best January Art
10 vivid and eye-catching exhibits no Houston art fan should miss
We begin the new year with an art bang, as big new exhibitions open at some of our favorite venues.
Fans can look forward to centuries of African American art in a very special traveling exhibition at the Holocaust Museum, along with provocative contemporary art at the Blaffer, Moody, and Center for Contemporary Craft, as well as an art festival at the MATCH on our must-see list.
Since it’s always our resolution to celebrate local artists, we’re also highlighting some intriguing gallery shows to checkout this month.
“Things Fall Apart” at Redbud Arts Center (now through February 24)
See current works by Houston-based artist Randall Mosman and Copenhagen artist Anders Moseholm in this show that highlights their reflective approaches to figurative painting, as well as their similar philosophies on change and interconnection.
Mosman and Moseholm draw inspiration from a primal connection to expressing the incomprehensible—akin to how individuals in the Stone Age depicted life on cave walls. For them, when things fall apart, it opens the door to new possibilities.
"Primary Colors: Dan Gorski Paintings, 1962-65" at Jung Center (now through February 14)
Though an acclaimed and active artist and teacher until his death in 2017, the former director of the MFAH’s Glassell School first drew attention from the art world for his abstract and minimalist paintings in the ’60s.
This colorful exhibition focuses on this period of Gorski’s work and specifically on a group of paintings that showcase his fascination with color combinations and biomorphic compositions. In a description of the exhibition, the Jung Center notes that Gorski’s early engagements with minimalism, color field, and hard-edge movements, as they developed in the United States, mark a critical period in 20th century art.
He pushed that artistic experimentation and investigation throughout his entire career, including his many years as a Houston artist.
“Blood Quantum” at 14 Pews (January 12-March 9)
14 Pews, that beloved small treasure of an art and film venue, presents an ambitious new photography project from its executive director, Cressandra Thibodeaux.
A collaborative multidisciplinary series,“Blood Quantum” features large-scale portraits along with revealing interviews of 10 Native Americans. The title of the exhibition refers to the U.S. federal and some state laws that historically defined the status and identity of Native Americans according to their “blood” ancestry.
In describing the genesis of the series, Thibodeaux explained, "My aspiration with this project is to create an immersive experience for audiences, inviting them to engage and reflect on their own experiences. I aim to raise awareness about the ongoing challenges faced by Native tribes and individuals, inviting viewers to delve deeper into the complexities portrayed within each photograph."
“Reynier Leyva Novo: Former Present Today” at Blaffer Museum (January 12-March 10)
For this first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. of Cuban conceptual artist Reynier Leyva Novo, the Blaffer will showcase a new painting series from Novo that explores themes of revolution and tyranny, and how facts and myth can combine to create propaganda.
Renowned for his artistic political responses to Cuban politics, the Blaffer notes that Novo’s work “challenges ideology and symbols of power, questioning notions of an individual’s ability to affect change. His works form an interventionist response to the seemingly recognizable in the spaces of public memory, known histories, and axis’ of power around us.”
“The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection” at Holocaust Museum Houston (January 12-June 23)
Having acquired one of the most deep and expansive private collections of African American art and artifacts in the world, the Kinsey family sent those artworks and objects on the road to share them with the nation and beyond.
The exhibition traveling to the HMH will feature over 100 pieces amassed by Bernard and Shirley Kinsey during their five decades of marriage, including major artworks of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as Modern and Contemporary paintings and sculptures. The artwork is given further context set alongside cultural and historical objects chronicling the history of Black people in the Americans, from 16th century baptismal records to Civil Rights era writings and photography.
“The Kinsey Collection highlights the resilience of African Americans despite a long history of discrimination and trauma,” describes Alex Hampton, HMH’s changing exhibitions manager in a statement on the exhibition. “It also shows the vital contributions Black people have made to American society despite this history. As a Holocaust and Human Rights museum, we want our exhibitions to bring communities together by illuminating the similarities in our histories while also keeping in mind the differences.”
Look for several special public programming events in conjunction with the exhibition, including an appearance by the Kinseys.
“Dialogues: A Convergence of Color and Form” at Anya Tish Gallery (January 12-February 24)
Two Houston-based Latinx artists will be featured in this exhibition: Colombian-born Tatiana Escallón and Mexico-born artist Marisol Valencia. Though working in different mediums with very different visions, both artists share a commonality of creating thought-provoking, meticulous and highly textural artworks.
Escallón’s large format abstract paintings confront the viewer with raw vivid markings and self-authored texts. Offered in juxtaposition, Valencia’s minimal, yet highly complex monochromatic porcelain sculptures offer an intriguing complement to the space.
Although employing different techniques and mediums, both artists embrace the emotive value of color and form, highlighting themes such as memory, displacement, and feminism.
“Hayv Kahraman: The Foreign in Us” at Rice Moody Center (January 12-May 11)
This first Texas solo exhibition of the acclaimed Iraqi-Kurdish artist’s work will highlight Kahraman’s most recent research-driven art projects influenced by her heritage and experience as a refugee.
With a selection of over forty paintings and drawings, including large-scale canvases, the exhibition will feature intimate figure drawings that demonstrate the artist’s meticulous draftsmanship of line and color.
The Moody Center makes it a practice to showcase artists who often look to other fields, like the sciences, when creating their work, and “Foreign in Us” seems no exception as the exhibition organizers highlight Kahraman’s interest in bioscience and using painting to explore the semantic implications of “invasive others” within the fields of immunology and microbiology.
“We’re honored to present Hayv Kahraman’s recent work at the Moody,” states Moody executive director, Alison Weaver. “Her powerful imagery, deeply informed by her personal history, intersects with the fields of bioscience, social history, and public policy in ways we hope will invite conversations across the campus and community.”
Mix-MATCH: A Mixed Arts Festival at MATCH (January 13)
For Houston art-lovers, there’s no such thing as too many festivals, so this brand new performing and visual arts festival at the MATCH is definitely pinging our radar.
Billed as a one-of-a-kind celebration of the creative spirit of Houston's small to mid-sized arts organizations, the fest will feature captivating live performances, interactive activities, and a chance to connect with the local arts community.
From theater to dance, from visual arts to community engagement, this festival will have some art for almost every taste.
“Fiber in 3D: Indigo Houston” at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (January 27-May 4)
A historical and quintessential American fabric gets deconstructed, literally, in this large-scale, site specific installation of denim as a medium for art. HCCC partnered with the national craft organization Fiber Art Now for this special Fiber in 3D exhibition, with Baggs McKelvey’s immersive installation the selected work.
Using material from 67 pairs of donated denim jeans, McKelvey disassembled, cut, tied, and spooled the fabric, turning it into nearly 6000 feet of handcrafted denim rope.
Then installed to best interact with the Asher Gallery space, the installation serves as both commentary on the “fraught social history of denim in the United States” and as a reminder of the history of denim as a material of art and craft.
“This Side Up” at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (January 27-May 4)
There’s an art to installation as this unusual exhibition will prove. The first of its kind will feature the work of mount-makers, crate-builders, and exhibition-fabricators — as well as artwork informed by these practices — in order to figuratively, and sometimes literally, put a frame on the process of framing and installing art.
The exhibition will give visitors a behind-the-scenes peek at the process of installing and putting art together within a space once the art is created, highlighting the craftsmanship of these makers and their vital role in facilitating the art viewing experience.
“This Side Up is an exhibition about the making of an exhibition,” describes exhibition director Sarah Darro. “Its design and layout reflect the art object’s journey from artist studio to art-shipping transit facility to clandestine preparation room, and finally, to public presentation in the museum gallery.”