The photography gallery Lake Austin Fine Arts closes its doors, and local playwrights Dan Dietz and C. Denby Swanson see new productions of their work.
Lake Austin Fine Arts Closes Gallery
A couple of years ago, Kevin Kaplan wanted to "bring the art world of New York to Austin audiences," and to that end he opened a gallery featuring stunning photography from around the world. Over a period of 21 months, that gallery, Lake Austin Fine Arts, produced a dozen major exhibitions with work by more than 50 renowned photographers, winning Kaplan the attention and acclaim of the city's fine art photography lovers, including those in the Austin Critics Table, who nominated Lake Austin for best gallery and best exhibition over two years and awarded it "Best Gallery, Body of Work" for the 2000-01 season. That glorious run came to a close on June 8,2002, when Kaplan closed the doors to the Davenport Village home of the gallery. Blame for the closing falls on the usual suspects -- the economic downturn and a drop in foot traffic since September, combined with a still-pricey location -- but though the gallery is finished, Lake Austin will live on as a private art dealership, offering corporate consulting and curatorial services. Some works from its inventory will even be displayed occasionally at Aqua Modern on South Congress. For more info, call 347-9233 or visit www.lakeaustinfinearts.com.
The Write Stuff
The news just gets better and better for Austin playwright-on-leave C. Denby Swanson, who has spent the past year as a Jerome Fellow at The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. First, her short play, 178 Head, was produced as part of the City Theatre Summer Shorts Festival in Florida this summer, and the drama about a farmer who is losing his herd of cattle was labeled a "highlight" of Program A in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel review (though the playwright, whose first name is Colin, was misidentified as "C. Colin Denby" ). Swanson's full-length play Death of a Cat was a semifinalist for the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut, and her play Mae (the third of her "old lady" plays of which the Austin-produced Waterless Places was first), has been accepted for PlayLabs 2002 at the Playwrights' Center. And she's been awarded a McKnight Advancement Grant. It allows her to stay in residence in Minneapolis one more year -- our loss! -- where she'll work on a new play about reproductive technology titled A Brief History of an Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits. Swanson hasn't given up her Austin ties; she was here in March leading a workshop for Austin Script Works and will return later this month for a visit. Congratulations, Colin.
Speaking of busy playwrights, Dan Dietz has had another of his plays produced outside the city. The Critics Table nominee for Tilt Angel is enjoying a new run of his meditation on the life and myth of Jesse James, Blind Horses -- originally produced at the UT Department of Theatre & Dance -- courtesy of Tooth & Nil Theatre Company, a group filled with Austin expatriates, at St. Mark's Theater in New York. The show opened May 30, and in a review on www.nytheatre.com, critic Martin Denton wrote that "Blind Horses is ambitious and relentless and fascinating," "a most intriguing play; and if it doesn't quite follow through with clear answers to the questions it poses, it nevertheless succeeds splendidly as wake-up call, provocation, and -- importantly -- entertainment." He goes on to say that the production, "directed by Jonathan Mazer, is excellent, featuring a riveting central performance by [former Austinite] Travis York as Jesse James." The show closes this Sunday, June 23.