It’s one of those pesky problems we Houstonian have to contend with — and no, it's not traffic or heat. Yet another big art or entertainment event comes to town for a weekend and there’s just too much to see.
Case in point, this year’s Texas Contemporary, the second of the two big fall art fairs. With four days (October 1-4), 60 galleries — from Houston to New York to London — and a plethora of installations, talks, and performances, we’re going to have to strategize our time again.
So playing everyone’s art scheduling assistant, I contacted Max Fishko, managing partner of Art Market Productions the Texas Contemporary organizers, to find out what’s the good contemporary art word for this year. And what are those art words? Mexico, parties, and surprises.
The Other Mexico
A big change this year for the Texas Contemporary is an across-the-border focus on Mexico City. Fishko admits that in the past years, the show “had not previously been tremendously international,” but this year they set out to change that.
“I was brainstorming with my colleagues and with Bill Arning, Director of the CAM (Contemporary Arts Museum Houston), where many good ideas come from, and we were commenting on how much attention the Mexico City scene was getting,” explained Fishko. With the idea to give the 2015 Texas Contemporary a more international scope, they realized that Mexico would be the ideal start.
“Won’t it be great because we’re geographically a sort of gateway for that part of the world, to be able to focus on one city at one time,” Fishko said when describing their thinking.
After talks with the Department of Cultural Affairs at The Mexican Consulate in Houston and bringing in Leslie Moody Castro, an independent curator based in Mexico City who also works out of Austin, they began The Other Mexico project, with a title referencing the Octavio Paz text. This curated show within the show will feature seven galleries and project spaces from the dynamic and innovative art scene in Mexico City.
“We wound up with a great little cross-section, just a taste, of some of the amazing things that are happening in that art scene and we’re giving them a platform to continue that dialogue here in Houston,” said Fishko.
A Fair Featuring the Art of Houston
While once again the George R. Brown Convention Center will be the center of art activity this weekend, the Texas Contemporary will be taking some of that show on the road, or at least into other venues, with performances, programs, parties and even a few exclusive peeks into the exquisite private art collections of some of Houston’s most well renowned collectors.
“The idea was to bump up the program so that there’s a lot happening around town to get people excited, to make sure it’s a real arts weekend instead of one show in one place,” explained Fishko.
A live performance by influential LA performance artist Jeffrey Vallance and Houston based Reverend Ethan Acres will be open to the public at the CAM on Saturday (October 3) at 2 pm, but for many of the other off-site programs, including a rare tour of the private collection of Fayez Sarofim, you’ll need a Patron VIP ticket and to RSVP.
Don’t miss the Thursday night preview party official after party at Houston clubbing institution, Numbers, featuring a performance and world premier of artist Tameka Norris aka Meka Jean’s new EP Ivy League Ratchet.
Large and many times strange and wild installations are always some of the best parts of this contemporary fair, and this year is no exception. As an art and space (and art of space) fan, I’m especially looking forward to Monument to the First American In Space and Sputnik Returned by Brandon Vickerd. However, when I quizzed Fishko about what his pick will be for that don’t-miss installation, he suddenly got coy.
The show will be upstairs at the Convention Center this year, instead of the ground floor, and Fishko is promising a surprising large scale installation from a mysterious Houston artist that will be “totally responsive” to the location and space. What will it be? Come on down to see.
The Texas Contemporary runs from October 1-4 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.