While by no means her curatorial debut, Melissa Grobmyer's new Luxuriant Refuse show at the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts in Spring marks a highly anticipated first for the noted art consultant and educator.
Announced in January as one of the primary artistic advisors for the upcoming Houston Fine Art Fair, Grobmyer and her art advisory firm MKG are expected to add a more contemporary edge to the multi-million dollar event when it returns to town Sept. 15 at the Reliant Center. Judging from the lineup for the Pearl Fincher show, prospective fair attendees can plan on a strong showing of prominent national artists with bright pops of Gulf Coast talent.
"In our culture of consumerism, this idea of reusing detritus in a tra nsformative way was particularly appealing to me when putting together this event."
As its title suggests, the exhibit is thematically organized around notions of ecology and junk culture, offering up a show of works created with materials like car tires, plastic bottles and swimming pool noodles.
"In our culture of consumerism, this idea of reusing detritus in a transformative way was particularly appealing to me when putting together this event," Grobmyer told CultureMap on a recent tour. "I was less interested in work that was didactic or preachy, hoping instead to concentrate on more positive views of how art can engage people in issues of sustainability."
In the foyer sits a full-scale rhinoceros constructed entirely of pilfered traffic cones from the greater New York-New Jersey area. Virgina-based artist Johnston Foster, who creates all of his art from salvaged roadside debris, even went so far as to include pesky little birds, crafting them from discarded venetian blinds and duct-taping them to the rhino's back.
Stepping into the Pearl Fincher's main gallery, visitors are met with dangling lines of coffee cups delicately hand-painted by Gwyneth Leech, who happened to be at the museum during our tour to explain her work.
Starting in 2008, she started saving the cups from various appointments she had with friends throughout New York City, labeling each disposable vessel with a date, location and occasion to capture the moment. The cups soon became her favorite artistic surface and by 2011, she had more or less stopped painting on canvas. Most of pieces at the Pearl Fincher were taken from a rather unique residency at the Flatiron Building.
"I spent five months sitting in a glassed, triangular-shaped storefront . . . That's five days a week drawing on my old coffee cups," the artist laughed. "It's great to see them hanging as fine art now."
Along the back wall of the gallery space rests an impressive constellations of computer keys by Sarah Frost, whose work appeared at both the Houston Fine Art Fair and the Texas Contemporary show this past fall. Two pieces by Paul Villinski, another popular figure at the fair, are also included in Grobmyer's mix along with intriguing works by New Orleans artist Shawne Major and Betsabeé Romero from Mexico.
Sponsored by the Houston Fine Art Fair, Luxuriant Refuse is on view at the Pearl Fincher Museum in Spring through Aug. 5. Click here for directions and hours.