State of the Arts
9 empowering and inspirational Austin art exhibits to explore this month
Plant the seeds of art this month and decorate the soul with inspiring and empowering exhibits to see in Austin. There are Texas landscapes to explore at Wally Workman, a humorous and critical look at our culture of consumption and convenience with the “Plastic Bag Store” at Blue Genie Bazaar. Discover a Mexican-American-Jewish artist that questions identities through Morse code and flags at Women & Their Work. The Umlauf reveals “Rebuffed,” a selection of rejected pieces from Charles Umlauf, looking at failed or returned commissions. Draw inspiration and understand the challenges of Chicano Austin artists at the Mexic-Arte museum, and Instagram yourself in front of the new sculptural ambigram LOVE HATE at the Long Center lawn. The Austin art scene is flourishing this month, and you have a front row seat.
Umlauf Sculpture Garden
“Rebuffed: Reconceiving Failures” — April 12 through August 14
This exhibition focuses on Charles Umlauf’s “Rebuffed” or “rejected” works and looks at failed or returned commissions and works that never made it to the public eye and explores how an artist must rework and return to an artwork that they once had presented as finished. Through the course of his career, Umlauf managed to turn professional rejection into success, while working through the failure that comes with experimentation in his personal practice. Featuring never-before-seen sculptures and drawings taken from the Umlauf’s vast archives and collection, viewers can see first-hand how failure can be a crucial component to success.
Women & Their Work
“Alexandra Robinson: Delimitations, or words to live by” — April 9 through June 2
Alexandra Robinson is deeply connected to the complex history of what it is to be Mexican-American and Jewish, which has cultivated a complexity in how she sees and experiences the world. A visual artist who uses language and symbols in her oeuvre, she grew up in the military and has lived all over the world. Because of the semi-transient nature of moving every two years she has a longing for place and identity and explores these themes in her work. Through the use of Morse code, flag semaphore and the flag form, Robinson appropriates symbols of American exceptionalism, which are informed by her upbringing. The work conjures ideas of nation, place, and becomes representative of identity … and the drawing of boundaries.
“Gordon Fowler: Texas: An Abstract Landscape" — April 2 through May 1
In “Abstract Landscape,” Gordon Fowler returns to the landscape of his youth in the hills of Austin, Texas. He revisits the "Whiskey Tree" that was his pirate ship and home base for adventures as well as where moonshiners hid whiskey for his grandfather during Prohibition. He explores Little Bee Creek that runs below on its way to Lake Austin. Fowler describes the Texas landscape as “a hardscrabble, difficult landscape with a myriad of abstract possibilities for painting.” In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Texas State Park system, Fowler was chosen to paint Honey Creek in Mason County for their upcoming Art of Texas Parks 2023 traveling exhibition. This tributary of the Llano River inspired multiple additional paintings that are included in this exhibit.
“Chicano/a Art, Movimiento y Más en Austen, Tejas 1960s to 1980s” — April 8 through June 19
This exhibition serves as a primer on the rich and understudied Chicano art movement in Austin, and highlights the challenges these artists faced as they learned about their history, dealt with systemic injustice, sought a unique Chicano/a art voice, and found or created a place for themselves. Work by prolific artists of the area paired with documentary ephemera creates context for those turbulent times. The show highlights the breadth of creativity these artists achieved in this time in a variety of forms including visual art, music by the band Conjunto Aztlán and others, photography, dance, music, poetry, literature, film, and other forms.
Blue Genie Art Bazaar
“The Plastic Bag Store” — April 2 through 17
Award-winning puppet artist, director, and filmmaker Robin Frohardt reveals “The Plastic Bag Store,” a humorous and critical look at our culture of consumption and convenience. The art installation and immersive film experience is presented by Texas Performing Arts as part of its 40th Anniversary Season. One-hour performances will run multiple times per day. Conceived, fabricated, written, and directed by Brooklyn-based Frohardt, her installation brings into focus the enduring effects of single-use plastics. Inside “The Plastic Bag Store installation”, deli meats, fresh produce, multi-layered cakes, sushi rolls, frozen foods, boxed cereal, and more have been meticulously sculpted by hand, made from discarded plastics. Performers transform the store into a micro-cinema where hidden worlds and inventive puppetry explore the notion of artifact, misplaced nostalgia and how what we value least may become our most lasting cultural legacy.
Link & Pin Gallery
“Robyn Jamison: Woman as Object” — April 7 through 30
Visual artist and author Robyn Jamison’s work speaks to “a mythology of woman’s transformation from marginalization to personhood.” Jamison’s work is a multi-media paper doll installation that measures just under seven feet and comes from her lifelong, conscious inquiry into the nature of being human. Her doll comes complete with an interchangeable wardrobe measured and designed just for her. “My works engage the viewer’s own relationship to the world at the individual, community, and global levels,” Jamison said.
“Lorena Morales: im/perfect home” — April 14 through May 21
Lorena Morales’ artistic practice focuses on the idea of home, specifically our memory of home. Until now, the majority of her explorations of this theme have considered ‘Home’ as a place and have often been filled with a sense of nostalgia and longing, sometimes addressing the loss of memory or loss of home. Now, with “im/perfect home” Morales broadens her idea of home to not just a physical place, but a concept and condition — and a realization that home isn’t always perfect. Morales is a multidisciplinary visual artist currently based in Houston with roots in Maracaibo, Venezuela.
Long Center's Hartman Concert Lawn
“LOVE HATE: Mia Florentine Weiss” — now through September
Monumental in scale and ambition, the “one-word poem” consists of oversized letters, which spell out LOVE from the front and HATE from the back. This larger-than-life piece of artwork is made by German artist Mia Florentine Weiss. Since May 2019, LOVE HATE, has traveled Europe as a symbol of peace aimed at promoting social discourse. The sculpture first arrived in the U.S. in November 2021 where it was temporarily displayed in Washington, D.C. Weiss juxtaposes the extremes of human emotions and seeks to transcend borders, always looking for unity and contradiction, which she symbolizes through the collapse of opposites, which can be seen in the sculptural ambigram LOVE HATE. It not only stands for the Faustian nature that exists within us as humans, but gains a new meaning, 100 years after the end of the First World War, as an international symbol of peace striving to transform the current hatred of the world into love.
The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center
“Tarek Atoui: The Whisperers & The Wave” — April 9 through August 14
Tarek Atoui is a Lebanese Paris-based artist and composer whose work explores the medium of sound. Sound requires transmission through physical materials, within particular spatial and social environments, and in relation to our individual bodies. Atoui is mostly interested in the questions: What happens to sound as it travels through materials like metal, wood, and water? How can we perceive sound by listening not only with our ears but also with our eyes, our fingers, our bones—our whole bodies? Atoui works with other musicians, composers, and instrument makers around the world to develop custom materials he calls “tools for listening,” which conduct and amplify sounds in multisensory ways. The exhibition comprises two installations, each occupying one floor of the Jones Center. On the first floor, Atoui presents, “The Whisperers,” which began as a series of workshops he conducted with his son’s kindergarten class in Paris. On the second floor, Atoui presents “The Wave,” an accumulation of projects he developed throughout the last decade. Atoui’s dynamic installations are both sound environments and spaces for activation through occasional live performances. Visitors are invited to explore the environments and attune their bodies to how sounds develop and interact in the spaces over time.