Untitled (space obstruction), 2012, acrylic, spray paint, collage on stretched fabric, 22 x 20 in.

A.  I made this painting on a bed sheet I bought at a junk store. It’s made from acrylic and spray paint and little scraps and pieces of paper that kind of accumulate around my studio.

A. I think the drawings of artist Bill Traylor have really influenced the body of work I’m doing now. He seemed to obsessively bind these characters chasing each other with axes and canes together by some non-descript structural element in many of his pieces. The work takes on this dark totemic weirdness that I find really attractive.

A. My girlfriend once told me she had heard the native people of this region put a curse on us whiteys to make it so that no matter how hard you try to leave, this place will always suck you back in. I plan on tempting the fates someday. This town’s been good to me though.

Dylan is a fourth year BFA student in the UH painting department.


Dog Ladder, 2012, 30 x 80 in., acrylic on assorted paper

A. The tallness should've been taller but my ceiling is only 8 ft. The stacked dogs provide a ladder for a bank robbery. They look to you to climb them and get rich. I know it would even better if there were more of them. This way you can only imagine how tall that wall would be. At this point the height really only allows you to imagine breaking into a regional bank.

Either way, you are going to have more money at the end of the day.

A. Over the course of my new application techniques (where I collage images in) the paper is bending into higher and higher reliefs. Which makes me believe these things will eventually just have to become sculptural. In any case, I have no idea where the images come from or how they evolve into a finished piece. I knew I wanted a stack of dogs after I watched the film "Thief" but had no direction to how it would actually look. It ended up working out ok.

A. Houston is cool because we have pool weather for so long yet everyone bitches about it. If I was everyone, I'd post up by a pool and talk to your friends. The internet has made the American cultural conversation expand outside of traditional hubs which allows for artists and art related people have a strong connection to that conversation while paying less in living. Plus, it's a fun place with no presumption about who you need to be.



Chair, 2012, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 in.
A. I painted it with oil paint on canvas using brushes.

A. n/a

A. really like most of the people I know.

See this painting in Staring at the Wall: The Art of Boredom curated by Katia Zavistovski, opening Friday, November 30, 2012 at Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main Street.


Untitled (Ribbon), 2012, Fabric on Canvas, 14 x 11 in.
A. Here is a fabric painting of a rugby shirt. It came from Experienced Goods, a thrift store in my old town of Brattleboro VT.
A. I saw the shirt. And I was obsessed with the three lines. As much as you can be obsessed with three lines. It wound up being a part of a series of fabric paintings based on materials collected from the area. One came from a shirt left in a free-pile by Chris Weisman. Another was from a blanket given to me by Abby Banks. They end up telling a story, I think, when they're all together. But separate, they just sit their quietly.
Untitled (Moire), 2012, Fabric on Canvas, 14 x 11 in.

A. I moved back to Houston a month and a half ago. It's really something, being closer to the equator. Texas is a loud talker. When it walks in the room you know it's there.

Jonathan Ryan Storm


Clockwise from left:
Open Range, 2012, collage on paper, 17x21in.
Between, 2012, collage on paper, film overlay, 6x8in.
Pull, 2012, collage on paper, 17x13in.
Sky Split, 2012, collage on paper, 17x21in.
Catch, 2012, collage on paper, 9x11in.
Drift, 2012, collage on paper, 8x6in.

A. This is a group of collages I’ve been working on recently for a show. They are made of cut magazines and photographs on paper. Two of them have a film overlay that obscures the image behind it when viewed from different angles. I grouped these pieces together similarly to how I work on the collages individually—I think about the space in between the images, how the forms relate to one another, and the scale of the parts to the whole. I’m interested in finding a balance between representation and abstraction, and activating the space of the paper. Some of these pieces, like Pull and Drift, are made using a single image that is cut and rearranged into a pattern. Sky Split is made of multiple source images, which results in a simultaneous depth and flatness.

Open Range, 2012, collage on paper, 17x21in. 
A. I think about travel and wanderlust a lot. I’m drawn to images of landscapes and architectural spaces and collect old photographs and National Geographics. I cut thes! into bits and pieces that hang around my studio untilthey make their way into a collage. When I first started working this way, the pieces were arranged in clusters on the paper. Now, they are spreading out across the surface, and I’m more considerate of edges and negative space. Lately I have been introducing different films and light into the work to play with distorting the image, and working directly on the wall.

A. I came to Houston from Cleveland, Ohio for an MFA at the University of Houston. One of my professors in undergrad recommended the program to me. A lot of people are surprised that I moved here for art, but the art scene in Houston is great. There are a ton of museums and galleries, and the Rothko Chapel is within walking distance from my apartment. I also hate the cold, and am excited to experience a winter with minimal snow.

Melinda Laszczynski is a first year graduate student in the Painting department at University of Houston. More here: melindalaszczynski.com


Tierfalle, 2012Linen and paper on wood, 10 x 24 in.
A. The formal qualities are mostly relegated to the idiosyncrasies the work's respective media.

A. The impetus was my misreading of Jessica Ninci's sketchbook. She had made a quick scribble, which I learned afterwards were two hypothetical canvases.

A. Houston affords many more opportunities than my hometown. I've never walked as much as I do now.

John Forse is a second year graduate student in the MFA Painting program at University of Houston. More here: flickr.com/photos/johnforse/


Man on Wall, 2012, Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 48 in.
A. This is a weird painting of a man standing on a brick wall. It is acrylic on canvas and is 72 inches by 48 inches. I can't reveal how I made it. If I did then everyone would start to paint like me and the order of the universe will go out of sync and chaos will reign.

A. This painting has many reference points. One source are these ancient statues that depicted men and women crouching down. One shows a woman crouching down with two dog men with large penises on both sides of the woman. I thought it was such an interesting image and I repeatedly drew them in a sketchbook with both my hands moving at the same time, mirroring each other. I kept breaking the image down and noticed that I kept drawing men that looked like babies with large muscles. I thought they were very funny and was also making a lot of paintings of brick walls at the time. I decided to combine the two into a painting. The second source is probably shocking to some, but it's Henri Matisse. I was and still am very obsessed with Matisse's early paintings. They are such beautiful images and I got sucked into his world full of beautiful apartments, oriental rugs, models, children playing the piano, the quotidian elevated to such a high level. I really wanted to make paintings like his. But the more I thought about it, I realized that that was his life. I couldn't try to force myself to paint as if I lived in Nice with my wife and had models come over to pose every day. And I thought that maybe there were already too many paintings of beautiful nude women in the world. I realized that my painting of this man baby had to go against Matisse. I was thinking of this man as older, a sort of Ubermensch with flowing and thinning golden hair. He had to have large muscles that were somehow completely anatomically impossible and absurd. And he had to have white skin. White people are evil, like most people are, but we've been in control for so long and look how fucked up the world is as a result. I want to make fun of that strength, of having our greasy paws on the button that could end it all. And to me the only way to approach all this is with humor. Nicanor Parra said it best, "Real seriousness rests in the comic." And the last reference point I will mention is the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz. He had a similar philosophical world view that reminds me of Baudelaire's dichotomy  between the Spleen vs. the Ideal. Gombrowicz writes about our faults and creates beautifully absurd stories of never ending human misunderstanding and immaturity. I have been blown away by his diaries that he wrote for over 20 years as an exile in Buenos Aires to escape the second World War. I think this sums up a lot of the things I've addressed with my work over the last two and a half years: 

"Nietzscheism and its affirmation of life? Why Nietzsche didn't have the least idea about these things, it is difficult to imagine something more tawdry, ridiculous, or in worst taste than his superman and his young human beast, no, it's not true, not completeness, but inadequacy, worseness, inferiority, immaturity are appropriate to that which is still young. i.e. alive. Then I was not yet aware that various existentialisms (which did not become well known until after the war) were battering their brains over difficulties similar to mine, tied to the desire to understand life in the raw, in motion. Try to understand my loneliness and the internal contradiction which became a crack throughout my entire artistic undertaking: as an artist I was called to strive for perfection, but I was drawn to imperfection: I was supposed to create values, however something like subvalue or imperfect value was what I really valued. I exchanged the Venus de Milo, Apollo, the Parthenon, the Sistine Chapel and all the Bach fugues for one trivial joke expressed with the lips of those related to degradation, with lips that were themselves degraded..."
I think that sort of sums up this painting. But I try not to really think about what my art means, or why I make it. It takes the fun out of it all when you reason in a circle. I usually just end up dizzy.

A. First of all, I want to say fuck you to Houston. Wait, no, I take that back. I just came home from a wonderful bike ride through North Boulevard and South Boulevard, and then along the bike track at Rice University. The beautiful big trees along the Boulevards brought my mind into the sublime realm. The warm wet air was caressing my body as the breeze blew through me into the dark night. I listened to Frank Ocean's album that got me through another sizzling Summer. The quiet night was slumbering in the neighborhood that I will never live in due to the financial instability that I endure for the curse of art that bit me so long ago. It was somewhat wet since it rained earlier in the day, and you could feel the moisture from the rain in the air. I thought about Houston and my last 8 years here. I thought about my friends and how they are truly geniuses. The love I felt for them made me feel like I was the strongest man in the universe. I have no idea why I'm here. I hated the first few years of my exile in Houston. But then I met people that I thought were amazing and they continue to astonish me with their talent, intellect and wit. They are what make this hellhole tolerable. It took me a long time to embrace Houston for it's ugly exterior. I had an epiphany a long time ago about Baudelaire and his Paris Spleen. I began to accept and love Houston for its lack of aesthetic inspiration. The strip malls, the fat people at Tex Mex restaurants, the concrete covered streets that seem to be nothing more than an ongoing abyss, these are the things that motivate me now. I go to other cities and meet other young art kids and when they ask me where I'm from, and I tell them Houston, it's always a look of astonishment that overtakes their face. I often explain that Houston is the fourth largest city in the nation and that there are so many amazing things happening here. They usually respond by saying, "Well I hear Austin is cool." And I usually say, "Fuck Austin. It's not that cool. Nothing more than trust fund hippies and digital bongs and hacky sack tournaments. It's a college town after all." Nobody ever seems convinced, but it's not my goal to prove anyone wrong. They will never visit Houston, and I don't blame them for their lack of interest. The art scene is there, it's happening, but I don't always feel like that is where the interesting things are going down. And the Menil is in my backyard and that is one of my favorite places on earth. But I don't really see myself here for the rest of my days. The more I travel, the more intrigued I feel by other places. So I love Houston and hate it at the same time. I also wish there were more spaces like the Joanna in Houston. Young artists, get your shit together. Let's make these Houston art world dinosaurs cringe through our art. Let's make them feel old and out of touch. They should feel uncomfortable because we won't go away. We won't quit. We won't let their lack of interest discourage. I am here and I refuse to sit back quietly while these core fellow assholes have their cake and eat it too. Let's fuck shit up. I want to see 15 Rimbauds at the next Main Street opening trying to stab the rich collector fucks while drunkenly dancing through the gallery spaces. Maybe they can sing songs in the most abhorrent voices imaginable. Remember, you only have to piss in the ocean to make the sea rise. So let's start pissing!!!!!!!!!

Lane Hagood is a novelist, poet, artist, animator and most recently a recipient of the MacArthur genius grant. He was born in Paris, France in 1992 and has lived in Houston for the last 8 years. Critics have hailed his thought paintings for their originality and banality. It was recently discovered that Hagood is the reincarnation of Orson Welles and Arthur Rimbaud. Although many sources have been proven, the fact of this reincarnation has been debated among critics and scholars alike. In 2014, the Menil Collection is set to unveil its most recent single artist gallery space dedicated to Hagood's thought paintings, created under the rational derangement of the senses in an artistic seance where Hagood becomes James Ensor, and channels the paintings through his fingertips. Hagood is also the director of The Lane Hagood Collection, a small museum inside his apartment. A selection of Hagood's recent works can be seen at the Pan Art Fair at the Embassy Suites in room 307 from October 18 at 6pm to October 21. Please bring him some money... panartfair.com


Waiting for To Go, 2012, oil on canvas, 12 x 9 in. (L) 
So Damn Early, 2012, acrylic latex and spray paint on canvas, 42 x 42 in. (R)
A. The larger painting on the square canvas is made from materials I've been playing with in the studio for a while now—house paint and spray paint. When I first started making these spray paint pieces, I was approaching them as paintings of drawings. Areas are cropped to look like paper. They're specific in their scale and shape, sometimes mimicking a particular piece of paper lying around in the studio. The paint is built up on the canvas to have a raised edge and this is where it starts to look trompe l'oeil, like a rendered or invented collage. Within these fields, which are usually hard edged and carefully painted, are more spontaneous and gestural marks executed in spray paint. I like the duality created from abstract mark-making within a controlled compositional space. This painting gets a bit playful with that pink edge. The smaller painting is dealing with much newer problems I've been thinking up for myself in my studio. I don't have a language for that one yet, but the materials are simple—oil on canvas and small in scale.

A. These paintings are coupled together temporarily for a show. I thought they had a nice dialogue and the pink edge on the larger painting starts to attach itself to the smaller one. This happens a lot in my studioworks start to attach themselves to others. I think it's because I don't work in terms of "series". I work from one piece to the next, solving a problem while creating a new one. I don't have grand conceptual questions, instead I have small questions of what it means to be in a studio and making.

A. Why Houston? I was born and raised here. I've traveled but I've always lived here. The city works for me and perhaps I've grown attached. Ultimately, I'm sure I'll end up living and working in other cities but Houston will always feel like my center, a place around which to circumnavigate like the center of a compass.

Jessica Ninci is in her third year at the MFA program at University of Houston. Her work will be included in the exhibition, HOWBOUTNOW: University of Houston Graduate Painting, opening Friday, October 12 at 4411 Montrose.

Jessica's flickr site here