CAMH at 65

Controversies & the Cutting Edge

Catherine D. Anspon  |  Photos by Vernon Fisher’s Pumpkin Field, 1986, exhibited at CAMH 1989 and 1997. Photo courtesy Finders Keepers (CAMH exhibition catalog, 1997), private collection
December 04, 2013

The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is rolling out a five-month, six-part, two-round, building-wide showcase of today’s painting — “Outside the Lines” (though March 23, 2014), organized by director Bill Arning and curators Valerie Cassel Oliver and Dean Daderko — to celebrate the museum’s improbable 65th anniversary. And we use the word “improbable” for good reason. The CAMH’s nearly septuagenarian history has balanced the cutting edge with controversy ever since it opened in a modernist McKie  & Kamrath A-frame downtown on October 31, 1948. Next month, read about the magic, the mayhem, the raucous and the rock ‘n’ roll that defined the decades, including two moves, two floods, a bread riot, and animals and insects run wild. And that’s just the start. I had the pleasure of digging deep into CAMH’s ephemera, well-tended off-site under the auspices of the MFAH archives, where the records of directors, artists and patrons, as well as the energy and the tales that shaped the museum’s founding, are to be found, awaiting rediscovery, ready to be revealed. Stay tuned for our December issue for the secret history of the CAMH at 65, a PaperCity exclusive.