Celebrating 30 Years – Looking at 5
When I was asked by Lawndale to curate an exhibition celebrating the 30th anniversary of the organization, the staff and I collectively agreed that we could hardly top the Lawndale Live! a retrospective, 1979–1990 exhibition of 1993curated by Rachel Ranta and Elizabeth Ward which celebrated the organization’s early years, nor the Lawndale Art Center: Still Crazy …After All TheseYears exhibition of 2005 curated by Gus Kopriva celebrating 25 years of contemporary artists in Houston. Instead, I decided we would celebrate the nearly five years since the renovation and re-opening of the current building in February of 2005. I also decided that I would make a selection of artists who had exhibited in each of the four gallery spaces and in the Big Show as well as a participant in the Artist Studio Program. The selection process was not an easy one, as so many talented artists had exhibited over that period of time, but I ultimately settled on a diverse, but I hope cohesive, group of six artists who fit my criteria. I then asked each of them to present work that had never been seen in Houston.
Seth Alverson had a solo exhibition in the John M. O’Quinn Gallery in the summer of 2006 which consisted of large-scale allegorical paintings and small drawings. He then had work inThe Big Show that same year. He has since gone on to Graduate School at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond where he is in his final year in the Master of Fine Arts program. He has recently created several modestly scaled paintings which are his new take on portraiture and a very funny video.
Dawolu Jabari Anderson was in the first group of Artist Studio Program participants in 2006-2007. He has since continued to make elaborate, politically charged paintings on paper that speak to his African-American heritage.
Chuy Benitez was in The BigShows of 2006 and 2007 as well as having a solo exhibition in the MezzanineGallery during Houston FotoFest 2008. He spent this past summer in New York City, where he made the photographic image for this exhibition.
Elaine Bradford had work in The Big Show 2005 and then followed with a solo exhibition in the Mezzanine Gallery in 2007-2008. She has created new crochet-covered taxidermy creatures for the 30th Anniversary Exhibition.
Mark Schatzhad a solo exhibition in the Project Gallery in 2007 as well as a concurrent sculptural installation in the Mary E. Bawden Sculpture Garden. He has created a new sculptural installation for this installation.
Emily Sloan Has had work in The Big Shows of 2007 and 2008, as well as solo exhibitions in the Grace R.Cavner Gallery (2007) and the 3rdFloor Classroom in conjunction with her 2008 University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts Studio Residency. She has since received her MFA from the University of Houston and has created four new versions of her larger-than-life lamps for the exhibition.
What pleases me most about these artists is that many of them have kept their association with Lawndale alive since their first contact. Three of them serve on the programming committee and many volunteers in various capacities continuing the spirit that started Lawndale 30 years ago.