PaperCity Magazine

July 2014 - Houston

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GAMECHANGERS GIVING US PAUSE ARE FILMMAKERS INTERCEPTING LOVE LETTERS IN A TREE, A PROTAGONIST AND CONNECTOR OF PEOPLE AND IDEAS, A JEWELRY DESIGNER FORGING A TRAIL AND A PAINTER WHOSE ETHOS IS SHAPED BY A LANDFILL. CATHERINE D. ANSPON AND STEVEN HEMPEL EXPLORE THE STORIES. PRODUCED BY MICHELLE AVIÑA. SHOT AT ANNEX STUDIOS BY JACK THOMPSON. MASKS BY MARCMARC. HAIR CASEY CLAY AND STEFANI BARRON FOR SHYN SALON. GROOMING JORDAN MOORE FOR ETHERIA SALON & SPA. MAKEUP WENDY MARTIN MAKEUP BY WENDY. SARA WEARS LEVITICUS JEWELRY AT LEVITICUSJEWELRY.COM; A.F. VANDERVORST LEATHER COLLAR AT LABORATORIA W e'll never forget our first encounter with Sara Frantz. In a booth tucked amidst the cacophonous flow of the Houston Fine Art Fair, year deux, within the cavernous interior of then Reliant Park, we spotted her inky canvases and drawings in a solo presentation at David Shelton Gallery — haunting depictions of a landscape rendered in sooty black that possessed an absolute otherworldly feel, as if Christina had been abducted from her place in Andrew Wyeth's classic painting, and all that remained was a disembodied, brooding terrain. For this Chicago native/ University of Texas Austin MFA grad, the slightly surreal and decidedly unsettling experience of growing up in a suburban neighborhood literally sited atop a reclaimed landfill infiltrated and seeped into her unconsciousness, taking root and later flowering in her art-making. The resulting blossom — which talent scout Shelton spotted early on — has earned her residencies from Vermont to Iceland, as well as upcoming solos at Women and Their Work in Austin (2014/2105 season) and Shelton's eponymous Houston gallery, which lines the charming Isabella Court complex, come 2015. What's new in Frantz's oeuvre is her unique amalgamation of painting and drawing; the resulting graphite-and-gouache creations blur the lines of both media. "Carved environments, consumption, space, forced decorative imitation of nature and art history's control of idealized landscapes" are some of the ideas that Frantz employs in her art arsenal. Catherine D. Anspon "ALL MY WORK EXPLORES SIMILAR THEMES OF CARVED ENVIRONMENTS, CONSUMPTION, SPACE, F O R C E D D E C O R AT I V E I M I TAT I O N O F N AT U R E A N D A R T H I S TO R Y ' S C O N T R O L O F IDEALIZED LANDSCAPES." — Sara Frantz NOT YOUR TYPICAL SOUTHWESTERN LANDSCAPE Sara Frantz Not many artists would be able to document the bittersweet — and true — tale that was recently enacted within a dying oak in the Broadacres neighborhood that lines the verdant and tony streets surrounding Rice University. Enter award-garnering Houston-based filmmakers Patrick Bresnan (known professionally as Otis Ike) and his wife/collaborator Ivete Lucas, whose practice ranges from the festival-destined Vietnam Appreciation Day to the alluring music video for hometown band the Wild Moccasins, filmed in Galveston at Texas' oldest drag bar. They had the chops and sensitivity to record the unfolding literary tryst that would be captured in Lawndale Art Center's recent FotoFest exhibition, appropriately titled "Love Letters in a Tree." The strange story, imbued with great charm and underlain with poignancy, played out daily in a grand but decaying arbol, which bore a secret place for securing missives between two unlikely pen pals. If you didn't see the show, go to the artists' websites for clues into the character and possibly identity of the correspondents, who simply signed their notes V and J. The drawings and text varied from daily minutia and prosaic comments about the weather to deeper musings into the meaning of life. The resulting recording of each letter was capped by a video staged at Lawndale within a viewing chamber crafted from salvaged bark scraps — the tree, you see, was being overcome by ants and fungus, so a chainsaw and tree-cutting company were eventually brought in. It was certainly the most moving and authentic project we've seen at any Texas art space within the past decade. Says Bresnan of the pair's year-in- the-making undertaking, "Much like for the correspondents, the dying oak tree in Broadacres Park became an indispensable part of our daily lives. Instead of opening my computer in the morning, I went to the tree, and there would invariably be a letter at 7:30 am from J and another at 8:30 am from V. Each day, a new drawing and a few more clues into the mysterious lives of the writers. It was as if the tree was drawing all of us to it, and it was my job to archive them with my camera." After showing Lawndale's Dennis Nance some of the early images of this idiosyncratic correspondence, the idea was hatched to produce an exhibit. Bresnan and Lucas tracked down the shy protagonists, whom they coaxed into the idea; V eventually got so into the project that he let down his guard and came to Lawndale to create a wall-sized mural based upon his drawings, which accompanied the documentary film and photography. As Bresnan underscores, "To us, the letters were beautiful, innocent and loving. It was something magical and unique to Houston, and we were honored that in the end, the writers trusted us to share it." Catherine D. Anspon LOVE LETTERS IN A LIVE OAK "INSTEAD OF OPENING MY COMPUTER IN THE MORNING, I WENT TO THE TREE, AND THERE WOULD INVARIABLY BE A LETTER AT 7:30 AM FROM J AND ANOTHER AT 8:30 AM FROM V." — PATRICK BRESNAN IVETE WEARS BALMAIN DRESS AND BRACELET BY MAISON RABIH KAYROUZ, BOTH AT SLOAN/HALL. Patrick Bresnan Ivete Lucas

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