Visitors to “Mark Flood: Gratest Hits,” a retrospective of the Houston conceptual artist, won’t be greeted by the typical hospital-white panels with a tiny font explaining the who, what, why, when, where of the artist. Instead the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston has forfeited its standard wall text for an original painting by Flood that reads:
EVERYTHING HERE IS BY
MARK FLOOOD [sic]
MARK FLOOD DOESN’T
HE LETS THE AUDIENCE
FIGURE IT OUT
MARK FLOOD IS
SOMEBODY WHO DID
MARK FLOOD LIVES IN
“That’s the first time I have ever seen a museum cede that to an artist,” said Bill Arning, director of the museum, who called Flood “the most ethically pure artist” he’s encountered. The piece gives visitors a feel for the type of art they’re going to see, which includes a lot of lettering. His introduction also offers insight into the artist: a mocking, subversive, anti-establishment guy who is so averse to the limelight (or so skilled at self-promotion) that he has been known to enlist doppelgängers to attend his shows.
“Mark Flood is hugely influential on the young artists emerging today,” Arning said. “His strategies, which to many appear like career suicide, such as wallpapering a New York gallery exhibition with his auction results, only have made him more revered. He combines being very savvy in the ways of the art world with a wicked sense of humor and an ‘I don’t give a f—’ attitude.”
The show features Flood’s best-known styles from the 1980s through 2015. There are his lace paintings, which are simple, yet artfully adorned fabrics on canvas. There is a glow-in-the-dark room complete with seven 40” by 40” canvases each bearing the words “Another Painting.” There are his digital collages of morphed celebrity profiles. There are tweaked versions of corporate logos. And there is his notorious 1989 painting Eat Human Flesh, with those words appearing next to an image of Chad Allen, the teen idol who appeared in the eighties TV show Our House. No joke: Eat Human Flesh was confiscated by authorities for fear it was somehow linked to Satan worship. Flood then made twenty more.
Museums are heavy on interactivity these days. CAMH and Flood have addressed that with five thousand small paintings bearing the word “LIKE,” available for viewers to place where they deem appropriate in response to the art. “Museum exhibitions are popularity contests and especially when an artist is as well known in Houston as Flood is, that aspect is painfully real,”Arning said. “So Flood, as usual, makes visual that which we prefer not to admit.”
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, April 30 to August 7, camh.org
Tacos for Life
In recent months, there has been a tedious debate over which city has the right to claim the breakfast taco: Austin or San Antonio. The discussion, which eventually involved the mayors of both cities, resulted in no conclusive evidence in support of one or the other. Perhaps a better discussion would have been who has the better breakfast tacos, or even just who has the better tacos, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If that had been the case, then Dallas should have been looped into the equation. The evidence for its claim will be on display Saturday at ¡Taco Libre!, a festival featuring $2 tacos from twenty-one taquerias, all but one of which are from the Metroplex. The area’s love for Mexico will be evident, with offerings inspired by Oaxaca, Jalisco, Sonora, Guanajuato, Sinaloa, Monterrey, Mexico City, Michoacán, Veracruz, and Zacatecas.
Twenty years ago tacos were exotic. Now, in Texas at least, they’re about as common as doughnuts. José Ralat, the Taco Trail blogger and festival organizer, attributes their rise in popularity to financial collapse. “The economy’s bust in 2008 led people to look for cheap and delicious food options,” Ralat said. “Tacos won out. Their popularity and versatility got the attention of chefs, and then the floodgates burst open. Gourmet food trucks, classically trained Mexican-American chefs, expat Texans, chefs from Mexico opening stateside restaurants, and American chefs with profound love and respect for the traditions and history of tacos have been important developments in the continued acclaim among food lovers.” Enjoy lucha libre wrestling and music from groups including Austin’s Grammy-winning Grupo Fantasma. Plus, two of the four authors of the book The Taco Cleanse will be in attendance to explain the health benefits of tacos in steady doses.
Main Street Garden Park, April 30, 3 p.m., tacolibredallas.com
Oh, the Humanity
Corporations have a long history of animal cruelty. They have forced animals to live under terrible conditions in order to maximize profits for food processors, pimped them out for the silver screen or the fashion industry, or subjected them to who knows what in order to test out new makeup or household chemicals. As way to bridge the disconnect between big business and animal advocates, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, has published The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers are Transforming the Lives of Animals. The book, which Pacelle will discuss at BookPeople on Thursday as part of his tour, has generous blurbs from both ends of the spectrum, such as Jane Goodall, the anthropologist known for her work with chimpanzees, and Jack Welch, the heralded former CEO of General Electric. It also has a nod from Whole Foods founder John Mackey, who called it “a 21st century blueprint for both conscious business and social progress.” On this night only, Mackey will join Pacelle for a special conversation.
BookPeople, May 5, 7 p.m., humanesociety.org
Where There’s a Wills, There’s a Way
Bob Wills learned how to play country music from his family of champion fiddlers. From his black friends working the cottons fields, Wills learned the blues and jazz. Later, with his band the Texas Playboys, Wills merged the two strains together and created Western swing, the genre of music most emblematic of Texas. That legacy lives on this weekend at the 45th Bob Wills Day, held in the Panhandle town of Turkey, where Wills grew up. Dr. Charles Townsend, Wills’s Grammy-winning biographer, will preside over a weekend of sweet tunes by Western swing bandleader Billy Mata and fiddler Jason Roberts. Tour the Bob Wills Museum, glean insight from three veterans of the Texas Playboys, and—after all the swinging—sit down and enjoy the lawnmower races.
Downtown, April 29-30, bobwillsday.com
Get down and dirty (in a PG kind of way) at Bugs & Brews, a party in the parking lot of the Granada Theater featuring some of Louisiana’s best exports: music and food. Music by Rebirth Brass Band, out of New Orleans, and Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, the Grammy-winning zydeco group out of Lafayette, will provide the will to get down, while food in the form of mounds of mudbugs will ensure the proceedings stay appropriately dirty.
Granada Theater, May 1, 12 p.m., bugsandbrews.com
In addition to killer psych-tinged rock, the Levitation music festival, which this year includes Animal Collective, Courtney Barnett, and Austin’s Golden Dawn Arkestra, is also a stage for legacy acts to relive their glory years. Following last year’s 13th Floor Elevators reunion, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys will perform his band’s 1966 landmark album, Pet Sounds, in its entirety.
Carson Creek Ranch, April 29 to May 1, levitation-austin.com
*Due to a late-breaking cancellation of Levitation, visit the event’s website for updates on rescheduled performances.