By Alex Wukman
For most people in Houston performance art is a little like a mountain lion: easy to read about but hard to see. The last time performance art received any notice in the local press was in November 2008 when Wayne Dolcefino ran an all-sizzle-no-steak report on the “shady world of taxpayer funded art” that included a couple of clips from the Performance Art Lab with the question “is it art?” Seriously, a guy who thinks including clips from the old Adam West Batman show in his expose about Blood Alcohol Test Vans–because BAT Vans rhymes with Batman–makes him edgy decided to ask “what is art?”
Well Dolcefino’s report had an impact, just not the one he was looking for. A little less than three years to the day that Dolcefino’s report aired Nestor Topchy, one of the elder statesman of the Houston art scene, happened to be in New York at a performance art event when he met Myk Henry. Henry was a key organizer in the Williamsburg warehouse movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s, just like Topchy was a key organizer of the Houston warehouse movement of the same period. They got to talking about art and Houston and Topchy mentioned Jim Pirtle’s always evolving social sculpture Notsuoh’s and he described it as “possibly the most interesting enclosed urban space in Texas.”
And so the plan was hatched: they’d put on a show featuring performance artists from all over the nation and the world. Alternately entitled the Lone Star Performance Art Explosion or the Houston International Performance Art Biennial, the event features performances from 24 well recognized international, national and local artists. The performances will be spread across three nights and three hot spots for Houston art–Diverseworks, Notsuoh’s and Avant Garden. The festival kick-offs with a two hour symposium at the Contemporary Arts Museum from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday March 7. Sadly, the first official performance of the festival won’t be until the next night but there is a possibility that some of the festival participants might look in on open mic night Notsuoh’s.
The performances kick off at Diverseworks on Thursday, March 8, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. before moving to Avant Garden for any after party. Avant Garden happens to be hosting the second night of the festival and, rumor has it, that Avant Garden happens to be the spot where the festival is going to get freaky. After the bar gets raised at Avant Garden it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when the party hits Jim Pirtle’s famously permissive Notsuoh’s on Saturday, March 9.
Tickets are $30 for all three nights or $12 for each individual night. More information can be found by checking www.lonestarexplosion.org