Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Art in Austin

I spent the morning making a brief tour of art spaces in downtown Austin. While taking pictures at Barton Springs earlier in the week, someone told me about Will Van Overbeek's exhibit of photographs of Barton Springs at The Austin Museum of Art. Unfortunately, the show had ended and the museum was closed for installation, but I have since looked at Overbeek's highly saturated and frenetic images of the pool atmosphere on his website.

I made my way to the new Blanton Museum of Art and raced thru the first few galleries of dark, old European oil paintings and reproductions of Roman busts. I was more intrigued by a collection of early twentieth century paintings of the American West.

In an eclectic exhibit of modern and contemporary American and Latin American art, I was struck by a large and thickly textured oil painting, Dallas Chaos II, by Peter Dean depicting the Jack Ruby's shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, including glitter and a photographer figure looming hungrily with his 35mm camera.

There was little photography to be found except for a series of small color photos by Sigmar Polke showing a ruler bent into the shape of a star and a print by Gerhard Richter of his studio.

My favorite two pieces in the exhibition fall into the category of new media. I loved a piece by Emily Jacir titled from Texas with Love which consisted of video footage on a monitor driving on a highway thru the desert of west Texas. The artist had asked a group of Palestians, if they were given the opportunity to drive freely in car with interference for the Israelis, what song would they listen to? 51 songs which one could listen to on a set of headphones accompanied the visual imagery, including Material Girl by Madonna.

I was also mesmerized by a dvd projection by Anton Vidolke which documented in fragments of real time his process of painting the exterior of an old metro station in Mexico City with red paint.

My art tour ended at the Arthouse of The Jones Center where I saw a show called New American Talent The Twenty-Second Exhibition. I was excited to find two photographs by Sam Gerazi whose work I first fell in love with at a Hey, Hot Shot exhibition at Jen Bekman in 2006. The two untitled pieces he is currently exhibiting are shot in an unusual 4x10 format creating almost panoramic views of concrete parking spaces within and outside of a Walgreens at night. The images are cool, painterly, minimal, elegant, eerie.

I also enjoyed a series of odd and whimsical images by a photographer originally from Minnesota, William Hudley, capturing blobs of fabric floating in front of everyday urban landscapes. The fabrics suspended over these backgrounds create interesting color fields and a sense of playful otherwordliness.

And a remarkable oil painting by Kim Owens of telephone poles on a street mixing bold, graphic lines with softer,impressionistic areas of color.

All of this art consumption was a welcome break from Texas heat and meat.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Walker Pickering said...

I'm not sure how much longer you'll be in Austin, but if you want to hit the commercial galleries as well, these were always my favorites:

1) Stephen L. Clark Gallery - all photography, just a block away from the Whole Foods Headquarters. (Here's a map.)

2) Oswald Gallery - all photography, but apparently their location on Congress is closed (as far as their web site shows). Usually a lot of big names and vintage work.

3) d berman Gallery - Usually good shows.

Of course, I've been gone from Austin for a year, and I don't recognize a few of the names on the In The Galleries Austin map.