Sizzling creativity

8 imaginative Austin art exhibits to keep it cool and cultured this summer

8 Austin art exhibits to keep it cool and cultured this summer

La Danse
André Derain, La Danse, circa 1905–1906, opaque and transparent watercolor and graphite on paper. Courtesy of Jack Shear
Torbjørn Rødland, Eggs, 2019, chromogenic print on Kodak Endura paper.  Courtesy of Torbjørn Rødland
Lady Bird Johnson exhibit
Photos and other artifacts from Lady Bird Johnson's life are on display at the LBJ Presidential Library. Courtesy of LBJ Presidential Library
River Stories
Michelle Gardella's ongoing River Story series, on view at Dougherty Arts Center, includes portraits of women and multiple rivers. Michelle Gardella/Instagram
WTF Icon
Graffiti artist Risk's WTF Icon, on display at West Chelsea Contemporary. West Chelsea Contemporary
La Danse
Lady Bird Johnson exhibit
River Stories
WTF Icon

The Austin museum and gallery scene is in full swing, and August brings an abundance of exhibits to delight every type of art aficionado. From Warhol drawings and surreal photographs and videos to super cool international graffiti artists, “photographic paintings,” and a celebration the life and legacy of Lady Bird Johnson, the city is pulsing with possibilities for hours of artistic exploration.

The Blanton Museum of Art
“Drawn: From the Collection of Jack Shear.” Now through August 22.
A deeply curious collector, Jack Shear has long had an interest in how artists collect the work of other artists. This exhibition of drawings has been curated in an exploratory, free-flowing manner in which the forms, compositions, and colors on the sheets respond to one another in a playful, nontraditional hang. Artists include Picasso, Neel, Hockney, Lichtenstein, Munch, Orozco, and Warhol — to name a few. Shear is a photographer, curator, and executive director of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation and was instrumental in bringing Kelly’s Austin to the Blanton.

The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center
“Deborah Roberts: I’m” and “Torbjørn Rødland: Bible Eye.”
A week of free admission, August 9-15.
Get a last chance to see Austin artist Deborah Roberts and her intricate collages and poignant critiques of contemporary society through the lens of Black children. And Norwegian photographer Torbjørn Rødland’s images that blend the cool, seductive aestheticism of commercial and fashion photography with the layered complexity of conceptual practice. Both exhibitions close August 15 and advance reservations are required. 

LBJ Presidential Library
“Lady Bird: Beyond the Wildflowers.” Now through August 13, 2023.
This landmark exhibit celebrates the life and legacy of Lady Bird Johnson and is the first time the LBJ Library has curated a major exhibition about the former first lady’s personal and political life. The exhibit gives a more complete story of her life through letters, photographs, clothing, and artifacts that will be seen by the public for the first time. Lady Bird: Beyond the Wildflowers gives visitors more context of the celebrated Lady Bird’s education, family, campaign efforts, work as a businesswoman, and her role as a philanthropist.

Women & Their Work
“We Know Who We Are. We Know What We Want.” Now through September 21.
This inaugural exhibition in the gallery’s new home on East Cesar Chavez Street examines how the idea of feminism continues to be one that has many definitions, depending on the lens through which it is viewed. Curator and artist Vicki Meek invited artists — who all take an unapologetic view of their world — to come together in a collective conversation around issues of feminism and humanism.

Flatbed Gallery
“The Way Back Show.” Now through August 21.
Flatbed’s legacy for contemporary printmaking began in 1989, and this exhibit presents selections from the first 15 years, highlighting the spirit of adventure, experimentation, and expertise that became Flatbed’s hallmark. The exhibit includes selected works from John Alexander, Terry Allen, Michael Ray Charles, Kelly Fearing, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Jack Hanley, Sandria Hu, Luis Jimenez, Robert Levers, Melissa Miller, Celia Muñoz, Linda Ridgway, Dan Rizzie, Larry Scholder, James Surls, Frank X. Tolbert 2, Liz Ward, and Bettie Ward.

Dougherty Arts Center
“Luminous mo:ments by Sarah Luna” and “River Story by Michelle Gardella.” Now through August 28.
With a background in spiritual psychology, photographer Sarah Luna is attuned to the essence of all acts of creation, while her use of color, energy, and form create a visual poem of photography and sculpture. Michelle Gardella spent 11 years photographing River Story, a series exploring the reunification of women, families, and multiple rivers found across the United States, and what it means to belong. The gallery is open for viewing by reservation.

Yard Dog
“Michelle Hauser: Camera-less Photography.” Now through August 29.
Maine artist Michelle Hauser uses photochemistry in lieu of traditional paint in her ongoing series of Camera-less Photography paintings. Hauser paints with historic light-sensitive materials, such as cyanotype, directly onto rag paper in a darkened room. Once completely dry, the painted surface is exposed to sunlight and, in a cool bath of water, the exposure is fixed and her marks turn blue, creating canvases with earthy tones and textures.

West Chelsea Contemporary
“Street Kings: Risk and Blek le Rat.” Now through August 22.
This exhibit highlights two kings of the graffiti movement, Risk, based in Los Angeles, and Blek le Rat, based in Paris. The graffiti masters were both active in and influenced by the New York City scene, Blek in the 1970s and Risk in the late 1980s. It’s Austin’s biggest street-art show, and not to be missed.