This month offers a lot of great art to see on the hottest days. From ritual beauty to Texas state parks, from photographic creatures to artists at work — plus the cutest painted dance party of them all — expect art and artists for every taste to enjoy in July.
“Beauty and Ritual: Judaica from the Jewish Museum, New York” at the Museum of Fine Arts (now through September 18)
In itself, this new exhibition of Jewish ceremonial art presents an astonishing array of objects of art and culture, from an 18th-century wooden Torah ark to ancient and modern Torah crowns, to Menorahs from antiquity to the 21st century.
Beauty and Ritual features nearly 140 objects from the Jewish Museum’s world-renowned collection, examining Jewish ceremonial objects from antiquity to the present and exploring their artistic, ritual and cultural significance.
However, the exhibition also represents the opening of a new chapter in the MFAH’s vision and artistic reach. Beauty and Ritual signals a new partnership with the Jewish Museum, as they will continue to loan art to the MFAH when the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Gallery of Judaica opens in early 2023.
“There are very few general fine art museums in the nation that have a dedicated place for Judaica, and this exciting collaboration will have a significant impact on the field,” says Claudia Gould, director of the Jewish Museum.
The MFAH also calls the Herzstein Gallery the “center” of its World Religions Initiative. The initiative seeks to activate the themes of religion, faith and spirituality in the museum’s encyclopedic collections through innovative programming and reimagined displays.
“39th Center Annual: Living Creatures” at the Houston Center for Photography (now through September 4)
The HCP Center’s annual juried group exhibition seeks to illuminate current themes, technologies and practices in photography, and this year the lens of 15 selected artists focuses on the relationship between the photographer and the creatures, whether human or animal, that they capture.
Juror Kristen Gaylord notes that the aggressive words used many times to describe the act of photography such as “shoot” and “capture” suggest the photographers’ ability to control how the subject is perceived, and believes the show’s chosen artists understand the stakes of this connection.
“They approach them with a range of emotions from joy and curiosity to grief and anger, but in all the examples they teach us what it means to be a being whose life is intimately intertwined with millions of others on earth,” Gaylord states.
“Sugar Shack” at the Museum of Fine Arts (now through December 31)
This summer, after enjoying Beauty and Ritual and the reality-bending Leandro Ehrlich: Seeing is Not Believing, head to the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building for a rare opportunity to see an extraordinary work of American painting, at Ernie Barnes “Sugar Shack”.
Although it became famous as Marvin Gaye’s 1976 album cover I want you and the image of the end credits of the revolutionary television comedy of the 1970s, Good timesthe picture dances on its own as an embodiment of the black romantic tradition.
The MFAH notes that Barnes recalls the inspiration for the piece as a childhood memory of sneaking into a local dance hall called the Armory. “It was the first time my innocence met the sins of the dance,” he told an interviewer in 2008. MFAH visitors can see the original painting in person thanks to Houston collector Bill Perkins, who acquired “The Sugar Shack” at auction last month, and loaned it to the museum until the end of the year.
Samuel Bak Gallery Rotation at the Houston Holocaust Museum (continued)
As home to the nation’s largest permanent collection of artist and Holocaust survivor Samuel Buck’s works – over 140 works of art – HMH is committed to regularly rotating these works in the gallery.
Born in 1933 in Vilna, Poland, Bak’s artistic talent was first recognized during an exhibition of his works in the Vilna Ghetto when he was nine years old. Buck and his mother survived the Holocaust, but his father and four of his grandparents perished at the hands of the Nazis. Buck’s life and death experiences inspired his prolific work and art collection.
In July, HMH debuted 40 new artworks, including notable works such as Starin which a cracked china cup in the foreground of the picture is marked with a broken Jewish star with smoke placed inside, the Jewish star commemorating Buck’s father and Saving facedepicting a decaying bust adorned with the scales of justice.
“The Art of Texas Parks” at Foltz Fine Art (July 15 – August 27)
In 2023, the Texas state park system will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
In anticipation of this occasion, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation is partnering with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, galleries and museums throughout the state, including the Foltz in Houston. Thirty contemporary artists from Texas were invited to participate in the project and paint specific locations in the state park.
These “centennial artists” were assigned specific state parks to paint in; however, their stylistic preferences, subject matter, and composition vary widely at the discretion of the artist. From these submissions, paintings were selected for inclusion in an upcoming book publication by Texas A&M University Press. This exhibition and charity sale will preview thirty selected works.
“Maria A. Guzmán Capron: Seductive Form” at the Blaffer Art Museum (July 15-September 18)
This Oakland-based artist’s first solo museum exhibition will feature selections of her fantastical hybrid figures that explore convergent forms of identity, culture, desire, and social exchange.
Capron sews these creations, made from bright, often recycled fabrics and paint, into rotating bodies in various states of motion and rest. Blaffer notes that the layered textiles seen in Capron’s exuberant sets speak to her interest in the ways clothing can signify one’s history, class, gender, and/or cultural identity. For the artist, fabrics can point to specific socio-economic associations as well as aesthetic narratives.
Describing her work, Capron recently said, “I’m something new and I want to signal with my textiles to other people in between that they belong.”
Nick Vaughan and Jake Margolin: Wayfinding at Blaffer Art Museum (July 15-October 9)
This latest exhibition from Houston’s renowned interdisciplinary artists and life partners (a.k.a. Nick & Jake) creates a kind of art bridge between the various United States of their 50 State project, their multi-decade series of installations and performances made in response to the little-known weird pre-Stonewall stories from each state.
The duo have found a new medium for some of the images they captured by exploring these stories, creating a series of ‘windprints’, scattering loose powdered charcoal around the patterns of these images and subsequently blowing the dust away.
Both Vaughn and Margolin have extensive theater backgrounds, which they look to for lecture-performances with many of their shows. So look for new performance work during the exhibition as well.
“Artists on Site series 3” at Asia Society Texas (July 20 – August 28)
First developed in 2020, the Artist on Site series is an initiative that transforms Asia Society galleries into studios and project spaces for Houston-based BIPOC artists.
This third round of the series showcases four featured artists as they spend six weeks transforming the Asia Society Texas gallery space through an exploration of creative work. Ruhee Maknojia, Matt Manalo, Luisa Duarte and Lanecia Rouse Tinsley bring their voices to the project, working in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, textile making, printmaking, installation and more to unfold their ideas over time, engaging visitors in a conversation with artists and deeper into art practice.
Lanecia Rouse Tinsley is a multidisciplinary artist whose portfolio includes an array of abstract painting, photography, teaching, writing, speaking and curatorial projects for various non-profit organizations.
Philippine-born multidisciplinary Houston artist Matt Manalo creates environmentally conscious work incorporating raw materials and found objects and engages with ideas surrounding his own immigrant identity, displacement, and how “home” is defined.
Ruhee Maknojia’s conceptual research and artistic practice revolves around the rich heritage of textiles and patterns and how they can act as a foundation for raising questions about contemporary ethics, values and power structures in an ever-expanding and interconnected world.
Venezuelan/American contemporary artist Luisa Duarte’s work has been exhibited internationally. Most recently, Duarte’s work was selected for inclusion in a major exhibition at the South Texas Museum of Art, Texas Artists – Women in Abstraction and a solo exhibition of her work, Unbreakable bonds exhibited in the Energy Shopping Center building.