I’m delighted that, in the 17 years I have been writing for the American-Statesman, my last story as the staff arts critic/reporter is about an institution that has lately proved how art can respond to its community and its time.
With its recent remodel of its downtown venue, and its continuing development of its sculpture park and its bold new installation on Congress Avenue, the Contemporary Austin proves how a nimble and progressive mindset makes it relevant to the city Austin is today.
And the museum does so while not losing sight of the museum’s own legacy as a foundation of Austin’s early cultural forays.
It is not my decision to leave the American-Statesman. The paper’s leadership has elected to eliminate my position.
We all benefit from Austin’s vibrant and democratic arts community. Whether a frequent participant or a sometimes participant, or even if rarely a participant, the cultural arts resonant in Austin with a kind of openness, accessibility and innovation that’s often lacking in other cities.
In the 17 years I have been at the American-Statesman — and in the 25+ years I’ve been in Austin — I’ve seen the city’s cultural community grow exponentially. And not just by the numbers, as Austin remains one of the nation’s fastest-growing and list-topping cities.
Austin’s cultural community has most importantly grown in depth, sophistication, diversity, resourcefulness, leadership and innovation. It’s a scene that is a dynamic force in the state, eyeballed (and envied) by people around the nation, around the world.
Yes, Austin’s major institutions have grown exponentially. But just as important are this city’s bold, independent organizations and its enterprising individual artists and collectives. And they need the public’s support, attendance and attention just as much.
The arts matter in Austin, small or big, traditional or experimental. And they always will.
Find me at jcvanryzin.com