best september art
September brings a festival of art — a Fotofest that is — as the biannual celebration of the art of photography spreads across the city. Even galleries and museums not specifically a part of Fotofest have their art eye on photography.
Beyond all the photo festivities, the month brings in a change of color as fall shows open across the city.
“Urban Impressions: Experiencing the Global Contemporary Metropolis” at Moody Center for the Arts (September 16-December 17)
Celebrate Houston as an international art city and city life across the world as its own kind of art form in this radical, sprawling new exhibition. Look for international and national artists such Rana Begum, Kahlil Irving, Julie Mehretu, Sohei Nishino, Emeka Ogboh, Robin Rhode, Seher Shah, Liu Wei, and Michael Wolf, as well as Houston-based artists, such as Charis Ammon, Tiffany Chung, Mary Flanagan, and Rick Lowe.
This exhibition ponders the shape and future of cities and the lives they shelter. The works on view take into consideration not only visual components but also sensory perceptions and collective memories of urban life that impact our minds and bodies and structure our lives in unexpected ways.
“Bitter Waters Sweet” at Art League Houston (September 16-December 3)
This exhibition of new work by Fort Worth artist and 2022 Texas Artist of the Year. Letitia Huckaby, explores the legacy of Africatown, the historic community near Mobile, Alabama, founded by a group of West African people who were trafficked to the U.S. as slaves shortly before Emancipation, and long after the Atlantic slave trade was banned.
Huckaby’s photographs, printed on cotton fabric, bring together the legacy of Africatown, its founders, and their descendants, with the history of the ship Clotilda and its persistent physical proximity to the community. Through her imagery and materials, her work ties the past to the present as she examines history and its contemporary connection to the black experience.
“Drawn to Communities” at Art League Houston (September 16-December 3)
Art League turns the lens on the photography of Houston Earlie Hudnall, Jr. in this show focusing on his images of daily life in Houston’s Third, Fourth, and Fifth Wards. Art League notes that his images of families and daily life in some of the city’s most neglected neighborhoods remain as a record of these historic communities that persevere with strength, love, and dignity.
“I chose the camera as a tool to document different aspects of life: who we are, what we do, how we live, what our communities look like,” states Hudnall of his work.
“Lo que me queda de tu amor (What’s Left of Your Love for Me)” at Lawndale (September 17-December 10)
Curated by Francis Almendárez and Mary Montenegro and featuring work by 18 artists who use archives and traditions as part of their creative practice. Through movement, text, sound, performance and improvisation, these artists conjure intergenerational and cultural histories.
In doing so, these images reflect how their respective cultures and histories have been maintained and their communities have thrived, despite the odds against them. Collectively, these works question the accessibility of archives, since those who have historically shared them are rarely from the communities that produced them.
“Love is a House that Even Death Can’t Knock Down” at Lawndale (September 17-December 10)
This photo-based group show featuring the works of mk, Irene Antonia Diane Reece, and Jamie Robertson, also focuses on archives, especially in the celebrates the sacredness of Black family life.
Working with their own family photographic chronicles, the artists address themes of life, death, and memory in relation to a Southern Black experience. The Gulf Coast landscape connects the creative practices of these three families and, while each uses photographic imagery, the exhibition is a multi-sensory experience including smell, sound, and installation elements.
“Sites of Memory” from DiverseWorks at MATCH (September 23-November 5)
San Antonio-based artist Jenelle Esparza and Houston-based artist Verónica Gaona, come together, for this exhibition, to explore the impermanent nature of land and its residual energy through the use of objects, land-based materials, and living and historical research.
The exhibition explores the relationship between the body, history, and land and builds on conversations between Esparza and Gaona as they work to further explore the impacts of migration, familial legacy, transnationality, migratory labor, and ideas related to rest.
“Monira Al Qadiri: Refined Vision” at Blaffer Art Museum (September 23-January 8)
In this first U.S. museum solo exhibition for the Senegal born, Berlin-based, Kuwaiti visual artist, Al Qadiri examines petroleum-centric cultures, or “petro-cultures,” where life and society are informed by the practices and discourses involving the consumption of, and subsequent dependence on, oil and gas.
With artwork that span video, glass, kinetic sculpture, and interactive installations, the exhibition ranges from surreal to melancholic, reflecting the intense and often astonishing scenes that make up the artist’s real (and imagined) memories of her formative years in the Middle East. Yet, some of the art was also originally inspired by parallels of wealth and infrastructure between the Texas Gulf Coast and the Persian Gulf region.
“Troy Montes Michie: Rock of Eye” at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (September 23-January 29)
To tailor a garment by “rock of eye” is to rely on the drape in the fitting process—that is, to rely on experience over mathematical measurement, notes the CAMH when describing this first museum solo exhibition for the acclaimed Texas artist.
Subverting dominant narratives by placing past and present in confrontation, Montes Michie brings together collages, drawings, sculptures, and installations that draw the contours of body and place. The art is heavily informed by his experience growing up in El Paso.
The exhibition combines Montes Michie’s previous collages and assemblages that center magazine images of the Black male body with sculptural works that trace the social history of the zoot suit, a garment at the center of the 1943 attacks primarily on Mexican American, African American, and Filipino American youth in Los Angeles known as the Zoot Suit Riots.
“African Cosmologies: Redux” part of Fotofest Biennial 2022 at galleries throughout the city (September 24-November 6)
Curated by Mark Sealy, the director of London-based photographic art institution Autograph ABP, “African Cosmologies” might be the most expansive exhibition of the year, as it encompasses four distinct shows at Spring Street Studios, The Alta Arts, Houston Museum of African American Culture, and the Menil Collection.
All together the exhibition examines the complex relationships between contemporary life in Africa, the African diaspora, and global histories of colonialism, photography, and rights and representation. The exhibition considers the history of photography as one closely tied to a colonial project and Western image production, highlighting artists who confront and challenge this shortsighted, albeit canonized lineage.
“If I Had a Hammer” at Silver Street Studios and Winter Street Studios (September 24-November 6)
One of the major Fotofest Biennial 2022 exhibitions, “Hammer” considers the ways artists utilize images to unpack the ideological underpinnings that inspire collective cultural movements around the globe.
The 23 artists exhibiting in this expansive show propose alternative techniques of seeing and engaging with the world, working with both conventional and new media to shed light on the systems that encourage social theories and political imaginaries to become dogma at the click of a shutter or tap of a button.