The Met releases 350K digital images for free

NBCNEWS handled the recent and vast digitizing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection with a handy and explanatory gallery. Smart move.

Here’s a sample of the free images:

NBC: “Wheat Field with Cypresses, oil on canvas by Vincent van Gogh, 1889. Cypresses gained ground in Van Gogh’s work by late June 1889 when he resolved to devote one of his first series in Saint-Rémy to the towering trees.” Contributed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
NBC: “Christ Healing the Blind, oil on canvas by El Greco, circa 1570. El Greco painted this masterpiece of dramatic storytelling either in Venice or in Rome, where he worked after leaving Crete in 1567 and before moving to Spain in 1576. It illustrates the Gospel account of Christ healing a blind man by anointing his eyes. The two figures in the foreground may be the blind man’s parents.” Contributed by Metropolitan Museum of Art.
NBC: “The Harvesters, oil on wood by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565. This panel belongs to a series and the cycle originally included six paintings showing the times of the year. Bruegel’s series is a watershed in the history of western art, the religious pretext for landscape painting has been suppressed in favor of a new humanism.” Contributed by Metropolitan Museum of Art.



The art stars came out for the Blanton Gala

Not many galas come with two big stars. Make that three.

Michael and Jeanne Klein, honorees at the 2017 Blanton Gala. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

One obvious star attraction at the opulent Blanton Gala was the rehung permanent collection. In a mixture of formal and gallery attire, guests promenaded up the grand staircase early in the evening to view the American, European, Latin American, video and special exhibit rooms. They looked fantastic, more clearly articulated and presented, along with almost twice as much art on display as in the past at the 10-year-old University of Texas art museum.

RELATED: A new Museum in Austin: It’s called the Blanton.

The other two stars shined as well. Folks from New York, Santa Fe, Dallas, San Antonio and especially Houston joined Austinites in celebrating the Blanton’s very special patrons — Michael and Jeanne Klein. These art collectors have been with the Blanton and director Simone Wicha every step of the way. They donated “Stacked Waters,” which transformed the museum’s rather chilly atrium, and they led the way in acquiring and building “Austin,” Ellsworth Kelly‘s campus retreat now under construction — it is expected to open in a year.

Nina Katchadourian ‘Accent Elimination’ (2005) Six-channel video with sound, six televisions, three pedestals, 13:26 minutes. Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin. Promised gift of Jeanne and Michael Klein in honor of Director Simone Jamille Wicha’s ten-year anniversary at the museum, 2016

Not coincidentally, the Kleins, who enjoyed two rapturous standing ovations during the gala and gave a very funny speech in tandem, have promised to give a collection 28 videos to the Blanton. It includes works by Tania Bruguera, Isaac Julien, Pipilotti Rist and others. The museum will share ownership of pieces by Eve Sussman and Ana Mendieta with the Whitney Museum of American Art.

As part of the reinstallation, the Blanton has created a gallery — where the contemporary installations once stood next to the soon-to-be-delivered Meredith Lounge — dedicated to the ongoing display of video works. Its inaugural installation is artist Javier Téllez’s Letter on the Blind For the Use of Those Who See” (2007), one of the Kleins’ promised gifts to the Blanton.

Exhibit shows ‘Another Side’ of Austin graffiti artist


His graffiti has breathed life into Austin streets for more than 20 years. It’s been featured throughout Europe, in documentaries and group exhibits.

Gallery assistant Corrie Ferguson works on hanging the identifying pins near the artwork of Nathan “Sloke One” Nordstrom at the Sam Z. Coronado Gallery at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. The show, titled “Another Side,” will open Saturday and run through March 25. DEBORAH CANNON/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

But after helping shape the local graffiti scene, native Austinite Nathan “Sloke One” Nordstrom has found another way to push the boundaries of the art form.

With his first large-scale solo show opening Feb. 4 at the Sam Z. Coronado Gallery at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, Nordstrom paves the way for local graffiti artists to move from the streets to the galleries.

“I think (the exhibit) can show emerging graffiti writers that if you continue to practice and develop your skills that it isn’t just limited to the streets, trains or rooftops,” he says. “Graffiti-inspired art can and does have a place in galleries.”

The exhibit “Another Side: Selected Works by Nathan Nordstrom AKA Sloke One” will feature photographs of his graffiti from the U.S. and abroad, graffiti pieces on canvas and graffiti-inspired abstract art, which will all be available for sale. …

We’re bringing the Austin Arts blog up to date by teasing to recent and still relevant arts stories on other American-Statesman and Austin360 pages.

This was a peek at Nancy Flores’ story on graffiti artist Nathan “Sloke One” Nordstrom.

Mexic-Arte murals aim to boost Latino presence, patrons


She’s Wonder Woman like you’ve never seen her before, with the words “peace,” “justice” and “respect” tattooed in Spanish on her forearm, chest and arm.

The latest Fifth Street wall mural at Mexic-Arte features a Latina Wonder Woman with an environmental edge who gives passers-by tips on how to use less oil. Street artist Eleanor Herasimchuk, also known as Niz, is among the local artists who are part of the Mexic-Arte Museum’s El Mero Muro mural project. (Contributed by Sixto Juan Zavala)

The reimagined superhero, brought to life by stencil artist Eleanor Herasimchuk (better known as Niz), fiercely watches over downtown Austin from the Fifth Street and Congress Avenue wall on which she’s been painted.

Herasimchuk’s take on Wonder Woman is part of a new round of innovative, bilingual murals featured on Mexic-Arte Museum’s Fifth Street wall project called El Mero Muro. Museum officials expect to unveil at least seven new murals throughout the year aimed at boosting the Latino presence downtown and attracting new patrons after a 2015 report by market research firm Contemporanea found that many Latinos felt that museums across the country felt unfriendly, uninviting and expensive.

“While museums are broadly acknowledged as educational institutions, the personal relevance and importance of these institutions has not been established for many Latinos surveyed,” according to the report.

With a prominent Fifth Street wall that, according to Mexic-Arte, catches the eye of more than 35,000 drivers each day, the cultural arts museum knew it had a unique opportunity to address some of the report’s findings in a highly visible way.

“People say that downtowns are the living room of a community,” said Sylvia Orozco, the museum’s executive director. “We all need to feel welcome when we’re in the living room. People need to know that this is a place for them, and if they come in they’ll see and connect even more.” …

We’re starting to bring the Austin Arts blog up to date with recent and still relevant arts stories.

This is part of Nancy Flores’ article on graffiti at Mexic-Arte Museum.

A new museum in Austin: It’s called the Blanton

Here’s a taste of Sunday’s story about the seismic shifts at the Blanton Museum of Art.

This large piece by Nigerian artist El Anatsui is two-sided. Viewers will now be treated to the previously unshown side. Contributed by Blanton Museum of Art

Stop. Look.

Now look closer.

That is what the Blanton Museum of Art urges you do after five years spent reimagining, planning and executing a complete rehang of the permanent collection at the 10-year-old University of Texas spot, beloved by locals, tourists and students alike.

Walking around the museum’s second floor in preparation for the official unveiling on Feb. 11 (gala) and Feb. 12 (general public), one notices that there is more art (almost twice as many pieces), a new emphasis on the collection’s strengths (works on paper, etc.), better routing (fewer pass-through corridors), a few rarely exhibited pieces (discovered in the vaults), more coherent groupings and explanations (in English and Spanish), completely new galleries (including ones dedicated to video, plus Pre-Columbian and Colonial Latin American), strikingly colorful wall tinting (to set off the Old Master paintings), more art in public spaces (jazzing them up) and a new focus on engaging each work of art.

“We have a new museum in Austin,” proclaims Director Simone Wicha. “I wanted the Blanton’s experience to represent the personality we embody at the museum — energetic, smart, fun, friendly, curious, sophisticated and collaborative. My challenge to the team was for us to reconsider the museum in a way that was more visually arresting, more thought-provoking and nationally innovative.”

Austin’s newest mural art: ‘Juegala Fria: Play it Cool Austin’

Last week we caught up with David “Shek” Vega, the San Antonio artist and owner of buzzed about Gravelmouth Gallery who serves as curator’s for this year’s Young Latino Artists exhibit at Mexic-Arte Museum.

Vega titled the exhibt “Amexican@” — that @ symbol a key to defining the 11 artists and one collective Vega selected, all millennials or younger born in the 1980s and 1990s.

“These artists deal with identity, but not necessarily in the same way as the Chicano artists who came before them,” told me during our walk through the exhibit. “We’re Mexican and we’re American and so we’re ‘Amexican@.’”

Since he was curating the current show (it’s up through Aug. 28; Sundays offer free admission), Mexic-Arte Museum invited Vega — a busy muralist, check out what he did for the Spurs — to create a mural on the museum’s East Fifth Street outside wall.

Check out our story on “Young Latino Artists 21: Amexican@”

Vega and his “Juegala Fria: Play it Cool Austin” mural at Mexic-Arte Museum, E. Fifth St. and Congress Ave.


Seeking the coolth? Museums always offer a chill local getaway

Like we said, museums typically keep it a constant low-humidity 72 degrees inside to protect delicate art and historical objects.

That makes museum the perfect afternoon’s chill getaway in the stifling midsummer heat. And even if you’ve lived in Austin for a while, it’s good to re-visit familiar places. (Hint: Museums change it up way more often than you think.)

Our interactive map and guide to Austin many museums is here:

And here’s few top picks to get you started:

  • Just in case you haven’t noticed, it’s a presidential election year. Seems like a good time to head to the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum to brush up on a little history, no?  For example, did you remember that it was 52 years ago this month — on July 2, 1964 — President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act?
President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
  • At the Bullock Texas State History Museum, “Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture”  is a multi-media exhibit organized by the American Museum of Natural History that explores the historical, cultural and scientific intersection of humans and food.
From the exhibit "Our Global Kitchen" at the Bulllock Museum.
From the exhibit “Our Global Kitchen” at the Bulllock Museum.
  • This summer Blanton Museum of Art pairs a stunning (and important) exhibit of Spanish master Francisco de Goya, Goya: Mad Reason, with an monumental yet ethereal installation, Book from the Sky, by Chinese artist Xu Bing.
Xu Bing's "Book from the Sky"
Xu Bing’s “Book from the Sky”



Camp Austin360: An artful mid-summer night’s sky viewing

Here’s an artful option: Why not see the summer sunset in sublime color at the Turrell skyspace?

Tucked on top of a University of Texas building, a sleek curvilinear roofless chamber is James Turrell’s “The Color Inside,” one of the famed artist’s “skyspaces” — a radically reimagined observatory for creative contemplation of the sky.


At sunset, an hourlong sequence of slowly changing colored LED lights illuminate the inside walls, radically yet subtly altering your perception of the heavens.

Over the course of an hour, the colors shift, saturating the space with intense and varying shades of purple, green, yellow, pink, blue. And through the aperture in the ceiling, a remarkable visual phenomena happens. The sky appears in complementary hues. Walls awash in blue make the sky look yellow. A flush of pink turns the sky green.

A recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, Turrell is a pioneer in the use of light as an artistic medium.

In naming “The Color Inside,” Turrell said: “I was thinking about what you see inside, and inside the sky, and what the sky holds within it that we don’t see the possibility of in our regular life.”

Commissioned by UT’s public art program, Landmarks, “The Color Inside” is a permanent work of art, one of several daring pieces added to the campus.



“The Color Inside” is open every day that the UT Student Activity Building is open. Start time for the evening light sequence changes daily. And if you can’t make the evening light sequence you can visit anyway. Turrell’s

Admission free but with seating limited to 25 people, reservations are recommended.




And be sure to check out our guides to Austin’s museums and galleries



Choose your own interactive tour of Austin’s arts scene

We know. There’s lots to do in Austin. And whether you’re new to town or have been here for years, Austin’s ever-exploding arts scene can sometimes overwhelm.

Not to worry. We’ve got it all laid out for you to peruse with several interactive, easy-to-use map guides that will get you out and seeing things.


Print Austin fest at the Canopy arts complex
Print Austin fest at the Canopy arts complex in East Austin




Austin Critics’ Table announces 2015-2016 award nominations

And they’re in: The Austin Critics’ Table today announces the nominations for its 2015-2016 arts awards.

Now in its 24th year, the Critics’ Table in an informal group of arts writers from the American-Statesman and the Austin Chronicle who annually recognize achievement in the arts.

The free awards ceremony is at 7 p.m. May 23 at Cap City Comedy Club.

Also being honored this year as new inductees to the Austin Arts Hall of Fame are Austin Symphony Orchestra music director Peter Bay, Ballet Austin executive director Cookie Ruiz and Ballet Austin artistic director Stephen Mills.

Jade Walker’s “Four Cornered.”


"99 White Balloons," by Invivia, part of "Field Constructs"
“99 White Balloons,” by Invivia, part of “Field Constructs
  • Independent or Public Project
    “Field Constructs Design Competition,” Rachel Adams, Catherine Gavin, and Igor Siddiqui.
    “Omission,” Juan Deleon, TEMPO/AIPP
    “Las Piñatas,” David A. Goujon, TEMPO/AIPP
    “Sew Wasted,” Los Outsiders
    “Sound Atlas,” Steve Parker, Drawing Lines
  • Gallery Body of Work
    Camiba Gallery
    Grayduck Gallery
    MASS Gallery
    Pump Project Gallery
    Wally Workman Gallery


KDH Dance Company's "True Stories." Photo by Stephen Pruitt.
KDH Dance Company’s “True Stories.” Photo by Stephen Pruitt.
  • Short work
    “Desire” from Director’s Choice, Ballet Austin
    “Motherwell Amor,” Erick Hawkins Dance Co./Shay Ishii Dance Co.
    “A Part,” Rosalyn Nasky (Chaddick Dance Theater)
    “Stream,” Ballet Austin (Director’s Choice)
    “Early That Summer,” Ballet Austin (Director’s Choice)
    “Echoes of Veiled Light,” Ballet East
  • Choreographer
    Collective choreography by Charles O. Anderson, Lisa Nicks, Kate Warren and Kathy Dunn Hamrick, More Than One Complication
    Kathy Dunn Hamrick, True Story
    Sally Jacques, Edge of Grace
    Andrea Ariel, “Echoes of Veiled Light”
    Acia Gray, In Your Shoes
Aare Krumpe and Paul Bloodgood in Stephen Mills' "Desire." Photo by Anne Bloodgood.
Aare Krumpe and Paul Bloodgood in Stephen Mills’ “Desire.” Photo by Anne Bloodgood.
  • Duet
    Paul Michael Bloodgood & Aara Krumpe, “Desire”
    Nathan Brumbaugh & Lisa Del Rosario, “Echoes of Veiled Light”
    Matt Shields & Tony Merriwether, Sophisticated Ladies


Jacques Colimon as Jaybo Freeman and Jennifer Underwood as Eller Freeman in "Terminus"
Jacques Colimon as Jaybo Freeman and Jennifer Underwood as Eller Freeman in “Terminus”
"The Wild Party," UT Dept. of Theatre
“The Wild Party,” UT Dept. of Theatre
  • Ensemble Performance
    “Mr. Burns, a post-electric play,” Mary Moody Northen Theatre
    “The Wild Party,” UT Austin Department of Theatre and Dance
    “The Diary of Anne Frank,” UT Department of Theatre and Dance
    “The Dumb Waiter,” Capital T Theatre
    “Topdog/Underdog,” Viceroys
    “The Tree Play,” Robi Polgar
    “Tortoise & Hare,” Summer Stock Austin
 "Mr. Burns, a post-electric play." Photo by Brett Brookshire.
“Mr. Burns, a post-electric play.” Photo by Brett Brookshire.
  • David Mark Cohen New Play Award
    Tender Rough Rough Tender,” Sarah Saltwick
    Fixing Timon of Athens,” Kirk Lynn
    “The Tree Play,” Robi Polgar
    “Hands Up Hoodies Down,” Zell Miller III
    “Hunger,” Ebony Stewart
    Tortoise & Hare,” Allen Robertson & Damon Brown
  • Costume Design
    Talena Martinez, “Marie Antoinette”
    Curtis Uhlemann and Bobby Moffett, “The Warriors”
    Mercedes O’Bannion, “Mast/The Government Inspector”
    Kelsey Vidic, “The Diary of Anne Frank”
    E. L. Hohn, “The Wild Party”
    Jenny McNee & Jennifer Rose Davis, “The History of King Lear”
    Court Watson, “Evita”
"Dancestry," Shay Ishii Dance Company
“Dancestry,” Shay Ishii Dance Company
  • Lighting Design
    Patrick Anthony, “Year of the Rooster“/“Hunger“/“Terminus/”Medea”/”Marie Antoinette”
    Stephen Pruitt, “In Your Shoes”/”Frankenstein: The Trouble Puppet Show”/”True Story”/”Lumen”
    Megan Slayter, “Dancestry”
    Jennifer Rogers, “The Tree Play”
    Po-Yang Sung, “The Diary of Anne Frank”
    Michelle Habeck, “Sophisticated Ladies”
    Sarah Maines, “Mr. Burns, a post-electric play”
  • Sound Design
    Robert S. Fisher, “Gusev/The Night Alive/The Realistic Joneses”
    K. Eliot Haynes, “Frankenstein: The Trouble Puppet Show/Mr. Burns, a post-electric play”
    William Meadows, “Edge of Grace”
    Lowell Bartholomee, “The Tree Play/Year of the Rooster”
    Ben Campbell, “The Diary of Anne Frank”
    Craig Brock, “Evita”
  • Video Design
    Lowell Bartolomee, “When the Rain Stops Falling”
    Eliot Gray Fisher, “The Warriors”
    Jared LeClaire, “The Wild Party”
    Julia Smith, “Gusev”
    Matt Smith, “The Diary of Anne Frank”


  • Singer
    Donnie Ray Albert, Aida
    Tuija Knihtilä, Aida
    Chan Yang Lim, At the Statue of Venus
    Lior, Compassion
    Eric Neuville, The Poet Sings: Emily Dickinson
    Issachar Savage, Aida
    Karen Slack, Aida
    Julia Taylor, Three Decembers
    Sonja DuToit Tengblad, The Poet Sings: Emily Dickinson
  • Chamber Performance
    Anton Nel & Bion Tsang, Butler School of Music
    Medieval Pilgrimage in Iberia, Texas Early Music Project
    The Late Show, Austin Chamber Music Center
    Pléiades, line upon line percussion
    The Poet Sings: Emily Dickinson, Conspirare
    Start the New Year With Bach, La Follia
    Traffic Jam, Steve Parker
  • Instrumentalist
    Catherine Davis, Illusory Impressions
    Jessica Mathaes, Compassion
    Anton Nel, Anton Nel & Bion Tsang
    Stephen Redfield, Start the New Year With Bach
    Michelle Schumann, The Poet Sings: Emily Dickinson/In the Face of Trouble
    Bion Tsang, Anton Nel & Bion Tsang
    Keith Womer, Start the New Year With Bach, La Follia