(My) Austin Museum Day: 2019

Since I was out-of-town on the official Austin Museum Day, I decided to take my own mini-tour of the exhibits at my favorite local haunts.

The Mexic-Arte Museum on Congress Avenue was displaying their collection of mojigangas. These giant, folk-art puppets are used in their Viva La Vida Parade, which is coming up this weekend. Their annual Community Offrendas (altars) were also set up, but I’m going to save those for a separate blog entry.

A few blocks away, I was pleasantly surprised to come across Randall Ford: The Animal Kingdom at the Austin Central Library. I was familiar with this photographer and project since Ford had talked about his book, also titled The Animal Kingdom, at last year’s Texas Book Festival.

Although my own photos don’t demonstrate this, Ford’s “glamour shot” animal photography looked stunning when printed on large canvases mounted on the gallery’s walls.

Next on my list was the Harry Ransom Center on the University of Texas campus. Although it’s primarily a humanities research center, the Ransom Center also has a public display space. I specifically went there to view Austen in Austin. And yes, this was about Jane Austen.

Some of the Ransom Center’s books and papers related to Jane Austen were featured, along with unusual Austen-related books from the private collection of Janine Barchas, UT English professor and Jane Austen expert.

The Ransom Center also had a selection of interesting, old magic posters on display. After many years of wondering about this, I finally understand the inspiration behind magician Ray Anderson’s backdrops at Esther’s Follies.

My final stop was The Blanton art museum, also located on the UT campus. Their rotating exhibit was Jeffrey Gibson: This is the Day. Over 50 of Gibson’s colorful and unique pieces were on view in their first-floor Butler Gallery.

Most of Gibson’s artwork in this exhibit was three-dimensional: ceramics, wall hangings, decorated masks, and even punching bags.

Gibson’s Native American heritage was reflected in many of his works, especially in the huge, woven Ghost Dance shirts hanging from the gallery’s ceiling. Not surprisingly, he was recently named a MacArthur Fellow.

No Austin museum tour—official or otherwise—would be complete without a quick look inside Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin at The Blanton.

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