By JOHN DeMERS
When the going gets great, I get going. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the minute I start home to Houston from Marfa, the world-famous Chinati Foundation is kicking off its annual Chinati Weekend. The event draws modern art lovers from all over America – indeed from all over the world – so of course I won’t be there. But I’ll tell you about it, in case you’re interested in going.
Next weekend, the Chinati is re-opening of Donald Judd’s Freestanding Works in Concrete, accompanied by exhibitions of drawings by Judd and a selection of his horizontal wall works. The concrete pieces, Judd’s largest and most ambitious outdoor project, have received an extensive conservation treatment over the past two years. To mark the occasion, the foundation is hosting this special weekend featuring a series of talks on these works and their conservation treatment; an exhibition of seldom-displayed Judd works from the museum’s permanent collection; a two-part exhibition by Chinati Artist in Residence Alex Schweder; and a free concert Saturday night by Dan Deacon.
When Donald Judd started plans for the Chinati Foundation in the late ’70s, he was not only rethinking the concept of the museum as such, he was also embarking on two of his most ambitious works of art. Judd’s 100 works in mill aluminum and his fifteen outdoor concrete pieces were each huge undertakings in terms of their conception, realization, and financial backing, and each took between four to six years to complete.
Donald Judd created his fifteen untitled works in concrete between 1980 and 1984. Each of the fifteen works has different dimensions and is comprised of between two and six individual units. They were designed for the only level area on the museum’s campus—a stretch of roughly 1,000 meters, or one kilometer, on the east side of the property running on a north/south axis.
As a result of variations in the original construction methods and insufficient supporting engineering, six of the fifteen works were determined to need extensive conservation, including new footings. With this procedure accomplished, these six works were plumbed for structural stabilization. All fifteen works have received surface treatment, including cleaning to remove general soiling, iron stains, efflorescence and other discolorations. With generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Brown Foundation, the Vaughan Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Friends of Heritage Preservation as well as Chinati’s Friends and Members, the conservation project has been successfully concluded.
On Saturday at 3:00 PM at the Crowley Theatre, a roster of speakers will discuss the conservation project, give an overview of all of Donald Judd’s work in concrete, and specifically address the installation at Chinati. Participants will include James Lawrence, critic and historian of postwar and contemporary art; Francesca Esmay, formerly with Chinati, currently the Conservator for the Dia Art Foundation; Bettina Landgrebe, Chinati’s Conservator; and Richard Shiff, Professor of Art History and Director of the Center for the Study of Modernism at the University of Texas at Austin. Lectures will be webcast live on Chinati’s website.
Chinati will present an exhibition of Donald Judd’s drawings made in preparation for the fifteen works in concrete, as well as a selection (drawn from the museum’s collection, though not permanently on view) of his colorful horizontal wall works (the longest running over 21 feet) in aluminum, brass, galvanized iron, and other materials. Often referred to as “progressions,” this type of piece was first introduced by Judd in 1964. Nine works that were made in 1979-80 will be exhibited.
Chinati Artist in Residence Alex Schweder will exhibit new work in the Ice Plant and the Locker Plant. In recent years Schweder has exhibited examples of what he calls “performance architecture”—exploring the permeability between buildings and the bodies that occupy them—at many different venues in the US and abroad. Schweder’s exhibitions at the Ice Plant and the Locker Plant were designed specifically for those locales, and both invite or allow for the active participation of visitors/viewers. Both exhibitions will be open this Thursday from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. The Ice Plant will be open again Saturday night the Locker Plant will be open Saturday and Sunday.
At 10:00 PM on Saturday night, Dan Deacon will give a free concert under the shade structure in downtown Marfa. The Baltimore-based Deacon is a conservatory-trained musician who has released several albums of beat-heavy electronic music (most recently Bromst on the Carpark label earlier this year) and whose live shows are becoming widely known for their carnivalesque quality featuring a great deal of Deacon-directed audience participation. In Marfa, Deacon will be performing solo (accompanied by his laptop, iPods, electronics, and speakers). The Providence and Baltimore-based band Nuclear Power Pants will open the show.
Works by Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and John Chamberlain, as well as by Carl Andre, Ingólfur Arnarsson, Roni Horn, Ilya Kabakov, Richard Long, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, David Rabinowitch, and John Wesley will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM.
On Friday, October 9 at 5:00 PM, there will be a preview, with cocktails and live bagpipe music, of Donald Judd’s restored works in concrete, followed by a dinner to benefit the museum. The dinner, catered by Shelley Hudson and Food Company of Dallas, will be held at 7:00 PM in the Arena. Tickets are $300 per person ($200 Big Bend-area residents) and seating is limited. For on-line reservations, please click here. For any questions or concerns, please email email@example.com or call the Chinati Foundation office at 432 729 4362.