The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston will present Perspectives 138: Russell Crotty, an exhibition of recent work by the California-based artist-astronomer, opening June 27, 2003. Featuring a selection of works made by the artist between 1996 and 2003, the exhibition will include the fascinating cosmic drawings for which Crotty is known in the form of an installation of globes and several large-scale books. Russell Crotty, the artist’s first Texas exhibition, is organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston as part of its long-running Perspectives series, a dynamic program presenting the world’s most contemporary art and artists. Perspectives 138: Russell Crotty will remain on view at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston through October 5, 2003, and will travel to the Miami Art Museum in 2004.
The work of Russell Crotty begins in the self-built observatory close to his Malibu home. Here, Crotty records his findings, without the aid of photography, and later transfers them to diagrams and charts, which form the basis of his night sky drawings. Studies of star clusters, constellations, and planets evolve into intricate drawings in the artist’s studio, where his memory and imagination collide with empirical observation. Rendered in black ballpoint pen, Crotty’s labor-intensive drawings embody his personal observations and reflections, as he overturns traditional notions of space and dimension to create a universe uniquely his own.
Russell Crotty, which presents 14 works by the artist, includes drawings in various forms and styles of presentation. In his globe installations, Crotty merges two and three dimensions, as his drawings are wrapped around Lucite spheres of various sizes and then suspended from the ceiling, inverting our notions of planet and sky. The view of outer space to which we are accustomed is literally turned inside out, as Crotty illustrates that the sky is not merely a flat backdrop, but a three-dimensional space through which we travel.
Additionally, Crotty incorporates his drawings into oversized journal-like books, the scale of which again manipulates our sense of place in the cosmos. Illustrations of specific celestial events and the nighttime Malibu landscape fill the pages of these large hand-made volumes. Anecdotal text and notations from Crotty’s field expeditions, as well as his own poetry, accompany these visual narratives of the stars.
“Russell Crotty is an ideal exhibition for the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston,” said Senior Curator Lynn Herbert. “Reflecting the spirit of the Museum’s mission, Crotty intersects a variety of fields, creating work that transcends the boundaries that would otherwise confine it. With painstakingly detailed drawings that offer a unique combination of science, craftsmanship, humor and wonder, Crotty engages viewers in an exploration of a universe which is seemingly familiar, but utterly singular.”
Russell Crotty was born in 1956 in San Rafael, California. He received his B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1978 and hisM.F.A. from the University of California, Irvine in 1980. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO (2003), CRG Gallery, New York (2002), and Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, (2001). His work has been included in group exhibitions such as Exploring the Cosmos, Palos Verdes Art Center, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA (2003), Drawing Now: Eight Propositions, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2002), Star Cluster Drawings, Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CA (2001), and Made in California 1900-2000, Los Angles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2000). Russell Crotty lives and works in Malibu, California.
Russell Crotty is the 138th exhibition in the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s long-running Perspectives series and is curated by Senior Curator Lynn Herbert. A Perspectives-format catalogue accompanies the exhibition and contains an essay by Herbert, reproductions of exhibited work, and documentation on the artist’s career.
Perspectives series exhibitions are made possible by Altria Group, Inc. and contributors to the Museum’s Perspectives Fund: Toni and Jeffery Beauchamp, Heidi and David Gerger, Estate of Mary Lynch Kurtz, Marley Lott, Mr. and Mrs. David M. Miller, Mithoff Family Charitable Foundation, Roy and Evelyn Nolen, C. Dan Sauls, William F. Stern, and Herbert Wells. Perspectives catalogues are made possible by a grant from The Brown Foundation, Inc.