Photo courtesy of Blanton Museum of Art

¡Gracias a Dios, más arte latino en Austin! The University of Texas’ Blanton Museum of Art has just announced the launch of their Latino art initiative with two new gallery spaces set to open in March, plus a new exhibition to premiere in spring 2024.

According to a press release, the new initiative is supported by the gift and purchase of 5,650 artworks from former UT staff Dr. Gilberto Cárdenas and Dolores Garcia. An ongoing endeavor for six decades, the Cárdenas/Garcia collection has a large focus on Chicano prints from the 1960s and is one of the largest private collections in the world.

As a former professor at UT, Dr. Cárdenas has first-hand experience supporting Latino artists and promoting their art nationwide. Dr. Cárdenas previously donated to the Blanton in 2017, gifting over 350 prints from community arts center Self Help Graphics & Art.

Blanton Museum director Simone Wicha praised Dr. Cárdenas and Garcia for their continued support of Latino art in museums throughout the decades:

“Latino culture is an essential part of U.S. culture, especially here in the Southwest, and our shared commitment to representing and amplifying Latino history and voices through art prompted me to begin this collaboration with Gilberto and Dolores,” she says. “The new initiative is an important next step for the Blanton, which has been a leader in American contemporary art and holds one of the oldest and most distinguished collections of Latin American art in this country.”

The decision to house their Cárdenas/Garcia collection at the Blanton came from the museum’s long-standing commitment to the field of Latino art. Additionally, the museum will spend the next five years digitizing every artwork from the collection, donating a select number of works to other institutions around the country.

“The Cárdenas/Garcia collection at the museum will provide access to Latino art for the student body and faculty for discovery and research, in addition to serving as a resource for the Austin community,” Dr. Cárdenas and Garcia said in a statement. “We are confident that the research undertaken by the curatorial staff and the exhibitions and publications that result will represent a valuable contribution to the body of knowledge and understanding of this aspect of American art.”

The first rotation in the new Latino art-dedicated gallery spaces, Cara a Cara / Face to Face: Chicano Portraits from the Gilberto and Dolores Cárdenas Collection, will open in March and feature several Chicano artists’ paintings who “use portraiture as a form of personal, cultural, or political affirmation” as described in the release. Works displayed will come from artists like Claudio Dicochea, Esperanza Gama, Yolanda López, Linda Vallejo, and many more.

The Blanton also received a five-year grant from Latino art initiative Advancing Latinx Art in Museums to hire a dedicated associate curator. The curator will serve as an essential aid in documenting and exhibiting the Cárdenas/Garcia collection, while also working directly with faculty to support Latino studies at UT through the development of educational and exhibition programming. The museum will seek to endow the position when the grant expires.

“Importantly positioned within the first Latin American art department to be founded in this country, this new curatorial position will expand the study and presentation of Chicano and Latino art, working closely with the Cárdenas/Garcia Collection,” said Vanessa Davidson, the Blanton’s curator of Latin American art. “The Blanton’s new dedicated gallery spaces will ensure that these artworks, as well Latino art more generally, have a constant, dedicated presence for museum visitors and for scholars who come from far and wide to research this landmark collection.”

A new exhibition in the Blanton’s Paper Vault gallery is anticipated in the spring of 2024, dedicated to the Cárdenas/Garcia collection and representing the significance of Latino artists’ printmaking and photography. Though the exhibit will have a special focus on Chicano artists, works will span several historical periods and cultural communities.

More information about The Blanton Museum’s new Latino art initiative can be found at blantonmuseum.org.

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Local artist creates replicas of iconic Austin businesses

Life in miniature

As Austin continues to grow, some feel that the city's essence is getting lost. The more successful the city becomes, the more the culture continues to change.

But one Austin artist is highlighting the things that keep Austin unique.

Kayla Kent is the founder of Functional Miniatures. She took inspiration from an artist based in Los Angeles.

"He did all these miniatures of these little shops that you never would expect to have a miniature," she said.

Now Kent is doing the same, recreating replicas of some of Austin's most famous stores. The first one she ever made was Big Top Candy Shop, which doubles as a candy jar.

Kent has also created a functional miniature for Antone's Record Shop, which doubles as a record holder, and a bookend for South Congress Books.

Right now, Big Top is selling the replicas. Kent is also working with Antone's and South Congress Books to get their replicas in stores.


Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Everything to know about Austin's 4th annual Stay Black and Live Juneteenth Festival


A weeklong celebration of Black history is returning to Austin with a focus on local organizations and people that are making long-lasting impacts in the local community. The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center is hosting the fourth annual Stay Black and Live (SB&L) Juneteenth Festival June 12-19.

The festival began as a livestream in 2020, and has since captured the attention of community members citywide, making it the cornerstone event for Austin's Juneteenth celebrations. SB&L's theme for 2023 is "Austin Family Reunion," centered around community kickbacks, cookouts, live music, and more.

In a release, Carver Museum director Carre Adams said the museum continuously aims to "honor the significance of Juneteenth" with their festival programming and education.

“We are incredibly proud to continue Austin’s Juneteenth celebration and tradition at our historic museum,” said Adams. “We invite the Austin community to join us as we commemorate this momentous occasion and bring Black history past, present and future to the forefront.”

The festival will begin with a presentation on Monday, June 12 hosted by 2023 Grammy Music Educator Award winner and Desoto, Texas high school music teacher Pamela Dawson. The website states she will sing and use "negro spirituals" during her interactive session to inform guests about "African-American contributions to the sonic art form." Dawson's lecture will take place from 6-8 pm at the Boyd Vance Theater.

Below is a full weekend schedule for the festival:

Thursday, June 15
James Beard award-winning food historian and author Michael W. Twitty will take the stage at the Boyd Vance Theater from 6-8 pm. He'll discuss the eating habits and culinary practices of African Americans, and open a conversation about modern-day abolitionist movements.

Friday, June 16
Austinites of every age are invited to the festival's community kickback and dance party from 6-9 pm at the Carver Museum's Freedom Lawn. The party will be accompanied by high-energy music by DJ Cysum and DJ Dontizl. The event is in partnership with Creative Action, who will also set up a "sensory station" for attendees to express themselves with glowsticks, kites, bubbles, and more. A special performance by BodyRockATX will close out the event.

Saturday, June 17
The day will begin at 10 am with the annual historic Juneteenth Parade through Austin's Rosewood neighborhood. The parade route starts on East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and goes all the way to Rosewood Park.

Following the parade, visitors can gather for the Austin Family Reunion Cookout and Music Festival behind the Carver Museum from 3-6 pm. Veteran pitmasters will provide the delicious barbecue while Lady Joy and KAZI 88.7 DJs host the festivities. Attendees can also enjoy a vendor market, carnival games, workshops, and more.

Saul Paul will host the music festival from 6-9 pm on the Freedom Lawn, with performances by Distinguished Soundz, Stretch Muzik, and DJ Kay Kali. Headliners GAPX will perform at 8 pm.

Monday, June 19
Historian, Harvard law professor, and Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed will lead a Free Your Mind Conversation Series discussion about her book, On Juneteenth, from 1-3 pm at the Boyd Vance Theater.

Later that afternoon from 5-8 pm, the museum will host their final event for the week with their "Community Revival and Remembrance" ceremony in partnership with the Austin Justice Coalition. The closing celebration will pay respect to those who were victims of police violence in Texas.

More information about the Stay Black and Live Juneteenth Festival can be found on juneteenthatx.com.

Political satirist John Oliver heads to Austin on standup tour

Terrifying Times, Again

After the end of the regular legislative session, many Texans could use a dose of political satire, and John Oliver is on his way. The comedian and TV writer will perform live at Bass Concert Hall on Sunday, August 20 as part of the John Oliver Live tour.

Oliver is best known as the host and producer of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a political recap show that showcases the English comedian's biting sarcasm, which has won him several awards: 23 Primetime Emmys, five Writer’s Guild Awards, two Critics’ Choice Television Awards, four Television Critics Association Awards, and two Peabodys.

His work with similar shows spans nearly two decades, starting as a correspondent on The Daily Show in 2006, and including his time hosting podcastThe Bugle with Andy Zaltzman.

Oliver's standup career goes about as far back, starting with his 2008 special, John Oliver: Terrifying Times. Fans may also recognize the actor for his role in Community as a disgruntled, morally-ambiguous professor of psychology, or his voice work on cartoons including Big Mouth, Bob's Burgers, and Rick & Morty.

Tickets will be available to Texas Performing Arts' "Texas Inner Circle" members on Wednesday, June 7. General sales begin on Friday, June 9, at 10 AM. Check Ticketmaster for availability.