Texas Contemporary is exciting on many levels, shining a spotlight on local artists and galleries and offering well-deserved exposure to national and international collectors. If you're ready to show some H-Town love, here's our road map about who to look for and where to find them at GRB.
14 Pews, Booth D09
Everybody was talking about Cressandra Thibodeaux's "My Box" series during last summer's exhibition at G Spot Contemporary Art Space; more than 300 showed up for the opening night reception at the gallery space on East 9th. And Thibodeaux's message — that we can change the conversation and reverse the backlash against women by talking to our friends and neighbors — seems even more relevant today when NRA's Wayne LaPierre wants President Trump to stop the games over gun legislation and the Supreme Court weighs in on Louisiana's abortion law.
In Booth D09 at Texas Contemporary, Thibodeaux says she'll be showing pieces from last season's "My Box" as well as two new pieces that deal with gun regulations.
Additionally, 14 Pews has scheduled a panel discussion titled "Artistic Activism" with Texas artists Jesse Lott, Henry Sanchez, Marti Corn and Thibodeaux. Not only will they touch on how the creative power of the arts can move societal thoughts emotionally with the strategic planning of activism, but also the quandary about how to measure that change.
Anya Tish Gallery
The "nudies" are back, yes, but we're talking about Suzette Mouchaty's trio of large-scale sculptures of giant marine slugs. The hand-carved Styrofoam is coated and stylized to emphasize the soft round curves characteristic of the nudibranchs (marine gastropod molluscs) found in coral reefs. Mouchaty has chosen an interesting way to warn of the dangers to our coral reef ecosystems, and her choice of Sytrofoam as a material — because of its ability to sicken and kill marine animals — is clever. Two of the sculptures are human scale and a third hugs the floor, and Texas Contemporary has arranged for the installation up front towards the entrance. We expect more than a few folks will be stopping by for a selfie, but gallery owner Anya Tish tells us, "No touching."
Archway Gallery, Booth E05
Texas's oldest artist-owned gallery, now in its 43rd year, makes its debut at Texas Contemporary this weekend. Artist Barbara Able is continuing her study of contemporary culture with vibrant collages of pop icons (think Marilyn Monroe, Willie Nelson, and jumbles of arms and legs); metal sculptor Jim Adams will (hopefully) be exhibiting some of his whimsical creations made from railroad spikes; and kiln goddess Carol Berger is bringing some raku ceramics.
Liz Conces Spencer also is exhibiting in the Archway booth with abstracts of nature and the human form; she has focused on rich, vibrant colors in the past and is now leaning toward a softer palette. We're also looking forward to seeing what Kevin Cromwell is bringing; his take on "and now for something completely different" introduced us to deep space and intergalactic communication with last October's showing. Jane Ewen, who is mounting a big exhibit back at home base on Dunlavy next month, will give us a preview of her mysterious and layered acrylics.
There's no mistaking Tracey Meyer's art; her trademark puzzle pieces are playfully formed into 3D sculptures that defy gravity while also touching on social aspects. Sherry Tseng Hill, who never shies away from bright colors, has a few pieces in the booth, as does perennial favorite Cecilia Villanueva. Mexican artist Villanueva, the daughter of an architect, tends to imbue her streetscapes and architectural fantasies with a soft, cyan glow.
Foltz Fine Art, Booth B16
Our favorite Texas-centric gallery will be showcasing half a dozen artists from their large stable, including contemporary abstract artist Richard Stout with a recent large-scale acrylic and oil titled Fly Away. Stout is a living legend, with early works dating back to the era of the mid-century modernists, and has influenced many Houstonians with his previous stints as an instructor at the Museum School at MFAH and teaching art at the University of Houston.
Contemporary Texas regionalist Pat Gabriel has a gift for capturing the interplay of clouds and light as he creates figurative paintings through landscape imagery. Other contemporary regionalists being exhibited are Billy Hassell, who pretty much can guarantee you'll never have a sad day again with his bold and brightly colored scenes of nature; and surrealist William Young who paints out of his studio in the Piney Woods of east Texas, giving a fresh, folkloric twist to his Dali-esque vignettes. Not content with just one discipline, E. Dan Klepper stays busy as an artist, writer and photographer in west Texas; you'll catch his photographic sequence One Hundred Moons at Booth B16.
Guest artist James H. Evans, who lives in Marathon and documents landscapes and portraits throughout west Texas, is perhaps best known for his work within Big Bend National Park. His image, Santa Elena Canyon, Looking Up, demonstrates that — in spite of politics and national policy — we're not that far apart from our neighbor to the south.
Foto Relevance, LLC, Booth D09
New kids on the block Foto Relevance, LLC are rolling out the red carpet for members of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's Collectors Circle. After getting a behind-the-scenes look at the fair, these art world insiders will be stopping by booth D09 for a meet-and-greet with a glass of bubbly. Learn more about these supporters of the arts at camh.org/join-give/collectors-circle.
Among the artists exhibiting at Foto Relevance, LLC are environmental portrait photographer Marti Corn and lens-based conceptual artist Deborah Bay, both of whom are based in Houston and will be on hand to discuss their images. We'll also see objects by Colorado-based photographer Brenda Biondo; American fine art photographer Claire Rosen; satirical, highly staged photographs by Margeaux Walter; and images by Joana P. Cardozo, a Brazilian-born visual artist based in New York City.
Jack Rabbit Gallery, Booth C17
It's a full house over at Jack Rabbit Gallery with a nice mix of local talent and out-of-towners. From Houston we'll be seeing abstract and whimsical pieces from Leslie Gaworecki, who doesn't shy away from bright cyans and magentas; digital artist David Miller who makes us view Rothko Chapel's Broken Obelisk in a new light; Robert Santore, a fifth-generation Texan who studios out of Plantersville and is known for his massive mixed media panoramics on birch panel; and contemporary Art Nouveau artist Nicolle Dhimes who has mastered the art of single line drawings.
Hailing from Spring and Big D are Neo-impressionist Nikkie Markle, who will appeal to the country club and equestrian set; and Mark Whitmarsh, whose mixed media canvases seem to glow from within.
National artists displaying at Jack Rabbit's booth include New York-based abstract/impressionist Cindy Shaoul who is best known for her “Dripping Dots" series; Washington, D.C.-based photographer Eliot Grogan who has had success capturing the neon glow and architecture of our nation's capital, as well as the natural details of a felled tree; Chicago-based artist René Romero Schuler who borrows from haute couture, ballet and iconography to create her minimalist 18 karat gold portraits; and Yenny Cocq, a Scandinavian artist who casts bronze sculptures out of her Santa Fe, New Mexico studio.
International artists represented by the gallery include U.K.'s Di Hasswell, a fiber sculptor, and Bulgarian artist Olga Gal, whose mixed-media paintings of dogs, cats and bunnies find middle ground between art and illustration.
Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art, Booth B03
While Kysa Johnson's Crude installation, with its focus on the natural history of oil, is dominating the gallery space back at Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art on West Alabama, the gallery will be presenting a tightly curated group show of painterly, textural works at Texas Contemporary.
New York-based artist Scooter LaForge, a longtime resident of the East Village, infuses classical themes from art history with a colorful sensibility. Think of his paintings, sculptures and drawings as a walking journal of iconic images that document the Creation story, societal issues, and recreational drugs.
Also showing in Nancy Littlejohn's booth will be prolific artist Judith Linhares, a New York painter with more than 40 solo exhibitions under her belt; and Christina Nicodema, also from New York, who begins with images sourced from the Internet and then overpaints with oil her vignettes about food chains and addiction.
Rounding out the booth will be artist/poet Samuel Jablon, who employs large scale lettering — often in reverse — against a backdrop of saturated oil; as well as San Antonio-based artist Cruz Ortiz who incorporates icons and symbols of pop culture (think taco trucks and tire shop signs) in his paintings, prints, sculptures and drawings that address issues he experienced while growing up in south Texas.
Reeves Art + Design, Booth C07
Also makings its debut at Texas Contemporary is Reeves Design + Art, a Montrose-area gallery that has transitioned from the curiosity-filled Reeves Antiques into a showplace for more than 3,000 works of art from around the world. We're digging artist/owner Matthew Reeves' eye-popping sculpture that began with the deepest, darkest matte black paint on the planet, creating a framework for the trio of large chrome bubbles with their fish-eye lens effect.
Reeves also will be displaying the work of Philadelphia artist Gary Jurysta, who breaks the boundaries of the traditional rectangular canvas, instead creating sculptured, optical-color field explorations on curved canvases.
Serrano Gallery, Booth C03
Serrano Gallery devotes much of its space to Latin American artists and we'll see abstract watercolors by Mexico City-born artist Valentina Atkinson, who now lives in Houston and is the owner and artistic director of Serrano Gallery.
The booth will feature Oaxacan artist Didier Mayés, known for his distinctive and colorful abstract iconography; we're convinced that when his oil paintings are unearthed in 500 years our descendants will be convinced that extraterrestrials walked among us. Also being shown will be works by Mexican painter and printmaker Rolando Rojas who incorporates universal themes of fertility, sensuality and music in his work, as well as recurring motifs, such as the cosmos, the sun and the moon.
Shop, Booth F01
Set the stage for your own stunning abode with the carpet, lighting and color-filled glassworks from Shop, a showroom for contemporary furniture and products curated by Houston native Adam Cook. Sophisticated residential and commercial designers already count on Shop for objects from Walter K, Benson, Zeitraum and MDF Italia, as well as other leaders in the industry, and now design-savvy customers are getting in on the secret. This ain't your mama's Ikea.
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Carol Piper Rugs, Booth E06
With locations on West Gray and also in Dallas, Texans have come to count on Carol Piper Rugs for stock and custom rugs, as well as a nice variety of original textiles and pillows. Expect to see some of their most interesting pieces from the large collection of vintage Turkish Tulu, new traditional, new modern, and vintage Kashan Art Deco floor coverings.
Note that, at press time, new galleries were being added to Texas Contemporary's line-up of local, national and international dealers. Check the website for updates and information.
Texas Contemporary is scheduled for October 10-13 from 6-10 p.m. Thursday (for preview pass holders), 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at George R. Brown Convention Center, Hall A3, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For information, visit txcontemporary.com. $25 to $100.