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Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin's Premier Contemporary Art Center, Reopened to the Public
Jason Middlebrook: More Art About Buildings and Food, 2010. Site-specific installation commissioned by Arthouse. Photo: Sarah Greene Reed.

AUSTIN, TX.- Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin’s premier contemporary art center, reopened to the public October 24, 2010, after an extensive renovation and expansion project designed by award-winning New York architectural firm Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis Architects.

Exhibitions for the reopening include commissions of new work by Jason Middlebrook, Tony Feher, and Ryan Hennessee, along with solo presentations of work by Mequitta Ahuja, Cyprien Gaillard, and James Sham.

Arthouse’s new architecturally significant facility, along with its ambitious exhibitions and programming, position the contemporary art center as a major cultural destination for all visitors. Arthouse at the Jones Center acts as a cultural hub in downtown Austin, offering free opportunities to investigate and experience the art of our time.

Inaugural Exhibitions

Jason Middlebrook: More Art About Buildings and Food, Second floor gallery through Jan 16
Transforming detritus from Arthouse’s building renovation into sculpture, dining furniture, and other functional objects, New York-based artist Jason Middlebrook evokes both the history of the Jones Center and its longstanding importance as a gathering place for the Austin community as well as Arthouse as a 99-year-old visual arts organization. His work, which has been shown extensively in the United States and Europe, typically features found and recycled everyday materials that reveal practices of overconsumption and the points at which culture and nature collide. For his Arthouse commission, Middlebrook fuses disparate periods and histories of the building into an amalgamation by incorporating ceiling joists, lumber, and masonry salvaged from the building’s 1920s iteration as the Queen Theater, with the stair railings and plate-glass windows dating from the 1950s Lerner Shops. Elaborating upon ideas of community, history, and creativity, Middlebrook has made a massive drawing incorporating family recipes submitted through an open call for participation. Some of these recipes will be featured at a communal potluck dinner party held at Arthouse on November 20th. Middlebrook’s elegant, yet rustic, grand banquet hall sets the stage for the potluck event and a series of lunchtime brown-bag conversations while also serving as an informal gathering space throughout the exhibition.

Jason Middlebrook was born in Jackson, Michigan in 1966 and currently lives in Hudson, New York. He received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1994. His work has been exhibited extensively nationally and internationally. Recent projects include a solo exhibition at the University Art Gallery at SUNY Albany and the traveling group exhibition Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. This is Middlebrook’s first solo exhibition in Texas.

Mequitta Ahuja: Automythography II, First floor gallery through Jan 2
Automythography II continues Mequitta Ahuja’s ongoing artistic investigation into the construction of gender, cultural, and ethnic identities through self-portraiture. Referencing the term “biomythography” coined by black feminist author Audre Lorde, Ahuja combines history, myth, and personal narrative to create her own unique practice of visual autobiography. Beginning with private performances in front of the camera, Ahuja photographically documents herself using a remote shutter control. Then, through preparatory drawings as well as a lengthy process of making and revising marks and images directly onto canvas or paper, she develops the invented elements of the work. For this exhibition, the artist appears in multiple iterations and pictorial approaches within an imaginary, self-constructed world where figural forms and landscapes collide and intertwine.

Born in Grand Rapids, MI in 1976, Ahuja is currently an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem. She received her MFA from the University of Illinois Chicago in 2003, was a 2006 Core Program artist-in-residence at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and is a Joan Mitchell Award recipient. She has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Lawndale Art Center, Houston.

Tony Feher: Dr. Hawking, Second floor gallery ongoing
New York-based artist Tony Feher has created a long-term, site-determined installation for Arthouse’s new second-floor gallery. Site-determined is a term Feher borrows from artist Robert Irwin, whose work from the 60s and 70s explored the act of perception with seemingly simple architectural interventions. For his Arthouse commission, Feher has activated and transformed a typically overlooked architectural space within the building—the void between the ceiling and steel support beams—through a carefully considered deployment of everyday objects. Feher is well-known for his uncanny ability to reveal the innate beauty in mundane objects and here, via simple repetition and ingenious display, he magically recasts them as a poetic constellation that twinkles from above, a mysterious and captivating field suggestive of the night sky and inspiring wonder, awe, and delight.

Feher was born in 1956 in Albuquerque, NM and was raised in Corpus Christi, TX. He received his BA from The University of Texas at Austin in 1978. His solo museum exhibitions include the Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi; The Indianapolis Museum of Art; The Chinati Foundation, Marfa; Berkeley Art Museum; Worcester Art Museum; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; and the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA, among several others.

Cyprien Gaillard: Cities of Gold and Mirrors, Film & Video Gallery through Dec 5
French-born, Berlin-based artist Cyprien Gaillard’s wide-reaching practice includes sculpture, painting, photography, video, performance, and large-scale public interventions. Inaugurating Arthouse’s Film and Video Gallery is Gaillard’s Cities of Gold and Mirrors (2009), a non-narrative 16 mm film that continues the artist’s investigation into built environments as sites of memory and loss. Cancún, Mexico provides the backdrop for the film and its anachronistic landscape of glass-veiled hotels adjacent to Mayan ruins binds the film. In five different chapters, the juxtaposition of modern hedonisms against the physical ruins of the once-mighty Mayan Empire creates an atmosphere of displacement and apprehension.

Gaillard has exhibited extensively in Europe and was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, earlier this year. His work was included in the Eighth Gwanju Biennale (2010); Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today, Museum of Modern Art, NY (2010); and The Generational: Younger Than Jesus, New Museum, NY (2009), among many other exhibitions. Born in 1980 in Paris, he is one of four nominees for the 2010 Marcel Duchamp Prize. This is his first solo presentation in Texas.

Ryan Hennessee: The Specious Present at 700 Congress, SCREEN Projects through Jan 2
Arthouse has commissioned Austin-based artist Ryan Hennessee to create an animated video to inaugurate the building’s new second floor projection screen overlooking Congress Avenue. The video, The Specious Present at 700 Congress, is a looping animation comprised of several vignettes that focuses on the foot traffic in front of the Jones Center. The specious present is a “logical paradox” that Hennessee defines as the experience of the present as events occurring over an interval. Thus, there is no such moment that can be defined as the present without being subdivided into future or past. Infused with the artist’s signature irreverent wit, Hennessee’s animation cleverly reimagines the past and future evolution of Arthouse.

Ryan Hennessee was born in Nashville in 1979. He studied studio art at The University of Texas at Austin and is a co-founder and co-director of the Okay Mountain Gallery. He is a member of the Okay Mountain Collective and works as an animator and illustrator.

James Sham: Close Caption, LIFT Projects through Dec 5
Close Caption, a video by Canadian-born artist James Sham, will inaugurate Arthouse’s new Lift Projects, a series of short videos shown in the passenger elevator as visitors travel between floors of the new building. Sham’s work is concerned with language, translation, and mistranslation and he explores these themes through video, performance, installation, photography, and sculpture. Sham states that it is “commonly accepted that when learning a new language, the two most difficult elements to master are: 1) humor, and 2) poetry.” In Close Caption, Sham merges these two facets of language in a witty demonstration of American Sign Language using DJ Kool’s song “Let Me Clear My Throat” as source material.

Sham was a resident of the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from 2008-2010. This is the first presentation of his work in Texas.

Arthouse | Jones Center | Jason Middlebrook | Tony Feher |

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November 3, 2010

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