It’s the most wonderful time of the year … to soak up some creative cheer, for cozy gallery outings and wondrous exhibits worth exploring. It’s the happiest season of all, and Austin art galleries and museums have decked the walls with wonders such as those from Basquiat and Blek le Rat. From Terry Allen’s personal narratives to exhibits exploring the art of peace and delving into mystery and benevolence, there’s plenty to dazzle art lovers this month.
West Chelsea Contemporary
“Concrete to Canvas: A Celebration of Graffiti + Street Art”
Now through January 2, 2022.
“Concrete to Canvas” is West Chelsea Contemporary’s most comprehensive and large-scale exhibition of graffiti and street art to date. In celebration of the movements’ contributions to the greater art world at large and of their individual achievements, the gallery will show selections from its collection of more than 1000 pieces in concurrent exhibitions at its flagship space in Austin and at its New York City gallery. The exhibition features works from Blek le Rat, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mr. Brainwash, RISK, and Richard Hambleton.
Blanton Museum of Art
“Terry Allen: MemWars”
December 18 through July 10, 2022.
Acclaimed visual artist, singer-songwriter, and Texan Terry Allen recounts personal narratives and histories, many about the American West, across multiple mediums, including drawing, sculpture, video, and performance. “MemWars” takes a cue from Italian Futurist one-act plays known as “sintesi,” which rejected stagnation and embraced innovation. The video installation presents Allen, along with his wife and frequent collaborator, artist and actress Jo Harvey Allen, performing autobiographical dialogues to introduce related songs. Allen then performs the songs, accompanying himself on keyboards, in front of a changing landscape image.
Assemblage Contemporary Craftsman Gallery
“Retrospective Show: Amado M. Peña”
Now through December 24.
In this collection of paintings spanning four decades, Amado Peña, who is of Mexican and Yaqui ancestry, celebrates the strength of a people who meet the harsh realities of life in an uncompromising land. His work is a tribute to the Native Americans who survive by living in harmony with an adversarial, untamed environment and is inspired by places such as Canyon de Chelly, Spider Rock, Monument Valley, Enchanted Mesa, Acoma, and Black Mesa. Peña’s artwork, defined by its bold color, form, and dynamic composition, communicates his vision of a land, its people, and their art. Peña is recognized as an artisan of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, and he is dedicated to furthering the public’s knowledge and interest in the tribe, its art, its history, and its culture.
“Katy Horan: Rooms”
December 3 through January 9, 2022.
Katy Horan is a Texas-based artist and illustrator whose work often explores female archetypes and the role of the feminine in history and mythology. In 2018, Horan shifted her focus to explore “some of the harder things we go through in life, such as violence, loss, mental illness, fear, and trauma,” and turned to film, music, and her own life experience for inspiration. This show is the result of that journey, and the archetypes that emerged: the madwoman, the pioneer woman, the final girl, the mother, the victim, and the survivor. Horan’s goal is that viewers can find pieces of themselves in these stories and feel seen.
Wally Workman Gallery
“Will Klemm: The Matter of Enchantment”
Will Klemm is well-known nationally for his ethereal and light-focused landscapes and still-life works, many of them influenced by his time in New Mexico. This show is organized into the four seasons, representing the physical time of year as well as the psychological seasons of human life. Klemm maintains a studio in Austin and one in Taos, New Mexico. His work is in private and public collections around the world.
ICOSA Collective Gallery
“Jonas Criscoe & Sarah Hirneisen: Worn, Torn, Cut & Calloused”
December 3 through January 8, 2022.
“Worn, Torn, Cut & Calloused” features new works by Jonas Criscoe and Sarah Hirneisen that explore the aesthetics of detritus and decay through the lens of surface, form, material, and composition. Criscoe looks to the rural back roads of Texas for inspiration, the faded facades of old buildings, the forgotten towns. Hirneisen takes inspiration from natural cycles of growth, decay, and renewal, using the process of casting to enshrine and preserve. Criscoe is an interdisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited throughout the United States, and Hirneisen is an Austin-based artist who uses 3D materials and processes to elevate familiar and everyday objects.
Dougherty Arts Center
“The Art of Peace”
December 4 through January 8, 2022
“The Art of Peace” is a collective of five Austin figurative artists, including J.C. Amorrortu, Lawrence Jolly, Meena Matocha, Rhea Pettit, and Linda Wandt. Though the artists may have different styles, what they have in common is the desire to share a story through their art. They believe that this style of visual storytelling can mend a broken society and serve as olive branches extended to one another in peace.
“Mystery and Benevolence”
Now through March 27, 2022.
“Mystery and Benevolence” explores the fascinating symbolism and imagery associated with Masonic and Odd Fellows folk art that can be traced back to European trade guilds from the 1100s and 1200s. By the early 1900s, Freemasonry and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows had reached such popularity that it is estimated one in five men belonged to one of the secret societies. Both were formed as benevolent groups to better their communities through the charitable support of orphans, the sick, and the poor. In the last 300 years, the symbolism and imagery of these secret societies has fascinated and influenced American culture. Their rich history extends to Texas, with the first Masonic meeting occurring in 1835, followed by an Odd Fellows lodge opening in Houston in 1838. Lose yourself in the intricate carpentry, paintings, regalia, and props of these benevolent societies.
Lydia Street Gallery
“Brooke Mackenzie & Jennifer Prichard: The Maximalists”
Now through December 23.
The works of ceramicist Jennifer Prichard and painter Brooke Mackenzie are both devoted to excess. For Prichard, this means intricate thousand-piece sculptures and clay slabs that maximize color in all its richness and depth. For Mackenzie, it means otherworldly canvases that teem with pattern, color, and energy. By juxtaposing the work of these very different artists, “The Maximalists” examines the role played by an individual artist’s sensibility, whatever the medium they choose, in understanding their work.