Top 10 Arts Events of 2011 in No Particular Order
How festival goodness and powerful art exhibits made 2011 a year to remember
1) EAST AUSTIN STUDIO TOUR The 10th EAST – of which Big Medium is the instigator and the epicenter – was better than ever, with so many open studios and strange happenings all across the sunrise side of the ATX, no matter what one's haircut looked like for a while.
2) FUSEBOX FESTIVAL Ron Berry's precocious brainchild is becoming a multitrack performance festival worthy of being ranked with the best in the world – and the new foodie track is such a welcome phenomenom-nom-nom.
3) OUT OF BOUNDS COMEDY FESTIVAL OOB is matching, in a funny-boned manner replete with improv and sketch and stand-up, the excitement and operational precision of the above two festivals – all praise that Bearded Lamb.
4) 'PRINTING MATTERS' (Slugfest Printmaking Workshop & Gallery) Artemio Rodriguez provided a stark display of graphic power with huge and brilliantly wrought tableaux of rampant human skeletons rendered via wood, blades, and ink so black it'd make a moonless midnight jealous.
5) 'SURPRISE ANNIE' (Rubber Repertory) This show was as much a treat for the attending public as it was for confessional performance artist Annie La Ganga, whom Rubber Rep presented in 12 different and unexpected locations (unknown, until the last moment, to La Ganga herself) over four weekends.
6) 'AS ABOVE SO BELOW' (Domy Books) Bruce Lee Webb's painstakingly curated show of the antique art and arcane props from various of this nation's secret societies and clandestine brotherhoods was a walk-through experience that eclipsed everything else ever shown in its venue – and in most places beyond.
7) 'YOU SEE ... THING IS ...' (Big Medium) Jamie Panzer's exhibition showcased what happens when one talented man brings sculptural art to its zenith of wit and intellectual playfulness to the gambits of professional craft. His mind, we imagine, must be like a carnival midway; we're glad his creations let us see a few of the wild and wily rides.
8) 'RIDDLEY WALKER' (Trouble Puppet Theater Company) This theatrical adaptation of the (now) late Russell Hoban's postapocalyptic masterpiece was Connor Hopkins and company's valiant attempt at bringing the complexity of that novel to a puppeted stage: As compelling and enigmatic as a Eusa Show among the muck and mire of Inland.
9) CO-LAB Run by the indefatigable Sean Gaulager, this Eastside gallery mounts a new show – installation works, interactive performance pieces, multimedia spectacles, simple ol' exhibitions from local artists and out-of-state guests – about, what, every two weeks throughout the year? And wraps it up with a snazzy annual publication of photos and documentary text? Call us a canvas and color us impressed.
10) 'THEY'RE COMING TO GET YOU' (FronteraFest) Lowell Bartholomee's monologue, performed by Robert S. Fisher at Short Fringe way back at the beginning of 2011, was a hybrid of personal memoir and subjectively charged film critique (featuring Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers and John Carpenter's The Thing) that was both riveting and illuminating; its memory lingers like a strange nightmare we can't (and don't want to) forget.