Go for the company or go for the art. Set for Friday night, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's 2012 Gala and Art Auction "View Askew: Shifting Perspectives" mingles the best and liveliest from both worlds in a fierce sale of works from local, national and internationally-recognized visual artists.
CAMH director Bill Arning and curators Valerie Cassel Oliver and Dean Daderko have amassed an ambitious collection of 56 art pieces in various mediums — including photographs, drawings, prints oils and mixed-media — to be taken home by the highest bidder.
Arning's auction survival tips are to "bid early, bid often, bid hard, and bid to win," as written in the event catalog. And for those that can't be physically at the artsy fete, proxy bidding is available on the website through Thursday at 5 p.m.
In this photo essay, CultureMap has put together a sample of what guests will take home, from starting bids at $400 to $30,000, in both silent and live auctions. Money is no object, right?
Lot 8: Ricci Albenda, Money is no object, 2012, acrylic on panel, 24 by 30 inches
Estimated value: $15,000
The skinny: Let's not hold that Dallas likes Albenda against the artist. His recent public commission for Cowboys Stadium and his 2009 solo show at Rachofsky House just scratch the surface of his high-profile exhibitions at the Guggenheim, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York.
The artist's style has been hailed by the New York Times as having "poetic wit and eccentric perfectionism."
Lot 10: Donald Moffett, Lot 111011, 2011, oil on linen with wood panel support, 21 by 21 by 2 inches
Estimated value: $45,000
The skinny: Moffett's name should ring a bell for Houstonians. His solo exhibition, The Extravagant Vein, was on view through January at CAMH.
Lot 111011 is aligned with works previously on display at CAMH. They share an exploration of painting, sculpture and textures, often breaking the confines of their physical existence to question where the works begin and end, or whether the space surrounding the piece is part of the work or not.
Lot 12: Robert Pruitt, Sketch of Military Uniform, 2011, graphite on paper, 13 1/2 by 11 inches
Estimated value: $3,000
The skinny: Based in Houston, artist Robert Pruitt had works were on view at CAMH in 2006, Hooks-Epstein Galleries in 2011 and Project Row Houses in 2004. Currently, his drawings are featured in This Rejection of the Conqueror, on display at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont. A member of the Otabenga Jones collective, Pruitt also had work featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial
His titles and subjects typically play on each other mischievously, layering social commentary atop issues of aesthetic choice.
In Sketch of Military Uniform, there is much of that going on. Can you imagine an army of these fashionable soldiers?
Lot 40: Nicole Eisenman, Sailor Guy, 2010, etching, 14 7/8 by 11 7/8 inches
Estimated value: $800
The skinny: It's been a while since French-born and New York-based artist Nicole Eisenman has had a solo exhibition in Houston — her last was Behavior at Rice University Art Gallery.
Eisenman has a knack for juxtaposing strong psychological elements onto banal subjects, nodding to Primitivist style. This solo portrait has a Picasso-esque feel, both frightening, probing and sweet, and forces the viewer to decipher the many layers in search for meaning.
Is Sailor Guy human? Animal? Somewhere in between?
Lot 33: Molly Gochman, Doorway I and II, 2010, photographs on aluminum, 40 by 30 inches
Estimated value: $2,500
The skinny: Houston-based Molly Gochman dabbles in sculpture, land art, photography, projected imagery, sound and interactive installations in an effort to force art consumers to see everyday realities that remain hidden from view, whether by intention or serendipity.
In Doorway I and II, the artist challenges passersby to a game of "spot the differences." As such, we have to pay attention to aesthetic elements — like focus, exposure, color — and compositional variations.
Moreover, is there an emotional difference between the two?
Lot 6: McArthur Binion, Stellucca IV, 2011, oil, ink, Staonal crayon, laser image print collage on Masonite board, 44 by 41 by 40 inches
Estimated value: $15,000
The skinny: Does his name or the art look familiar to you? It should. Perspectives 177: McArthur Binion is currently on display at CAMH, and is the Chicago-based artist first solo museum show.
Though his works appear rather simple in composition at first, the tactile quality of his subtle texture append a level of complexity that according to the artist, bows to Bepop musical improvisation as inspiration.
Binion is interested in the meeting point between this music and the style of the Abstract Expressionist painters, and his aesthetic emerges as a tangent from this crossroad.
Just like in music, Stellucca IV examines areas of structure and elements of spontaneity at a moment's notice.
Lot 47: Matthew Buckingham, Supervention (Copenhagen), 2012, chromogenic print, 13 1/2 by 18 inches
Estimated value: $5,000
The skinny: Matthew Buckingham's creations have been seen at the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Kunst-Werke in Berlin, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
Most recently, his body of work debuted in Houston at Glassell School of Art's Where Will We live? exhibition earlier this year, as part of the Core Residency Program.
Although most of his creations tend to fuse history with personal experience in an effort to freshen up significant events, in Supervention, the onlooker is encouraged to find a narrative between the wet filter from which we view the subject and the particular circumstances that led to the image.
Lot 4: Marc Swanson, Untitled (White Drape Box), 2011, wood, fabric, plaster, and polyurethane, 36 by 24 by 8 inches
Estimated value: $16,000
The skinny: Another CAMH favorite, Perspectives 175: Marc Swanson: The Second Story showcased Brooklyn-based artist Marc Swanson's impulse to compare and contrast the "true, the false and the mythic," as curated by Bill Arning at CAMH.
Untitled (White Drape Box) of 2011 captures the gentle movement of fabric suspended from the extremities of a box. It's common for his pieces not to have a single fixed interpretation, though this particular sculpture alludes to the sultry treatment of textiles in the works of Italian baroque artists like Bernini.
Lot 32: Libbie Masterson, Chisos Mountains, 2009, chromogenic print, 10 by 24 inches
Estimated value: $1,800
The skinny: Houston-based photographer Libbie Masterson's last solo exhibition, Nuit, was on view at Wade Wilson Art in March as part of FotoFest 2012. The images capture Paris at dusk and during the early hours of the morning.
This chromogenic print of the Chisos Mountains, a range in the Big Bend Area in West Texas, summons a similar spiritual and mystical response. Though the photographs are not by any means abstracted, the viewer can't help but attempt to recreate recognizable shapes from the topography's twists and turns and the sky's subtle textures.
Lot 2: Laurie Simmons, Woman/Horse/Black & White, 1979, silver gelatin print, 4 1/2 by 7 inches (image), 8 by 10 inches (paper)
Estimated value: $10,000
The skinny: With shows at CAMH, Texas Gallery and Rice University, Houston art collectors are familiar with Laurie Summons body of work, while art fans may have come across her collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
On first encounter, this may appear as a beautiful image of a horse and its rider. But upon closer examination, the photographer plays with scale and extreme contrasts in light with a doll and a toy horse.
Though we recognize these are inanimate objects, there's a nostalgia for the pioneering lifestyle of yesteryear that's evoked by the composition, especially with the doll and horse looking diagonally away from the frame.
Lot 24: Joseph Havel, Nothing Sample, 2011, graphite and oil paint on paper, 22 1/2 by 22 1/2 inches (unframed)
Estimated value: $6,000
The skinny: Joseph Havel lives and works in Houston. As the director of the Glassell School of Art, his influence over the city's artistic trends is felt across educational programs and student exhibitions.
His latest works often play with the notion of positive and negative space — whether physical or imaginary — with a reduced palette of hues.
This graphite on oil, Nothing Sample, deconstructs what the viewer may interpret as a child's drawing or attempt at writing. A house? A car? A message?
While you may be tempted to decipher its content, pay attention to the subtle hues and texture variations that compose the background.
Lot 51: Gabriel Dawe, Plexus Drawing No. 4, 2011, ink on paper, 19 by 24 inches
Estimated value: $1,000
The skinny: It was the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft which introduced this Mexican artist to Houston audiences in 2008. His last solo show locally was at Peel Gallery last year, though he has a strong presence in Dallas and Fort Worth.
His south-of-the-border roots are easily discerned from the vibrancy of his colors. Taking a cue from Carlos Cruz-Diez, Dawe experiments with geometric shapes and mathematical formulas to explore changes in color perception, although allusions to thread and fabric are a social commentary on activities which he was forbidden to partake in as a boy growing up in Mexico.
Lot 1: John Waters, Visit Marfa, 2003, offset print, 30 by 22 inches (Edition 42/100)
Estimated value: $5,000
The skinny: John Waters shouldn't need an introduction as the director of 16 films including Pink Flamingos, Polyester, Hairspray, Cry Baby, Serial Mom and A Dirty Shame. He is mostly concerned that viewers do not retain motion pictures from films, but rather have a fixed remembrance from stills they may have seen in books or posters.
Visit Marfa falls somewhat inside this impulse. In this print, Waters appears to capture the essence of Marfa — with a hilarious twist. Is it really a place where visitors can scare the locals, eat food all the same color and partake in a Carl Andre look-a-like contest?
Waters pokes fun at tourist claims and Minimalist artist Donald Judd. The print served as the cover of Artforum's Summer 2004 issue, which was dedicated to Judd.
Lot 16: Daniel McFarlane, Monolith in Red, 2012, enamel and acrylic on panel, 20 by 16 inches
Estimated value: $3,000
The skinny: With recent shows at Barbara Davis Gallery, Lawndale Art Center and Box13 Artspace, Houston-born Daniel McFarlane is a friend of many. After graduating cum laude from Sam Houston State University, Houston has been very welcoming to his melange of painting with drawing. Today, he serves as professor of art at Lone Star College-North Harris.
McFarlane's works bridge commentary around elements of abstraction with a hint of science fiction. Hard edges and sharp contrasts imply a Surrealist world that can't be ignored, and one that must be talked about.