The Austin Chronicle

Top 3 Visual-Arts Stories for 2007

By Rachel Koper, January 4, 2008, Arts

1) Austin galleries and artists get national press! Fine artists in Austin and the galleries that represent them are getting a level of national press coverage that bodes well for the future. The Austin Museum of Art, Arthouse, the Blanton Museum of Art, the Texas Biennial, Lora Reynolds Gallery, D Berman Gallery, and others were included in a seven-page "Report From Austin" in the December issue of Art in America. Art Palace was in The New York Times Magazine and Art in America articles, then traveled to Art Basel Miami Beach where it made Michael Sieben got on the cover of Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine in October, and they printed double covers for him. Matthew Rodriguez was called a "sculptural tour de force" in The New York Times after participating in the Deitch Projects spring Art Parade. There are other artists' achievements that I'm not including here, but these listed I felt vicarious happiness for.

2) James Housefield has a ton of energy! The adjunct curator of the Austin Museum of Art and Texas State University professor is earnest and knowledgeable about art, without forcing his ideas down your throat. He's an excellent lecturer, with an infectious peppiness. Watching him guide a tour through Robert Long's office art collection was interesting; Mr. Long liked it, as did everyone else on the tour, and both were very frank and confident speakers. Without talking down to anyone, Housefield proved to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the basic Postimpressionist French collection. Housefield straddles his responsibilities as a teacher and curator with grace, charming all he meets. He treats AMOA collectors and board members, local galleries, students, and artists with equal respect. The things that most impress me are his open-minded attitude and the way he's so responsive, quick on his feet, and approachable. He forwards e-mails – "thought this would interest you," and they always do. This guy works hard, long days helping to educate all of us on ways to discover new art issues.

3) R.I.P. Volitant Gallery and taking it to the next level Artists Xochi Solis and Sean Gaulager were thrown into their jobs as curators and managers of Volitant Gallery, and just as quickly as their jobs appeared, they disappeared. But before Volitant closed in October, these two worked hard, and they were able to pull together a great season of programming and some diverse and bright special events. They ran videos, concerts, and tours and hosted receptions that lit up Fourth and Congress. Gaulager helped start Cantanker magazine, as well as edit and distribute it this year. He's shown his own art in Marfa and at Else Madsen Gallery in Austin. The future looks bright for Solis, as she was chosen for the show "New Art in Austin" at AMOA.

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