In the Studio: Ascendant Visualists

The separation between the runway and the white cube is porous...

Kate Stukenberg and Catherine D. Anspon
Posted:
May 01, 2013

… and one always wants to know: What would a modern Georgia O’Keeffe wear? Or today’s Basquiat? Those are the questions posed to eight emerging Houston artists by PaperCity’s fashion editor Kate Stukenberg and arts editor Catherine D. Anspon. 

Portraits and places: 
Allison V. Smith

Because: No one conjures the light of West  Texas like this Dallas-based lens lady armed with her Hasselblad. Or records the rugged visage of American master Robert Indiana while penetrating his timeworn lair in a 19th-century lodge in the remote hamlet of Vinalhaven, Maine. She shares this fascination with photography with her late grandfather, Stanley Marcus; the pair’s image-making prowess and eye for uncanny detail were celebrated in a show this spring at [Artspace] at Untitled, Oklahoma City. 

F-stop: Smith’s highly collectible annual zine, 
releasing at press time, documents her obsessions, from the perfect platter of deviled eggs to Maine and Marfa road trips, canines and artists Mark DiSuvero and the aforementioned text-king Indiana, who deserves his own Smith volume. Up next: inclusion in a major photo show at husband Barry Whistler’s gallery in October and a solo at The Old Jail Art Center in Albany, Texas, next year. Represented by Barry Whistler Gallery, Dallas. 

Queen of photography, 
purveyor of fabric laced 
with history: 
Letitia Huckaby

Because: She elegiacally and originally explores African-American identity and the construct of family, especially the all-powerful archetype of the black matriarch via an original media: fabric imprinted with photography, which conjures personal history and ancestral memory. Because of her installations invoking fashion and dressmaking, set in epic-scaled spaces, we predict Huckaby’s potent statements will soon register on curatorial consciousnesses.

Commerce Street or bust: Showing in the past 18 months at an energetic pace at art spaces from Cork City, Ireland, to New Orleans, this innovative photographer/installationist was most recently featured in a group exhibition, at the acclaimed Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia, days before our photo shoot. But her most important exhibition is yet to come: Huckaby is readying for an impressive solo at the newly minted Liliana Bloch Gallery, unfurling January 2014. Represented by Liliana Bloch Gallery, Dallas.

Glass blast plus a side 
of performance: 
Shannon Brunskill

Because: After an epiphany during a museum visit, Brunskill embarked on a career in studio glass, earning BFA and MFA degrees with honors from the University of Texas at Arlington. While still a student, she established an award-garnering practice that marries cast glass with found objects to forge sculptures imbued with the past, marked by Brunskill’s intuitive use of reclaimed materials, from a timeworn jack-in-the-box to a vintage Radio Flyer wagon.

In the kiln: This summer, the internationally exhibited Pollock-Krasner Fellow/mistress of glass secures a coveted position at the Seattle-area Pilchuck Glass School — the holy grail of the craft movement — where she will serve as program assistant, kiln manager and collaborator with visiting Aussie artist Mel George. Back home, stay tuned for adventures via PoP4, a collaborative Brunskill co-founded with three other women artists to push architectural and residential glass installations in Dallas. Also upcoming is the performance Shifting, venue TBD, where this glass lady steps from behind the kiln to stage a psychological piece “about shifting things within your mental space.” Represented by Mary Thomas Gallery, Dallas and Bullseye Gallery, Portland, Oregon.

The beauty of the banal: Leigh Merrill

Because: She’s the Edward Hopper of the parking lot, but in lieu of a paintbrush, Merrill packs video and still cameras. Her subjects — prosaic malls, vernacular architecture, strips of convenience stores, low-rent restaurants, colorful bodegas — are hauntingly devoid of inhabitants, 
yet imbued with messages served up via ubiquitous signage. After 
snapping, she skillfully rearranges reality in her computer and recently 
added the plaintive call of the mockingbird to her videos, which demand close attention.

Suites of streetscapes: Her latest, the intriguingly titled “Manifest Destiny,” was showcased at the posh Hotchkiss School’s Tremaine Gallery in Connecticut earlier this spring. Meanwhile, Merrill’s creative calendar is brimming with upcoming group exhibitions and screenings from Brussels to Milwaukee. Catch her current two-person show at Swarm Gallery in Oakland, California (through June 9), and a solo at Women and Their 
Work in Austin, on the books for fall. Represented by Stafford Contemporary, Albany, New York.

Way beyond craft: Justin Ginsberg

Because: His ground-breaking interventions with glass into architectural structures — hair-fine filaments of silica threads inserted across cavernous rooms of oft abandoned industrial buildings — are poetic, heroic and poignant. Now, Ginsberg pushes the envelope even further by adding video, public staging, collaboration and the birth of a scintillating platform/grass-roots hybrid, Apophenia Underground, co-founded by fellow provocateur, artist Jeff Gibbons, which promises to reconfigure forever the concept of happenings in Dallas.

The open road and shop windows for all: With Apophenia Underground rolling out a robust lineup in Deep Ellum’s vacant storefronts this spring of avant-garde solos, group views and even a sound installation and text creations plastered down the side of a building (details apopheniaunderground.com), Ginsberg is also contemplating a two-month road trip through the continental U.S. come summer. Again pairing with Gibbons, the duo will be burying artworks everywhere they go and documenting this unorthodox, yet captivating construct. This month, RO2 Project Space rolls out “Mesophase,” featuring Ginsberg’s personal creations in video, glass and new installation art (May 3 – June 1). Represented by RO2 Art, Dallas, and Hempel Design, Houston.

Roses ‘r’ us: Angela Kallus

Because: This Texas painter’s MFA sojourn in the glitzy academia that is the University of Nevada at Las Vegas only upped her game upon canvas. The result: lush, 3-D acrylic paintings that dazzle with dark beauty and sculptural impact. The most recent — clusters of densely packed roses — demonstrate Kallus’ successful migration from a previous, almost hallucinogenic target series to her succulent new bouquets.

Future portents: After her striking Marty Walker debut this spring, Kallus blooms in a three-person drawing show at Gallery 76102 in Fort Worth, curated by Amon Carter Museum’s Rebecca Lawton (through May 31). She’s also a finalist for the hefty $50,000 Hunting Art Prize (winner to be announced in Houston Saturday, May 4), and appears in a one-night-only happening, “VELVEASL!” at William Campbell Contemporary Art, organized by Christopher Blay (Friday, May 3). This former student of pop cultural art historian Dave Hickey is also frequently on the national fair circuit, thanks to her stalwart Dallas and L.A. dealers. Represented by Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas and Peter Mendenhall Gallery, Los Angeles.

Sour Grapes to Scope Miami: Carlos Donjuan

Because: He balances street art and the mainstream and has attracted the attention — and been acquired by — Latino collector of renown, the ground-breaking Cheech Marin, as well as Texas art forces Ann and Jim Harithas. Armed with an MFA from UTSA, Donjuan currently juggles a teaching gig as adjunct assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington with his role as a leader of Sour Grapes graffitists. He also has a career as a respected painter whose mixed-media works address the immigrant experience with true-life insight (he came to America from his parents’ native Mexico as a child of three).

Mural-rama: On the horizon, Donjuan undertakes a pair of ambitious public projects, both in Oak Cliff: first, painting a wall next to Shepard Fairey’s at the Belmont Hotel; then, most impressively, a $50,000 mural for the Jefferson Street viaduct, commissioned by the City of Dallas. He’s also got a slew of white-cube solos planned, including Gravelmouth in San Antonio (through mid May); Iowa’s Grand View University in September; and at Deep Ellum denizen Kirk Hopper in December (the latter took him to Scope Miami 2012). Represented by Kirk Hopper Fine Art, Dallas.

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