Thursday, May 03, 2007

Word: Nevelson

To the west, the Gaudalupe is flooding. In Houston, we’ve been driving under waterfalls all afternoon. So when Bill Large showed up the Mo for Martini Night, the total number of attendees was…two. He got hold of his see-through and handed me a stiff folder, asking, “Have you heard of this artist? She’s got an opening tonight at the McClain Gallery.”

Louise Nevelson. I was raised up on Nevelson, along with Barbara Hepworth, two of the iconic artists of the 60s and 70s. I “learned” her from Bob and Edith Fusillo…opening the folded invitation was like time travel.

You are cordially invited to the opening exhibition of Louise Nevelson, Sculpture and Collage. Bill was practicing finest kind word-of-mouth advertising. I hadn’t even known her work was coming here. We had two quick drinks and drove through the downpour to the gallery, about two miles west of Mo Mong.

In fact, the show is something of a last-minute arrangement, according to Leigh Manley at the gallery…after she darted me with a tranquilizer gun. The gallery tells it succinctly:

McClain Gallery is pleased to announce the first Louise Nevelson solo exhibition in Texas in more than 35 years. The exhibition centers around a selection of works from 1957 through 1979, and includes wooden box landscapes, wall reliefs, steel sculptures and framed collage drawings.

Apparently, her estate has been either closely held or in disarray for the past 20 years – she died in 1988. Suddenly, these pieces are here. In Houston. You can see works from her “Black” period as well as collages: my own personal way-back machine on a rainy Thursday afternoon. One of the real joys of moving to Houston in the early 80s was that Nevelson’s works were virtually public art. MFA Houston has a pair of them (“Mirror Image I” and “Mirror Image II”) that used to hang opposite each other in the original Caroline Law Building entryway. There was a giant Nevelson panel outside the Enron Building downtown for many years – I wonder what happened to it?

Look: this is a rare event. The McClain is at 2242 Richmond Avenue, just east of Kirby. The exhibition is there through 10 June.

For those of you in “Metropolis,” another retrospective of her work opens on Saturday, 5 June, at the New York Jewish Museum. It's raining Nevelsons...and they're terrific!

Go. See. Word!

Shown: “Silent Music II,” 1964, wood painted black with mirrors, 80 x 50 x 11.5 inches. Photo courtesy of the McClain Gallery – and thank you for the opportunity to see these works.


robert fusillo said...

I wonder if any of my stuff is in the show. Back in the fifties I used to pick up interesting pieces of wood here and there when I was in the city, and leave them in her gallery (Martha Jackson, where I was a regular customer) for her to maybe use. Last time I saw her was here in Atlanta - she looked like a parody of herself - heavy make-up, self-designed clothes of a more than striking appearance, tons of gaudy jewelry, and a demeanor that spoke of polished grandeur. By then she was used to being worshipped, and assumed desert. I think she lost me when she started painting her stuff gold.

Steve Collier said...

Richard: Particularly enjoyed your Blog and especially the Data Sheet article. Great points and please tell Peg she done good. Very nice presentation. Keep up the great Blog and give my best to all in HouTown.

Going to Spain May 15th for a couple of weeks. Need some travel stories?

Later, Steve. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Susan Kirkland said...

Louise was a real character. I met her in Painesville, Ohio in the seventies. Gosh, I think that's why I wore so much turquoise eye shadow in art school. She was all dressed in black with spots of African color on her floor length dress, head wrapped in a tight scarf and enough heavy bangle bracelets to disarm any felon with a single blow.

Great work.