Avant-garde is French for “advanced guard” or “vanguard” and is used in art to refer artists who are experimental or radically different from the norms. These artists push the boundaries of the status quo to create something totally unique and different often spawning new art movements as they do so.

But in a good way…

  1. Mark Ryden
  2. Ric Stultz
  3. Thom May

Via Glasstire. This thing on the left is apparently the new logo for the Museum of Fine Arts, Huston educational department that was unveiled September 7th during the free first Sunday event.

Visitors got to vote on what to name the quasi political symbol (It’s a donkey riding on an elephant, in case you couldn’t tell) which will hopefully be revealed to the public soon.

I think they should have let the visitors vote on a new log instead of giving it a name.

Last Friday I had the opportunity to attended the reception for the graduate shows by Manuel Pecina and Jana Miller at The University of Texas at Dallas. Both shows were visually stimulating, in very different ways, and I’m amazed at how they played off each other so well.

Pecina’s works entitled The Arena consist of printed photographs on stretched canvases of a performance shown at UTD about two years ago called There is Never a Reference Point. The performance is based on the journal writings and watercolors of Jamie Dakis a woman diagnosed with Dissociative Personality Disorder (more commonly known as Multiple Personalities). I remember seeing the performance vividly because rather than normal seating the audience is seated on stage and immersed in the performance with the actors all around you.

Pencina’s work really captures the essence of the performance with its blurred figures and vague subject matter. His pieces also feel oddly biographical (perhaps due to being shown with Jana Miller’s work) telling a narrative the viewer is a part of yet separate from. The tension in narrative plays right along with the tension in the performance. I remember being overwhelmed at times by all the action going and Pecina’s ability to capture that feeling makes his body of work a treat to behold.

Miller’s show is equally compelling, consisting of several photos of her grandmother Jo Harvey Sullivan, some of her shoes and a few sweaters. Miller has photographed her grandmother performing common everyday tasks, but displays them with multiple Jo’s in a different phase of the task. The result is an army of grandmothers preparing breakfast or checking the mail that conjure up memories of my own grandmothers who seem like little armies always working away at this or that.

By far though, the best piece are the photos of Sullivan’s feet displaying her various shoes. The piece conjures up the cliche “walk a mile in a (wo)man’s shoes” and are enough to make any podophobic squirm.

The shows are up until September 19th and the Visual Arts Gallery at UTD. Go check them out.

I forgot to mention that the Kimbell has a contest going on in conjunction with their Impressionist exhibit where they are encouraging participants to create an impressionist based photo based on well known works on display. This is the last round to get involved or vote for your favorite which will last until September 23. The list of prizes includes

Grand Prize:

  • Exclusive tour guided by a Kimbell curator for 6 adults
  • FREE admission for 6 adults to The Impressionists
  • Dinner or lunch for 6 at the Kimbell Buffet Restaurant (alcoholic beverages not included)
  • One FREE one-year subscription to Texas Monthly magazine

2nd Place:

  • FREE admission for 4 adults to The Impressionists
  • One FREE catalogue: The Impressionists
  • One FREE one-year subscription to Texas Monthly magazine

3rd Place:

  • FREE admission for 2 adults to The Impressionists
  • One FREE catalogue: The Impressionists
  • One FREE one-year subscription to Texas Monthly magazine

Appropriation is a term first used in photography to describe taking possession of something and calling it your own through the act of photographing it. The term came into being in the 1980’s when photographer Sherrie Levine photographed a number of famous photographs by Walker Evans and displayed them as art. By doing so, Sherrie Levine challenged the ideas of authenticity and originality.

Before Sherrie Levine, a number of artist throughout the twentieth century used the act of appropriation in their art. The incorporation of newspaper and “found objects” in art goes back as far as the early twentieth century.

  1. Peter Callesen
  2. Pascal Campion
  3. Lilly McElroy

Banksy tags have been spotted around New Orleans as a visual reminder of how things went three years ago. Maybe this time with around things will turn out differently.

Here’s to hope.

Along with The Impressionists I got to see last Saturday, I also had the pleasure of experiencing the Kara Walker show My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love at the Fort Worth Modern across the street from the Kimbell.

Kara Walker’s show is definitely not for the faint of heart. Between the depraved sexual acts and the number of dismembered limbs it’s like walking through an Antebellum themed prono set and meat packing facility wrapped up in one. I have to give this show a hand for sending my conservative Christian sister packing after just two rooms. Full of sexual imagery and racial tension My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love is a delight that you need to go see before it leaves on October 19th.

Titus O’Brien had an enlightening perspective on the exhibit in a review he did for Glasstire in which he states,

Race is obviously still a (the?) pivotal issue in our national psyche, and the intractable wounds of slavery are even now too often blithely glossed over or ignored.

and I have to agree with him.

Walker’s use of black paper silhouettes to create everything from large scale panoramas to videos is impressive to say the least, but the real strength of the exhibit comes from how Walker addresses racism as a two way street. Walker doesn’t pile all the blame on whites, but instead tells a narrative that blends facts, fiction and just a touch of fantasy to create something truely disturbing that brings into question what the truth actually is.

If nothing else the craftsmanship alone is worth the admission (although if you act fast you can get in half price), so use the falling gas prices as an excuse to take a drive over to The Fort Worth Modern and check it out.

This weekend I got to attend The Impressionists exhibit over at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. It felt like walking into a gallery show from the old board game Masterpiece. The Kimbell has it covered if Impressionism is your cup of tea.

Renoir and Monet have a strong presence in the exhibit, but I was most impressed with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s work. His use of figures falling off the edges and hard outlines really add to the grit and grime of his paintings that capture the feel of Montmartre where he lived and worked. Toulouse-Lautrec’s painting really give the viewer the sense of being immersed in the night life of late 19th century Paris.

My only complaint of the The Impressionists is how it is setup. On the Saturday that I went the exhibit was teeming with bodies which caused traffics jam in the many areas around the more well known Impressionist masters.

My suggestion, if you want to enjoy this exhibit go during the week (maybe even during the half priced admission on Tuesdays and Friday evenings from 5-8 PM) to avoid the crowds so you can really get the full experience.

This Week

Dec. 12 - Dec. 19, 2008
UT Dallas (Art Gallery)
Fall Arts Festival

Opening reception Dec. 12 @ 6:30 pm

Artillary Retrospective