In The News

Houston Art Legend Gets a Crafty Tribute in River Oaks

Paper CityPosted May 2, 2019 in In The News

The Texas Arts Scene Owes This Man a Debt
By Matthew Ramirez

Perry Price, chair Betty Moody, honoree Clint Willour, chair Anne Tucker (Photo by Katy Anderson)

What: Houston Center for Contemporary Craft’s 10th Annual Crafting a Legacy Spring Luncheon

Where: River Oaks Country Club

PC Moment: It was an afternoon to remember for the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, a renowned-nationally cultural institution that’s still just barely old enough to drive (the 17-year-old HCCC was established in 2002).

Honoring legendary arts patron Clint Willour, nearly 300 guests in bright, colorful, spring-appropriate floral prints and hues stormed River Oaks Country Club to honor the man whose mentorship and presence has steered the course of the Texas art scene for 50 years.

Chaired by Betty MoodyAnne Tucker, and Cindi Strauss (who was out of town on MFAH business), the trio crafted an exquisite luncheon in observation of a full decade of HCCC’s signature fundraising event, its Crafting a Legacy Spring Luncheon.

HCCC executive director Perry Price welcomed the well-heeled throng of guests with salutatory greetings, before guest speaker and ceramic artist and educator Piero Fenci took the floor for some insightful remarks.

Fenci then ceded the podium, however, for art power chair duo gallerist Moody and curator Tucker, who introduced their friend and the day’s honoree.

A slide show of Willour alongside his many distinguished art world peers throughout the decades was displayed as the two shared their personal hilarious and heartwarming tales of Willour, many of which left the audience both laughing and crying.
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European Princess Goes on a Whirlwind Tour of Texas, Shaking Up SXSW and the Houston Scene

Paper CityPosted March 26, 2019 in In The News

Denmark Embraces the Lone Star State With a Royal Flair

BY 

Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft opening of the Danish Arts Foundation jewelry collection. (Photo by Katy Anderson)

After a swing through Austin where she met with Governor Greg Abbott and took the stage at a SXSW presentation, Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark created a flurry of excitement in Houston’s petite Danish community and beyond as celebrations spread from the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

The striking 47-year-old princess accompanied a cultural and trade mission promoting in both cities Danish businesses, specializing in green energy and life science, and spotlighting Danish Culture. According to the Royal Watcher blog, she began her Austin visit at a “Women in Leadership & How to Inspire the Next Generation of Women Leaders” breakfast event, followed by a tour of the SXSW festival, a Danish Gastronomy event, a meeting with the governor, two performances, and a reception at the House of Scandinavia, where she gave a speech.

In Houston, her activities included a ribbon-cutting at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, inaugurating the “Statecraft: Selections from the Jewelry Collection of the Danish Arts Foundation” exhibition; a meeting with Mayor Sylvester Turneracknowledging the “Resilient Cities Collaboration” between Houston and Denmark; and  a private/invitation-only black-tie dinner at the MFAH.
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2019 Recipients of ACC’s Emerging Voices Awards

Craft CouncilPosted March 21, 2019 in In The News

Clockwise from top left: Diedrick Brackens, Sarah Darro, Luci Jockel, Aram Han Sifuentes, Marisa Finos, Raven Halfmoon, and Bukola Koiki

The American Craft Council is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2019 Emerging Voices Awards, which recognize an emerging artist, an emerging scholar, and five shortlisted artists.

This year’s Emerging Artist is Diedrick Brackens, and the Emerging Scholar is Sarah Darro. Shortlisted artists are: Marisa FinosRaven HalfmoonAram Han SifuentesLuci Jockel, and Bukola Koiki.

“ACC is committed to supporting new, diverse voices and material practices shaping the field of contemporary craft,” says executive director Sarah Schultz. “We’re excited to see how this cohort of artists will continue to break new ground.”

ACC’s Emerging Voices Awards are given biennially in recognition and support of the next generation of makers and thinkers in the field. The awards build on the legacy of the “Young Americans” exhibition program initiated by ACC in 1950. Reflecting the multiple paths for emerging talent in the current craft climate, the awards recognize the talent of artists within five years of their major training (including apprenticeships and residencies) in addition to formal academic training.

Jurors for the 2019 awards were: Beth McLaughlin, the chief curator of exhibitions and collections at Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts; Jennifer Ling Datchuk, a San Antonio-based ceramist and the 2017 ACC Emerging Voices Artist; and Michael Radyk, a textile artist and former director of education for the American Craft Council.

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A Love Letter to Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Glasstire, by Christina Rees Posted February 23, 2019 in In The News

My first visit to Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) was only a few years ago, on one of my regular trips to Glasstire’s HQ. Ever since then I try to stop in every time I’m in town — often more enthusiastically than my visits to the MFAH, or CAMH, or the Menil: Houston’s triumvirate of high-art hitters. 

I gravitate to HCCC despite my own bullishness regarding art and craft as separate worlds, but I think that’s a testament to everything HCCC gets right. In its very reason for being, it defies categories and lets the definitions of craft and art and even social practice interweave (as it were) and the results tend to consistently surprise and charm me. Maybe the word “Craft” in its name helps me walk into the building without expecting a life-changing or mood-altering experience — something the hallowed rooms of art museums seem to promise but often fail to deliver — and so when I see the HCCC’s shows (and its resident artists’ work installed in an adjacent section), I feel not only satisfaction, but often also relief. The work does what it’s meant to do, whatever that may be in that space on that day. I leave in a spry mood and the world seems to make a little more sense. 

Maybe this is something craft and design can do for art. Craft’s very groundedness can, when working in concert with art ideas, bolster and enhance the art aspect, and make the whole sing more clearly, the way good use of language can bolster a philosophical thesis, or good engineering can better deliver an architectural impulse.

Ehren Tool, in the show ‘United by Hand: Work and Service by Drew Cameron, Alicia Dietz, and Ehren Tool” at HCCC in 2017

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HAVE A SEAT: TOM LOESER’S PLAYFUL FURNITURE AT THE CRAFT CENTER

Arts and Culture TexasPosted February 11, 2019 in In The News

Tom Loeser, “Dig for Three,” 2015. Walnut, shovel handles. 46 x 34 x 34 inches. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Simple ideas, reimagined. This is central to Tom Loeser’s practice. A stunning combination of craft, whimsy, and invention, his pieces of furniture take on an unconventionality both functional and dysfunctional. On view in the main gallery of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft through May 12, 2019, Tom Loeser: Please Please Please is a playful exhibition that encourages viewers to reconsider the way they interact with their environments.

Tom Loeser, “Folding Chair,” 1987. Painted plywood, maple, stainless steel. 34 x 25 x 22 inches (when open). Photo courtesy of the artist.

“The core of my work is thinking about function and undermining the way things work,” Loeser said. Throughout his career, the artist has striven to help furniture fulfill its potential as an artistic medium. It is an affinity that has lasted for years and propelled the expansion of his practice through the exploration of different media and environments.

This fondness for furniture began early for Loeser as he joined the staff of a teaching woodworking shop after graduating high school. While he initially pursued art when he left for college, he didn’t connect well with the professors or the program, instead deciding to major in Sociology and Archaeology. “There’s fun and pleasure in how we organize and socialize ourselves,” Loeser stated as he detailed the intricacies of his designs. It was upon his return to Cambridge, though, that he found a clearer trajectory for his practice at the Boston University Program of Artisanry, an apprenticeship program. Loeser spent three years honing his skills with form and function while redefining his creations through their design.

“I loved the situation in the shop and would stay there until 2 or 3 in the morning,” he recalled. “The faculty would push us to explore the conceptual aspects of our work.” This is where his exploration of unconventional forms began. Loeser produced a colorful series of postmodern chairs that would fold flat and double as hangable art. The chairs appear complicated, accented like abstract paintings, but function quite simply, folding and unfolding like wooden origami figures.

Tom Loeser, “Scythe by Scythe,” 2016. Maple, hickory, scythe handles. 102 x 32 x 49 inches. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“The series was born out of an assignment from the Program of Artisanry,” Loeser recounted. “We were tasked with making a complete piece of furniture out of a chunk of plywood.” This grew into a series that highlighted his distinction between functional and formal considerations, operating at an intersection of art, craft, and design. While Loeser doesn’t consider himself a craftsperson, his training has provided him with the skills and technique to strike this delicate balance between form and function in his furniture. “How can you use technique to talk about interesting ideas within the work?”

For 30 years, Loeser has continued his investigation into this balance, constructing benches, stoops, tumblers, and other furniture while reconsidering their origins and purposes. The series “handle tool,” for example, addresses the union of tool and material utilized across any form of craftsmanship and reconsiders the role of both. Inspired by the work of George Nakashima, a master furniture maker and leading innovator of 20th century furniture, Loeser’s benches are as imaginative as they are sleek.

For Dig 23, Loeser severed the handles of shovels he collected, affixing them to a slab of urban cut wood sat atop other sections of those shovels repurposed as legs. An artful if rustic rendition of a fully functional bench, it invites viewers to have a seat. Similarly, Scythe by Scythe, perhaps a playful reimagining of “side by side,” consists of two scythe snaths with stems intact winding across a plank of wood, splitting the bench into uneven spaces that force sitters to situate themselves comfortably.

Tom Loeser, “LA/Chicago/New York,” 2016. Wood, paint, felt. Approximately 12 x 17 x 26 inches each. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The exhibition also features a recent series of tumblers dubbed New York/Chicago/LA, referencing the three positions of the tumbler that photographers use for subjects of varying heights. “These were made in collaboration with Matthew Nafranowicz, who is a Paris-trained upholsterer working here in Madison,” Loeser said. “The form of the tumbler itself is meant to be challenging in that it doesn’t function as traditional furniture.”

The artist’s playful experimentation with the form of furniture is also easily noted in his two-dimensional works on paper. Creating both cyanotypes and pyrographs, he uses metal brands shaped like chairs to burn their likeness onto paper through exposure or direct impressions. “The directness and immediacy of the branding and the playfulness of the exposures have been a refreshing change of space from the hours in the shop,” Loeser said.

Across his work, Loeser presents a versatility in furniture that people often don’t consider. We don’t always consider the impact that furniture has on our lives and our social interactions. Through Please Please Please, Loeser invites this into our mind the next time we have a seat.

—MICHAEL McFADDEN

How queer artist Antonius Bui cuts to the chase

The Houston ChronicalPosted December 28, 2018 in In The News

 

The artist Antonius Bui with two of his large cut-paper portraits, on view in his show “yeu em dai lau (me love you long time),” on view at Lawndale Art Center through March 3. Photo: Molly Glentzer / Houston Chronicle


Antonius Bui, by their own definition, is a hot mess.

They smile when I explain how awkward it is for a writer who started her career as a high school English teacher to refer to an individual with a plural pronoun, no matter how much I respect one’s right to be gender nonbinary.

“It’s definitely grammatically confusing,” Bui acknowledged recently, chuckling at Lawndale Art Center, where their show “yêu em dài lâu (me love you long time)” is on view. They were wearing a tattered-looking top designed by their friend, Noel Puello, with almost as many cuts as their own paper tapestry-portraits.

No matter how many times I type it, argh.

Still, you can’t not like Bui, a cheerful 26-year-old resident at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, which is just across the street from Lawndale. Ask where they are from, and they have a sassy response: the planet Jupiter.

“I’m always interested in what it helps to be told that I’m Vietnamese,” they said. “So I say planet Jupiter to dispel that. But I did grow up in the Bronx, in a lovely Italian Catholic neighborhood, around most of my cousins. All my aunts and uncles, and my parents, had four kids each. So it was always a party after school.”

The artist’s parents were refugees who worked in the textile industry in New York before moving to Houston about 12 years ago. Bui went to Clements High School and spent the first two years of college at the University of Houston, studying chemistry to appease their family.

They ended up earning a degree at Maryland Institute College of Art and have been residency-hopping since then, with gigs in Baltimore, Vermont, Tulsa, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The Houston residency ends in February; then it’s on to fellowships in Saratoga, N.Y.; San Francisco; and Nashville, Tenn.

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What’s Happening at Those Museums You Never Visit

Houston PressPosted August 14, 2018 in In The News

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
B. Anele: I Dont’ Play That Game – Ongoing until 10/7/2018

Unlike other galleries, studios, and museums that display mostly photography and paintings, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft has a more narrowly defined focus. Art made with crafting materials. You may call them sculptures but many of the works of art displayed at the HCCC transcend sculpting and defy definition. Take for instance the ongoing exhibition, I don’t play that game by Houston based artist, B. Anele.

Anele presents a collection of wildly unique works of art that incorporate raw canvas garments into soft sculptures. The pieces are highly exaggerated, even architectural, yet functional as garments and displayed on models. The artist creates provocative art that challenges its audience, fusing the real and the surreal to join fashion with environment.

I Don’t Play That Game will by on display at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft until October 7, 2018.

B. Anele Engineers a Collision of Color and Counterculture

Houstonia MagazinePosted August 10, 2018 in In The News

The transdisciplinary artist skewers traditional symbols and images in a new Houston Center for Contemporary Craft exhibition.

By Anna Lassmann

LARGE PIECES OF JAGGED CANVAS, painted with an assortment of primary colors depicting a person with bright purple hair, a red polka dot nose, and a pink turtleneck, engulfed in iconography of hairspray, smiley faces, and words such as “commotion,” make up the eight-foot-wide piece titled Electric Shock by Houston transdisciplinary artist B. Anele.

“I believe the world needs more color,” Anele says. “There is so much gray and brown everywhere, and colors seen to be reserved for children, which I think says a lot about society’s projections on growing up—meaning you have to lose some sense of wonder, excitement, and self-expression.”

Electric Shock is one piece from Anele’s most recent body of work currently on display at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. The exhibit, “I Don’t Play That Game,” features about a dozen pieces mostly composed from canvas and paint, resembling extravagant fashion pieces. Another piece is a ten-foot-tall gray jumpsuit with road stripes dividing the legs titled The Road to What.

“There is kind of a theme of the road, which is such an American trope, like road trips,” says Sarah Darro, curatorial fellow at HCCC. “A lot of their work alludes to roadside attractions and the counterculture you can experience while pulling off to a random roadside attraction.”

“It’s communicating to the viewer that they want you to take a trip,” Darro adds. Continue Reading »

5 Things You Must Do This Weekend, June 1–3

Houstonia MagazinePosted May 31, 2018 in In The News

Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America

June 2–Sept. 2 | Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Long after “underwater basket weaving” became the go-to stand-in for a frivolous or indulgent activity, the National Basketry Organization (a real thing!) teams up with the University of Missouri to reclaim the basket narrative at HCCC. The five-part exhibition examines the timeless medium that elegantly straddles the divide between function and form. Free. Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main St. 713-529-4848. More info at crafthouston.org.

Arts InSight: “Light Charmer”

Houston Public MediaPosted May 4, 2018 in In The News, Videos

At the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Arts InSight host Ernie Manouse talks with curator Kathryn Hall about the exhibition “Light Charmer,” which features works in neon and plasma. Original air date: May 4, 2018.