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Sunday, October 1, 2023

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While it’s a given that most college students’ time is filled with studying, it’s a shame that most of that studying is for the same subject. If you’re not majoring in it, chances are you’re not learning about it. However, students on this one-track-path have an opportunity to change this semester: captivating exhibitions offer an easy-access way to explore the variety and creativity of art. Take the time to visit them – what you take away will be worth the break from studying.

It would be nearly impossible to list all of the exhibitions Houston will host this fall, so here’s a look at what our own campus and two of the city’s largest museums have in store.

Blaffer Gallery

Photographer Jean Luc Mylayne migrated to the U.S. in search of the North American bluebird, and the first solo exhibition of his work in America, Jean Luc Mylayne, will include approximately 20 of his large-scale photographs. Often spending years studying the habits and habitats of his subjects, Mylayne is able to capture strikingly beautiful images of birds where so many others capture strikingly banal stationary and in-flight shots. Mylayne utilizes about 50 lenses of his own creation that allow him to play with perspective and focus. As a result, his photographs not only require extensive work on his part, but some work on the viewer’s part as well: the birds are not always in focus or readily visible, but the search for his subject matter allows viewers to appreciate his photographs’ fascinating details. Jean Luc Mylayne will be on view from Sept. 8 through Nov. 10.

In conjunction with the Blaffer Gallery, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts and Aurora Picture Show will hold an outdoor screening of Michael Gitlin’s film, The Birdpeople, at 8 p.m. Sept. 13 in the courtyard in front of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Building. Mimicking the birdwatchers themselves, Gitlin uses 16 mm film to study the fascination many have with the feathered creatures.

Amy Sillman: Suitors ‘ Strangers will also be on view at the Blaffer from Sept. 8 through Nov. 10. Layering everything from calligraphy to cubism, Sillman brings together numerous styles of painting in a single work. Her loaded canvases are often representative of psychology, with overlapping brush strokes and peeled away paint that reveals lower levels of work.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

If you’re craving the rich colors of fall and Houston’s mediocre season isn’t satisfying you, head to the MFAH for Oudry’s Painted Menagerie: Portraits of Exotic Animals in Eighteenth Century Europe. Jean-Baptiste Oudry painted many of the 11 images in the exhibition on commission for King Louis XV’s first surgeon, Francois Gigot de La Payronie. The life-size paintings are more than just pictures of animals, though. Oudry’s attention to color and lighting, as well as the human-like emotions he depicts in many of the animals, add depth and realness to his work. Oudry’s Painted Menagerie will be on view from Oct. 13 through Jan. 6.

The MFAH will highlight another prominent artist of the 1700s with Pompeo Batoni: Prince of Painters in Eighteenth-Century Rome. The exhibition includes more than 60 of the renowned portrait-artist’s works, which will be on display from Oct. 21 through Jan. 27.

Nan Goldin: Stories will combine single photographs with installations and moving images from the photographer. Goldin often captures dark images of drug abuse and sexuality, and the exhibition will include her well-known slide show, "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency," in which images of AIDS and abuse victims of the 1980s appear one after another on screen. The exhibition will be on view from Nov. 4 through Feb. 10.

The Menil Collection

The Menil will house what looks to be one of the most interesting installations to hit Houston this fall. Otabenga Jones ‘ Associates, a group made up of artists Dawolu Jabari Anderson, Jamal Cyrus, Kenya Evans and Robert A. Pruitt, will fashion a working classroom†complete with projectors and chalkboards in Lessons from Below. Guest lecturers, paintings, photographs and artifacts will accompany weekly classes covering black identity that will be held in the classroom. The installation will be on view from Sept. 13 through Dec. 9.

Combining sculpture, video, sketches, neon art, photographs and artist books, the Menil hones in on artist Bruce Nauman’s influences and development throughout the 1960s with the exhibition A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman’s Formative Years. Nauman often toys with physically representing language and phrases in his work, and the exhibition is named after his first sculpture to include words: a lead plaque inscribed with the title phrase, designed to be fixed to a tree where it would eventually be encompassed by the plant’s growth. A Rose Has No Teeth will be at the Menil from Oct. 25 through Jan. 13.

Unlike the exhibition of Nauman’s work, Robert Ryman, 1976 keeps things simple: white paint on a square canvas. Dropping color and shadows for texture, Ryman emphasizes things he feels are often forgotten in painting, such as the details of brush strokes and paint application. This particular exhibition highlights Ryman’s paintings that explore how artwork is physically attached to and displayed on a wall. The exhibition will be on view from Nov. 9 through Feb. 17.


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