Ballroom Marfa is bringing commissioned work, and this print by Pettibon, to Texas Contemporary

Texas Contemporary: A Visual Preview

I was planning to attend the Houston art fairs this fall but life has intervened, and finds me instead trawling the Web (my daily preoccupation) to see who’s going and what’s showing. With that caveat Texas Contemporary gets under way next Thursday, October 18th in Houston. It’s Max Fishko’s artMRKT’s Houston’s show second year, and an artist this year (every exhibiting gallery can submit one artist) will receive a $10,000 prize, judged by LACMA’s Franklin Sirmans and CAMH’s Bill Arning.

Because there are a lot (a lot) of fairs out there these days, I just decided to narrow what I was going to pull out of the mix into a selection of work I’ve already seen in person or otherwise know a tiny little bit about. As to the rest, you’ll have to show up at the George R. Brown Convention Center, or click this link for more information.

Ballroom Marfa has a booth and will be selling work that the art space has commissioned in the past, including a print by Raymond Pettibon, and c-prints by photographer and performance artist Liz Cohen. The word on Cohen’s work is that she took a trip along the Texas-Mexico border in the Trabantimino, a car that she designed and built to transform from an East German Trabant to an El Camino.

Colby Bird, from Dust Breeds Contempt

If I had to pick somebody who might find his way into the short list of the curators deciding on who gets the prize at Texas Contemporary, I might cast my vote for Lora Reynolds Gallery artist Colby Bird, who has a show of his new work, House Lamps, up through October 18th at Texas State University gallery (see this link), and appears to be moving a little closer to Robert Gober, an influence that might appear natural to those who know that his earlier work, Dust Breeds Contempt, paid homage to a photograph by Man Ray that followed the accumulation of dust on Duchamp’s The Large Glass. Dust Breeds Contempt was Bird’s first solo show at Lora Reynolds just last year, and consisted of seven photographs of which he showed one at a time, angled so it captured, yes, dust. He went to University of Colorado at Boulder and has an MFA from RISD, and has also had a focus booth at the VIP Art Fair. Interesting work and artist. As a p.s. it’s not entirely clear to me which works the gallery will show, but there’s a new personality worth watching here.

Nina Katchadourian has a long resume with lots of impressive credits including shows in major international capitals and a new work described as a permanent public piece, commissioned by the GSA, for a border-crossing station between the US and Canada. Seat Assignment, which Catharine Clark Gallery of San Francisco (who was one of the major supporters responsible for helping Texas Contemporary get its land legs in its first year, last year) exhibited. It’s definitely a function of seeing a lot of work that you begin to see threads and themes including the inescapable postmodern habits of indebtedness to art historical heavies. And that’s really not a bad thing, especially not in the case of Katchadourian.

2012 installation shot of Seat Assignment, as seen at Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco

In Santa Fe, we’ve had a chance to see several works by artist Mary Temple this year, at SITE Santa Fe. She exhibits at Mixed Greens Gallery in New York, which is bringing to Houston work that the Rice University Art Gallery in Houston commissioned in 2011. Called Light Installations it deals in the “illusion of light in site-specific locations.” Which sounds a bit puzzling, but has the eerie, light roving surfaces, here-not-here effect of sensibility that is very much a part of this artist’s method.

Mary Temple’s Northwest corner, Southeast light, 2011, shown by Mixed Greens

Okay, maybe I take it back about Colby and the prize. Maybe the prize goes to the Sicardi Gallery artist Marco Maggi (Uruguayan) for pencil drawing on Reynolds aluminum foil.

Marco Maggi, Pre-Columbian & Post-Clintonian, 2010, pencil on Reynolds aluminum foil roll

I was lucky (as always) to be in New York in the spring and to visit the old standby galleries that are Feature, and one new to me called MULHERIN and with two locations in Toronto and on Chrystie Street (Manhattan). I really liked what MULHERIN showed at the Armory show although here it is hard to tell if I just keep seeing Raymond Pettibon all over the place, or if that’s because he’s one of the artists Ballroom Marfa is bringing a print edition by, or whether (like I warned) it’s because getting older seems to involve seeing through things indubitably. Whether the precedents are really there, or manufactured by the viewer, well, you tell me. And, didn’t we need a real game changer right about now?

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