Blaffer Art Museum presents Window into Houston - Shane Tolbert: Fine China opening reception

Photo by Devon Britt-Darby

Shane Tolbert: Fine China is the newest installment of Blaffer Art Museum’s Window into Houston series at its satellite downtown Houston location, 110 Milam Street.

Tolbert’s installation of three site-specific mural-length paintings marks an expansive departure from previous Window into Houston commissions. For the first time, the works will be displayed outside, exposed to the elements along the facades of both 110 Milam and 112 Milam. Fine china, the colloquial name for porcelain, stands for refinement and exquisiteness, connoting delicacy and care in the making. In urban slang, fine china refers both to female genitalia and to heroin in its purest form. Tolbert’s Fine China delves into the conflicting undertones of the term as he explores painting’s pleasures and sensuousness. Based on the transfer of acrylic paint from plastic to canvas, Tolbert’s process is at once additive and subtractive as he merges mechanical and expressionist approaches to painting. Through repetition of the transfer process, the canvases accumulate layers of painterly traces that are neither figure nor ground but instead generate an atmospheric effect.

The expansive scale of Tolbert’s paintings, coupled with the antagonism of his vibrant yet sour color palette—lush contrasts of pink, yellow and green coexist uneasily with light ochers and dark purples—gives Fine China its affective momentum. This palette of color suggests an undercurrent of decay below the exuberance of the motif in line with the tradition of the vanitas. However, Tolbert’s paintings offer no moral instruction, but simply a celebration and mourning of present time.

Following the opening reception, the exhibition continues through July 29.



Blaffer Art Museum satellite location
110 Milam St.
Houston, TX 77002


Admission is free.
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