Just got back from Houston, and it was really, really fun. To recap:
The Diverseworks show with Stephen Vitello and Kara Hearn is fantastic. Stephen Vitello combines ambient sounds, various color-makers and a nebulous, menacing fog to create a kind of peripheral James Turrell rave room. Arturo and I were talking about it, and how his installation somehow feels more sublime to us than a lot of Turrell's in part because it taps into a certain party aesthetic and lingering excitement that we (as youngins') respond to more viscerally than *quaker stuff*. I dunno, actually I've never been to a rave, but I can tell you that I ascended into a semi-sublime state while I walked around the exhibition. And I didn't need neon bracelets, a slimy tongue in my ear or a slam-dancing injury to do so.
Kara Hearn is in the project space and has several quiet rock/nature installations combined with a couple of videos that I find fascinating. In one, she is subsumed by different personas, and there's this child-like narcissistic vibe to it. Example: there's a scenario where she is holding her own hand during a kind of earthquake, and it is really poignant. Her work really stands out from the glut of character based performance/video stuff I've seen lately (see Tamy Ben Tor) because it is personal, subtle and has heart. Aw. Plus, she had a whole teenage-girl-fear-of-female-sexuality thang going on, and you all know how I love that.
Man, I was going to talk about the other shows, but I am running out of speed and cigarettes.
So I shall summarize in short:
The CAM show made me realize that I dislike thematic shows where the specificity of subject neutralizes the work (see Unmonumental). I like most of the artists included, but Old Weird America isn't quite as weird when everything is the same amount of weird. Also, it seems like most of the artists are interested in the same non-place: where psychedelia meets the Civil War. In short, I didn't feel very much although I do find it interesting that so many people from different places have arrived at the same solution.
The Blaffer was slightly uneven, but it had heart (which I thought was lacking at the CAM), and for that I enjoyed it. I was proud of my Houston peeps like Hanamatron, SashaDela and Seth Alverson, who I think did awesome.