Farewell to two local galleries, welcome to the new dean of the UT College of Fine Arts.
Au Revoir, Galleries
Just a reminder: This is the week that two of the city's finest galleries close their doors. Lyons Matrix Gallery, which has been the home to many members of Austin's visual arts elite, ends its string of illustrious exhibitions this Saturday, December 4, allowing owner Camille Lyons a well-deserved respite from the singular madness of running a private visual arts space. Then, Wednesday, December 8, Galeria Sin Fronteras completes its decade-long run of dynamic shows hosted by owner Gil Cardenas, who recently left Austin for a teaching position at Notre Dame. Losing any arts space is sad; losing two outstanding arts spaces at the same time -- and both anchors of the Uptown Cultural District -- is enough to put one in mourning. But I say hold off on the black veils and tears long enough to pay a final visit to these remarkable venues. You'll be able to see some amazing art, naturally -- the latest luminous glass work by Damian Priour at Lyons Matrix and captivating personal paintings by Connie Arismendi at Galeria Sin Fronteras -- and also have a chance to offer your thanks for the visual stimulation and illumination they have contributed through the years. Our thanks go out to the galleries' owners, staffers, and artists, and best wishes in their post-gallery lives.
Here's another news item to do with the UT College of Fine Arts, but get this: It doesn't have to do with the Blanton Museum of Art design controversy. No, this bulletin has to do with the administrative vacancy at the head of the college that's been open for the past year and a half: It's been filled. This past Tuesday, Nov. 30, UT Austin Provost Dr. Sheldon Ekland-Olson announced the appointment of Dr. Robert Freeman to the dean's chair in the College of Fine Arts. Freeman, a musicologist and pianist with extensive administrative experience, succeeds Dr. David Deming, who left the university in June 1998 to return to his hometown, Cleveland, to be the president of the Cleveland Institute of Art. The search committee for Deming's replacement may have taken its time in fulfilling their duties, but their ultimate choice gives support to the argument that they were just being thorough. Freeman comes to the table with 24 years' experience as director of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, during which time he bolstered the faculty and the concept of faculty self-governance, improved alumni relations, oversaw $50 million in new construction and $20 million in rebuilding on campus, and presided over a 90% increase in school admissions. Freeman left the Eastman School in 1996 and has spent the past three years as president of the New England Conservatory of Music, where he's credited with strengthening the school's existing partnerships with Boston institutions and building new ties with the community. Making connections between the arts and the community appears to be a theme in Freeman's career; he has expressed strong interest in the future of the arts in this country and how they will engage Americans in the 21st century, and he has stated his belief that artists should receive a broad-based education and not only focused career training. Freeman is due to take charge of the college on Jan. 16, 2000. Until that day, Charles Roeckle, who has carried the flag for the college as acting dean during the past 18 months, will continue to do so.