He's going through pretty blind. A big part of having an outside juror is - if you're in an MFA program here, your name is not going to be recognizable to an outsider. A large portion of them are students. Our youngest Big Show participant is seven-years-old. It's not just these are the pedigreed artists.
114 pieces, eliminating work by 83 artists
It was a difficult process. I was trying to go below that number, but we ended up going above. It's about 10% of what was submitted.
We got here at 9 on Saturday, we essentially worked from about 9 to 5 both Saturday and Sunday. We went through floor to ceiling works, initially picking by instincts, then going through what they were working with, what their subject matter was. The interesting thing for me - I think the interesting thing for a lot of the jurors - it's different. I had a pretty clean slate,[cb] so I just picked the type of work that I've curated in the past and with what I had available. We were talking about how there was essentially only one to three performance artists that submitted, and five video pieces. [beep] There was essentially no installation pieces that were submitted, anything that would fill a corner of a room.
It was definitely a difficult process that was made really easy. We made most of the way through on the first day. Today we fine tuned.
A lot of it has to do with my aesthetic. I talk with them a lot about what other jurors have done. I looked at the former catalogues. Last year was a wide spectrum of folk art to contemporary works. So, where I picked a lot of stuff I felt to be pretty contemporary, and some of the pieces were artists who had no formal training - [mmhmm] a lot of this I did not know, but by asking a few questions I found out. [feedback] Also, I try to create or help jury a contemporary survey of Houston region artists.
This is a crazy mix of work. A lot of it you can see right away. It was an open call for everybody. Anybody could submit anybody and everybody. A lot of it was clearly weeding out a lot of the stuff that clearly didn't fit or just didn't meet the aesthetic at all.
When we went back to look at the number of works that we immpediately said yes to and the works that we didn't have the time to go back to, our number was at like, 160. It was a lot. And i was really surprised because I wanted to keep it minimal, around the number or a little lower than the number that had been done before to sort of really create an intimate survey. But it was really hard because there was all this great work and I kind of felt a few hours ago, we were taking some stuff out, all stuff that would fit together with the other works, but we just didn't have enough space to represent everything and hang it well so that they complemented each other in this sort of gymnasium art-show feel.
I think I'm going to come back here Wednesday, I think a lot of the jurors that come in just stay for the weekend during the jury process and then fly out. I'm going to stay for a week to do some studio visits and see some spaces and museums. I'm going to come back on Wednesday and help lay some things out. I would really like to be an active part of the curatorial process.
I looked at a lot of the non-profits and a lot of the small grass-roots organizations. There's La Botanica, the Aurora Picture Show, which I was really excited to sort of try to see last night, but it was sold out.p There's the more traditional stuff like the Rothko Chapel and Box 13 I would like to take a look at and Project Row House [feedback], the Art Palace, Skydive. I'm just trying to go through the list that I made. I'm forgetting loads of people. In the few days that I've been here, I've become really sweet on Houston. We're doing a project with Portland and Houston artists in Marfa: Houston, Portland and Marfa artists, - we're going to be doing a show there next year, so I'm sort of here doing a little bit or research on that. I see myself coming back again anywhere from a month to six months to do some projects locally.
I have a lot of artist friends and curators who are here in Houston and Austin, but I just haven't had the chance to come out and see them. Most of last year was dedicated to continuing to do our programming in Portland, but also Berlin, where we have a project space for the past year. [Cameron talks] It was a gallery space and residency - that ran September to June. We're still having an artist over there to do work and projects over there. We're essentially done with Phase 1. Continuing that cultural theme.
Being here, it's been amazing having such a large city have a very strong art community base. Everyone's been really easy to work with, everyone's had great suggestions. I flew in on Friday in the afternoon, and then we had a meet and greet on Friday. A lot of the bigger names were there. A lot of people representing the bigger institutions and galleries. It's just really great to see that work. It's made me really excited to see that continue the conversation, the collaboration with Houston.
There's loads of stuff going on (in Berlin). We opened up in September - all the art fairs were going on, it was a chaotic month for our opening. I would say it was a lot easier to get involved while I was here this time around, because here in Houston, essentially, I'm visiting from one region to another, whereas there I was visiting from one country to another. In Germany, we had communication barriers, and small cultural rifts, - how we do business in the states vs. how we do it there. How the institution artist relations are different. The pacing of things - in the states, we move a lot faster. In the States, you hand out business cards, do a studio visit the next day. You're constantly working. In Berlin, especially when you're working with someone from a different country, they're spending a little more time watching what the curators are doing, what the artists are bringing in, how well they're collaborating with the other institutions and the other artists. I think that a lot of our process in Berlin was trying to cram two years of a friendship or cultural relationship into the original six months that we were supposed to be there. That was all through an intense session of personal emais...
I originally heard about it sometime in the spring, so I hadn't been back from Berlin very long, and was still working on the Berlin project. I'd heard a little bit about it, so I talked with them and solidified the details.
With the process I try to get a bit of a, not necessarily a theme, but I threw in a few wild cards that I thought were fun pieces and represented a few [beep] styles .
These really amazing pieces that are so delicate and so fine, I think she just submitted these two pieces. These small delicate, sexy pieces, that I wanted to throw in to round out the show. Sexy doilees. That was the other thing crazy about the jury process - there was no time to look up names. We were just here for eight hours, just looking at work. There might be a little comments section, or a little paper they included in the instructions [DN] I didn't want to know a lot of information. I want to look at a piece and think, 'Well this is pretty good.' But I didn't want to say, oh well that's a really amazing artists and his other works are crazy important to Houston, and they're really solid and he's been working in Houston for ten years, has done all these museum shows. I didn't want to think, oh well if i'm doing a survey of Houston then I want to include this piece. I kind of wanted to just blank slate.
Here's another really great, delicate piece by Mary _. She submitted three pieces and all three got in. DN: She's applied for exhibitions here multiple times and she always brings in work. She's had exhibitions around Houston too - I think she's had shows at Poissant, UHD. We didn't give all of this information. She'll be super excited.
It was really great going through, I mean everything's buried. There are paintings behind paintings behind paintings and boxes behind boxes. So you go through all these paintings and framed pieces, and then you have a box, and then you go through those. And then you have all of these really wonderful, this piece that stood out from the last sixty pieces.
We came across this this morning. When I came through Saturday morning, I kind of took a little tour through all these paintings and framed pieces, but it was really difficult.
So then there were these photo foam mounted photo pieces that i thought were pretty dark and very sinister.
This piece was grafitti-painterly style. This great sort of sculptural piece. Very very gritty exploding pink. I was trying to keep the show pretty lively and create some diversity. [beep]
There's this great ... Lisa Paula Patrick Stewart....
There's also the more traditional piece, that you might find at an older, more traditional art gallery. I was really fond of, after a few times of looking at it.
So, there's this kiln glass sculptural piece that was really fascinating because this, we sort of looked at at the same time. This by Daniel Esquivelpiece hangs onto this sculptural base. [cb talks]
We have a pretty original system that we don't know how it originated, that's yes no maybe. [cb] There's what you immediately think will go in [beep]. We had so much work to look at, so you couldn't spend a lot of time. There were a lot of pieces where you were like, wow i really like this artist, but I'd like to spend a little more time with it. / I can look at it with fresh eyes and pick, because maybe there are three big pieces, and so I wanted to pick one piece, so you would put a maybe on them so that you could come back to them. or you wanted to revisit to see. if your brain was fried/ and just seemd like too much work, or maybe you realize, oh this is a piece that's very similar to this piece, or you know, come back. then there were the pieces that i thought that with the aesthetic, and with the look of the show, that just didn't fit, that didn't seem/ work well. there was a nice design piece that was to be hooked up to propane. it was a sculptural piece, sort of like a fire pit piece. which is really great in a different kind of show. but it's first here in houston in the summer, so not too many people are going to be sitting at the fire pit, and it was only going to be on for the opening, not for the rest of the show. There was a lot of pieces that were like that, like this would be a really great piece for a design show, or this might be a really great piece in a fiber show, but we were trying to pick solid pieces that represented a lot of that.
i was trying to hop around a little bit in the things that i was picking. there are these two pieces back here
So this was Daniel Esquivel. This piece hangs on to this sculptural base.
They're really powerful pieces and really fun pieces.
One artist had to submit a letter to me. I had to open the letter and sit down and read the letter.
These pieces were definite yeses. We put all three works in of this artist.
You see that there's something great in it, put you want to come back and spend a little more time with it and see the little details. The painter reminds me a little bit of Joan Mitchell. There's a lot of great pieces at the Chicago art museum.
That one is so simple, but so beautiful I think.
The last hour was just trying to look at everything. We started spacing things out and started pushing things - the stuff that didn't make it in further back so we could try to see what it would look like and try to get a feel of what it would look like. I started look around the wall, visually making spots - will this artist get enough space around their pieces? it was really hard to say, because I think this year they got a lot more smaller, intimate pieces, like the stuff on this table, that fits on a pedestal. it's just hard to visualize. i would say that 70 percent of the pieces in the show are painting. maybe even 70 percent painting on canvas. it was really hard to still continue even with that as a factor. i was trying to continue, even with that as a factor, to properly represent and show sculptural works and some nice contemporary photography. throw in little pieces that i thought really fit well.
you have to be living within 100 miles of Houston, and not have already been shown anywhere else
They're really great. Like I said I know nothing about it. [cb] i thought of balls of cut rubber or newspaper. it's portrait. acrylic on shrinkable plastic. They're really intimate pieces in a show that sometimes can be, you know filled with so much work. I think there are going to be a lot of great little moments in this show, where there's going to be an 8 foot tall drawing on paper, and then over in this corner, there's a corner with these really sweet intimate pieces that are just really powerful on their own.
It's really been an intense process. I feel really good about the pieces that I picked. I know there's a lot of pieces that if I did my own, five person show, that I would love to put into a five person show somewhere. I was constantly going.
I was thinking on the way to a studio visit, i should go back and take out some pieces. i should try my best to narrow it down a little bit, but theni thought no wait those are all great pieces and i couldn't think of any piece that i would want to get rid of. i would basically be forcing myself to get rid of these pieces. it was just a difficult process like that. i can always think about could i have put more in or taking more out
my name is paul middendorf