Blanton's Latin American Art Revival
New Blanton curator poised to take on art-world big boys (and girls) — including Houston and MOMA
The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas's Latin American Collection — recognized across the art world as one of the oldest, most prominent and most comprehensive Latin American Art collections in the country — has named Dr. Beverly Adams as new adjunct curator. Adams is currently curator of the Diane and Bruce Halle Collection in Scottsdale, Arizona, but she's no stranger to Austin or the Austin art world.
After receiving both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from University of Texas, Adams served as assistant curator of Latin American art for the Blanton from 1989 to 1995. Adams worked closely with Mari Carmen Ramírez, the very first curator of Latin American Art in the United States, when the Blanton established her position in 1988.
As “the first place to ever really care” about Latin American art, says Adams, Blanton and its program hold deep history and importance. Having been there at the start and working with Ramírez at a time when the Blanton was paying unprecedented attention to Latin American art, Adams is excited to reinvigorate that energy.
“Austin deserves good art and high standards." — Blanton Adjunct Curator Beverly Adams
It’s clear that Adams is passionate about curating exhibits that connect with the public, as well as being interested in promoting inclusiveness and education. While studying art history at UT, Adams realized that the tangible sensation of touching, looking at and spending time with what she was studying had become important to her. “It’s hard for me not to want to share those things, the stuff, the physical experiences,” she says.
Returning to Austin after almost 17 years away, Adams — not surprisingly —found it to be a very different town from the one she left. “The city seems a lot more vibrant and alive,” she says, “booming with excitement.”
Adams sees more vibrancy and ambition not only in the town, but specifically at the Blanton, too. “I really think that the director has taken the bit in her teeth and has decided this will be the place in Austin to get things done,” she says.
From the sound of it, Adams is looking to get things done, too. While she will start by working on a part-time basis and traveling back and forth from Arizona, she plans to relocate herself and family to Austin full-time in the next few years. In the meantime, she will be spending plenty of time on the ground in Austin — a week every two weeks, a few days here and there; she points out that one of the important parts of the job is to be immersed in the community, “to be an educator, and to talk to people.”
Adams' specialty is postwar and contemporary art, and she is looking forward to making that focus a part of the program. She’s excited about the versatility the Blanton offers and plans on a variety of exhibits. Because of the depth of research available at the university, the Blanton can handle historical, extensively researched shows, “while at the same time they can have fun, exciting contemporary art shows” she explains.
While she wouldn’t comment on the specifics of anything she has planned for 2014, Adams wants to showcase things that are "going on outside of MOMA or in Houston … things that are newer, more exciting, that the bigger places aren’t interested in doing.” An example? Some of the great drawing going on in Colombia right now.
Adams sees a newer, more awake Austin and art world than when she last spent time here, and it’s a good thing: “Austin deserves good art and high standards … having spent many years being overshadowed by other places, like Houston, Austin deserves some really spectacular art to go see, to be a part of and to learn about.” We’re looking forward to seeing what Adams brings us.