“The Old, Weird America”

The CAMH offers up a look at America back then, now

“The Old, Weird America” harks back to the days of old — sort of. The exhibition blends traditional images and techniques of American folk art with the harsh realities of modern life. Using photography, sculpture, video installations and other mediums, 18 contemporary artists from across the country have drawn historical inspiration from as far back as 1621, focusing less on the kitsch and more on the twisted (and at times disturbing) tales of our country’s legacy. The show is, after all, old and weird. Curated by Toby Kamps, the exhibition is more than an homage to style — it shows the messiness and texture of America itself.

Jeremy Blake’s digital video Winchester distorts our perception of the tall, dark stranger by placing the iconic image of a cowboy in an abstracted version of heiress Sarah Winchester’s house — the famous, reputedly haunted, California mansion. Greta Pratt’s photo series Nineteen Lincolns challenges our view of the revered president by replacing him with 19 impersonators. The artists have taken historical images and motifs, dusted them off and created art that’s surprisingly fresh and captivating. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, 5216 Montrose. The show opens Saturday, May 10, and runs through July 20. For information, call 713-284-8250 or visit www.camh.org. Free.
May 3-July 20, 2008

 
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