Hometown Houston: More Research Needed (Part 1)

Headed off to H-town all on my own on a Sunday in September, which I was glad to do for so many reasons. All by myself! Going to my hometown to just mess around and reacquaint myself with it! After an uneventful (3-hour) drive, I went straight to the Rothko Chapel. Only to find it closes earlier than the Menil Collection, its parent organization. I was still pleased to catch sight of “Broken Obelisk” on the reflecting pool and saw many people enjoying the beautiful Menil campus on a less-than-scorchingly-hot day in Houston.

Quick snap of Barnett Newman’s “Broken Obelisk.”

Met up with a family friend and some of her smart and interesting friends and had a few beers in the village (Houston has one too!). After bonding with a few new friends I went “home,” where I was staying with another family friend, our dear friend and auntie Julie. I’d spent many hours at her house as a child and tween, as I’d been a regular babysitter for her two now-adult children. We started Monday slowly, catching up over strong coffee, then headed toward downtown so Julie could go to yoga and I could scope out the nearby museum district.

Options for art viewing were limited as many of the museums and art orgs are closed on Mondays. Fortunately one organization I was interested in, Lawndale Art Center does a Monday-Friday 10 to 5 (plus Sat!). I loved their space, didn’t love the installation in their large gallery, Specter Field a collaboration by Harold Mendez & Ronny Quevedo. In the smaller back gallery was an interesting show of small, square paintings by Camille Warmington. The compositions were from old family photos, and her technique really caught my eye. Carefully applied lines of acrylic on panel with color planes done in an almost topographical way made for a really interesting textural look, though the paint was applied thinly. On a read of the gallery brochure I learned that the images are ones of the artist’s family. Harking back to a time when her mother, who died when Warmington was young, was still alive and in the picture, as it were.

This is a shot I took, I especially liked the colors, the awkward framing of the photo, and the subject of a happy occasion:

Camille Warmington, “If They See What’s Broken Will They Love Me” 2015.

This image is from her website, and does a better job of showing the painting technique:

Camille Warmington, “Who Am I Called to Be” 2015. From the artist’s website.

(I’d like to see more of this type of work from her, it seems quite different from earlier more abstract painting, done with different techniques.)

Then I drove over to Rice University for the first time that day (2nd time will get it’s own post, I think) to see their James Turrell Skyspace. It’s got a lot going on and I barely saw the half, as it’s title is “Twilight Epiphany” and I was there during mid-day. It was beautiful and I look forward to seeing it at other times of day and in different seasons.

Later that day I went to Northwest Houston to visit the home and studio of JooYoung Choi. She’s a good friend of some good friends but I’d never had the opportunity to meet her before. I was fascinated that this New England-raised artist has chosen to make Houston her home and I enjoyed talking about our shared friends and her work and background. Some of the aesthetics and themes of her work reminded me of Shana Moulton, whom I’d met when I worked at Art in General and she was commissioned as part of the New Commissions program. All the bright, wild colors also reminded me of Ryan Trecartin’s installation in the New Museum’s Younger than Jesus show, though I’m not familiar enough with his work to say if any of the themes are similar.

I learned that Glasstire had recently been by to take some photos, resulting in this piece. I appreciate the nice documentation of her studio, as I didn’t take any notes or photos while I was there. Choi has a solo show opening in January at Anya Tish Gallery on Montrose. I hope to be there and I’ll let you know more about it when the time comes!

More on the Design Week talk I attended and a few more museum visits in a later post.