Step inside a fresh look at art at The Contemporary Austin

The Contemproary AustinOne of the common complaints I hear about Austin is the lack of a serious art museum. (And to be honest, I’ve said it myself.) Nearby Houston has an entire museum and arts district — something many of us would love to see here in town.

But I’m discovering that Austin does have some wonderful small museums and galleries, including my newest find: The Contemporary Austin.

We made an unplanned visit last week to the Jones Center location (honestly, we were just out for a walk and saw the sign) and were very pleasantly surprised. The spacious galleries featured an installation by Do Ho Suh and his vision of the art in everyday objects and spaces.

DO HO SUH toilet

His work strips away the shells and reveals the essence of space and function. The installation includes a full-size house created from translucent fabric and a bare-bones structure.

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According to the docent, his intent was to illustrate what we carry from house to house as we move through life — our ghost memories of walls and sinks, doorways and cabinets.

3-2014-12-06 19.44.10An installation of this size and complexity is usually reserved for larger museums in big cities. (Do Ho Suh’s work has recently been displayed in New York City, Hong Kong and Singapore.) So its presence in Austin says something significant about the art community here.

The Contemporary Austin actually consists of two locations. The Jones Center, located downtown at 700 Congress Avenue and Laguna Gloria with its indoor and outdoor space, located at 3809 W 35th Street in Austin. Both locations are committed to bringing innovative and cutting edge art work and installations to the Austin art community.

Admission to either location is only $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors. Members get in free, and Tuesdays are free to all visitors (although donations are gratefully accepted). The museum offers art classes, programs for teens and children and special events throughout the year.

The Specs

The Jones Center
700 Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701
512-453-5312

Mon- Closed
Tues – Sat 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Sun 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Laguna Gloria
3809 West 35th Street
Austin, Texas 78703
512-458-8191

Gallery
Mon: Closed
Tues. – Sun 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Grounds
Mon. – Sat. 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sun. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

http://www.thecontemporaryaustin.org/

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Austin castle hides a wealth of classic sculpture on Wordfree Wednesday

 

02-DSC03663You may have seen it while you were driving or biking around town…a castle up on a hill above the city . Surrounded by adorable, quirky houses, this seemingly out-of-place castle is more than an odd architectural choice. It’s actually home to some of the most amazing sculptures I’ve seen outside of the world’s fine art museums.

The art is the work of Elisabet Ney, who worked in Austin in the late 19th to early 20th century. You can ready more about her and her work on the studio website. But since this is (nearly) Wordfree Wednesday, on to the images.

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And one last set of images. Lest you get overwhelmed by her artistry….a very human piece of the collection.

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A work of fine art? A treasured family heirloom? Read on….

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The Specs

304 East 44th Street
Austin, 78751
Phone: 512-458-2255
Fax: 512-453-0638
Hours:
Wednesday – Sunday 12pm – 5pm
Closed: Monday and Tuesday

 

 

Sundays in my City: Castle Hill Graffiti Park

Castle Park graffiti park 1I reserved Sundays on this blog for whatever strikes my fancy. This morning, my inspiration came from Traci from A Star in my Own Universewhen her Sunday in my City post landed in my inbox.  The post was part of meme from Unknown Mamiwhere she invites people to share posts that show something unique in their city. I loved the idea!

So here I am…sharing something that makes Austin unique, that was fun to look at, that made me smile. Castle Hill Graffiti.

Castle Park Graffiti creature

In lots of cities, graffiti is an underground art. Buildings are tagged, arrests are made, but as an art form, it’s undervalued. Not so in Austin. We have an entire park dedicated to graffiti artists.

Castle Park Graffiti 2This is not an elite park, reserved for the few. There are no forms to fill out, or approvals to seek. Artists from around the city simply bring their paints and their vision — and art happens.

artist at work at Castle Hill Graffiti Park AustinAnd the result is amazing! Colors, shapes, messages, interwoven in a collage that took my breath away…or made me smile.

DSC03558Even the park’s trash cans, light posts and drainage lines had been turned into works of art.

Castile Hill Park Drainage lineIt’s tempting to try my own skills with a spray paint can, and add to the colors of Austin. On the other hand, I am so impressed with the work of these mostly-young creators of color and design that I think I just might leave it to them, and remain an appreciative audience.

A walk can turn into art in Austin

signs near university of texas on Guadalupe

One of the things I’m enjoying here in Austin is the walk-ability.  And all the great shapes, colors, designs and fonts I find to look at and photograph along the way.

The images in this post came from a walk along Guadalupe across from the University of Texas campus.  Typical snapshots are of buildings or statues…but finding and photographing the small details of signs, fences, walls and sidewalks can turn an ordinary walk into an art experience.  Best of all, kids of all ages can get in on the experience.  Big kids like us have as much fun as little ones, and the little ones will love taking their own pictures.

And if you’re looking for a unique date night activity….two cameras, a connector and a tablet or laptop to look at your finds together over dinner or dessert.  Perfect!  Or head out by yourself for some quiet time really seeing your city, maybe for the first time.  It’s amazing how different things look when you’re looking for the details!

I know this isn’t the typical “A is For Austin” post, but once in awhile it’s nice to talk about something that’s free and fun and simple and easy to do no matter where in Austin you might be.

Shakespeare goes Bollywood with the Austin Shakespeare Company

Austin Shakespeare Twelfth Night in Zilker Park Austin Texas

For 28 years, Austin Shakespeare has been offering local drama fans a chance to relax on the hill in Zilker Park with picnics and spring breezes while they bring the best of the bard to life on stage.

If this year’s production, our first in Austin, was typical, we are in for an annual treat.  I have been to Shakespeare in the Park in places as diverse as Harrisburg, PA., Cedar City, Utah and New York City.  And I have to say this production rivals the very best I have seen in any of them.

This was no Ren Faire sideshow or community theatre production.  The acting was true to the characters with original touches that gave an old story a new richness.  The casting, costuming and blocking were spot on, and the lighting by Jason Amato was perfectly set to enhance both the story and the actors.

But I have to save my highest praise for the composer and the directors.

Setting a Shakespearean production to music and dance is no easy task, and is doubly difficult when you overlay another time or culture onto it.  Composer Naga Valli‘s original score conveyed the energy of Bollywood mixed with the (often ribald) humor of Shakespeare’s story. And she did it seamlessly.

Directors Ann Ciccolella and Alex Alford created a production that so successfully integrated Bollywood and the Bard that one could easily believe this was the intent of the playwright from the start.  As Lance said after the final scene, “Shakespeare would have approved.”

The company’s 29th season begins in late autumn, with Noel Coward’s Design for Living, followed by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  Next year’s Shakespeare in the Park production will be The Winter’s Tale.

The group also offers a Shakespeare reading group, which meets weekly to read, discuss and act out all of the plays.