Betsy Huete’s ‘Big Show’ Top Ten of 2017
16 Jul 2017/Betsy Huete/1 Comment
[Disclosure: I’m in this show.]
For this year’s Big Show, Lawndale in Houston broke with tradition by having local curator Toby Kamps organize it instead shipping in a curator from elsewhere. For all the conceivable pitfalls and controversy that comes along with using Kamps, the payoff is huge: organizing works in vine-like clusters, Kamps transformed what is usually a roving mess of a show into tight groups of like-minded works that pinged off each other in silent conversation. The works ebb and flow along the large walls of the O’Quinn Gallery; Kamps demonstrated comfort and familiarity with the architecture. He clearly recruited veterans and heavy-weights into the show, which gave us a more diversified and respectful view of Houston’s art scene as it actually is, versus the folksy, small-town eccentric stereotype that outside curators tend to reduce it to.
With that out there, the show is too good. It looks like it was more primed for the CAMH than your average Big Show. It’s an obnoxious thing to admit, but to a certain extent it’s also true: I felt a pang of longing for the delicious, amateur-hour bonanza that makes up a typical Big Show. But really, I’ll take this embarrassment of riches over a diamond in the rough.
Without further ado, here are my top ten picks for 2017:
10. Lori Fish, Royal Walk, 2017
This painting looks like a maze made out of chewed gum and slug trails. Although this loopy, squishy, splotchy trail evokes a youthful playfulness, the real dynamism occurs in the geometric undercurrent of criss-crossing black string atop a black canvas — a subtle yet aggressive gesture. But things get really sculpturally gratifying as those strings slice through thick globs of paint like knives and lasers.