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  • Work by artist Gregory Scott at Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago.
    Photo by Julie Knutson
  • Agnes Denes, Pyramids of Conscience, 2005, crude oil, water from the HoustonShip Channel, Houston tap water, mirror, 51x51x56", courtesy of Ballroom Marfa.
    Photo by Julie Knutson
  • Robb Putnam, Rat #4 and Rat #5, 2012, fabric, plastic, leather, thread and mixedmedia, 8 by 10 by 5 inches, courtesy of Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco.
    Photo by Julie Knutson
  • Monir Farmanfarmaian, Octagon, 2011, mirror and reverse glass painting onplaster and wood, 44 by 44 by 4.5 inches, courtesy of Haines Gallery, SanFrancisco.
    Photo by Julie Knutson
  • Joan Mitchell, Untitled, c. 1960, oil on canvas, 31.5 by 23.5 inches, courtesyof Lennon Weinberg Gallery, New York.
    Photo by Julie Knutson
  • Work by Houston artist Rachel Hecker at Texas Gallery, Houston.
    Photo by Julie Knutson
  • Eric Daigh, My scissors aren't meant for this [detail], pushpins on board, 50 by35 inches, courtesy of Pentimenti, Philadelphia.
    Photo by Julie Knutson
  • Travis Sommerville, Installation, courtesy of Catharine Clark Gallery, SanFransisco.
    Photo by Julie Knutson

After a rockin' opening night party and overwhelmingly positive reviews from gallerists and collectors alike, the second annual Texas Contemporary show certainly made its mark on the city's fall art scene.

To get a sense of how this year's event compared to the 2011 inaugural effort, CultureMap caught up with Jeffery Wainhause of artMRKT, the production company behind the recent Houston fair as well as major shows in San Francisco, the Hamptons and Miami.

" Judging from what we've heard from gallery owners, we really hit it out of the park this time," said fair organizer Jeffery Wainhause. "People were extremely enthusiastic and sales appeared strong."

"With more than 10,000 visitors, it looks like we had a slightly larger crowd than the first show," he reported during a phone interview from Brooklyn, where artMRKT has been based since it was founded in early 2011.

"In the last two years, though, we've learned that attendance numbers are not the most important factor. They're a great sign, but we usually gauge the overall success of a fair by the happiness of our constituents. Judging from what we've heard from gallery owners, we really hit it out of the park this time. People were extremely enthusiastic and sales appeared strong."

Wainhause said his team concentrated on the overall feel of the show, searching for ways to maintain a flexible and friendly open space capable of handling regular bursts of heavy traffic. Co-organizer Max Fishko, meanwhile, focused on vetting the fair's 65 galleries.

"Max did a wonderful job juxtaposing galleries that show newer and older examples of contemporary art. When the level and quality of the artwork is so high, the fair is easy after that."

Having a better sense of the city's collectors and art institutions was paramount to the success of this year's show, explained Wainhause.

"Houston's collector base is broad and very sophisticated. Gallerists across the nation are starting to take note of the city."

"Houston's collector base is broad and very sophisticated," he said. "Gallerists across the nation are starting to take note of the city, because dealers are able to bring some of their more challenging work here."

To avoid scheduling the fair during the Dallas Museum of Art's annual TWO x TWO art auction, artMRKT will stage Texas Contemporary a weekend earlier in 2013 to better reach its north Texas audience.

"We're not looking to get bigger next year, but we are hoping to make the show even stronger. We're also going to expand our national marketing campaign for Texas Contemporary. It's time to let the rest of the country know about what we're doing in Houston."

  • Artadia executive director Carolyn Ramo, left, and artist Jillian Conrad
    photo by Tyler Rudick
  • Jillian Conrad, Sites and Settlements:G [detail], 2011, Courtesy of the artistand Devin Borden Gallery, Houston.
    Photo by Tyler Rudick
  • Jang Soon Im, Convention, 2012, digital print. 23 x 13"
  • Carl Suddath, untitled, 2012, ink, dye and pencil on paper, 18.5 x 18.5";Courtesy of the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston.
    Photo by Tyler Rudick
  • Don't miss the Artadia winners at booth SP19 inside the Texas Contemporary ArtFair.
    Photo by Tyler Rudick
  • Rosine Kouamen, from the Allons-y Chez series, 2011
  • Seth Mittag, We're Still Here, 2011, mixed media.
    Photo by Karen Burd

And the winners are . . . New York group hands out big money to artists at TexasContemporary

No strings

After vetting more than 200 applicants from Harris County, the New York arts foundation Artadia announced five winners for its 2012 Houston award at the Texas Contemporary Art Fair.

Artists Jillian Conrad and Carl Suddath walked away with top prizes worth $15,000 each, while Francesca Fuchs, Seth Mittag and Jang soon Im all received $5,000 awards. Also honored were the five remaining shortlisted finalists Michael Bise, Bill Davenport, Rosine Kouamen, Linda Post and Kaneem Smith.

"It's wonderful to be recognized amongst a group of artists I know and respect so much," Conrad tells CultureMap. "It makes being singled out mean all the more to me, while being a little bittersweet too. I know how hard everyone works and how hard we struggle."

"It's wonderful to be recognized amongst a group of artists I know and respect so much."

A panel of three judges — Menil curator Michelle White, curator Naima Keith from the Studio Museum Harlem and Patrick Charpenel of the Mexico City's Jumex Foundation — spent Tuesday and Wednesday circling Houston conducting 45-minute studio visits with each of the 10 finalists.

"We were focused on how artists were engaging in a larger contemporary art dialogue," White says during panel discussion following the announcement. "I have to say that every one of these nominees could've made the top two positions.

"It was a really hard decision because I was in awe of every artist we talked to in the studio."

While most art world grant money is doled out for specific projects, Artadia prides itself as being one of the few national organizations to offer unrestricted cash awards that allow artists to use their funds for anything ranging from supplies and studio space to travel and living costs.

"The history of grant-writing has created a type of artist that has to make certain projects that can get funded . . . and, I'll be honest, I've never been that artist," laughs Houston artist David Aylsworth, one of three former Artadia recipients on the panel. "To receive a grant that's unrestricted was so important to me in that it supported my regular studio practice rather than specific project."

Once an artist receives an Artadia Award, the nonprofit foundation promises lifetime support from its extensive network of art affiliates.

"What's so amazing about Artadia is that it allows artists to keep working in Houston," White says. "They can sustain their practice here while still having a chance to have a more national and international profile in the art world."

The Texas Contemporary Art Fair runs through Sunday at the George R. Brown.

Party at your own risk: Gator promises to take bite out of Texas Contemporaryopening night bash

watch your step

With an Old West theme, free drinks and miniature horse named Sugar, the Glasstire booth was the belle of the ball at last year's opening night party for the Texas Contemporary Art Fair.

So, after putting together one of the most memorable moments of the inaugural four-day show, what's a beloved Texas arts blog to do when the fair returns?

Answer: Hire an alligator.

That's right, the Glasstire team has contacted "a fully licensed and insured USDA zoological facility" in Angleton to provide a live alligator for Thursday's party, which runs from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

According to artist and Glasstire editor Bill Davenport, the vibe of this year's booth is "Gulf Coast dive bar," complete with corrugated metal siding and a rickety overhang.

The blog assures that "gator wrasslin'" is not on the agenda, adding that the beast "is apparently on the small side and works the children’s birthday party circuit."

The Texas Contemporary Art Fair starts Thursday at 6 p.m. with a special preview event benefitting the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. The official opening party kicks off at 7:30 and rages until about 9:30 p.m. The fair itself is in town through Sunday. Click here for details and tickets.

  • For this year's Texas Contemporary, Artist Jane Miller will mount ClockShop, aninstallation dedicated to fixing, adapting and selling timepieces.
    Photo by Tyler Rudick
  • Artist Jane Miller
    Photo by Tyler Rudick
  • Clocks of all sorts will be available . . . and all items will be priced below$100.
    Photo by Tyler Rudick
  • A set of clocks made of wax
    Photo by Tyler Rudick
  • Miller will be selling an array of limited-edition prints featuring — youguessed it — clocks.
    Photo by Tyler Rudick

Watch this: Sculptor Jane Miller turns back time in live project at TexasContemporary Art Fair

Thursday through Sunday

Following up its popular booth of $5 Steve Keene paintings at last year's Texas Contemporary Art Fair, the Rice Gallery is hosting a live project by artist Jane Miller for the 2012 show, which starts it four-day run Thursday evening at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

CultureMap stopped by Rice for a quick Tuesday morning chat with Miller, as she prepped for ClockShop — an installation designed to resemble a small store cluttered with artworks made from wristwatches, wall clocks and other timepiece-related materials. All items will retail below $100, she guaranteed.

"Clocks are really becoming extinct, in a way," she said. "I mean, who uses a watch anymore? . . . The clock has become an icon of another age, like the ax or, eventually, the book."

"I've always thought of myself on some level as a Mrs. Fix-it," the Connecticut-based artist explained. "I like messing around with things, taking things apart and putting them together again. So for this show, I chose to focus on clocks and this idea of trying to either fix them or reassemble them in an artistic fashion."

A museum associate in the coins and medals department at the Yale University Art Gallery, Miller has long drawn the notions of collecting, cataloging and compiling into her art.

"At the art fair, I'm going to play the role of an horologist . . . Although, I'm guessing not a terribly good one, considering I only started over the summer."

The artist have created a number of limited-run prints for the show and plans to cover the booth in clock-themed wallpaper she herself designed. Around her will sit timepieces of all sorts — Art Deco, Victorian, folksy, broken, slow, modern, gently-used.

"Clocks are really becoming extinct, in a way," she said. "I mean, who uses a watch anymore? I've noticed it's become a fashion statement recently, but I'm not sure how often people look at them. The clock has become an icon of another age, like the ax or, eventually, the book. I think this installation taps into that idea."

Sponsored by the Rice University Art Gallery, Jane Miller's ClockShop will be located in booth 913 at the Texas Contemporary Art Fair, which opens Thursday night and runs through Sunday. Click here for hours, tickets and programming.

  • Socialite extraordinaire Lynn Wyatt will help celebrate the arrival of artistRob Pruitt's Andy Monument on Saturday. Warhol painted her portrait, shown here.
    Photos courtesy of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
  • Warhol's Houston appearance was funded in large part by an online crowdsourcingcampaign.
    Photo courtesy of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston/Webstagram
  • Artist Rob Pruitt
    Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP ImageForum
  • Lynn Wyatt at CAMH's Another Great Night event in November 2012
    Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com

On his way: Andy Warhol arrives at CAMH in style with a Lynn Wyatt-approvedwelcome

entourage

Andy Warhol's officially in town . . . and he's ready to party.

After launching a unique crowdfunding campaign to bring a piece of NYC history to the Bayou City, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is proud to announce the arrival of Rob Pruitt's Andy Monument — a life-sized silver-toned replica of the artist who forever changed the way we see American culture.

"This piece graced the spot outside of the old Warhol Factory in Union Square in New York," said Arning. "It was so popular with area residents that its tenure there was extended twice. "

On Saturday, following a special 2 p.m. talk on the project at the Texas Contemporary Art Fair, the CAMH officially unveils Andy to the Houston public. In attendance will be both the artist and society-scene legend Lynn Wyatt, who sat for her own Warhol portrait in the early 1980s.

"This piece graced the spot outside of the old Warhol Factory in Union Square in New York, and it was so popular with area residents that its tenure there was extended twice," explained CAMH director Bill Arning in a statement released Friday.

"As a young teenager I found in the persona of Andy Warhol license to be the person I wanted to be, and I think that experience is common for many people who learned to love art via Warhol," he continued. "They will now have a suitable pilgrimage site in Houston."

While only $5,300 of the $32,000 project was raised through the Internet campaign, CAMH spokesperson Connie McAllister told CultureMap that the museum is over the moon about its fundraising experiment through Indigogo.com.

"We secured a number of additional donations from people who'd heard about the fundraiser, but wanted to contribute anonymously," she said. "While the anonymous contributions didn't end up on Indigogo, we ultimately funded about a third of the Andy Monument through the campaign."

The remaining funds, she explained, were drawn from other generous CAMH supporters as well as from the museum budget.

The Andy Monument welcome ceremony runs from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday at the CAMH. The piece itself will be unveiled at 7:30 p.m.

  • Emerging Houston design firm MaRS has tackled the VIP lounge at TexasContemporary with a playful nod the Bayou City.
  • Industrial shipping supplies speak to the Port of Houston while exercise ballsrefer to the city's nationally-recognized weight issues.
  • Designer Erick Ragni's doodles have been repurposed as wall art behind the bar.
  • Four light bulb displays spell out the fair's initials TCAF, harkening to themarquees of old Texas honky-tonk clubs.
  • Overhead, a display of umbrellas remind us all that hurricane season has notquite ended yet.

To MaRS and back: Houston design firm creates playful "environment of art" forTexas Contemporary lounge

A Fair representation

For even the bravest of collectors, an art fair can be a daunting endeavor . . . scores of galleries showing hundreds of artists among thousands of attendees. Thankfully, there's always the bar.

But more times than not, the art fair lounge can be a dreary place, an afterthought amid a sea of carefully-conceived gallery booths.

Tasked with designing the VIP lounge for the upcoming Texas Contemporary show, which runs Oct. 18 to 21 at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston architecture duo MaRS thinks it may have found the solution.

"We're not just architects," Mayfield notes. We're designers ready to create a range of pieces with which people can interact."

"Art has always been an important element to our work," explains designer Kelie Mayfield, who launched MaRS in 2010 with architect Erick Ragni. (The firm title is a combination of the founders' names, by the way. The S is for 'studio.')

"This has been an opportunity for us to create a sort of environment of art. We did some work at last year's show and loved the way organizers integrated artwork into the convention design. We're enhancing that idea with this year's VIP area, creating something closer to an art installation."

Listening to the manner in which MaRS devised the initial concept for the VIP section, the two designers sound more like playful conceptual artists than architects who have worked with some of the biggest names in architecture Frank Gehry and Enric Miralles, to name a few.

"We spend a lot of time online going though all of this data on Houston," Rigni says. "In the end, we decided on four basic components that subtly refer to the city."

To represent the Port of Houston, the walls of the lounge are made of stacked shipping pallets and industrial wire spools are used as tables. An overhead array of umbrellas harkens to the city's perpetual struggle with hurricanes. Four large displays of light bulbs together spelling the fair's initials TCAF speak to the marquees of old Texas honky-tonk clubs. Chairs have been replaced with exercise balls, a joke about the Houston's reputation as an out-of-shape city.

"This project has been wonderful for us to highlight what we do as a firm," Mayfield notes. "We're not just architects. We're designers ready to create a range of pieces with which people can interact."

The Texas Contemporary Art Fair kicks off Oct. 18 with a special opening preview party. VIP tickets (starting at $100) are required for the event and include admission at all four days of the fair as well as access to the VIP lounge. Three-day tix are $35 and a one-day pass is $20.

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RodeoHouston announces ticket sale dates for  Lauren Daigle, The Chainsmokers, and Cody Jinks

rodeo tickets on sale

The time has come to start making plans to attend the 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Tickets for three concerts go on sale this Thursday, December 8 at 10 am (online waiting room opens at 9:30 am) via rodeohouston.com.

They are:

  • Christian country star Lauren Daigle on March 2
  • Electronic DJs and production duo The Chainsmokers on March 10
  • Texas country singer Cody Jinks on March 13.

Ticket prices start at $25, plus a $4 per ticket convenience fee. The other prices are:

  • Upper Level: $25 – $30
  • Loge Level: $40
  • Club Level: $50 – $55
  • Field Level: $44
  • Chairman’s Club: $150 (includes food and hosted bar)
  • Action Seats: $155 (includes hearty hors d’oeuvres and cash bar)
The Rodeo notes that those who enter the online waiting room between 9:30 and 9:59 will be randomly selected to purchase tickets when they go on sale at 10 am. Furthermore, being in the online waiting room does not guarantee that a person will be able to purchase tickets.

All tickets will be delivered electronically. To access their tickets, concertgoers will need to download the AXS Ticketing mobile app and login with the email address they used to purchase the tickets.

In September, the Rodeo announced that Conroe-born country star Parker McCollum would be the opening night performer. More acts will be announced as next year's event draws near. The 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and all RodeoHouston performances are scheduled for February 28–March 19, 2023 at NRG Park.

Lauren Daigle/Facebook

Lauren Daigle will make her RodeoHouston debut.

University of Houston powers up smart robot food server in on-site restaurant

tip your robot

The University of Houston is taking a bold step — or, in this case, roll — in foodservice delivery. UH's Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership is now deploying a robot server in Eric’s Restaurant at its Hilton College.

Booting up this new service is major bragging rights for the Coogs, as UH is now the only college in the country — and the only restaurant facility in Houston — to utilize a robotic food delivery.

These rolling delivery bots come from the state-of-the-art food service robot called Servi. The bots, created by Bear Robotics, are armed with LiDar sensors, cameras, and trays, and automatically return to their posts when internal weight sensors detect a delivery has been completed.

Not surprisingly, these futuristic food staffers are booting up plenty of buzz at UH.

“People are excited about it,” says Dennis Reynolds, who is dean of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership and oversees the only hospitality program in the world where students work and take classes in an internationally branded, full-service hotel. Launching robot waitstaff at UH as a test market makes sense, he notes, for practical use and larger implications.

“Robotics and the general fear of technology we see today are really untested in the restaurant industry,” he says in an announcement. “At Hilton College, it’s not just about using tomorrow’s technology today. We always want to be the leader in learning how that technology impacts the industry.”

Bear Robotics, a tech company founded by restaurant experts and tech entrepreneurs, hosted a Servi showcase at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago earlier this year. After seeing the demo, Reynolds was hooked. UH's Servi robot arrived at Eric’s Restaurant in October.

Before sending the bot to diners' tables, the bot was prepped by Tanner Lucas, the executive chef and foodservice director at Eric’s. That meant weeks of mapping, programming, and — not surprisingly — “test driving” around the restaurant.

Tanner even created a digital map of the restaurant to teach the Servi its pathways and designated service points, such as table numbers. “Then, we sent it back and forth to all of those points from the kitchen with food to make sure it wouldn’t run into anything," he adds.

But does having a robot deliver food create friction between human and automated staff? Not at Eric's. “The robot helps my workflow,” Joel Tatum, a server at Eric’s says. “It lets me spend more time with my customers instead of just chasing and running food.”

Reynolds believes robots will complement their human counterparts and actually enhance the customer experience, even in unlikely settings. “Studies have been conducted in senior living facilities where you might think a robot wouldn’t be well received, but it’s been just the opposite,” Reynolds says. “Those residents saw the change in their lives and loved it.”

To that end, he plans to use Servi bots in other UH venues. “The ballroom would be a fantastic place to showcase Servi – not as a labor-saving device, but as an excitement generator,” Reynolds notes. “To have it rotating through a big event delivering appetizers would be really fun.”

Critics who denounce robot servers and suggest they will soon displace humans are missing the point, Reynolds adds. “This isn’t about cutting our labor costs. It’s about building our top-line revenues and expanding our brand as a global hospitality innovator,” Reynolds says. “People will come to expect more robotics, more artificial intelligence in all segments of hospitality, and our students will be right there at the forefront.”

Servi bots come at a time of dynamic growth for Hilton College. A recent rebrand to “Global Hospitality Leadership” comes as the college hotel is undergoing a $30 million expansion and renovation, which includes a new five-story, 70-room guest tower. The student-run Cougar Grounds coffeehouse reopened this semester in a larger space with plenty of updates. The neighboring Eric’s Club Center for Student Success helps with recruitment and enrollment, undergraduate academic services, and career development.

“To be the first university in the country to introduce robotics in the dining room is remarkable,” Reynolds adds. “There are a lot of unique things we’re doing at Hilton College.”

Only one burning question remains: Just how does one tip a robot waitstaffer?

Photo courtesy of University of Houston

Servi bots are now delivering food at UH's Eric's Restaurant.

Acclaimed Hill Country winery pours onto list of the world's 100 best for 2022

Wine List

One Texas winery just landed on one of the most exclusive wine lists of them all. At an event held in Argentina's wine capital, Mendoza, the World’s Best Vineyards organization revealed this year’s top wine destinations for 2022. Texas' own William Chris Vineyards came in at No. 56, the only Texas vineyard on the list and one of only seven wineries from the U.S.

Founded in 2008 by Chris Brundrett and Bill Blackmon in Hye, Texas, the vineyard started out in the historic 1905 Dieke Farmhouse and has been rapidly expanding ever since. Now, the company partners with local farms to source the highest quality Texas fruit, utilizing a hands-off, low-intervention approach to allow the fruit's characteristics to shine through in the final product.

“It is such an honor to be included on the prestigious list of World’s Best Vineyards, especially as the first and only Texas winery,” said Brundrett in a release. “We’ve worked tirelessly to show the world that Texas has a place among the great wine destinations of the world, and we see this as a victory not just for William Chris Vineyards, but for the Texas wine industry as a whole. We’re excited to celebrate this with our partners and peers.”

Released annually, the World’s Best Vineyards list highlights the top must-visit vineyards globally, aiming to promote wine tourism around the world. 500 leading wine experts, sommeliers, and travel experts comprise the group's voting academy, submitting their nominations based on a wide range of criteria — from quality of overall experience to cuisine, value for money, and more. Submissions are voted on, and the collated results become the coveted World’s Best Vineyards list.

For a full list of 2022 winners, visit worldsbestvineyards.com.