New art exhibitions tend to hibernation in January before blooming in the spring, but the month also gives us a chance to catch up those big blockbusters sets to close soon. Yet this new year brings unusual art surprises as vast as outer space.
From another kind of starry night immersive VR experience to steamrolled prints to the ultimate recycling art projects, we’ve got a lot of artistic ingenuity and innovation to see this month. Plus, Rice’s Moody Center puts on a sonic inspired show to celebrate its fifth anniversary.
“The Infinite” at Sawyer Yards (January 13-February 20)
The latest virtual reality multimedia experience to hit town previewed in December, but we’re ready to hop aboard for the official launch now. As CultureMap editor Steven Devadanam describes in our preview: This sprawling, 12,500-square-foot exhibition shuttles viewers into a never-before-seen perspective of life on the ISS, bringing an almost-too-real feeling of being in outer space.
Along with the state of the art immersive rooms, look also for a large scale light installation from experimental electronic composer and visual artist Ryoji Ikeda that will mimic the experience of weightlessness and floating in the vast expanse of space.
“Steamrolled VIII” at The Printing Museum (January 13-March 5)
Back in October, Texas artists were invited to bring a carved 3-foot by 5-foot woodblock, which were inked and printed using a 2-ton steamroller as a printing press for PrintMatter’s steamroller event.
Now the state can get a look at what art the steamroller wrought, with considerable help from the artists themselves, Sally Worthington,Yannina Taboada, Evan Leigh Rottet, Kenny Lantz, Sean Adler, Jesus De La Garza, Leaman Green, Gloria Sanchez-Hart, Robert James, Jessica Snow, Eileen McClellan, William Pangburn, Katarina Guzman, Chayla De La Garza, Exquisite Corpse Crew, and Andis Applewhite.
“Materials of Empire: Colonial Narratives 1700-1860” at Museum of Fine Arts, Rienzi (January 15-July 31)
This new exhibition, organized from objects in the Rienzi Collection, sheds light on the links between Europe, Africa, the Americas, and India.
The exhibition examines the complex stories of exploration, war and scientific expeditions, and religious missions that objects reveal as well as conceal, and places them within the context of entangled legacies and experiences of empire.
“The Body as Memory” at Foto Relevance (January 15-March 19)
This group exhibition featuring the work of Nick Simko, Gabriel García Román, and Caleb Cole, explores concepts of identity and queerness, both reaching into the past and looking toward the future.
The show investigates the ways in which the body interacts with the environment around it - the cultures it is born into, how it is viewed, how it views itself within that context, and how it imagines itself.
“Undeniable” at Galveston Arts Center (January 15-April 17)
This new 10-year survey of local artist, Nick Barbee's, paintings, sculptures and collages spans his creative years in Galveston. With his studio practice centering around historical figures and narratives, he often uses mundane objects with some personal connection to these histories.
While Barbee’s art delves into times, places, and objects from the past, the mutual influence of a place like Galveston over the past decade is also evident.
“Rings! 1968 – 2021” at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (January 22-March 12)
Showcasing a bling-fest of very wearable art, this exhibition captures the avant-garde notions of contemporary jewelry and represent the almost limitless potential of what a ring can be.
The show dons a selection of over 100 rings with a range of creation techniques from traditional metalsmithing to experimental materials and examines the diversity of the cultural, political, and personal meanings a ring can possess.
“Full Metal Jacket Diary” at Alta Arts (January 22-March 5)
Cinephiles as well as photography-lovers might want to check out this show from actor/director Matthew Modine. The exhibition features large scale aluminum prints of photographs Modine took taken on the set of Stanley Kubrick’s 1987, now classic, war film, Full Metal Jacket.
Ranging from candid photographs of actors and crew, scenes in progress, pyrotechnics, Kubrick, and of Modine himself, the images give insight into the making of the film while simultaneously speaking to the histories of photography, journalism, and war. Modine is scheduled for an in-person artist talk for the opening at Alta.
“Soundwaves: Experimental Strategies in Art + Music” at Moody Center for the Arts (January 28 - May 14)
Rice University’s interdisciplinary art haven begins its 5th anniversary season with this group show of contemporary artists who work at a sight and sound sensory intersection, where the sonic meets and influences visual arts.
With some site-specific world premiere artworks and completed pieces specifically selected for the show, look for contributions by award-winning innovators like Nevin Aladağ, Raven Chacon, Jamal Cyrus, Spencer Finch, Idris Khan, Christine Sun Kim, Trevor Paglen, Anri Sala, Jason Moran and Jorinde Voigt. The show explores a range of themes from perception, memory, and the passage of time to our relationship to technology and the environment, and the struggle for racial justice and social change.
“Nothing Goes to Waste” at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (January 29-May 7)
This themed show’s title explains it all with a survey of artists who create using scraps, castoffs and reused and repurposed materials from ceramic shards, cut paper, and marble remnants, and even plastic bags and postal security envelopes.
HCCC states the exhibition will explore how salvaged material can inspire creativity and provoke curiosity about the impact various industrial and artistic processes have on the ecology of the planet. “Now, more than ever, we need to reevaluate how materials are collected and utilized in order to ensure the health and longevity of our planet,” says HCCC curator Kathryn Hall.