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Arts / Museums

Art Writing Celebrated in Texas by One of Few Truly Critical Outlets

Glasstire Puts Money Behind its Mission

BY // 11.21.18
photography Photography by Jonathan Zizzo

I used to be much more up-to-date on my contemporary art in the 1990s. I was in graduate school, I visited museums normally once-a-week and had subscriptions to both Art in America and ARTnews (the two bibles of the art world). Unfortunately these days, those subscriptions have lapsed and I now receive monthly copies of Vanity Fair and Harpers Bazaar. (Don’t judge me.)

My one source of regular updates on the arts comes to me via e-newsletters and visits to the Glasstire website.

Glasstire, a non-profit publication, is the oldest online-only art magazine in the country. The unique name is an homage to the glass tire sculptures of Robert Rauschenberg, who hailed from Port Arthur, Texas. Founded by entrepreneur Rainey Knudson in 2001, Glasstire is a communication platform promoting the visual arts in Texas to a local, regional and national audience.

They are one of the few organizations that actually put out critical commentary and features on the art scene throughout our state. That critical eye, which can sometimes come in the form of reviews that aren’t glowing, is so important in today’s world. We need genuine opinions on the arts, especially from those with a cultivated background.

A recent initiative was the launch of the Glasstire Art Writing Prize, which will award emerging arts writers in Texas. The inaugural winner, Melanie Shi, was recently announced at a reception at the new home of Elisabeth and Panos Karpidas. The $2,500 prize was generously sponsored by Lindsey and Patrick Collins; Laura and Walter Elcock; Elisabeth and Panos Karpidas; Jana and Hadley Paul; and Cindy and Howard Rachofsky.

One hundred percent of the funds raised for the prize will go to North Texas writers in the coming year.

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A student of Philosophy at the University of North Texas in Denton, Shi wrote about The Color Inside, a skyspace artwork by American artist James Turrell. Because the artwork, which is located on the University of Texas’ campus, requires such an active participation by its viewer, Shi’s essay was able to combine personal narrative with her analysis of the piece in an insightful, fresh way. I call it an “Ode to a Turrell.”

Judges for the 2018 prize include Agustín Arteaga, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art; Anne Bothwell, vice president of arts for KERA; Rainey Knudson; Christina Rees, the editor-in-chief; and Brandon Zech, the news editor of Glasstire.

Knudson commented, “It was very enjoyable reading all the entries, which were quite varied and several of which were very good indeed. People bemoan the state of writing, and art writing in particular, in our country — but if the submissions we received were any indicator, we have cause for celebration, not despair. We are so grateful to our judges and our sponsors for making this prize possible.”

Glasstire is currently raising funds to support, what I personally hope, will be an ongoing program. For more information on making a contribution or to simply read some insightful commentary on the Texas art scene, check out its website.

The arty set in attendance that evening included: Max Trowbridge, Kenny Goss, Joyce Goss, Barbara Buzzell, Catherine Rose, Michael Corman and Kevin Fink, Sharon Young, Capera Ryan, Deborah Ryan, Tammy Cotton Hartnett.

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