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Bill Arning, "Texas Eccentrics and Queer Renegades: A Curatorial Love Story"
Oct 21, 2019, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
As a curator, art writer and museum administrator, Bill Arning's path has been unpredictable. Growing up as a teenage punk musician in New York City and coming of age as a gay man in the age of AIDS, his history of working closely with artists early in their careers is legendary. Felix Gonzalez Torres, Marilyn Minter, Jim Hodges, Jack Pierson, Cady Noland, John Currin and Glenn Ligon are among the many now celebrated artists whose first exhibitions were organized by Arning.
In New York City running White Columns, a not for profit alternative space from 1984-1993, Arning became known as one of the curators focused on AIDS, as well and on the expanding discussions around identity, the beginnings of institutional critique and what became known as relational aesthetics. From 2000-2009, as exhibitions curator at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, that tag shifted to being an art/science curator with a specialty on the genesis of what was called "new media." During his years at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, his public profile was tied specifically to feminist painting, with exhibitions of Marilyn Minter and Cheryl Donegan, and continuing to his upcoming Mary Weatherford retrospective, co-curated with the Tang Museum. He enthusiastically gave a national platform to Houston artists like Mark Flood and Thedra Cullar-Ledford. And participating in the global celebrations of Stonewall 50, Arning organized queer-themed shows in Houston, Manchester, UK, and New York, all the while encouraging artistic misbehavior and gleefully risking giving offense. The queer punk rocker has not changed much at all. Arning's talk is guaranteed to give offense to some and encourage the provocative proclivities of many others.