Additionally, the Mitchell Center and Blaffer Gallery will produce a fully illustrated project catalogue highlighting and documenting the CLUI's endeavors, titled "On the Banks of Bayou City: The Center for Land Use Interpretation in Houston." The publication includes images of Houston by CLUI photographer Steve Rowell and Rice University professor Geoff Winningham, interviews with members of the CLUI and University of Houston professors, and an essay by Blaffer Gallery's Cynthia Woods Mitchell Curatorial Fellow Rachel Hooper.
The CLUI is a research organization based in Culver City, Calif., involved in exploring, examining and understanding land and landscape issues. The CLUI employs a variety of methods to pursue its mission -- engaging in research, classification, extrapolation and exhibition. Projects created by the CLUI are presented in the form of informational exhibitions, guided tours and an online database of sites across the country.
In spring 2008, the CLUI was invited to Houston as the Mitchell Center's first artist-in-residence. It worked with UH students in the School of Art, College of Architecture and the Creative Writing Program, and it established a field station on the banks of Buffalo Bayou. The field station is on the site of a former junkyard, near a metal scrap yard at the juncture of the bayou and the Port of Houston Ship Channel, an important nexus for the refining and transportation of oil in America. The CLUI used the confluence of the bayou and the ship channel as a point of departure for research and in the process uncovered curious and wondrous aspects of Houston that are often overlooked, even by those who live in the city.
Matthew Coolidge, founder and director of the CLUI, described the location of the field station as "perfect," even "transcendent."
"The complex sounds of the scrap yard become like an orchestra of disintegration. The collision of metals, the grinding, the cascading and the crushing, and visually the place is epic: sparks flying from the scrap yard, the sodium lamps from the gasket and valve factory next door flooding the place, buzzing, the office lights of the KBR complex twinkling, and Houston's dramatic, emerald city-like downtown skyline in the distance. It's a compelling location," he said.
In spring 2009, the Mitchell Center, Blaffer Gallery and Buffalo Bayou Partnership will co-present a series of events and programs to highlight the CLUI's Houston research. The following is an overview of the series:
- "Texas Oil: Landscape of an Industry," Center for Land Use Interpretation exhibition
On view Jan. 17 through March 28 Blaffer Gallery, 120 Fine Arts Building, University of Houston, Entrance 16 off Cullen Boulevard For more information, contact Blaffer Gallery: 713-743-9521, www.blaffergallery.org
"Texas Oil" will be the CLUI's first major exhibition in Texas. It will include photographs and informational texts on approximately 50 Texas sites that the CLUI has framed as discrete anecdotes in the overarching story of how oil has sculpted the state's terrain.
- Buffalo Bayou boat tours, field station site visits and public talks For more information, call the Mitchell Center Hotline: 713-743-5548, www.mitchellcenterforarts.org
The Mitchell Center and Buffalo Bayou Partnership will present boat tours and public talks with members of the CLUI and other special guests, plus site visits of the CLUI field station.
- New commission from the CLUI and SIMPARCH
For more information, call the Mitchell Center Hotline: 713-743-5548, www.mitchellcenterforarts.org
The Mitchell Center and Buffalo Bayou Partnership have co-commissioned a project from the CLUI and SIMPARCH, a design/build collective that examines simple architecture, building practices, site specificity and materials that may be salvaged, recycled or brought together with a "do-it-yourself" attitude. The commission is a floating platform and multifunctional space -- a small buoyant landmass that will serve as a creative context for related programs based out of the Buffalo Bayou field office. The platform will be available for the CLUI to use for interpretive programs along the waterway; as a utilitarian work-boat for salvage, placement and transportation of artifacts; for other activities, such as water sampling and treatment technologies; and for SIMPARCH to explore autonomous living systems.
- Film screening with Aurora Picture Show
For more information, contact Aurora Picture Show: 713-868-2101, www.aurorapictureshow.org
The CLUI and Aurora Picture Show, a non-profit cinema house dedicated to non-commercial film, video and media, will co-present an outdoor screening of oil industry-related films on the bayou.
- "Grand Tour"boat excursion
For more information, contact Buffalo Bayou Partnership: 713-752-0314, www.buffalobayou.org
The CLUI and Buffalo Bayou Partnership will host the "rand Tour" boat tour from downtown Houston to the San Jacinto Monument. In the tradition of the CLUI's land-based tours, the "Grand Tour" will be custom-designed and include pre-arranged encounters within the larger urban and industrial environments that surround the bayou.
The Center for Land Use Interpretation's exhibition "Texas Oil: Landscape of an Industry" is organized by Rachel Hooper, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Curatorial Fellow at Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston. The exhibition and publication are presented in collaboration with the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.
About Blaffer Gallery:
Founded in 1973, Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston, was named in honor of the late Sarah Campbell Blaffer, a noted Houston arts patron and collector. Since its inception, the museum has been a vital force in the presentation and promotion of contemporary visual arts in Houston. Blaffer Gallery is located in the Fine Arts Building on the University of Houston's central campus, entrance 16 off Cullen Boulevard. It is free and open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Sundays, Mondays and University holidays. The museum is ADA compliant. For general inquiries, please call 713-743-9530, or visit the museum online at www.blaffergallery.org.
About Buffalo Bayou Partnership:
The Buffalo Bayou Partnership is a non-profit organization that oversees Buffalo Bayou improvements. Buffalo Bayou Partnership coordinates the integration of major amenities into the Bayou greenbelt and seeks ways to increase community involvement through pedestrian, boating and biking amenities, permanent and temporary art installations and other natural and built attractions. For general inquiries, please call 713-752-0314, or visit Buffalo Bayou Partnership online at www.buffalobayou.org.
About the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts:
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts cultivates interdisciplinary collaboration in the performing, visual and literary arts. From its base at the University of Houston, the Mitchell Center offers public events, residencies and courses that fuse artistic disciplines, ignite dialogue and present new ways of experiencing the arts in contemporary life. The Mitchell Center forms an alliance among five units at the University of Houston: The School of Art, Creative Writing Program, Moores School of Music, School of Theatre and Dance, and Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston. For general inquiries, please call 713-743-5548, or visit the Mitchell Center online at www.mitchellcenterforarts.org.
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.