An Opening-Night Brawl at CAM Started with a Few Loaves of Bread

AN OPENING-NIGHT BRAWL AT CAM STARTED WITH A FEW LOAVES OF BREAD One highlight of Pete Gershon’s new book about Houston’s ’70s and ’80s art scene is his description of the all-out melee that erupted in the Contemporary Arts Museum’s upper gallery at the opening night of an exhibition put on by Spanish artist Antoni Miralda in 1977. Notorious for his work with food, Miralda, writes Gershon, had “hung color photographs of brightly hued macaroni, labeled huge mounds of salt and sugar with garishly flashing neon signs, and showed videos . . . of food being prepared and eaten in restaurants from around Houston.” The centerpiece was “four thousand loaves of bread dyed with food coloring” which performers placed “on a 175-foot row of benches bisecting the exhibition space.” Following some nibbling and “the playful tossing of slices,” one “notorious troublemaker from the St. Thomas art crowd,” picked up a loaf and chucked it carelessly, hitting a 6-year-old girl and knocking her to the ground. A fellow attendee dragged him out the back entrance to teach him a lesson, but it was too late: “inside the gallery the scene quickly escalated to a full-scale, Texas-sized donnybrook, with flying bread and flying fists.” Fifteen minutes later, management had cleared the room “and mopped up the blood,” adds the museum’s then-director. But his boss worried about the mark it’d left — not just in the minds of those who disapproved but, worse, the ones who “eagerly entered the fray.” Perhaps, writes Gershon, “they thought this happened at CAM all the time.” [Arts and Culture Texas; interview with Pete Gershon] Photo: Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

3 Comment

  • I was @ this shindig !!! It was EPIC !!! Love the CAM for this episode. It’s less pretentious than some of the other museums( they’re ALL so full of false: self importance/self “Holier-Than-Thou” , we’re Hot Shit cause we’re part of the artsy/fartsy “creative class”. I could care less about their overly blown egos(based in DEEP insecurities) .. I was @ this opening- it was FRICKING AMAZING. The art not so much- the raw, primal instincts that erupted were so base- which undercut ALL socio-economic lines !!!

  • I’m not in favor of throwing bread at 6 year olds but how did that knock her down? I have a 6 year old girl, I don’t think she’d fall from a full loaf tossed her way

  • I was at the Miralda opening, too. It was the first museum opening I had ever attended. To this day, I remember what I wore and where I stood at different times of the evening. A friend from school was working in the lower level, quickly and efficiently handing the the Rangerettes the loaves of rainbow bread to bring upstairs to the main hall. The Rangerettes were breathtakingly disciplined, precise and professional as always. Everyone and everything else was a melee.