I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of days now. Today I have come to realize that it is not an art review in the same vein as the first two. Its more like the commentray I provided about gallery spaces. As such I am posting this out of order from what shows I have seen. I will still post my reviews in the following order: Arthouse, Gallery 3, the Space, CRL, DAC, AMOA. Then I will try to revisit Lora Reynolds and check out DBerman. And on top of that, there are the Lombardi and Artpalace shows this week.
I consider the Open Doors collective to be at the forefront of Austin’s recent art buzz. Painting may have made a resurgence in the rest of the world, but here in Austin, it’s all about the installations. Testsite, Fresh Up Club, Construction Site, then Open Doors, Lora Reynolds, Art Palace, and even Austin Green Art have ushered in contemporary art through more three dimensional works. By doing so, they have been able to address the shortcomings of Austin’s art scene. AMOA’s 22 to Watch was overflowing with artist that were less concerned with selling a painting and more concerned with exploring and experimentation of the visual arts. Common aspects of Austin’s Art In Public Places and Cultural Arts Division have been revealed as stale and adverserial to change and innovation.
Open Doors’ homegrown effort landed them prime downtown real estate during SXSW, which in turn landed them a show at the Dallas Contemporary in 2007. Most of the group was still attending school and they had to come up with fundraising ideas. Of course they are pursuing grants and accepting donations, but they also took advantage of AMOA’s schedule for bringing the Christo and Jeanne Claude retrospective as they were given the chance to exhibit work at the DAC. Seeing as how they’re efforts require outside support Open Doors has structured this show as a sneak peak for next year’s show and are slashing prices to make room for next year’s models!
So each of the five members provides us with their versions of sketches and studies that they have been working on for their installations. They vary from Jacob Villanueva’s very polished, illuminated architectural drawings to Cole Thompson’s hand-scribbled notes sandwiched in a frame. Except for Mr. Villanueva, each artist had sample materials, preparatory renderings and a life size example of the installation.
Open Doors seems to have its heart in the right place. They’re promotional materials described something that would be revelatory about this newer Austin art form. Maybe its fear of revealing too much, or perhaps financial levels are not where they expected them to be, but there was not much being presented.
Girl Scouts do not set up in front of Wal-Mart and HEB with ten boxes of their best-selling cookies and price them to cover admission fees to space camp. Den mothers and well intentioned parents load up their mini-vans & SUVs with as many boxes as possible and sell them at moderate prices. That is what I was expecting from In Between. I was thinking I would carry my check book ready to purchase some print or small drawing for about $50 and walk out pleased that I was able to assist this group of ambitious, talented artists. It may have been a small gesture, but if ten other like-minded people made similar purchases… Of course that’s not to say that what was available was not worth its described value. I’m just talking economics here. These guys overlooked the working man with hometown pride. That’s what overpriced stale popcorn at high school football games is all about! (Go Rebels!)
Sure there are high-cultured and deep-pocketed citizens in Austin that can clear out most of the work, but why rely on only them? If education is as important as they say it, then why are they not teaching the public about the different levels of value an artist can assign his handiwork? The Austin art scene is in such a funk, that an act like that is still very necessary in growing Austin to compete with our sibling Texas cities.
So I really enjoy what these guys are doing and am proud to call them friends. I am envious of their success and wish them all the best. I feel like they are the Fantastic Four to my Spiderman. We may be friends and in the same line of work, but I am not related to them the way they are related to each other. I think they underestimated their appearance in the shadow of the master. Compared to Christo, they look like Austin artists. But I know they can deliver the goods. Maybe I can convince them to look into the services provided by the many printshops in town. Or maybe they can land another fundraising opportunity sometime before the big show. Until then, I’ll tell you ’bout what I sees.