April 13th, 2010

Glassell School: Accessible Art?

I am hosting a dinner party in less than an hour and a half and, as usual, I am running late. Wearing a cocktail dress, flats and no makeup, I speed over to the Glassell School to see how much culture I can possibly soak up in 45 minutes. Hopefully, it’s enough for an article. I throw on a coat I have laying around in my car so I don’t look over the top, park in the very back of the lot since its absolutely packed, and make my way inside.


The writing on the wall facing the front entrance declares this the 2010 CORE Exhibition with all of the sponsors involved prominently displayed in black on white writing. I guess this is what a couple hundred dollars buys you? Every corner of the first room is busy with something: a flat screen on a wall that is playing a recording of sound with static images, unpainted pieces of plywood attached to the wall or sticking out of a corner, a brick of concrete on a tripod, and velvet royal blue curtains that beckon me into a small, dark, 12×12 room.


A screen at the far end of the room plays video images from a shaky camera, goes black and then resumes a new shaky video image. After three minutes of nonsensical video images, I walk back through the curtains and look for a plaque explaining the video installation. It’s titled, The Waking Life of Jesse Bogdanoff and the artist responsible is James Sham II. Now armed with a title, I re-enter the curtained room with the naïve assumption that I may better understand the work. Negative. I grow weary and slightly motion sick of the images, which now I realize seem so shaky due to the fact that the artist probably attached a camera to his subject’s head or near his sight in order to capture the world as the subject actually views it. Exiting for a second time, I make my way to the next room, which is as overly stimulating as the last.


I see an array of painted heads to my left that are dressed in masks and wigs and bonnets,to my right are photographs with poems and short stories. I decide to bypass both and come back to them later. I have a sense of urgency, needing to see what other strange sights this exhibit holds. I am rewarded a few steps later by a wall painted a deep shade of blue with words swimming over every inch of the wall in red and white and black. I stand mesmerized for several minutes in front of The World Below the Bin, 2010 created by Natasha Bowdoin, before moving on to discover my favorite piece in the show.

Sailing Toward a Hunch, 2010 is this gorgeous funnel shaped structure comprised of resin, marble dust, polyurethane rubber, magic sculpt, and glow in the dark pigment. The artist has shaped the structure to resemble large white round plastic soap bubbles that make you want to crawl in with a little yellow rubber ducky and sail away toward a hunch of your own. I manage to walk away without climbing into the structure, which is a good thing because it probably couldn’t even support all 95 pounds of me. It’s an installation and not a playground, afterall.


There is only one space left where they could have crammed more art, and that is the lobby of the Glassell School. Imagine my surprise as I am greeted by two wood pallets, one painted white and one left in its virgin state, leaning against the wall. There were actually people standing around admiring these pallets called, fittingly, Pallet, 2010. The artist, Jillian Conrad, may have been fooling everyone else, but this piece definitely reminded me of the emperor’s clothes. On that note, I made my exit before the laughter in my head escaped out of my mouth. Perhaps my taste in art isn’t sophisticated enough to appreciate such a simple installation, but then again, art should be created for the public to enjoy and appreciate and not for a small niche of cerebral art patrons. Word of advice for artists who want their art to be more accessible: some literature to accompany your art never hurts.


Where – 5101 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006 (View Map)
– An Education of the Art World
– Critic’s Glasses and Bring Your Discerning Taste
How Much
– Closed Monday, 10-5 (Tue/Wed), 10-9 (Thu), 10-7 (Fri/Sat), 12:15-7 (Sun)
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— Afrodet


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