Installation view of A Traveling Show at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2016. Photo by Tom Dubrock.

Installation view of A Traveling Show at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2016. Photo by Tom Dubrock.

Past Exhibition

A Traveling Show

October 8, 2016 - January 15, 2017
Nina and Michael Zilkha Gallery


A Traveling Show is an exploration of language, linguistics, and personal communication. At its heart is a selection of mail art exchanged over the past eight years by artists Matt Keegan and Kay Rosen. Their correspondence is augmented by a selection of artworks that includes wall paintings, sculptures, and drawings that demonstrate the artists’ unique and individual approaches to language.

Keegan and Rosen are artists of different generations who have known each other for almost a decade. Nearly eight years ago, Keegan initiated a mail exchange with Rosen that continues to this day. Every few weeks a mailed package makes its way from one artist’s studio into the other artist’s hands; it may contain one or more drawings, collages, photographs, print clippings, and found objects. To date Keegan and Rosen have exchanged close to sixty packages. The items in them constitute an ongoing dialogue, a visual call and response that unfolds between two close friends.

A Traveling Show marks the first presentation of Keegan and Rosen’s mail art in the U.S. and follows its recent presentation at the Grazer Kunstverein in Graz, Austria. Its display alongside a selection of works by each artist is an effort to illuminate the effects and resonances of Keegan and Rosen’s exchange on their individual artistic practices. Like any good conversation, their visual exchange possesses continuity and surprises—current events, art history, and personal experiences are all fodder for their discussion. Spiked with generous doses of wit and humor, Keegan and Rosen’s mail art relates to, reflects, and magnifies concerns found in their individual practices.

United by a common appreciation of language and word play, Keegan’s and Rosen’s individual works demonstrate their diverse approaches to and use of language. An interest in conversation and social exchange often motivates Keegan’s interdisciplinary work. His efforts as an independent publisher have resulted in sought after editions such as == and North Drive Press that focus on creative dialogues between artists. His artworks often draw our focus towards speech acts and the nearly invisible codes and social contracts they reveal. For more than thirty years, Rosen’s artwork has explored language through varied and inventive visual, grammatical, and typographical strategies. Challenging how we read, Rosen employs wit and humor to release new meanings from found words and phrases. Identified by Rosen and redeployed in the form of precise paintings and drawings, these artworks invite viewers to discover meanings anew.

CAMH invites you to join us in investigating this rich and telling selection of artworks and private correspondence. The exhibition is on view through January 15, 2017 and is complemented by a series of programs and lectures, which are free and open the the public.


A Traveling Show is organized by Dean Daderko, CAMH Curator.


This exhibition is made possible by the patrons, benefactors, and donors to the Museum’s Friends of Steel Exhibitions: Director’s Circle – Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Fayez Sarofim, and Ms. Louisa Stude Sarofim. Curator’s Circle – Dillon Kyle Architecture, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. I. H. Kempner III, Robin and Andrew Schirrmeister. Major Exhibition Circle – A Fare Extraordinaire, Bergner and Johnson Design, Jereann Chaney, Marita and J.B. Fairbanks, Gregory Fourticq, Barbara and Michael Gamson, Blakely and Trey Griggs, George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation, Leslie and Mark Hull, Jackson and Company, KPMG, LLP, Beverly and Howard Robinson, and Michael Zilkha. Perspectives Exhibition Circle – Elizabeth Howard Crowell, Ruth Dreessen and Thomas Van Laan, Glen Gonzalez and Steve Summers, Louise D. Jamail, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Mr. Wallace Wilson, and The Susan Vaughan Foundation, Inc.

The catalogue accompanying the exhibition is made possible by a grant from The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston.

Funding for the Museum’s operations and programs is made possible by generous grants from Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Jereann Chaney, Marita and J.B. Fairbanks, Jo and Jim Furr, Barbara and Michael Gamson, Brenda and William Goldberg, Leticia Loya, Fayez Sarofim, Robin and Andrew Schirrmeister, and Marion and David Young.The Museum receives partial operating support from The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, the Houston Endowment, the City of Houston through the Houston Museum District Association, the Texas Commission on the Arts, The Wortham Foundation, Inc., and artMRKT Productions.

CAMH also thanks its artist benefactors for their support, including Chris Beckman, Michael Bise, Bruce High Quality Foundation, Mel Chin, Jules de Balincourt, Julia Dault, Trenton Doyle Hancock, James Drake, Keltie Ferris, Mark Flood, Barnaby Furnas, Theaster Gates, Jeffrey Gibson, Camille Henrot, Jim Hodges, Joan Jonas, Jennie C. Jones, Maya Lin, Julian Lorber, Robert Mangold, Beatriz Milhazes, Melissa Miller, Marilyn Minter, Nic Nicosia, Angel Otero, McKay Otto, Joyce Pensato, Enoc Perez, Gavin Perry, Rob Pruitt, Matthew Richie, Dario Robleto, Ed Ruscha, Jacolby Satterwhite, Cindy Sherman, Shinique Smith, Al Souza, John Sparagana, James Surls, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Carrie Mae Weems, William Wegman, Haegue Yang, and Brenna Youngblood.

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