best january art
7 vivid and eye-catching January art events no Houstonian should miss
While we await big spring art blockbusters, January eases us into a new year with a variety of contemporary offerings.
From a celebration of groundbreaking women through bronze, to a weaving of the art of natural systems and networks, there's plenty of great art to explore this month. Plus, look out for an artful way to help Winter Street artists.
“Woman, the Spirit of the Universe” at Holocaust Museum Houston (January 13-April 2)
With HMH’s superb Ruth Bader Ginsburg exhibition last spring still on our minds, we’re anticipating this show of collar sculpture from Houston artist Carolyn Marks.
Inspired by 23 American woman pioneers for equality, Marks creates hand-stitched cotton collars that are then cast in bronze. The collars represent American women throughout U.S. history, including Margaret Brent, who practiced de facto law in the late 1600s, to Texans Ann Richards and Barbara Jordan. And of course, there's Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a bronze representing her signature use of laced collars on her justice robes.
Also included in the show are two new collars, one to honor former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and one for Houston’s first librarian Julia B. Ideson.
“Narrative Threads: Fiber Art Today” at Rice Moody Center for the Arts (January 13-May 13)
This Moody gives us a 21st-century perspective on this most ancient of art forms. The 21 Texas, national, and international artists in the show work with fiber and textile in ways that speak to contemporary issues of identity, gender, race, sexuality, and power, all through a medium with deep, multicultural roots that predate written history.
From tapestries to thread drawings to textile collages, these artists communicate both personal and political issues, through their works that can be read as simultaneously autobiographical and socially critical. The Moody has also commissioned a site-specific work by Orly Genger. Working with recycled fishing rope this large-scale outdoor installation will engage with the architecture of the Moody building and surrounding landscape.
Look for special events in conjunction with the show, including Honor, a performance art lecture from Houston-born artist Suzanne Bocanegra performed by acclaimed television and film actress Lili Taylor.
“Jacolby Satterwhite: We Are in Hell When We Hurt Each Other” at Blaffer Art Museum (January 20-March 12)
Created in 2020, this monumental video from Satterwhite translates the artist’s dance movements through digital bodysuits into animated Black fembot forms and other various creatures/humanoid elements.
Bringing together disparate practices of vogueing, 3D animation, and drawing, Satterwhite’s eye-popping digital meditation explores the movement of his own queer body while also evoking ballroom culture, popular culture, and sociopolitical tenets. For more than a decade, Jacolby Satterwhite has used 3D animation, sculpture, performance, painting, and photography to create fantastical, labyrinthine universes.
Exploring themes of public space, the body, ritual, and community, Satterwhite draws from an extensive set of references guided by queer theory, Modernist tropes, and video game languages to challenge conventions of Western art through a personal and political lens.
“Leslie Martinez: The Secrecy of Water” at Blaffer Art Museum (January 20-March 12)
This solo exhibition of Dallas-based Martinez’s work showcases paintings that explore ideas of place, climate, landscape, and personhood through the unconventional methods of applying and interlaying various materials, textures, and hues on canvas.
Born in the Rio Grande Valley of the South Texas-Mexico border, Martinez frequently traveled to and from Dallas. That journey and crossing through Customs and Border Patrol checkpoints caused Martinez to think on ideas of borderland spaces along with concepts on belonging and exclusion and how those relate to the structures of existence for queer and trans peoples, as well as ideas of shapeshifting and coding necessary for survival.
In Martinez’s work, viewers encounter poetic, abstracted meditations on the state of the world that are fused with fluid experiments in material, color, and gesture.
Art Fundraiser for Winter Street Studios at Silver Street Studios (January 21)
Houston art lovers and certainly community artists themselves are still in shock after the arson at Winter Street Studios last month. This fundraiser allows us to both show our support and to remind ourself of the power of art, and maybe even do some collecting.
Proceeds from the art sales will go to the Houston Arts Alliance Emergency Relief Fund which will provide stipends to the artists affected by the Winter Street Studio fire.
“Portrait of Courage: Gentileschi, Wiley, and the Story of Judith” at Museum of Fine Arts (January 25-April 16)
Two artists’ visions of the Old Testament story of Judith slaying Holofernes get juxtaposed in this intriguing exhibition at the MFAH.
Though separated by 400 years, 17th-century Italian artist Artemisia Gentileschi and contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley both find much inspiration from the ancient story. Placed together, they create a dialogue on visual storytelling that allows viewers to contemplate themes of power and preservation across cultures and time.
At a time when few women had the opportunity to work as artists, Gentileschi became a celebrated Baroque painter of 17th-century Italy. Known for monumental portraits of young Black men and women placed in historical poses, Wiley’s most recognized work Portrait of President Barack Obama was presented at the MFAH last year.
“I am thrilled to be able to share with our public Artemisia Gentileschi's magnificent and compelling masterpiece, along with Kehinde Wiley's brilliant reinterpretation of the legend of Judith and Holofernes. I look forward to seeing the reaction of our visitors to these two paintings treating the same subject, one by a woman, one by a man, separated by 400 years,” says MFAH director Gary Tinterow.
"Steve Tobin’s Intertwined: Exploring Nature’s Networks” as Houston Botanic Garden
The Botanic Gardens presents another exhibition of art onto itself that also invites visitors to explore the nature’s art of the gardens.
Featuring monumental sculptures by Tobin, who is world-renowned for his works in glass, bronze, ceramic, and steel, the show exhibition will include pieces from several series – including modernist Steelroots, unearthed Bronze Roots, stainless steel Clouds, and bronze and steel Nests with magical eggs.
Together, the pieces dramatically capture the unseen power of the natural world while celebrating the importance of the systems that give life to the Garden’s tropical, sub-tropical, and arid collections.