Art is All Around Us: ‘Color Field’ Comes to UH this Fall

Odili Donald Odita
Odili Donald Odita (b. 1966) “Negative Space,” 2019. Series of thirteen flags on flagpoles. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York © Ironside Photography
Spencer Finch
Spencer Finch (b. 1962). “Back to Kansas”, 2015. Exterior household paint on canvas. 190 × 186 inches. Collection of Christian Keesee, New York and Oklahoma. © Ironside Photography
TYPOE
TYPOE (b. 1983). “Forms from Life”, 2017. Painted aluminum. Dimensions vary. Courtesy of the artist. Installation view, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 2019. © Ironside Photography

Brightly colored, large-scale sculptures will be dispersed across the University of Houston campus this fall in an exciting new exhibition embodying the mantra that art is all around us.

Presented by Public Art of the University of Houston System (Public Art UHS), “Color Field” is the first curated exhibition of outdoor sculpture at UH and the second project in the Temporary Public Art Program, generously supported by the Brown Foundation, Inc. The traveling show, organized in partnership with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, will remain on view through May 2021.

“We are delighted to bring ‘Color Field’ to Houston for the enjoyment of all,” said María C. Gaztambide, Public Art UHS director and chief curator. “It is an optimistic exhibition that will offer multiple touchpoints for experiencing outdoor art in an immediate and natural way.”

Allison Glenn, curator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art added, “‘Color Field’ will introduce and create accessible connections to color theory, providing opportunities for guests to interact with objects as they think about the impact of color on our lives.”

The inspiration behind “Color Field” is a mid-twentieth-century painting style of the same name – Color Field – characterized by large areas of single colors and surfaces devoid of realistic representation. “Taking this style of painting as a point of departure, ‘Color Field’ considers a group of contemporary artists concerned with exploiting color for all of its expressive and evocative possibilities,” continued Gaztambide.

The seven participating artists and their works are listed below. 

  • “Here” (2019) by Sarah Braman is a concrete drainage pipe powder-coated with aluminum frames that allows light from the sun to project through its circular, colored glass windows.
  • “Untitled (Wind Chimes)” (2014) by Sam Falls is a larger-than-life-sized, functional wind chime that make music just by a gentle touch.
  • “Back to Kansas” (2015) by Spencer Finch is billboard-sized grid made out of 70 blocks of brilliant and subtle color inspired by “The Wizard of Oz.” Each color in the grid corresponds to a color from the film, such as “Yellow Brick Road” and “Ruby Slippers.”
  • Odili Donald Odita’s “Negative Space” (2019) is a series of 13 flags on flagpoles inspired by the American flag and its related socio-cultural dynamics. Colors such as red, white and blue, and green, black and orange work to both enhance and contrast each other.
  • “Forms from Life” (2019) by TYPOE is a grouping of minimalist shapes made out of painted aluminum that resemble enlarged building blocks. It is a reference to how the basic information we learn as children forms our understanding of the world.
  • Jeffie Brewer, a Nacadoches, Texas-based artist, is providing multiple painted steel pieces for this exhibition that he created in 2019 and 2020. “Cloud,” “Gigaff,” “Pop,” “Bunny,” “Kitty,” and “Pink Sexy” are influenced by his fascination with pop culture and a background in design. These vibrant-colored sculptures teeter between identifiable and abstract forms.
  • Sound artist and composer Amos Cochran’s “Color Field Outside/In” and “Color Field Inside/Out” (2019) allows one’s emotions to wander freely in an immersive sonic soundscape. Cochran uses traditional instruments such as violin, cello, harp and piano to produce abstract recorded sounds.

“I want to give people a space where there is a time duration for them to live and enjoy what they are looking at or thinking about and how that will play into their overall experience of this exhibition,” said Cochran, who hopes more people will start to recognize sound as an artform akin to painting, sculpting and more traditional mediums.

Gaztambide and the Public Art UHS curatorial team plan to place the works strategically throughout the UH campus starting with Wilhelmina’s Grove, the heart of the UH Arts District, which is bound by the Moores School of Music, School of Theatre & Dance, Valenti School of Communication and Fine Arts Building— all at the intersection of Cullen Boulevard and Elgin Street. The pieces will then wind through the areas surrounding the Ezekiel W. Cullen Building, Butler Plaza and Lynn Eusan Park—off University Drive.

“By placing ‘Color Field’ works in and around UH’s iconic campus buildings, its main pedestrian arteries and existing permanent artworks in the Public Art collection, we truly want to incite dialogue not only between them and our campus’ natural and built environment, but also with other works for which color is also a central node,” Gaztambide said. “Taken as a whole, ‘Color Field’ will allow us to consider some of today’s exciting contemporary artists in the context of modern masters including Carlos Cruz-Diez and Dorothy Hood, among others.”

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