Visions of pumpkin art danced in their heads 

What was I thinking last week when I began my “First Friday preview” article with “bundle up?!” I mean, I get it, we live in South Texas and all, but seriously, cut us some slack. I decided to beat the First Friday crowds by taking in some shows Thursday night — and let me tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed the ability to stretch my legs.

Last Thursday Artpace unveiled its holiday window installation. Artist John Mata partnered with Southside High School students to Holiday Ritual: Relieving Anxiety in a Liminal State of Passage, featuring a simplistic yet thought-proviking take on the holiday season. The display examines the stress that comes along with this time of year — a college application, binoculars, and a watch are some of the items placed on pillows, as well as a written note “illustrating a longing for peace, reflection, and introspection in the midst of a season laden with societal pressures.” The gallery-front installation also features the looped voices of the students reading their compositions. The window display works due to the nature of the piece itself; the actual exhibition is simple but the soundtrack creates a depth to the piece that holds it together.

While at Artpace I viewed the works of Nathan Carter, Chris Evans, Matthew Buckingham, and Alex Rubio. I decided to focus my attention on Carter (although it was very hard to look away from Rubio’s El Carreton). The Covert Caviar Frequency Disruptor has been up since late October, and enjoys a long run until January 20, 2008 — and it has every right to take up such a large chunk of time at Artpace’s Hudson (Show)Room. Carter created several new bodies of work for this exhibit and each work brings with it a different look. From the group of 13 airships leading patrons to the Show(Room) to the large-scale piece “TRAVELING LANGUAGE MACHINE WITH #3 FREQUENCY DISRUPTOR AND DISINFORMATION NUMBERS STATION,” Carter’s pieces show an evolution of his work as he experiments into different media.

Carter takes a stab at the tedious task of constructing a well-done mixed-media set with COVERT CATASTROPHIC INCIDENT KIT, three organic makeshift radio devices constructed from surplus radio parts and cookie, cereal, and double tea packaging.   

Later into the evening, I hit Southtown’s D-Block Studio (the humble abode I secretly hope to live in one day) where Rob Abodeely and Holly Hein-Brooks sat in the kitchen area making beaded necklaces. The kitschy studio serves as Abodeely’s living quarters, while his friend and partner-in-artistic-crime Hein-Brooks lives next-door. Together they fill the space with framed pieces, bath bombs, silk-screened tee’s, and holiday-themed cards. The majority of the space was occupied by Abodeely’s work: twenty-plus pieces containing hand-painted designs of flowers, pumpkin heads, and skulls. Brooks, who paints on canvas with acrylic, has a knack for capturing the great alternative artists of our day, such as P.J. Harvey.

At Joan Grona Gallery, Paula Cox’s work was featured along with Mario Perez and a group show in gallery III. Cox is a local cut-out artist who has mastered the technique and it’s showcased in her current exhibition. The work that screamed for attention was the “Tower-Life building,” with long and short rocket-launch tails, as well as a standard Tower-Life building that was displayed on the floor. I really wanted to see the the “Tower-Life building (long and short flame)” developed into a bigger series.

Cox’s work is divided into two themes: local and animals. Her cut-out pieces are interesting, but the combination didn’t seem to flow with the other works. I wanted a theme encompassing all of her works. A San Antonio-inspired cut-out set would be ideal: Imagine a large-scale Alamo replicated into a mixed-media piece.

Ending the night was a viewing of the Texas Biennial excerpt that has run since mid-November and will close mid-January at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center. I’ve viewed the show previously but I made my way back for Buster Graybill’s large-scale inner-tube-inspired piece, “Alter 2007.” It is not nearly as big as “Strapped,” the piece showed at Bohm Studios in Austin, but it is visually on the same level. It draws in the viewer with the inner tubes of a canoe stuffed underneath, finding a way out of the walls closing in around it.


Miss any of these shows? Thankfully most of them are up well into January, so be sure to check them out.

Holiday Ritual: Relieving Anxiety in a Liminal State of Passage
Through January 6, 2008
445 North Main Avenue
(210) 212-4900

Paula Cox
Through January 31, 2008
Joan Grona Gallery
112 Blue Star
(210) 225-6334

Texas Biennial
Through January 20, 2008
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
116 Blue Star
(210) 227-6960



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