The BIG Show 2017- Lawndale Arts Center
by Betsy Huete
For this year’s Big Show, Lawndale in Houston broke with tradition by having local curator Toby Kamps organize it instead shipping in a curator from elsewhere. For all the conceivable pitfalls and controversy that comes along with using Kamps, the payoff is huge: organizing works in vine-like clusters, Kamps transformed what is usually a roving mess of a show into tight groups of like-minded works that pinged off each other in silent conversation. The works ebb and flow along the large walls of the O’Quinn Gallery; Kamps demonstrated comfort and familiarity with the architecture. He clearly recruited veterans and heavy-weights into the show, which gave us a more diversified and respectful view of Houston’s art scene as it actually is, versus the folksy, small-town eccentric stereotype that outside curators tend to reduce it to.
With that out there, the show is too good. It looks like it was more primed for the CAMH than your average Big Show. It’s an obnoxious thing to admit, but to a certain extent it’s also true: I felt a pang of longing for the delicious, amateur-hour bonanza that makes up a typical Big Show. But really, I’ll take this embarrassment of riches over a diamond in the rough.