Top Ten Art

The Best Art Shows in 1997 That I Never Reviewed

by Rebecca S. Cohen

Out of Bounds: New Work by Eight Southeast Artists at Hunington Art Gallery. "In Search pf the Face of God," by Dawn Deveax

Out of Bounds: New Work by Eight Southeast Artists
(UT's Huntington Art Gallery) Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, the Huntington's new Curator of American and Contemporary Art, and Julia Fenton assembled this exhibition and wowed visitors not only with the expansive scale of the installation work and powerful video components but also the opportunity afforded by the university to meet most of the artists during the course of the exhibition to gain further insight into their ideas.

Women & Their Work Annual Members Exhibition, Part II (Women & Their Work Gallery) Also curated by Annette Carlozzi, the gallery was filled to overflowing with lots of impressive work, including wonderful new ceramic forms by Marian Haigh and Janet Kastner, and a major (and stellar!) Beverly Penn installation. Group shows are always problematic -- and this one had its garbled moments -- but overall the quality was high.

Isaac Smith's Folk Art Zoo (Yard Dog Gallery) More than once, I missed the opportunity to write about Yard Dog's ongoing exhibition program, which regularly presents nationally acclaimed visionary and folk artists' work. Smith's rough-carved menagerie was, in particular, a treat to behold.

Kate Breakey: Small Deaths

Kate Breakey: Small Deaths (Women & Their Work Gallery) Who would have thought that an exhibition filled with huge, hand-colored photographs of dead things could be so drop-dead gorgeous? Breakey's anthropomorphic birds and flowers assumed majestic status as they ringed the Women & Their Work Gallery walls. This critic was overwhelmed by a bad case of art-lust.

Autumn (ACA Gallery@Artplex) The Austin Visual Arts Association tapped UT's Mark L. Smith to jury this fall exhibition loosely aimed at glorifying the season. Smith assembled a cohesive group exhibition with memorable fiber pieces in particular and presented an edifying gallery talk during the opening of the show.

Andrea Broyles: The View From Here (Gallery Lombardi) Gallery Lombardi is an ambitious, uneven exhibition space that occasionally provides a glimpse of some very fine art. Broyles' exhibition, while not 100%, was one of the more cohesive and interesting shows in that space this year. Dangling, plummeting bodies (often upside down) left the viewer feeling more than a little vulnerable to life.

William L. Hoey: Three Decades (The Gallery at Shoal Creek) The Gallery at Shoal Creek presented a posthumous retrospective of the popular Austin artist's pastels and paintings. Hoey also was in the habit of doodling on the little Sunday brochures set out by Good Shepherd Church, and it was the display of those playful drawings that made me realize how much his sweetness and humor must be missed by friends and admirers.

Keith Carter: Twenty-Five Years (Witliff Gallery of Photography of the South and Southwest, Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos) The Witliff Gallery presented the ultimate Keith Carter exhibition this fall, complete with an exquisite hardcover book produced in conjunction with University of Texas Press. Stephen L. Clark Photography Gallery in Austin followed with an exhibition of Carter's newest work and a second opportunity to have the artist sign copies of his book.

by Cari Marshall

Untitled by Ezekial Gibbs from "Spirited Journeys" at the Hunington Art Gallery.

Official recognition of the "Uptown" arts district. With this year's addition of the ArtPlex and the Austin Coalition of Artists Gallery to the block already anchored by Lyons Matrix, Women & Their Work, and Galeria Sin Fronteras, this area of Guadalupe and Lavaca just south of MLK has begun to flourish with galleries and arts patrons -- something Austin has needed for some time.

The formation of -- gasp! -- a second arts district. Not so many moons ago, whodathunk that not one but two geographic areas in Austin would surface as healthy and viable arts districts. Just on the heels of the Uptown hoopla came its funkier counterpart, the South Austin arts district. Across the river on the same thoroughfare as Uptown, the southern district -- propelled by the arrival of Eeka Beeka and several artists' studios -- has proven fertile ground for exhibits, positioned in a supportive community. Imagine that.

The Kate Breakey show at Women & Their Work. A triumph of an exhibition, this collection of hand-painted photographs of birds, flowers, and insects in various stages of after-death existence was, ironically, full of life, passion, and beauty. It exemplified the string of excellent shows featured at the increasingly strong gallery.

The opening of the Stephen L. Clark Gallery. Wedged into an area seemingly packed to the gills, this small photography gallery that shares a large house on West Sixth is a coup for local and regional photographers and their fans. It's also a nice complement to Pro-Jex, Austin's veteran of photography spaces. (Clark's current show of Keith Carter photos warrants a mention as well.)

Austin's old-style funky galleries sustaining compatible existence with their pricier counterparts. From a $60,000 painting at Austin Galleries to a $100 serigraph print at Coronado Studio, Austin's growing arts scene is proving friendly to both the high-brow and the alternative. Three cheers for harmony!

The works of Philip Trussell. I know I've repeatedly sung his praises, but why stop now? Most of you have probably not seen the work of this amazingly talented and prolific local artist because he generally only shows once a year -- a self-imposed rule born of his distaste for art world politics. But please, please, whatever you do, try to catch his 1998 show at Alternate Current. You'll find his works full of beauty, humor, and undeniable depth. If you meet him and you like each other, he'll invite you to his studio.

Those kooky artisans of oversized foam objects, Rory Skagen and Billy Brakhage. From the out-of-control longhorn in the conference room at GSD&M's Idea City to Kip's Big Boy's kid sister atop Fran's Hamburgers, the Skagen Brakhage duo made '97 the year for goliath, retro-style, boundary-less art.

The opening of the Austin Children's Museum. Thanks in part to the Dells' money, Austin's downtown arts district is one step closer to completion -- and the kiddos have a great place to explore and discover.

The continuance of Flatbed Press. Squeezed into a long, narrow space behind the Electric Lounge, Flatbed Press is a hotbed for numerous local printmakers, who use the facility's space and facilities to create and showcase their work.

The deaths of James Michener and Charles Umlauf. What these two men did for the visual arts in Austin is incalculable. They came to Austin, loved it, and stayed here -- then they gave us their money and artwork. The Umlauf Sculpture Garden and the Michener Collection of paintings and sculpture at the UT Ransom Center are undoubtedly two of the strongest collections of art to be found in Austin -- and Texas. Rest in peace.

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