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Two New Exhibits at The Old Jail Art Center

Girl with a Pearl Necklace: Portrait of Rosalie Fragonard by Jean Honoré Fragonard, c. 1785-88

Girl with a Pearl Necklace: Portrait of Rosalie Fragonard by Jean Honoré Fragonard, c. 1785-88

The Reclusive Image: Works from Texas Museums
Bill DavenPort (part of the Cell Series of Exhibitions)
The Old Jail Art Center
February 4 through May 20, 2012

The Old Jail Art Center will present two new exhibits in February, The Reclusive Image: Works from Texas Museums and works by Bill Davenport, as part of the Cell Series of exhibitions. Both exhibits open February 4, 2012, and run through May 20, 2012.

The Reclusive Image: Works from Texas Museums

The Reclusive Image: Works from Texas Museums presents art objects rarely, or never, seen by the general public. For a number of reasons, such works have found themselves consigned to the inner vaults of Texas institutions. Their “reclusiveness” may simply be due to a lack of information on the work, making it difficult to place within an exhibition of related pieces. Its seclusion may be due to fragility or condition. The piece may be considered an inferior example within the context of other works by the same artist in a given collection. At times, institutions may change the focus of what they exhibit so that works no longer “fit” within the scope of the collection and are indefinitely stored. A work may have even been acquired or accessioned as a result of misguided political reasons—yes, this happens even in the most well-intentioned institutions. The more subtle and subjective reason some works are rarely exhibited is that those making the choices of what to exhibit—normally curators—have their own educated likes and dislikes. Or, perhaps most often, the museum’s holdings may simply exceed its ability to show the entirety of its permanent collection in a timely manner.

For this exhibition, the Old Jail Art Center invited Texas museums to look within their own vaults and “re-discover” works to loan to The Reclusive Image. The diverse range of artists include: Jean Honoré Fragonard, Charles M. Russell, Arthur B. Davies, Thomas Sully, Richard Diebenkorn, Eugenio Hermoso, David Brownlow and others. Accompanying the work is a short description explaining the piece and its reason for infrequent exposure. The hope is that this exhibition will find a new audience for these works as well as enlighten the visitor to the somewhat enigmatic process of museums.

Museums generously participating in this exhibition include:  Art Museum of South Texas, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Amarillo Museum of Art, McNay Art Museum, Meadows Museum, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Museum of the Big Bend, Museum of Texas Tech University, Panhandle Plains Historic Museum, San Angelo Museum of Art, San Antonio Museum of Art, Sid Richardson Museum, The Grace Museum, and The Old Jail Art Center.

Interior of Bill's Junk, Houston, Texas (photo courtesy Bill Davenport)

Interior of Bill's Junk, Houston, Texas (photo courtesy Bill Davenport)

Bill Davenport

Bill Davenport is a Houston-based artist whose work shifts back-and-forth between two and three-dimensional. Davenport is known for transforming and engaging spaces by creating witty but substantial looking objects from common materials such as latex house paint and Styrofoam. These faux objects have included an oversized cuckoo clock, wagon wheel, treasure chest, a large piñata stealth fighter, and wooden rafter beams installed in a pre-existing space to make it appear as the interior of a Tudor mansion. Davenport delights the viewer with the object’s simplicity and his ability to represent and execute grand objects and concepts in “low-tech” materials.

For the Old Jail Art Center Cell Series installation, Davenport takes his ongoing endeavor in Houston, “Bill’s Junk,” on the road and creates a virtual junk store in the confines of the museum’s historic 1877 old jail structure. He states he is conceptually “repurposing the museum, just as your museum is repurposing the old jail.” The question, is it art, junk, or a comment on the art market should be considered. Regardless of the answer, Davenport concludes “people can make the site-specific connections where they occur, but won’t miss them when they don’t. Art can be disappointing, but junk always exceeds expectations.” On opening night Davenport will “man the store,” allowing visitors to make purchases directly from his installation.

Bill Davenport was born in Greenfield, MA and received a BFA in Sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in Sculpture from The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA. In the late 1980s he moved to Houston and participated in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Core Artist in Residency program from 1990-1992. He has had numerous group and solo exhibitions throughout the US and abroad including: Arthouse Prize Exhibition, Austin, TX; Forever Rafter, Inman Gallery, Houston, TX; The Searchers, White Box, NY, NY;  Spectaculess, Homeroom Gallery, Munich, Germany; Drive Friendly at Ibid Gallery, London, England.

Girl with a Pearl Necklace: Portrait of Rosalie Fragonard by Jean Honoré Fragonard, c. 1785-88

Girl with a Pearl Necklace: Portrait of Rosalie Fragonard by Jean Honoré Fragonard, c. 1785-88

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One response to “Two New Exhibits at The Old Jail Art Center”

  1. Will says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I’ll be there to check it out.