July 13 – October 6, 2019

Opening Reception Saturday, July 13, 2019
6:00 – 9:00 PM
Artist talks at 6:30 PM

1878 & Brown Foundation Galleries

Exchange Rate

Featuring work by Corey Ackelmire, Mike Beradino, Rene Cruz, Kevin Curry, Kathy Hall, Mary Jeys, Virginia Lee Montgomery, Ken Little, Deborah Mersky, Phillip Pyle II, Dan Tague, The Art Guys, and Anthony Thompson Shumate

Exchange Rate features artists who incorporate currency in their work as material and subject matter. Playing on the location of GAC’s home in the 1878 First National Bank Building and The Strand’s history as the “Wall Street of the South,” the artists in the exhibition address commercial systems of trade, value, and labor represented in paper, metal, plastic, and digital media. Addressing personal relationships to currency and the exchange of goods, services, and the accumulation of wealth, worth, and, value, this exhibition aims to give insights into the work of artists connected to the region who each take individual approaches to address this medium of exchange in their work.

About the artists:

Corey Ackelmire

As a metalsmith, Corey Ackelmire is interested in how people make, keep, alter, and use objects for emotional, superstitious, and practical purposes. Metal objects, from common currency to silver spoons, tend to be both durable and malleable, common and sacred, sentimental, and mundane. Exploring their place in material culture is the focus of her work.

Ackelmire earned her BFA in jewelry and metalsmithing from Missouri State University in 2003 and her MFA in jewelry/metals/enameling from Kent State University in 2007. She has been an educator since 2005, is a published author, and has exhibited her work in numerous national and international exhibitions. Currently, she is a full-time instructor and the Visual Art Program coordinator at Houston Community College in Houston, Texas.


Image: Corey Ackelmire, #betterangelsproject, 2019, Wood and copper pennies

Mike Beradino

Mike Beradino is an artist and educator based in Houston, TX. His work has been featured in exhibitions at Art Palace, Houston; Postmasters Gallery, New York; the National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA; the EMERGEncy Room at Rice University; and Lawndale Art Center, Houston. He has taught higher education courses including digital art and physical computing for the last decade. Currently he instructs Computer Science at The Post Oak High School. He has worked with the teen digital culture program at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston called hang@MFAH since the program’s inception in 2012. In his work, Beradino combines the successes and failures of technological advancement to manipulate the history of consumer technology prompting questions about digital mediation, the functional obsolete, and our collective notion of progress. Beradino holds a BFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago & MFA from Parsons, The New School of Design.


Rene Cruz

Rene Cruz is an artist, illustrator, and graphic designer based in Houston, TX. In his work he frequently employs blind-contour drawing processes, recreating well known illustrations of popular culture figures. His work has been included in exhibitions at Art Palace, Houston; Rudolf Blume Fine Art / Art Scan Gallery; The Joanna, Houston; Domy Books, Houston; and Flight Gallery, San Antonio. The exhibition will include a series of “blind-drawn” coins that are included in a public art installation by artist Elaine Bradford at the H-E-B Heights Houston grocery store.


Image: Rene Cruz, PENNY, 2018, Ink and bronze spray paint on wood

Kevin Curry

Kevin Curry received his BFA in Graphic Design from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, and after working as an Art Director in New York and Philadelphia, started his own design & Illustration business before receiving his MFA in Sculpture from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois in 2008. Curry has completed multiple artist residencies, including residencies at Grand Canyon National Park; Redline, Denver, CO; Platteforum, Denver; Art342, Ft. Collins, CO; and Lawndale Arts Center, Houston, TX. His work has been included in group and solo exhibitions throughout the US, as well as public art commissions for the city of Denver. Curry has held teaching positions at the University of Denver, Regis University, and Baylor University. He is currently a professor at Florida State University.


Image: Kevin Curry, Value Added (Abraham Lincoln – detail), 2011, US Currency

Kathy Hall

Kathy Hall is an artist based in Houston, TX. She received her BFA and MFA from the University of Houston. Her works have been included in group and solo exhibitions throughout Texas, including exhibitions at the Art Car Museum, Art League Houston, DiverseWorks, Marfa Studio Art, Lawndale Art Center, and Galveston Arts Center. Hall is well known for the installations she creates in her front yard in the West University neighborhood of Houston in collaboration with her neighbors. Her works are in numerous collections including works commissioned by the Federal Reserve Bank, Houston Branch.

Image: Kathy Hall, Anonymous Interior (detail), Paper currency and glue

Mary Jeys

Mary Jeys is a multi-media artist and activist. She has worked to promote social change in non-fiction media settings including a non-profit documentary production company, Aubin Pictures, Inc.; Hunter College’s Integrated Media Arts MFA program; and the School of Visual Arts with CUNY Graduate Center that respectively sponsored and hosted Where the Truth Lies, a conference on propaganda. She has participated in creative research opportunities including The Laundromat Project’s Create Change Professional Development Fellowship and LMCC’s Swing Space in New York. She has received grants from FEAST in Brooklyn and Macktez. As a guest speaker, she has been invited to talk at Parsons The New School for Design’s MFA program in Transdisciplinary Design and The Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program’s Fix It Yourself Lectures. She received her BFA from the University of Texas at Austin.

Jeys’ notable projects include founding a local currency for north Brooklyn, NY called The Brooklyn Torch. A local currency is a method of trading goods and services meant to supplement other means of trade while improving the community wealth. Local currencies circulate in a defined region. Money does not leave the area because trade is restricted by the currency boundaries.


Virginia Lee Montgomery

Virginia Lee Montgomery (b. 1986; Houston, TX, USA) is a filmmaker, sculptor, and facilitator. She received her BFA from The University of Texas at Austin in 2008 and her MFA from Yale University in Sculpture in 2016. Working across video, performance, sound, and sculpture, her artwork is a material research practice of philosophical metaphysics. Its content is surreal, latently autobiographical, and often with a feminist impulse. The work is paradoxically cryptic and literal, conceptual and hand-built, digital and physical. VLM deploys an idiosyncratic visual vocabulary of repeating gestures like drilling, dousing, puncturing, or reaching and recursive symbols like circles, holes, spirals, or spheres. Her movements interrogate the complex relationship between physical and psychic structures. VLM also works as a professional mind-map scribe, a Graphic Facilitator.


Image: Virginia Lee Montgomery, BEYOND MEANS (video still), 2017, HD video, 02:17

Ken Little

Ken Little was born in 1947 in Canyon Texas. He was a graduate in the first Bachelor of Fine Arts class at Texas Tech University in 1970. He went on to earn a Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Utah in 1972.  Since 1972 he has held tenured positions at major universities, including The University of Montana at Missoula, The University of Oklahoma in Norman. Since 1988 he has been a professor of Art in Sculpture at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Ken Little is a nationally recognized artist who has been granted two Visual Arts Fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts in1982 and 1989.  Since 1993, he has maintained a working studio and Rrose Amarillo, an alternative exhibition space in downtown San Antonio. His work in various media has been shown extensively both nationally and internationally. In south Texas he has exhibited at such venues as ArtPace, Finesilver Gallery, The Southwest School of Art and Craft, and the Blue Star Art Space where he was a board member from1989 to 1995. He currently serves on the Board of Directors at Artpace, San Antonio.

Little’s work has been featured in over 40 soloe exhibitions in national and international venues such as: The Washington Project for the Arts, Washington DC; The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan Wisconsin; The Forum for Contemporary Art, St. Louis; Diverse Works, Houston; and The Honolulu Academy of the Arts.  His work has also been featured in over 200 group exhibitions at institutions like: The Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston; The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC; and The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Little is also a songwriter and a performer. He plays guitar and sings in two bands, Rodeo Ho Ho and the Swingbillies. He has one CD out titled, “Simple America” which contains his original material.


Image: Ken Little, Soar, 2002, $1 bills on steel, frame, Collection of Tom and Laura Bacon, Houston, TX

Deborah Mersky

Deborah Mersky is an artist based in Johnson City, TX. She received her MFA from the University of Washington, Seattle. Mersky has been exhibiting her work since 1980 in exhibitions throughout Texas and Washington. Mersky has created numerous public art works throughout the US including projects in Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, TX, Redmond, WA, Portland, OR, and Minneapolis, MN to name a few.


Phillip Pyle, II

Phillip Pyle, II is a visual artist, graphic designer, and photographer based in Houston, Texas whose primary interests are race, humor, advertising, sports and popular culture. Mining imagery from sources diverse as mass consumer culture, contemporary advertising, to ephemera, historical imagery, and hip-hop, Pyle introduces a complex vision that derives from a robust comedic foundation while also looking at the abstraction and transience of our values, and beliefs.

Pyle has exhibited his work in numerous institutions including Project Row Houses in Houston, Art League of Houston, Houston Museum of African American Culture, and the University Museum at Texas Southern University. Pyle was an inaugural participating artist  in the City of Houston’s Resident Artist program where he worked with the Office of Veterans Affairs in the Third Ward.


Image: Phillip Pyle II, Family Money, 2012, Digital print

Dan Tague

Dan Tague is a multi-media artist, curator, and activist based in New Orleans whose multi-faceted work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. He is well-known for his dollar bill series that is a hybrid of sculpture, photography and political commentary. Tague’s work appears in numerous public and private collections including The Whitney Museum of Art and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation. He is the recipient of several awards including awards from the Joan Mitchell Foundation and from the Pollock Krasner Foundation. Tague was an artist-in-residence at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in New York and the La Napoule Art Foundation in France.


Image: Dan Tague, Cash Rules Everything Around Me, 2018, Archival Inkjet print
Courtesy of the artist and Octavia Art Gallery

The Art Guys

The Art Guys (Michael Galbreth, b. 1956, Philadelphia, and Jack Massing, b. 1959, Buffalo) began working together in 1983 after meeting while students at the University of Houston and continued a collaboration that spanned more than thirty years.

The Art Guys’ work has been included in more than 150 exhibitions in museums, galleries and public spaces throughout the United States and in other parts of the world including Europe and China. Their work has been seen in more than 40 solo exhibitions among which include the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Tacoma Art Museum, the de Saisset Museum, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and the Tampa Museum of Art. The Art Guys realized major public art projects including Intercontinental Airport Houston, Phoenix Airport and the University of Houston as well as civic and private commissions. Additionally, The Art Guys lectured at more than 60 universities, museums and other institutions throughout the United States including Harvard, Chicago Art Institute, School of Visual Arts New York, Kansas City Art Institute, UCLA, Vanderbilt and many more.

Articles, reviews and stories about their work have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Art In America, ArtNews, Artforum, Sculpture Magazine, CNN, CBS News Sunday Morning and many more. The Art Guys have been included in many books and catalogs including The Art Guys: Think Twice and SUITS: The Clothes Make the Man, published by Harry N. Abrams, New York; and the DVD The Art Guys: Home On The Range, a compilation of 25 years of video works published by Microcinema International.


Image: The Art Guys, Credit Where Credit is Due, 1997-1998, Credit cards, business forms, 35 framed objects, Private Collection

Anthony Thompson Shumate

Anthony Thompson Shumate, a multimedia artist and designer, has an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Houston (2005) and a BFA from the University of Texas in San Antonio (2001). Shumate’s work often combines corporate design and contemporary art aesthetics in a subversive commentary on the modern American social landscape. He is the recipient of several arts and advertising awards including a 2006 New Works Fellowship for Emerging Artist from the former Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County, an ArtPix Grant for Las Pozas: Steps and Falls, a CD-ROM produced in partnership with photographer/videographer Rob Ziebell, six ADDY Awards from the American Advertising Federation, and two Bronze Quill awards in excellence in design. Shumate’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout Houston including exhibitions at Lawndale Art Center and Barbara Davis Gallery, along with public art commissions for Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston; Ladybird Lake Trail, Austin; and the Greater East End Management District, Houston.


Image: Anthony Thompson Shumate, Five Dollar Amero Bill Proof, 2012, Hahnemuhle

This exhibition is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.