Girl power is riding high over at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, bringing über-talents from our local arts scene together for another rendition of “Right Here, Right Now.”
The first iteration in 2014 put a spotlight on the fact that H-Town, with its affordable studio spaces and healthy economy, serves as just the right sort of Petri dish for cultivating arts professionals.
Solo shows by three Houstonians make up “Right Here, Right Now: Houston, Volume 2,” with works by Thedra Cullar-Ledford (born in Abilene), Susie Rosmarin (born in Brownsville) and Amy Blakemore, Art League Houston's Texas Artist of the Year in 2015.
“There's no dearth of talent in the city in contemporary art,” says Valerie Cassel Oliver, CAMH's senior curator. “[It's important to note] that we are still living in an environment in which women artists, who have been in the field for a period of time, have yet to be celebrated and given their due.”
With three big names, and decades of work under their respective belts, this triple-threat exhibit should change all that, bringing together their separate and sometimes overlapping circles of influence.
Cassel Oliver, who curated Rosmarin's “Lines and Grids: The Lost Decade and Beyond” exhibit, says that the roughly 25 works on display (drawings, paintings and sculpture), ranging from the late 1980s to 2015, show the evolution and trajectory of her work. Often categorized as Op Art, Rosmarin's pieces appeal to both arts aficionados and math junkies. “It's easy to think that a lot of her paintings are machine generated; they're so densely layered,” says Cassel Oliver. “She uses numeric formulas to create compositions.”
In tackling 25 years of Amy Blakemore's photography, CAMH Curator Dean Daderko began to notice patterns, and thus the framework for “People, Cars & Buildings, Sculptures, Flowers, and Junk” was born. Preferring film over digital, Blakemore has used both Diana cameras and a 35 mm Royal Robot to document the objects she collects, as well as portraits, landscapes and still lifes. “The Diana prints are generally 19 by 19 inches,” Daderko says of the plastic novelty camera from the '60s. “The earliest prints are from 1991, and the most recent prints were made in the past year.”
Rounding out the show is work by Thedra Cullar-Ledford, who promised CAMH Director Bill Arning that she wasn't going to try the same stunt she pulled in Austin. “Thedra was all about causing trouble. There's the famous piece she did in Austin where she filled a kiddie pool with Jell-O. It quickly molded up; they kept having to pour bleach on it every night,” says Arning. “She's one of those artists. She's a bad girl.”
Recent works by Cullar-Ledford have been informed by her experience of first being diagnosed with breast cancer, followed by the masculine medical establishment trying to tell her how to think and what to do with her body. She's bringing a giant breast piñata to the party for opening-night festivities (Arning was busy measuring the width of the door) and, in addition to recent works, "Lady Part Follies" will include pieces from her time at Oxford University in the early '90s. “When she went to school in the UK, she flamed up her Texas roots – wild as a unicorn – she decided to present herself as the exotic Texan,” says Arning.
“Right Here, Right Now: Houston, Volume 2” opens August 20 and continues through November 27. There's an opening reception on August 19 from 6:30 to 9 p.m., with a Piñata Smashing (F**K CANCER) performance at 8 p.m. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose, open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursdays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays noon to 6 p.m., 713-284-8250, camh.org. Free.
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