Top 10 Visual Art Things of 2006 (in chronological order)

First Night Austin
First Night Austin (Photo By Amitava Sarkar)

1) First Night Austin Big art, live music, all ages, free, all day and half the night. This was a Texas-sized art event and a great new tradition.

2) "Repressed Burial Fantasy" (Okay Mountain) Solo exhibition of works by Jason Villegas, who made lots of drawings, an asteroid sculpture on the floor that was the centerpiece, video art, and T-shirts with an Izod gator bleeding onto a Louis Vuitton logo that is seared into my mind.

3) "Sugarcoated" (Women & Their Work) With its megabright sherbet colors, this vibrant group show, curated by Lisa Choinacky and Katherine McQueen, had technical range and an energetic point of view.

4) "Hitten' Switches" (Okay Mountain) Drawings that Michael Sieben and Travis Millard sent back and forth between Austin and Los Angeles through the mail in 2005. Really nostalgic and personally revealing, these are graphic essays about friendship.

5) "duck, duck, GOOSE" (Volitant Gallery) This solo exhibition by Matthew Rodriguez showed a large body of work with an added bonus of a memorable family history essay written on the wall.

6) "East Meats West" (Art Palace) In this two-man show, Austinite Heyd Fontenot's graceful figurative watercolors contrasted nicely with Louie Cordero's experimental pop art from Manila.

7) "The Container Show" (Stacked Studios) Held during but not part of the East Austin Studio Tour, this showing by 14 film-industry workers who made and installed their art in shipping containers out in a field was very Marfa and very ambitious.

8) "The Downtown Show: The New York Art Scene, 1974-1984" (Austin Museum of Art) Curated by Carlo McCormick in consultation with Lynn Gumpert and Marvin J. Taylor, this was a soulful show of work by many living New York artists and some who died too young. The inclusion of T-shirts, underground zines, graffiti art, gummy bracelets, etc., with the paintings and drawings added context and depth.

9) Blue Genie Art Bazaar (Blue Genie Art Industries) As they do every December, Kevin Collins, Dana Younger, and Rory Skagen transformed their warehouse into a staple venue for emerging artists, art-school dropouts, jewelers, and some of the best crafters in America (the Austin Craft Mafia and friends are in the house) to sell their art.

10) "Father's Day Show" (Bolm Studios) Thirty artists made art, painted portraits mostly, of their own dads. The healthy intimacy in these works was palpable and touching.

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