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.
Kids rush into the doors and hang out the windows. Adults step gingerly over the mulch floors and step back to view the five, tall, curved, leaning structures that look like something from “Where the Wild Things Are” or “The Hobbit.”
“We let the kids in early,” says StickWork artist Patrick Dougherty. “They weren’t sure they were allowed to come in the gate.”
The fences come down today. The public unveiling is 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 10, courtesy of the Pease Park Conservancy.
“We wanted to make a cathedral,” Dougherty says. “We got five corners instead.”
The $106,000 project made from 10 tons of locally harvested then bent, woven and fastened Texas ash, elm, ligustrum and depression willow were built in three weeks by Dougherty and his son, Sam, along with volunteers and staff from Houston’s Weingarten Art Group. The site off Parkway not far from Windsor Road was picked because of accessibility and parking, but it’s also a little sheltered and not clearly visible from North Lamar Boulevard.
Dougherty, who has built 288 of these StickWork projects around the world after working on a family cabin, had always wanted to work in Austin. He says the still-unnamed group of five structures should last two years before they begin to deteriorate seriously.
The Conservancy will maintain the art, then, with the help mulch the remains to spread around the park.
The Andrew Mellon Foundation has graced Texas Performing Arts at the University of Texas with a $500,000 grant to back “The Power of Protest: Arts and Civil Disobedience,” a proposed series of lectures, performances and other public events for a three-year period ending in 2021.
This brings the foundation’s gifts to the UT group to $1.35 million since 2011.
Performing and visual arts will be encouraged on the subjects of “world-wide protests for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, environmental protection, the guarantee of racial equality, and the current national controversy regarding the continued display or removal of monuments honoring Confederate generals across the U.S,” according to a release from UT.
“(It) allows us to explore how work in the performing and visual arts has the ability to become, in and of itself, an act of civil disobedience with the capacity to drive social and political change,” says Kathy Panoff, director of Texas Performing Arts and associate dean of the College of Fine Arts. “The proposed programming is informed by the inherent power of the arts to provide a safe space to explore the most contentious social issues of our time.”
Gerald Harvey Jones, known professionally as G. Harvey, died Nov. 13 at age 84. In his time, Jones was among the most famous artists in Austin. He painted popular Western scenes, but also urban streetscapes set at the turn of the past century. His work was unapologetically nostalgic, casting a golden glow on views of an Americana that were already fading away before his birth in 1933 in San Antonio.
During his youth, Jones lived in Kenedy, Corpus Christi and Kerrville, where his family owned the Wagon Wheel Lodge and where he graduated from Tivy High School. He started his higher education at Abilene Christian College where he met his future wife.
A graduate of North Texas State University, he was teaching industrial arts at O. Henry Junior High in Austin during the late 1950s when his wife, Patty Marie Bentley Jones, purchased him an oil paint set. Once he settled on a style, Jones’ career took off, helped by the patronage of celebrities such as Texas Gov. John Connally and President Lyndon B. Johnson.
If you visited the offices of a lawyer, banker or legislator during the 1960s and ’70s — or even much later — you were likely to spy a scene from prolific Jones on the wall. An Austin street setting, for instance, hangs in a prominent place at the Headliners Club.
Some observers compared his work to the Impressionists, others to Texas artists José Arpa and Porfirio Salinas as wells as Robert and Julian Onderdonk, still others, later, to popular “Painter of Light” Thomas Kinkade. He also worked in bronzes and his art was shown and sold in Dallas, New York City, Santa Fe and elsewhere.
Among the first dealers to purchase Jones’ work was D.C Bradford of the Country Store Gallery on Lavaca Street in 1956. In 1965, what later became Shoal Creek Gallery was founded by Jones with two partners, but he sold it after one of those partners died. In 1985, Jones moved with his family from Austin to Fredericksburg where they owned the large, historic Weyrich-Arhelger complex at 424 Main St. His son-in-law, Tim Taylor, owns Whistle Pik Gallery, which represents Jones there.
He will be interred at the Texas State Cemetery and a public memorial is planned for early spring 2018. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation or a charity of one’s choice.
We lied. This post reports on no firings. You can relax.
Yet “hires, fires, gifts and honors” sounds like a good catch-all headline. We might use it again.
Zilker Theatre Productions makes two key hires
The group that has staged the Zilker Summer Musical for 60 years has taken on J. Robert “Jimmy” Moore asartistic director. Moore, remembered recently for “Buyer and Cellar” at Zach Theatre, will work alongside Executive Director KateHix, already in place. Also, one of those beloved behind-the-scenes heroes, Shannon Richey, has been drafted as director of production. Moore and Richey are trusted veterans who will undoubtedly bolster this free and singularly Austin tradition. No word on next summer’s selection.
Austin Opera‘s board of trustees has designated Jeff Kodosky, founder of National Instruments and inveterate arts lovers, as its next chairman. He takes over the position from Elisabeth Waltz, who has served as chairwoman 2016. Kodosky has been with the board and the company through thick and thin since 1996. I’m sure this quiet, smiling man could tell some tales about the group that almost went away at least twice, but also has triumphed repeatedly. Next up is “Carmen” in November.
Huston-Tillotson is now an all-Steinway school
Following a gift of $800,000, Huston-Tillotson University will become the only institution of higher learning in Central Texas, the fourth historically black college or university in the country, and the 196th college or university to join the All-Steinway School club. University officials will unveil the Steinway pianos during their Charter Day Convocation 10 a.m. Oct. 27, 2017 in the King-Seabrook Chapel on the campus at 900 Chicon Street. In addition, Steinway artist Marcus Roberts and the Marcus Roberts Trio will headline a special concert.
Ransom Center selects new curator of art
Austinites generally think of the Ransom Center as a literary treasure trove with out-of this-world strengths in modern literature, movies, performing arts and photography. And, oh yes, the Watergate papers. Yet is also houses, preserves and exhibits a lot of excellent visual art, too. Over the summer, Tracy Bonfitto was named curator of art. She comes with sterling credentials from Getty Research Institute, the Fowler Museum at UCLA and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She’s also a University of Texas grad.
I’m sure she will meld partnerships with the other distinguished and closely related cultural spots in that area of Austin, including the Blanton Museum of Art, LBJ Presidential Library, Briscoe Center for American History and Bullock Texas State History Museum as well as UT’s highly regarded Landmarks public arts program and its Visual Arts Center. Maybe the new Ellsworth Kelly house will help point the way visually and viscerally for more of a interrelated cultural campus.
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.
What a rush: Pease Park Conservancy has put out a call for volunteers to help build a major sculpture in the park in January 2018.
Designed by renowned artist Patrick Dougherty, this will be the latest Stickwork, a series of over 275 distinct sculptures around the world.
According to a Pease Park communiqué, it will take about three weeks to build the site-specific piece – comprised entirely of locally harvested saplings – which is intentionally built for the community by the community.
“Volunteers are needed for single day shifts, although if the project really gels with the right person they are welcome to help out for longer,” says spokesman Mason Kerwick. “Since Patrick will be on site every day guiding the shape of the piece, this is the perfect opportunity for anyone curious to learn more about the artistic process of an internationally renowned artist – while also spending time outdoors, enjoying the sunshine and nature in one of Austin’s oldest park.
Once complete, the sculpture will remain on display in Pease Park for a few years.
Shermakaye Bass is one of the best journalists in Austin. A sometime student of Indian culture, she did a swell job breaking down the big Blanton Museum of Art exhibit, “Epic Tales From Ancient India: Paintings From the San Diego Museum of Art,” which runs through Oct. 1.
Below, we share a tempting morsel from her story, which ran Aug. 24.
All great cultures have their epics and sacred texts — rife with heroes and villains, gods and demons and magical beings that manifest in the twinkling of an eye. India is no exception. The South Asian subcontinent possesses one of the most fantastical and intricate canons in the world, and right now Austin is allowed a rare glimpse into it via the multidisciplinary installation “Epic Tales From Ancient India: Paintings From the San Diego Museum of Art,” which runs at the Blanton Museum of Art on the University of Texas campus through Oct. 1.
“Epic Tales” takes visitors on a journey through some of India’s greatest works — the “Ramayana,” “Bhagavata Purana,” “Ragamala” and “Shahnama,” or Persian “Book of Kings.” It features 90 miniature watercolors from San Diego’s renowned collection (most from manuscripts dating from the 16th to 19th centuries), as well as ancient bronzes, video installations, a delightful reading section and a series of dance and storytelling performances. For many, this rich installation is an introduction to the story of India and the Hindu religion.
“I wanted this exhibition to be a multisensory experience,” curator Ray Williams says. “The paintings are all about story, and I wanted story to be a big part of the show. And while the stories can be entertaining and fun, they also have strong religious meaning, and I wanted to underscore that — that it’s all intertwined.”
Williams, who has studied in India and is director of education and academic affairs at the Blanton, designed the exhibit to be fun while also shining a spotlight on “an amazing culture and an amazing set of stories. We’re saying, ‘You’ve heard of Krishna, you’ve heard of Rama? Well, here’s the bigger story!’”
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.
She stands in the middle of the gallery, her posture grounded, her hair braided around her head in a no-nonsense manner, her eyes open with emotional wisdom. Given her long white tunic and delicate sandals, she looks in this late afternoon light as if she stepped out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting.
Photographer Micky Hoogendijk is like no other visual artist. And today she gives an interview that’s a breath of fresh air on a hot day. No dry theories. No tedious explanations of process. No jargon meant to impress a dozen or so like-minded artists.
“All my art came out in Austin,” she says. “I was living up on Panorama Drive, surrounded by nature. And as soon as I started working with Austin models, there was an openness about them that I haven’t found anywhere else.”
Since her first show at the Davis Gallery just three years ago, the Dutch-born Hoogendijk has expanded her visual vocabulary enormously. She started with layered portraits of mostly Austinites, some masked by various means, many of them androgynous, all of them full of feeling, haunted by a touch of vulnerability.
Now for “Pure Imagination” at Women & Their Work Gallery through Sept. 7 — also in her new book, “Through the Eyes of Others I See Me” — Hoogendijk plays with historical costuming, underwater dancing, paired, seated nudes, moody interiors and variant looks at mysterious objects.
“I work from my dreams,” she says. “I can’t do anything different.”
She also spends time looking into eyes.
“We’d do that in rehearsal,” she recalls of her acting career. “While looking steadily into someone’s eyes, you get nervous, distracted, you touch your nose or giggle. Eventually you end up crying. We don’t do that in life, even when we are married, looking for so long into another’s eyes.”
The current show is spare, only 12 pieces, giving each image its own space and story, but the book rewards anyone curious to see more of her unfettered imagination.
Now based in Los Angeles, Hoogendijk has spent the past three years following her artistic career from prominent show to prominent show across three continents. She continues to experiment with printing methods, including some ghostly images parlayed on metal (“Metal has a depth to it.”).
She also thinks of putting down roots again in the Netherlands.
“I’ve created a whole new life,” she says. “But I’ve been living out of a suitcase. For the artist in me, I need calm. I want to be on my own and maybe fall in love again.”