The loss of the architects for the new Blanton Museum of Art; a home for the Rude Mechanicals.
Auf Wiedersehn, Herzog & de Meuron
Any of you architecture junkies tucked in your beds with visions of a Blanton Museum of Art designed by the prestigious Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron Arkitekten dancing in your heads, wake up. After making two design presentations to the UT Board of Regents and having regents Rita Clements and Eddie Sanchez lead attacks on the architects' plans, and despite UT Prez Larry Faulkner doing the shuttle diplomacy routine, flying to Switzerland, olive branch in hand, Herzog & de Meuron has told UT, "No thanks. We don't want to design your art museum after all." The university made the firm's resignation official on November 16, in a release citing irreconcilable differences between the architects and the Campus Master Plan, which advocates making buildings that look more like those in the center of the 40 Acres. While the statements in the release are all very polite and talk about this as a great opportunity to find a new design for the Blanton, this writer can't help but feel it's a sad, sorry situation. Maybe Herzog & de Meuron weren't the best team for the job, but it seems that their designs were attacked for all the wrong reasons. I'm all for a Campus Master Plan, but playing hard-ass about that in an area that includes the brown-block Education Building, the stark modernist Perry-Casteñeda Library, and the mutant dorm Jester Center seems inane. Until something is done to integrate those divergent buildings, what's the point? Oh well, the search for a new Blanton architect starts again. Any takers?
Home of the Rude
In the Austin Boom Times, finding a home ain't easy for small arts groups. They tend to be a little low on the pocket change when it comes to paying competitive prices for real estate. But sometimes miracles still happen, even in the new Austin. So it is with Rude Mechanicals -- those merry pranksters behind the shows Lipstick Traces, don b's Snow White, Salivation, Crucks, Lust Supper, et al. -- who report that, as of November 1, they have moved into The Off Center Performance Warehouse Space on Hildalgo. Founded by Morgan Knicely and Steve Bernard Jones in August 1998, the Off Center has been an Eastside site for visual art, performance art, and plays, such as the Rude Ones' Lipstick Traces and don b's Snow White. Jones left the business this fall to pursue other creative projects, so Knicely approached the Rude Mechs about a partnership. The company liked the idea, and the two decided to merge, with the Rude Mechs moving into the space and helping with its management, and Knicely joining the company as a Corps Member. The Rude Ones will produce their own work in the space (In the House of the Moles, a new play by Terry Galloway, is set for February), as well as rent The Off Center to other arts groups.
Reap the Harvest
A quick word of congratulations to our own Cyndi Williams, who scored big with this year's Harvest Festival of New American Plays, sponsored by the State Theater Company and Austin Script Works. Not only did the longtime local writer and actress win the 1999 Larry L. King Outstanding Texas Playwright award, she also snared the Best New American Play Award for her play A Name for a Ghost to Mutter. Her play will be read along with works by three other finalists this weekend. See the Theatre listings for details.