How best to toast the 25th anniversary and renovation of one of Houston's oldest alternative art spaces? At Lawndale Art Center, it's with goats, neon and laundry.
"We wanted that feeling of being back in third grade, sweating to get it all to come out right," says curator Eleanor Williams of "Long Division," one of three new exhibits opening at Lawndale as part of the anniversary commemoration. The show is a homecoming for Williams, who was at the helm of the art space from 1994 to 2000. "The whole idea of the gallery is to provide first-time opportunities for young artists," she explains, "and all of the 'Long Division' artists had their debut here. All of the work in the exhibit is also in some way a metaphor for the renovation."
A case in point is Allison Wiese's 18-foot, throbbing pink-neon sign, which beams the traditional labor slogan, "An Injury To One Is An Injury To All." The piece nods to old-school labor progressivism while paying homage to the original flashing arrow that graced the Lawndale building more than 70 years ago, when it was known as the Barker Brothers Studio.
Other works include Monica Vidal's monochromatic watercolors on paper, Andrew Groocock's brightly painted wooden erector sets and Marco Villegas's geometric paintings, which are titled after musical chestnuts such as "The Green, Green Grass of Home."
The remainder of the reopening festivities will be divided between two separate solo exhibits. Artist James Beasley will enliven a mundane household chore with his drawings and sculptures based on the folds of fabric he finds in his laundry. Meanwhile, up in the mezzanine, Betsy Odom will share her tumbling, reflective-tape-covered "Fainting Goats." The installation, consisting of domestic and woodland creatures made of common found objects, is inspired by an actual breed genetically engineered to faint when startled.