December 4, 2023

Blaffer Art Museum turns 50 with cutting-edge art

‘Intimate confession’ Chiffon Thomas, Etheric Plane, Benvenuto Chavajay. (green person)

The Greater Southeast Management District, known as Houston Southeast for short, is home to several world-class museums. But there is a lesser-known gem of contemporary art that is also a must-see.

Welcome to the University of Houston’s Blaffer Museum of Art, a teaching tool for art students and an exhibit space for cutting-edge works that is always free to the public. Now the museum is celebrating its 50 year with a gala and dance party.

The Blaffer Museum was named for Sarah Campbell Blaffer, who loaned her vast collection of art to the university. Part of the Katherine G. McGovern College of the Arts, the Blaffer has hosted more than 250 exhibits and won several awards, including the 2009 Coming Up Taller Award by the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.

Steven Matijcio is Blaffer’s director and chief curator.

“I have been at the Blaffer since March 2019,” says Matijcio, “and the two events that stand out most for me during my tenure are organizing and touring the Jamal Cyrus survey exhibition The End of My Beginning in 2021, which was accompanied by the artist’s first major catalog. Jamal is a Houston-born and Houston-based artist, and it was incredibly rewarding to afford him and his work the recognition is so deserves.

“And there was working with DJ Sun (Andre Samsin) and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts to present the Loveletter Orchestra at the Moores Opera House at UH. This was a multimedia performance event to celebrate the launch of DJ Sun’s new studio release, and we sold out every seat in this beautiful building.”

Photo: Francisco Ramos, courtesy Blaffer Art Museum

The current exhibit, through March 10, is Intimate confession is a project, a group exhibition that considers transmission, intergenerational life, and cultural inheritance through the prism of intimacy and infrastructure. The title of the exhibit comes from a line in a sonnet by poet Juliana Spahr and refers to group dynamics.

“What I like most about our current exhibition, guest curated by Jennifer Teets, is the way that it locates the very human core of many structures and operations we encounter on daily basis,”  Matijcio said. “Her thesis centers upon the relationship between intimacy and infrastructure, and I enjoy how this concept is animated with very handmade textural elements throughout the show, from model homes crafted from Bibles to intricately woven copper wire.”

Blaffer Museum of Art hours are 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. There are free parking spaces in a lot across the street from the museum entrance, and it’s just a 12-minute walk from the nearest METRO station.
4173 Elgin Street
Houston, TX 77204

— by Marene Gustin