The Lawndale previewed its 21st annual Big Show Thursday night, offering a first look at 70 works selected by this year's juror, Brooklyn-based curator Marco Antonini. The exhibition's hotly anticipated awards will be announced Friday at 7 p.m. during the always-popular Big Show opening reception.
Antonini combed through 915 entries from nearly 400 regional artists in late June to craft one of the Houston art world's most beloved events. The curator's selections take on a huge swath of forms ranging from Mari Omori's shapes made from soap to an expressionistic Munch-esque portrait like Martin Wnuk's A Young Actor.
Antonini's selections take on a hu ge swath of forms ranging from Mari Omori's shapes made from soap to expressionistic Munch-esque portraits like Martin Wunk's A Young Actor.
For participating artists like Chad Maydwell, the preview party was both exciting and slightly nerve-wrecking as he spoke with attendees about his piece Reverie by Claude Debussy — one of the show's few video entries. While listening to the famed French composer's music through headphones, viewers watch a sequence showing notebook paper covered with lines of magic marker that represent different musical pitches.
"Each C note is yellow," Maydwell told CultureMap. "Music was a big part of my life growing up. My father helped me figure out the notes so I have a very personal connection to this work."
An initial walk through the show reveals a particular emphasis on domestic life. Visitors in the first floor gallery navigate around pieces made from mattresses, dangling shoes and closet organizers. Upstairs, Bethany Hargrove's Ritual Equipment is an arrangement of used tea cups. Caroline Sharpless' Kitchen #9 is a stark canvas depicting an empty modern luxury kitchen.
Abstractions like Stephanie Toppin's No. 87 pepper the show with bold pops of color, while pieces such as Kamila Szczesna's DNA light-box glowing #1: flux no. 9 and Joan Laughlin's Radical painting offer up new perspectives on the natural world.
Don't miss Friday's Big Show opening reception at Lawndale running from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. with an awards ceremony at 7 p.m. Also be sure to place your votes by scanning the QR code on your favorite piece of art with your smartphone.
The artist with the most votes will win CultureMap's Big Show People's Choice Award, which will be announced at the close of the exhibit in mid August.