press release

The 2008 Houston Area Exhibition, selected by Blaffer Gallery curator Claudia Schmuckli, not only introduces artists who are young or new to the Houston community, but it also offers more seasoned artists the opportunity to develop new work and to be seen in a fresh light. The issues put forth in the works in the exhibition vary, but what connects all of the artists is an active engagement with ideas and concerns that define life in this particular contemporary moment – be it as an individual, a society, or a nation. Held every four years, the Houston Area Exhibition takes the pulse of contemporary art made in Houston to offer a snapshot of what matters to artists in the here and now.

Seth Alverson’s paintings of vacant rooms, open coffins, and funeral parlors serve as metaphors for his disappointment in academia as an institution for the generation of ideas. But the symbolic declaration of academia’s death is also the recognition of its loss. As with any death, those who remain behind are left with a vacuum impossible to fill. Based on surveillance imagery, William Betts’s machine produced paintings of highways and urban scenes, are a matter-of-fact reminder that national security and individual rights to privacy are becoming increasingly incompatible in these times of uncertainty.

Sasha Dela’s objects and installations made of found recyclable materials address the problematic intersection of politics, ecology, and economics, where we all are the cause of our planet’s deterioration as well as the ineffective harbinger of a possible solution. In Jonathan Durham's work, elements of personal history and cultural legacy are conjoined in an ongoing examination of the definition of self as an individual, culture, or society in relationship to the world at large. Hana Hillerova seeks to reconcile inner and outer life in sculptures whose surfaces and structures are open and absorptive to the outside world, but at the same time offer a contained place for quiet contemplation. Hedwige Jacobs’s drawings pull the viewer into a world full of lived experiences. Charting life in all its mundane twists and turns, the drawings offer a visual stream of consciousness without beginning or end.

Andy Janacua proposes a “new colonial theory.” In revisiting, redefining, and recontextualizing monuments and symbols of modernity, he seeks to question and broaden our common notions and understandings of history. Nicholas Kersulis’s painted discs and stones confound the definitions of painting and sculpture, raising questions about representation while seeking truth in both nature and culture. Mindy Kober’s series of gouaches translates the symbolic imagery representing each of the fifty states on the backs of American quarters into luscious compositions spiked with her own witty and subversive political commentary.

Jonathan Leach’s paintings of cityscapes are deeply influenced by the different dynamics of the places he inhabits. Working from memory, he captures their unique appeal and energy in vibrant compositions that relay the essence of his experience of specific locations. In creating the appearance of having employed children to build a wall in the gallery space, Lynne McCabe’s project examines the delicate balance between social integration and artistic exploitation in current modes of community-oriented practices. Ariane Roesch examines the quality of communication in the digital age. Her work stages the exchange of information in the workplace as circuit drawings among connected yet ultimately isolated individuals.

Julie Spielman’s practice investigates the construction of personal histories as they relate to people’s cultural contexts. Through conversation, film, and photography, she examines the trajectory of inherited and chosen influences in the lives of friends and family. Born in Kenya to a Polish father and an English mother, Gabriela Trzebinski has dealt with issues of culture, race, and gender since early childhood. In paintings of death, mutilation, sex, and political injustice, she lays bare the harsh realities of her multicultural experience on the African continent.

Jeff Williams has a keen eye for beauty in the abject. Exposing the rotten foundations, moldy caulk, and piles of dust encroaching on our homes, he draws attention to the corrosive elements of nature that find their way into the built environment despite our best efforts to keep them at bay. Audry Worster creates abstract landscapes and cityscapes whose densely layered combination of biomorphic and crystalline shapes lay bare the struggle of giving tangible shape to the fleeting images of memory.

The 2008 Houston Area Exhibition is organized by Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston. The exhibition and publication are made possible, in part, by Occidental Energy Marketing, Inc., the George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. I. H. Kempner, III, Nancy and Rob Martin, Judy and Scott Nyquist, and the Karen & Eric Pulaski Philanthropic Fund.

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Houston Area Exhibition 2008
Kuratorin: Claudia Schmuckli

Künstler: Seth Alverson, William Betts, Sasha Dela, Jonathan Durham, Hana Hillerova, Hedwige Jacobs, Andres Janacua, Nicholas Kersulis, Mindy Kober, Jonathan Leach, Lynne McCabe, Ariane Roesch, Julie Spielman, Gabriela Trzebinski, Jeff Williams, Audry Worster.