Quite a few of my friends and acquaintances freaked out when I told them that Daniel Johnston and the Wheeler Brothers were bringing a show to the Arlington Museum of Art. Let me tell you, pairing the phrases “sweet exhibit” and “in Arlington” in the same sentence is not what they expected.  Thanks to the minds over at the Arlington Museum of Art continually bringing internationally-acclaimed art over the past year, we are finding ourselves saying it every other month!

For Ulterior Motifs, the Arlington Museum of Art proudly welcomes the unique artwork from Texas’ most talented contemporary artists in Ulterior Motif’s 14th installation. Created by the Wheeler Brothers (Jeffrey and Bryan) in 1999, the show has grown from its inaugural, yet always celebratory, exhibition in Lubbock, and has grown into a must-see for in-the-know people interested in staying aware and versed in contemporary Texas art and artists.

1. Texas born, Texas bred

Featuring pieces from 15 different Texas artists, most who have been with Ulterior Motifs since it began 17 years ago, the artists are either native Texans, or hold strong ties to Texas. Many are familiar not only in Texas, but in the national and international art scene. With such an eclectic mix of artists representing the Lone Star State’s way less conservative side, it’s refreshing to see art that isn’t restricted by a more traditional mindset. This show is fun, inclusive, provoking, heartbreaking and kookier than most things you would see in such a timid-to-the-arts town.

2. It features drawings and collaborations by Daniel Johnston, cult pop singer/songwriter, musician and artist. (Yes, the iconic “Hi How Are You?” mural in Austin was done by him)

Daniel Johnston’s pen and marker work as well as his collaborations with Jeff Wheeler can be seen on the mezzanine and first floor of the exhibit. I am biased, because I love Johnston’s work in every medium, and have seen him in concert a couple of times. I had never had the chance to actually view his illustrations in the flesh until now, so I met the exhibit with excitement.

(Not only is Johnston a gifted and interesting graphic artists, but his music inspired Kurt Cobain and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, icons in alternative music. Johnston, along with the Wheeler Brothers and Meat Purveyors’ guitarist Bill Anderson backed his acoustic set of original songs September 17 along with the Wheeler Brothers’ band Los Sonsabitches.)

Tip: There are also music CDs, tapes, stickers, shirts and prints of his artwork shown in Ulterior Motifs for sale in the gift shop.

3. It helps to be an outside-of-the-box thinker

For me, not much shocks me. This exhibit parades religion and counterculture, and in case those two things are what you aim to avoid seeing… differently… in this life, I would avoid. Just in case you were thinking of bringing the little ones, proceed with caution but with an open mind. The subject matter of this show is enticing and evocative, but possibly for an older audience if your child isn’t ready to see strong sexual themes including nudity, offensive imagery and language.

4. Pen and paper

I have been in a personal mood of illustration and drawing which is why I enjoyed this exhibit as much as I did. The intricacy of doodles and drawings in the collages, collaborations and the exhibit as a whole, make the exhibit more of an almost journalistic commentary on pop culture’s effect society thru the artist, and it’s a style I’ve always admired.

5. It supports the Arlington Museum of Art

I know I like what I’ve been seeing from the museum, and urge that you, the reader, will make plans to patronize the arts by stopping by the Arlington Museum of Art, paying the admission fee and contributing to Arlington’s cultural enrichment by helping them bring more nationally-acclaimed shows to Arlington like Ulterior Motifs. Admission is always $8 for adults, $5 for seniors/students and children 12 and under free. Stop by the museum any day Tuesday thru Sunday until October 23.

Immediately following this exhibition, the installation will be traveling to Splendora, Texas to artist James Surls’ Splendora Gardens for the 40th anniversary of his studio.