Vim and Vigor; New Energetic Exhibition Opens at Fresh Arts

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They say one man's trash is another man's treasure and despite the cliché of the quote, there is something to be said about it especially in terms of art. Using found objects for the sake of creating new art work is nothing new but that doesn't take away from the uniqueness of it. One man's trash can be another man's wholly new creation, and the upcoming exhibition Vim and Vigor explores this concept on several different levels.

Vim and Vigor, which opens May 10 and runs through June 8, is a collaboration between Fresh Arts and galleryHOMELAND and features three artists, Brandon Araujo (painting), Chris Fulkerson (sculpture), and Mauricio Menijvar (installation), selected by the show's curator Paul Middendorf. While each of the artists are wildly different in their approach to creating works from found objects, there is a thread that strings the entire collection together: vibrancy.

Middendorf, who runs the galleryHOMELAND, a new-ish gallery on Commerce street, came across the three artists quite organically. He saw their work at previous shows and through the art community became acquainted with their styles. Middendorf had been toying with the idea of doing a show that exhibited this type of refashioned art, and when Fresh Arts approached him, it all clicked together.

Most of the art created for this exhibition is new, with a few exceptions. Middendorf gave the artists no guidelines, just to do their thing. Without a theme, per say, the combined variations may seem lacking continuity at first but this may be what makes the selections so successful. What emerges from these different pieces is a raw energy from three artists whose work is filled with vivacity. Each piece is a living object in its own right.

"All of the pieces are refined," says Middenhoff, "yet there is something unrefined about them."

The artists themselves are young, Araujo is a BFA candidate at UH, and a youthful spirit is apparent their creations.

Of the pieces the Menijvar's large installation, which is titled That Could Have Been Almost way too MTV for Tonight is the first to catch the eye, probably because it dominates the space. It is a conglomeration of fabric, wood, glitter, metal, string, paper, spray paint, plastic and foam fashioned together in the front corner of the gallery. Drapes of white fabric stretch across the caddy-cornered wall angles almost like canvas. Yellow silky fabric is strewn over it, mixing with the purple sparkly paper that forms a border around the entire piece. Set in front of the fabric is a wooden-planked pyramid of sorts that is topped by a small metal sculpture. What is so interesting about the piece, as a whole, is that it is made up of unique parts that are pieces of art in their own right, but together it is a mixed-media visceral smack in the face, wood, mixed with metal mixed with soft cloth.

Fulkerson's Minimalism for Kids (Jonathan Valdez) is an amalgam of tubes and plastic and hoses and plugs and alphabet letters melded into what almost appears like a Dr. Seuss Thingamajig. But the contraption, thankfully, loses all juvenile appeal as it is painted a stark white, begging you to take a closer look.

Vim and Vigor, as its name describes, promises youthfulness and excitement and it certainly delvers.

Vim and Vigor: An exhibition of new works by Brandon Araujo, Chris Fulkerson, and Mauricio Menijvar, curated by Paul Middendorf. On view May 10 - June 8 at Fresh Arts. The public is invited to meet the artists and curator at a free opening reception on Friday, May 10, from 6-8 PM at the Fresh Arts gallery, located at 2101 Winter Street, Studio B11, Houston, TX, 77007.

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