Curated by Judy Pfaff
As a boy I collected stamps. For several years, we lived two blocks from my maternal grandmother who gave me my first stamps and stamp book before I started elementary school. After we moved away, frequently I would receive lavender scented envelopes in the mail filled with beautiful stamps. In my teens, my paternal grandmother became the Postmaster of Encinal, TX. I loved going to the old wooden clapboard post office on the town square; the feeling it had was incredible. The building was the hub of local communication with people coming to pick up or drop off their mail while sharing the latest gossip. Occasionally I was allowed to help put the mail in the boxes and I would examine the stamps on the envelopes, hoping to see something new or from a far off exotic place.
I never lost that attraction. I love the way stamps have the ability to travel around the world, miniature pieces of art, often barely noticed. Today I buy commemorative stamps to use for my postage. Commemorative stamps were conceived as a way of celebrating great individuals, as well as high ideals, values and achievements of society. In my eyes, those values have disappeared, replaced instead by corruption, greed and cruelty. Therefore, it seems to be a natural choice for me to use the form of a stamp as a way to "commemorate" these new qualities and values. My first stamp "commemorating" the 2000 presidential election carried an image of George W.Bush, crowned and decorated, with the words "Idiot King" emblazoned on his chest. Created on the computer, laid out in grids and perforated using a manual machine from 1918, these tiny art works could be pulled apart and given away, a simple means of distribution.
This installation recreates the old post office where I spent so much time as a child. To me, it represents the disconnect between the past "ideal" and the loss of trust, privacy and human rights that I see today. Much of the installation is made from cardboard covered with an encaustic paint, infused with a bit of lavender oil to bring back those warm memories of my grandmother and simpler, idyllic times. The post office doors and working vending machines were purchased on eBay. The vending machines sell my stamps.
by Judy Pfaff
Arriving in Houston, TX early in 2007, landing at the George Bush Airport, passing Halliburton's headquarters, on my way to Rice University Art Gallery, I remember feeling a certain apprehension. I was not in liberal territory anymore. I think back now at how fortuitous and prophetic it was to meet David Krueger. He was the preparator for The Rice University Art gallery, the kind of person whose job it is to facilitate the construction and success of the installations of the invited artists. I found in him a curious character, humble and intense, and over the two weeks we worked together, he was inordinately helpful to me. The first works that I saw of his were in his office, casually up on the walls, looking like wallpaper. They were postage stamps or more accurately, facsimiles of postage stamps, convincing enough to be government issued. Upon inspection they were not as expected, offering up a scathing critique of the current administration.
His political outrage has been, it seems, evolving and increasing for some time. Ironically, he is an extremely gentle man, empathic, soft spoken and generous. He cuts an un-stereotypical image of political radical. There was another more personal aspect to my choice. When I was quite young I lived in Sweetwater, TX with my Air Force husband during the Vietnam War. It was a strange time and I was in an equally strange landscape ? dry, red, harsh to the touch, a landscape unfamiliar to me. David Krueger was born in Odessa, TX. He is indelibly Texan, the likes of whom I did not meet in the 1960's. Some of the violence that was my experience was mirrored in his experience ? violence that he endured in his own life. So forty years later, I get to revisit and find an artist who gives imagery to the lunacy of our policies then and now, full circle.
I had been approached by CUE Art Foundation to select an artist for an exhibition. Seemingly an easy decision since I know so many young, incredibly talented, deserving artists from teaching for so many years and from my own life as an artist. It was not easy. If the right time and place means anything, choosing David was, to me, obvious once I understood his specific story and his relative anonymity in the art world. I find his work timely and personal, talking and working out ideas within a structure variable enough to include all that passed in his life and the world at large. His work does make me shudder and it finds its way inside ? funny and angry. This installation of David's has this other ingredient, being a flashback to his small-town post office. I think this show is timely and has poignancy to provoke more thought.
David Krueger was born in Odessa, TX. He received his MFA from the University of Houston, TX in 2003. His solo exhibitions include Nature/Nurture (2005), Commerce Street Art Warehouse, Houston, TX and Parallel Lives (2001), ArtCar Museum, Houston, TX. Group exhibitions include, My God Wants to Kill Your God, Rice University Media Center, Houston, TX; Frontera 450+, Station Museum, Houston, TX; unReal, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX; Red Fall, Station Museum, Houston, TX; Spacemakers, The Suburban Political Poster Project, Space for Contemporary Art, Munich, Germany; Secret Wars, ArtCar Museum and Great Texas Shootout, Houston Center for Photography, Houston, TX. Krueger is the Preparator for the Rice University Art Gallery, Houston, TX. The exhibition at CUE Art Foundation marks Krueger's first solo show in New York.
Judy Pfaff was born in London, England. She received her MFA from Yale University, New Haven, CT in 1973. Pfaff is currently the Richard B. Fisher Professor of Art at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY since 1994 ? present. Her solo exhibitions began in 1974 at Artists Space, New York, NY and continued with the Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, NY from 1979 ? 1990. She has made site-specific work for the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; USA Representative to the 1998 Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art; Tate Gallery, London, UK; Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; Detroit Institute of Arts and others. Her work has been commissioned by the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA; the GTE Corporation, Irving, TX; Wacoal, Tokyo, Japan and set design for Brooklyn Academy of Music, NY and the opera, Regina, commissioned by the American Symphony Orchestra, Fisher Center, Bard College. Pfaff was the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship in 2004 and is presently represented by the Ameringer & Yohe Fine Art, New York, NY.