Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Texas Contemporary Art Fair and gallery hopping

Barbara Davis Gallery - Andrea Bianconi, Black Cage No. 1, 2011, mixed media, 20" x 20" x 78"

This is a repost from an art review I wrote at ModernHouston.net back in October 2011.

Now that I have this art review gig, I get down to Houston about every other month. I was attracted by the current installment of art fairs, this one being the Texas Contemporary Art Fair. My publisher and I arrived early enough to see a few galleries to start our day.

We made our first stop at Anya Tish Gallery to get an up close viewing of Katja Loher’s video exhibition. Quite possibly the most vanguard exhibition by a single artist I have seen in years. Then we jumped over to PEEL Gallery to see Gabriel Dawe and Philip Low. Both shows I reviewed here at modernhouston.net and then finally we peeked into Barbara Davis Gallery. This cluster of galleries, along with Wade Wilson, are located in the same building at 4411 Montrose Blvd.

Then off to the Texas Contemporary Art Fair. We were first confronted by large ship containers, which I thought was a nice touch. Then we began our journey down row after row of galleries. Two things that struck me most of all was the lack of people and energy there. This also reflected in the booths, because normally I can point to a few works that wowed me at an art fair, but this fair really lacked that je ne sais quoi. It kind of reminded me of the first year of the Dallas Art Fair, or as I like to call it “The David Bates retrospective.” But to be fair, it did get better
the subsequent years. I did, however, like seeing all those Texas galleries in one place and that should be encouraged.

Three booths I thought had it together were the Austin Gallery - Champion, Susan Inglett Gallery from New York, and Manneken Press out of Bloomington, Illinois. Champion’s booth was impressive, since they had many of the works up from their last exhibition. This offered a more thematic feeling, rather than the typical random art work on the wall next to some other work. Susan Inglett Gallery played it cool; exhibiting just three artists one of which was Robyn O’Neil. Manneken Press was exhibiting these wonderful minimal prints that approached my price range.

After a disappointing time at the art fair, my spirits were lifted and dashed with all the gallery openings down on Gallery Row. I normal don’t visit every gallery in this area, but this time I had the time to walk through all the galleries. Ouch, some painfully commercial stuff. Luckily, there is always McMurtrey and Moody Gallery's to visit, but I also found the work in New Gallery - Thom Andriola with paintings by Ibsen Espada quite exciting. Moody Gallery has on display, drawing by Gael Stack, who was there signing her catalog. McMurtrey Gallery’s exhibition of
Beverly Penn was just stunning, so I will be reviewing them next week.

For more images of the shows go to ModernHouston.net

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