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 as artistic director. Moore, remembered recently for “Buyer and Cellar” at Zach Theatre, will work alongside Executive Director Kate Hix, 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.
RELATED: Moore joins the Brotherhood of Barbra.
Austin Opera elects new board chairman
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.
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!’”
In this case, important arts news comes in threes.
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 — hey, that’s on third the size of our South Austin house! — 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.”
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.
By Michael Barnes
Stone-carver Stuart Simpson, who lives in Cedar Park and works from a studio in Southeast Austin, can estimate how much it would cost to add President Donald J. Trump to Mount Rushmore, something the president has discussed in public with a mocking tone that ends up sounding serious.
New York-based Washington Post reporter Philip Bump contacted Stu, a neat guy and a member of the Stone Carvers Guild whom we’ve always intended to profile, to find out what it would take.
“His estimate — which was obviously very rough given the infrequency of projects of this scale — was that it would take a team of about 180 people about four years to complete the job. (The work is “not like making a pizza,” he said.) That team would consist of about 25 designers, 30 trained stone workers and some 125 laborers to do the bulk of the chipping away at the mountain to create a 60-foot-tall head.
“At estimated hourly rates of $100 (designers), $50 (trained stone workers) and $30 (the rest of the crew), that’s about $64 million alone — just for labor.
“The way the work would proceed would be by “taking away the parts that you know don’t need to be there,” working from the top down, Simpson said. He likened it to terracing the side of a mountain, which, in a sense, it is. While the original sculptures were carved using tools such as jackhammers, Simpson noted that building this in 2017 would offer some advantages.
“Technology these days is way more advanced,” he said. “I think a lot of it will still have to be sculpted and removed off the mountain in the same manner that it was in the past, but with the new computer abilities and 3-D scanning, I would think there’s much more equipment that could be used to make it a more accurate and easier process.” Laser locating could allow for much more precise carving, for example, allowing a carver to hit a very particular depth on a section of Trump’s face.”
This story about how Austin Classical Guitar will honor refugees in performances at the Blanton Museum of Art this week hits the papers on Thursday.
Guitarist Isaac Bustos brings an irreducible point of view to “I/We,” a multifaceted concert on the theme of refugees coming July 28-29 to the Blanton Museum of Art.
“I know what it’s like to have your entire life in limbo,” Bustos says. “As a child, being treated differently because of my refugee status was difficult. Sometimes I fear that we lose sight of the human aspect of being a refugee, but a project like (this) gives a voice to people with diverse and often traumatic life experiences, and shines a light on what they went through.”
Multimedia producer Yuliya Lanina, part of an international group of artists assembled for this project by Austin Classical Guitar, comes to it with a potent personal connection as well.
“I came as a refugee from Russia in 1990, fleeing anti-Semitism and constant threats,” she says. “The U.S. welcomed me and my family, and we were given the freedom to build our lives without being punished for who we are. I want others who are now in a similar situation, or worse, to have that same opportunity.”
During the past season, the stories of refugees have repeatedly gripped Austin artists. …