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Window into Houston: Gabriel Martinez


May 3-August 1, 2012
Public Opening Reception on May 2, 2012 from 6:30-8pm
110 Milam in downtown Houston

Gabriel Martinez is interested in the social dynamics of public spaces, making his site-specific installation Recognition a perfect fit for Window into Houston, a public art project founded by Blaffer Art Museum in the spring of 2011. Martinez’s art primarily exists outside the gallery environment and takes the form of interventions in sites as varied as public seating, city water drainage, unused plots of land, parks, bootleg markets, and sidewalks. For Martinez, what connects these spaces is the fact that they are occupied and used by many different types of audiences, none of which will experience his work in the same way. As a result, the broad and often unnoticed structures that regulate social behavior and determine public access are opened up for contestation and potential change.

To realize Recognition, Martinez helped himself to a disposable camera at one of the world’s largest chain retail conglomerates with which he took close-up photographs of clothing for sale and then processed the film at the store’s one-hour photo department. The resulting images form the background for Martinez’s musings on the history of sidewalks, commerce, window display, and the role consumer desire plays in shaping the behavioral codes of public engagement. The text combines original writing by the artist with citations from critically relevant sources on these topics. By presenting these notations as footnotes, Martinez draws attention to the contextual conditions of the piece that are as important as its aesthetic manifestation. While research is a central part of many an artist’s practice, for Martinez it is as essential as the aesthetic object created in the process. In Recognition, Martinez superimposes texts and images to highlight the fact that, while often unread or unseen, crucial information is hidden in the fringes and deserves our attention.

Gabriel Martinez is a CORE Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and an artist in residence at Project Row Houses. He received his MFA from Columbia University in 2009 and in 2010 participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York City.

Launched in 2011, Window into Houston is a series of site-specific exhibitions commissioned by Blaffer Art Museum in Downtown Houston. Housed in the storefront windows of a historic brewery turned private residence, Window into Houston takes contemporary art to the street to engage a broad and diverse audience in the creative process. This highly public setting provides artists a unique platform for the creation of new work in response to the site and its location in downtown Houston and offers passersby ever new and fresh perspectives on the most recent developments in contemporary art made in and for Houston.