state of the arts
10 invigorating Austin art exhibits and installations to fall for this autumn
With the hustle and bustle of September, Austin’s galleries, museums, and art institutions welcome a flurry of new shows and creative displays, from the first artistic residency at George Washington Carver to the first-ever survey of works from the visionary mind of artist and musician Daniel Johnston. Explore delightful doodles, sewing machines in symphony, experimental West Texas film, vibrant glassmaking, and literary genius. That’s just a tiny taste of the artistic smorgasbord this month.
The Blanton Museum of Art
“Without Limits: Helen Frankenthaler, Abstraction, and the Language of Print.” September 4-February 20, 2022.
Helen Frankenthaler transformed abstract art in the 1950s with her first soak-stained painting, Mountains and Sea, which she made by pouring and brushing thinned-out oil paint over raw canvas placed on the floor. Her deliberate movements from above resulted in abstract works that seem both intentional and spontaneous. A key figure in the development of color-field painting, she was a tireless experimenter with color, form, and technique during the course of her life. “Without Limits” showcases 10 prints and six proofs that span five decades of the artist’s career.
The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center
“Daniel Johnston: I Live My Broken Dreams.” September 11-March 20, 2022.
“Daniel Johnston: I Live My Broken Dreams” is the first-ever museum survey of works by Austin’s beloved visionary musician and visual artist, who passed away in 2019. Perhaps best known for his music, Johnston was also an accomplished artist who exhibited his comic-inspired drawings during his lifetime. Yet apart from his iconic “Hi, How Are You?” mural, painted in Austin in 1993, his abundant visual art remains little-known to most audiences. Here’s your chance to immerse yourself in the genius’ work.
Harry Ransom Center
“Gabriel García Márquez, The Making of a Global Writer.” Now through January 2, 2022.
Drawing primarily on the papers of celebrated Colombian writer and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, who wrote One Hundred Years of Solitude, this exhibition is comprised of approximately 300 objects, including numerous documents never previously viewed in a public setting that show the evolution of the literary icon. Throughout his life, García Márquez repeatedly thanked his family and friends for their support. Throughout the exhibition, correspondence, photos, and videos illustrate how his professional and personal circles supported his literary career.
George Washington Carver Museum
“Small Black Museum Residency Volume I.” Now through January 15, 2022.
This exhibition features digital artwork by Baltimore native and Nigerian-American architect turned game designer Temi Olujobi; works by Hypatia Sorunke, a writer and visual storyteller whose work explores the links between culture, humanity, and power through portraiture, sound design, and video; and works by Adrian Armstrong, a musician, painter, printmaker, and mixed-media artist from Omaha, Nebraska. Armstrong, now based in Austin, explores Black identities and the perception of Black bodies in predominantly white American spaces. This exhibition is a culmination of the museum’s first artist residency.
Neill-Cochran House Museum
“Annie Lyle Harmon: On Her Own Path.” September 8-December 19.
Annie Lyle Harmon, a professional painter in the San Francisco area from the late 19th century into the 20th century, focused on intimate landscape scenes that removed the viewer from evidence of human intrusion into the natural wonderland that was California’s central Pacific coast. This spotlight exhibition brings together 17 paintings from one Austin collection and situates Harmon within the rapidly changing social, cultural, and environmental context of California in the post-gold-rush era.
Sewing Machine Orchestra by Martin Messier. New installation.
Sewing Machine Orchestra is a sound and light installation composed of 12 synced sewing machines. The machines’ continual movements steadily increase in power and volume, gradually building to full speed as the accelerating rhythm creates a discordant, electro-acoustic concert. Martin Messier is a Montreal-based artist who explores the relationship between everyday objects and their sound potential through performative audiovisual experiences.
Lydia Street Gallery
“Steven Bernard Jones: Zero to Sixty.” Now through September 16.
Houston sculptor and educator Steven Bernard Jones shares his solo show, “Zero to Sixty,” comprised of doodles that leave their mark on highway maps, globes, and gallery walls. He calls it his “political statement for a Black man in the 21st century.” Using a cattle marker or a permanent marker and drawing on discarded maps gave Jones a way of thinking about social and political issues, “redacting visual information with my Sharpie marker.”
Visual Arts Center
“Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas: The Blessings of the Mystery.” September 24-December 3.
Organized by Ballroom Marfa, this exhibit highlights the layered and complicated histories of West Texas. Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas explore the connections and tensions between the cultural, scientific, industrial, and sociopolitical forces of three key locations: the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, the Amistad Dam on the Rio Grande, and the Permian Basin oil fields. At the exhibition’s center is The Teaching of the Hands, a single-channel film that recounts the region’s complex histories of colonization, migration, and ecological precarity from the perspective of Juan Mancias, chairman of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas.
Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
“Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow.” Now through November 28.
This powerful exhibit, organized by the New York Historical Society, explores the national struggle for full citizenship and racial equality that unfolded in the 50 years after the Civil War. “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow” takes a national perspective on these transformative years with a particular focus on evolving definitions and expressions of equality and citizenship. Narratives center on African Americans who pursued the ideals of Reconstruction and persevered in the face of a developing legal system of Jim Crow laws and policies promoting racial inequality. Artifacts in the exhibition include an 1850s ballot box, a Burroughs adding machine, a Jim Crow segregated bus sign, a portrait of Dred Scott, and a Pullman porter hat. Listen to early recordings of songs from the movement, including “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Strange Fruit,” and view historic footage of rarely seen early moving images.
“Rachel Kalisky: Moment Between Stillness and Movement.” September 2-October 2.
Rachel Kalisky originally worked in corporate and industrial design, and was known for her contemporary interiors, straight lines and bold colors. She’s now transferred these skills to the kiln form process of glassworking. The artworks in this exhibit include the grids, intricate patterns, and vibrant colors that characterize Kalisky’s practice, but with her further examination of texture and forms, she has been able to achieve an intense sense of movement and depth. She uses the interplay of light, shapes, textures, details, and the transformation of colors to create a variety of visual effects and to express an emotion and/or a moment in time with her work.