The Blaffer Gallery's Art SWAT Team

In this week’s Houston Press, Beth Secor writes about the “2008 Houston Area Exhibition” at the Blaffer Gallery. Trying to get a look at the works for her review, she had an interesting experience at the space, which has notoriously aggressive guards.

My experience with the Blaffer’s museum guards lent a Grimm’s fairytale-like cast to my entire visit. In a typical Grimm’s fairytale, the protagonist has been given a near-impossible task to complete -- release the treasure, revive the dead princess, sew a sweater for your brother who has been turned into a goose -- before living happily after. Throughout the journey, the protagonist is beset with scary obstacle after obstacle until, finally, she achieves her purpose and is awarded for her efforts tenfold.

My near impossible task was to gather information for a review. The first guard I encountered blocked my every move and acted as though her soul purpose in life was to not let me look at the art. I took a step, she countered; I turned to take another step, she all but threw herself under my legs.

The next guard was suspicious and glaring and reminded me of certain policemen who place people in two categories -- cops and criminals. I was a criminal. I carried a pen with the intent of slashing and stabbing. I was also sweaty, and intended to drip on the art.

Another guard tried to talk to me, an unforgivable act. Never talk to a busy 52-year-old. I began to get stressed out and was finding fault in works of art that I knew in my heart of hearts I really admired. Finally, as I looked at the last painting on the second floor, the evil spell was broken by the melodic stylings of a guitar-playing guard, who was guarding, but in a way that seemed funny and unobtrusive. As I left the second floor, much less irritable and annoyed, I shouted out, “Play away, little guard! Play away!”

-- Beth Secor

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