Arts Critics Poll BIGGEST ARTS STORY OF 1998

Robert Faires - The two-to-one voter approval of the Palmer Auditorium renovation. How often does the city as a whole make such a dramatic statement in support of our cultural life?

Sarah Hepola - Almost no one gets paid; theatre groups multiply.

Sam Martin - The Blanton Museum's acquisition of the $35 million Suida-Manning Collection.

Cari Marshall - ARGH! I'm stumped. Perhaps getting closer to building the downtown museum?

Robi Polgar - Palmer Auditorium retrofit gets the nod. (Most important story: No one really wants to pay for it.)


ARTIST/COMPANY YOU ALWAYS LOOKED FORWARD TO SEEING

Robert Faires - Rude Mechanicals, for their exuberance, their irreverence, their freshness, their unrepentant spirit of play.

Sarah Hepola - Salvage Vanguard, because their theatre is an event, man.

Sam Martin - AMOA's "New Works" Series.

Cari Marshall - Philip Trussel and Benné Rocket.

Robi Polgar - The whimsical work of artist Jim Janknegt.


FINE ARTS VENUE YOU ENJOYED THE MOST

Robert Faires - Hyde Park Theatre, for both the artists working there and the ways in which they radically transformed the playing space.

Sarah Hepola - The Atomic Cafe (beer + smokes = happy me).

Sam Martin - The Jones Center for Contemporary Art.

Cari Marshall - Women & Their Work Gallery.

Robi Polgar - The lovely Auditorium on Waller Creek.


ARTIST WHO BEST EXEMPLIFIES THE SPIRIT OF THE AUSTIN ARTS SCENE

Robert Faires - Director Vicky Boone (of Frontera@Hyde Park), for her high-minded belief in theatre and low-tech way of creating it, her quest for the new, especially new ways to make art come alive for audiences -- all audiences -- and her desire when the curtain comes down to talk it over over a beer.

Sarah Hepola - Director Bonnie Cullum (of VORTEX Repertory Company), for her fierce frontierswoman spirit and sweet Southern hospitality.

Sam Martin - Elizabeth Ferrar (of Austin Museum of Art), for her optimism and resourcefulness.

Cari Marshall - I really can't pinpoint one person.

Robi Polgar - Dana Younger (of Black Mountain Art), for making rough-and- tumble art that is both ready to wear and makes you think.


MOST REMARKABLE TREND TO EMERGE IN 1998

Robert Faires - Wordlessness. After years of almost nonstop chatter onstage, local performers seemed to rediscover movement, gesture, rhythm, and expression as means of creating dramatic interest, and used them to craft some of the most compelling, thrilling stage moments of the year.

Sarah Hepola - Companies strapped for space continued to move into clubs, galleries, coffee houses, yards, wherever, and make those surroundings work in amazing ways.

Sam Martin - Arts venues congregating downtown.

Cari Marshall - The number of exceptional photography shows, by both local and national photographers.

Robi Polgar - Puppets make it to the bigs! Who needs actors?


BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT IN THE ARTS SCENE

Robert Faires - Not so much a disappointment as a profound loss: the deaths of John Bustin and Deacon Crain.

Sarah Hepola - Half-baked productions from people who know better.

Sam Martin - The eviction of Black Mountain Art.

Cari Marshall - Losing some great artists to bigger markets in the North.

Robi Polgar - The growing sense that art is a trivial sideline in Austin's growth (e.g., Well, hey, let's move the museum up a block, no one'll notice.).


BIGGEST HOPE FOR THE ARTS SCENE IN 1999

Robert Faires - A deeper dialogue between artists and audiences -- so that each group realizes just how incomplete each is without the other.

Sarah Hepola - More sincerity, and more air conditioning.

Sam Martin - More professional art spaces and more murals outside them.

Cari Marshall - Artists and curators take more risks, and the community puts more money into the arts.

Robi Polgar - Less sloppiness onstage and, especially, off.

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