Art Notes


Painter%26#8217;s Progress/Oh So Demure: It%26#8217;s all about the triumph of the Texans. Two exhibits in that direction are highly recommended: Seth Alverson returns to town for a solo at Art Palace %26#8212; with a newly minted MFA and a very strange, albeit compelling group of paintings that pack a menacing narrative (through August 21) ... At Houston Arts Alliance%26#8217;s Space 125 Gallery, the power duo of Houston talents Melanie Crader and Katy Heinlein (a painter and sculptor, respectively), makes an impact in %26#8220;If We Only Knew Now What They Knew Then%26#8221; (through September 9).
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The Monets and Manets are Coming: Dipping into the pool of art history, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, just announced a sensational Spring 2011 blockbuster: %26#8220;Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art,%26#8221; which comes to town February 20, 2010 for a dazzling three-month run (through May 22, 2010). Kudos to director Peter Marzio for tapping these treasures for Houston audiences while the National Gallery galleries are undergoing renovation, continuing an initiative that began in 2003 with an important tour of MoMA masterpieces and followed in 2007 with traveling iconic canvases from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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Portrait Pizzazz Plus a Few Taboos: %26#8220;Do I Know You%26#8221; at Inman Gallery may be the most extraordinary show of the summer, rounding up international and Texas types to present compelling takes on contemporary portraiture, from Billy Sullivan to Rachel Hecker. The town%26#8217;s buzzing with Heyd Fontenot%26#8217;s sittings of art-world types rendered nude and semi-nude, which add an impromptu performance element via a dialogue between the sitter and the artist (through August 21) ... %26#8220;Tattoo/Taboo%26#8221; at Poissant Gallery serves up a provocative group take on topics that span environmentalism to erotic skin markings (through August 14) ... At the University Museum at Texas Southern University, Gregory School curator Danielle Burns organizes a thoughtful solo for Kaneem Smith, %26#8220;Out of Tribulation%26#8221;; Smith%26#8217;s simple, almost homespun sculptural materials bear the weight of African-American history (through September 25) .... Late Houston figurative/landscape painter Barbara Jones gets a major retrospective at ArtCar Museum. Look for this under-sung talent%26#8217;s on-the-edge series %26#8220;Girls with Guns,%26#8221; which steals the show (through October 8).
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Piano Forte: The verdict is in. A recent poll of architectural professionals conducted by Vanity Fair %26#8212; and published to great ballyhoo in the August 2010 issue %26#8212; has anointed the top buildings in the world since 1980. While Frank Gehry%26#8217;s twisted titanium abstraction, aka the Guggenheim Bilbao, scored number one, Renzo Piano%26#8217;s sublime and understated structure for The Menil Collection landed the number-two spot. Therefore, the excitement about the Italian master%26#8217;s Kimbell Art Museum expansion has increased. Breaking ground this summer, the $125 million project is on track to open 2013, with Piano subtly mirroring Louis Kahn%26#8217;s classical 1972 structure while reorienting the entrance so visitors no longer arrive through what Kahn originally designed as the back of the museum. To preview Piano%26#8217;s plans, visit kimbellart.org.
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Arrivals: Two of the most eagerly awaited appointments of the year in the Texas art arena were announced within days of each other. The Dallas Contemporary%26#8217;s new executive director, Peter Doroshenko, arrives this October from Kiev, where he recently served as the president and artistic director of the Pinchuk Art Centre. Doroshenko also has Texas ties, most recently as a visiting lecturer for the Core Program at the MFAH%26#8217;s Glassell School of Art. Meanwhile, retiring Contemporary director Joan Davidow, whose ambitious leadership resulted in DC%26#8217;s new industrial-scaled digs at 161 Glass Street, is being honored this fall with a Legend Award ... Closer to home, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston%26#8217;s curator Toby Kamps leaves his CAMH position to join The Menil Collection as its new curator of modern and contemporary art, filling the post vacated by Franklin Sirmans when he joined Los Angeles County Museum of Art earlier this year. Kamps%26#8217; curatorial high points at the CAMH include %26#8220;The Old, Weird America,%26#8221; named 2008%26#8217;s %26#8220;Best Thematic Show Nationally%26#8221; by the U.S. chapter of the International Association of Art Critics, and last summer%26#8217;s extraordinary %26#8220;No Zoning,%26#8221; a high-voltage look at the most significant players in the Houston scene, from Flower Man to Dean Ruck and Dan Havel ... Painter Patricia Hernandez has launched her own administrative art services company and is currently archiving Lawndale Art Center%26#8217;s historical trove ... Meanwhile, Morton Kuehnert announces the arrival of Lindsay Davis, a certified appraiser with an expertise in fine art. She holds an MA from Columbia, with experience ranging from the international auction house Phillips de Pury %26amp; Company to the bastion of cool Haunch of Venison gallery. Reach her at ldavis@mortonkuehnert.com.
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Can You Say Art Auction: Support the upcoming 268-page volume Texas Artists Today (to be released this fall from Marquand Books and penned by this scribe, with portraits in studio taken by photogs including PaperCity%26#8217;s Jenny Antill and collages crafted by Tatiana Massey) by attending a lively auction at the collection of Penelope and Lester Marks on Thursday, August 26. The de Medicis of the Houston art world, the Markses%26#8217; holdings are as acclaimed as their support of Texas talents. Wade Wilson does live-auction honors, while works by Sharon Kopriva, Howard Sherman, H.J. Bott, McKay Otto, Bert Long Jr. (a collectible that accompanies a culinary experience), Robyn O%26#8217;Neil and other book artists are on the block. The owners of the top five auction lots receive an invite to a black-tie dinner during Art Basel Miami Beach this December, while their acquisitions are included in the %26#8220;Positivism Project%26#8221; on view during the Art Basel Miami Beach Fair week. Best of all, the book benefits four entities: Lawndale Art Center, Dallas Contemporary, Menninger and Beyond Batten Disease Foundation. For an invite/details, contact Margaret Bott, 713.582.4127; mdbott@gmail.com.
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Images:%26#160; Above, Melanie Crader%26#8217;s "After all these years, the contents remain" (detail), 2010, at Space 125 Gallery, Houston Arts Alliance. Below, Seth Alverson%26#8217;s "Bed for One," 2010, at Art Palace

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