Weekend Roundup

Birthdays, basketball and independence: Feast your eyes on a weekend full of beauty and celebration

Birthdays, basketball and independence: Feast your eyes on a weekend full of beauty and celebration

Perhaps they're all gearing up for the upcoming Free Museum Day rush on Sept. 23 in Austin, but our city's best galleries and museums are opening a number of must-see exhibitions this weekend.

The Blanton, The Ransom Center, Mondo Gallery and even The O. Henry Museum are just begging you to beat the crowds and witness the bounty of their visual treasure before everyone else. Sure, galleries keep displays up for a while, but nothing beats the elevated bragging rights of saying you attended the opening.

And for those of you who feel confined in the white walls and quiet of a gallery, we've got plenty of other visually and emotionally stimulating events to make this weekend memorable.

On Friday night, The Harry Ransom Center invites you to Futureland, a "retro-futuristic celebration" that kicks off its fall exhibition, I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America. This exclusive party will feature a sneak peek at the visionary design work of this industrial designer who created work that spoke to a beauty well beyond his time and place.

Also Friday, at the new Mondo Gallery on Guadalupe Street, two of the artists responsible for the Alamo's legendary line of poster art will be displaying some of their best work. Robert Brandenburg and Craig Drake will be showing and selling their posters for such iconic films as Black Swan, Metropolis, Deliverance, Manhattan and Kill Bill.

On Saturday, everyone in Austin is invited to attend any of the three legs on the O. Henry 150th Birthday Crawl. In honor of the Austin writer on the event of his sesquicentennial, The Austin Parks and Rec Department has organized a full day of free events including the debut of the O. Henry Museum's new exhibit, O. Henry: original slacker. This is the perfect time to find out all about the legendary author who was, it turns out, the quintessential Austinite.

Then on Sunday, The Blanton Museum opens its latest eclectic pair of exhibitions as well. The first, The Rules of Basketball, is a collection of contemporary images by Paul Pfeiffer that surround a special display of James Naismith's 1891 document that outlined the original 13 rules of the game.

Simultaneously, Into the Sacred City is a series of 15th Century Tibetan Buddhist mandalas and thangkas from the collection of Theos Bernard. These unbelievably intricate religious designs have been preserved impeccably and demonstrate the artistry and mastery that goes into religious practice in this part of the world.

Outside of a museum, but just as relevant to the weekend, the Mexican-American Cultural Center hosts the City of Austin's official Diez y Seis Mexican Independence celebration. While many believe that Cinco de Mayo is the proper date of this cause, it's actually Sept. 16, 1810 that marked the official statement by Fr. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla ("El Grito") that Mexico would earn their independence from Spain.

Celebrate the day with traditional music from Mariachi Tamazula and Ernesto Cadena Segovia, dance from South Texas College Ballet Folklorio and a dramatic reenactment of El Grito's speech by Consul General of Mexico Rosalba Ojedaat the end of the night.

Finally, all weekend, the aerial artists from Blue Lapis Light will perform their latest piece, Heaven-Earth-One, on the terrace of the Long Center. These site-specific dancers transform the familiar outdoor space through light and movement into a visually arresting backdrop for their dramatic nighttime celebration.

We don't use words like "breathtaking" and "awe-inspiring" very often, so please know that we mean it when we use them to describe what is happening when dancers swing from the top of the City Terrace. Even if it seems preachy or overly earnest in its message, it's easy enough to hone in on the sheer beauty of the presentation.

Phew! With all this beauty, it's enough to crack even the hardest slacker cynic's heart. Good to know that Austin still maintains its appreciation for quality art and design amidst all the construction, expansion and technology. Now it's just up to you to get out and experience it.

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Blue Lapis Light presents Heaven/Earth/One at The Long Center. Photo by Geoff Hammond/Hammondovi
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Brandenburg and Craig are the two latest artists to be featured at the Mondo Gallery.
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The designs of Norman Bel Geddes are the focus at the Harry Ransom Center's I Have Seen the Future.
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Celebrate Mexican Independence at the Mexican-American Cultural Center during Diez y Seis.