fewer venues for art this year, there were a lot fewer people. I hope that this is purely a result of the weather--cold, windy and damp. I hope this isn't a trend because one of the very great values I've see with Artcrawl is that in past years it has always drawn in a large, diverse audience. I go to art events every week and usually see the same people at them (and even within the events and openings I attend, the audience is segmented--there is little overlap between people who attend openings at Colquitt St. galleries and people who show up for El Rincón Social shows). But we can't forget that Artcrawl is just another "entertainment choice," and on a grey drizzly cold day, people may choose not to walk around a bunch of unheated old warehouses.

Mother Dog Studios is the driving force behind Artcrawl and they always have something special in their studios for the event. This year was no different. They had a show of "snake"-based art and included in this was an actual snake wrangler who brought his snakes and let people handle them.

That's where I saw painter Bas Poulos, talking with a lady snake wrangler who was showing off their collection of venomous snakes commonly found in the Houston are. Yikes.

Poulos, a retired Rice University art professor, had a couple of pieces in the snake show.

Bas Poulos paintings

He told me that his model was for some reason reluctant to model with her nipples showing, so they taped them like so. I replied that taped nipples were a thousand times dirtier than visible nipples.

In the same room as these paintings, a pair of air-brush artists were body-painting a cobra onto a very patient young woman who didn't seem to mind 1) that there were dozens of people taking phone photos and 2) that it was fucking cold in the unheated studio.

John Runnels contributed his own piece to the exhibit--a typical text piece from him.

 John Runnels, Genesis, 1995-2013, acrylic and colored pencil on paper, 68 x 30 inches

Solomon Kane, Caduceus of Creation, 2012, polyurethane intermediate and car paint, 33 x 66 x 14 inches

Solomon Kane had one of his encrusted polychromatic sculptures in the show. And I made a quick stop at Brandon Araujo's studio. (That's him in the hoodie. Did I mention that the studios were unheated?)

Most of the work on display I had seen before. But he showed me some large works in progress that he hadn't hung. We were standing in front of one talking about it and I noticed that there was a lady hovering nearby. I thought maybe she wanted to ask Brandon something so I stepped aside and he greeted her. She was apparently unknown to him--just a random Artcrawler. She wanted to take a picture of the big unfinished painting. Brandon politely told her no--it was a work in progress.

In past Artcrawls, the streets have been full of people. It was just too cold this time, but not for the guy in shorts in the picture above. He wasn't going to let 45 degree weather slow him down.

A Daniel Anguilu mural attracted a few admirers.

 Over at Atelier Jacquinet, there was this nice model shrimp boat.

And this guitarist on the kitchen counter. (Atelier Jacquinet always has good music every year. I don't know who this singer was, but she had some adoring fans.)

The Last Concert Cafe also always has some good music, but folks didn't linger in front of the outdoor stage this year. I liked that the guy on the right got dressed up for the occasion.

This broken vinyl record in the dead winter grass was a poignant symbol of something or other.

Over at the Foundry, there was a group pop-up show featuring David Graeve, Michael Meazell, Alfredo Scaroina, Patrick Renner, Felipe Lopez, Cecilia Johnson and Lester Marks. It's where Graeve's studio is, so he was in the position to stage his work quite dramatically. For example:

Two David Graeve sculptures

Two by Alfredo Scaroina

 The rest was hung a little more casually.

And here is Alfredo Scaroina himself. He and his crew were serving tacos (yum!) and beer, so it was hard to leave the Foundry. But I pressed on.

My next stop was Studio Twenty Twenty (I think) on Commerce Street. I liked this Ozzy/O.J. combo. The Ozzy stencil was painted right on the wall.

Then I swung by Super Happy Fun Land. They're a bit off the beaten track for Artcrawl, but they go all out.

The Raggedy Ann wall at Super Happy Funland

This band, Afternoon Power, was playing. Not bad! I hung out listening to them for quite a while, but finally went over to El Rincón Social for a very nice photography exhibit, which deserves more than a drive-by post like this. After hanging out there for a while, I headed home, stopping to pick up some champagne at Spec's (for mimosas at Sunday brunch). 

Artcrawl is a Houston tradition, just like purple drank. Long may it thrive.



  1. That patient young woman is me! And the two bodypainters were Rudy Campos and Alex Hanson :)