Wayne Alan Brenner’s Top 10 Arts-Related Things I Enjoyed in 2018

Representational and digital art, plus theatre rooted in history proved especially mind-blowing this year

From "Five Skin Ten Skin" by Ian Ingram

1) "FIVE SKIN TEN SKIN" (Dimension Gallery) As if Ian Ingram's stunning painterly skills weren't enough, the artist turned the extreme-close-up visions of his selfward-facing eye into three-dimensional structures of portraiture in exquisitely tortured wood and metal that, Jesus, we can't even with the man's newest works at Dimension Gallery.

2) KIRK LYNN'S COLD RECORD (Fusebox Festival) The local playwright's song-spiked performance for Fusebox, in an unfinished side closet at the Museum of Human Achievement, was a novadose of professional storytelling and connection in very close quarters.

3) ATELIER DOJO Let's hear it, please, for representational art, for painstakingly rendered images that might glorify or possibly degrade but always, in one way or another, accurately depict the world we live in – and for schools like this new one at Canopy that teach us how.

4) THE HUNCHBACK VARIATIONS AND AN APOLOGY FOR THE COURSE & OUTCOME OF CERTAIN EVENTS DELIVERED BY DOCTOR JOHN FAUSTUS ON THIS HIS FINAL EVENING (Capital T Theatre) Cap T's Mickle Maher twofer of these hilarious and cerebral shorts was everything fans of the playwright (and actors Ken Webster and Robert Fisher) could ask for.

5) "ALEJANDRA ALMUELLE: JOURNEY" Each of Almuelle's figurative creations are powerful enough on their own, but when several comprise the mythologically deep, sculptural narrative arc conjured by the claywork-bruja during the 2018 East Austin Studio Tour, we're blown to epistemological smithereens.

6) "SHAWN CAMP: MY HEAVEN AND HELL ARE THE SAME" (Gallery Shoal Creek) Tell you what: You send the artist Shawn Camp out to the wilds of Stöðvarfjörður, Iceland, for a residency, he's gonna come back to bless this city (and Gallery Shoal Creek) with a superlative suite of microthin layerings like mica schist possessed by God's own abstract cartographer.

7) BOOTH'S RICHARD III (The Hidden Room Theatre) The Hidden Room's Beth Burns and the Ransom Center's Eric Colleary collaborated to bring John Wilkes Booth's old-school version of Shakespeare's villain to (despicable, despicable!) life – and, with the incandescent Judd Farris as the show's titular heel, the melodramatic thrills couldn't have been more arousing.

8) "MATTHEW STEINKE: DELIRIUMS" (Northern-Southern Gallery) Steinke's self-playing musical instruments commandeered the intimate whole of Northern-Southern Gallery to evoke a diversity of mental health disorders – and delight art- and music-loving citizens of any psychiatric flavor.

9) "WITCHES" (Recspec Gallery) Toss this art show in the water, it's gonna float; burn it at the stake, it's Phoenix time, baby. Laurel Barickman of Recspec Gallery and Katie Cowden curated up a distaff array of originals and prints from all over, objects with enough graphic puissance to make Elizabeth Southerns smile in her grave.

10) GENERATIVE ART PROJECT If you put a frame on it, it's art – which designation then provokes further scrutiny and consideration and appreciation. Julia Morton's doing that with this new gallery of cutting-edge kinetic screenworks, internationally sourced digital creations that could blow your mind online but, also, might not be available anywhere but here.

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Top 10s, Top 10s 2018, Ian Ingram, Dimension Gallery, Kirk Lynn, Fusebox Festival, Atelier Dojo, Capital T Theatre, Mickle Maher, Alejandra Almuelle, East Austin Studio Tour, Shawn Camp, Gallery Shoal Creek, The Hidden Room Theatre, Harry Ransom Center, Beth Burns, Judd Farris, Recspec Gallery, Generative Art Project

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