Valerie Cassel Oliver traces the recent histories of black artists working in abstraction beginning in 1960 to the present, enabling a visual discourse that evolves and shifts over a fifty-year period. Black in the Abstract, Part 1: Epistrophy features eighteen artists who are engaged in the dissolution or fragmentation of the figurative. The exhibition is as much a meditation on the practice of painting as it is a resistance to the historical renderings and contemporary readings of the black body in landscape. What is left by way of figuration is a distillation of form, site, and space into its very essence reconstituted into a scatological explosion of form and color.
The exhibition not only highlights black artists who have worked within the genre of abstract painting, but also the various conversations surrounding the practice that have emerged over the last five decades. Some of these issues include the meditation and interrogation of the history and practice of painting; the contentious nature of the two-dimensional frame; and experimentations that disrupt the precepts of painting and flat plane as well as the integration of the politics of their time. The exhibition’s subtitle is extracted from the musical jazz context and lends itself to the very nature of how many of the artists featured in this exhibition work in terms of repetition of mark-making onto a surface and the continuous reconstitution of form.
Artists featured in Black in the Abstract, Part 1: Epistrophy include members of AfriCOBRA (Kevin Cole, James Phillips, Frank Smith), Candida Alvarez, Romare Bearden, Nick Cave, Abigail DeVille, Sam Gilliam, Richard Mayhew, Jayson Musson, Floyd Newsum, Angel Otero, John Outterbridge, Howardena Pindell, Shinique Smith, Kianja Strobert, Alma Thomas, and Jack White.
The second-round of exhibitions opens in January 2014: Rites of Spring, on view January 11 – March 9, 2014, curated by Daderko; Painting: A Love Story, curated by Arning, on view January 18 – March 23, 2014; and Black in the Abstract, Part 2: Hard Edges/Soft Curves, curated by Cassel Oliver, on view January 25, 2013 – March 23, 2014.
About Outside the Lines
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.
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.
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 Laan, Marita 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 Artsand the National Endowment for the Arts.
United is the official airline of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.