December 4th, 2009
Art Crawl 2009: Where You Found Me Crawling
In 5 Words: Lost, Found, Crawl, Thai, Kitties
Democracy. Dried up condoms. Kitty kats batting shrubbery. Thai sausage. These are the first few lines of my reflections from the Art Crawl. As I stood there, reviewing my notes in front of a massive mud colored statue that seemed like it had been dropped from the sky, my friends staged democratic vote and through an overwhelming majority, we decided it was time to leave the Art Crawl. I am getting ahead of myself so let me start at the beginning.
My friends and I set off for the Houston Art Crawl on a recent Saturday; Art Crawl is an annual event that serves to introduce Houston to the artists’ studios and galleries in downtown Houston. On the car ride there, which took 45 minutes longer than necessary since we were forced to take the scenic route due to a missed exit and the never ending construction on I-45, a proposition was made that we leave the Art Crawl at any time if three out of the five of us decided we were not enjoying ourselves.
In order to protect the reputations and respect the dignities of these “artists”, names shall not be used. We finally parked and embarked for our first gallery space. There were a few pieces of note that drew our attention and prompted discussion, but the overwhelming highlight of this gallery space was the salmon mousse on crackers. Most of the “art” we encountered in the space looked like it had been done to hang in cheap motel rooms that are rented by the hour and feature large mirrors above the bed. We escaped the motel art and headed down Nance Street, where we were met by cries of “Thai Sausage! Guurls, you no want Thai sausage? It real good.” I can attest that we encountered a genuine Thai woman selling sausage on a stick for three dollars right there in the middle of the art crawl, but they could have been prostitutes flown over straight from Bangkok judging by their marketing strategy. We shouted back “No thank you!” and tried to suppress our fit of giggles as we ducked into the closest open door.
The next gallery space served as my inspiration for the phrase, “kitty kats batting shrubbery” in my notes, which is the most literal descriptionof thi s series of nonsensical paintings featuring small furry animals doing cute things. Painting like these belong in cheesy calendars or posters with inspirational messages. They don’t have any place on canvases in an art crawl highlighting “contemporary art,” a quote taken directly from the Art Crawl’s official website. I will say that I can appreciate the fact that the furry creatures didn’t make me lose my appetite. Unfortunately, the also did not prepare us for what we witnessed in the next gallery.
The next art space greeted us with a large sculpture of a man on a horse and in the place of his genitalia was the horse’s head thrust forward as though they were caught mid-ride. One room filled with art led to another and another before I ended up in the room which held the atrocity. I didn’t notice it right away, due to the fact that I was distracted by the repetitive displays of FUCK. It was written in dollar bills, written in coins, written with children’s wooden blocks, written in strobe lights, well you get the point. There were a lot of FUCKs to observe in this room before my eyes fell on a glass case filled with about twenty long white strips pinned on a black background. Closer examination revealed that they were used condoms! I snapped a photo and hurried out out of the studio as fast as I could.
And so we arrive to where we started this tale, in front of the mud statue. One of my friends had already convinced our tipsy as always friend, who would have agreed to anything, to second her vote to leave. After the last studio, I had abandoned any hope of finding art that wasn’t offensive or mundane, so I decided to be the third and deciding vote. After getting our bearings, we started walking down William Street, in the direction of our car.
As we passed a sign announcing the Dakota Lofts, we saw a cocktail party with people socializing amongst non-offensive art and a suggestion was made to check it out. I eagerly agreed, in the hopes of writing a review of the day that wasn’t completely negative. As we got closer, I saw that the white walls held amazing photographs of different streets in different cities that had been blown up to two feet by three feet. Each photograph had rich colors painted on to accent certain details. The persons responsible for the striking images are photographer, Natalie Davis and artist, Saba Jawda. Davis described the feelings that her photographs evoke for her with words like “hopeful energy” and “lonely” and even went so far as to admit that sometimes when she looks at her work, “I feel as though I am inside the photo.” The titles for her pieces are taken from songs by musicians such as Bob Marley and Erykah Badu. I shot you in my silence is used to title a street scene of bicyclists riding past Soule College in New Orleans and another photograph of an abandoned bicycle on a deserted New York alley is titled, Where you left me standing.
I left the Art Crawl with the understanding that sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince or as applied here, sometimes you have to look at a few condoms and FUCK’s to find art that you can respect.