More money for the Long Center, more art for AMOA, and more national exposure for a Flaming Idiot.
Arts Dollar Watch
Add another cool million to the tally of gifts for the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts. Last week, arts patrons Bill and Bettye Nowlin joined the drive to make Palmer Auditorium into a three-theatre performance center with a seven-figure gift. The Nowlins have joined the ranks of local philanthropists thanks to the very successful public offering of National Instruments, a company that Bill Nowlin co-founded with Jeff Kodosky and Jim Truchard. "When we actually understood what was happening to us with the IPO, it was never far from our collective psyche what we would do," Mrs. Nowlin said. "We've been able to contribute on a large scale to what I call a real changing of Austin, from a mid-size city to a large metropolitan area, and you can't do that without an arts center. It is an integral part." The Nowlins' gift brings the Long Center tally to $37 million.
AMOA Additions & Awards
When it comes to great collections of art, the Austin Museum of Art may have a ways to go to catch up with its peer museums, but it's working on it. Recently, AMOA added two new works to its holdings, and they prove the Austin museum is building a collection of distinctive quality. Both acquisitions are installations that have been shown at AMOA in the past couple of years. From the "Gerardo Suter: Labyrinth of Memory" show which just closed at AMOA-Downtown, the museum has purchased Vientre (Womb), a 1995 work with seven floor-to-ceiling acetate photographs, a trail of white powder, and a video monitor -- the artist's largest piece to date; and from her 1998 "Art in Process" residency and exhibition at AMOA-Laguna Gloria, Austin artist Margo Sawyer has helped the museum acquire the installation Blue, a work of hundreds of painted blocks, glass disks, and gold foil laid carpet-like across the floor of a room. Sawyer made a partial gift of the work, with additional funding by the San Antonio art foundation ArtPace (where Sawyer is in residency now, I believe) and indidivual donors.
Congratulations also to AMOA on its spate of recent awards from the Texas Association of Museums. At the 21st Wilder Publication Design Awards, six AMOA pieces were recognized, including the "Rock & Roll Currents in Contemporary Art" invitation, the "Alan Rath: Robotics" family gallery guide, and the exquisite Julie Speed catalog. Here's to Pentagram Design, which designed five of the six pieces, and Publications Coordinator Lisa Dirks.
Idiot Does Idiot Box
A shout-out to Flaming Idiot Rob Williams, who fulfilled what I'm sure is a lifelong dream for most of us when he got to go on national TV and make Jay Leno a bologna sandwich with his feet! Fans of the Flaming Idiots know that Williams' culinary stunt is a segment in the Austin-based trio's regular act. A video of the bit sent to Leno won Williams and his dexterous toes a spot on the May 9 Tonight Show, sandwiched, as it were, between Tori Spelling and Barry Manilow. (Talk about baloney!) Williams served up the sandwich with his usual aplomb, despite Leno's constant chattering throughout the bit. Here's hoping Williams' skill wins him a return booking, with partners Kevin Hunt and Jon O'Connor. Idiot fans hungry for another serving of the trio's antics can look for them to return to the Zachary Scott Theatre Center in November for another holiday run.