Friday night saw the opening of three exhibitions at Art League Houston: "Suspended Memory" by
Shane Allbritton & Peter Bernick-Allbritton in the Main Gallery; "Speak of the Devil" by Edward Kelly in the Front Gallery; and "Thingness" by Benjamin Terry in the Hallway Space. Full disclosure, I did not take pictures of or spend a great deal of time looking at "Thingness", and will therefore not be writing about it here. Hallways and gallery openings are busy places by nature, so combine the two and it doesn't allow for much reflection or indeed photo opps - sorry Art League!
Kelley's "Speak of the Devil" is one of the coolest installation pieces I have seen at Art League since I moved to Houston. Being from England (the most watched country in the world, by the way), this piece spoke to me as a clever and timely comment on the voyeuristic nature of modern society, and the slow but complete normalization of this constant invasion of our privacy.
This interactive exhibition features over 250 surveillance cameras installed in clusters throughout Art League's Front Gallery. Some of the cameras are motion activated, so you really get the sense that the installation is watching you with its beady blinking red eyes as you move about the space. As if that's not enough, the cameras actually photograph viewers and send these grainy surveillance-style images to a printer in the centre of the space, where viewers are invited to either feed their image into a shredder, or pin it to the gallery wall where it will become part of the exhibition.
“Systematic surveillance has become such a routine and inescapable part of our everyday culture, that we have become accustomed to its presence” says the artist. “The exhibition playfully highlights this growing presence through an immersive installation that explores the complexity and variability of our own understanding and engagement regarding surveillance technology, while also highlighting the ethical issues relating to personal privacy”.
"Speak of the Devil" will be at Art League until July 22, 2017 - Providing you're not on the run and avoiding surveillance cameras I highly recommend stopping by!
Next up: "Suspended Memory" by Shane Allbritton & Peter Bernick-Allbritton in the Main Gallery. If you have been following Artful Dodgy for a while, you will know I already think that Shane and Peter are a creative power-couple, so it came as no surprise to me that "Suspended Memory" is another must-see showcase of their work.
The exhibition features installations which explore memory, and the process of how memories are stored and retrieved in the brain. The artists' use of fragments of patterns, textures and colors repeated across various surfaces is intended to represent the process of recollection, specifically reflecting the complexities of "lost memories" and the way they are accessed and reinterpreted in our minds.
A personal highlight for me were the "Working Memory Cards", pictured above. The 32"x20" pieces are comprised of laser cut mulberry paper suspended in a colored water reservoir. At first glance these pieces are obviously beautiful, but examined in the context of the exhibition as a whole they are truly stunning, complex and thought provoking. The pieces will continue to evolve as the paper absorbs and distorts the ink, mirroring the way memories and imprinted and changed over time - super cool right?
“The fact that recalling our memories changes them means that they are relatively unstable” says artist Shane Allbritton. “This phenomenon is referenced through imagined, neurological patterns cut into fragile materials and soaked in water, reflecting a robust record-keeping capacity that is also elusive and delicate. Given that our concept of the past is fallible, each passing moment renewed, and forgotten experiences buried, our transient reality remains suspended in time.”
"Suspended Memory" will be at Art League until July 22, 2017 - definitely worth setting aside 30 minutes to contemplate how incredible the human memory can be!
Verny Sanchez was born in 1973 in Maracaibo – Zulia, Venezuela. Now living and working in Houston, TX Verny has participated in exhibitions in Caracas (Venezuela), NY (US), Miami (Florida, US) and Barcelona (Spain) over the last 19 years.
Before settling in Houston, he lived in Spain where he was a resident artist at La Escocesa for 5 years (Barcelona). The artistic work of Verny Sanchez is a reflection of his abstract thinking and redrawing in graphic structure-compositions based on abstract-figurative "open language", which he refers to as Glyphs or "Glifos". His telltale style features variations of these "Glyphs" across different mediums including painting, sculpture, installations and murals.
I have known Verny for several years now, having worked with him on the CityCentre Mural Project back in 2015. He is literally the nicest guy you will meet, with an amazing passion for his work. I am therefore thrilled to be able to introduce him as my first Artist of the Month in 2017 (I know, I've been slacking):
Tell me a little about yourself, what is your background?
I have a Graphic Design background. I actually considered myself an artist since the middle of high school. In my young artist life, I was always drawing, and most pieces that I did for sale were commissioned paintings in large format.
In my twenties, I combined work in several graphic areas (Graphic Design, Editorial, Art Direction, Art Production, Teaching, etc), with my artist work. In the last 15 years I focused on my artistic career, and only took two small part time jobs during that time. One was teaching in Istituto Europeo di Design in Madrid and the other was managing an art production Studio in Barcelona. So yes, my background is as a graphic artist.
Talk me through your creative process, how do you get started, what's the first thing you do when starting a piece etc.?
Two things are very important to me in the process: The Concept and The Emotion. I do not follow one straight process. I am emotional person, so I follow different systems of processes depending on how I feel in that moment. My discipline is to go to the studio and work everyday when possible. I normally have many ideas, I’m always trying to find the correct timeline to develop. I normally work in series. Sometime, the idea is so extraordinary and intense, that I start the pieces without any plan.
Are you a full time artist? If not, how do you find a balance between creating and another job/family etc.?
Let me say before I answer this question, when you are an artist, you are a full time artist. Now I consider the last 15 years as me being a full time artist. When I have to combine this with another job, I usually work in the creative area, so that makes me feel good too. To combine work with family, since my child was born, takes time to get in regular schedule. I always think that I´m missing something important and I want to be there. It’s amazing the world of children, and it gives me new ideas that I project in my new work.
How would you describe your style?
It’s an Abstract-Figurative Language, with strong topics in concepts.
Your style is very consistent in your work, where did the use of linked shapes/circles come from?
PetroGlyph is the key to answer this question.
When I was young, one of my favorite inspirations was general symbols with roots in my home country. One of those symbols that became very important in my work is a PetroGlyph ("Petroglifo de Vigirima", Estado Carabobo, Venezuela). I extract the form and create a particular structure and new forms with the same concept. Later I work to enrich the topic using graphic concepts, applying for example, Escher optical concepts in very simple organic form using union to express ambiguity, strong contrast to create noises or harmony, balance composition, etc.
How did you get into mural painting/street art?
The first time was in high school. Most of my work is in large format. I have to say, in my artist residency in "La Escocesa ,Barcelona, Spain" I shared space with some of the greatest street artists, like Kenor, Zozen, Mina Hamada, Otica, RH101, etc. Part of my master plan is to let my work start to go in other formats or directions, and of course with this influence, one way was trying it in a mural.
How do you typically get commissions?
Networking, somebody sees something that I am developing or working on, Some commissions are from contests though.
What are your biggest influences as an artist?
So many, from today to the past:
General Sciences in all areas: Daniel Richter, Peter Doig, Julie Mehretu, Matthew Richie, Cecily Brown, Sebastian Bianick, and Jaime Gili´s installations. Starky Brines and recently discovered Hyon Gyon. My Venezuelan country was a very important topic.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso´s life, life and paintings of Dali, Niki de Saint Phalle´s work, Tinguley, special attention too Kandisky.
Dadaism: Cabré, Héctor Poleo, Mateo Manaure, Jesús Soto, Jacobo Borges, Alirio Palacios. Campos Biscardi´s vision, the dimensions of Pancho Quilici. And I always had a special interest in Edgar Sánchez´paintings.
One special painting of Miró, “Lección de Ski”.
Massimo Cappecci, He was a family member of my best friend, an unrecognized and underestimated genius with an incredible graphic expression and an amazing world of creativity and knowledge. I never met another person with a similar talent.
And finally Enrique Oliveros. He was my art teacher.
What's your favorite subject matter to paint?
What's your favorite medium?
I have two: Mixed material and pencil with oil
Do you have any advice for artists just beginning their career?
The first thing is recognizing your talent in a good way (never underestimate or overestimate), the second, work hard and create a disciplined routine. The third is in art today, networking is the key!
What projects do you have on the horizon?
If you’re interested in visiting my studio, just make an appointment and I will be pleased to show in what I´m working on (Silver Street Art Studios 312). You can also find me on Instagram, Facebook, and my website vernysanchez.com
*Some answers have been edited for length/clarity*
This weekend saw the VIP kick-off of the second annual Houston Urban Experience Festival (or HUE, to its friends). The week-long extravaganza of urban art will feature over 100 artists from around the world, including Puerto Rico, Iran, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Spain, and promises to "transform Houston’s cityscape from concrete to color". Those of you who are familiar with Houston's urban art scene will also see some familiar looking work popping up by local artists such as Nicky Davis, Scott Tarbox, Dandee Warhol, and Anat Ronen in locations ranging from St. Arnold's Brewery to the Holiday Inn parking garage.
The event is being spearheaded by GONZO247, a local heavy hitter in the street art world, and the mastermind behind Aerosol Warfare, the Graffiti and Street Art Museum Texas, and the "Houston is Inspired" mural that is LITERALLY ALL OVER EVERYTHING.
I was lucky enough to attend the VIP opening shin-dig on Saturday night - it was all very mysterious, with the venue announcement being distributed day-of, ultimately leading guests 3 stories underground to view the aptly-named Wall of Fame II in the belly of a Holiday Inn parking garage downtown.
Bad news first: it was BOILING, as in I genuinely suggest going to see these murals in your bathing suit and not a long-sleeved woolen dress like this idiot here did.. However, the work certainly makes it worth the trip. Although my phone snaps unfortunately don't do it justice, this cavernous canvas is another great example of Houston artists transforming the traditional consumption of their work to make it a true experience. A few highlights for me included an intense portrait by Skeez181 (pictured), Alex Ramos' 3-story worm mural, and my personal favorite: "Hit 'Em With That Llama" (also pictured), by tgp_htx artist Bao Pham.
With just a few days of the festival to go, there is still SO much to see. There are daily tours in addition to four or five different events each day to suit everyone. Wednesday is the HUE Playground, where you can actually try your hand at some graffiti of your own, Thursday there is HUE Artist Vendors on Canal St., Friday is HUE Brew at St. Arnold's Brewery... But I don't know your life, so to be safe go and check out the calendar yourself here, and see what you fancy.
Stay tuned for more coverage of HUE events to come...
So, today I took a preview tour of the Sculpture Month Houston exhibit at the Silos at Sawyer Yards. If you haven't had the opportunity to see an exhibit at this space yet, now's your chance! The preview opened last night as part of Houston Art Fair, and the full opening, with additional pieces, will take place on October 15th (put it in your diary!).
A quick background of the Silos to set the scene.. Inside the old Success Rice factory, (which was built in the 50s and abandoned in the 70s), lies an approximately 9,000 sq ft "Honeycomb" area at the base of 83' rice silos. The space is spectacular, creepy, and completely turns the traditional white-washed gallery aesthetic on its head. The space is different, and therefore presents a challenge, even Sculpture Month Houston's founder Volker Eisele said that it "takes guts" to exhibit there - it's certainly not for the faint hearted.
This is the perfect setting for the series of quirky and thought-provoking installations that make up one part Houston Sculpture Month, As soon as you enter the exhibit (if you can call it an exhibit, it's really an all-around immersive experience/interactive/installation hybrid) the experience begins. You are greeted by Wei Hong's installation, served Mulberry tea and asked to pose for a photo. Your cup will later become part of the installation, and your photo will used in another animated art piece.
For me, there are a few real highlights. Ed Wilson's piece - suspended from the very top of the interior of the 83' silo it resides in - is the show-stealer. As it gently moves with the rotation of the earth you can forget about everything else and be totally mesmerized - I could watch it all day. Other highlights include Sharon Kopriva's addition - an unsettling collection of distorted human-like forms made from found objects and rope, suspended over a sculpted fire; Joe Mancuso's installation that casts spectacular shadows on the concrete floor of its silo; and the gorgeous work of Adela Andea (seriously, it's gorgeous).
To borrow from SMH's own website, Sculpture Month Houston is a citywide event that celebrates and showcases sculpture throughout Houston. The campaign is hosted in numerous galleries and venues throughout the city from October 15 through November 19, 2016. Houston last celebrated sculpture 16 years ago with Sculpture 2000. In presenting Sculpture Month Houston, organizers Volker Eisele, Sean Rudolph and Antarctica Black (directors and manager of Rudolph Blume Fine Art / ArtScan Gallery), alongside Tommy Gregory (artist and curator of the City of Houston’s Art Collection at the Houston Airport System), look to provide a current survey of the Houston sculpture scene.
While we're on the subject, this coming weekend is a total knock out for Houston's art scene. Just to name a few, you have Texas Contemporary at the George R. Brown Foundation Center, Houston Art Fair at Silver St. and the Fall Biannual opening at Sawyer Yards, so get your culture on this weekend kids!
Ok so I'm just going to come right out and say this. I don't typically like installation art. Sure it can address subject matter in a way that isn't possible using 2D or even 3D media, but a lot of the time I'm standing there staring at a pile of trash on the floor or an unmade bed covered trash or whatever and thinking.. what is the point of this?? Why am I here, and why is everybody else Ooo-ing and Aaah-ing like it's the Fourth of July?
So maybe it's hypocritical of me, but I was blown away by the SITE exhibition at the Silos on Sawyer. Now I'm as surprised as you are, but go check it out for yourselves and I think you will see why. The exhibition is set in what once housed the Riviana rice processing plant in Houston’s historic First Ward neighborhood. Even more excitingly, the "gallery space" is a 6.000 sq ft "Honeycomb" area at the base of the 83' grain silos that features 27 interconnected circular rooms. Curated by Washington Avenue Arts District, the project is transdisciplinary, site specific, and features only Houston-based artists.
I think the real beauty of this exhibition is that - unlike so many sterile gallery environments that have housed installation in the past - the art is truly responsive to the space. The artists were chosen based on the proposals that most successfully reacted to the space, and transformed the silo in the most unique way, and I think this is really evident in the works on display. I really enjoyed the step away from the somewhat tired convention of setting art against a neutral background, hoping for it to stand out. In contrast, this work stood out to me because of its environment. I am usually an in-and-out kinda gal when it comes to exhibition openings, but I spent well over an hour wandering around the space, and not just because I had absolutely no idea how to get out.
The exhibition was juried by Bill Arning, Director of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and by Jillian Conrad, professor of sculpture at the University of Houston. A few of the highlights for me included Shane Albritton's and Peter Bernick-Albritton's "Coasting", Isaac Reye's "How to Build a Cloud", and "Lens" by Bennie Flores Ansell, not to mention the brand new Michael Rodriguez mural that adorns the wall of the parking lot outside!
To the left you can see me swinging on Isaac Reye's "How to Build A Cloud". Yup that's right, there are swings and you don't get yelled at for sitting on the artwork - what more could you possibly ask for really? SITE is free and open to the public every Saturday between 5-9pm, plus extended hours every Second Saturday of the month from 2-9pm. I'm obviously extremely fancy and attended the VIP preview party already, but the official opening night is tonight (November 6th) from 6pm-11pm. I strongly, strongly recommend going to check this out while it is still here!!
P.s. Apologies for the crappy photographs, my resident photographer was otherwise engaged.
British-born arts blogger living in Houston, Tx. A mixture of Street Art, Fine Art, Installation, and anything weird and wonderful. Follow me if that sounds like your cup of tea.
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