Monday, June 18, 2012

Art and Trash Deluxe at the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Art

Cup(s) of the Day #107
"Detail of the Cup Drawings #1 - #655" by Gwyneth Leech
in Luxuriant Refuse at the PFMFA
Installation by Adela Andea in the background

The Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, also known as the Pearl, is a lovely small museum in Spring, a suburb of Houston, Texas. Craving more culture in their own neighborhood, the denizens of Spring stepped up to the plate and funded this non-collecting art institution which opened its doors in 2008. It was a pleasure to be down visiting from New York City for the opening of Luxuriant Refuse, an exhibition of nine artists who make extravagant art with trash, and to lead several community events related to my own installation of 655 drawings on used paper coffee cups.

Gwyneth Leech, the Cup Drawings #1 - #655
in Luxuriant Refuse 
at the PFMFA, Spring Texas

Luxuriant Refuse 
at the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Art, Spring Texas

People are enthusiastic about art in this 'hood and they love their museum, which is free. Hundreds of kids and their parents came by for a drop-in art afternoon while I was there and dozens of volunteer docents were kept on their toes explaining the upcycling artwork to these discerning viewers.

River Euphrates by Johnston Foster
Mixed media including used traffic cones and duct tape

The evening reception was attended by an older crowd: museum members and trustees, art patrons, collectors, artists and gallerists from downtown Houston, and a family of my cousins who live in the area - well, to be more precise, who live at the end of a lengthy express-way drive to the Heights neighborhood of Houston, some 50 minutes away.

Luxuriant Refuse 
at the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Art, Spring Texas
The Collector by Johnston Foster, 2011
Mixed media including found furniture and plastic lawnchairs

A couple of things of note happened around the time of the opening reception. In the first instance, arriving at the museum an hour before the event, I found my cousin Geoff already there. I suggested an ice coffee at a nearby coffee bar. I also suggested we walk. He hesitated, shrugged, and out we stepped from the temperature and humidity-controlled interior of the museum into the blast furnace of a June afternoon.

Consonance by Paul Villinski, 1993-2006
Gold Leaf on found work gloves
By the time we reached Rao's Bakery Coffee Cafe in the strip mall two blocks away we were bathed in sweat and the ice coffee was certainly needed to revive us. Afterwards, we walked very, very slowly back to the museum, conserving our energy.

A bit later, we stood outside once again, wearing filter glasses and studying the face of the sun with binoculars. Can you see it? Absolutely - that dot is clearly Venus crossing the face of the sun!!
So that would be two things in one day that one should never do - look directly at the sun and walk outside in Spring, Texas in the summer!

Ivanhoe by Alison Foshee, 2012
Labels on canvas

As for the exhibition, Luxuriant Refuse itself, I was delighted to see my cup installation alongside the work of these fellow artists who so imaginatively use "detritus as a medium, exploring ideas about consumption, creativity, and transformation". Each one takes excess to excess, pushing the creative boundaries of the used, castoff and unwanted. Accumulation is the underlying theme, and the mind is boggled by the sheer number of old computer keyboard keys in a work by Sarah Frost, or food labels in what at first seems to be a painting by Alison Foshee.

Sign Off by Sarah Frost
and Tire by Betsabée Romero

Sign Off by Sarah Frost, 2011
Discarded computer keyboard keys

Tire by Betsabée Romero, 2007
Carved rubber truck tire

Bioluminescence, a wall mounted installation by Adela Andea is made from thousands of back-lit diced pool noodles - those brightly colored Styrofoam swimming aids found at any pool. It was a show stealer and I was very pleased to meet the artist herself at the opening reception. None of the other artists were present, but since several, including Aurora Robson, Johnston Foster, Sarah Frost and Paul Villinski either live or exhibit in New York City, I have hopes of meeting them and seeing more of their work up North.

Detail of Bioluminescence, by Adela Andea, 2012
Pool noodles and cold cathode
flourescent lights mounted on wire mesh

Belch (aka Tarball) by Aurora Robson, 2009
Discarded PET bottles, tinted polycrylic, 
rivets, steel armature, mica powder

Luxuriant Refuse is on now through August 5th at the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, 6815 Cyrpesswood Drive in Spring Texas.
Artists include Adela Andea, Johnston Foster, Alison Foshee, Sarah Frost, Gwyneth Leech, Shawne Major, Aurora Robson, Betsabée Romero, and Paul Villinski.
The show was curated by Melissa Grobmyer of MKG Art Management.
for more exhibition information click here

Jesus Bugs by Shawne Major, 2006
Mixed media including fishing net,
 frisbees, plastic toys and braid tassel trim

Gwyneth Leech: the Cup Drawings
#1 -  #655, 2008-2012
Mixed media on used paper coffee cups 
Photo by Hip Mama Jen

And thank you Hip Mama Jen, for this review of my contribution to the exhibit:

"Finally I can't possibly discuss the show without mentioning Gwyneth Leech's project called simply The Cup Drawings. Leech has drawn on coffee cups since 2008. On each she also records the date, occasion and location of consumption. The cups are strung in multiples on invisible string and hang in strands that gently sway as viewers walk by. The cups appear to be raining from the sky and the variety of images and patterns are stunning not only for their appearance but for the thought that they instill which is this is the amount of waste produced from one consumer."

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  1. Wonderful review and the show is hung so beautifully!

    Good luck with it Gwyneth and to all of the NINE.


  2. Beautiful work, excellent installation, great reporting - congratulations. I hope to hear more about the workshop, too!

  3. Indeed, it looks like a perfect summer show and your cups work so well. I like that they're half against the wall, half free-hanging. Thanks for keeping me on your email list; the afternoon we met at the Flatiron is a happy memory.

  4. I went to check your show out again because a number of the images stood out in my mind's eye-
    Both the art and your photos are compelling Gwyneth
    Lots of eye candy - what camera and lens did you use?
    Good luck with the exhibit - ALLi

  5. This is a truly amazing collection of works Gwyneth...I'm impressed by the quality of the work as well as the breadth of it. The juxtaposition of your cups, with their airy quality (we consumers doesn't think much of discarding one slip of cardboard) versus the carving of the tires (how many have you seen sloughed off on the highways?) juxtaposed with the insistent intensity of Foshee's labels, all gathered like some latter day William Morris, create a powerful statement. It's one that I hope can travel to other museums. I would love to be able to see it in person.