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Breaking down the best Austin art exhibits for Spring 2014

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Charles Long Laguna Gloria
The ground of Laguna Gloria will change into an interactive art show with work by Charles Long. The Contemporary Austin Laguna Gloria/ thecontemporaryaustin
Juan Capistran
Juan Capistran's mix media art will be shown at UTVAC. Juan Capistran/ UTVAC.org
Charles Long Jones Center
See another side of artist Charles Long at the Jones Center. The Contemporary Austin Jones Center/ thecontemporaryaustin
Elizabeth Catlett UTVAC exhibit
Elizabeth Catlett's work will be exhibited at UTVAC. Elizabeth Catlett/ UTVAC.org
Charles Long Laguna Gloria
Juan Capistran
Charles Long Jones Center
Elizabeth Catlett UTVAC exhibit

Staying in and powering through your Netflix queue is all well and good when schools are closed and the roads are icy and dangerous, but the weather is heating up and Austin museums have got tons of culturally edifying material that you can't even get from a Sherlock marathon.

Do you know that there are people living in Austin who haven’t been to these places even once? Go see some art, already!

Between Mountains and Sea: Arts of the Ancient Andes, now through August 17
Blanton Museum of Art — 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

It would’ve done a world more harm than good to unearth the Nazca lines and ship them to Texas, but plenty of actually portable ancient artwork made it to the Blanton for this feast of archeological aesthetics. Guest curator Kimberly L. Jones specializes in the work and culture of the Moche and lived in northern coastal Peru in the first millennium. Expect brilliant polychrome ceramics, expressive effigy figures and some of the finest fabric art made in any place or time.

Illustrating Anarchy and Revolution, now through February 28
Mexic-Arte — 419 Congress Avenue

Produced in partnership with Mexico City’s La Casa de El Hijo del Ahuizote and the UT Austin Center for Mexican American Studies, this provocative exhibition features artwork inspired by Mexican anarchist movements in labor, agriculture and politics over the last 150 years. The rebel activism of the brothers Flores Magón act as the cornerstone of the exhibit and feature anarchist newspapers and sociopolitical work from a long list of featured artists.

For even more Mexic-Arte, check out the conjunctively curated Fantastic & Grotesque: José Clemente Orozco in Print at the Benson Library on the UT campus.

Pet Sounds, now through April 20
The Contemporary Austin Laguna Gloria — 3809 West 35th Street

Three words, y’all: giant cuddly blobs. California artist Charles Long has descended upon Austin with two exhibitions in multisensory media, and Pet Sounds is the more huggable of the two. Long has gobbed his candy-colored lumps all over the lovely, typically quiet grounds of Laguna Gloria, disguising them in places as ordinary as handrails, inviting you to touch everything you see. When you pet the comfy lumps, they burble and blip and chirp and sing. Wait around for good weather, gather up the kids and see/hear/feel for yourself.

CATALIN, now through April 20
The Contemporary Austin Jones Center — 700 Congress Ave.

Long’s indoor work is a bit less joyful than the plastic blob petting zoo by the lake—its title was taken from the trademark of an early toxic plastic made from formaldehyde, for example—but its multi-channel sensory input is no less effective. The space inside the Jones Center is riddled with sculptures, films, music, aromas, theatrical performance and other avenues of spectacle designed to make you feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable and doomed. But be unafraid! Take a date here instead of to a movie and watch what happens.

The University of Texas at Austin Visual Arts Center — UT Art Building, 23rd & Trinity Streets

There are five (five!) exhibits currently up at the UTVAC, so let’s do this one as a lightning round:

It Will All Happen Again
Vaulted Gallery, now through May 10
Michael Sieben is a local illustrator and designer who helped found Okay Mountain and whose work you may know from VICE, Juxtapoz and Thrasher. It Will Happen Again is curated by Michael Sieben.

Selections from the Green-Christian Collection
Mezzanine Gallery, now through March 8
The Green-Christian Collection represents a significant and diverse body of painting, printmaking and mixed media art from the Caribbean and African Diaspora. Curated by author and professor Eddie Chambers.

What We Want, What We Believe: Towards A Higher Fidelity
The Arcade, now through March 8
Multimedia artist Juan Capistran remixes the canon of orthodox art using inspiration from popular culture, counterculture and radical activism. Curated by Rose G. Salseda.

Grids and Geography: Dean Fleming’s Travels in North Africa and Greece, 1964
East Gallery, now through March 8
These paintings chronicle the artist’s journey from Morocco to Lesbos, serving as an abstract record of the landscapes, colors and light in specific stops along the way. Curated by author and professor Linda Dalrymple Henderson.

Girls Gone West
Center Space, now through March 8
Artists Chantal Wnuk, Allie Underwood, Maia Schall, Karina Eckmeier and Ally Acheson-Snow chronicle the sights and feelings of a week-long trip through the American Southwest. Curated by the artists.

And as if five art exhibits weren’t enough, there’s also a schedule of special treats put on by the VAC.

So? What are you waiting for? Go see all the things! We’ll have new suggestions for you by the time you’re done with these — promise.

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