"Go West I": Houston's Group Art Show of the Year?

It wouldn't matter if "the first bilateral contemporary art exhibit between France and Texas" was just a collection of mega lame art.

No need to worry about that because the stuff in "Go West I" is astonishing. Depending on how it's executed in a gallery space, the group show could become Houston's best in 2011.

The group exhibit, which was displayed at Paris's UNESCO Headquarters in late September, will see its American premiere at Williams Tower Gallery on Thursday. Thirty-two visual artists from France and 32 from Texas, as well as ten writers and musicians, will exhibit video, paintings, silver-gelatin photographs and left-of-field mixed-media works.

Many of the Parisian artists are flying over from Europe to attend the opening reception, scheduled to take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday. We're told that familiar locals, such as David McGee and Amy Blakemore, will also be in the house.

One of the exhibiting artists is Matthew Grabelsky, a 2002 Rice University art, art history and astrophysics graduate who has bounced back and forth between his native New York, Italy and France. Grabelsky got connected with "Go West" via a Paris contemporary art gallery that's run by an American woman.

"After I finished at Rice, I planned on going to grad school for astrophysics. I decided to defer for a year because I was really interested in going to Italy to study painting and the technique of it," says Grabelsky, who lived in Florence for four years. "I came back to New York for a year, but I really missed Europe and the older traditions, which is a big inspiration for my work."

Grabelsky's piece for "Go West I," entitled Alexandra and Mr. Guar, depicts a standard scene on the New York City subway except that the suave dude sitting next to his attractive female companion is a bull in a monkey suit.

The opening reception for "Go West I" takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, October 27, at Williams Tower Gallery, 2800 Post Oak Boulevard. The show hangs through November 25. For more information, check out the Go West website.

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