Melany Jean's Top 10 Fresh Takes in the Arts of 2017

Works of art and shows that were timely, intimate, funny, and awe-inspiring stood out over the year

Leslie Moody Castro (Photo by John Anderson)

1) TEXAS BIENNIAL (Big Medium) In the hands of curator Leslie Moody Castro, an expansive road trip provided a revelatory survey of the visual arts landscape statewide. The culminating exhibition gathered some of the best from the trip in an eclectic show that felt timely and nonetheless cohesive.

2) "RAUL GONZALEZ: DOING WORK" (grayDUCK Gallery) A kaleidoscopic show that managed visual interest with unexpected materials and a provocative exploration of fatherhood and immigrant workers filtered through Gonzalez's personal experience.

3) THE COLOR OF BEING/EL COLOR DEL SER: DOROTHY HOOD, 1918-2000 BY SUSIE KALIL (Texas A&M University Press) This was published in autumn of 2016, but what is 2017 if not a constant look back at autumn 2016? (The book is, however, attendant to a Dorothy Hood retrospective that ran through January of this year in Corpus Christi.) All that to say: Read this for a look at one of the most brilliant and painfully eclipsed abstract painters to straddle the U.S./Mexico border.

4) MEET HER HANDS (BossBabesATX) The lecture and exhibition series, held at the Elisabet Ney Museum, offered the opportunity for a casual talk with artists about their work and process in a beautiful setting.

5) "NINA KATCHADOURIAN: CURIOUSER" (Blanton Museum of Art) The conceptual artist's survey sparked laughter and, appropriately, curiosity that left you wandering through the rest of the Blanton's familiar collection with fresh eyes and renewed interest.

6) THE RESONANT LUNG BY COLIN MCINTYRE The pipe organ-Frankenstein's monster sculpture/instrument provided repeated awe in the hands of various musicians and composers throughout the year.

7) "MARTA LEE AND ANIKA STEPPE: KIND OF ABOUT MICHIGAN" (UT Visual Arts Center) The two-person show revealed an intimacy between both creators that seeped through the works and invited the audience to explore alongside them.

8) RECSPEC GALLERY OPENING The design agency ventured into a new arena with its opening of the exhibition and retail space in the Flatbed building, and right from the opening it has delivered with delightful collections and wares.

9) WAIT TILL YOU SEE ME DANCE BY DEB OLIN UNFERTH (Graywolf Press) This collection from Austin-based Unferth is a touching exploration of emotional and relational tensions, delivered in a range of captivating and creative forms within the ever-growing short story umbrella.

10) OFF-EAST, OR THE GRANDMA SELLING EMBROIDERY IN HER YARD During the East Austin Studio Tour, a Spanish-speaking grandmother strung balloons and beautifully embroidered linens around her front yard and enlisted her granddaughter to translate sales in an unofficial bid at EAST-goers and probably unintentional art installation.

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More Top 10s
Robert Faires' Top 10 Works That Spoke to Me About 2020
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More by Melany Jean
Melany Jean’s Top 10 Fine Art Moments of 2018
Melany Jean’s Top 10 Fine Art Moments of 2018
Unforgettably textured sculptures, unsettling exhibitions, and unusual spaces made for a memorable year in art

Dec. 28, 2018

"Annie Miller: I see london, I see france" at MoHA
This show in the Cage Match Project series casts the viewer as peeping Tom, looking through holes in a boarded-up trailer to view art

Nov. 30, 2018


Top 10s, Texas Biennial, Leslie Moody Castro, Raul Gonzalez, grayDUCK Gallery, Dorothy Hood, BossBabesATX, Nina Katchadourian, Blanton Museum of Art, Marta Lee, Anika Steppe, UT Visual Arts Center, Deb Olin Unferth, Recspec Gallery, East Austin Studio Tour

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