At some point, South by Southwest will encompass all human activity.
Austin’s vast March spree started with music in the 1980s, then added movies and technology, before taking on education, philanthropy, the environment and allied fields.
Art came next.
Today, SXSW announced six art projects for its second annual program scheduled for the conference and festivals March 9-18, 2018. Combined with the UNESCO Media Arts Exhibition at SXSW, the installations are meant to expand the discussion on visual and digital and media arts during the confab.
This weekend, hundreds of the most amazing quilts you’ve ever seen will be on display at Houston’s quilt show, one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the world. I attended for the first time last year and was blown away by the pieces on display. We met quilters from all over the world who were creating some seriously jaw-dropping pieces of art.
Just in case you need an excuse to head to Houston this weekend for the festival, here are six of them:
1) Quilts are amazing. No really. Quilts. Are. Amazing. If you think you have a notion of what a quilt is, this show will redefine whatever that definition is.
2) Quilts are modern art. Modern and contemporary quilts were what hooked me on quilts in the first place, and although this is a show that encompasses many different quilting styles, you’ll find plenty of pieces that belong in the Houston Museum of Fine Art.
3) Quilts are old. For as long as America has been a country, Americans have been sewing together scrapes of fabric to make quilts. Quilt historians will tell you that you can learn a lot about the country through these pieces of folk art, and the Houston quilt show always has a historical exhibit. This year, one of them is called “Quilts 1650-1850: From ‘Broderie’ to ‘Broderie Perse’.” Last year, we saw giant quilts from the 1800s that made you wonder how people sewed such large pieces by hand.
4) Quilts are activism. Every quilt show I’ve ever been to has at least one shocker. I’ve seen quilts that say “(Expletive) cancer” and another that was an American flag made out of guns. This year, the Houston Quilt Festival will feature Jeanne Hewell-Chambers’ THE 70,273 PROJECT, which refers to the number of disabled people killed by the Nazi regime.
5) Support Houston after Harvey. Even with the Astros in the World Series, it’s been a tough year for Houston, but that won’t stop thousands of people from around the world from attending this quilt show and spending money in a city that could use the bump in tourism.
6) Find other fabric arts nerds. Maybe you like to knit or crochet or sew baby clothes. Maybe you’re into batik or tie dye. The market area of the Houston Quilt Festival abounds with fabric and craft vendors, as well as people who specialize in vintage fabrics and quilts, and it’s fun to stroll through the aisles to find the new ways that people are making cool stuff from fabric and thread.
Can’t make it to Houston this weekend? The folks who put on the quilt show also run the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, which is open year round. They rotate the quilts on display several times a year, and every time I’ve been, I find quilts so stunning them stop me in my tracks.
En route between two glorious musicals — “A Chorus Line” at Texas State University and “Singin’ in the Rain” at Zach Theatre — on Saturday, my traveling companions paused to consider the American-Statesman arts coverage for just the past week. We were able to rattle off at least 10 significant stories by staff reporters and freelancers during the previous seven days, Sept. 22-28.
Later I thought, hey, 10 in seven ain’t bad. Why not share the bounty here? Dates are for original digital publication. This fat list doesn’t even include substantial descriptions of arts events that appeared on Page 2 of the Austin360 section, thanks to the extraordinary Ari Auber.
Big Medium, which produces EAST and WEST, has confirmed the dates and other details for the next Texas Biennial. The group survey exhibition, which features artists living and working in the state, will appear at 211 E. Alpine Road in Austin, Sept. 30-Nov. 11. The final list of artists selected by curator and artistic director Leslie Moody Castro will be announced Aug. 30
Pop Austin, which stages annual exhibitons of art one might not normally see in Austin, announces that this year the monumental event will take place Nov. 9-12 at Fair Market. It kicks off with an opening party Nov. 9. General admission will take place Nov. 10-12. Among the artists featured will be Aaron de la Cruz, Jon One and Yang Na. Tickets go on sale Aug. 30. The show is also a part of Big Medium’s EAST.
The Landmarks program, which provides the high-quality public art for the University of Texas, let us know about a big new mural in the works. The 4,000 square-foot-piece by José Parlá will grace Rowling Hall, the new home of the McCombs School of Business graduate program. The unveiling will take place at a big bash in January 2018.
Earlier, we reported that an important photographic exhibit about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera would be seen at Mexic-Arte Museum come Sept 16-Nov. 26. Later, we learned that some local elements would be added to the touring show, including a piece inspired by Kahlo’s Blue House.
Now we find out that the Butler School of Music and the University of Texas School of Fine Arts have commissioned a Spanish-language opera about the creative duo. Other partners in the deal are Fort Worth Opera, San Diego Opera and DePauw University.
To add to the buzz, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz and composer Gabriela Lena Frank have signed on to create “The Last Dream of Frida & Diego.” It will premiere in Fort Worth in spring 2020, San Diego in 2021 and at UT’s Butler Opera Center in February 2021.
We love this. Austin Opera has co-commissioned several outstanding works, although not for a while, as has UT. It’s what an opera producer should do.
Sculptor and printmaker Zack Ingram is the winner of the inaugural Tito’s Prize, which comes with $15,000 cash and a solo exhibition at the Big Medium Gallery from Oct. 27 through Dec. 16. He’ll also figure prominently during the East Austin Studio Tour on Nov. 11-12, 18-19.
The Prize, given by Big Medium, is made possible by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which funds all sorts of cool stuff around town.
“I’m terribly grateful for the Tito’s Prize and the luxury of time and space it will provide me to continue the momentum I have as an Austin based artist,” Ingram says. “How do I secure a studio space, especially in a city that’s becoming increasingly unaffordable for artists? How do I make time to visit said studio while balancing a work schedule, to travel, to buy materials? The Tito’s Prize helps answer several of these concerns I’ve had.”
UPDATE: The initial post misspelled Zack Ingram’s first name.
With some exceptions, arts and other cultural groups — we include major literary and historical outlets — don’t return to full form until September.
Yet now’s the time for all arts groups to confirm their seasonal slates and for all readers to consider purchasing season tickets.
In fact, for some high-demand groups, if you haven’t secured your 2017-2018 subscriptions already, you’re stuck with angling for single slots.
For instance, galvanized by the chance to secure tickets for the matchless musical, “Hamilton,” in the 2018-2019 season, more than 3,000 new subscribers have signed on for Broadway in Austin’s 2017-2018 offerings.
Now, some groups don’t operate on the traditional season system, rolling out one show at a time. Others split up their seasons. For instance, the Long Center for the Performing Arts won’t announce its Winter/Spring slate until September.
We respect that. What will follow soon in these pages is a list of shows that we could discover with relative ease in July. We’ll add others to digital extensions on the Austin Arts blog when they arrive.
The Austin Critics Table Awards ceremony was long. Very long. A record four hours at Cap City Comedy Club.
Yet the 25th anniversary celebration of all things arts might have been the best one ever. Because every minute was a warm, loving, slightly boozy embrace between artists and the writers who cover them.
I loved every tribute from the critics and (almost) every enthusiastic and authentic acceptance speech. (Why do some people choose a moment of honor to be mean?) Bonus: a witty proclamation from Austin Mayor Steve Adler for the occasion
Some people — well, a lot of people — left early. But then they missed the best acceptance speech of the evening, given by Christine Hoang, who shared the David Mark Cohen New Play Award with Lisa Thompson, and who talked about how each word from her reviews reduced her “imposter anxiety,” and whose bilingual play, “A Girl Named Sue,” represented a social and cultural leap for the descendants of Vietnamese refugees and their families.
The big news, however, was the expansion of the Critics Table to 20 members including web-based writers, a move I’ve strongly supported for years. The Table began with just five of us newspapermen, sole survivor Robert Faires reminded us — I no longer vote — and over the years has included more than 50 writers.
AUSTIN CRITCS TABLE AWARDS 2016-2017
W.H. “Deacon” Crain Award for Student Work: Madison Williams, Emily Ott
Lighting Design: Jason Amato (“Atlantis: A Puppet Opera”), Patrick Anthony (“A Perfect Robot,” “Old Times”)
Group Gallery Exhibition: “The First Horizons of Juno: Christina Coleman, Jane Hugentober, Candice Lin, Karen Lofgren, Christine Rebet, Alice Wang and Chantal Wnuk,” Mass Gallery
Museum Exhibition: “Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser,” Blanton Museum of Art
Singer: Donnie Ray Albert (“The Manchurian Candidate,” “I Too: The Voices of Langston Hughes”), Liz Cass (“Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance”), David Adam Moore (“The Manchurian Candidate”), Paul Sanchez (“Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance,” “A Christmas Carol”)
Chamber Performance: “I, Too: The Voices of Langston Hughes,” Living Paper Song Project
Original Composition/Score: “Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance,” Graham Reynolds & Lagartijas Tirades al Sol
Scenic Design: Chris Conard (“Totalitarians,” “The Drowning Girls”), Desiderio Roybal (“Clybourn Park,” “The Price,” “The Herd”)
Short Work, Dance: “Camille: A Story of Art and Love,” Jennifer Hart
Solo Gallery Exhibition: “Tammie Rubin: Before I Knew You, I Missed You,” De Stijl Podium for Art
Artist: Deborah Roberts
Costume Design: Susan Branch Towne (“One Man, Two Guv’nors,” “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”)
Dancer: Alexa Caparedo (“Tikling(bird),” “Loose Gravel”), Amy Morrow (“Hiraeth,” “We’ve Been Here Before”)
Dance Concert: “Las Cuatro Estaciones: A Story of Human Trees,” Sharon Marroquin, produced by Latino Art Residency Project, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center
Choreographer: Lisa Nicks, “Dear Johnny, in Response to Your Last Letter”
Digital Design: Greg Emetaz, “The Manchurian Candidate”
David Mark Cohen New Play Award: “A Girl Named Sue” (Christine Hoang), “Underground” (Lisa Thompson)
Ensemble, Theater: “Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe,” Doctuh Mistah Productions
Actor: Liz Beckham (“Lungs,” Neva,” “Clybourne Park), Chase Brewer (“Hand to God”), Michael Joplin (“Lungs”), Amber Quick (“One Man, Two Guv’nors,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Herd”)
Production, Theater: Clybourne Park (Penfold Theatre), “The Drowning Girls” (Theatre en Bloc), “The Great Society (Zach Theatre)
Special Citations: Luis Armando Ortiz Gutierrez, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin, Andrea Ariel, Babs George, “Rambunctious,” Jennifer Sherburn for “11:11,” Theatre Synesthesia, Sandy Yamamoto, “Thr3e Zisters,” Amy Downing.
Austin Arts Hall of Fame: Katherine Brimberry and Mark L. Smith, Zell Miller III, Kate Warren
UPDATE: Thanks to Robert Faires for correcting some embarrassing typos in names banged out quickly this morning.