The arts in Austin offer a cool oasis from the July heat with a variety of invigorating and revitalizing shows. Njideka Akunyili Crosby shares intimate works at the Blanton, while Anne Siems shows resilience in her pieces at Wally Workman. Photographer Henry Horenstein gives us a refreshing take on zoo and aquarium animals, and Blas E Lopez charms with Native American culture, symbology, rituals, beliefs and, yes, more animals. This is just the tip of the iceberg of offerings on display this month in Austin to rejuvenate the senses.
Art Works Gallery
“Arye Shapiro: In the Flesh: An Exhibit of Figurative Paintings” — July 1 through August 13
Arye Shapiro is a long time Austin artist working in oils, painting from life with models in the studio. His solo exhibition will feature over 25 paintings from live sessions with models exploring color, form and light upon the human figure.
Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center
“Blas E. Lopez: Sendas de mi Vida” — July 2 through August 27
For artist Blas E Lopez, a majority of his subject matter is deeply rooted in his own cultural images and experiences, the animal kingdom, both real and spiritual, and an affinity for Native American culture, symbology, rituals and beliefs. Additionally, he says, “the vast majority of my body of work is anchored in real life experiences and occurrences. As you, the viewer, can readily witness, I have a passion for color! You will not find a lot of "earth tones" in my work. It can be verily said that you will "hear" my paintings before you "see" them.”
ICOSA Collective Gallery
“Spatial Harmony” — July 8 through August 6
“Spatial Harmony,” is a group exhibition featuring current ICOSA members exploring the commonalities and differences found within the Collective. The selection of works represents a range of media and execution with leitmotifs of patterning, reiteration, and assemblage, exemplifying the unique approaches of each featured artist. Individual perspectives are brought into focus by the conversation between works.
“Anne Siems: Inked” — July 9 through 31
German-born artist Anne Siems’ “Inked” is an intimate series displaying exposed female figures marked with tattoos of fables, myths and poems. Their body positions and baldness express a vulnerability not of victimhood but of strength and courage. Siems has digested the isolation, trauma and unpredictability of recent years and transformed her work into a message of resilience. Siems lives and works in Seattle, WA, and exhibits in galleries across the country.
“Deeper Roots Than Reason” — July 11 through August 8
The exhibition will feature works by Catherine Allen, Robert Collier Beam, Thomas Cook, Helen Jones, Madeline Rupard and Lauren Williams. “Deeper Roots Than Reason” explores the magic of seeing, remembering, and imagining a place. When one thinks about a place we remember both its tangible and intangible aspects. In their work these artists consider the natural and built environments and how our actions alter them. The title for this exhibition was inspired by the poem "Such Silence" by Mary Oliver.
Georgetown Art Center
“Elemental” — July 22 through August 21
Painter Paul Kolazinski and ceramicists Margaret Henkels and Deborah Otto each approach form from a different angle. Subtle curves and shapes, unique edges, intersections, and sophisticated planes bring together the worlds of painting, sculpture, and ceramics. In this exhibit, Henkels’ hand-built ceramics move everyday household vessels toward considerations of architecture. Kolazinski uses traditional painting techniques to produce dynamic shapes, which provide the base for powerful color exploration into the third dimension. And Otto’s wheel-thrown and sculpted porcelain work breaks out of the perfection of porcelain while reveling in its organic richness. Each artist invites the viewer into new perspectives on the intersection of form and surface allowing for shadow, line, color, and texture to join the conversation.
Blanton Museum of Art
“Njideka Akunyili Crosby” — July 23 through December 4
This exhibition from Nigerian-born, Los Angeles-based artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby presents four recent paintings on paper, the largest of which, Still You Bloom in This Land of No Gardens, depicts the artist holding her young child, enveloped by lush plants and vines. She created this work, she says, to counter the relative absence of representations of loving Black mothers in art, to make “the images I wish to see.” Akunyili Crosby desires as an artist to “center Black life, my experience as a Black woman, and the complexity of Black life—and to infuse every piece I make with … this deep love I have for my Black experience.” The other three paintings shown are new works prominently featuring Akunyili Crosby’s distinctive photo-transfer technique using reproductions culled from a vast image bank of photographs of her family in Nigeria; magazine spreads depicting notable Nigerian athletes, models, and musicians; and Vlisco fabric catalogues she has amassed “as a way of staying connected to home.”
“Henry Horenstein: ANIMALIA” — July 30 through August 14
Photographer, filmmaker and author, Henry Horenstein is an artist with an international following. In his recent exhibit, “Animalia”, Horenstein describes his subjects as “close to perfect for a photographer, especially if they live in zoos and aquariums. If it rains, or if the light is against you, you can come back the next day. Your subjects can’t go far. Animals give no attitude, and they also require no model releases. For a while, I billed myself as The Jewish Wildlife Photographer. I never shot in a jungle or underwater. Only where there was a food court, bathrooms, and WiFi.” Horenstein says he chooses to look closely and abstractly, “to see my subjects for their inherent beauty, oddness, mystery. For this, I shot often with macro lenses and close-up filters, so I could get close, and worked with grainy, over-processed film and printed in sepia to give them an old-school, timeless feel.”