OSO BAY BIENNIAL XXI: MATTER MATTERS – Juried Exhibition, September, 2020

Weil Art Gallery
August 28-September 26, 2020

A primary component of this year’s biennial was a national juried exhibition at the TAMU-CC Weil Art Gallery, co-sponsored by TAMU-CC, Texas Sculpture Group and Mid-South Sculpture Alliance. This show was juried and curated by Sculpture Month Houston founder, Dr. Volker Eisele. In addition to his work with SMH, he was the director and founder of ArtScan and directs the Rudolph Blume Fine Art/ArtScan Gallery at 1836 Richmond Avenue, Houston, Texas. 

To see images of the full exhibition installed, please visit: Oso Bay Biennial XXI: Matter Matters – Juried Show and to check out a full list of the selected artworks with images the artists submitted for Dr. Eisele to review: Oso Bay Biennial Juried Show – April, 2020.

During his Curator’s Talk on Saturday, September 26 at 2pm, Dr Eisele will be presenting and sharing about his experience with Sculpture Month Houston and then about his work jurying the exhibition Oso Bay Biennial XXI: Matter Matters. In this presentation, he will be announcing awards (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards along with three honorable mentions). Additionally, he will be sharing curatorial responses about these recipients’ work and about seven additional selected artists’ artworks.

Curator’s Statement

When I was first asked to jury this competition, I was excited, but when I saw the ambition and the energy of the works that were submitted, I was thrilled. As a juror, this experience had one advantage over other open-call competitions – it had a stated focus on three-dimensional arts, specifically sculpture. This way, one could compare apples to apples.

The variety, the sometimes-brazen inventiveness, the re-purposing of materials of so many works gives this exhibition the feeling of a validating survey of what is going on in sculpture in Texas and across the country in response to this national call for submission. It certainly is not encyclopedic, but the visitor is treated to a lively platform of artistic ideas that is percolating not only through this particular locus, but throughout a vast, instantaneously connected art world. Art again proves to be an important communication medium, one that informs emotional states or social connectivity.

My own bias veers towards sculptural art that is unapologetically progressive, exuberant, and ambitious in scale. Being influenced by my curatorial experiences with installation art at the “Silos” for Sculpture Month Houston, I am partial to three-dimensional art that uses space itself as just another material like clay in order to create palpable structures and textures. These structures can then build a framework that supports a vast universe of ideas or even entire visions.

There are so many creative positions in this show that I can highlight just a few of them. Right away I was struck, in a positive way, by how many accomplished artists, some of them I knew, chose to enter the competition and how well the younger artists at the beginning of their careers were measuring up and holding their own. They, no doubt, brought a measure of freshness and quirkiness to the table. 

Art that is environmentally sensitive and stimulates awareness of this looming environmental threat is represented in surprising numbers. The sculpture/installation Despeciation Study about the commercial habitat destruction of the Kemp Ridley sea turtles is a truly engaging piece that reflects on the fate and possible extinction of this species. It is a work that transforms the cold scientific facts into images of a new symbolism that can engage the visitors’ and the public’s long-term emotions rather than effect a burst of short-lived activism.

Another great feature of this exhibition is the almost endless variety of materials that has been used. That in itself can send complex messages about the nature of objects and how we experience and memorize them. I cherish the tactile qualities of the many individual pieces that are enhanced by their juxtaposition of classical and non-traditional materials.

So many works stood out as they were crafted with great finesse; some were outright funny or subtly ironic, some forged new aesthetic paths or created structures with delicate equilibrium and fluidity. I was also glad to see that a few interesting figurative pieces were submitted among the many conceptual works and made it into the final selection.

All of the works in this exhibition were created with great zeal and often come from deeply personal places. They seem to ask the viewer to engage in an existential discourse in our times of cultural upheaval and social volatility.

Volker Eisele, 2020

To join us for this online Curator’s Talk, please meet us live
online via Facebook Live at TAMU-CC College of Liberal Arts FB page