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Brown Foundation Gallery

Outside the Lines

On View: January 11 – March 23, 2014

Opening Reception: Thursday, October 31, 2013 | 6-11PM

Presented on the occasion of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's 65th anniversary, Outside the Lines is a six-part exhibition series conceived as an evolving dialogue on contemporary abstraction. From recent paintings embracing more traditional definitions of abstraction to multimedia works that challenge such notions, these exhibitions showcase the Museum's commitment to chronicling shifts in contemporary art practices by presenting some of the most compelling work being made today and revisiting the historical foundations to which they speak. CAMH's director Bill Arning and full curatorial staff—Valerie Cassel Oliver and Dean Daderko—will each organize two exhibitions; these six complete visions will be mounted in two rounds. Outside the Lines will be installed in both the Brown Foundation and the Zilkha galleries, uniting the whole museum in one thematic exhibition for the first time. Constructed as a dynamic, diverse, and innovative curatorial project, Outside the Lines offers a variety of vibrant visual experiences and perspectives on abstraction in the present moment.

Hearkening back to the popular CAMH exhibition Abstract Painting, Once Removed (organized by Dana Friis-Hansen, 1998) and the curatorial experimentation in Changing Perspectives (1995), Outside the Lines opens October 31 with three presentations: UIA (Unlikely Iterations of the Abstract) organized by Arning, Black in the Abstract, Part 1: Epistrophy organized by Cassel Oliver, and Outside the Lines organized by Daderko. Staggered openings in January 2014 for the remaining three exhibitions in the series—Painting: A Love Story, Rites of Spring, and Black in the Abstract, Part 2: Hard Edges/Soft Curves—invite audiences to re-visit the evolving exhibition and consider abstract painting from multiple vantage points. Though installed in dedicated spaces, these exhibitions converse with each other. The full complement of shows will be contextualized within a single catalogue to be published in 2014.  


Painting: A Love Story
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 18, 6:30-8:30PM, with a curatorial walk-through at 6:30PM
On view through March 23
Curated by Bill Arning, Director, CAMH

Without cynicism, these painters stage studio experiences in which one sees acts of painterly lovemaking accumulate over time. By tenderly examining the surfaces of their works, one can reconstruct the painterly decisions, additions, revisions, and erasures that lead to the finished image and thereby reconstruct the narrative by which the artists fall in love with their own work. The painterly pleasure they seek is like the fugitive lover whose loss has to be perpetually risked in order to keep their passion level high, and we, the audience, can experience that pleasure vicariously.

In each and every piece in the show failure has been risked and sometimes encountered. Several of the artists spoke of moments of desperation in the studio when the works felt unsalvageable and almost ended up in the dumpster. In each case the next studio decision allowed the artists to become re-enraptured and let these experiments take on a public life forever in the artists’ official output. Every artwork is the result of a series of decisions, but this mode of painting lets the process of one decision after another remain visible, and for those of us that love artist processes and cherish even the illusion of being with them in their studios, such paintings are like watching a romance, where the outcome remains uncertain until the very last moments.

Painting: A Love Storyincludes fifteen artists from New York, Boston, Houston, and El Paso: Richard Aldrich, David Aylsworth, Andrew Brischler, Joseph Cohen, Matt Connors, Keltie Ferris, Geoff Hippenstiel, Eva Lundsager, Jason Middlebrook, Sam Reveles, Cordy Ryman, Amy Sillman, Shane Tolbert, Scott Treleaven, and Charline von Heyl.

Black in the Abstract, Part 2: Hard Edges/Soft Curves
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 25, 6:30-8:30PM, with a curatorial walk-through at 6:30PM
On view through March 23
Curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver, Senior Curator, CAMH

Conceived as the companion to Black in the Abstract, Part 1: Epistrophy, which explored the fragmentation of the figurative as well as the loose and expansive nature of abstraction, this section chronicles the history of black artists whose work relies on the drama of restraint.  Drawing upon the historical framework of minimalist impulses in painting, this exhibition investigates the interwoven histories of black artists working within the monochromatic and geometric or “hard edge” impulses from the 1960s to the present.

Despite their virtual invisibility in the field of abstraction, black artists have engaged in this tradition for over six decades. Their adherence to the genre despite their lack of acknowledgment has empowered these artists to reach beyond the conventional and conceptually expand the discourse of their engagement with this genre. In bringing together three generations of artists in dialogue with one another, the exhibition highlights the trajectory of this practice as well as the conscious and unconscious lineages that emerge. From the deeply saturated 1968 monochromatic Yellow on Yellow by Felrath Hines to the pulsating binaries of Jennie C. Jones’ acoustic paintings, the very nature of these works are preoccupied with the infusion of movement within the two dimensional frame and the inherent dynamic interplay between materiality, texture, sound, movement, and cultural acuity.  The exhibition also lays bare the tension surrounding painting then and now–the interrogation of its history and traditions as well as the willingness of artists to destroy, reinvent, and reframe the practice over time, all the while finding an uneasy reconciliation of their presence within the history of its tradition.

Black in the Abstract, Part 2: Hard Edges/Soft Curves features seventeen artists: Derrick Adams, McArthur Binion, Nathaniel Donnett, Sam Gilliam, David Hammons, Felrath Hines, Rashid Johnson, Jennie C. Jones, Simone Leigh, James Little, Rodney McMillian, Nadine Robinson, Leslie Smith III, Cullen Washington, Stanley Whitney, Jack Whitten, and Brenna Youngblood. 

Rites of Spring
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 11, 6:30-8:30PM, with a curatorial walk-through at 6:30PM
On view through March 9
Curated by Dean Daderko, Curator, CAMH

In 1913, when Igor Stravinsky’s legendary ballet and orchestral work The Rite of Spring premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, its audience found it so avant-garde and unfamiliar that they nearly rioted. What they saw positioned familiar elements and tropes in an entirely new, and perhaps disconcerting, context. So close and yet so far.


The bewildering sensation of recognizing the foreign in the familiar and the familiar in the foreign is at the heart of the exhibition Rites of Spring. Taking stock of the tension between abstraction and representation, Rites of Spring juxtaposes abstract paintings that make room for bodies with photographs that could be described as ‘painterly.’ To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, the easiest way to bring a scene into focus is to put a figure in it. Anchoring abstract painting with figurative elements, and using the straightforwardly representational medium of photography to create abstract images, Rites of Spring makes the case that abstraction isn’t solely the territory of painting.

Artists in Rites of Spring are Michele Abeles, Lucas Blalock, Chris Cascio, Abigail DeVille, Nicole Eisenman, Josh Faught, Robert Melee, Troy Michie, Ulrike Müller, Jennifer Packer, Joyce Pensato, David Reed, Mariah Robertson, Eileen Quinlan, Pinar Yolacan, and Brenna Youngblood.


The publication accompanying Outside the Lines will contain essays by Director Bill Arning, Senior Curator Valerie Cassel Oliver, and Curator Dean Daderko that detail the nuances of their individual takes on contemporary abstract painting as represented by their exhibitions.  It will include full-color reproductions of artist's works, installation views from the six exhibitions, and biographies of the participating artists.

This catalogue is made possible by a grant from The Brown Foundation, Inc.

Accompanying Outside the Lines will be a wide-ranging schedule of programming, including upcoming talks by participating artists Chris Bogia, Cheryl Donegan, and many others. Musiqa returns with their popular Loft Concerts at CAMH and will present three concerts over the course of the exhibition exploring the concept of abstraction in music. Their first concert, on November 7 at 6:30PM, Music Outside the Lines, includes the world premiere of a new work by Blake Wilkins. In addition, CAMH will host an indigo dyeing event on Family Day, November 16, led by artist Travis Boyer, which invites participants to bring personal items to dip in a giant vat of natural dye.  All events are free and open to the public and take place at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston unless otherwise noted. Please check CAMH's calendar at www.camh.org for a complete list of dates and more information on the programs (available late October). 

The 65th Anniversary Celebration is co-sponsored in part by PaperCity magazine.


Read an interview between artist Gilbert Hsiao and CAMH's Communication Assistant, Max Fields by clicking here.

Tours Available: 
Age Restricted Tour: 

images + video



Outside the Lines has been made possible by the patrons, benefactors and donors to the Museum's Major Exhibition Fund: Major Patron -Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Fayez Sarofim, and Michael Zilkha. Patrons - Carol C. Ballard, Mr. and Mrs. I. H. Kempner III, Ms. LouisaStude Sarofim and Mr. Wallace Wilson. Benefactors - George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation, Louise D. Jamail, Anne and David Kirkland, KPMG, LLP, Beverly and Howard Robinson, Andrew Schirrmeister III and Leigh and Reggie Smith. Donors - A Fare Extraordinaire, Anonymous, Bank of Texas, Bergner and Johnson Design, Jereann Chaney, Elizabeth Howard Crowell, Dillon Kyle Architecture, Sara Paschall Dodd, Ruth Dreessen and Thomas Van LaanMarita and J.B. Fairbanks, Jo and Jim Furr, Barbara and Michael Gamson, Brenda and William Goldberg, King & Spalding L.L.P., Marley Lott, Belinda Phelps and Randy Howard, Phillips, Lauren Rottet, Susan Vaughan Foundation, Inc., and Karen and Harry Susman.

The Museum receives support for its education programs from: Anonymous, Dillon Kyle Architecture, Frost Bank, Louise D. Jamail, Mr. and Mrs. I.H. Kempner III, Kinder Morgan Foundation, Robert and Pearl Wallis Knox Foundation, Leticia Loya, Elisabeth McCabe, M.D. Anderson Foundation, Marian and Speros Martel Foundation Endowment, Andrew R. McFarland, Nordstrom, Inc., Ms. Louisa StudeSarofim, Texas Commission on the Arts, Texas Women for the Arts, Martha Claire Tompkins, and Elizabeth Satel Young.

Teen Council is supported by Ms. Louisa Stude Sarofim, Texas Women for the Arts, and Texas Commission on the Arts.

Funding for the Museum’s operations through the Fund for the Future is made possible by generous grants from Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Anonymous, Jereann Chaney, Sara Paschall Dodd. Jo and Jim Furr, Barbara and Michael Gamson, Brenda and William Goldberg, Marley Lott, Leticia Loya, Fayez Sarofim, Andrew Schirrmeister III, and David and Marion Young.

The Museum’s operations and programs are made possible through the generosity of the Museum’s trustees, patrons, members and donors. The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston receives partial operating support from the Houston Endowment, the City of Houston through the Houston Museum District Association, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, The Wortham Foundation, Inc and artMRKT Productions. CAMH also thanks its artist benefactors for their support including Ricci Albenda, McArthurBinion, Brendan Cass, Jack Early, Robert Gober, Wayne Gonzales, Sean Landers, Zoe Leonard, Klara Lidén, Donald Moffett, Rob Pruitt, Rusty Scruby, Laurie Simmons, Josh Smith, and Marc Swanson.

This exhibition has been made possible in part through the generous support of the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

United is the official airline of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

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