Glasstire’s staff and contributors share which Texas-based shows, events, and works made their personal “best” lists for 2022.
A.M. Architect: Cynatica Conductor at FL!GHT Gallery, San Antonio. Read our review here.
I have to admit, interactive art installations usually make me cringe. A.M. Architect’s Cynatica Conductor at FL!GHT Gallery, however, happily took me by surprise and made me reassess my biased position. Trendy in the most favorable sense, Cynatica Conductor lit up San Antonio with its impressive movement-triggered soundscapes and psychedelic projections. With this installation, Diego Chavez and Daniel Stanush, the duo behind A.M. Architect, challenged the ways we play and perceive within the contemporary technological realm.
Megan Harrison: From Your Brow Rise Leaf and Lyre at The Contemporary at Blue Star, San Antonio. Read our review here.
At a loss for words over the death of her son, Megan Harrison skillfully interlaced written text and shimmering images into this impressive exhibition to pinpoint the confused place between phenomenon and naming. One of my favorite things about this heartfelt memorial is Harrison’s entire shrouding of the space in a shimmering blue, blotched with spilled ink. The exhibition resonates with experiences only imagined and words left unsaid. With the integration of Medieval and Renaissance-era symbolism grounding Harrison’s experience within art historical legacy, From Your Brow Rise Leaf and Lyre is an exhibition not easily forgotten.
Kinfolk House opened its doors earlier this year in the Polytechnic Heights neighborhood in Fort Worth with Welcome, a show featuring work by its founders, Letitia and Sedrick Huckaby. Centered around community and legacy, the exhibition set the tone for the project space’s future programming. Since then, Kinfolk House has served as a gathering place for the neighborhood and beyond, presenting exhibitions as well as hosting special events throughout the year.
Joseph Havel: Parrot Architecture at the Dallas Contemporary. Read our interview with Joseph Havel here.
Featuring a variety of never-before-seen works, this exhibition celebrated the collaboration between sculptor Joseph Havel and Hannah, his female Congolese African gray parrot. Allowing Hannah to carve out components from cardboard acquired during the pandemic via online shopping, Havel pieced together the resulting elements to create wall assemblages and sculptures, including delicately cast bronzes.
Alia Ali: Blue Note at Foto Relevance, Houston. Read our review here.
I wandered into Foto Relevance on a whim one Friday night and was blown away by the lushness and scale of Alia Ali’s Blue Note portraits. Each subject is meticulously wrapped in textiles that Ali has gathered from around the world. Their poses are assured, emotional, and evocative, conveying the power of gesture even in their anonymity.
Shahzia Sikander’s work is a feast for both the eyes and the mind. In the style of 16th to 19th century Islamic and South Asian manuscript paintings, her meticulously rendered watercolors push the boundaries of gender norms, cultural identity, and nationhood. The exhibition ended in a symphonic mixed media video installation, Parallax (2015), that gathers together issues of climate change, global capital, and female subjectivity. It’s a piece I still think about to this day.
Laura Aguilar in If I had a Hammer, FotoFest’s 2022 Biennial Exhibition, Houston. Read our review of the biennial here.
I have been a fan of Laura Aguilar’s work since I was a teenager in Los Angeles. I was delighted to find that FotoFest included an image of Aguilar’s that I’d never seen before: Stillness #33 (1999). In the image, a nude, shadowed form, likely Aguilar, shuttles the naked body of a woman on her back across the soft stones and pine needles of a dry forest. The woman’s elbows are upright and jubilant behind her head. The image makes me think of female solidarity, queer desire, and also the complexities and cruelties of friendship — and what it might mean to (literally) carry someone you love.
Kongo Astronauts: Congo Gravitational Waves // A Metadigital & Tantalean Tale at the College of Visual Arts and Design Galleries at University of North Texas, Denton. Read our review here.
Kongo Astronauts, a collective founded by the Kinshasa duo Michel Ekeba and Eléonore Hellio, offered one of my favorite gallery experiences of the year. Once worn, the golden-colored makeshift astronaut suits crafted from tech-based rubbish transform the artists into modern mythological characters. The fascinating exhibition focused upon a series of large-scale photographs that led the viewer into an imaginatively fictional world, where a lone space-suited figure stood within or near a scavenged jet airplane. In first reviewing the show, I wrote:
The oddly surreal images feel like a cross between the hyper-cinematic works of Gregory Crewdson and the lo-fi immediacy one might find in cosplay, or the rough and tumble aesthetic of the science fiction film District 9.
The political subtext of these photos, however, is meant to decry both the unjust limitations placed upon Congolese citizens and the modern colonial extraction of essential natural resources.
Shilpa Gupta: for, in your tongue, i cannot fit at The Dallas Contemporary.
Exhibitions can leave an indelible mark on your mind. The hauntingly beautiful for, in your tongue, I cannot fit by Shilpa Gupta is a show I will never forget. Entering through heavy curtains into a mostly dark room, the first overwhelming sensation is sound. Confronted by a series of 100 ceiling-hung microphones and 100 floor-standing spikes, one discovers that each waist-high metal barb is pierced with the poetry of a writer incarcerated by their own government. The words wash over us as an incantatory chorus — sung, whispered, or spoken as a plea to the world from political prisoners. Some are defiant, many poignant, all heartfelt.
Ken Saro-Wiwa writes:
Dance your anger and your joys
Dance the military guns to silence
Dance their dumb laws to the dump
And there is an Ogoni Star in the sky
Gopal Prasad Rimal’s words intone:
Firm like the Himalayas, we never bowed down.
Women Painting Women at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Read our review here.
Women Painting Women, curated by Andrea Karnes, was a firecracker show of import and depth. Encompassing a wide demographic of artists and approaches, the exhibition and accompanying monograph proved a partial, but striking compendium of women depicting themselves and other women. The ambitious gathering of artworks documented not only the sheer variety of approaches to painting the figure, but also the wealth of riches to be found when one broadens the historical lens beyond the traditionally male canon. Too hard to adequately list all the works worthy of mention, I resign myself to those that stuck deep in my mind and memory. Early luminaries Luchita Hurtado, Joan Semmel, and Emma Amos shined, as well as intensely different but equally enthralling works by Lisa Yuskavage, Hayv Kahramin, Nicole Eisenman, and Njideka Akuniylii Crosby.
It was extremely difficult to choose my two favorite exhibitions — so many great contenders. The winners are A Shared Conversation: Art & Language at the Grace Museum in Abilene and Gabrielle Goliath’s Chorus at the Dallas Contemporary.
The Grace Museum show featured a series of five exhibitions exploring the connections between images and words. Featured were artists Cara Barer, Simeen Farhat, and Anna Mavromatis, and artist books from the museum’s permanent collection. Although working in diverging materials and processes, the artists’ works raised critical questions about the embodiment of language and symbolism in contemporary art and the importance of books as receptacles of knowledge and power.
Gabrielle Goliath: Chorus at the Dallas Contemporary (through March 19, 2023).
South African artist Gabrielle Goliath’s audio-visual installation is an elegy to Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old University of Cape Town student who was brutally raped and murdered in 2019. A full-length review is forthcoming on the exhibit, so I don’t want to give too much away. However, the immersive sound and video experience is powerful. My students and I sat through the 23-minute performance and many of us were moved to tears. The work is a testament to how art brings about awareness, but also can provide catharsis.
Spirit Lodge: Mississippian Art from Spiro at the Dallas Museum of Art. Read about the show here.
Spirit Lodge: Mississippian Art from Spiro at the Dallas Museum of Art was the first major exhibition dedicated to the art and culture of the Mississippian peoples. It was a triumph of learning over conditions imposed by the destructive looting of the largest cache of pre-European contact material found North of Mexico. The eponymous Spirit Lodge was a tipi-shaped sealed chamber within a large mound that was filled with spiritually charged objects. In recent years, scholars have determined that this ritual action was a futile attempt to restart time and thus end the devastating drought that threatened their civilization.
The Language of Beauty in African Art, a large exhibition at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, sought to evaluate African sculptures from the perspectives of the cultures that produced them, rather than from the aesthetic values of foreign collectors. These sculptures were valued and considered efficacious within African cultures because of their beauty, ugliness, appropriateness, and/or power. While beauty was exemplary, ugliness and power were also qualities that served important social functions. The impressive group of Kongo power figures in the last gallery was the highlight of the exhibition.
Ho Baron, Gods for Future Religions, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas (through January 15, 2023). Read about Ho Baron here.
In early November I took a road trip with my dad to see the El Paso Museum of Art and lucked into seeing my favorite show of the year. The retrospective, showcasing 50 years of El Paso artist Ho Baron’s anthropomorphic sculptures, drawings, collages, and photographs, made me laugh, reflect, and take a closer look. The entire exhibition commands attention through heavily patinated bronzes and delightfully crude moments, like a tongue poking out at a knee, and eyes and orifices bursting into scales or web-like patterns. A particular star of the show is a gargoyle/sentinel/shishi/mermaid piece titled Mother and Child.
Mayuko Ono Gray:諸行無常_ This too, shall pass at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (LHUCA), Lubbock. Read about Mayuko Ono Gray here.
Houston-based Mayuko Ono Gray’s massive graphite drawings, which she created in 2020 and depict quiet scenes of home, herself, and her cats, dominated the red walls of LHUCA this past January. She employs realism broken up by grids, squiggly lines (electronic cords, graffiti, or Japanese character?), and dots that veer into abstraction. These drawings speak to the disconnect, loneliness, dis(quiet), and small comforts of home during the pandemic, but also portray meaningful connection and a sense of self. The incredible talent alone in Gray’s use of graphite makes this series worth contemplation, and the works nod to both the artist’s Japanese and Western influences.
Artist Matt Manalo.
Even though I am 1,300 miles away from Texas, Houston’s Matt Manalo continues to inspire me with both his social activism at the Alief Art House and his art practice. In 2022, he participated in shows at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, DiverseWorks, Asia Society Texas, and The Orange Show. His solo show INSURRECTXS at Wedge Space featured mixed media assemblages and installations in blues and browns, utilizing recycled materials and reappropriated mass-produced Philippine souvenirs sold to Western visitors.
Keliy Anderson-Staley: Documents and Dwellings at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont.
The last show I viewed in Texas was Keliy Anderson-Staley’s Documents & Dwellings at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas. The central installation, Shelter In Place (2018), tiled with recognizable figures from the Houston art scene, became a bittersweet reminder of leaving home. Different series of works on the museum’s walls, such as The Baking Pan Series: An Incomplete Family History (2000) — a series of photos imposed on baking pans in various states of decay — and the collaged Strong Winds (2021), offered reflections of the passage of time and the breakdown of our memories.
Sunshine Daydream by Rachel Comminos and Gabo Martinez at Wrong Marfa.
There’s always much to see and do during the annual Chinati Weekend in Marfa. This year, one highlight was Wrong’s exhibition Sunshine Daydream, which featured work by Harlingen-based Rachel Comminos and San Marcos-based Gabo Martinez. The pairing of Comminos’ vibrant abstract tufted pieces alongside Martinez’s organic yellow and terracotta-colored ceramics was delightful and played off of the gallery’s bright pink floor. While playful at first glance, Comminos’ textile pieces subtly wove a deeper narrative of loss and healing. The painted yellow cinder blocks Martinez used to arrange her work transformed a simple display into a site-specific installation. The show was a refreshing presentation of contemporary takes on traditional craft forms.
Black Every Day at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth. Read about the show here.
Co-curated by Kristen Gaylord and Dr. Lauren Cross, Black Every Day was a small but mighty exhibition. Taking up just one of the Carter’s galleries, the show packed in over 100 photos by unidentified photographers and over 50 works by well-known artists, including Roy DeCarava, Dorothea Lange, Deana Lawson, and Gordon Parks. Gaylord and Cross organized the pieces into five powerful sections, including community, excellence, family, labor, and vernacular photography. The label text provided insight into the significance of these particular themes, and the introduction text specifically helped set the stage for the curatorial intention of thoughtfully presenting a glimpse into Black life in America, outside of the typical trauma presented in the media.
Sorry to say it, but as a neutral observer I was rooting for the Phillies. They were a malfunctioning, soggy, libidinal bunch that charmed me into fandom with their inadvertent cosplay of the college team from Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! (A contemporary Texas classic — watch it if you haven’t.) But an October spent worrying about Dusty Baker maybe choking on a toothpick every time he was on camera reminded me that when I was ten years old and he was managing the Giants, he autographed my baseball at a Spring Training game in Scottsdale. He was so cool. I cherished the ball, all chewed upon, plucked from my little league stuff. It’s gone now. A lifetime later, the boy-me is giddy to finally see him win a championship. It has been one of the countless instances when, with all my heart, I cared more about baseball than art.
The Current University of Texas Photography MFAs.
Also in October I did studio visits with the photo grads at my alma mater. They were uniformly a delight. In order of seniority: Aishwarya Arumbakkam is melting digital borders, collaborating with her distant parents to reset limits of the contemporary vernacular. Jennifer Villanueva’s deeply embedded study of her family evades the obvious and works across intersecting modes. Ariana Gomez has embarked on some big-time poetic sleuthing upon returning to her hometown Austin after a decade away. And Rosie Clements’ electric Texan surfaces hit as revelatory as they do mysterious.
A common topic in our conversations was the challenge of being a photographer in an interdisciplinary MFA program, where it can sometimes feel like the other media are given a more comprehensive rulebook. The solution is already present in all these artists’ work: serial visual declarations, devotionally followed, about how the world in all its permutations is worth picturing.
Phil Peters: The Permian Recordings at Co-Lab Projects, Austin (through January 21, 2023).
The Permian Recordings at Co-Lab Projects by LA-based Phil Peters is extraordinary. I have known Phil since we were in residence together at the Galveston Artist Residency, way back in 2018. I have followed this project of site-specific recordings/sound installations since then. It is, all at once, a visceral, guttural, gorgeous and deeply disconcerting project. Within Co-Lab’s culvert galleries, the exhibition is nothing short of memorable. (Full disclosure: I am on Co-Lab’s Board of Directors. I have, however, been a fan of this project for years before I knew it was coming to our space.)
Sarah Fox: Bad Bunny Gets Lucky at Cluley Projects, Dallas. Read our review here.
Bad Bunny Gets Lucky by Sarah Fox caused quite the stir this year. However, I am uninterested in the gossip and instead want to commend Sarah Fox for the courage to make the work she made, and the team at Cluley Projects for the courage to show it. What was lost in the drama was the anger the artist was trying to communicate through her drawings, video, and characters over which she so painstakingly labored. I saw a rage that I fully understood, and Sarah deserved for that to be at the forefront of the conversation.
LMC Edits for Glasstire. Listen to our conversation here.
Editing for Glasstire…wow, what a job. This has been one of the biggest and most rewarding challenges I’ve taken on in a very long time. I can honestly say that we have extraordinary writers at Glasstire who are also equally extraordinary and supportive people. I could not have become comfortable in this role without their support and constant encouragement. This one will always be memorable!
Matthew Wong: The Realm of Appearances at the Dallas Museum of Art (through February 19, 2023).
The Dallas Museum of Art was the only museum to collect Matthew Wong’s dreamy paintings during his lifetime. It’s now the first to mount a retrospective of the artist’s work in the U.S. Thoughtfully curated by Vivian Li, the exhibition features approximately 50 pieces from across Wong’s remarkable six-year career, including lesser-known ink, watercolor, and gouache works. Along with an excellent catalog that reveals new research on Wong’s multifaceted life and work, the show leaves viewers with a lasting sense of heartfelt inspiration.
Adrian Aguilera: How Soon is Now?? at Co-Lab Projects, Austin.
Adrian Aguilera’s multimedia installation at Austin’s Co-Lab Projects this past fall was a time trip back to 1997, with its 50-minute “mixed-tape” video replaying the year’s most memorable hits. The video’s title, untitled (apex to base), is a reference to French philosopher Henri Bergson’s “Cone of Memory,” a perception-based theory of time that went a little over my head. But I immensely enjoyed revisiting all the media moments that once socioculturally saturated my 17-year-old self: Dolly the cloned sheep, early Apple indoctrination, Mike Tyson munching on Evander Holyfield’s ear. Delivered through a cone-shaped screen, Aguilera’s selected footage (accompanied by audio and light-based works on the gallery’s walls) spoke to a single year, and a single life — for anyone who lived it.
True Believers: Benny Andrews & Deborah Roberts at the McNay Museum of Art, San Antonio (through February 5, 2023).
This fascinating exhibition puts these two collage-based figurative painters in dialogue with one another for the first time in a museum setting. Working from a center point of activism, both artists use/d stark portraiture to educate, and to celebrate, their subject matter; for Roberts, the portrayal of Black youth in America, and for Andrews, depicting people in everyday life, stemming from his upbringing in the segregated South. Though the artists are separated by a generation (Andrews passed away in 2006), seeing their work side by side highlights the ways in which they uniquely overlap. Roberts’ collaged children include hand-painted elements that give extraordinary dimension to their fictional, and sometimes factual, lives. Andrews’ paintings invite us into his circle of family and friends with fabric and texture that brings each one of them to life. Seeing is believing, and you can see this one until early February.
Balenciaga Winter ’22 Collection. Read about it here.
The premier of this collection was a mix of some of my favorite elements in art: haughty silhouettes, stark contrast, and a little rabble-rousing. The presentation of the show was altered to accommodate the emerging conflict at the time: Russia invading Ukraine. Somewhere between a runway show and cinema, Demna (as the Balenciaga Creative Director is now known) shared a singular moment of creative expression, which feels both timeless and very telling of the year that was.
Kris Pierce: Party Line at the Galveston Arts Center (through January 8, 2023). Read our interview with Kris Pierce here.
Sculptural paintings in this show accompany Pierce’s usual penchant for heady video work, which in this case is live computations and streams of data flowing in from networked systems, like Twitter. Pierce has his finger on the pulse of digital and video media, but his paintings unexpectedly marry the visual style of trust busting-era U.S. (which is relevant to Galveston’s heyday) with a “Doom scrolling device” (as curator Dennis Nance calls it). It is a beautiful show, rife with fumbles and foibles from its characters.
Diane Pereira (Red Milk Crone): Watered Down: La Vie Des Femmes at Art Room at Arts Fort Worth.
Without question, one of my favorite exhibitions of the year was Watered Down: La Vie Des Femmes by Diane Pereira (Red Milk Crone), presented by Art Room at Arts Fort Worth. This body of work focuses on the visceral experience of being a woman, and is both heartbreaking and empowering. Themes of sexualization, violence, and exploitation are handled in graphic explorations of female forms. Stylistically the works are wide-ranging, with textile sculptures, disturbing realism, and paintings seemingly in conversation with de Kooning’s and Picasso’s representations of women. With the reversal of Roe v. Wade and the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the workforce, the rights and roles of women in the United States have been at the forefront of my mind this year. Red Milk Crone’s works are provocative, especially those referencing Christianity, and I appreciate her willingness to push the boundaries of viewers’ comfort.
Saccharine Millenia | Sari Shryack at Love Texas Art, Fort Worth.
The inaugural exhibition at Love Texas Art, Saccharine Millenia | Sari Shryack, was a highlight of 2022. Shryack’s bright still lifes reflect the popular material culture from her childhood in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Formally, she masterfully builds up bold hues to create remarkable light effects that draw viewers into her paintings in the ways the featured products drew in millennial tweens and teens. It is easy to discount the objects depicted as trivial material culture, but Shryack invited viewers to reconsider why we are so quick to dismiss the world of young girls. This exhibition also highlighted the intersection of socio-economic class and beauty standards. In a society where beauty is itself a commodity, beauty — and self-worth, for many — is intimately intertwined with consumption. These paintings reflected the complex desire to belong in a consumption-obsessed culture, further marginalizing those with limited financial means.
Zebedee Armstrong: revelation taping sculptures at Webb Gallery, Waxahachie.
Artists can’t be one hit wonders because an artwork doesn’t have the staying power of a song. Sure, sometimes artists find and mine a concept or style (which balloon animal will Koons think of next?), but in order to stick around, to continue to be part of the conversation, you have to capture people’s hearts and minds again and again, constantly one-upping yourself to remain relevant. With the rule comes the exception: Zebedee Armstrong. Late in his life, inspired by a transformative vision of an angel, he began creating in one remarkably constant and striking style. Crosshatching all of his belongings with red and black permanent markers, Armstrong made countless doomsday calendars — on armoires, adirondack chair, ice trays, scraps of cardboard, Vaseline containers, you name it. Webb Gallery brought together the largest presentation of these objects I’ve ever seen, a feat considering his pieces have been scattered to the self-taught art winds since his death in 1993. In order to understand Armstrong, to get inside his head and see what he was going for, you have to be surrounded by his vision. This show did that and more.
Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.
Amoako Boafo is riding a wave of market trends, speculation, and voguishness of figurative painting. Around a year ago, a work of his sold at auction for about $3.4 million, a remarkable price for a young, still-developing painter. Because of this alone, a museum survey of his work was both due and inevitable. I was surprised the show came to Houston — a city not necessarily known for its larger market buy-in — but I’m glad it did. Its stop at the CAMH was a chance for real people to see the work and judge Boafo’s talent for themselves. His unique style of using his fingers to map out the characteristics of his sitters lends a sort of intimacy to the portraits that other figurative painting lacks. They’re capturing — not perfectly of the sitter’s visage, but instead of their mood, their aurora — a difficult accomplishment that deserves credit.
Philip Guston Now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (through January 16, 2023). Read our review here.
Houston finally has its hands on the long-awaited and (honestly not so) controversial retrospective of Philip Guston’s work. We didn’t have to wait until 2024 to see it, and the paintings aren’t hidden by a curtain in a corner. Instead, his works, in all their glory, roughness, beauty, and awesomeness, float viewers through the museum’s galleries, the entire way a haze of underrecognized masterpieces. Guston’s paintings will make you laugh, recoil, brood; the best ones (a hard distinction here — I don’t think there’s a clunker in the show), will break your heart. His oeuvre goes so far beyond the KKK works that held up the exhibition. He deals with aging, marriage, and the meat of living as an artist with a brutal honesty. Guston gave us countless raw slices of what it is like to be a person in the world; the good comes with the bad. You can’t go into this show guarded. Or if you do, hopefully you emerge having learned that embracing the messiness of life, the gray area we all occupy, is an essential part of being human.
A selection of very honorable mentions, in no particular order: Meret Oppenheim’s fantastic retrospective at the Menil Collection in Houston; Sterling Allen’s The Maximum Utilization of Available Space, which inaugurated Dusty, a gallery with an ever-changing name run by Austin artist Andy Coolquitt; not in Texas, but: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Listening Forest at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas; Window Shopping, Jessica Ninci’s delightful trickster of an installation in a window in downtown Galveston; the crazily large M.C. Escher show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the opening of the Rockport Center for the Arts’ striking new campus earlier this month; Site 131’s Texas Collects: Carter/Wynne Family Collection, a tour de force of how to build an important collection of Texas art on a budget; the opening of Webb’s Fair & Square, a tightly curated gallery/shop in an an old Masonic lodge out west in Fort Davis; Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee’s ambitious 240-foot installation for Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport; Walter De Maria’s wonderful and (for me) unexpected exhibition at the Menil Collection; the reopening of a handsomely renovated John Chamberlain Building in Marfa; William Wegman’s wistful, funny, and fierce paintings at Texas Gallery in Houston; the smart, world-expanding reinstallation of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s European Galleries; an ear-popping installation of sound-based work at The Warehouse in Dallas; a near comprehensive (and Texas’ first?) retrospective of work by Richard Prince at The Karpidas Collection in Dallas; shows by Michael Bise, Dan Sutherland, and MANUAL, all at Houston’s Moody Gallery; Daniel Johnston’s homecoming at The Contemporary Austin; the poignantly ephemeral video works of Oscar Muñoz at the Blanton Museum of Art; Bethany Johnson’s stratified sculptures, which showed at multiple venues; and Clint Willour and Reid Mitchell’s touching memorial service at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.