Various Small Fires is proud to present its inaugural exhibition at VSF Texas, the gallery’s newest location situated in Downtown Dallas. Presented in two parts, Texan celebrates the rich contributions Texas-born artists have made to the landscape of contemporary art and offers a homecoming for many of the exhibition's "diasporic" Texans. While claiming one’s Texan heritage can raise complicated associations, the exhibition presents its artists an opportunity to proclaim their ties to the state through a sense of expanded community. Texan: Part I includes work by Will Boone, Rosson Crow, Aaron Curry, Jeff Elrod, Mark Flood, Daniel Rios Rodriguez, Ryan Trecartin, and Jeff Zilm. Texan: Part II will follow and run May 28 - June 25, with work by Hayden Dunham, Puppies Puppies (Jade Guanaro Kuriki-Olivo), Diedrick Brackens, Sarah Zapata, and Baseera Khan.
Conservative political and religious values coupled with an extensive border to Mexico have given rise to contentious issues in the state of Texas, including immigration, womens’ reproductive rights, and legislation impacting the lives of trans citizens. These matters have come to a height in recent months, garnering international attention and becoming increasingly relevant to those, like the artists in this exhibition, who have called Texas home. Like a tattoo that one might prefer to conceal in select situations, being from Texas can be tricky. Texan, however, aims to reinstate a sense of pride and provide VSF’s global audience with an opportunity to reconsider its perception of the state.
Texan: Part I looks to an earlier generation of artists and honors the groundwork laid for those to follow. Though drawing from a wide range of influences and conceptual interests, these artists established careers by challenging the canon of modernism in the disciplines of painting, sculpture, and video. Friends Jeff Elrod, Mark Flood, and Jeff Zilm have expanded on the tradition of abstract painting in their work, taking inspiration from cinema and film and merging the fast-changing technologies from the analog to the digital. Ryan Trecartin’s experimental video works reflect a world inundated by selfie culture, capturing hyper-exaggerated depictions of suburban life with bizarre characters and challenging narratives. Aaron Curry’s sculptural work upends the classic forms popularized by early twentieth-century artists including Picasso and Alexander Calder, emblazoning their surfaces with a barrage of imagery from a range of sources including popular culture and art history. The assemblaged paintings of Daniel Rios Rodriguez utilize found materials to take on traditional motifs in painting like still lifes and landscapes, imbuing an intimate sense of autobiography into images and symbols associated with the Southwest. Rosson Crow’s large-scale paintings encapsulate an energetic take on nostalgia, ruminating on history and Americana through a theatrical lens.
Together, the artists in Texan: Part I highlight a progressive capacity borne in the American South. Through subversive approaches, they constructed a foundation for a new generation of artists to explore radical ideas with expanded mediums. These artists, including Diedrick Brackens, Puppies Puppies (Jade Guanaro Kuriki-Olivo), and Hayden Dunham, are to be highlighted in the second chapter of the Texan exhibition opening May 28, 2022.
Will Boone (b. 1982, Houston, Texas, lives and works in Comal County, Texas) makes works whose graphic power is matched by their palpable physicality. Boone has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas; Karma, New York; and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, Florida. In February 2020, Boone’s sculptures were featured in the backlot of Paramount Pictures Studios as part of Frieze Projects, a special Frieze LA presentation co-curated by Rita Gonzalez, the chief curator at LACMA, and Pilar Tompkins Rivas, the director of Vincent Price Art Museum. Public collections include Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Florida; Rubell Family Collection, Miami, Florida; and Fundación Baruch Spinoza, Lisbon, Spain, among others.
Rosson Crow (b. 1982, Dallas, Texas, lives and works in Los Angeles, California) is best known for her moody large-scale paintings. Her detailed paintings reflect her interest in layering historical events. She received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, New York and an MFA from the Yale School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut. Her work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tuscon, Arizona; Honor Fraser, Los Angeles, California; Musée Régional d'Art Contemporain de Sérignan, France; Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris, France; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; White Cube, London, England; and Canada, New York. Crow completed a residency at Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, France, in 2006.
Aaron Curry (b. 1972, San Antonio, Texas, lives and works in Los Angeles, California) combines painting with sculpture, collage, drawing, and installation. He received his BFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, and an MFA from Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California. He has had solo exhibitions at Michael Werner Gallery, East Hampton, New York; Gamma Galeria, Guadalajara, Mexico; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas; STPI Gallery, Singapore, Thailand; The Bass Museum, Miami, Florida; deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusets; Katonah Museum of Art, New York; David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, California; CAPC, Bordeaux, France; UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, California, and Galerie Daniel Bucholz, Berlin, Germany. He is a recipient of the American Academy in Berlin Fellowship and was awarded a residency at STPI in Singapore, Thailand. Curry is in the permanent collections of The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, California; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; The Montreal Museum of Fine Art Chicago, Illinois; The San Francisco Museum of Art, California; and the Seattle Art Museum, Washington.
Jeff Elrod’s (b. 1966, Dallas, Texas, currently lives and works in Marfa, Texas, and Brooklyn, New York) practice combines American 20th-century abstraction with contemporary digital techniques. He received a BFA from the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas. He has exhibited at numerous important institutions in the United States including MoMA PS1, New York; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut; Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Florida; and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Paintings by the artist are in included in prominent public collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Collection, Washington D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Elrod is the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award (1998), and the Claire Hart De Goyer Award bestowed by the Dallas Museum of Art (1992).
Mark Flood (b. 1957, Houston, Texas, lives and works in Houston, Texas) got his start designing concert posters and flyers while playing for punk band Culturecide. He received a BFA from Rice University. Recent solo exhibitions include Karma, New York; Maccarone Gallery, New York; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas; Frank Elbaz, Dallas, Texas; Ever Gold Projects, San Francisco, California; Rubell Family Collection, Miami, Florida; and Peres Projects, Berlin, Germany. Flood’s work is represented in the Contemporary Art Collection of Birmingham Art Museum, Birmingham, Alabama; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; and the Menil Collection, Houston, Texas.
Daniel Rios Rodriguez (b. 1978, Killeen, Texas, lives and works in San Antonio, Texas) works on a small scale, building coarse layers of impasto upon homemade panels. He received a BFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MFA from the Yale School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut. He has had solo exhibitions at Kerlin Gallery, Dublin, Ireland; Feuilleton, Los Angeles, California; Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York; Cooper Cole, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Artpace, San Antonio, Texas; Lulu, Mexico City, Mexico; Western Exhibitions, Chicago, Illinois; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Sargent’s Daughters, New York; One River Gallery, Englewood, New Jersey; and White Columns, New York, New York. His work is in the permanent collection of the San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas.
Ryan Trecartin (b. 1981, Webster, Texas, lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and rural Ohio) received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, and there he began working with film for the first time. His breakthrough came in 2004 with A Family Finds Entertainment, an exaggerated commentary on contemporary culture. He has had solo shows at Sprüth Magers, Berlin, Germany; Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg, Canada; Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy; Pond Society, Shanghai, China; Baltimore Museum of Art, Massachusets; Astrup Fearnly Museet, Oslo, Norway; Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia; National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Kunst-Were Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany; Zabludowicz Collection, London, England; Regen Projects, Los Angeles, California; Showroom MAMA, Rotterdam, Netherlands; Musée d/Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Florida; MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York; and Istanbul Modern, Turkey.
Jeff Zilm (b. 1958, Iowa City, Iowa, lives and works in Berlin, Germany) is best known for his “Film Paintings,” which take as their starting point the physical properties of film stock. He received a BFA from the University of North Texas, Denton, and an MFA from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. He has had numerous solo exhibitions at Various Small Fires, Los Angeles, California; AND NOW, Dallas, Texas; Simon Lee Gallery, London, England; Dallas Contemporary, Texas; The Journal Gallery, Brooklyn, New York; Preteen, Mexico City; Compact Gallery, San Luis Obispo, California; Oliver Francis Gallery, Dallas, Texas; Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas, Texas; and Locker Room, Marfa, Texas. In 2002 he received the Otis and Velma Dozier Grant from the Dallas Museum of Art, Texas.