Disappearing into California Conceptualism at The Modern

A feature on the exhibition Disappearing California at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, with an interview with curator Phillip Kaiser

In 1971, artist Chris Burden vanished for three days. No one knew where he had gone, and for those three days the artist questioned his own existence and what his disappearance meant. The reality is that he was holed up in a hotel unsure of what he was allowed to do as someone who had disappeared. He later reappeared, revealing the performance Disappearing. Unbeknownst to himself, other artists in Southern California were similarly exploring the idea of disappearance.

Four years later, Bas Jan Ader boarded a sailboat as part of an incomplete triptych entitled In Search of the Miraculous. The first part of this work was a series of photographs depicting a lonely figure wandering the streets of Los Angeles. He boarded his craft in Cape Cod as a choir of children sang sea shanties in an LA gallery. A similar scene was to greet him at his destination, a museum in the Netherlands, where he would begin the final series of photographs, mirroring the first. Ader unfortunately never made it to shore, lost at sea.

Disappearing—California, c. 1970  at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth  May 10-Aug. 11, curated by Philipp Kaiser, showcases the works of Bas Jan Ader, Chris Burden, and Jack Goldstein—three artists who seemingly shared a desire to disappear. “The exhibition represents a micro history of Southern California art,” Kaiser stated. “The show also has to be seen as a case study of early California conceptualism and how it evolved in and around Los Angeles within a rather tight but powerful network.”

"Stonewall 50" at the CAMH

A review of the exhibition Stonewall 50 at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston, originally proposed by Bill Arning and re-structured by Dean Daderko upon Arning’s departure from the CAMH.

In late June of 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a prominent gay bar in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. This raid sparked a series of demonstrations by an outraged, oppressed community, often referred to as the Stonewall Riots or Stonewall Uprising, that are seen as the precursor to the Gay liberation movement and the continued fight for LGBT rights.   50 years later, the Contemporary Arts Museum hosts Stonewall 50, an exhibition conceived by Bill Arning and later curated by Dean Daderko that purports itself to be “a snapshot of the complexion, interests, and activities of a diverse group of queer and allied artists.”

While the exhibition seemingly accomplishes what it sets out to do, it falls a bit flat and feels only vaguely linked to its namesake, becoming more of a group exhibition of notable Queer artists when perhaps there should be more dialogue between the work and the events.

Texas Studio: Adrian Esparza

An interview with Adrian Esparza, El Paso-based artist

“There are associations that come with the use of a sarape, especially now with recent political and economic border issues,” says Adrian Esparza, referring to the brightly colored, blanket-like shawls from Latin America that inform and compose much of his work as well as the constant issue of the Mexican-American border, in which Texas is often found at the center. “I welcome any interpretation, but creating a new realm with the work is a goal of mine.”

Currently, Esparza is working on a new body of work on view at Cris Worley Fine Arts from March 30-May 4 in the exhibition Dual, referencing the visual aspect of duality within the works and inviting a variety of associations, from Esparza’s duality as a Mexican-American individual living along the border to the transformation of the sarape from a cultural icon to something utterly new.