Author Archives: Alison

Cleaver: Cassandra Emswiler Burd & Lucia Simek

Art Beef is pleased to announce the opening of Cleaver, an exhibition of new work by Dallas-based artists Cassandra Emswiler Burd and Lucia Simek, curated by Alison Starr, on view at BEEFHAUS, Sept 2 – 30.


In the fall of 2014, Cassandra Emswiler Burd and Lucia Simek found themselves sitting next to one another in a cubicle, two artists tasked with wordsmithing. Through this unexpected proximity, each has witnessed a good bit of the other. Many exchanges about family, art, and identity have taken place over the past few years during some of the most tumultuous moments in American history—as well as their own lives. It follows that work by each artist should be brought together in the same space.

Cassandra is expecting a child in early November and will be leaving her post next to Lucia shortly after this exhibition closes.

Exhibition: September 2 – 30, 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 9, 7 – 9 pm

Contact Alison Starr for viewing:

833 Exposition
Dallas, TX 75226


Who Is El Salvador?

Claudia Lars…Margarita del Carmen Brannon Vega is her birth name; she is also called Carmen Brannon Beers or Carmen Brannon de Samoya Chinchilla. She was born in El Salvador. She studied and lived in the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.

Her early work in the 1920s and 1930s was compared to Agustini, Mistral, Storni, and Ibarbourou. She lists as her early influences Cervantes, Fray Luís de León, Lope de Vega, Quevedo, Góngora, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Burns, Coleridge, Whitman, Poe, Dickinson, Shelley, Byron, Yeats, Blake, and Darío (Barraza 142). Critics called her a lyrical postmodernist.

Sketch of the Woman of the Future

Standing tall in the mud.
Not like the flower’s stalk
and butterfly’s desire . . .
No roots, no flitting,
more erect, more sure
and more free.

Knower of shadow and thorn,
With miracle held high
in her triumphant arms.
With obstacle and abyss.
beneath her stride.

Absolute queen of her flesh
returned to the center of her spirit:
vessel of the celestial,
domus aurea, home of the golden;
clod where shoots burst forth into
maize and fragrant flower.

Forgotten: the Mona Lisa’s smile.
Broken: the spell of centuries.
Conquered: the fears.
Bright and naked in the pure, clean day.

Unequalled lover
in enjoyment of a love so lofty
that no one today could predict it.
with controlled sweetness
that doesn’t hurt or intoxicate the drinker.

Maternal still,
without the caress that holds back flight
nor tenderness that traps,
nor submission and giving in, that little by little, smothers.

Pioneer of the clouds.
Guide to the labyrinth.
Weaver of veil and song.
Adorned only in her simplicity.

She stands up from the dust . . .
Not like the flowering stem
that’s not so beautiful.


Dialectical Conversations

Perspectives. Dialectical conversations are crucial to intellectual growth, diplomacy, artistic strength, and a whole host of ways in being human.  Simply put, it is a method of philosophical argument that involves some sort of contradictory process between opposing sides; not necessarily winner vs. loser, but learning, defining, clarity, exchange, analysis, problem solving, which leads to deeper understanding and hopefully a more expansive comprehension of a matter.

The posts begin…


Step Away

Very few of us intend to beat out head against a wall; it happens. When it does there is a point when it becomes crucial to stop.  This post is about the stopping.

STOP – ceasing a particular activity with an inherent beginning of a new one, stepping away. For quite a long time I was blinded to the fact that one of the most significant and valuable activities I might embrace was to basically end an one. Not implying this was easy or simple, it just is.  This HALT gave room for the next act, taking one leg moving it to one side and following with the other. Not a dance, though it could be called one, nor a race of any sense of the work, merely a step from, thus, a step to. That’s it.


Foucaut: Revisiting Power

As a graduate student I felt and was in a race to catch up. Having primarily studied religion rather than philosophy, my perspective on most every matter other than religion was sorely crippled.  Had we remained in Seattle, Washington throughout my high school and college years I imagine most artists and thinkers immersed in Lacan, Adorno, Benjamin, Arendt, Rawls, Butler, Beauvoir, Bachelard, Nussbaum and more than need be listed here. Yet, knowing that this may not have been the case, most definitely attending high school (1970’s) and college (1980’s) in rural Texas, part of the “Bible Belt” not only lacked opportunities of study in the liberal arts, but more so, in my midst there were few if any conversations on life other than the saving power of Jesus Christ. To fit in, I bought it all, swallowing it whole, spewing out bits and pieces throughout my young adult years.

The primary and ultimate power was based on fear; if I didn’t believe in that ultimate overseer my life would be condemned to pain, suffering, and eternal punishment. Dread The Word, Truth, submission, denial, insecurity, uncertainty, controlled, with my permission. Battling weariness, numbing the human spirit, body, soul, mind seemed to stabilize until the disconnection became paralyzing.  Power given over to predestination; fate prevails.


Experimental Action: Performance Art Houston, February 23 – 25th, 2017

Last entry, September, 2016. Since then…professor of art, teaching art appreciation, and interim gallery manager at a local college. Resting, yoga, walking, time with spouse and dogs and family and friends – HEALING. Today, co-Manager of the Cliff Gallery, Mountain View College and member of ART BEEF/BEEFHAUS collective, Dallas, Texas. Now am honored to be invited to speak at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston symposium for the international performance art event in Houston, Texas. Excited!


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