In Memoriam

This past week saw the passing of an Austin arts lover who made a significant contribution to the city's visual artists by giving them that most rare and precious commodity: space. Gary Peden was a developer by trade, and when local painters and sculptors suffered the loss of the ArtSpace, a combination studio-exhibition venue at 403 Baylor, Peden used his real estate savvy to create a new venue that could house studios, galleries, and offices for a host of individuals, exhibitors, and organizations. The space, dubbed the ArtPlex, boasted 20,000 square feet of space and a terrific location -- in the thick of a cluster of important local galleries just south of the UT campus. When it opened in 1996, its tenants included Artists' Coalition of Austin and Austin Visual Arts Association, and over the past few years it has been home, at least temporarily, to such notable galleries as And Something Different Studio/Gallery, Pro-Jex Gallery, and Eeka Beeka. Although AVAA vacated the ArtPlex this year, it was to move into a larger venue with a gallery space of AVAA's very own, and it was Peden who was instrumental in the organization getting the venue. "Working with him offered us many opportunities," says AVAA executive director Sue Fawver. "He was a true community partner in the arts, and they're hard to find." Peden, 34, died of pneumonia.

Word/Jazz Up

Speaking of the ArtPlex, a new performance series debuts at that cultural center this week. Word/Jazz is an interdisciplinary performance series from DiverseArts, bringing together performance poets, spoken word artists, and songwriter/musicians for live collaboration. Spontaneity and interaction will drive the series, with the format for each program based on the artists involved and the programming arising from their communication in the moment. The first show features spoken words and poetry from Stazja McFayden and Graffito (Zell Miller III), and songs and music from Laura Scarborough, Harold McMillan, Cheap SungLasses, Rob Halverson, Kat Murphy, and guests. Future programs may incorporate dance, videography, and visual art. The series will run twice monthly throughout the spring and summer, with all shows at the ArtPlex, 1705 Guadalupe, either in the ACA Gallery or on the rooftop deck. This Friday's show starts at 8:30pm sharp. Call 477-9438 for more.

Planet Sinks Into VORTEX

Alas, Planet Theatre is about to stop spinning. As of April 30, it will cease to be. Now, don't get all fearful that the home of VORTEX Repertory Company is closing its doors. On the contrary, the theatre space reclaimed by VORTEX and artistic director Bonnie Cullum has never been more secure; earlier this spring, Cullum and company purchased the property, and it's theirs, lock, stock, and backyard, 'til the Apocalypse. In fact, it's owing to this change in status that Cullum is abandoning Planet Theatre as a name for the venue. As the theatre is entering a new era in its life, she feels it fitting to give it a new name -- or a new old name. She's reviving the name of the group's original home on Ben White Boulevard: the VORTEX. Cullum will mark the shift with a name-change ritual and -- because it's the VORTEX way -- dancing, singing, and celebration. The public is welcome at the event, which takes place Saturday, May 1, 4pm, at 2307 Manor. Call 478-LAVA for more info.

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More Articulations
The Harry Ransom Center has acquired all the professional and personal materials of profoundly influential acting teacher Stella Adler

Robert Faires, April 30, 2004

It's the end of an era for the city of Austin's Art in Public Places Program as Martha Peters, administrator of the program for 11 of its 18 years, departs to direct a public art program in Fort Worth.

Robert Faires, July 18, 2003


Gary Peden, The Artplex, Artists Coalition Of Austin, Word/jazz, Diversearts, Stazja Mcfayden, Graffito, Zell Miller Iii, Laura Scarborough, Harold Mcmillan, Cheap Sunglasses, Rob Halverson, Kat Murphy, Planet Theatre, Vortex Repertory Company, Bonnie Cullum

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