While I was visiting Austin, meli, her daughter Erin, and I visited some museums and a gallery in and near the University of Texas.
First was Frank Reaugh: Landscapes of Texas and the American West, which Erin help put together, at the Harry Ransom Center. A lot of cattle. One even looked like Ferdinand sitting in the grass. At least one of the cattle in each painting was looking wistfully into the distance. While his contemporaries, Charles Russell and Fredrick Remington, painted or sculpted the cowboys, Reaugh was more interested in the landscapes and the cattle. The most interesting part of the exhibit was his series Twenty-four Hours with the Herd, which is seven large paintings and was shown as a multimedia performance in December 1933. In 1933, there was music written especially for the exhibition and a poet performed.
Next was Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1940-1978 at the Blanton Museum of Art. Since there are plenty of Latin American scholars at UT, meli complained about the incorrect signage. A lot of the furniture looked uncomfortable although there were some very unusual and pretty pieces. Even though I’d never seen any of the furniture before, some of the pieces, especially the woven ones, reminded me of furniture I’d seen in Puerto Rico. Most interesting to me were the blueprints – I know furniture has to be designed but it was fascinating to see how intricate the designs are.
Last was Alyssa Taylor Wendt’s Compartments of Desire and UrGear: Various Installation Pieces at Women and Their Work, a gallery where Erin used to work. The first thing you see are some hand sculptures that are supposed to be playfully aggressive but only look aggressive. The photographic portraits were of male and female warriors dressed in sports equipment that had been adorned with everyday and unusual objects. An umpire vest with whistles, a fencing mask with stickpins of drum kits, a faceguard with human teeth and bat wings. These items were the UrGear and were displayed separately. In the center of the gallery was The Spectral Arcane with sexual totems and other accessories. Swept Under is a rug that refers to the power of secrets and personal holding that are under our skins and Vanitas was a self-portrait with notes from the exhibition displayed on the wall behind a mirror.
By Carene Lydia Lopez