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artshouston

Emerging Artists and Exciting Viewers

New Galleries Focus on Fostering Intimate Art Experiences Plus: Lectures in Houston Mildred’s Umbrella The Antiquarium Jersey Boys The JCC The Art of Collecting… Art By Lester Marks Reviews: Houston Ballet DiverseWorks Talento Bilingüe de Houston Sandra Organ Dance Company Inman Gallery The Menil Collection Museum Anya Tish Gallery The Station Museum of Contemporary Art Jasper’s ARTS HOUSTON 1


Chantal Akerman

Moving Through Time and Space

������� 1� � ����� 2�� 200� ������� ��������� Friday, January 18, 7:00–9:00 �� Blaffer Gallery The Art Museum of the University of Houston

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Chantal Akerman: Moving Through Time and Space was organized by Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston, in collaboration with the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Miami Art Museum (a MAC @ MAM presentation), and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. The exhibition and publication have been made possible by generous grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, CIFO (Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation), and the French Consulate of Houston. Additional support for the catalogue was provided by the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Fund at the Boston Foundation.


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contents january 2 0 0 7

12 ON THE FRONT COVER:

Martin Simmons, Hidden Cloud Castle, 2006

Features 12 Big Ideas: Lectures in Houston Inspire and Entertain 14 Emerging Artists and Exciting Viewers: New Galleries Focus on Fostering Intimate Art Experiences 17 The Antiquarium 18 Jersey Boys: Touring Musical Not Just Another Pretty ‘Jukebox’ 20 Mildred’s Umbrella: Local Theater Troupe Spreading Its Rot Around 22 The JCC: An Enduring Dance Hub Jazzes Up Dance Month Departments 6 Publisher’s Note 8 Editor’s Picks 10 Style and Substance with Tom Richards 11 The Art of Collecting… Art By Lester Marks 32 January Arts Calendar 33 Featured Listings 34 Restaurant Review: Jasper’s 36 Where to Eat 37 Restaurant Listings 38 Graze Performance Reviews 24 Houston Ballet: Jubilee of Dance 24 DiverseWorks: Memoirs of the Sistahood: Chapter One 25 Talento Bilingüe de Houston: The Cooking Show Con Karimi Y Castro 26 Sandra Organ Dance Company: Amahl and the Night Visitors Visual Art Reviews 28 Inman Gallery: Angela Fraleigh: not one girl I think, who looks on the light of the sun, will ever, have wisdom like this AND Michael Jones McKean: The Astronomer, The Builder, and the Volunteers 29 The Menil Collection Museum: Bruce Nauman: A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s 30 Anya Tish Gallery: Pawel Dutkiewicz: BE\TWEEN 32 AES+F: Defile, Suspects: Seven Sinners and Seven Righteous, and Last Riot 4 ARTSHOUSTON

In a sense, Rot is a “lump of words,” a short play but a long night... -John DeMers

18 To (Richard) Strauss the composer I take off my hat; to Strauss the man I put it back on again. -Arturo Toscanini

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Arts Houston January

houston public radio

2007 2008 Symphony Season Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway January 4, 5, 6, 2008 Tickets: from $28

Graf’s Mozart and Haydn January 10, 12, 13, 2008 Tickets: from $26

Alpine Symphony in Images January 18, 19, 20, 2008 Tickets: from $26

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Mozart and Brahms January 24, 26, 27, 2008 Tickets: from $26

Steve Tyrell January 25, 2008 Tickets: from $25

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Customer Service Center open Monday - Saturday, 10 AM - 6 PM. Buy 10 or more tickets and save. Call (713) 238-1435. All performances in Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana.

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ARTS HOUSTON 5 070001 KUHF January 2008 Ad.indd 2

12/19/07 10:59:17 AM


artshouston Volume 9 • Number 1 • January 2008

Founder Chas Haynes Publisher Frank Rose Associate Publisher Varina Rush Editor in Chief, Performing Arts John DeMers Editor in Chief, Visual Arts Tria Wood Sales Representative Jessica Gordon Intern Amanda Stecker Issue Contributors Holly Beretto Sean Carroll R. Eric Davis Kara Duval Victoria Ludwin Lester Marks Tom Richards Nancy Wozny

Publisher’s Note Dear Readers, While no one may have a definitive answer to the question of what art is, we could come up with a few things that might be descriptive. Sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of why we were attracted to the arts in the first place whether that be during the course of a traditional education or frustration with the bureaucracy of a nonprofit institution. I was drawn to art because of the excitement I felt at witnessing different ways of seeing. The revelatory nature of good art is such that if one looks, a window is opened unto a new state of consciousness. Artists are our contemporary shamans, divining meaning from new circumstances. As we enter a new year, technology continues to expand exponentially and an ever-increasing impact on our globe. What does it mean to have near-instant communication with our loved ones at any time and near-ubiquitious access to the known universe? What does it mean that our world is becoming ever fixated on the virtual? Artists interpret this data and give us ways of viewing the world. Perhaps an artists’ impact is not truly felt until he/she is forgotten and their ideas are fully assimilated into the group consciousness of the culture. Several new galleries are offering up alternative ways of experiencing art (that’s what it’s about right - the experience?) by displaying work in a way that perhaps facilitates a more open relationship. While alternative spaces are nothing new, all three of the galleries featured in our cover story happen to be in houses. In my experience, this fact immediately creates a feeling of comfort in the space and allows for an easier time exploring the work. White cubes, while isolating out extraneous elements and spotlighting the art, can be at times, well, isolating. These new spaces also bring a level of youthful excitement that perhaps extols creativity more that the works in particular. Let’s hope we see more avenues of approaching art arise in Houston. Enjoy the new issue!

ArtsHouston is published monthly in Houston, Texas. ISSN 1541-6089. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the expressed written consent of the publisher. Copyright 2007. Individual issues may be purchased for $3.00, a yearly subscription (12 monthly issues) for $28.00. For advertising information, call (713) 589-9472.

Letters to the editor may be sent to: ArtsHouston, 3921 Austin Street, Houston, Texas 77004; or frank@artshouston.com. Tel (713) 589-9472 • Fax (713) 429-4191 Web: artshouston.com

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Bruce Nauman, The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (Window or Wall Sign), 1967; neon tubing with clear glass tubing suspension frame; 59 x 55 x 2 in.


Mozart:

THE

Anthony Freud, OBE, General Director Patrick Summers, Music Director

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ARTS HOUSTON 7


january

editor’s picks

The Foundation for Modern Music Takes a Walk on the Wild Side with Third Coast Noise Third Coast Noise is a new organization dedicated to presenting music that emphasizes improvisation and the exploration of new forms of musical communication. The Foundation for Modern Music, while embracing the rich legacy of the 20th century modern music, is rapidly distinguishing itself through adventurous programming and an admirable willingness to take risks. On Sunday January 20 at Ovations the two organizations join forces to co-present an evening of music where the avant-garde and the traditional mix it up. The program features works by Houston composer and baritone saxophonist Richard Power and Austin composer and violinist Travis Weller. Weller premieres a new work for violin, viola, string bass, percussion and custom piano wire instrument. Power performs his An Unspoken Labyrinth of Questions for solo baritone saxophone. Also on the program is Power’s Prism for ten piece ensemble. The musician line-up includes guest artists from Austin’s New Music Co-op, a chamber orchestra that Weller co-founded, and Blue Note recording artist and trumpeter Tim Hagans. More information at modernmusic.org

Musiqa and the Aurora Picture Show Get to Know Each Other in Opposites Attract Musiqa presents a program entitled Opposites Attract, featuring works by Houston composers Pierre Jalbert and Anthony Brandt. Jalbert is a winner of the prestigious Prix de Rome for music composition. His String Quartet No. 3 will be performed by special guest artists the Maia String Quartet. The program will also include Anthony Brandt’s chamber opera The Birth of Something, which was originally commissioned and performed by Da Camera of Houston in 2006. The concert features a film curated by the Aurora Picture show. Performers include Karol Bennett, soprano; Michael Chioldi, baritone, Blake Wilkins, percussion, and Jonathan Shames, conductor. The performance is Friday January 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Zilkha Hall in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. More info at musiqahouston.org

Chantal Akerman: Moving Through Time and Space Moving Through Time and Space includes five major works: D’Est (From the East), 1993; Sud (South), 1999; De l’autre côté (From the Other Side), 2002; Là-Bas (Down There), 2006; and features a new project filmed in Siberia commissioned especially for the exhibition. Akerman is widely regarded as one of the most important woman directors in film history, but her work in the crossover genre of film and visual art has never been fully explored. Beginning with D’Est in 1993, Akerman developed an artistic practice melding documentary filmmaking techniques with video installation. Imbued with social and political undertones, her multi-channel works contain the artist’s characteristically slow moving action, mesmerizing attention to detail, and visual grace. This exhibition, her first solo survey in a U.S. museum, reveals Akerman’s explorative and creative energies, as well as her singular understanding of some of today’s most challenging concepts and themes: the transformative impact of cultural diaspora, memory, and history. January 19th thru March 29th, 120 Fine Arts Building, University of Houston, 713.743.9530, blaffergallery.org

Katie Pell: The Best That I Can Give You and Less Than Half of What You Deserve Katie Pell will use the mezzanine gallery to create a diorama in which you will be the feature. The star. The axis of glory. The Best That I Can Give You and Less Than Half of What You Deserve is an environment created to honor all that you have accomplished and all of your best qualities (misunderstood as they may be). Using drawing, photography, text, sculpture and love, Katie will surround you with all the beauty of the animals of the forest, give you an audience of your peers and wait for you with a very beautiful dawn at hand. Let’s celebrate the rest of our lives. Katie says, “How on earth can I celebrate you? I could never do it up big enough, I could never afford to treat you the way your accomplishments deserve. So allow me to try to honor your greatest creation - you! All the rock stars, are the little furry creatures of the forest, all the gods that swarm around if they only could find you, are here waiting to surround you with love. This installation is in your honor; so come visit as many times as you like; and keep up the good work.” January 18th thru February 23rd, 4912 Main Street, 713.528.5858, lawndaleartcenter.org 8 ARTSHOUSTON


From dance to theatre, music to film, visual arts to opera, Fresh Arts is your best link to 22 of the most progressive arts organizations in Houston. 7khehWF_Yjkh[I^em 887F 8bW\\[h=Wbb[ho"j^[7hjCki[kce\j^[ Kd_l[hi_joe\>ekijed 8eXX_dZeYjh_dFkff[jJ^[Wjh[ 9ecckd_jo7hj_iji9ebb[Yj_l[ 9odj^_WMeeZiC_jY^[bb9[dj[h\ehj^[7hji :_l[hi[Mehai :ec_d_YMWbi^:WdY[J^[Wj[h >ekijedCWij[hmehai9^ehki ?dfh_dj CW_dIjh[[jJ^[Wj[h C[hYkho8Whegk[ Cki_gW Ef[hW_dj^[>[_]^ji EhWd][I^em9[dj[h\ehL_i_edWho7hj EhY^[ijhWN Iekj^m[ij7bj[hdWj[C[Z_WFhe`[YjIM7CF IjW][iH[f[hjehoJ^[Wjh[ IkY^k:WdY[WdZ8Whd[l[bZ[h Cel[c[dj%7hji9ecfb[n JWb[dje8_b_d]k[Z[>ekijed Kd_l[hi_joe\>ekijedi9[dj[h\eh 9^eh[e]hWf^o Kd_l[hi_joCki[kcWjJ[nWiIekj^[hd Kd_l[hi_jo

ARTS HOUSTON 9


Style & Substance

W

hen the name “Strauss” comes up, most classical music aficionados think “Johann.” No surprise there, especially during the month of January, with New Year’s Eve memories (or lack thereof) fresh in one’s mind. Be that as it may, the Houston Symphony will present music of the “other” Strauss, Richard, January 18-20 in Jones Hall. The concert is a multimedia offering, featuring Richard Strauss’s tone poem An Alpine Symphony, with accompanying photography by Tobias Melle displayed on video monitors during the performance. As part of his Symphony in Images project, Melle hiked the Bavarian Alps, carefully replicating the journey made by Strauss which initially inspired An Alpine Symphony. Over a three year period, Melle managed to capture the visual essence of Strauss’s masterwork in a series of extraordinary photographs. Richard Strauss (1864-1949) once said of himself, “I am a first-rate second-rate composer.” One suspects that this statement contains a substantial dose of false modesty, since Strauss was supremely confident of his abilities and willing to demand what he believed to be a fair (but what others considered exorbitant) price for his musical services. During the era of his greatest popularity, just after the turn of the century, Strauss was said to be the wealthiest of all composers. The story goes that Strauss was returning from preparations for his opera Salome when he was met at the railway station by his family. Upon catching sight of his father, Strauss’s son ran to him with arms outstretched, asking breathlessly, “Papa, how much money did you get for the rehearsal?” Strauss tossed the lad up in the air and said, with tears welling in his eyes, “Now I know you are a true son of mine!” This focus on commerce instead of art was not much respected by his fellow musicians. Conductor Hans Knappertsbusch said of Strauss, “He was a pig.” But what really rankled Strauss’s contemporaries during the 1930’s was his appointment by Joseph Goebbels to the post of president of the German State Music bureau, the Reichsmusikkammer. Strauss proclaimed that he was apolitical, that the job was strictly musical, but there were a number of skeptics. On the one hand, Strauss could 10 ARTSHOUSTON

By Tom Richards

claim that he really didn’t have a choice in the matter, and that he was able to use his post to protect members of his extended family from the Nazis and spare them a dire fate. On the other hand, Strauss composed the theme for the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin and frequently conducted orchestras at Third Reich functions. Being a Nazi bandleader didn’t sit well with many of his colleagues. Conductor Arturo Toscanini said, “To Strauss the composer I take off my hat; to Strauss the man I put it back on again.” Getting back to the music itself, there was no argument that Strauss was always at the forefront of musical revolution, and An Alpine Symphony, which premiered in 1915, is a case in point. Though the word “symphony’ is contained in the title of the piece, in point of fact the work is classified as a tone poem, an orchestral composition which utilizes a unifying theme or “program” to provide a narrative focus. Like any post-Romantic worth his salt, Strauss was engaged in a constant effort to stretch the boundaries of existing musical forms. An Alpine Symphony, which is divided into 22 sections but played without pause, depicts a hike that the composer made through the Alps at age 14. Over the course of the work, Strauss recounts a day’s worth of mountaineering, sunrise to sunset, musically rendering both the ascent and the descent. Strauss calls for a large orchestra of over 120 players, augmented by a wind machine to reproduce the sound of a cold breeze blowing across the mountains and a “thunder sheet,” a large piece of thin metal pounded with mallets, to depict a vicious storm raging over the Bavarian peaks. The orchestration is dramatic and evocative, providing an exhilarating musical experience. Always one to avail himself of the latest technological advances, Strauss would no doubt enthusiastically endorse the Houston Symphony’s presentation of his music with accompanying visuals. Though some purists view this sort of presentation as an unnecessary “tarting up” of the symphonic experience, Strauss would not be among their number. Anything that sells tickets would be fine with him. Email Tom at trichards2@peoplepc.com


The Art of Collecting… Art

By Lester Marks

F

irst and foremost, I wish all of you a happy new year! May this be a year where any challenges you may face are never too great for you to rise above. May your love of art, and the collecting thereof, assist you in developing a strong inner character defined by the beauty, mystery, and transformative powers art brings to you. My column this year will continue to deliver you a combination of technical expertise cloaked gently with soulful feeling. This bonding of artful knowledge and artful wisdom will lead you along the path to becoming an ever more sophisticated collector, our “artful traveler,” if you will. Andre Emmerich passed away this past year. He was one of the greatest art dealers of our times. His advice to collectors, said so perfectly, was: “Develop your eye, and then buy with your heart.” The wisdom of that statement continues to be the goal of this column. This month we will continue to talk about text-based art, its meanings and purpose. This is the third column on this topic, and I have received more feedback on the two prior columns than on any subject I’ve covered in the last year and a half. Obviously, many art lovers and collectors are both puzzled and enamored with the frequent use of text in contemporary art. Hearken back a

few columns ago, to my words, to the effect, that Postmodern art is generally about more than just the image. Today’s art deals not only with images, but images loaded with meaning. Text in artwork accomplishes two things. It adds visual interest and stimulus to the image while at the same time more directly contributing to the meaning. For illustration, let’s take a look at some text-based works in my collection. The first work, Friends Indeed (above; mixed media on canvas, 72” x 96”), is by Houston-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock, who is represented in Texas by Dunn and Brown Contemporary in Dallas. This blends both materiality and idea, physically interweaving strips of collaged text into a gloriously sensual maze of curiosities. Trenton’s work touches on ideas of hunger, fear, sex, and a search for identity. The title could relate to the artist’s ongoing narrative about the nature of humankind, and why we have so much difficulty in coexisting peacefully.

Using text in a much more direct manner is a work by the unique Houston artist Forrest Prince. Forrest (b. 1935) who has worked with Betty Moody at Moody Gallery, and has shown in our city at both the Contemporary Arts Museum and the Menil Collection Museum, is an artist who has dedicated his life and art to Jesus Christ. A born-again Christian Fundamentalist, he lives without possessions like a monk, virtually homeless, and sold art supports his Praise God Foundation. This piece, Civilization Doesn’t Work, Or the Chair In Relation To the Temple (above; mixed media on board, 48” x 48”), is topped with wax-coated Popeye’s fried chicken and French fries, and textualizes his beliefs. Printing directly onto the body of the chair, the artist has added text visible in the image above. And now for something completely different! This is the work of the renowned minimalist Carl Andre, who is recognized for his seminal flat floor pieces laid down in grids. Little-known however, is his text-based work of the late 1950s-early 1960s, which laid the groundwork for his later “objects.” The work you are looking at is the 1962 piece Five Hundred Terms for Charles A. Lindberg, (below; typewriter ink on paper laid on board, 8” x 6”). This work, utilizing one and two word descriptions about the life of Lindberg, is a poem of sorts, but not in the traditional sense of the word. It is meant not so much to be read as a poem in a book, but to be visualized as a whole unit, with the image and arrangement of the individual words being the solitary artistic element. Just as Andre stripped the notion of constructing sculpture down to basic metal or brick, his poems here essentialize poetry down to its simplest elements. That’s it for this month, artful travelers, but keep those comments coming to your “artful therapist” at nothingbutart@webtv.net.

ARTS HOUSTON 11


Big Ideas

Lectures in Houston Inspire and Entertain By Holly Beretto

“E

very spoken word arouses our self-will,” wrote Goethe. If that’s true, then the selfwills of Houstonians are getting aroused. Bayou City arts lovers know offerings abound for theater, dance, music and visual arts. But amid the cacophony of curtains rising, Houston arts aficionados have another avenue for inspiring entertainment – the lecture. Far from feeling like sitting in a classroom while some expert drones on, Houston lectures are lively, engaging evenings, designed to educate and, yes, entertain. Americans have been listening to lectures since the Lyceum Movement of the 19th century, which was designed to further education and expose people to new ideas. The Millbury Branch Number 1 of the American Lyceum was founded in Massachusetts in 1826, and the movement would reach its peak in the mid-19th century, when noted scholars, writers and politicians traversed the growing continent, reading their stories, sharing their research and offering their ideas. Emerson, Thoreau, Twain and Lincoln all gave speeches and readings at lyceum halls around America. And, while the halls themselves often shared their space with vaudeville acts and traveling minstrel shows, the town lyceum – or town hall – was always a place where the population gathered to find out what was going on. In this age of rapid-fire information and high-tech innovations, the idea of sitting in a hall listening to someone talk may seem quaint. But those behind Houston’s lecture series see them in big-picture terms. “At its best, the spoken word is as much an art form as theater is,” observes Randall Morton, president of The Progressive Forum, a series designed to introduce Houstonians to some of the world’s greatest thinkers. Since its inception in 2005, speakers have included Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Gloria Steinem, Ken Burns, Garrison Keillor, Joe Klein and Tim Flannery. Morton says he strives for diversity when booking speakers. “We look for high-profile presenters, as well as lower-profile experts in their field,” he says. “And we want to mix it up so that we have people representing the humanities, the environment, the whole gamut of human endeavor.” Morton’s endeavor as the leader of a lecture series began when he was working in Houston’s energy sector and he created the Oil Field Breakfast Forum, designed to be an early morning networking and information session. Using his public relations and marketing background, Morton would book speakers, promote the events and handle other administrative duties. He’s since parlayed that experience into running The Progressive Forum. “I was dismayed when Bush won re-election in 12 ARTSHOUSTON

2004,” Morton says. “And in talking with neighbors and friends, I found there were other people who shared those sentiments. But there didn’t seem to be a place where those ideas could be shared.” So, he built one. The Progressive Forum, he admits, might be left-leaning, but he seeks speakers who will discuss timely topics and issues that affect everyone, not simply adhere to a certain political ideology. “We look for people who have answers,” he says, whether the questions are about a change in climate, a shift in politics, the necessity of war or overcoming life obstacles. Speakers who’ve overcome obstacles are dear to the heart of Scott Brogan, founder of The Brilliant Lecture Series, as well. Brogan, like Morton, also worked in the energy industry and ran his own political consulting firm in Houston. He ran with a pretty high-end circle of movers and shakers and he says he wound up at great, expensive events where he heard speakers who could raise the roof off the building. But, he kept thinking, where was the vehicle for people who truly needed to hear messages of overcoming adversity, of making a difference in the world? “I just took a leap of faith,” he says. Brogan walked away from his energy and political life and founded The Brilliant Lecture Series as a nonprofit in 2005. In 2006, Queen Noor inaugurated the series, called Conversations with Brilliance. The Brilliant Lecture Series uses the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts for its events, and Brogan says he and his team try to create an atmosphere that’s as intimate as possible in a 2,500-seat hall. “Our focus is on the individual – not a moderator or an interviewer,” he says. “We look for people to tell us how they took their journey that led them to a place of extraordinary success.” Brogan’s not just looking for the famous and celebrated. He specifically seeks out people who’ve used their celebrity to do extraordinary good works, and how they took their passions for causes and acted on them. “We don’t want to hear about how famous they are,” he says. “We know they’re famous.” Instead, he’s looking for stories to inspire others in the audience, especially younger people, to get involved, to create to become agents of change. Queen Noor talked about having a front-row seat to a changing Middle East. Sidney Poitier talked about his upbringing and overcoming prejudice and using his talents to share a message of education and passion. Julie Andrews spoke about the need to use the arts to help educate people about the world, and how her work with children’s charities helped her to realize that one person


PHOTOS: OPPOSITE TOP: Julie Andrews OPPOSITE CENTER: Michael Chabon OPPOSITE BOTTOM: Garrison Keillor TOP: Anna Deavere Smith BOTTOM: Sidney Poitier

can make a vast difference in the world. “I want our speakers to inspire our audiences to make a difference in the world,” he says. “It’s so important for everyone to be exposed to people who’ve made a change in our world. You may not always agree with their politics, but you won’t be able to deny that they’ve made a difference.” Both The Brilliant Lecture Series and The Progressive Forum follow a similar format. The featured speaker begins the evening with prepared remarks, then responds to audience questions. With The Progressive Forum, questions are written on cards by audience members and dropped into fish bowls throughout the theater. Forum volunteers and coordinators go through them and select about half a dozen to be answered by the speaker. The Brilliant Lecture Series invites audience members to email the questions directly to the series, where Brogan and his staff cull through them, select ones to be answered, and invite those who emailed them in to read their questions to the speaker on the evening of the event. Inprint Houston’s lectures also culminate with a question-and-answer session, but their structure is a little different. Inprint focuses completely on authors and their works, so all of the speakers are published writers, who come in and read pieces of their work, then discuss background about their books or poems. “People love it,” says Rich Levy, executive director of Inprint. “Both the authors and their publishers – and our audience – tell us that we’re the only ones doing anything like this in Houston.” Levy sees Inprint’s mission as being a protector and champion of literary fiction. Inprint has been around in one form or fashion since the 1980s, when it began as the Houston Reading Series, put on through the auspices of the University of Houston’s creative writing program. Now, Inprint still partners with UH as well as with the Brazos Bookstore and the Alley Theatre (where readings are held), but the series is called the Inprint Brown Reading Series. Levy and his team work hard to find authors they feel will appeal to all Houstonians. “We look for diversity of styles and ethnicities,” he says, noting that he wants the writers Inprint showcases to echo Houston’s diversity. “And we look for a balance of poets and fiction writers.” Past authors have included Jonathan Frazen, Salman Rushdie, Lois Lowry and Larry McMurtry. This season, Inprint is bringing to Houston Vikram Chandra, Dave Eggars and Tony Kushner, among others. “If you’re a reader, you should expect to be surprised,” Levy says.

“Hearing a writer read his or her own words gives such a wonderful insight to their personalities. And meeting an author through hearing his or her work is a pretty wonderful experience.” Creating a one-of-a-kind experience is key to the founders of these series. And all say their feedback from the community has been tremendous. “When Sidney Poitier was here, we filled the Hobby Center to the rafters,” says Brogan, sounding still somewhat amazed. “And we heard all these stories from people who all said the same thing: it was great for my child, my grandchild, to hear this man’s story.” Morton hears stories from his audience members about feeling part of a group. “The Progressive Forum is almost a tribal meeting,” he muses. “And our audience gets something about being in a room full of a thousand other like-minded people. Boy, people are hungry for that experience.”

The Brilliant Lecture Series Diana Ross, Feb. 12, 2008, The Hobby Center Tickets start at $20, brilliantlectures.com

The Progressive Forum George Lakoff, Feb. 28 Bill McKibbon, April 28 Elizabeth Edwards, May 19, Tickets start at $14, progressiveforumhouston.org

Inprint Houston Vikram Chandra and Mayra Montero, Jan. 28 Dave Eggers and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Feb. 17 Alice McDermott and Laura Restrepo, March 31 Tickets start at $5, inprinthouston.org ARTS HOUSTON 13


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s if Houston weren’t already full of art spaces, new galleries seem to be sprouting up every day. The latest trend is artists transforming small repurposed spaces to display artwork that feeds their passions and encourages dialogue. Whether stemming from frustration with the current system or simply the desire to work with art in new ways, these gallerists are mostly concerned with creating opportunities for new artists and dynamic and interactive art experiences for viewers—the business of selling artwork doesn’t seem to be as high on their list of concerns. These new spaces offer intimate experiences for the viewer and a chance for new artists to show—a philosophy that might just be a new recipe for success. ArtStorm began when HSPVA grad Melissa Juvan decided to open a gallery in the garage apartment next door to her Heights rental. She pulled together several of her closest friends, also HSPVA grads, who had all tossed around the idea of having their own galleries—together, it seemed like they should be able to make it happen. Juvan, along with Isela Aguirre, Chris Cascio, Monte Large, Kyle Reynerson, Alicia Seale and Megan Whitenton, transformed a small garage apartment into a space that includes two small galleries and a multimedia viewing room. They started off with a six-week show of their own work last October, moved on to the work of Martin Simmons and Matthew Messinger through December, and are now booked for shows through half of 2008, starting with site specific installations by an artist who prefers to be called owleyes. ArtStorm is committed to providing opportunity for artists of all stripes; its current criteria are that the art is “good,” and that the artist is “serious about making art,” Seale says. “Or maybe even art that’s not so good, but that shows that the artist is truly committed to their work,” she muses. They hesitate to draw too many lines, preferring to leave the field open for what intrigues

Emerging Artists and Exciting Viewers: New Galleries Focus on Fostering Intimate Art Experiences them. Sales are not of great concern to their philosophy, it seems; for them, it’s the belief that artists should be able to show their work that’s important. Hopefully, the money to sustain the gallery will follow. It’s clear that this group is idealistic, but this seems to work in their favor. Not knowing exactly the particulars of the business end of a traditional gallery, they feel free to invent the gallery for themselves, creating the kind of place in which they’d want to be represented. The philosophy of this space is built on the desire to make the work of emerging artists available to a young audience that’s looking to purchase quality artwork on a budget. “Lots of Houston galleries are slick, and you have to have a certain amount of money to buy the art, or even to make that kind of art in the first place,” which is difficult for an artist who’s just starting out, says Juvan. “We wanted to provide a venue for young and unrepresented artists… and to keep the art accessible to people like us that can’t drop that kind of money on art. We want to be affordable, accessible, and approachable.” This group treats the business as “kind of an equal co-op thing,” with each bringing her or his particular talents to bear. “It seemed natural for us to do this together,” they say, as an extension of their long friendships. “It’s funny, because when you’re in high school, your parents tell you ‘your friends aren’t going to be there for you like family will,’ but here we are, and it’s our friends who have always been there, are still there for us when it counts,” says Seale. Similarly, the Joanna gallery in Montrose is a collaboration between friends Brian Rod and Cody Ledvina. After working together to put on a few 14 ARTSHOUSTON


by Tria Wood

independent shows that were poorly attended, they “figured that a stable umbrella organization would help legitimize our efforts, or just bring a few more people in,” says Ledvina, “Plus it was easier than saying ‘Brian Rod and Cody Ledvina Present.’” Thus, the Joanna, named for a fictional “13 year old chain smoking, promiscuous trailer belle” who is the subject of a narrative created by the gallerists and their friends, was born. Every two months, Rod opens the living areas of his house to Houston’s art world, transforming the space into a welcoming gallery. At a recent opening, the Joanna’s honey-colored rooms hummed with jovial conversation, the atmosphere distinctly casual though packed to the brim with people. The experience was distinctly partylike—but still managed to revolve around the artwork. The duo describes their programming philosophy as “grabbing artists before they go to the big leagues and hate the art world. We are huge fans of genuine excitement.” Rod and Ledvina seek out artists whose work intrigues them, preferring to ask artists to participate instead of having artists come to them. “It’s easier that way… if we had an onslaught of submissions I feel we’d be picking the best of those instead of work that we truly like,” explains Ledvina. The Joanna’s biggest concern, he says is providing an accessible space for animated dialogue about new artwork: “Blue chip galleries still create an icy forcefield around the work inside. We hope our space gives Houston a more natural way of looking at art.” Rod and Ledvina’s background as artists gives them a different perspective on the role of the gallery, one that they expect to develop as they go. Ledvina says that the Joanna “rarely follows any kind of gallery precedence, since we don’t quite understand yet what the hell we’re doing,” but whatever they’re doing seems to be working so far, at least in terms of drawing viewers who are excited about artwork. Although the gallery itself is a bit off the beaten path, it has the advantage of being nestled in the heart of one of Houston’s most bustling arts districts. As Ledvina notes gratefully, “Crap, we’ve got the Byzantine chapel in the back yard.” Like the Joanna, which serves as both residence and artspace, Gallery 1724 is a salon, gallery, and home. Its pickled wood walls provide a rustic contrast to the early Twentieth Century architecture, complete with a hinged bookcase that hides a powder room under the stairs. Gallery 1724 began as a joint venture between Frank Rose, long before he became the publisher of ArtsHouston, and artist Tim Deason, who is also a talented stylist. Rose had to part from the gallery when the magazine began to take up more of his time, and now, after a period of dormancy, the space was recently reopened by Deason and photographer Kara Duval (Rose’s wife). Duval, Deason, and Rose “were exchanging ideas about eventually starting a non-profit art organization that focused on collaboration and emerging artists. We thought that reopening Gallery 1724 would be a wonderful way to get our feet wet,” says Duval. Although ARTS HOUSTON 15


PAGE 14 TOP: From Jeanne Cassanova and Reginald Rachuba at The Joanna Gallery. PAGE 14 BOTTOM: Exterior of ArtStorm. PAGE 15 BOTTOM RIGHT: Pieces by Matthew Messinger at ArtStorm. PAGE 16: From The Much to Consider Season, work by Traci Matlock and Ashley Maclean at Gallery 1724.

many Houston area salons have art on their walls that just happens to be for sale, Gallery 1724 is unique in the quality of its artwork and the philosophy behind the space. Duval explains that Gallery 1724 “is not just a hair salon where one can buy art as well, but defining it in the 17th century sense, a French word for ‘living room’ that is used for social gathering of artists and intellectuals where works of art, poetry, and performance happens. We plan on having readings of local writers, performances, and artist Q and A’s throughout different show runs, events that Tim and I believe compliment the work on display… It is not just about showing art, but also about providing an atmosphere where people can hang out and connect.” The artwork displayed at Gallery 1724 continues to be challenging contemporary work by emerging artists, as the current show, The Much-To-Consider Season, a series of gritty photographs that play with concepts of the body and its limits, indicates. Duval explains that their intention is to feature “all types

16 ARTSHOUSTON

of media with an emphasis on experimentation and collaboration. There are certain qualities of dynamism and raw expression that compliment the space, but we are open to all forms of expression.” Like the Joanna and ArtStorm, this small space is a bit secluded from Houston’s art hotspots, but still manages to bring in a steady stream of viewers who are hungry for both artwork and dialogue about art. Duval was encouraged by the turnout at the recent re-opening, saying that “even though 1724 stands by itself, it is still in the museum district, and I believe it will have the pull to get people to drive the extra mile” to their door. The philosophy of all three new galleries is remarkably similar; each sees itself as addressing the need for a particular kind of art experience that invites viewer intimacy and interaction. Houstonians eager to engage with, rather than simply view, artwork seem to be ready for these vibrant spaces—and ready for artwork that is just as exciting as it is affordable.


The Antiquarium by Tria Wood

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hen first entering the Antiquarium, the uninformed viewer might be deceived into thinking that they’re in just another print and framing shop. A casual glance reveals the sort of botanical prints, celestial maps, and other decorative pieces that have come to be the bread-and-butter of a certain interior design aesthetic. Don’t be fooled, however! Just a stone’s throw from Colquitt’s gallery row, the Antiquarium is a virtual treasure trove of genuine antique print materials of all sorts, dating from 1250 A.D. to the early Twentieth Century. Brothers Robert Cooper and Greg Cooper, along with their wives, Linda Cooper and Connie Cooper, opened this gallery in Highland Village in 1990, where it resided for ten years before moving to its current River Oaks location. The family’s passion for the art of printmaking is evident. Greeting casual visitors and regular customers alike with enthusiasm, each of the Coopers is eager to share his encyclopedic knowledge of the print medium. Robert, who studied fine arts, lights up as he shows me a hand-tinted botanical work from the Eighteenth Century. “Printmaking like this is a dying art,” he explains, because the techniques used to produce it are expensive. “The paper is handmade, the plates were etched by hand…” he continues, describing the time-intensive process of creating a single image. Guilds trained youngsters in each aspect of print production, and experts took charge of each step of the process. Botanical prints like this, he says, like most other prints of the time, were truly collaborative works in which someone grew plant specimens, one artist drew the initial image and yet another engraved it on metal plates, while other artisans made the ink and the paper, created the print itself, and in rare cases colored the prints. “For hundreds of years, prints weren’t colored very often—they couldn’t afford it. Pigments were expensive, and the painters themselves were expensive to hire,” Robert explains, “Only about one percent of original runs were hand-colored.” Unlike other antiques, restoration and the addition of color after the fact do not decrease a piece’s value, he notes. He has his own secret formula for de-acidifying paper, which can quickly degrade and crumble without proper treatment, and uses

his artistic training to color pieces himself; the gallery also has guidance from professional restorers who specialize in re-creating period tints and effects. “We can now bring the color closer to the intention of the original artist,” he says proudly. As Robert explains, although the medium of print is by definition reproducible, the older works, which were created on copper plates, were usually good for only very small yields of one or two hundred prints. This changed with the industrial age, when more durable plates could create mass quantities—and explains the love the Coopers have for the older, rarer works. The Coopers have much more on hand, though; the gallery is brimming with prints on the walls, in bins, and on shelves. From an Eleventh Century manuscript to Fifteenth Century maps, up to late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century photographs, seed packets and illustrations, the sheer volume of the material, much of it museum-quality, is astounding. Greg Cooper shows me several pieces relevant to Texas history, including documents signed by Sam Houston and Santa Ana. He also reveals an original manuscript written by Alonso De León, the Spanish explorer who is often credited with giving our state its name. The works come from various sources, including deaccession sales, personal collections, libraries, professional collectors and “pickers,” who specialize in hunting down valuable items. Greg smiles as he says that he’d love to become a picker when he retires. For now, though, the Coopers are excited by their work with the gallery and by the services they can provide. “We’re here for people in the community,” Greg says, “to evaluate and restore pieces” as well as helping them find prints to own. The Coopers have helped many clients verify the authenticity of rare works that had been sitting around the clients’ homes for years—and occasionally helped these clients profit from their finds as well. The thrill of the hunt, and of interacting with these bits of history, seems to be part of the draw for the Cooper family. But more than that, they are delighted to share their knowledge and love of the art of printmaking with anyone who walks in the gallery’s doors. ARTS HOUSTON 17


By John DeMers

Jersey Boys Touring Musical Not Just Another Pretty ‘Jukebox’

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hat they were is emblazoned in lights across the marquee: Jersey Boys. But when we think back to the life and times of the vocal quartet Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, as we’re encouraged to do by the hit musical visiting the Hobby Center this month, we’re even more struck by what they weren’t. For one thing, while the Four Seasons enjoyed nearly all their Top 40 hits during the 1960s, they were never truly “of” the ‘60s – at least not of those ‘60s people and pundits now eulogize. There is no rebellious Summer of Love in songs like “Sherry” or “Walk Like a Man,” no day-tripping drug experimentation in “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and no anti-Vietnam pacifism or anger in “Rag Doll.” While those ‘60s surely existed even in New Jersey, they left barely an echo in the songs the nation embraced in records by the Four Seasons. And Christopher Kale Jones, who sings and portrays falsetto-voiced Valli in Jersey Boys, thinks he has a pretty good idea why. “While there were all these musical movements encouraging more conscience about what was going on in this country,” says Jones, “the Seasons wrote music for people to enjoy. They wrote music, in some ways, for the blue-collar people who actually went to the war, more than for the people who were at home protesting it. And perhaps most of all, they wrote music for the people who wanted to escape all that. It’s probably one of the reasons they were so successful. Music can take you away from things you’re dealing with for a while.” Considering the Four Seasons musically – that is to say, listening to their records again – brings us to another, equally interesting thing they were not. Stylistically, at least, they were not white. Though rock and roll has more than its share of historic figures whose only wish was to sound black, led by Elvis Presley in Mississippi and John Lennon in Liverpool, almost nothing a recorder could pick up gives away the intrinsic “whiteness” of Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. Fact is, many producers and disc jockeys expressed dismay the first time the voices they’d heard on AM radio actually walked in through the door. “The Seasons came from the world of jazz and blues,” offers Jones. “Bob Gaudi, who wrote most of their music and almost all of their biggest hits, was inspired by the Southern black music that was so popular at that time. Meanwhile, Frankie Valli was very influenced by the jazz world he heard in songs by 18 ARTSHOUSTON

Frank Sinatra. Initially, he was interested in a career quite similar to Sinatra’s, singing in front of an orchestra with all those horns and strings. When you get someone influenced by jazz music, who actually wants to be a jazz singer, and then you get someone else influenced by black popular music of the ‘40s and ‘50s, then you might end up with something like the Four Seasons.” Or, as Jersey Boys will make clear in Houston Jan. 16-Feb. 9, you might not have ended up with anything at all. Valli and Co. were just another backup group working for a mid-level record producer, and for quite a while it looked like they’d remain one. As much as their vocal talent or their onstage charisma, it may have been Gaudio’s song “Sherry” that created a place for them on the charts. That song, and all the No. 1 hits that followed, showcased Valli’s other-worldly soaring falsetto against a rich tapestry of the Seasons’ harmonies. Here was a “sound,” something worth more than a million notes, something kids could dance to and drive to and fall in love forever-till-at-least tomorrow to. The Four Seasons had arrived. Perhaps the most important thing Jersey Boys isn’t is a “jukebox” or “songbook” musical. That type of show has opened and closed repeatedly on Broadway over the past two or three years, many of the worst failures built on music considered “better” and “more important” than anything the Four Seasons ever recorded. The fact that this show packs them in touring America while continuing to do so on Broadway is telling – especially since evenings devoted to music by Bob Dylan, John Lennon, the Beach Boys and Johnny Cash are not. It may be that “happy songs” simply work better as show tunes, since after all, Mama Mia (created around the saccharine ABBA) is the hat trick in this genre. Yet it’s also true that the producers of Jersey Boys, and especially book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elise, were smart enough to recognize The Real Story when it hit them in the face. “Early on, Bob and Frankie came to the creative team and said they wanted to get their music involved in a musical,” says Jones. “In talking to them about their lives, the writers heard a wealth of great stories. It was a very rocky road, a very compelling storyline, and most people didn’t know any of this about the group. So at some point they said: Why don’t we make the story about you? Now, when you come to see Jersey Boys, you get this great rock concert – and then you get to go backstage.”


HCP 26th Anniversary

Tickets are $60 in advance, $75 at the door Reserve tickets online at www.hcponline.org or call 713-529-4755

Print Auction

Ticket includes silent and live auction, entertainment, buffet dinner and cocktails To preview the Auction visit the HCP galleries January 18 – February 13 For a listing of related events and absentee bid forms please visit www.hcponline.org Cara Barer • Blue Labyrinth, 2007 Ultrachrome ink on Crane Museo Portfolio rag paper, 24 x 24 inches Courtesy of the Artist. Represented by De Santos Gallery, Houston, TX Suggested value $1,400 Walker Evans • View of the Brooklyn Bridge, 1929 Gelatin silver print, 6 10/16 x 4 9/16 inches Courtesy of Anonymous Donor Suggested value $12,000-$16,000

Friday, February 15, 2008 Starting at 5:30 pm at the Junior League of Houston 1811 Briar Oaks Lane Houston, Texas

Houston Center for Photography is supported by its members and in part by Houston Arts Alliance; Houston Endowment, Inc.; Texas Commission on the Arts; the Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation; Charles Butt; Cemo Family Foundation; Drs. Patricia Eifel and James Belli; Ms. Joan Morgenstern; SINAPPS; QUE Imaging; Haynes and Boone, LLP. Houston Center for Photography 1441 West Alabama, Houston, Texas 77006 Phone 713-529-4755, Fax 713-529-9248, www.hcponline.org

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3333 N. MacArthur Blvd Irving, TX 75062 972.252.ARTS ARTS HOUSTON 19


Mildred’s Umbrella

Local Theater Troupe Spreading Its ‘Rot’ Around 20 ARTSHOUSTON

By John DeMers


Photos by Anthony Rathbun

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n avant-garde theater group born in the dreams of a poet and one of his workshop students is reworking, revamping, reinvigorating and just plain reprising its greatest success to date. And then, as proof that this is a milestone, the group that borrowed its name from a typically obscure Gertrude Stein poem is taking its typically obscure show on the road. Working in impressive collaboration with Houston’s own Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre, Mildred’s Umbrella is putting its new version of co-founder John Harvey’s Rot on display at Diverse Works Jan. 17-19, then transporting the production to Rude Mechanicals in Austin in February and onward to the Strand Theatre in Galveston in March. It’s called, predictably, the “Rotten to the Core Tour,” and it seems only appropriate to give fresh life to a combination of live actors and puppets considered by many the best original show in Houston during 2007. Mildred’s Umbrella artistic director Jennifer Decker, an actor who helped launch the troupe back in 2001 and performs a pivotal role in Rot, is actively seeking additional venues to keep the tour alive. “This is a collaboration of flesh-and-blood actors and puppets with the flesh-and-blood people who operate them,” explains Harvey, who teaches college-level workshops in creative writing with a concentration on poetry, despite his near-complete midlife absorption in live theater. “That allows us to blur some lines, to make something tangible that usually isn’t tangible – and that is memory. In Rot, memories are part of the house and part of the furniture. Any area that people live in becomes a sort of pseudo mind, which can then have a mind of its own.” Asked to explain what is an ambiguous if compelling idea, Harvey says the puppets supplied by artistic director Joel Orr of Bobbindoctrin (who also serves as one of the actors) represent people as we remember them, whether ourselves or others. Cinematically speaking, this visual is clear enough. But what, Harvey asks, if these memories are keeping secrets from us, secrets we don’t want to admit and never would want to share. What if they insist on telling us the truth, or for that matter, insist on telling us a lie? “What,” Harvey asks, “if they disagree with how we’ve come to rewrite things in our lives. What if they, well, fight back?” These ever-Freudian puppets are AWOL on this particular evening in Decker’s living room, yet a first readthrough with the actors proves illuminating. After saying a few words about the revisions since the play premiered at Houston’s Gremillion and Co. art galley, Harvey explains one of the strangest parts of his fresh look at the script. “You’ll remember,” he deadpans to the actors, all but Troy Schulze (long of Infernal Bridegroom Productions) a veteran of the premiere, “that the old script was exactly 35 pages. The new script, you’ll notice, is exactly 35 pages – as though some warning went off before I could make it to page 36.” Harvey smiles - writer, director and clearly friend to this small but intense ensemble. “You might be tempted to think I’ve…” (there’s a pause worthy of the theater) “…done nothing at all!” Once the giggles and the first-read nerves die down, what emerges is a

strange and occasionally wondrous thing indeed. Rot is like a play by Anton Chekhov channeled through the feverish brain of Samuel Beckett. From the 19th-century Russian master comes a sense of sadness and regret, tied to a deep longing for times that we at least convince ourselves were happier. There is considerable talk of happiness in Harvey’s script, but virtually no evidence of it. From the 20th-century master of absurdist despair comes the mingling of death and excrement, as though life were no more than a double-serving of the two, plus the ultimate conviction that while we never stop babbling, there’s really no one who’ll ever listen. Most of the conversations in Rot, well, aren’t. They are instead a symphony of long and short monologues, people talking as though on distant planets – each hoping for but never quite finding signs of intelligent life. One of the characters, Barbara as played by Patricia Duran, actually addresses this fact in one of her angriest and funniest diatribes. “People don’t answer what you ask ‘em,” Barbara complains. “They just go off on a lump of words.” In a sense, Rot is a “lump of words,” a short play but a long night, filled with dark and dangerous revelations about a specific group of characters who, despite their immeasurable weirdness and unusual sins, still manage to remind us not to throw any first stones. Horrific nature poetry cascades in Harvey’s script through frightening hilarity that seems almost unintentional, and then through apocalyptic images verging on the biblical. On this night of the living-room readthrough, no one seems to understand and agree more deeply with the play than Bobbindoctrin’s Orr, a partner in Rot from the beginning. “If there’s one thing I’ve always been wary of, it’s puppets interacting with humans,” says Houston No. 1 puppet guy. “Here they represent memories and former selves, so they’re not just tacked on. They’re seamlessly integrated into the story. By the time the puppets start showing up, there’s so much bizarre stuff going on that the audience is ready to believe almost anything. Besides,” Orr adds with an impish grin, “I always like shows that make people laugh and then feel bad.”

“If there’s one thing I’ve always been wary of, it’s puppets interacting with humans.” -Joel Orr

ARTS HOUSTON 21


The JCC

An Enduring Dance Hub Jazzes Up Dance Month 22 ARTSHOUSTON

By Nancy Wozny


OPPOSITE: Jaeda Garden of Uptown Dance Company in Four in The Mix, Photo by: Siobhan Fine Photography BELOW: Nicholas Andre Dance Theater Photo by Tom Caravaglia

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nce a dance hub always a dance hub? Maybe, but it does take work. The Jewish Community Center of Houston (JCC) has been a driving dance force for several decades. According to dance director Maxine Silberstein, the JCC maintains its status as a hub on sheer volume alone. “In addition to performances, we offer just about every discipline of dance from ballroom to hip-hop,” she says with pride. The JCC’s legacy is tied to the legendary 92nd Street Y’s program in New York City. To this day, the dance program at the Y, renamed the 92nd Street Y Harkness Center, still presents leading dance artists. “The Y was especially important in the history of American modern dance,” says Silberstein. “It was the home of the most outstanding teachers and choreographers including Martha Graham, Louis Horst, Hanya Holm, Charles Weidman and Doris Humphrey. JCCs around the country followed the Y’s lead, and dance became a high priority.” Each JCC has defined its own approach. Houston’s gets re-energized every January with Dance Month, during which Silberstein mixes tried and true programs with innovate events. Extremely popular programs like the ballroom extravaganza Dancing with Our Stars, which features a full orchestra and ballroom exhibitions by top competitors, will continue along with several folk dance opportunities. “Tirkedu Houston!,” an Israeli dance weekend, will bring in renowned teacher Naftaly Radosh, among others. Jazzing things up each year is at the center of Silberstein’s strategy for maintaining strong audiences. “We are always striving for newness because dance is an evolving art form,” she says. “We try to present what’s missing elsewhere in the community in our performances and workshops and involve all cultures and dance disciplines.” Silberstein realizes that there’s a lot more competition for audiences now. In order to keep their hub status, programming has to tweaked every year. “There are many more venues in town now that fulfill dance enthusiasts. Yet we are still a launching pad for emerging artists locally, nationally, and internationally.” This year, Dance Month features the Nicholas Andre Dance Theater (NADT), a hot New York City-based company directed by Nicholas SeligsonRoss. NADT will be offering master classes and workshops in schools and for local dancers. Although the JCC has brought in outside companies before, this is the first time it has selected a young upstart New York city-based company. Founded in 2003, NADT has garnered considerable attention for their engaging work and fierce virtuosity. “Nicholas’s work is fresh and physical,” says Silberstein. “He has also been delightful to work and is enthusiastic about sharing his work with a broader audience.” Technically NADT has never performed as a company in Houston, yet several forces brought this young company and the JCC together. Seligson-Ross has the distinction of having danced with several small New York dance companies. When he was dancing with H. T. Chen, the JCC offered the Kaplan to the troupe for rehearsal. Seligson-Ross fell in love with the space, met Silberstein, and the two began a series of talks leading up to

this performance. A further connection was forged when Silberstein realized that Aaron Walter, a HSPVA graduate and the son of Rabbi Roy Walter, dances with the company. Early on, both Seligson-Ross and Silberstein realized they had a good fit between artist and presenter. “We were all talking to each other, circling our wagons,” remembers Seligson-Ross about securing the JCC gig. He admits dancing in his company is not for the faint of heart, quite literally, because the rigorous pace of his choreography challenges even the fittest dancer. “My dancers are athletes. I demand a lot from them.” Seligson-Ross considers himself a Paul Taylor offshoot and even apprenticed with Paul Taylor II for a while. “I’d like to think that I bring my own voice to this genre,” he says. The other idea new for this year’s Dance Month is “Four in the Mix,” which will feature four of Houston’s top pre-professional dance companies including Houston Ballet II (HBII), Houston Dance Theatre, High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and Uptown Dance Company. “We feel it is important to showcase the talented choreographers and dancers of these groups to the Houston community at large,” says Silberstein. “They are the future of dance and the next generation of teachers and performers. We take pride in following their careers after they have appeared on the Kaplan Theatre stage.” Shelley Powers, the associate director of HBII, is thrilled to be involved in the line-up. “Each year we have a fair amount of new company members and it’s great to have the consistent performance venues that allow students to gain more performance experience,” says Powers. JCC’s Dance Month is a win-win for everyone—the community, dancers, choreographers, students, and future audiences.” HSPVA dance faculty and longtime friends of the JCC LuAnne Carter and Janie Carothers will each be showing work, Un Gato Camina, an upbeat jazz piece by Carter, and Troop 2007-Rainbow Bend, a lament on Carothers’s Girl Scout mother days. Silberstein and her crew work diligently to remain true to the standard set by the 92Y which continues to stay on edge of progressive dance. “The JCC has opened its doors on many occasions to give an individual or a company a place to develop their art form when they could not afford to rent space,” she says. “I think back to the early 1980’s and compare it to where we are today and it has been an amazing journey. I will continue to strive to do my part to make dance a vibrant part of the Houston community. I have such a love for dance and the dance community that I want nothing more than it to flourish and grow.” JCC presents “Four in the Mix” on Saturday, January 12 at 8:00 p.m., and Nicholas Andre Dance Theater on Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. and January 27, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. at the Kaplan Theatre. Call 713-551-7225 or visit jcchouston.org.

ARTS HOUSTON 23


performance reviews

JUBILEE OF DANCE Houston Ballet The annual Jubilee of Dance is a time for Houston Ballet to look back on past successes, preview upcoming performances, premiere brand new work, and show off the company’s growing stature. This year, an excerpt from Welch’s dreamy ballet Tu Tu gave demi-soloist Nao Kusazaki a chance to shine. Her liquid lines, combined with a sensuous lyricism, fit perfectly with Welch’s jewel of a ballet. Kelly Myernick, probably one of the most versatile members of the company, showed a cool restraint and pointed attack in a solo from Christopher Bruce’s poignant ballet, Hush. Amy Fote, looking smashing in her cropped hair, lit up the stage with the ever-charming Ian Casady in a pas de deux from Welch’s upcoming Cinderella. Jessica Collado and Sharon Teaque lightened the mood as the aging turtle can-can dancers in an excerpt from Christopher Wheeldon’s animated Carnival of the Animals. Connor Walsh and Melody Herrera fired up some fabulous chemistry in the Act II pas de deux from Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow. Illya Kozadayev, Randy Herrera and Jonathan Davidsson sliced through the air with bravado and precision in the third movement of Welch’s abstract but emotionally-charged ballet, Clear. Barbara Bears and Simon Ball, the quintessential ballerina and leading man, were simply stunning in the wedding pas de deux from Welch’s masterwork Madame Butterfly. In the world premier department, Welch offered Punctilious, a pretty, white frosting of a ballet fitting a celebration. Welch explored his pure classic side and showcased the mighty talents of his dancers. A moving tribute to former principal Lauren Anderson made for the evening’s emotional crescendo, followed by an excerpt from Ben Stevenson’s touching Four Last Songs, which featured a performance by Anderson herself. 24 ARTSHOUSTON

The evening concluded with Welch’s riveting Bolero. His engaging choreography matched Ravel’s building momentum step for note. Dancers emerged from darkness in a slow motion run and eventually burst into a cacophony of dense movement. Crowds of dancers moving in and through each other brought excitement, strong visual interest, and finally, a chance to look at this glorious company all dancing at once. Amidst a flurry of movement, the piece ended with the entire troupe hitting the ground as the curtain descended dramatically. - Nancy Wozny

MEMOIRS OF THE SISTAHOOD: CHAPTER ONE DiverseWorks Works of highly private inspiration have a long and distinguished history of being poor public entertainment. That fact alone makes this dance-filled “memory play” by choreographer Becky Beaullieu Valls and her sculptor sister Babette Beaullieu Wattigny an achievement more than a little notable. As presented at DiverseWorks, Memoirs was “private” in the way that a short novel might be, or perhaps a small experimental film free of major stars. But it seemed a departure from most dance evenings – even from admittedly boundary-free “modern dance.” Memoirs was cinematic more than anything else, an act of visual storytelling that used dance along with projected film, exquisite music and intriguing sculpture. In short, it worked. We’re not sure exactly why “sisterhood” was expressed in the title as “Sistahood,” since that seemed “ghetto” in a way that neither the creators nor their creation were or wanted to be. The story involved the interwoven lives of six French Catholic sisters coming of age during the 1950s in French Catholic


OPPOSITE: Nao Kusuzaki in Bolero, photo by Amitava Sarkar TOP: Toni Valle as the Queen and Mechelle Flemming as the Victim in Memoirs of the Sistahood: Chapter One, photo by Audie Valls BELOW: Robert Farid Karimi and John Castro, photo by Hugo Pedraza PAGE 26: From Amahl and the Night Visitors, photo by Jeremy Choate

musical Oklahoma. The dancers always managed to entertain while emotionally affecting us, and never more than in those segments featuring Valls herself. Her facial expressions and movements were the “voice” of the narrator, even though she and her sister also provided spoken words to set up many of the scenes. All pieces were delivered with enthusiasm, capable acting and absolute belief by Kara Ary, Mechelle Flemming, Jenny Magill, Stephanie Rodriguez, Joani Trevino and Toni Leago Valle, with an entertaining assist from Corian Ellisor, the lone male allowed into this sleepover. Sets and props were mostly pieces created from old wooden doors, windows and other found objects by Wattigny. And the evening’s most touching backdrop was an incredibly edited montage of family home movies, tossed up on a screen in all the scratchy wonderment of people, places and things never to be seen again. Except that, thanks to this particular and talented sisterhood, they can be. And they were. – John DeMers

THE COOKING SHOW CON KARIMI Y CASTRO

south Louisiana. Anytime there was a specific reference in Memoirs, that was the place and the time. Yet nearly all the individual, almost unrelated dance segments were either too ambiguous to be about anything, or too universal to be limited to any single thing. The core experience was growing up, specifically as a girl with lots of sisters – though life with lots of siblings was common enough among Louisiana’s French Catholics. The evening floated by as a series of halfremembered, possibly half-dreamed vignettes, news clippings from a youth presumably remembered from the distance of age. That last conviction seemed to grow from the way Valls looked at even the most light-hearted of family times with longing, as though reaching out to them across the decades without ever truly reaching them. Nostalgia? Perhaps. But not the cheap, storebought kind. This was passion for an essential past, coming from a very deep, sometimes dark and ultimately loving place. The visible center of Memoirs was the graceful, loping, curling and circling choreography of Valls, who also serves as director of the dance program at Rice. There were clear debts here to that other chronicler of ever-symbolized young womanhood, Agnes DeMille in such pieces as her ballet for the

Talento Bilingüe de Houston Lusting after fame as one of those exorbitantly paid, high-decibeled, large-girthed chefs seen 24/7 on TV’s Food Network, what’s a short, bearded Iranian-Guatemalan food guy with a shy, bespectacled Filipino sidekick to do? Since the answer is surely “not much,” what Robert Farid Karimi and John Manal Castro have chosen to do is a wildly comic, improv-friendly touring performance piece that takes some excellent street theater and moves it inside. You know the street theater we mean: those one or two slightly homeless-looking guys who gather an audience in a public square and won’t stop telling jokes, doing back flips, swallowing swords, pedaling unicycles or whatever else it takes to hold an audience till the hat can be passed. The Cooking Show, fresh from performances off-Broadway, has that same fluid, unscripted energy, even though dead-on light and sound cues make it clear that most of the show follows the script. According to the bios projected before their recent three-night stand at Talento Bilingüe de Houston, both performers hail from that multi-dimensional California world of writing, cooking and making people laugh, all with a vaguely left-leaning sensibility one would expect to find among have-nots anywhere. The affectionate conceit of The Cooking Show, in fact, is that Karimi is a chef named Mero Cocinero who is struggling to launch the proletarian revolution with

ARTS HOUSTON 25


some very tasty appetizers, and that Castro is Comrade Cocinero, sympathetic to the worldwide need to overthrow the rich, corrupt and powerful but actually more interested in finding a date for the after party. Thus, onstage, there was solidarity over global liberation but conflict over tactics – pretty much the story of the 20th century. Most of the show’s running time was spent teaching the audience to prepare three different dishes – an Iranian cucumber-yogurt dip with much in common with Greek tzatziki, a version of hummus with tahini beloved across the Levantine world, and lumpia, the Filipino rendition of fried spring rolls wrapped in lettuce leaves. Happily, the audience got to taste each item, which with a full house meant thinking about making sure everybody got some. There were practical cooking tips, presented with an overhead camera showing hands and knives as “Castro’s Cutting Corner,” and a handful of cleverly ripped-off songs. The best of these was surely Karimi’s longing ode to success on Network TV, complete with lighthearted slaps at Emeril and Rachel Ray, sung to the tune of The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World.” For all the jokes about ethnicity in America, The Cooking Show proved accessible and entertaining even to an audience far from exclusively Hispanic. And for all the bolshevik-speak the two cocineros indulged in – “kicking it up a notch,” for instance, became some balderdash about “empowering” the ingredients – the evening did manage a heartfelt genuineness when it came to food. If people really were ever to get along, it probably would involve lots of cooking and eating together just like this. – John DeMers

AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS Sandra Organ Dance Company When the late Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors was broadcast on NBC television in 1951, a whole new generation was exposed to 26 ARTSHOUSTON

opera for the first time. With an audience filled with young people, the Sandra Organ Dance Company followed Menotti’s lead in her polished production. Only this time around, the youngsters were exposed to live music, singing, and James Sewell’s tender choreography. Sewell’s choreography stays minimal enough to leave room for the opera happening in the orchestra pit. Incorporating sign language into his movement also created an effective bridge between the off-stage singing and the on-stage dancing. Cassandra Shaffer, a relative newcomer to SODC, gave Amahl the needed combination of spirit and innocence. Former Houston Ballet dancer Jessica Pohorilla, as the mother, delivered an elegant and poignant performance. Shaffer and Pohorilla’s duets showed off the strongest sections of Sewell’s choreography. Jhon Stronks (Melchior), Jairo Alberto Lastre (Balthazar) and Richard Hubscher (Caspar) played the three kings with a noble grace. Chad Legg and Scarlett Barnes captivated in the their gentle Shepherd ballet variation. Menotti’s melodic music was capably performed by Divisi Strings. The outstanding soloists included Jason Oby, Tracy Rhodus, Daniel Buchanan, Paul Busselberg, Daniel Marymee, Leon P. Turner, and Christopher Harris. The strong and angelic voices of the Shepherd chorus provided a full bodied interpretation of Menotti’s choral work, along with a dramatic entrance from the back of the theater. Kris Phelps’s lighting brought forth the warm jewel tones, which bathed the stage in a candlelight glow. The set and backdrop, credited to Gary Pederson, Greg Rubio, and Cindy DeHart, made for a respectful nod to the modernist look of the original production. Amidst the crush of holiday consumerism, Amahl’s meaning comes in loud and clear: Give away the hard stuff and good things will happen. SODC’s jewel of a production made of a wonderful alternative holiday theater experience. Let’s hope the youngsters and oldsters got both messages: live art can exciting, and that the things we most cherish make the best gifts. – Nancy Wozny


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ANGELA FRALEIGH: not one girl I think, who looks on the light of the sun, will ever, have wisdom like this AND MICHAEL JONES McKEAN: The Astronomer, The Builder, and the Volunteers Inman Gallery With consistent and national careers, it is nice to see former CORE residents Fraliegh and McKean back in Houston for an impressive show at Inman. The relationship between these two artists’ work is one of stark contrast, with emotional painting and calculating sculpture that clash in the gallery. Violent traces ebb through both bodies of work, first as an oppressive lacquer of oils overlapping intimate moments in Fraliegh’s large paintings and secondly through the splatters and disjointed juxtapositions of McKean’s installations. With both quirky representational painting and process-oriented conceptualism on top of the contemporary art pile, this show is a great look at two artists who are still growing. Fraliegh’s paintings have softened lately; gone are the looks of sheer terror glaring out at the viewer to confront one’s complicity in societal inequality. Love seems to be on display more often then not, with a pleasant touch evident in these engrossing paintings. In slight she looks blankly over her lover’s shoulder. Black oil paint flows across the scene with tendrils of white suspended like smoke in the air. Her mouth is muted by a brushstroke; everything about the moment is obliterated except an arm in embrace and two faces. The protagonist, an ever-present self portrait, directs her eyes within the painting, blunting its relationship with the viewer. Instead an internal cohesion is evident; this relationship is being explored and changing in their eyes. The story she told from that time on and after reverse the dark palette Fraliegh has depended on; instead a warm glow lights the figure from behind. In concert, the oil paint dismembering her image is a translucent combination of organic oranges, buttery yellows, maroon and cream. As if on the beach early enough to catch the rays of a morning sun, her face looks determined to overcome. 28 ARTSHOUSTON

reviews

The tangibility of her treatments was less discernible in earlier work; the obscured atmosphere blended effortlessly into glimpses of figures or directed attention while on the same plane as the rest of the painting. As the artist has evolved the distance between the figures and their environment has become an overlap rather than a whole. In her only painting that looks back to history, as it was then, Fraliegh abandons the poured layers of oils for a slick surface of fur being pulled back and held; only her hands are visible grasping from below. Where the artist is today is represented clearly by her latest work, enthralled with love, filled with hope, and finished with the past. History has always been a large touchstone for Michael Jones McKean; his materials reflect typical American life more than an artist’s tools. In complex installations he has taken over galleries with his sprawling narratives, like the 2007 River Boat Love Songs for the Ghost Whale Regatta at DiverseWorks, but here the rules seem different as McKean takes on a smaller space with a different purpose. Thinking sculpturally, the three works on display were conceptualized differently without the physical space viewers can engage in with installations. The Builder and Science is mounted as a low shelf on the wall with an eclectic assortment of objects on display. A chainsaw is draped in archival paper hardened with resin. A wooden box, a papier-mâché plant and board are sloppily painted white and arranged with a large triangular web of tubing. If this was a suburban garage there would not be a second thought about them, but here our attention can focus on the why and what of daily materials. The swirling associations provoked by McKean’s constructions vary wildly for different people. In this show his materials include a 27 pound meteorite and the fabric from a 1984 Ocean Pacific windbreaker; the more specific bits of information tie down the narratives McKean has woven into The Astronomer and the Wake and Volunteer. The artist’s strengths lie in his ability to draw the viewer into his own subjective world, and despite the large change in his presentation an imaginative narrative is still in place with a power beyond its humble origins. -Sean Carroll Through January 12th, 3901 Alabama, 713-526-7800, inmangallery.com

BRUCE NAUMAN: A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s The Menil Collection Museum As I was walking through the Menil Collection’s visiting exhibition on Bruce Nauman, I shivered with a vision of hundreds of artists stringing a line back to his work. Look, it’s Kiki Smith! Sandback! Flavin, and Holtzer! Nauman used the barest of materials such as line, language, sound, light and the body, from which he managed to set in motion aesthetic ideas have inspired artists ever since. In this show of his early work, Nauman comes across as a young god playing with possibilities and forms, creating an opening for artists of all stripes after him. The exhibition assembles video, sculpture, drawing, performance and photography from the 1960s, giving examples of Nauman’s wide reach as a minimalist and participant in process art. Nauman enrolled in the studio art graduate program at the University of California at Davis in 1964 initially as a painter. He quickly abandoned the medium, however, to pursue making shapes independent of a single plane – an open playing field, to say the least. Moving fluidly between drawing, sculp-


OPPOSITE: Angela Fraleigh, slight, 2007 oil on canvas over panel, 72 x 96 inches TOP: Bruce Nauman, Infrared Outtakes: Neck Pull (photographed by Jack Fulton), 1968/2006; Epson UltraChrome K3 inkjet print; 20 x 28 in.; BOTTOM: Pawel Dutkiewicz, Dwa Biale PAGE 30: AES+F, still from Last Riot, 3-channel HD video, 2007

PAWEL DUTKIEWICZ: BE\TWEEN

ture, installation art and video, Nauman manipulated very basic materials to explore ideas of line and shape. Upon graduation, he got studio space in a former grocery store in San Francisco and began teaching at the Art Institute. Alone in his studio, Nauman decided that whatever he made or did there qualified as art, as is evidenced in a series of movement-based videos. Nauman’s explorations of the body and movement on video and film are essentially also explorations into texture, shape, repetition and sound. The Infrared Outtakes give Nauman’s twisted skin a coppery gleam. The stubble along his neck has a wiry look and the overall texture of the photographs makes the image seem not quite human. His videos of himself in his studio, walking exaggeratedly or stepping in tune to a metronome, show a young man concentrating on the simplicity of body movement; here the process is clearly as important as the output. The viewer gets the same sense of process in Nauman’s videos of himself manipulating a fluorescent tube and a T bar, both of which are nearly his height: body and line(s), moving together, as much a revelation for the viewer as for the artist. Watching him go through the process of moving a line in space rather than on a page feels almost childlike in its simplicity; ultimately, he’s stripping down his aesthetics while giving the line as much visual weight as the artist, if not more. It’s not hard to see how his experiments with shifting line connect with his shuffling of letters and words in his neon and print projects. The viewer can practically hear Nauman thinking to himself, “What about this way? Or if we move them here? Or switch these around?” He writes in neon, seeing how letters flow together in cursive or how they sit on a spiral. He pulls words in and out of “You may not want to be here,” trying out the different combinations to see what they give. His sound box t plays with not only aural but also spatial sensation.

Anya Tish Gallery For his first international exhibition, Pawel Dutkiewicz brings to America a well-worn but comfortable lesson in subtlety. These lessons have already been taught by such artists as Robert Ryman and Agnes Martin, and while at first viewers may be tempted to connect Dutkiewicz to the Ryman/Martin axis, on deeper viewing they will find differences between the three artists. For the majority of his career Ryman has been conducting an ongoing exploration by utilizing the color white as a conduit of expression; within his painting he then emphasizes the application of the pigment to question of what “painting” may consist: the brushstroke (or lack thereof), the amount of paint laid down, and, finally, its presentation in the occasional format of metal sheets flat against—and visually melding with—the wall. His work is at once timeless and continuously contemporary. Martin’s work, though, deals with color, however slight, worked out on a gridded pattern mostly consisting of stripes of various widths. Her paintings are more about the visual experience than Ryman’s intellectual exercises, but both invite serious contemplation. Dutkiewicz’s paintings at Anya Tish fall somewhere in the midst as they deal with both issues: subtle gradation of color and intellectual expression. What often appear to be works of one or two main colors, on closer inspection, are actually composed of eight to twenty or more, so fine are the differences and combinations. Dutkiewicz has, for the most part, carefully melded the colors together by hiding any underlying grid, unlike Martin who left the grid visible and acknowledged the graphite lines as a medium. The lack of an obvious, discernible grid gives Dutkiewicz’s work a diaphanous presence as if emanating a barely perceptible, undulating light; the color seems to evaporate as you view the work. This effect is most pleasingly found in such paintings as Bright Light 4, Bright Light 1, Bright Light V, and the diptych Shining (the paintings are typically, but oddly, numbered in either Arabic or Roman numerals). One usual tenet of hard edge abstraction, under which Dutkiewicz’s work falls along with Martin, Ellsworth Kelly and others, is that the painting surface be ultra flat; another is that painted edges be incredibly crisp as if to remove the human presence, so that all one is left to consider is just the image — nothing interferes or otherwise hinders the work as an object of contemplation. While Kelly’s work will never be fashionably idolic, Martin’s works are

No matter which medium he chooses, Nauman can’t stop pushing through expectations to try to find something new. The overall sensation of the show is vigorous curiosity – an infectious feeling, one anyone would like to have, whether an artist or not. Minimalism in all its elegance can sometimes come off as cold, mechanical or academic; in this show, it never felt so vibrant. -Victoria Ludwin Through January 13, 1515 Sul Ross, 713.525.9400, menil.org ARTS HOUSTON 29


often a source for reverence in their ethereal quietude. Dutkiewicz’s paintings often approach this level, but remain grounded in humanity: one sees the artist’s imprint through the occasional visible brushstroke, but more often through slightly imprecise lines. Some may see this as a fault, but if that is absolutely all one considers in what makes a successful work, then they are not really giving it its full due. At first some may regard Dutkiewicz’s work as being cold and lacking color when, in fact, they are about the beauty of simplicity and full of color. Sean Scully, one of America’s most successful artists, paints abstractions of bars of color that quite often display uneven lines and partially covered, previously used colors, but what sets them far and above other painters of a similar subject is that they have a history to them, a fleshy humanity and soul. This is where Dutkiewicz stands away from Martin. While Martin is of the heavens, Dutkiewicz is of this earth, observing the heavens and showing us what is possible if we only care to look. He is revising some of the lessons we’ve already learned, and it will be interesting to see if he can surpass them. -R. Eric Davis Through December 29th, 4411 Montrose, 713.524.2299, anyatishgallery.com

AES+F: Defile, Suspects: Seven Sinners and Seven Righteous, and Last Riot The Station Museum of Contemporary Art The Russian artist collective AES+F casts its viewers as witnesses, constructing aesthetic situations that force them to question their senses and sensibilities. Through carefully manipulated photographic and video installations, artists Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky and Vladimir Fridkes present highly engineered artworks designed to push past comfort levels in order to grapple with issues of taboo, guilt, violence, sensationalism and sexuality. The Station Museum of Contemporary Art pulls no punches in its presentation; the most intense installation, Defile, is presented immediately upon entry to the galleries. Seeming to float in white backlit boxes, life-sized photographs of human corpses greet the viewer—all the more unsettling is the fact that four transfix you with the compelling gaze of their still-open eyes. Each has been clothed, via skillful digital manipulation, in haute couture, bare feet pointing downward to provide the sole hint that these bodies were actually reclining when photographed. Because the clothes were worn by live models (who have since been edited out), their lines retain a sense of motion that transfers to the corpses, stiff stances are transformed into striking runway poses. Especially touching are the details that hint at the stories of these anonymous dead: an autopsy scar, electrode pads and bandages, drastic emaciation. It’s tempting to read a critique of the fashion industry’s hunger for skeletal models into the work, though perhaps this would be a bit facile. More than this, the installation deftly weaves questions of mortality and materiality, beauty and the grotesque, motion and stasis, obliging the viewer to engage with the uncomfortable yet enchanting images. The next gallery seems to offer a break from the haunting display in the first, yet its installation, Suspects, gradually reveals a sense of eeriness and sor30 ARTSHOUSTON

row. A circular red wall reads “SUSPECTS” in giant letters; on the wall’s inner surface are large photographs of fourteen adolescent girls. Seven are presumably “innocent,” we learn, while the other seven are murderers. Presented with this array of young faces and deprived of any hint at their background, we are nudged into the role of jury, invited to debate the identity of the guilty with nothing more than our own assumptions to guide us. At the exhibition opening, murmurs rumbled through the inner circle as viewers hotly debated the virtues or vices of these girls based on subtle cues in their facial expressions. Sure of their verdicts, viewers are thrust into complicity with the sensationalist media culture that the installation critiques. Many viewers startled themselves with how quick to judge they were, realizing that we may all easily fall victim to the assumptions of others. Last Riot provides a soundtrack that is heard, not inappropriately, throughout the other installations. Presented on three screens, this video installation is an amalgam references to war-based videogames, Abercrombie & Fitch advertisements, the spectacle of Wagner operas and those infamous Abu Ghraib photographs. To the alternating echoes of heroic fanfares and rhythmic percussion, a multiracial group of pretty adolescents engages in sensual acts of ritualized violence, all set in a computerized landscape populated with firing tanks, creeping lizards, crashing trains, mysterious spacecraft and volcanic explosions. The carefully choreographed movements of the models is achieved not through video, but via still photographs that morph from position to position, adding a disturbing sense of plasticity to the models’ nonchalant faces. Tracing a narrative is tempting, but almost impossible as it soon becomes clear that the models’ acts of violence are infinitely interchangeable; the victim of one act soon becomes the aggressor in another, and so on. The three panels of the installation act to enhance the immediacy of the events, though as the clashes and tortures reveal themselves to be bloodless, we stop worrying so much and begin to revel in their artful choreography. Through this installation, AES+F engages both the pointlessness and mythic aspects of cyclical violence, highlighting the desensitization that results from our hunger for sensationalism. When we can no longer be shocked, what will be left of our integrity? Ultimately, this is an exhibition that leaves the gallery with you, lingering in your mind far longer than you lingered in its presence—perhaps the highest accomplishment for any work of art. -Tria Wood Through February 29th, 1502 Alabama, 713.529.6900, stationmuseum.com


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January Arts Calendar January 2 Main Street Theater 713.524.6706 mainstreettheater.com Caroline, or Change, thru 1/20. January 4 MFAH Films 713.639.7300 mfah.org The Red Balloon and White Mane, thru 1/6. Houston Symphony 713.224.7575 houstonsymphony.org Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway, thru 1/6. Houston Poetry Fest First Fridays 713.521.3519 houstonpoetryfest.net Larry D. Thomas, 2008 Poet Laureate of Texas, 8:30pm, Inprint House. January 5 Redbud Gallery 713.862.2532 redbudgallery.com Peru Group Show, thru 1/27. January 7 Society for the Performing Arts 713.227.4SPA spahouston.org The 5 Browns, 8pm, Jones Hall January 10 Hope Stone Dance 713.315.2525 hopestoneinc.org See Me, thru 1/11, 7:30pm, Wortham Center. Houston Symphony 713.224.7575 houstonsymphony.org Graf’s Mozart and Hayden, and 1/12 thru 1/13. January 11 Alley Theatre 713.228.8421 alleytheatre.org Love, Janis, thru 2/10. DiverseWorks 713.223.8346 diverseworks.org Brent Green’s 3 Piece Band, Flicker Fusion, Agustina Nuñez: Little Polymorphous, thru 2/23. MK Guth: Ties of Protection and Safe Keepings, 6pm, one night only. Aurora Picture Show 713.868.2101 aurorapictureshow.org Opposites Attract, with Musiqa, 7:30pm, Zilkha Hall, Hobby Center. MFAH Films 713.639.7300 mfah.org War and Peace, thru 1/14. Society for the Performing Arts 713.227.4SPA spahouston.org The 5 Browns, 8pm, Jones Hall Wade Wilson 713.521.2977 wadewilsonart.com Virgil Grotfeldt, thru 1/30. January 12 Gallery Sonja Roesch 713.659.5424 gallerysonjaroesch.com Jac Leirner: Mixed Media Sculptures, thru 3/1. Moody Gallery 713.526.9911 moodygallery.com Claire Ankenman: Slices, thru 2/16. New Gallery/Thom Andriola 713.520.7053 newgallery.net Andreas Nottebohm, thru 2/16. Hooks-Epstein Galleries 713.522.0718 hooksepsteingalleries.com Mark Greenwalt: Dust, Line and Allegory & James Michael Starr:

Studies for a Dream About Hans Bellmer, thru 2/16. Bering & James 713.529.0351 beringjamesgallery.com Landscapes, 6pm. Society for the Performing Arts 713.227.4SPA spahouston.org Radio Stories and Other Stories: Ira Glass, 8pm, Wortham Center. Deborah Colton Gallery 713.869.5151 deborahcoltongallery.com DIGITALIA: Intimacy in the Hyperreal, thru 3/1 January 15 MFAH 713.639.7300 www.mfah.org Passionate Vision: Celebrating the Life and Photographic Work of Beaumont Newhall, thru 5/4. Rothko Chapel 713.524.9839 rothkochapel.org Diunna Greenleaf: Martin Luther King Birthday Concert, 7:30pm. January 16 Broadway in Houston 713.622.SHOW BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com Jersey Boys, thru 2/9, Sarofim Hall, Hobby Center. January 17 Houston Center for Photography 713.529.4755 hcponline.org 26th Anniversary Print Auction Exhibition, thru 2/13. DiverseWorks 713.223.8346 diverseworks.org Mildred’s Umbrella and Bobbindoctrin Theater: Rot, thru 1/19. January 18 Lawndale Art Center 713.528.5858 lawndaleartcenter.org Children in Heat: Jason Villegas, Jessica Rudick and Timothy Warner; The Best That I Can Give You and Less Than Half of What You Deserve: Katie Pell; Moving In: Maria Guzman; After 9/11 - Pen and Ink Drawings: Lynne Rutzky, thru 2/23 CTRL Gallery 713.523.2875 ctrlgallery.com Thames Mudlarks, thru 2/23. Houston Symphony 713.224.7575 houstonsymphony.org Strauss’s Alpine Symphony, thru 1/20. Houston Grand Opera 713.546.0200 houstongrandopera.com The Abduction from the Seraglio, thru 2/2, Wortham Center. MFAH Films 713.639.7300 mfah.org 10+14, and 1/20. Unfinished Stories, and 1/19. January 19 Blaffer Gallery 713.743.9521 hfac.uh.edu/blaffer Chantal Akerman: Moving Through Time and Space, thru 3/29. MFAH Films 713.639.7300 mfah.org Rule of the Game, and 1/20. Society for the Performing Arts 713.227.4SPA spahouston.org The Scales of Memory: Urban Bush Women, 8pm, Wortham Center. January 22 Houston Friends of Music 713.348.5400 houstonfriendsofmusic.org Ying and Turtle Island Quartets, 8pm, Stude Concert Hall, Rice

University. January 24 Rice Gallery 713.348.6069 ricegallery.org Mambo Jambo: Cabinet of the Cosmos, thru 3/2. Museum of Printing History 713.522.4652 printingmuseum.org Finn Nygaard, thru 4/5. Gremillion & Co. 713.522.2701gremillion.com Elizabeth Chandler, thru 2/25. Houston Symphony 713.224.7575 houstonsymphony.org Mozart and Brahms, and 1/26 thru 1/27. Da Camera 713.524.5050 dacamera.com Dreamworlds, 8pm, Wortham Center. January 25 Joan Wich & Co. 713.526.1551 joanwichgallery.com Katie Kahn: Gratitude, thru 3/1. Houston Grand Opera 713.546.0200 houstongrandopera.com The Magic Flute, thru 2/9, Wortham Center. Houston Symphony 713.224.7575 houstonsymphony.org Steve Tyrell, 8pm. MFAH Films 713.639.7300 mfah.org Persian Carpet, and 1/27. January 26 Contemporary Arts Museum Houston 713.284.8250 hcamh.org Design Life Now: National Design Triennial, thru 4/20. Barbara Davis Gallery 713.520.9201 barbaradavisgallery.com Imperative Design: Furnishings as Art, opens 6:30pm. Ensemble Theatre 713.807.4309 ensemblehouston.com Gem of the Ocean, thru 2/24. MFAH Films 713.639.7300 mfah.org Red Robin, and 1/27. Havana File, 5pm. January 27 MFAH 713.639.7300 www.mfah.org Where Clouds Disperse: Ink Paintings by Suh Se-ok, thru 4/20. January 29 Da Camera 713.524.5050 dacamera.com Kafka Fragments, 7:30pm, Menil Collection Museum. CANTARE Houston 281.639.3017 cantarehouston.org January Jazz and Just Desserts, 7:30pm, The Founders Club, Hobby Center. January 30 Nameless Sound 713.928.5653 namelesssound.org Tetuzi Akiyama and Jozef van Wissem, 8pm, Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum. A.D. Players Children’s Theatre 713.526.2721 adplayers.org Peter and the Wolf, thru 3/1.

Do have a February opening or event that you’d like to see listed here? Send the pertinent info and/or press release to tria@artshouston.com by Feb. 10th. 32you ARTSHOUSTON


Featured Listings

Paid Advertising

Gail Siptak and Heinrich Reisenbauer Opening January 10 koelsch gallery 703 Yale Street, 713-862-5744 koelschgallery.com

Thames Mudlarks

Ashley Maclean and Traci Matlock

Opening January 18 CTRL Gallery 3907 Main Street, 713-523-CTRL ctrlgallery.com

Opening January 19 DeSantos Gallery 1724-A Richmond, 713-520-1200 desantosgallery.com

Stained By Grace: A photographic pilgrimage into the heart and soul of stained glass. Photographer Justin Ulmer has produced powerful images of color and motion. Xnihilo Gallery is located at 2115 Taft Street in Houston. Gallery Hours: 8 am - 10 pm weekdays, 9 am - 9 pm weekends

Internationally renowned, Houston-based artist Virgil Grotfeldt will display new works in an exhibition Paintings opening Friday, January 11, 6 - 9 p.m. at Wade Wilson Art. Grotfeldt’s works center around complex expressions of natural phenomena rendered through delicate, biomorphic abstractions in organic materials such as coal dust suspended in acrylic medium. wadewilsonart.com

AES+F

Through February 29 Station Museum 1502 Alabama, 713-529-6900 stationmuseum.com

Orinoco Gallery Currently displaying works by renowned, as well as emerging young artists from Venezuela. Our collection includes a variety of paintings, drawings, and other work on paper as well as sculptures covering figurative, abstract, geometric and surrealistic art. We are conveniently located inside The Galleria Mall, (Galleria III) between Saks and Macy’s.

Peel Gallery Shop is the evolution of the traditional gallery space, mixing art and retail with aplomb, going beyond the usual home décor store by focusing on individual artistry rather than mass-marketed consumption. 4411 Montrose. peelgallery.org

John Palmer is represented by fine art galleries in cities such as New York, London, Seattle and New Orleans. Palmer’s art can also be seen in Tony’s Restaurant and the Ritz Carlton in Dallas. Palmer’s studio is currently located at Winter Street Studios. His new residence and studio on Heights Blvd will be completed in April 2008. www.JohnPalmerArt.com ARTS HOUSTON 33


By John DeMers

Jasper’s

Rathbun Takes ‘Backyard Cuisine’ to Surprising New Heights

T

he father who raised both Kent Rathbun of Abacus in Dallas and his brother Kevin of Nava and Rathbun’s in Atlanta to be famous chefs belonged to the greatest barbecue fan club that ever existed, the brotherhood of touring jazz and blues musicians. From Louis Armstrong to B.B. King to Wynton Marsalis, the arrival routine for such artists has changed not one bit: find the gig, find the hotel, find some barbecue. Inspired by what he tasted in his travels, as well as by what he tasted at home in Kansas City, Rathbun’s father perfected his own skills to the point of asking to cook for his buddies in hotel kitchens on the road. Back home, he made sure his sons knew their way around not only a smoky backyard pit but the classics of Kansas City’s barbecue scene, especially the legendary Arthur Bryant’s. The single most intriguing thing about Rathbun’s concept for Jasper’s, beyond its subtitle “Gourmet Backyard Cuisine,” is the absence of a true smoker in the kitchen. At the original location up in Plano, as well as in expansions to the Woodlands and then to the Austin area, Rathbun has not only installed the “next best thing” but has, in a sense, carried barbecue even farther back to its roots. The smoker-grill he’s designed for Jasper’s starts out each day as a rotisserie, with chicken, turkey, baby back pork ribs and even rainbow trout turning slowly high above a fire of oak and hickory. At this point, the grill man pushes the burning wood and glowing coals forward under a grate, adding more wood as the evening progresses, to create a high-heat grill for finishing smoked meats as well as cooking flat iron steaks. There’s no time-honored 18 or 20 hours of cooking beef brisket at Jasper’s, but there is the tradition and the taste, delivered by a man who remembers the boy who loved nothing better. A perfect example of what a chef-artist does with old-fashioned barbecue is what Rathbun does with his baby back ribs – even before he dishes them up with New Age/Old World “creamy baked potato salad.” You have to start, he says, with a great product – which is chefspeak for “expensive meat.” Each rack gets rubbed with olive oil and then with a spice blend created for the 34 ARTSHOUSTON

occasion, then allowed to marinate with those flavors for 12 hours or more. These racks are then cooked over a low fire until medium-well done, being flipped often and basted with a citrus barbecue sauce. Once they reach that desired status in life, they are transferred to a pan, covered with aluminum foil and chilled. When ordered, the racks are cut into “bricks” of three ribs each and finished on the by-now super-hot grill. As though in response, Rathbun’s version of traditional Texas potato salad starts out as a baked potato, then gets cubed and flash-fried, then mixed with sour cream and spices where the mayo normally would be. Even to a potato salad lover – or indeed to a baked potato lover, or to a French fry lover – Kent Rathbun’s spin on this classic is an epiphany. One of the joys of Jasper’s, seldom seen in other, far simpler Texas barbecue joints, is first-rate appetizers, soups and salads. Best starters include the prosciutto-wrapped shrimp and grits, direct from the Carolinas by way of polenta-crazed northern Italy, the jumbo lump crab cakes made a textural wonderland by tomatillo-poblano cream and jicama-tortilla slaw, and (for blue cheese fans) a freshly-fried order of perfect potato chips doused with creamycrumbly Maytag blue. The best soup is the grilled chicken masa, a bit like Tex-Mex “tortilla soup” that’s died and gone to heaven, while the single best salad wanders far from Texas barbecue. It features red chili-seared ahi tuna, with rice noodles and a heat-infused Thai vinaigrette. Happily, desserts at Jasper’s come as “minis,” not so much so you can eat less as so you can eat more of them. Customer favorites based on childhood memories include the banana parfait with homemade “Nilla” wafers (the pudding whipped till air-light, garnished with banana slices and a sprinkle of crushed vanilla wafers), the Rocky Road ice cream sandwich with chocolate and caramel sauces and “gooey marshmallow cream,” and Rick’s Rockin’ Chocolate Cake. Rathbun is threatening to work up a new dessert based on those old-time campfire s’mores. After tasting all that’s come before, we’ve decided to take him very seriously.


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ARTS HOUSTON 35


Where to Eat

Paid Advertising

“Purely Indian, Purely Good” -Allison Cook, Houston Chronicle

Yatra Brasserie 706 Main, 713.224.6700 yatrausa.com

Flemings Steakhouse 2405 W. Alabama 713.520.5959

Zula 705 Main Street 713.227.7052 zulahouston.com Zula restaurant is a private exquisite dinning facility catering to both corporate and social events including: Conventions, business meetings, Seminars, Conferences, Weddings and other special events. Our Zula’s Catering Team can host your luncheons, dinners and cocktail receptions. The space can be transformed to fit your specific needs, whether it is a small room for 25 or a larger space catering to 350.

Ouisie’s Table 3939 San Felipe 713.528.2264 ouisiestable.com

Ibiza 2450 Louisana 713.520.7300 ibizaloungenextdoor.com 36 ARTSHOUSTON

Salud! Winery 3939 Montrose 713.522.8282 saludwinery.com Salud! Winery caters to all your wine needs. Try before you buy! Sit and enjoy some cheeses or fine chocolates on the patio with your selection, or bring it home. We’re big on education, so talk with our trained staff and taste any of the wines before taking a bottle home. Want to make your own? You’ll be guided through the steps of making wine. 45 days later when the batch is ready, you return to bottle the wine and put on labels designed specifically for you.


Restaurant Listings Armando’s 2630 Westheimer Rd (713) 520-1738 riveroaksgrill.com

The Daily Grind 4115 Washington Ave (713) 861-4558 dailygrindunwind.com

Onion Creek 3106 White Oak Dr (713) 880-0706 onioncreekcafe.com

Arturos Uptown 1180 Uptown Park Blvd # 1 (713) 621-1180 arturosuptown.com

Dry Creek 544 Yale St (713) 426-2313 drycreekcafe.com

Picnic 1928 Bissonnet St (713) 524-0201 picnicboxlunches.com

Azuma 5600 Kirby Dr (713) 432-9649 azumajapanese.com

El Meson 2425 University Blvd (713) 522-9306 elmeson.com

The Raven Grill 1916 Bissonnet St (713) 521-2027 theravengrill.com

Berryhill Baja Grill 702 E. 11st 713-225-2252 berryhilltamales.com

Empire Cafe 1732 Westheimer 713.528.5282 empirecafe.net

Shade 250 W 19th St (713) 863-7500 shadeheights.com

Café Botticelli 318 W Gray St 713.533.1140

Farrago 318 Gray St (713) 523-6404 farrago.tv

Star Pizza 77 Harvard (713)-869-1241 starpizza.net

Gen. Joe’s Chopstix 3939 Montrose Blvd 713.521.9393

Tacos a Go-Go 3704 Main Street 713.8078226 tacosagogo.com

Catalan 5555 Washington Ave, Suite A (713) 426-4260 catalanfoodandwine.com Catalina Coffee 2201 Washington Ave (713) 861-8448 The Chocolate Bar 1835 W Alabama St (713) 520-8599 Cova 5555 Washington Ave. 713.868.3366 covawines.com Crapittos 2400 Midlane St (713) 961-1161 crapittos.com Crescent City Beignets 3260 Westheimer Rd (713) 520-8291 Crickets Creamery 315 W 19th St (713) 869-9450

Hungry’s Bistro 2356 Rice Blvd (713) 523-8652 hungryscafe.com Inversion Coffee House 1953 Montrose Blvd (713) 523-4866 inversioncoffee.com Julia’s Bistro 3722 Main St (713) 807-0090 juliasbistro.com Kenny and Ziggy’s 2327 Post Oak Blvd (713) 871-8883 kennyandziggys.com

T’Afia 3701 Travis St (713) 524-6922 tafia.com Tart Cafe 4411 Montrose Blvd (713) 526-8278 tartcafe.com The Tasting Room Lounge 114 Gray 713-528-6402 tastingroomwines.com The Wine Bucket 2311 W Alabama St # A (713) 942-9463 thewinebucket.com

Mi Luna 2441 University Blvd (713) 520-5025 mi-luna.com ARTS HOUSTON 37


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Black Bottle Original Blend Scotch

For over 100 years this spirit has been warming the hearts of whisky lovers. From the master blender himself, Gordon Graham, comes this timeless classic creation of the seven heartier Islay malts. Displaying a nose of peat smoke and tingling spices, the flavor lingers with over-ripe plums, vanilla intensity and long lingering sea salt and the delicate footprint of Speyside sweetness. Few blended whiskies can claim the rich heritage of this original blend Black Bottle scotch. 80° 750ml around $22

Spec’s... wines from A to Z to A!"

Smith Woodhouse Lodge Reserve Port A luscious, intense, dark red Port that’s a blend of premium wines aged five years in the wood before being bottled. With notes of chocolate and coffee, it is full of the rich dense black cherry flavor reminiscent of Italian liquor-soaked cherries. It has medium tannins in the mouth and light prune flavors round out the fruit elements with a prominent finish of milk chocolate. Keep this one in the fridge for a scrumptious dessert treat. Great wine and value! 750ml under $18

Cin Chili Championship Chili and Hot Sauce

This lady is everywhere you look nowadays—in fact, look for her on the tv show The View in January and hear her remarkable story. It was just a matter of time that she started packaging her award-winning chili ready-made, and now she has her own hot sauce to spice it up. This family owned business was started by Cindy Reed Wilkins, who has two first place trophies from the Terlingua International Chili Championship. She is the only person who has won it twice, and she did it back to back. Deciding to let chili lovers enjoy and savor her chili without having to attend a professional chili cook-off, she spent years perfecting “the recipe”. We are happy she did. Hot Sauce 5oz $5.99, Chili 8.8oz $3.69 Not all items available in all stores. Prices include 5% Cash Discount, and may be subject to change.

NOW COLLE OPEN IN GE 3 NEW STATION, NOW STORES AUSTIN OPEN IN ! WEBS SEE OUR ITE F INFO. OR

If you haven't been to Spec's Superstore lately, you're in for a true treat! A world of wines, foods and liquors all under one roof. With over 40,000 items in our Deli alone, it would be impossible to list 'em all, so here's just a little sampler:

Cucina Viva Asparagus Risotto Ricky’s Lucky Nuts Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen cookbook The Fearless Critic Houston Restaurant Guide Susie’s South Forty Texas Trash Maker’s Mark Bourbon Chocolates Choctal Chocolate Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream And so much more! Visit us here, or visit us online at www.specsonline.com, but you just gotta come see us! With friendly help, Just Flat Cheap Prices and 5% Discount for Cash or Debit Cards, you'd be wasting your money going anywhere else!

713-526-8787 • www.specsonline.com 2410 Smith Street • Houston, TX 77006

ARTS HOUSTON 39 A to Z Pinot Noir 750ml around $15 cash, A by Acacia Pinot Noir 750ml around $15 cash


40 ARTSHOUSTON

ArtsHouston Magazine January 2008  

ArtsHouston Magazine January 2008

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