• Tomás Saraceno, Flying Garden/Air-Port-City/12SW iridescent, 2008,
    PVC balloons, elastic rope, fabric webbing, balloon cluster, approximately 45 x 45 x 45".

    Tomás Saraceno

    Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston
    120 Fine Arts Building
    January 6–April 3, 2009

    Walker Art Center
    725 Vineland Place
    May 14–August 30, 2009

    Curated by Yasmil Raymond

    Pneumatic dreams hover over the work of Tomás Saraceno, just as they wafted through the hot-air balloons of the frères Montgolfier or the late-1960s inflatable architecture of the Utopie group. But if it seems that all we got from such techno-futurism was puffy IKEA chairs, Saraceno won’t let the bubble burst. His airborne structures and blow-up sculptures are actually prototypes for floating gardens or houses. Such constructions—along with photographs, drawings, and a new installation for the Walker’s terrace—are the focus of “Lighter than Air,” the artist's second solo US museum show (the first being at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive in 2007). Other pieces in the exhibition, such as 59 steps to be on air by sun power/Do it yourself, 2003, a set of simple instructions for making a solar-powered balloon, are more Mad Max than Bucky Fuller—rerouting utopian fantasies rather than merely fulfilling them.

  • Amy Blakemore, Shoes, 1998, color photograph, 19 x 19".

    “Amy Blakemore: Photographs 1988–2008”

    The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
    1001 Bissonnet
    May 10–September 13, 2009

    Curated by Alison de Lima Greene

    Amy Blakemore’s photographs—of discarded shoes, gathering clouds, a child in a crowd—proffer open-ended narratives. That dreamlike opacity is augmented by her use of low-tech Diana cameras, which produce pictures with softly focused edges and blurred resolutions. The MFAH’s selection of thirty-six works from the past two decades—the artist’s first midcareer survey—tracks Blakemore’s transition from black-and-white to color, and considers how her casual snapshot aesthetic is married to a conceptual engagement with photography’s capacity to distort memory. The photographs are atmospheric in several senses: They capture a mood but also depict a hazy quality of light that feels related to the distinctively viscous air of Houston, where Blakemore has lived since 1985. A catalogue featuring essays by Alison de Lima Greene, Whitney curator Chrissie Iles, and others accompanies the show.

  • Bahc Yiso, We Are Happy, 2004, mixed media, 2.3' x 137.8'.

    “Your Bright Future”

    The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
    1001 Bissonnet
    November 22, 2009–February 14, 2010

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
    5905 Wilshire Boulevard
    June 28, 2000–September 20, 2009

    Curated by Sunjung Kim, Christine Starkman, and Lynn Zelevansky

    Organized by LACMA and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, “Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea” features installations, sculptures, videos, computer animations, and Web-based work by artists born in South Korea between 1957 and 1972 and raised during a period of sustained political upheaval. Intended to redress what cocurator Lynn Zelevansky calls Korea’s “virtual absence from the Western imagination,” the show is accompanied by a catalogue with essays by Zelevansky, cocurator Christine Starkman, and art historian Joan Kee, as well as interviews with the artists and an informative time line of Korean art and politics from 1945 to the present.