aether a visual arts dialogue
AUSTIN spring/summer 2015
ae Collaborators EDITORS Rachel Stephens Partner • Wally Workman Gallery Judith Taylor Director/ Owner • Gallery Shoal Creek
Copyright © 2015 by AETHER. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part, without the express written permission of the publisher, is prohibited. aether, spring/summer 2015 • email@example.com • www.aetherart.com COVER: Jill Lear, Goose Island Oak I, mixed media on four panels, 60 x 44 in. THIS PAGE: Nancy Rubins, detail of Monochrome for Austin, 2015. Photo by Paul Bardagjy. Courtesy of Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin.
CONTRIBUTORS Charles Lohrman Veronica Ceci Erin Keever Laura Harrison Elizabeth Tigar Erika Huddleston Tara Barton Catherine Zinser Jude Richard Natalie Zeldin Michael Kirchoff Claiborne Smith Macy McBeth Ryan
aether The spring 2015 issue is in a broad sense about journeys—the explorations and
transformations that take place along the way. Our cover story sets the tone, tracing a 1300-mile road trip taken by artist Jill Lear to explore twenty historic trees of Texas, the result of which is a series of work titled Witness Trees of Texas. From James Turrell’s Skyspace, The Color Inside (featured in aether, fall/winter 2013) to the commission and recent installation of Nancy Rubin’s dramatic industrial sculpture, The University of Texas at Austin (UT) Landmarks Program is raising the bar in public art projects. In her feature on the addition of Rubin’s sculpture on Speedway, Erika Huddleston—artist and landscape architect—discusses the Rubin commission within the context of the UT’s master plan for public art. In doing so, she highlights the transformation of Speedway stretching south from Dean Keaton to Martin Luther King Jr Blvd into an impressive sculpture corridor. Catherine Zinser brings her diverse curatorial experience to the table to highlight Hello Lamp Post and the playful, interactive project’s international journey. Kirkus Editor Claiborne Smith interviews Dan Rizzie about the release of his book, Dan Rizzie, a retrospective of his artistic career published by UT Press. Charles Lohrmann, seasoned editor and journalist, poses questions to Austin artist Will Klemm about his artistic journey—departures, exploration and new territory. Michael Kirchoff ’s photo essay makes an insightful contribution to our spring issue with a unique look at imperfection in process and the path to realizing one's childhood dream. aether’s success is defined by the substantive content created by a highly talented and professional group of writers. Our thanks to each one who helped make aether Spring 2015 a must read (and share) issue.
- The Editors
image: Erik Wilson, Armadillo, folded paper/glue/oil paint, 14 x 13 x 42 in.
The Figure Arrives
NANCY RUBINS /
Outdoor Public Sculpture for UT Campus
Feast Your Attention on This
JILL LEAR /
GREETINGS FROM AUSTIN /
Grounded in Place
MICHAEL KIRCHOFF /
A Move Up for Co-Lab
LANDMARKS VIDEO PROGRAM /
Hello Lamp Post Journeys to Texas
GALLERY TRACKS /
The New, Musical Audio Guide at The Blanton
Will PrintAustin Grow Bigger, Smarter and Outside the Box?
THE FIGURE ARRIVES
Will Klemm, Glow, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 in.
Established artist explores new challenges with figurative representation by CHARLES LOHRMANN
When an established artist creates a new body of work destined for an upcoming gallery exhibit, collectors and art watchers immediately want to know more. Does the new work represent an evolution of past work and themes or a departure into a distinctly new direction? Is it an exploration of completely new territory or a refinement of existing direction? And what about new media? Or unexpected subjects?
For Will Klemm, a summer 2015 exhibit scheduled for Austin’s Wally Workman Gallery promises both evolution and exploration. The new work will include not only landscapes at once reminiscent of previous work and still challenging existing perceptions, but also rodeo and cowboy figures. “I have been wanting to work with figures for some time,” Klemm explains. “I’ve painted a few over the
years, but this is the first time I’ve committed to the human figure. It really started organically. I didn’t have a specific plan to develop this theme.” With the exhibit still months away, Klemm’s East Austin studio presents a collection of oil paintings and other works that evidence his new artistic concentration. Landscapes hang adjacent to horsemen wearing white hats and shirts and handling ropes as if at work on the ranch or in the arena. Even though the figures clearly represent a departure for Klemm, the sensibility is still his own, and it is one not of this time. “These pieces really have more to do with form,” he says. “Landscapes have more to do with space.” Then, pointing to a painting of two figures walking
toward a herd of cattle, he says, “This work has a lot to do with movement and with developing gesture.” How long does such a directional shift require? “I started this about a year ago,” Klemm says, “so I’ve been slowly working up to it. It was the summer of 2014. I felt like I was ready to undertake this new challenge.” With the discussion of new work, it seems timely to consider how the work fits into the larger context of the contemporary art world. With landscapes, it seems that representational work strives either to document—represent—reality, or to offer a unique interpretation of the world as it is with distinctive handling of light and color characterizing the unique statement. A third goal of representational work is to create an illusion or establish a mood through a scene. The viewer then shares the illusion or mood created by the artist. If a category is necessary, this third category—that of creating an illusory, moody world defined by soft edges and mysterious light—is where Will Klemm’s work up to now could be most aptly placed. Cabin, oil on canvas, 36 x 38 in.
Theo, oil on canvas, 22 x 28 in.
“I really don’t relate my work to much contemporary that the figures Klemm chooses to capture in his art,” Klemm says. “I convey more of a 19th century work “represent definite action in the real world.” approach of mood and romanticism.” There is one additional, and surprising, element Just as the evocation of a 19th century sensibility in some of this new work from Klemm, and that is defines Klemm’s work until now, a similar sensibility an overlay of mark-making in the work. These are could be what defines his choice of subject, which not hard-edged marks but the sort that might be includes cowboys and western figures. Working described as a video image on a screen with poor with figures in the context of the western landscape reception: translucent layers with grainy hints of or even the rodeo arena makes them more present color. to the viewer. Klemm describes these as a means of “exploring the “They really just have better clothes (than other nature of perception. Actually a layer between the contemporary subjects),” Klemm says, only half viewer and the subject.” humorously, adding that “there is an aspect of drama in what they wear, and that might be more typical of Not purely artistic experimentation, the inclusion the 19th century in that the clothes define the work of these marks in the paintings grew out of a they do. And also, these are contemporary outfits personal experience related to Klemm’s own vision: of today. And still, they relate to the 19th Century.” a condition for which he has undergone treatment. The effect on the paintings is not exactly the same More important than just the clothing, though, is with each instance, but it could be compared to
the scrim employed as a visual effect in operatic or dramatic staging. The scrim is opaque until it, or the scene it separates from the viewer, is illuminated from behind. By using this gauzy fabric hanging across the stage, the director can create a different sense or different perception that takes place behind the scrim. The perception can be of seeing action from afar or in another time. Both notions are appropriate for Klemm’s current use of the layered marks.
the artist, and hence the viewer, to embrace a new experience of form, gesture, and movement while accepting a new context for perception itself. ae Will Klemm's exhibit at Wally Workman Gallery will run June 6th through July 3rd.
Charles Lohrmann currently serves as editor of Texas Co-op Power magazine, a general interest publication that reaches 1.2 million readers in With Klemm’s technique, the viewer sees the subject Texas. Previously he was Publisher and Editorclearly, but must contend with the distraction to in-Chief of Texas Highways, the official travel perception. magazine of Texas. The majority of Klemm’s current work is in oil, with some experimentation in the realms of pen and ink, felt pen on panel, and gouache on panel. In this scenario, though, the medium is not the message. Or it certainly does not define the message. The new figurative work from Will Klemm challenges aether
NANCY RUBINS by ERIKA HUDDLESTON
Nancy Rubins, Monochrome for Austin, 2015. Photo by Paul Bardagjy. Courtesy of Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin.
Outdoor Public Sculpture for the UT Cam Standing on the sidewalk in January below a
crane and a cherrypicker, Nancy Rubins directed the installation of her sculpture, Monochrome for Austin, commissioned for the University of Texas (UT) Public Art Collection. “Here was this petite woman with a walkie talkie and a loud voice directing workers hoisting canoes and row boats,” recalls Andrée Bober, Founding Director of the UT Landmarks public art program, which curates and manages the UT collection. Bober says, “The crane would put the boat in place and then the cherrypicker moved in with her crew. Nancy has this explosive artistic vision. It takes strength and stamina to spend three weeks directing 16,000 pounds of metal assembled from 70 fishing boats, cable wire, and support armature.“
of 24th Street— within the labyrinthine campus area between Guadalupe Street and San Jacinto Boulevard. The most recent campus plan—created in 2006 by Peter Walker Partners Landscape Architects and based on the earlier 1999 Cesar Pelli campus plan—recommends that Speedway become non-vehicular in the future. The Public Art Master Plan, also by Peter Walker Partners, was formally adopted in 2007 and details new guidelines for placing artwork on campus. The plan divides the acreage of the campus spatially into experiential areas. In the Public Art Master Plan, Speedway became “The Speedway Mall” and “the primary north/south pedestrian spine of the campus, linking the science facilities along Dean Keeton Boulevard at the north to the Blanton Museum of Art to the south . . . . This active pedestrian core will provide many opportunities for public art of varying sizes, scales, and types.”
The placement of the dynamic Monochrome for Austin is part of Landmarks’ implementation of a larger campus urban design plan for Speedway. The 55 foot-tall and 52 foot-wide sculpture, which Clearly, The Speedway Mall has become a public opened with a celebration on March 5, now art priority for Landmarks. The Speedway Mall dramatically stretches to the sky at the corner has received eleven pieces from Landmarks’
collection and four of pieces sit outdoors on the street, preparing for the transition to pedestrianonly. Monochrome for Austin along with the other three outdoors pieces is accessible 24 hours a day, though the indoor pieces are easily approached because they are mostly in the lobbies. The James Turrell piece is on the roof of the Students Activities Center (SAC) and is open throughout the day and with free online reservations for early morning and dusk “Light Sequences” viewings. “We acquire about one to two new pieces a year. Twenty-eight pieces are from the Metropolitan Museum of Art on long-term loan. As long as new buildings keep being built on campus, new art pieces will be added to the collection,” Landmarks External Affairs Director, Nick Nobel says. Landmarks began commissioning new artworks for the collection in 2008 and seven of the eight new acquisitions in that period have been installed on Speedway between Dean Keeton and Martin Luther King Boulevards.
private donations. Rubins’ piece is tied to the construction of the Norman Hackerman Building, for example. The process of artwork selection is the work of Landmarks' standing advisory committee, which endorses an artist for each capital project. Their selection goes to final review and approval from the Campus Master Plan Committee, the Office of the Vice President for University Operations and the President’s Office, depending on the location of the piece. After artist selection, Landmarks, which is a non-academic unit of the College of Fine Arts, is tasked with installation, maintenance, conservation, and programming education. Director Andree Bober and her threeperson team work full-time alongside part-time specialists in conservation and other fields. Certain art pieces require additional part-time workers such as the attendants that staff the James Turrell site-specific installation, The Color Inside (2013).
The existing conditions of Speedway today still Pieces are funded entirely through 1-2% of funds include plenty of faculty cars parked outside from capital improvement projects and solicited academic buildings and a variety of landscape aether
maintenance trucks and construction vehicles, as well as campus security on patrol. Along with the cars along its length, the street is visually disjointed with no clear defining street-design vocabulary. One block of an old-growth shady live oak allee is followed by a block with no street trees at all. To see Nancy Rubins’ new piece on Speedway is to be astounded at how a piece of public sculpture can punctuate and give legibility to motley street design. “Landmarks and Nancy talked about what kind of sculpture would fit on that corner, taking into consideration that it should fit nicely into the space as it is now and that it will fit into the space when Speedway becomes pedestrian only,” says Catherine Zinser, Landmarks Education Director. The Public Art Master Plan calls for a typology of artworks for the campus: “Large Gesture,” “Small Gesture,” “Serial Work,” and “Preserved Open Spaces with No Art.” Presumably, Nancy Rubins’ work is “Large Gesture”! The piece is located at the end of a unified block of distinguished 1940s brick Beaux-Arts academic buildings. The sculpture’s height is perfectly placed as it careens and dances with the high, sharp roofline of the new Norman Hackerman Building and usefully diverts the eye from the transition between architectures.
her artwork to fit the particular streetscape of Speedway. She has installed other recent Monochromes—in Buffalo, Paris and a temporary version in New York City in front of Lincoln Center. Landmarks External Affairs Director, Nick Nobel says, “The installation was an involved artistic process. A lot of preplanning went into Monochrome for Austin… the number of boats involved, structural engineering, etc. but as far as the actual specific placement of the boats and the anchor base, that was left to the installation process and informed by the site. Ten boats had been installed by the time I saw it. Even with ten boats on it, the piece looked fantastic but with seventy boats it looks spectacular.” Here in Austin, Rubins was inspired partly by the arching live oaks on Speedway. She arranged the boats to lift off their vertical pedestal and extend from the building entrance magnanimously . . . up, out . . . and far Over site visits and during the three-week over the public sidewalk and street. To experience installation period, Rubins planned and assembled the sculpture during the break between classes is
Nancy Rubins, Monochrome for Austin, 2015. Photo by Erika Huddleston
to see the full vision. The boats hanging in the air give the impression that the fast-moving students and faculty walking between classes are schools of fish swimming rapidly through the water. All of a sudden, the horizon shifts and the whole street could be underwater with the boats overhead and the glaring Texas sun higher still in the shimmery heat. The sculpture casts a large shadow over the sidewalk, benches, and the street. The bulky lashed
boats cantilever out from the support post almost forty feet over the sidewalk and streetâ€”just like the live oaks that inspired Rubins on her site visits. â€œWhen I first saw the Nancy Rubins piece, I felt like this was a new city. It was like nothing I had experienced in the city before. The monumental aspect and the excitement about the piece . . . . I am not a student but I run a route through campus and it is incredible to see how public art at this scale aether
DEAN KEETON BLVD.
RTIN L U
JR. BL VD.
left: Nancy Rubins, detail of Monochrome for Austin, 2015. Photo by Paul Bardagjy. Courtesy of Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin. above: Map of Speedway Mall by Erika Huddleston
ROBERT MURRAY CHILKAT, 1977 NANCY RUBINS MONOCHROME FOR AUSTIN, 2015 CASEY REAS A MATHEMATICAL THEORY OF COMMUNICATION, 2014 DEBORAH BUTTERFIELD VERMILLION, 1989 SOL LE WITT WALL DRAWING #520, 1987/2013 SOL LE WITT CIRCLE WITH TOWERS, 2005/2012
JAMES TURRELL THE COLOR INSIDE, 2013
JOEL PERLMAN SQUARE TILT, 1987 SEYMOUR LIPTON PIONEER, 1957 SEYMOUR LIPTON GUARDIAN, 1975 SEYMOUR LIPTON CATACOMBS, 1968
TO CIN N JA
BOUNDARY OF “THE SPEEDWAY MALL”, SPECIFIED BY THE UT 2008 PUBLIC ART MASTER PLAN BLANTON MUSEUM OF ART AND SCULPTURE PARK LANDMARKS PIECES SITED ALONG SPEEDWAY PORTION OF SPEEDWAY TO BE CLOSED TO VEHICULAR TRAFFIC IN THE FUTURE
and caliber can impact not only the student body, surprise of coming up along Congress Avenue from but the city as a whole, “ says Meredith Powell of Lady Bird Lake to the Capitol to the beginning of Public City. UT campus to the collection is there. Cut right through to the Blanton plaza and start north and Rubins’ piece joins the ten other pieces which you are in this accessible collection of public art.” stretch south on Speedway from Dean Keeton: Gagosian Gallery NYC, which showed Nancy Robert Murray Chilkat (1977), Deborah Butterfield Rubins’ work in 2014, described her sculptures Vermillion (1989), Joel Perlman Square Tilt (1987), as “rhizomatic,” and certainly Monochrome for Sol LeWitt Circle with Towers (2005/2012), Sol Austin is a visualization of individuals in a large LeWitt Wall Drawing #520 (1987/2013), Casey network growing as dynamically as the exquisite Reas, A Mathematical Theory of Communication, 55-foot bundle of anti-gravity canoes. Hopefully, (2014), Seymour Lipton Pioneer (1957), Guardian the citizens of Austin will visit and, through public (1975), and Catacombs (1968) and James Turrell art, witness the landscape architecture master plan Skyspace (2013). The street culminates in the being realized in the heart of campus and the city. ae south at the Blanton Museum of Art Sculpture Park. The Park is curated by the Blanton Museum VISIT the Collection: and currently has two permanent pieces: Richard Long’s Summer Circle and Meg Webster’s Conical -Join a monthly guided walking tour led by current UT Depression. In February 2015, the Blanton students trained as volunteer docents. Typically at 11 announced that it would be acquiring an Ellsworth am on the first Sunday of the month. Each Landmark Docent designs a tailored tour topic and route so each Kelly structure called Austin to add to its Sculpture month is unique. Bike tours are also available. Park. Incredibly, through the effective work of Landmarks executing the Public Art Master Plan -Take a self-guided tour: an online interactive map, a and the Campus Master Plan in the last ten years, downloadable map, and streaming online audio tour UT has transformed its tucked-away Speedway available. Also, downloadable activity guides for three corridor into an outdoor tour of museum-quality ages of children and adolescents are available. artworks open to the campus and to the public. Once the street becomes non-vehicular, the vision Tour dates and contact information listed online of outdoor art within a “place of social interaction www.landmarks.utexas.edu. for students and faculty in transit to other areas on campus, with spaces to gather along the mall” Erika Huddleston is interested in public spaces. She will come to fruition. “When you think about is an artist and designer with a 2011 Masters of how Speedway will connect to Waller Creek and Landscape Architecture from the University of Texas Shoal Creek, all of a sudden an amazing thread of at Austin. greenspace comes into focus. Hopefully, art will be a focus of these public space projects and join to tell a story,” says Meredith Powell. “The incredible
Nancy Rubins, Monochrome for Austin, 2015. Photo by Erika Huddleston
Jill Lear, Kyle Auction Oak II, mixed media on 2 panels, 41 x 60 in.
NDED IN PLACE
JILL LEAR WITNESS TREES OF TEXAS by JUDITH TAYLOR
Jill Lear’s interest in trees has taken her to far parts
of the world. For Lear, trees are a vehicle to explore structure and order. Her expressive work is grounded in place as she seeks to discover the role a particular tree has played in its locale. Such is the case with her newest series, Witness Trees of Texas.
that gave the historic tree its name. Settlers continued the tradition by exchanging their own vows here, adding to the site’s extensive lore. “And what is lore but a way for us to understand who we are and where we came from?” asks Lear, who watched as a wedding party gathered on the day she photographed the tree.
In Kyle, they found the Auction Tree, a giant live oak which served as the site of the public auction of town lots. In Rio Frio, they visited the Landmark Oak standing as a monument to the Frio Canyon. Back in her studio in Idaho, Lear captured the essence of these trees in large-scale mixed media works on paper. Relying on perspective, she conveys structure and hints at the history of each. The arching canopy of Kyle Auction Oak suggests a gathering place. The movement in color emphasizes the expansive reach of the sheltering branches. The vertically formatted Landmark Oak points to Lear's stylistic agility. Here the eye moves from the reaching foreground to the serpentine branches in the distance. The unexpected perspective combined with saturated color and Just outside of San Saba stands a 400-year-old live blocks of negative spaces push the composition to oak known as the Matrimonial Oak or the Wedding near abstraction. Tree. Legend has it that Indian councils met here; however, it was the stories of Indian braves and In all, Lear visited 20 historical trees, each of which maidens who were wed under the sheltering boughs she pays homage to in a collective piece titled Witness On a trip to Austin a few years ago, Lear discovered Treaty Oak, and soon after learned that Texas A&M has extensive documentation on the state’s historic trees. In the spring of 2014, she set out with a friend to explore these treasures on a 1,300-mile road trip. Heading west from Dallas on IH-20, they stopped in Cisco to see the Half-Way Oak—a gnarled, old live oak standing sentry on the windswept land— and then turned south toward San Saba. En route, they listened to one of Lear’s favorite books, S.C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon, a historical account of the 40-year battle between the region’s Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of this area.
Columbus Oak I, mixed media on paper, 22 ½ x 41 ¼ in.
“I paint the experience of being there; letting only the major lines and colors of the landscape remain until, like the tree, its significance survives.” Trees. Presented in a grid format, the 20 images, each 8 x 8 in., represent the trees that, says Lear, “are so tightly woven in with stories, myths and the traditions over hundreds of years . . . having witnessed hangings, burials, wars, and peace treaties.”
palette being slightly muted and at the same time highly saturated. In the vertical composition the seasonal hues accentuate the massive trunk and the solidness of the branches, both of which have allowed it to withstand hurricanes over the centuries. In the horizontal, nine-panel painting, Lear’s lens pulls Lear was most awed by the Goose Island Oak—the away from the trunk to provide a full view of the Big Big Tree as it is called—which is estimated to be a Tree and allows us to contemplate place. thousand years old. The coastal live oak, one of the largest in the nation, has a trunk diameter of over 11 In order to create these large-scale interpretations, feet and a circumference of 35 feet. “The first thing I Lear renders the compositions in sections which wanted to do was to run to the foot of it and lie down viewed together comprise the whole. The result on the grass looking up into its branches. Aside from is a deconstructed view with each part being a being impractical (too many mosquitoes to pause for minimalist painting on its own. For presentation, the very long), it also seemed rather disrespectful! So I sections are archivally mounted on wooden panels. walked around and around it, looking at it from all Lear is fond of the grid format as it reinforces her angles and perspectives, trying to sear it into my desire to convey structure and order in the natural memory.” environment. On paper, Lear translates this experience in two Alongside the large-scale works, Lear shares a paintings of the Big Tree. Both show a more miniature painting of a smaller tree located about experimental use of color than past work, with the 100 feet from The Big Tree titled Attendant Oak. aether
Rio Frio Landmark Oak I, mixed media on paper, 41 ¼ x 24 ¼ in.
She chose the title because “all the oaks around the Big Tree look like courtiers surrounding their monarch. This one, with its wavy limbs, looks to be worshipping the Big Tree from afar.” In the painting, the expressionist strokes of shimmering color float within negative space creating a decidedly lyrical response to place—a quality typical to Lear's work.
the general, the idea of territory, light, space and sound. Then, by subtraction, I paint the experience of being there; letting only the major lines and colors of the landscape remain until, like the tree, its significance survives.” ae
Witness Trees of Texas, an impressive series of mixed media works on paper, will open at Gallery “There is confidence in Lear’s marks,” notes artist and Shoal Creek on April 24 with a reception for the writer Veronica Ceci, describing them as “deliberate artist. without abandoning spontaneity." Ceci goes on to point out that “Lear has a special gift for using the white of the paper to complement the figure ground relationship and keep the eye engaged. The trees themselves appear to be both everywhere and nowhere in the composition." Asked about her Texas-inspired paintings, Lear talked about process: “A transcription emerges of not only the experience of being in and thinking about Nature, but also about the way in which we process the world around us. I move from the particular place itself—a topographic study involving measurement, proportion, negative space and positive forms—to
FLAWED Photographs and writings by MICHAEL KIRCHOFF
Michael Kirchoff has spent his years capturing the still image of people, cultures, and landscapes
from around the world, to around the block, with a very unique and distinctive style. A native Californian, Michael resides in Los Angeles, though equally at home trudging through Redwood forests, riding the rails deep into Siberia, or navigating the chaotic streets of Tokyo. He photographs with many types of cameras and film, from a clunky toy camera to the latest digital model, using each as a tool for a specific use. Yes, heâ€™s that guy at the airport having his bags rifled through by confused security personnel, unable to comprehend why anyone would be carrying so much stuff. In preparation for his exhibition, Flawed, on view at Photo MĂŠthode Gallery during May and June, he shares two bodies of works and his writings with our aether readers.
Michael Kirchoff, Above Paris, 10 x 10 in. image on 12 x 12 in. print paper from film shot with a Plastic Toy Camera
Suspenders, 10 x 10 in. image on 12 x 12 in. print paper from film shot with a plastic toy camera
Imperfections recognized by a timeless and ethereal quality I am inherently flawed. Deeply and irrevocably. I always have been, and I always will be. I try, make mistakes, and often fail, but not without learning something from them. Without these flaws I would not be able to properly create the images you see in this collection, as they are representative of myself as a photographic artist and as a human being. I strive to create images that are a flip side to the perfectly composed, digitally created and retouched photographs seen in ads and the covers of magazines. My art can be recognized by a timeless and ethereal quality where the imperfections of the subject, camera, or technique are often highlighted as an integral part of the image.
A large portion of the photographs here are from my two largest bodies of work, An Enduring Grace, created with long-expired Polaroid materials that produce inconsistent and unpredictable results, and Vignette, created using cheap plastic toy cameras with plastic lenses that bring about softer, more unrefined looking photographs. No one person is not without needed improvement, and I am forever a work-in-progress. My images embrace, expose, and mirror the fact that I, like everyone, remain imperfect . . . and most certainly, flawed.
London Patrol, 10 x 10 in. image on 12 x 12 in. print paper from film shot with a plastic toy camera
Llama Temple Monks, 10" x 10" image on 12' x 12" print paper from film shot with a plastic toy camera
Vignette within each still image . . . the real world theater The intent of this work is to capture people and places throughout the world, suspended in their very own place in time, with a feeling both personal and relatable. The driving force behind each frame addresses our ideas of memory and history. We see a little of our friends, our family, and ourselves within the context of these simple and ethereal images, and inject our own thoughts within them. Inspiration and concept comes in the form of this definition from the world of theater: “Vignettes are short impressionistic scenes that focus on one moment or give a trenchant impression about a character, an idea, or a setting.” This is the real world theater that I endeavor to contain within each still image. There remains a timelessness that the viewer can look back at over and over again with no tangible
aspect to date the image or the “vignette” contained therein. The use of the Holga toy camera brings about a process of using the simplest of tools to help in concentrating on the composition and content of each moment. No batteries, dials, buttons, bells or whistles of modern digital technology to distract. Merely line of sight and a single click of the shutter is all I want between myself and the subject, nothing more. As an ongoing body of work, Vignette will never truly be finished, unless the theater of daily life were to cease . . . and that is what I like most about it.
Road to Red Square, 20 x 24 in. Print from expired Polaroid
Resurrection Gate, 20 x 24 in. Print from expired Polaroid
Transfiguration Cathedral Compound, 20 x 24 in. Print from expired Polaroid
Church of Our Savior, 20 x 24 in. Print from expired Polaroid
An Enduring Grace born from my childhood mind’s eye
An Enduring Grace is an ongoing project based on my exploration of the cultural landscape of Russia, as well as its surrounding countries and former territories that have seen its continuing influence. The images are a fulfillment of distant childhood curiosities of Russia, then the Soviet Union, as a place very few people seemed to know much about. I remember watching black and white television in my room and seeing news reporters broadcasting from the center of Red Square in Moscow. That image of St. Basil’s Cathedral behind the reporter reminded me more of Disneyland rather than the evil empire of which he spoke. It was difficult to understand the contradiction between the harsh ideas Americans had of Russia and the whimsical nature of what I was seeing on television. I now satisfy my curiosity by traveling there, and capture these dramatic scenes with the same feeling of wide-eyed wonderment I had felt as a youth, mimicking the visions of my earliest ideas of Russia.
so dearly held by its people. An impressive thread of history runs through Russia that never seems to have been forgotten. I believe these images require mystery from deep shadow to portray the unclear ideas of my youth, and my chosen artistic process to give them the gritty texture and depth they so deserve. With this process I also strive to strip away much of the realism and highlight the surreal qualities of my early dreamlike notions. These are the expectations that were not always so clear and contain a perspective slightly askew of monuments on a grand scale. The framed and fractured photographs of An Enduring Grace are born from my childhood mind’s eye, and respect a land where the strength and character of its people are also reflected in the landscape, cathedrals, and memorials to its fallen soldiers. ae
Michael Kirchoff 's fine art imagery has garnered recognition from the International Photography Awards, the Prix de la Photographie in Paris, Photographers Forum, and Critical Mass. Michael has also been an active Board Member for the Los I have been entirely caught up in the beauty and scope Angeles chapter of the American Photographic of this amazing land, and have been rewarded with Artists since 2006 and is a Contributing Editor at a culture that preserves its heritage and landscape Blur Magazine.
Elizabeth McDonald Leading up to her solo show at grayDUCK Gallery this May, Elizabeth McDonald candidly and thoughtfully shares with our writer Elizabeth Tigar her inspiration, her process and how ritual is everything.
What is your earliest memory about art, or will continue to explore styles? Is there one painting? Was there a point in your life that that feels more comfortable, versus one that either led you or solidified your choice to be an pushes you beyond comfort? artist professionally? Ug. Sometimes I get so sick of hearing about I was a young little thief. As any art instructor brands. “You are your brand.” “Market yourself.” will tell you, thieves make for fine artists. I must Blah blah blah. I understand that it’s important as have been, I don’t know, five, and at the zoo I stole an artist to find your own voice, find what you want a handful of food pellets meant for feeding the to continue doing for the rest of your life—I’ve done animals. When I was brought home I began gluing that. It just happens to be that I don’t see an overly the pellets on to paper and I found that this was consistent stale style as part of that. Abstraction, something completely new, something I’d never representation, palettes of all varieties, even wide seen before. Halfway through this monstrosity not ranging subject matter and concept- these are even fit for the refrigerator I very clearly and very simply tools. Why would I limit my toolset? What memorably thought, “One day I will be a famous makes my works uniquely mine is not any one artist.” of these things but instead a complex signature emotional tone, depth of meaning and layered Your work spans a remarkable range of character. subject matter and style, from monochromatic abstract to portraiture. Do you feel like you I think that my generation is less interested
Fear and Trembling, 2015, oil/acrylic/ink on linen, 62 ½ x 52 ½ in.
Hanged Man, 2015 oil and acrylic on linen, 71 x 51 in.
in a visually homogenous practice. We love unpredictability and are always turning things on their heads, looking at them from different angles. This is how we understand our world, through a multiplicity of lenses and perspectives.
thinking about my work from curatorial planning and installation perspectives as I do putting paint on canvas or assembling sculptures. In that way, it’s necessary for me to have multiple works developing all at the same time so that the they relate to one another in a natural way, or are at least affected by How long do you typically work on an individual the maturation of the whole context as opposed to piece? Are you more likely to be working on making singular works in a vacuum. just one painting, or several at a time? Some artists approach the production, or That depends on what you mean by individual piece. "doing," of their work very differently, I’ve There are panels that I’ve worked on, scrubbed out, noticed. Some make painting every day a habit worked on top of again, let sit for a year, sand back while others need that spurt of inspiration. a bit and paint on again until I’m satisfied. There’s Would you characterize yourself one way or always a bit of that original attempt left over, so, is the other? that one piece? If it is, then some of those pieces have taken a decade. Some of those pieces that are a Generally, I start working at the studio at 9:00 am, decade long in the making aren’t yet even finished! take a three-hour break in the middle of the day, Others are right and complete in the first day. It all which on a good day includes a big lunch and a short depends. nap, and then back to the studio until 8:00 pm or so. But I’m also a born contrarian, so occasionally I work on several paintings at once, and lately when I’m feeling too predictable I say “To hell with I’ve been thinking about these more in terms of it” and do whatever I feel like. I need both of those complete exhibitions than individual pieces or things to keep going and keep things fresh. discrete series. Now I feel like I spend as much time
(I know this one is trite, so I apologize in advance) What artists do you feel have most influenced your work? Is there any one work of art to which you have felt particularly drawn?
based practices belonging to female artists (not all Glaswegian). Some of those are always rumbling around in the back of my head: Carol Bove, Lucy Skaer, Karla Black, Christine Boreland, and others. Karen Mamma Andersson’s paintings are up there, Tacita Dean’s video work . . . oh, and the exhibition practice of Navid Nuur is really something to behold—I wonder how he would have answered your question about consistent style.
Literature affects my work at least as much as other visual artists, if not more, so I’m going to take this question in the broadest terms. I frequently listen to audio books while I paint, and there’s definitely a link between the times I’m listening to rich engaging literature and the times I feel like I’m doing my best. That may be more of a list of folks whose work I’m doing my best when I listen to compelling books I relate to rather than a list of artists I feel are from authors like Dostoevsky or Margaret Atwood. influencing me, but there you have it. As far as visual artists go, I think there are some amazing multifaceted painters that have come out of Belgium in the last few years. Lots of them are working with sculpture and video in tandem with painting in really interesting ways, and others I’m interested in just make some real mind-bending paintings: Michael Borremans (great show at the DMA right now), Luc Tuyman, Adrian Ghenie —I guess he’s Romanian, but represented early in Antwerp. Hmmmm, I lived in Glasgow for a time, and there I saw some powerful object-
Ritualism is a deep vein through your work, and the heart of your artist's statement. Are there certain things in your life, past or present, that have led you to explore this particular idea? No, it’s not certain things, it’s everything. Ritual is a way of confronting that which one has no actual power over. It’s a way of dealing with the things that can’t be dealt with. Through ritual we cultivate power, or at least the feeling of power. Generally, our society hides ritual. It’s something we don’t aether
really acknowledge, but nonetheless pervades our existence. I’m not talking about this in a religious or spiritual sense; it’s changed from that, adapting to our more rational, practical culture. The language of ritual is used from the boardroom to the bedroom, in the way we eat, drink, work, sleep, and relate to one another. It’s a broadly influencing phenomenon that I think is under explored—and I think it’s underexplored because there’s not many practical, scientific ways of doing it. That’s where art comes in.
aren’t following the ritual, the ritual reveals itself. I try and present that in my tablescapes. It’s not upfront. It won’t be the first read, but it is something the viewers of the work may eventually discover. Many of them do.
Another theme that stands out is the tablescape, in fact it is it's own tab on your archives page. Dining, conference, cocktail, with people seating or without, spreads of servingware captured at many stages of a meal/party/ meeting. What is it about this particular theme that is meaningful to you?
It’s all fair game. Can you tell I’m not much for limitation? There are certain ideas that convey better through the moving image, some better through the individual control over color and value (paint), some better through text, some better through an interview like this. Maybe I’ll try my hand at fashion; I have no doubt that some ideas are best conveyed through hats. ae
My colleague John Nicol (profound artist, musician and gambler) wrapped it up best when he saw one of my early tablescapes in the studio and asked me what disaster had happened that made everyone abandon the table in the state that I had painted it. There’s something about adding a bit of chaos to the part of our life that is most blindly regimented. We don’t notice how ritualized banal occurrences—like meals—really are. It’s fine when you don’t notice it, but when you do, all of the rules and expectations surrounding very basic exchanges and activities become overwhelming, oppressive even. When you are shaken from that moment by an external, much more pressing occurrence, or when that moment freezes, or when too many things in that moment
Besides painting, you also have done some work with video. How are those two media different for you, in process, theme, subject etc? How are they related? Is one more comfortable for you than the other?
Elizabeth McDonald was born and raised in Texas. She earned a BFA at the University of North Texas and an MFA at the Glasgow School of Art. Her 2015 show at grayDUCK Gallery, I ONLY KNOW PLENTY, opens Friday, May 15th and runs through June, 21st 2015. Elizabeth Tigar is a lot of things, among them a retail marketer, step-mom and pun enthusiast. She has a masters degree in business, but tries to balance her brain by dabbling in creative endeavors, such as interior design, freelance writing, and competitive karaoke.
DAN RIZZIE University of Texas Press, 2015 CLAIBORNE SMITH's interview with the artist
Dan Rizzie has lived longer in Sag Harbor than he ever did in Texas, but he still, at the age of 63, after countless exhibitions and having his work in many prominent places (including the Museum of Modern Art), can’t shake the rap that he’s a Texas artist. It’s not that he minds, exactly: Dallas is where he got discovered (by a New York curator) and Austin is the location of Flatbed Press, the printshop that he most calls home. The colors in Rizzie’s images of simple houses, basic geometrical shapes and botanical images don’t just pop, they fluoresce (even though he doesn’t use colors we think of as fluorescent). His art brings a simple, startling joy to the world. UT Press’ retrospective book of his career, Dan Rizzie, is a clear testament to his prodigiousness and the range of his ideas. When Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol came to Dallas in the 1970s for an exhibition titled Poets of the Cities: New York and San Francisco, 19501965, Rizzie spent time with them and learned, as he says in the book, “how to be vague when it was appropriate. I learned that you don’t always have to talk about your work; that the work can speak for
itself.” For all the value of that insight (and it is a very useful thing for an artist to learn), Rizzie was perfectly open and voluble when we talked recently about his career and the new book. What was it like for you working on this book? It feels pretty comprehensive. I approached it as making it a work of art in itself. When I started making artwork, I don’t even think FedEx existed. You’d take a slide and take it to whoever developed slides back then and you’d mail them and if you were lucky, you’d hear back from somebody in a month. [Creating the book], we started out looking at slides that I took of my work as an undergrad and translated them to digital and it was a piece of work. UT Press’ designer Lindsay Starr helped me maintain and inevitably produce this vision I had in the book and I think the book exceeds the vision. When I look at it, I marvel. But working on the book required you to go far back into your past. What was that like for you emotionally? I’ve had such a diverse and complicated life and career in the sense that I was the son of a Foreign
above: Dan Rizzie, Untitled Box, 1985, graphite on paper on birch panel, 15 x 15 x 3 in., Private Collection left: book jacket, Book/Circles, 2012, collage
Service officer and we were constantly on the move. I spent eight years in the Middle East as a child. That was weird. My friends back at home were running around in Roy Rogers boots and playing with guns and I was listening every day, several times a day, to Muslim broadcasts over loudspeakers. It couldn’t have been a more different situation, but you maintain this down-home sensibility. My mother and father both came from blue-collar backgrounds; their families on both sides were farmers. I think one of the most interesting things, though, having lived in India and Jamaica and the Middle East, to this very day, people go, "Oh, you’re the artist from Texas." Of all the brands I’ve gotten, of all the places I’ve lived . . . there’s a joke I know that I don’t want
to go in print so I won’t say it but it’s about a Greek sheepherder. That’s as much as I’ll say. Has it been difficult for you to break out of that Texas reputation? I was a very young impressionable artist. In a nutshell, I graduated from high school in India and I wasn’t on great terms with my father who was pretty adamant about what I did when I finished. I wanted to stick around and travel for a year and he quickly made it aware that wasn’t an option. He thought I’d spend $25 a night on hash. My father gave good guidance but when I told him in high school I was interested in art, he said, "That’s a hobby, not a aether
Artichoke, 2012, collage, 18 x 13 in.
career." My father hoped I would stay in the Foreign Service and to be honest . . . I didn’t want to keep living that way. Art was always an option to me. I wasn’t a big stud on campus but I could always do art. I could draw pictures of girls and that made girls like you. I ended up at this little liberal arts college, Hendrix College, and from there I went to SMU [for graduate work] and fresh out of SMU [in 1975], I was showing art. Marcia Tucker was a curator at the Whitney and she wanted to do an exhibition, Cowboys and Indians, but they told her she couldn’t call an exhibition that. She founded the New Museum. She had a strong interest in regional art and I remember her coming to my studio in Dallas and I was so nervous. I hid art from her I thought she wouldn’t like. I had a garage studio in Dallas on Velasco St. She went through everything, including the closets, and said, "What about this?" [Tucker included Rizzie’s work in her exhibition
Outside New York at the New Museum.] I did kind of realize back then that there was a bigger picture. It’s hard not to look at New York (particularly having been born there) and think, "That’s where I should be." Tell me about how you came to Flatbed Press in Austin in the early 1990s and what being there has meant for your work and career. So many of the prints you see in the book were generated at Flatbed. I’ve worked with printshops all over the country but my home would have to be Flatbed. I love the relationship we’ve had over the past 25 years and I really, really love Austin. If I had a choice to come back and live in Texas, it would be Austin. And my wife, born and bred in New York, she went to UT Press and studied printmaking there. So it’s a very incestuous situation—in a good way.
You’ve said that printmaking appeals to you because you’re impatient and “not good at waiting for something to dry.” Is that really the only reason? No. But that is a big part of the way I work. I am very, very impatient. There’s a tendency to work my way through something as opposed to very methodically working through it. I pursue that idea in a very efficient manner, which sometimes means steamrolling through it. It’s a collaboration, and you’ve got people helping you, and even though the process of making an etching or woodblock is laborious, that workload is distributed among four or five people and I’m able to move on very quickly. The success of my monotypes—you paint directly on metal or Plexiglas, painting with printmaking ink—say you spent an hour on the painting and boom, there’s your image and then somebody puts it on a rack and dries it and the next time you see it, it’s framed. That kind of immediacy is thrilling to me. The collaborative element is so fascinating to me. Any artist that’s being honest with you who doesn’t mention collaboration as a big element of making a print is leaving something out. It’s a really good way for me to work.
I think I did it out of criticism I got. Originally somebody wrote something about me in Dallas having this skewed sense of Cubism, not an authentic [artistic style]. So I thought, "Just wait till you see my next work! I got some wallpaper out of my grandmother’s house." All the great Cubists used found objects. I never walked into a house in Dallas where 1) I wasn’t offered sweet tea and 2) I didn’t see a framed botanical image on the wall, so I thought, "I’ll try my version of that." I bought some books on botanical illustration and bought a book on William Morris wallpaper and a lot of images to this day come out of that. And I thought, "What better place to get ideas? Ideas come from everywhere!" I was reading about Julian Schnabel, whom I met when I was in Texas, and we used to discuss the experience of seeing something we both love, Venice. I had to see it so I could use those colors; where and how you get your ideas is part of the fascination and mystery of the whole experience of making art. That’s what has to make it interesting, is a bit of the humor, sadness, weirdness, whatever, in the works. I show things like artichokes because there’s a certain oddness to it. As fascinating as that very object is, there’s also for me a bit of humor involved that it’s right there. Most of the imagery in my work comes straight out of the fact that I saw something last night. ae
I like your use of imagery that everyone can immediately recognize, whether it’s the basic depiction of a simple house or the appropriation Claiborne Smith is the editor-in-chief of Kirkus of images from 18th- and 19th-century Reviews. He was recently elected to the board of illustrated books, as you do in Artichoke. It directors of the National Book Critics Circle. seems like every upper-middle class home has somewhere in it a framed botanical image from old illustrated books. They’re so common they’re almost stale, so why do you use them? aether
Three Blocks Away
But A “Move Up” for Co-Lab by ERIN KEEVER
In Co-Lab’s fundraising video on crowdfunding
site Indiegogo, the theme song from The Jeffersons sitcom plays. This campaign, which raised approximately $21,000 along with additional public and private contributions, is helping the non-profit art space realize its dream of “Movin’ On Up.” Having kept up a full-throttle exhibition and project schedule for seven years at their 613 Allen Street location, Co-Lab is literally and figuratively repositioning itself in a new space, actually two warehouses and a courtyard, just a few blocks away at 300 Allen. The new gallery will be 1,000 square feet and is currently under construction. Although it won’t feature Col-Lab's trademark lightning-fast turnover—having rotated exhibitions weekly and biweekly in the past—Co-Lab will still maintain an ambitious schedule of monthly exhibition openings. Co-Lab Executive Director and Curator, Sean Gaulager, stresses that in terms of events and projects, they will continue to keep a speedy pace. “I think any time you can give a greater number of opportunities to artists, it benefits the artists and your audiences. This model is what brought people to the original space so frequently; offerings were so temporal you had to be at the event to catch them. ”
Unfortunately there have been some glitches. CoLab's first exhibition, REDNECKOGNIZE featuring work by the Austin-based HIXX Collective, was supposed to open April 4, but “due to unforeseen delays in city permitting and contractor timelines” has been postponed until further notice. According to a recent press release, it will feature images, objects and video seeking to “disrupt class-based values and deconstruct place-based essentialism, blurring the traditional structures of urban cosmopolitan and rural culture by forcing the two into an uneasy dialogue.” The building adjacent to the gallery will be used for studios and will feature 1,850 square feet of rentable space, not including hallways, bathrooms and common space, as soon as it is finished out. Aware of the need for affordable studio space in increasingly expensive but art-heavy East Austin, Co-Lab aims to fill a niche by offering, as Gaulager puts it, “middle market studio spaces, somewhere between the highly designed and the un-air-conditioned ones available in town.” While studio pricing “has not been finalized,” Director of Communication and Development, Austin Nelsen, says they have “enough interest from potential renters to fill the
300 Allen Rendering, Courtesy of Co-Lab
space twice over” and the list continues to grow.
and we can't wait to resume our programming. It's a very exciting time for us. There are so many good Equally important to the affordability of such things happening in Austin right now, and we feel spaces is the creative energy of the organization honored by the opportunity to expand and continue and its onsite artists. Gaulager looks forward to a developing our organization in this city.” dynamic group of emerging artists of all ages, styles and media and extols the benefits of working in Co-Lab’s nimble model of fast-turnover exhibitions close proximity to other artists. When these spaces peppered with Fluxus-style events and happenings are filled, Co-Lab hopes to host open studios on is an important contributor to the Austin art scene. first Saturdays. They also plan to expand public Perhaps just as valuable is providing affordable access by establishing regular gallery hours and studio space and a larger collaborative environment potentially opening a secondary project gallery in a city known for few property options and on site, where Gaulager says they “can continue escalating rents. Without these creative spaces, the providing exhibition space to young artists trying artistic climate suffers, and the city loses cultural out ideas, experimenting and taking risks.” They clout it continually works to establish. ae say to expect a more robust public programming schedule that includes partnerships with other organizations and other disciplines including film Erin Keever is a writer and teacher living in screenings, literary readings, performances and Austin, TX. She currently teaches a variety of other community events. art history classes at Austin Community College and an Issues in Contemporary Art class at Texas If able to keep momentum going, some day they may State University. even consider residencies. But for now Gaulager seems pleased, but eager to make more progress. He reflects, “Artists and community members seem very excited and anxious to experience the new digs, aether
FEAST YOUR ATTENTION ON THIS by MACY MCBETH RYAN
What does it mean to pay attention? What does
it mean to engage with and experience art? These are the questions the Landmarks Video Program at the University of Texas (UT) challenges us to answer. The Video Program is part of the Landmarks Program, the University’s public art initiative created in 2008. Locations for the art are chosen based on the buildings undergoing capital improvement projects; 1-2% of every renovation budget is dedicated toward the Landmarks Program. “As a University collection, it’s our responsibility to educate, to demonstrate some of the major artistic trends that are happening in the world. Public art is the most democratic form of artistic presentation. It is absolutely free and broad and accessible to everybody. As an educator and someone who is deeply concerned with cultivating informed minds, I think that it’s important, especially for people who aren’t
inclined to engage with art, to have that kind of exposure and opportunity. I want them to ask, “What is it?” “Why is it here?” “Why does it matter?” In asking that, they might discover something that they wouldn’t otherwise. I don’t know any other art form that can do that, routinely, as a core part of its service.” -Andrée Bober, Director of UT Landmarks Program When it was time for the ART Building at 23rd and Trinity to undergo some major changes in 2010, the Landmarks Video Program was born. Bober uses a wide range of criteria to guide the selection of work. The pieces she chooses must tie into the landscape and extend the architectural theme of the buildings they accompany. When it came to curating a piece for the atrium in the ART Building in 2010, where experts and students of art history, studio art and advertising traverse, she knew
something different was in order. She began to think of how artists conceptualize process. Instead of curating one fixed piece to be emblematic of a place with such dynamic focus, talent and interests, she began thinking of a platform that could showcase many kinds of different artistic production. She pondered what was missing from UT’s Art and Art History Departments, which had been very strong in the more traditional forms of art production. She realized this was an opportunity to present something that most students didn’t have access to: video art. “These (videos) are not widely circulated typically, and many of the works that are most influential have very, very small editions. They’re not on YouTube, and they’re not online, so the idea of bringing these works of art to the students who are studying about art, and aligning that form of art making with other traditional forms, seems to really have a place,” Bober says. By using video, Landmarks presents a way to experience different eras and different perspectives by accessing not just sight, but also sound. Being immersed within the moving image is a highly visceral experience
because it touches multiple senses. Bober curated the Video Program on her own, until bringing in Kanitra Fletcher to co-curate with her for the 2014–2015 academic year, after which Fletcher will solely direct the program. Bober and Fletcher’s curatorial processes include drawing from critically lauded pieces, as well as researching, consulting and visiting other video art exhibitions and festivals. A different piece is on exhibition at the Landmarks Video Program every month, making for 12 pieces per year. However, each year, one month is dedicated to ANIMAL by David Ellis, a piece commissioned by the Landmarks Video Program that’s a favorite of the students. The other 11 pieces for the year are borrowed or rented. Video art emerged in the early 1960s, and the Program spans this history with typically three or four early pieces from the 1960s and 1970s, a few from the 1980s and 1990s, and the rest from the 2000s onward. Within that mix, Bober and Fletcher vary the artistic perspective, the presentation of the material, the mood, the character and the aether
image: Sylvie Fleury. Still from Walking on Carl Andre, 1997. Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York.
technique. The videos are also curated, so that the more meditative or risqué pieces are shown during the summer, when schedules are slower and the audience has more time, while those with shorter and faster narratives are shown during the school year, when traffic is heavy and hurried. The videos illustrate the particular zeitgeist of their respective eras. The earlier works from the 1960s and 1970s focus on pieces that had a profound impact on culture, while the later works are chosen based on a principle Bober and Fletcher use called “stickiness,”
a Malcolm Gladwell term. “Sometimes there are these videos that you watch that just bore into your brainstem. You find yourself thinking about them three months later and six months later and a year later, and you realize that there’s something in that, that I really want to dig into deeper. I want to learn more, and I want to learn more about this artist. Those are the ones that we tend to gravitate toward,” says Bober. The Landmarks Video Program contributes to
the creative landscape of the city of Austin at large. “Austin being a filmoriented city, to have these different places and different ways of watching film and video shows the breadth of that medium; not just narratives, movies, documentaries and those types of film and video, but the different ways the medium has been used. It’s a different category of film for the city in general,” says Fletcher. The Video Program creates a space that is like no other place in Austin. Perhaps it’s like no other place you’ve ever been. It’s an atrium inside an academic building like any other; however, instead of being a passthrough, it is a space where one is encouraged to sit, to watch and to listen. You can also choose to sit and do other things. Many of the students use the space to study and read. In total, about 3,000–4,000 students travel through the atrium every day. The students might get the direct impact of the video on view, or maybe the impact is more subconscious. They may casually pass by many times, but at least once a month, most will sit down, watch and pay attention. “They know it’s something unique that they’re not going to find anywhere else, and it contributes to their overall awareness about the world of art,” says Bober. “It’s putting them in direct dialogue with these major cultural trends that are happening around the globe.” As such, the Video
Program is functional, it’s a resource for student learning, and it’s infusing art into their daily habits, enriching even the experience of walking down the hall. It is the counterpart to the Visual Arts Center (VAC), the gallery that holds paintings right next door, where people go specifically to experience art, instead of happening upon it. In light of this context, what does it mean to pay attention and to engage with and experience art? As a culture, we tend to be overstimulated and overengaged; we are constantly connected and constantly interacting with our screens—our phones, tablets, computers, television—often, all at the same time. The Landmarks Video Program is another screen, but it is also providing another way, a much different way: a way of being transported into a meditative state. “Screens are so ubiquitous now—everybody’s always looking at a screen, always. Maybe it should be art, also. Why not think about how we can utilize screens to engage other aspects of culture?” Fletcher says. The purpose of art is to both engage the viewer in aspects of culture that he or she may not be exposed to and it is to cultivate attention. By existing as public art, and not in a theatre where you’re forced to turn off your phone and focus, the Landmarks Video Program functions in the background of your daily life. It creates an opportunity for the sole cultivation of your attention. It invites you to watch; it gives you permission to focus only on it. But it also competes with the boundless information, data, and technology our society has access to by aether
David Ellis. Still from Animal, 2010. Commission, Landmarks, The University of Texas at Austin.
being able to be always plugged in. And we feel like we have to be. We feel like we’re missing out if we’re not. “It’s biological,” says Bober. “It’s all alpha waves, and you get completely addicted to them, and you get jangled when they’re withdrawn.”
is: an invitation to further understand the dynamic visual language of our time; an invitation to disengage from the noise of society and re-engage in a single, meditative perspective. Are you willing to accept the invitation? ae
However, if you’re always plugged in, you’re also being jangled. You’re always reacting, always consuming, always absorbing—and in shorter and shorter spurts, without the opportunity for the meditative, longer experience. Herein lies one of the great values of art: It moves things into focus and asks for your attention. It gives you perspective. It gives you permission to disengage from what you don’t need and to re-engage with what’s nourishing. “For a long time, art was the understood part of an educated or a cultivated mind, the ability to have that visual literacy, to understand visual imagery and symbolism. Now, there’s a different kind of literacy, but it performs the same function, if you’re willing to accept the invitation,” says Bober.
The Landmarks Video Program is located on the University of Texas Campus, inside the ART Building on the corner of 23rd Street and Trinity Street. The video on display in March at the time this article was written was WALKING ON CARL ANDRE by Sylvie Fleury, and the video on display in April is ANIMAL by David Ellis. THE ELEVATOR by Burt Barr is on display in May. To learn more about the Landmarks Video Program and see a listing of upcoming videos, visit landmarks.utexas.edu/video_overview.
And that is what the Landmarks Video Program 54 aether
Macy McBeth Ryan is a filmmaker and writer. She graduated cum laude from Rice University with a degree in English.
Greetings from Austin:
Hello Lamp Post Journeys to Texas by CATHERINE ZINSER
“When was the last time you saw your best friend?” This simple question says that two people are having a conversation, that one person has formed a strong enough bond with another that he/she remembers the exact moment they were last together, and that these two people want to share stories and learn about each other. Nothing revolutionary here— humans are social creatures. We form and break bonds throughout our entire lives. We write about it, sing about it and make movies about it. In fictional settings we even assign personalities and forge relationships with and between inanimate objects. Remember how brave that little toaster was and the unwavering friendship between WALL-E and his loyal pet roach? Even though small appliances have pulled on our heartstrings, we’d take a short pause
if, in the real world, a lamp post were to ask when last we’d seen our best friend. With simple technology and an open mind, Art Alliance Austin and Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP) brings fiction like this into reality with Hello Lamp Post—an immersive and interactive platform that enables the entire city to come alive. Yes, Austin wants to get to know you, but the goal of the project is to encourage users to consider their surroundings and, ultimately, their place within them. Winner of the aptly named Playable City Award of 2013, Hello Lamp Post was developed by the UK-based design firm PAN Studio and debuted in
Bristol, England that summer. The project makes its second stop in Austin from February 12 to April 30, 2015 and will launch in Tokyo on April 25, 2015. In a world where complex inner workings are the norm, the tech side of the project is surprisingly simple. The system functions through texting on a mobile device and requires an inventory or registry number present on all city-owned street furniture. To expand the experience, the creators also identified “gateway” objects across Austin like the Willie Nelson statue and Treaty Oak, assigning identifiers like willie#1933 and treatyoak#T500.
from there is up to you! A telephone pole may ask “What is the strangest thing you’ve overheard?” The Capitol asks “If you were governor of Texas for a day, what would you do?” Bartonsprings#7665 wonders about the infamous salamander, and some objects even ask about this year’s allergy season. Conversations start off casual, but if you return to the same object more than once, the questions become more intimate. You can follow questions and responses from others on the official website hellolamppostaustin.com.
The project falls under the descriptor “locative When you text the phone number, you’ll get an media” (location-based media), where a geographic immediate response. How the conversation goes point of interest is fundamental to the overall
experience. A prime example of locative gaming is global treasure hunting, called geocaching, in which players search for objects marked with GPS coordinates. Locative art projects like Hello Lamp Post explore the relationships between people, places, and objects. Because users text a unique inventory or registry number, Hello Lamp Post amasses a body of material to refer to when future users converse with the same object. A similar project based in Toronto, called [murmur], records people’s personal stories and replays them on site via a mobile device. Listening to a story, even that of a stranger, in the place where the memory was forged is incredibly intimate and affixes new
meaning to an otherwise insignificant place. In short, exchanges fostered by [murmur] and Hello Lamp Post help to launch a larger conversation with an entire city full of people with rich histories. Art Alliance and AIPP take particular care when choosing artwork that is presented in the public sphere. Public art certainly does not need to appeal to everyone, but it’s vital that the audience is taken into account. Austin is an established tech hub, dubbed “Silicon Hills” in the 1990s. Forbes says South by Southwest Interactive is the “not to be missed” event for the tech industry.1 AIPP and Art Alliance brought Hello Lamp Post to Austin,
because this city has a rapt audience, hungry for innovation across all fields, including the arts. The project was an official event at SXSW and will be featured at Fusebox—an annual festival that showcases artists and artwork across all media. At the start of SXSW Interactive, Hello Lamp Post was less than halfway through its Austin run. The project was wildly received as an official SXSW event and the main art project for the festival. By the end of week two, 14,578 individual messages were sent, 5,411 conversations were conducted, and 1,550 objects were “woken up”
by 1,982 unique players. Bristol attracted over 3,000 players, but Austin has already exceeded Bristol in individual messages. This definitively proves that Texans will talk to just about anything that’ll listen. PAN sorts the data as it comes in, pinpointing what objects are receiving the most messages and which words or phrases are being sent. While the data will not be used in any official capacity, it gives a sense of what the community is conscious about at any given time. For instance, in Bristol, the city had increased the rate of street parking just before the project launched. Even though the city didn’t receive a substantial number of complaints,
disgruntled citizens used the project to give the parking meters an earful! Not a shocking discovery, in Austin, “BBQ” and “traffic” were trending after the first week. When dealing with ephemeral works in the public domain an unavoidable question is, “What’s the point?” Art Alliance Austin Director Asa Hursh explains, “This project is tongue-in-cheek and extraordinarily clever. It's called Hello Lamp Post, but it really encourages people to interact with others in their city: to tell jokes, share memories, and share desires. In a society that is filled with auto-drafted journalism, computer-generated tweets and Facebook posts, maybe talking to a lamp post isn't the craziest thing that we're doing.”
And what’s wrong with saying a quick hello to the objects that play a vital role in making Austin a wonderful place to live and visit? ae 1. Walter, Ekaterina. "The ROI Of Attending SXSW Interactive." Forbes. March 22, 2015. Accessed March 25, 2015. http://www.forbes. com/sites/ekaterinawalter/2015/03/22/the-roi-of-attending-sxswinteractive/. All graphics courtesy of Landmarks.
Catherine Zinser is the Education Coordinator for Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin.
The New, Musical Audio Guide at the Blanton by NATALIE ZELDIN
Many art museums have concert series, but they
novel perspectives about the art that were directly are often held in a separate performance hall— shaped by their listening experience. segregated from the rest of the museum space. What a shame! The environment of the gallery As a result of this positive response to the gallery provides such a rich opportunity for the art and concerts, we were eager to find ways to integrate music to interact. music into the experience of visiting the Blanton on any day—not just on the day of a concert. Many Last year, the Blanton Museum of Art hosted museums offer audio guides as a tool to provide my fellowship, specifically created to explore the background information to visitors about what interpretive role of music in the museum. The they’re viewing. Thus the question arose: What if gallery concerts that we organized throughout the the context for viewing the objects was fortified by year brought a palpable energy to the museum music instead? space. It quickly became clear that the music facilitated a more abstract way of interpreting In response to this idea, Gallery Tracks, a musical the visual art, and that this openness encouraged audio guide for museums, was developed and visitors to develop their own perspectives. In the opened this March at the Blanton. The tour walks post-concert discussions, visitors excitedly shared the visitor through nine works in the Blanton’s (left) Joachim Wtewael and workshop, Raising of Lazarus (detail). painting, 16th century, Dutch (right) Giovanni Battista Passeri, Musical Party in a Garden (detail), painting, 17th century, Italian All images courtesy of The Blanton Museum of Art
Joachim Wtewael and workshop, Raising of Lazarus, painting 16th century, Dutch Raising of Lazarus (“Voskreshenije Lazarja”) by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sinibaldo Scorza, Orpheus Charming the Beasts, painting, 17th century, Italian Orpheus (Ballet) Excerpt, Igor Stravinsky
Sebastiano Ricci, Flora, painting, 18th century, Italian “Flora” from Music for the Blanton (2005), Donald Grantham
Mattia Preti, Holy Family, painting, 17th century, Italian John Luther Adamsâ€”The Farthest Place (2001)
North Wall, West Light, Mary Temple Un vitrail et des oiseaux (1986), Olivier Messiaen
Attributed to the Kadmos Painter, Red-Figure Bell Krater, ceramic, 5th century BCE, Greek-Attic Second Delphic Hymn to Apollo
Giovanni di Marco, called Giovanni dal Ponte, Madonna and Child with Angels, painting, 15th century, Italian Nuper Rosarum Flores (1436), Guillaume Dufay, Florence
permanent collection. At each stop, the visitor is introduced to the art object and how it relates to a particular musical selection. The connections between the art and music are based on a shared historical context, a similar theme or formal characteristic, or even the same evocative mood. The objects on this tour range from an ancient Greek vase all the way to a contemporary wall painting, and the music spans a similar range: from a work written in ancient Greece over 2,000 years ago all the way to a piece composed in Alaska as recently as 2001.
connections are straightforward. Giovanni Battista Passeriâ€™s joyful painting Musical Party in a Garden (c. 1640), is presented with a flirtatious Venetian song by Francesca Caccini. In another example, a Greek vase depicting a musical procession dated from 420 BCE corresponds to a historically informed rendering of what ancient Greek music may have sounded like. The musical selection that was reconstructed was the Second Delphic Hymn of Apollo, a fragment of musical notation dated from 128 BCE, which is considered to be the most extensive specimen of ancient Greek music preserved to this day. Here, the music offers a rich What is the best way to match music to art, so layer to what the world of ancient Greece may have that it resonates with audiences? Some of the been like.
Luca Cambiaso, Ecce Homo, painting, 16th century, Italian
6-part "O vos omnes" from Responsory, Carlo Gesualdo
Giovanni Battista Passeri, Musical Party in a Garden, painting, 17th century, Italian “Non so se quell sorriso”, Francesca Caccini
But there are more oblique links, too. By contrast, one of the less likely juxtapositions is a painting of the Holy Family by Mattia Preti from 1653 and a work by John Luther Adams called The Farthest Place, written in 2001. Clearly, the painting and score were produced in wildly different contexts— one is inspired by Italian Christianity and the other by the Alaskan wilderness; they are separated by hundreds of years, and were composed an ocean apart. But in both cases, the artists seemed to be composing in search of a peaceful and sublime serenity. As unlikely as it seems at first appearance, the softness of the baby’s face in the painting resonates with the glimmering sounds of Adams’s score. The artistic impulse to create an intimate yet
ineffable mood is just as pervasive now as it was in seventeenth-century Italy. The open-ended quality of this interpretive project will serve as a point of departure for visitors’ imaginations. These pairings reflect my own sensibilities and interpretations of both the art and the music, but this project will encourage participants to forge their own singular perspectives, and deepen their emotional response to the art. ae Natalie Zeldin worked as the Kress Interpretive Fellow at the Blanton Museum of Art in 2014.
PrintAustin 2015: The Contemporary Print at Big Medium, photographer Daniel Brock
by VERONICA CECI
Will PrintAustin grow bigger, smarter and outside the box?
To the public at large, as well as for many of those
in the arts, printmaking can be at best confusing and at worst impenetrable. Under the umbrella of printmaking exist many methods of execution, each with its own lexicon, tools and equipment. Fine art prints inhabit the world simultaneously with printed items like advertisements and t-shirts which may use some of the same methods but have little cultural import. This fracturing of technique and worth is paired with the fact that editioned prints are simultaneously original and multiple. Traditional editioned prints are further complicated by monotypes (unique prints) and the more modern phenomena of printstallation (when prints are used not as individual art pieces, but as components of an installation work). Even if a gallerist is fond of and educated about prints, it can be challenging to communicate their value to a potential collector.
original?' Or, 'If this is a copy, why is it so expensive?' I’ve found that when encountering someone who is not familiar with the idea of multiple originals, which is what traditional printmaking is all about, it’s a greater challenge to help them see the value of the work and creating it in the way I do.” Elvia Perrin, who along with Cathy Savage founded PrintAustin in 2014, elucidates why this challenge led directly to the creation of the month long event: “I do have to educate individuals that my prints are original and not reproductions. I feel artists working in print media are underrepresented in the gallery world and have to find creative ways to market and show their work, like creating PrintAustin.” Indeed, one of the main goals of PrintAustin is also the simplest, to encourage local galleries to exhibit more print based work.
PrintAustin board member Annalise Gratovich It is a goal that both Perrin and Savage agree has been sums up the quandary nicely: “A question I’m one of the most successful aspects of PrintAustin. asked often when exhibiting work is, 'Where is the The beleaguered gallerist is assisted in explanations
Karen Kunc's artist talk at Gallery Shoal Creek for PrintAustin 2015, photographer Scott David Gordon
of print’s complex identity by a schedule of events that will hopefully shed some light on the murky depths of a medium rooted in ancient commercial technologies. Indeed, according to Perrin, “The Austin gallery owners have been open, warm and receptive to exhibiting prints and working with us to promote printmaking.” The success of this one aspect does not mean there isn’t room for improvement. In my correspondence with the founders and board of PrintAustin, they universally agreed that the greatest need for refinement was not in the event that is PrintAustin, but in the entity that creates PrintAustin.
PrintAustin's goal is to help promote printmaking and the artists making the prints, but we organizers do it at the expense of our own work.” Savage and Perrin do the major planning along with board members Gratovich, N.J. Weaver, and Brian Johnson. Large events are helped along with the aid of 10 to 20 volunteers. Says Savage, “I think many assume PrintAustin is a business with employees. We are a non-profit and volunteer-run outfit giving honorariums when we can, so building up an organization with staff and then of course securing the funding for it is where I see our biggest hurdle.” And as Board member Weaver adds, “As PrintAustin grows so does the need for structure, organization, and delegation. It’s easy to burn out due to the volume of work to be done and often the thought is ‘it’s easier to do it than to have someone else do it’ which may be true but in the long run, it’s not efficient or healthy.”
The sustained energy it requires to produce and manage the collection of demonstrations, exhibits, talks, and expos which combine to be PrintAustin doesn’t always positively impact its leaders. As spelled out by Savage, “PrintAustin is fun to plan and administer, but it does often trump our own studio lives, which in the end can be maddening. Moving forward, Perrin expressed a desire to create aether
Print Fair at Flatbed Press for PrintAustin 2015, photographer Scott David Gordon
paid positions for key players, which invites inquiry as to how funding has been acquired thus far. The co-founder describes the current state of things, “We received a small grant from the city, [and] we received [a] $2,000 grant from Still Water, but rely on PrintAustin events like the juried exhibition . . . and the Trade Portfolio to raise funds for programming. We hope that the city funding will continue and hope to gain company and individual sponsors.” Co-founder Savage and board member Weaver both have past experience with fundraising for other organizations which has been useful in this respect. Weaver relates her experience at Habitat For Humanity to that at PrintAustin, “In my experience with [Habitat] fundraising was key to completing and planning projects for immediate needs as well as the long term. Very little money was
allocated to administrative costs and overhead. As a new organization, PrintAustin is just beginning to see the need for donors [and] sponsors . . . Funding will allow PrintAustin to think bigger, smarter and outside the box and expand and/or refine its goals. Also, both organizations are volunteer driven . . . . Whether it’s building houses or celebrating printmaking techniques, volunteers are the life blood of small organizations.” In running The Tesla Project, a daylong event on Nicola Tesla’s birthday, Savage learned how to request assistance: “Tesla helped me be able to ask for money without feeling weird about it. I have no problem requesting sponsorship, knowing that if I'm turned away it simply wasn't a good fit for the business I was targeting.” Illinois-based ink manufacturer and printmaking supply retailer Graphic Chemical has already signed on as a participant for next year.
The hope for future growth of PrintAustin doesn’t lie solely in such practical matters. Originally limited to Texas-based artists, PrintAustin’s showcase exhibition, The Contemporary Print, was opened up to national applicants in 2015. This small step towards a larger pool of participants is reflective of greater ambitions says Perrin: “It would be wonderful to have the audience draw and organized programming similar to the Southern Graphics International Conference.” It is certain that a city like Austin, TX, which is already host to a number of international events, can sustain the further expansion of PrintAustin. It is also certain that PrintAustin will continue to grow, says Savage, “We already joke that our next brochure will need to include reading glasses since the font size keeps getting smaller.” Gratovich sums it up: “We want to be a resource for the printmakers
in our region. I think part of that is expanding our sphere nationally while retaining a balance of promoting our local area artists as well . . . PrintAustin is gaining momentum and I imagine it, or certain events and exhibitions, becoming a destination for printmakers regionally, nationally and internationally.” It may be an idea that is in their imagination now, but one that is sure to come to fruition soon. ae Veronica Ceci is an artist, writer, and Master Printer based out in Austin, TX. Her work has been recently featured at the Silpe Gallery in Hartford, CT and is currently on display in the Texas National Competition & Exhibition at the Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches.
through May 7 HOLLIS HAMMONDS: Blanket of Fog Women and Their Work
through May 31
Hollis Hammonds questions consumerist culture, depicting complex accumulations of objects frequently expressed as the debris piles resulting from natural and man-made disasters. Her current work, including large-scale drawings and found object installations, is derived from what she terms the “collective consciousness.” Gleaning images from the Internet and objects from street corners, she reconstructs her own childhood memories. Hammonds’ Blanket of Fog is at once a personal story, a conjured memory, and a projected social fantasy.
Austin artist Will Johnson explores the history of baseball in a series of portraits of players. Will is also a well-known musician: Centromatic, Monsters of Folk.
through June 6 JILL LEAR + KATIE MARATTA Gallery Shoal Creek Texas has captured the heart of two non-native artists whose work generates dialogue about place. Jill Lear's interest in trees has taken her to far parts of the world. In 2014, Lear set out on a 1,300mile trip through Texas, visiting 27 of the state's most noted trees. Texas Historical Trees, a series of large scale works, is the result of her explorations. Katie Maratta's "horizonscapes" feature expansive yet minimalist panoramas of the Texas landscape, including swirling dust devils, highway signs, hay bales, pump jacks, farmhouses and endless stretches of roads and fences.
WILL JOHNSON : Chalked Lines/Stolen Signs Yard Dog Art Gallery
May 8 through June 26 MICHAEL KIRCHOFF: Flawed Photo Méthode Gallery Los Angeles-based photographer Michael Kirchoff has spent his years capturing the still image of people, cultures, and landscapes from around the world, to around the block, with a very unique and distinctive style. The exhibition, Flawed, showcases two extensive bodies of work. The first, An Enduring Grace, is an ongoing project based on Kirchoff’s exploration of the cultural landscape of Russia and was created with long-expired Polaroid materials that produce inconsistent and unpredictable results. The photographs in Vignette focus on a single moment and give an impression of a character, an idea or a setting. Here, Kirchoff used cheap plastic toy cameras with plastic lenses that bring about softer, more unrefined looking photographs.
JUNE through June 21 WILDLY STRANGE: The Photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard Blanton Museum of Art in partnership with the Harry Ransom Center Drawing on the Harry Ransom Center’s renowned photography collection and archives of writers from Meatyard’s intellectual circle, the exhibition presented in the Blanton Museum’s gallery features over 35 photographs— including never-before exhibited prints. Included are the artist's acclaimed photographs of masked figures set against a deteriorating Southern landscape and his somewhat lesser known, yet equally dynamic portraits—primarily of American writers. Curated by Jessica S. McDonald, the Curator of Photography at the Ransom Center, exhibition demonstrates the collective strength of cultural institutions across the UT campus.
May 30 through June 27 NIRVANA Nevermind Outtakes by Austin photographer Kirk Weddle Modern Rocks Gallery
June 6 through July 3 WILL KLEMM Wally Workman Gallery Austin-based artist Will Klemm has shown his work nationally since 1993 and is a veteran of over 40 one-man exhibitions. His well-known landscapes will be coupled with new figurative works. The figures represent a departure for Klemm, whose sensibility and mark making remain ethereal.
June 12 through August 30 WITHIN REACH: Young Latino Artists Mexic-Arte Museum Now in its twentieth year, the 2015 Young Latino Artists (YLA) exhibition is curated by visual artist Ricky Yanas. The title of the exhibition, Within Reach, refers not only to the proximity of artists to their materials and their subjects, but also to a possible future free of corrosive mainstream influences and driven by trust in one's own life experiences. Featured artist are Jaime Alvarez, Annmarie Avila, Tamara Bacerra Valdez, Grimaldi Baez, Isaiah Carrasco, Teresa Cervantes, Lauren Moya-Ford, Ashley Thomas, and Hope Mora. The Museum’s annual YLA exhibition provides Latino/a artists under the age of 35 with professional-level museum experience and exposure.
In the fall of 1991, just as Nirvana was tearing up the rock 'n' roll rule book with its major label debut Nevermind, Austin photographer Kirk Weddle was commissioned to photograph the band for the impending media blitz. His idea? Toss the band into a swimming pool to mimic the album's infamous naked baby cover image he'd shot a few months earlier. The exclusive collection from the iconic underwater photo shoot is the subject of the early summer exhibition. aether
ae aether (Greek αἰθήρ aithēr)
n. 1 the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere 2 a medium that in the wave theory of light permeates all space and transmits transverse waves 3 personification of the sky or upper air breathed by the Olympians.
Published on Apr 28, 2015
aether is a semi-annual e-magazine that aims to engage collectors, artists, and galleries in conversation about the visual arts in our commu...