joelle1

Our Internets, Our Selves: Looking Beyond Branding in Boston’s “Art + Tech”

If I’m being cyncial, Boston’s inferiority complex as a“top U.S. innovation city” is why we have a city-wide partnership between 14 museums and galleries called “Art + Tech. ” Why not, when the theme is so wide-ranging and marketable, a chic outlet for the bursting brain trust we want to show the world? We’re the […]


“HARD: Subversive Representation” at UMass Boston

There is some danger in using the word “subversive” in the title of your show: it dares viewers to reveal prudish tendencies, risking loud proclamations that THAT isn’t so subversive, oh no, not in this day and age. In 2018, who even does a double take at a 51 ¾ x 84 inch close-up of […]

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The Half Hour Hold: Subjective Stare-Downs with Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

How long do you regard a singular work in a museum or gallery? Here are two different approaches: Supposing we made a pact with a painting and agreed to sit down and look at it, on our own, with no distractions, for one hour. The painting should be an original, not a reproduction, and we […]

Read | Comments Off on The Half Hour Hold: Subjective Stare-Downs with Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston | Tags: December 2017

Math is Hard, and Beautiful (In Context): The Concinnitas Portfolio at Krakow Witkin Gallery

 Mathematicians generally agree that beauty does exist in the structural beauty of theorems and proofs, even if most of the time it is largely visible only to mathematicians themselves.  —Enrico Bombieri, “The Ree Group Formula” I have complex feelings about math, none of which are as complex as math itself. I don’t want to be […]

Read | Comments Off on Math is Hard, and Beautiful (In Context): The Concinnitas Portfolio at Krakow Witkin Gallery | Tags: November 2017

Eddie Martinez and Contemporary South African Prints at Wellesley’s Davis Museum

This fall, two special exhibitions among the vast collections at Wellesley College’s Davis Museumare especially worth the 20-mile drive from Boston: Eddie Martinez’s “Ants at a Picknic” and “Life on Paper: Contemporary Prints from South Africa.” These shows are opposite in a few ways: one featured artist versus many, painting on a large scale versus […]

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Character Studies in Post-Cultural Revolution China: “Chinese Dreams” at MassArt

The final moments of the recording of Zhang Huan’s performance piece, “To Raise the Level of a Fish Pond,” make the piece as delightful as it is effectively critical of the economic conditions for low-wage laborers. It features 40 Chinese workers known as liudongrenkou, or “floating population,” who raise the water level by one meter […]

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You might not like your reflection in “Windows on Death Row”

A dialogue: that’s what the gallery attendant at the University of Houston-Downtown O’Kane Gallery told us is the goal of “Windows on Death Row,” an exhibition of inmates’ art and political cartoons that has been touring the U.S. and Europe since October, 2015. Founded by married couple Patrick Chappatte, an editorial cartoonist for the International […]

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Rebranding Communism, Deconstructing Dreams, Shooting to Thrill: The Propeller Group at Blaffer

Listening to a college radio station on my way to Blaffer Art Museum, I heard the song “The American Dream” from the musical “Miss Saigon.” You know—the one with the helicopter, wherein a Vietnamese prostitute is impregnated, and then abandoned, by an American GI. Pieces like “Miss Saigon” are pervasive in the west’s perception of […]

Read | Comments Off on Rebranding Communism, Deconstructing Dreams, Shooting to Thrill: The Propeller Group at Blaffer | Tags: May/June 2017

Growing Pains and Revolution at the MFAH: Ron Mueck and “Adiós Utopia”

I can barely get through a day in Houston—and even international art websites—without seeing Ron Mueck’s sideways head. An alumnus of Jim Henson’s creature shop and fastidious creator, Mueck depicts his uncanny, dead-eyed figures as larger than life, whether they fill an entire room or stand two feet tall. The 13 sculptures exhibited at the […]

Read | Comments Off on Growing Pains and Revolution at the MFAH: Ron Mueck and “Adiós Utopia” | Tags: April 2017

Trans rights, melting glaciers, evil-thwarting shields: just another Houston gallery-hop, just another January in America

In a month when most of us are struggling to find a concise slogan for our protest signs, Houston’s inner loop as usual is a nest of artistic treasures. This month, I couldn’t bring myself to pay to see Edgar Degas painting at the MFAH (if it’s really “more than ballerinas,” why are you still […]

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How We Play, or Don’t Play: Julian Lorber and Nicole Pietrantoni at Nicole Longnecker Gallery

Adults are often admonished for losing our appreciation for “play”; we find it childish, something we leave behind, and scientists often tell us that our brains are worse off for it. The two artists on display at Nicole Longnecker Gallery in Houston now encourage or suggest play in two different ways, and art collectors would […]

Read | Comments Off on How We Play, or Don’t Play: Julian Lorber and Nicole Pietrantoni at Nicole Longnecker Gallery | Tags: December 2016

Reclaiming Material Responsibility: Blake Rayne and Analia Saban at Blaffer Art Museum

Legally, “material responsibility” refers to an employee’s responsibility regarding a company’s material assets. Yet, the theme of responsibility in the Blaffer’s current exhibitions—and both artists’ deft exploration of diverse materials—begs a new definition for the term. Blake Rayne and Analia Saban manipulate paint and other media to shirk, challenge or subvert everyday responsibilities. Viewing Rayne’s […]

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Black & White, the KKK, and the Enduring Banality of Evil: “The Beginning is Near (Part I)” by Vincent Valdez

“[‘The City’] can be any city in America. These individuals can be any American. There is a false sense that these threats ever were (or still are) contained at the peripheries of society, in small towns, backwoods in uneducated and poor communities.”                                                                                      — Vincent Valdez (b. 1977) Last month, a group of about […]

Read | Comments Off on Black & White, the KKK, and the Enduring Banality of Evil: “The Beginning is Near (Part I)” by Vincent Valdez | Tags: Early Fall 2016

Judge for a day: The “Big Show” and its “Refusés”

To be an artist is to be a perpetual reject. That is why we are constantly trying to find ways to “hack” submissions, to catch juries red-handed rejecting something good for bad reasons. Stories abound nowadays of a writer submitting with both female and male names to see which gets accepted first, or submitting already-published […]

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The School for the Movement of the Technicolor People

“Amateurs rehearse until they get it right; professionals rehearse until they can’t get it wrong.” That quote is often attributed to Julie Andrews. I heard it recently on a professional development podcast, referring to pitching and public speaking. It came to mind again at “The School for the Movement of the Technicolor People” (The School) […]

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Gonzo247 and the Nation’s First Graffiti Museum

In February, I attended what I thought was the opening of Graffiti and Street Art Museum (GASAM) among the warehouses of Houston’s East Downtown. Much-hyped in local media since the fall, the museum currently lives in a fairly average gallery space populated by bright canvasses and display cases of graffiti ephemera. At the event, a […]

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“I should have brought a philosopher”: 3 from DiverseWorks’ “What Shall We Do Next?”

1: “Refresh (zine)” by Kristin Lucas, 7 stacks of 8.5×11” sheets of paper, stapler. In 2007, Kristin Lucas began her ongoing “Refresh” series, in which she decides to legally change her name. But, it’s only a “refresh,” in the same way one would refresh a page on an internet browser: she was Kristin Sue Lucas, […]

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The “Intersections” of Poetry and Visual Art

I built you a room of a thousand daisies… That’s not a quote from artist Anila Quayyam Agha, although it appropriately describes “Intersections,” her installation that was featured at Rice Gallery this fall. This line belongs to Saba Husain’s poem, “The Keeper,” and opened this fall’s Words & Art reading. “Intersections” hung in the center […]

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Slouching Toward Halloween: “This Side of Paradise: New Photography from Texas Artists”

I mean, sure. I’ll go to a photography exhibit with my friend, who happens to also have been my wedding photographer. In a time when everyone’s a smartphone-photographer and Instagram is everyone’s personal gallery, it’ll be refreshing to see a fresh take. Tableaux devoid of people I know. Carefully considered execution of previously unrecognized stories. […]

Read | Comments Off on Slouching Toward Halloween: “This Side of Paradise: New Photography from Texas Artists” | Tags: November 2015

“Texas Design Now” at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, through November 29

Despite featuring the work of 35 Texas designers, nothing feels jumbled about “Texas Design Now.” Impressively curated, these works satisfy on a thoroughly contemporary plane, elevating the pop appeal of the flashy images of our sound-bite assembly-line society. In truth—and I mean this as a compliment—entering the exhibition is like entering a lost dimension of […]

Read | Comments Off on “Texas Design Now” at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, through November 29 | Tags: October 2015