Ballroom Marfa Art Fund


The History Man: Tom Morton Interviews Rashid Johnson

23 Oct 2014


Shea Butter Irrigation System, 2013, the Ballroom, Marfacentral pivot irrigation unit, shea butter, black soap, wax, 4.2 × 2.7 × 3.4 m. Courtesy: the artist and Hauser & Wirth, London; photograph: Fredrik Nilsen.

Tom Morton interviews artist Rashid Johnson in the current issue of Frieze about fiction, humor, and homage in regards to his artistic process. The conversation presents an overview of themes that interweave through Johnson’s sculptures, wall assemblages, films, and performances, including a brief discussion about a piece Johnson created for his show at Ballroom in 2013. A contributing editor, writer and curator for Frieze Magazine, Tom Morton will be the curator of Ballroom’s upcoming Fall 2015 group exhibition, Äppärät.

An excerpt from

TM Your sculptures are overwhelmingly made for – and often allude to – interior spaces. One exception is Shea Butter Irrigation System (2013), created for the courtyard of the Ballroom, Marfa, in which an agricultural irrigation rig was adapted to anoint the Texas desert with melting gobbets of shea butter, black soap and wax. Does the idea of making further open-air sculptures interest you?

RJ I’d love to get outside again. That piece was a huge learning experience for me. So much of my material is intended to live inside. Maybe I’m agoraphobic, so it would make sense that my art is too! I love small interior spaces, where you can lay down with a book and nerd out. Being in a big open space is intimidating to me, in art and in life.

Rashid Johnson at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles

8 Oct 2014


Plateaus, 2014, (alternate view). Courtesy: David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles. Photos: Martin Parsek.

Rashid Johnson’s two-part exhibition Islands is still on display at David Gordansky Gallery in Los Angeles until October 29th. In his third solo-show at the gallery, the Ballroom Marfa alum features new wall- and floor-based sculptures including a “hollow fifteen-foot high pyramid, shaped vitrine-like tables, and erratically contoured shelf-works.”

From David Kordansky:

Broadly taking a cue from Richard Wright’s novel Native Son, and its antiheroic characterization of the African-American male, the sculptures embody an extreme unbound energy. In structure, material, and process, they express a tension unprecedented in Johnson’s practice. regularly reimagines popular narratives that shape contemporary African-American identity, remixing them with his own personal history, and his growing lexicon of formal signifiers.

Simone Leigh’s “Free People’s Medical Clinic”

7 Oct 2014

Visitors at the Free People’s Medical Clinic interact with visiting nurses from the Black Nurse Association of New York. Image courtesy of Creative Time.

Artist and friend of Ballroom, Simone Leigh has teamed up with Creative Time and the Weeksville Heritage Center as part of the organizations’ Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn project, which is described as:

a walkable month-long art exhibition of four community based art commissions…. (which) launches from the site of Weeksville, a Brooklyn community established by free and formerly enslaved Black citizens 11 years after abolition in New York State. Black Radical Brooklyn draws inspiration not only from this story-achieving self-determination through the claiming and holding of a neighborhood- but also from radical local battles for land and dignity from the 1960s to today.”

Leigh’s contribution is the Free People’s Medical Clinic (the “medicine” from the project’s title).

As described by Creative Time, the Free People’s Medical Clinic (FPMC) will:

engage the critical intersections of public health, racial consciousness, and women’s work as it asks viewers to consider the often-overlooked players—most especially the unknown Black women nurses, osteopaths, gynecologists, and midwives—who have overserved an underserved population for centuries. While the project name borrows from the Black Panthers’ community-based healthcare efforts in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, its gaze lingers on 19th century medical pioneers including Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first Black woman doctor in NY State and a Weeksville resident; The United Order of Tents, a secret fraternal order of Black Women nurses founded during the Civil War; and Dr. Josephine English, the first African-American woman to have an OB/GYN practice in the state of New York, delivering all six daughters of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. Leigh will convert the late Dr. English’s home at 375 Stuyvesant Avenue into a temporary space that explores the beauty, dignity and power of Black nurses and doctors, whose work is often hidden from view. Leigh’s FPMC will point to a larger need for dignified healthcare experiences by offering a limited array of homeopathic and allopathic services ranging from yoga instruction to community acupuncture, all offered by Brooklyn-based practitioners.

The FPMC‘s classes will continue until the project’s end on October 20th, 2014. Other artists involved include Xenobia Bailey (Funk), Bradford Young (God), and Otabenga Jones & Associates (Jazz).

Walead Beshty at the Barbican Center in London, UK

2 Oct 2014

Walead Beshty
© Photo by Alexei Tylevich

For our friends in London: On October 9th, Comic Future alum Walead Beshty’s new exhibition will open at the The Curve in the Barbican Centre. Entitled A Partial Disassembling of an Invention Without a Future: Helter-Skelter and Random Notes in Which the Pulleys and Cogwheels Are Lying Around at Random All Over the Workbench, the show features over 12,000 cyanotype prints made by Beshty that will cover the wall of The Curve gallery from floor to ceiling.

More from the Barbican Center:

“The installation is presented in chronological order, allowing the work to be read as a visual timeline, shifting in appearance along with the artist’s physical and temporal location. A central platform specially designed by London-based David Kohn Architects and constructed using recycled materials from a previous Barbican exhibition, enables the visitor to view the installation from alternative perspectives…Walead Beshty’s artwork explores photography’s ability to capture contemporary social and political conditions, often making the viewer question the possibilities of photography and its relationship to the world we live in.”

In a related event: Beshty and writer/critic Brian Dillon will have an in-depth discussion of the artist’s practice on November 26 at the Barbican Center.

Liz Craft in “Artforum”

17 Sep 2014

Liz Craft, Candy Colored Clown 1,2,& 3, 2010,  Photography © Fredrik Nilsen Liz Craft’s Candy Colored Clowns in Comic Future. Photography © Fredrik Nilsen


LA artist and Comic Future alum, Liz Craft, was recently interviewed for the “Top Ten” feature in Artforum, where she gives a shout out to Ballroom and recounts her time in Marfa:

Good curating doesn’t just bring together interesting combinations of art; it also brings together artists. Last fall, Ballroom Marfa invited me to participate in a show called “Comic Future,” and as it happened, the majority of people included in the exhibition came out for the opening. For three days we hung out in this small Texas town.

I liked everyone involved, but had a particularly good time with Sue Williams. The experience made me remember how much I like artists.


Check out the rest of Craft’s “Top Ten” at Artforum.

Andy Coolquitt at Lisa Cooley

29 Aug 2014

andy coolquitt

tricky/sweat/3way/thing/dropping/hair/biting/fling by Andy Coolquitt. Courtesy of Lisa Cooley.

Chinati artist-in-residence alum and all around cool dude Andy Coolquitt’s show somebody place opens September 7th at Lisa Cooley in New York. Coolquitt’s work has “garnered international recognition for his use of sculpture as a means to highlight how humans relate to each other and to the spaces around them.”

From Lisa Cooley:

Echoing William Carlos Williams’ poetic dictum, “no ideas but in things,” the intelligence of Andy Coolquitt’s work is embedded within the objects themselves, in the accumulated knowledge of stuff that is communicated through use.
(We somehow know, Coolquitt likes to point out, that the bed doesn’t go in the kitchen.) The works in somebody place are the result of Coolquitt’s interest in “the intersubjectivity of stuff,” in how the interconnectedness of daily rituals often complicate the boundaries that separate order from chaos, function from disfunction.

We loved Coolquitt’s most recent show,
Multi-Marfa Room, at the Locker Plant in Marfa, so if you’re in New York, be sure to check it out.

somebody place will be on view from September 7 until October 19 at Lisa Cooley.

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Last Chance to See Rashid Johnson in Athens

27 Aug 2014

Installation view of Magic Numbers. Courtesy of The George Economou Collection.

Installation view of Magic Numbers. Courtesy of The George Economou Collection.

For all our friends in Greece: Ballroom Marfa alumnus Rashid Johnson’s show at The George Economou Collection Space in Athens closes tomorrow. Entitled Magic Numbers, the show features several site-specific installation works that “[immerse] visitors in a visual cosmology that ricochets between diverse cultural allusions and formal traditions.”

More from The George Economou Collection:

This exhibition foregrounds the singular symbolic language of American artist Rashid Johnson…the installation opens with a constellation of works forged from Johnson’s signature vocabulary of materials suffused with personal and historical resonances… Together, the works in the exhibition channel Johnson’s current preoccupation with notions of hybridity and metamorphosis, cohering into an immersive environment freighted with narrative possibilities.

If you happen to be in Athens this week, Magic Numbers is not to be missed.

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I [art] Marfa

8 Aug 2014

I [art] Marfa

In April 2014, we were honored to be part of the “I [art] Marfa” series for Arte Creative in France. Conceived and filmed by Sébastien Carayol and Katie Callan, the pair spent a week in Marfa, interviewing five locals: the Chinati Foundation’s Rob Weiner; artist Julie Speed; Ballroom Marfa Executive Director Fairfax Dorn; Food Shark owner Adam Bork; and artist Sam Schonzeit. The series is finished, and excellent. Watch Dorn’s episode here; or view the entire series here.

You put in what you get out,”

Photos from Vidas Perfectas

4 Aug 2014

Vidas Perfectas, July 18, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

While we’re catching our breath after this past weekend’s Marfa Dialogues/St. Louis, we thought we’d share photos from the stunning performances of Vidas Perfectas, Alex Waterman’s Spanish-language production of Robert Ashley’s groundbreaking work Perfect Lives (1983). Thanks to everyone who helped make Vidas Perfectas happen. See the full list of thanks and acknowledgements here.

All photos by Alex Marks,
July 18 and 19,2014.


Jane Crockett, Rocky Barnette, and Bob Crockett, July 18, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

Rob Crowley and Alex Waterman, Vidas Perfectas, July 19, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

Fairfax Dorn and Alex Waterman, Vidas Perfectas, July 19, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

Music Producer Peter Gordon, July 18, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

Vidas Perfectas, July 18, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

Elisa Santiago, Ned Sublette, and Elio Villafranca, Vidas Perfectas, July 18, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.


Elisa Santiago, Ned Sublette, and Raul de Nieves, Vidas Perfectas, July 18, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

Vidas Perfectas, July 18, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.



Raul de Nieves, Vidas Perfectas, July 19, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.


Peter Gordon, Vidas Perfectas, July 19, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

Vidas Perfectas, July 19, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

Elio Villafranca, Vidas Perfectas, July 19, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

Raul de Nieves, Vidas Perfectas, July 19, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

Elisa Santiago and Elio Villafranca, Vidas Perfectas, July 19, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

Scott Kiernan, Victoria Keddie, Alex Waterman, Ned Sublette, Elisa Santiago, Elio Villafranca, Raul de Nieves, and Peter Gordon, Vidas Perfectas, July 19, 2014. Photo by Alex Marks.

New Work By Sam Falls In Brooklyn

16 Jul 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 4.58.37 PM

New work by artist Sam Falls (who will be having a solo show at Ballroom in 2015) will soon be on view at the MetroTech Commons in downtown Brooklyn presented by the Public Art Fund. The exhibition, Sam Falls: Light Over Time will open on July 29th and will be up until May 29th, 2015.

From the press release:

Sam Falls: Light Over Time is a major installation for MetroTech Commons featuring five new artworks that encourage visitor participation as they explore the effects of the natural environment and time. Several of the pieces on view—like a seesaw, wind chimes, and a bench—will seem familiar to any park visitor, however, Falls has transformed the function and form of these traditional objects. His experiential works invite visitors to see the sculptures both as works of art and usable objects, inspiring a sense of curiosity, discovery, and exploration.

For more info go to the Public Art Fund‘s website.

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