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Preview: Austin Arts: Seeing Things

Austin Arts: Seeing Things

Around the arts in Austin. On the streets.

Published: 2013-05-22T10:03:27-06:00


Weekend arts picks: New Music Co-op plays Feldman's "Crippled Symmetry."


A major composer of “indeterminate music,” like his cohort John Cage, Morton Feldman pioneered a unique style of composition that slowly and quietly evolves and unfolds over long periods of time.

Feldman took the rectangular fields of light and color of painter Mark Rothko as the inspiration for “Crippled Symmetry” a 90-minute trio for flute, piano and percussion.

Austin New Music Co-op members Sarah Dutcher, Nick Hennies and Francois Minaux (flutes) will play the rarely performed piece, a vast, seemingly infinite sound world comprised of dozens of asymmetric recurring patterns that coalesce into a floating, cloud-like whole.

Austin New Music Co-op: Morton Feldman’s “Crippled Symmetry.”
8 p.m. Saturday
St. David’s Episcopal Church, 301 E. Eighth St. $12 ($15 at the door)

2012-2013 Austin Critics' Table Award nominations announced May 23


Nominations for the 2012-2013 Austin Critics’ Table Awards will be announced on May 23.

The list of nominations will be released in this blog promptly at midnight.

The awards will be presented at 7 p.m. June 3 at Cap City Comedy Club, 8120 Research Blvd. The event is free and open to the public.

AMOA-Arthouse announces Jones Center summer exhibits


AMOA-Arthouse, with new leadership in place, has announced three exhibits for this summer at the museum’s Jones Center location at 700 Congress Ave. All of the exhibits run July 14-Sept. 1

  • “Please: An exhibition by Devon Dikeou,”

  • “The Syphilis of Sisyphus: An exhibition by Mary Reid Kelley with Patrick Kelley”

  • “Advanced Young Artists 2013 Exhibition”


    In “Please,” Austin-based artist, curator, writer, and collector Devon Dikeou draws inspiration from the final 16 still lifes made by 19th-century modernist painter Édouard Manet. Painted in Manet’s last days while his health was in dramatic decline, these often-overlooked, intimate flower paintings were devoid of the scandalous subject matter prevalent in many of his earlier, iconic portraits. Dikeou derives the exhibition’s title from an essay by the art critic Peter Schjeldahl, in which he describes Manet as a man striving to please his viewers while simultaneously tackling subjects of wealth, remembrance, love, sex, death, and loss.

    Dikeou recreates the still life scenes in meticulously fabricated sculptures. “Please” was originally commissioned and produced by Artpace San Antonio.

    “The Syphilis of Sisyphus,” co-directed by Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley, is an 11-minute monologue set in 1852 in Paris, France. As the protagonist — a young, pregnant prostitute named Sisyphus — traverses the narrow alleys of the city, she spouts poetic, pun-filled verses A cast of historical characters, ranging from Napoleon and Jesus to Karl Marx and Marie Antoinette, acts out a series of vignettes while Reid Kelley questions the fate of women. “

    Appointed last year, Louis Grachos began his position as AMOA-Arthouse’s executive director in Januayr. Heather Pesanti also joined the museum as senior curator in January.

    Image: “Please,” Devon Dikeou

  • Long Center launches its own Broadway series


    The Long Center for the Performing Arts is launching its own series of touring Broadway shows.

    Long Center officials say that audience surveys indicate a demand for Broadway fare. A four show series starts with “A Chorus Line,” July 24-28.

    “Chorus Line” is a produced by Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars.

    Other shows by national producers include “Godspell,” “Man of La Mancha ” and “Hair.”

    For the past couple of seasons, the Long Center had partnered with Broadway Across America and UT’s Texas Performing Arts to present BAA’s roster of shows that typically come to Austin for a week, or more of shows.

    The Long Center booked its Broadway series to run two shows per production, except “Chorus Line.”

    For more info see:

    Review: Trouble Puppet Theater's 'Cruel Circus'


    When a circus comes to town, it brings promises of spectacle, danger, and delight.

    Trouble Puppet’s “The Cruel Circus,” now running at Salvage Vanguard Theater, uses fantastical puppets to let the audience peek behind the curtain of one such circus.

    After mounting last fall’s “Toil and Trouble,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” Trouble Puppet returns this spring with an entirely original production.

    Written and directed by Connor Hopkins, “The Cruel Circus” explores the world of mysterious circus performers created and abandoned by an unseen tinkerer in a secret laboratory.

    A weird and wonderful pre-show featuring singer Cami Alys greets audience members, and striking visual art projections (by Chris Owen and Annie Bradley McCall) set the evening’s quirky tone.

    The story follows Bella, a timid creature with a bullseye emblazoned on her torso, as she tries to figure out where she belongs amid the zany world of the circus acts. Other than some brief bits of narration, the puppets don’t really speak; they rely on their actions to create moments of humor and physical comedy.

    Theatre-goers who seek a strong narrative may be confused by the hazy plot, but fans of clowning, puppetry, and the circus arts will find much to delight in. Familiar circus acts—unicyclists, tightrope walkers, clowns—are given a fanciful twist through the imaginative puppet designs. (Be sure to keep an eye on the lion as he finally gives his trainer a comeuppance!)

    It’s an intimate show. In the style of Japanese Bunraku puppetry, the puppeteers are fully masked, allowing the eye to narrow in on the intricate puppets. Multiple people operate the central puppets, a technique that breathes life into the creations and makes them seem, at moments, truly alive.

    ‘The Cruel Circus’ continues through May 25, Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 6 p.m. Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd. $10-$20.

    Claire Canavan is an American-Statesman freelance arts critic.

    Blanton Museum announces 2013-2014 exhibit schedule


    The first comprehensive career survey of Brazilian artist Waltercio Caldas, a look at the close creative friendship Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt and an interactive video installation that allows gallery goers the chance to experience the experimental dance of choreographer Deborah Hay are just a few of the exhibits the Blanton Museum of Art has on its roster for 2013-2014.

    The Blanton’s exhibit schedule is:

    “Imperial Augsburg: Renaissance Prints and Drawings, 1475-1540,” Oct. 5, 2013 - Jan. 5, 2014

    “The Nearest Air: A Survey of Works by Waltercio Caldas,” Oct. 27, 2013-Jan. 12, 2014

    “Between Mountains and Sea: Arts of the Ancient Andes,” Feb. 1 - June 22, 2014

    “Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt,” Feb. 23 - May 18, 2014

    “Perception Unfolds: Looking at Deborah Hay’s Dance,” Feb. 23 - May 18, 2014

    “In the Company of Cats and Dogs,” June 22 - September 21, 2014

    For complete information see. the full exhibition schedule.

    Review: 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert"


    Glitter and lipstick are taking center stage at the Bass Concert Hall this week as Broadway Across America brings us a sparkling spectacle that gives the Las Vegas Strip a run for its money.

    “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (The Musical),” playing through Sunday, follows three glamorous drag queens on a road trip across Australia and offers a panoply of iconic pop songs from the 70s and 80s.

    A bawdy and innuendo-filled adventure, “Priscilla” is high energy, big budget, and fast paced in terms of costume changes, set transitions, and dance numbers.

    Based on the 1994 film, the stage version of the story takes what might be a standard jukebox musical to a whole new level of hot pink pizazz. Treating us to renditions of inarguably catchy classics such as “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” “Hot Stuff,” and a whole host of Madonna’s hits — “Priscilla” is a pinnacle of Broadway show business. The divas descend from the ceiling, it rains a rainbow of jauntily clad men, and for a change, the majority of the skin showing on stage is male.

    Costume designers Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner won Academy Awards for their work in the film, and they seem to have taken everything to a whole new level of camp in the musical. At times, the costumes are so over-the-top they tumble into the cartoonish (and unnecessary - see a number involving dancing paintbrushes), but the sheer quantity of quick changes and stage magic is beyond impressive. As is the set design. Nick Schlieper’s lighting and Brain Thompson’s incredible incandescent set design are absolutely breath-taking.

    The disco and pop music keep the show pumping at a pitch that proves a bit exhausting by the second half. While the story line offers a number of opportunities for pathos, these tend to get swept up and overshadowed by whichever big number that follows. So the pacing doesn’t offer a whole lot of room for us to rest and catch our breath, but that makes the performers’ work all the more extraordinary.

    Bringing what resembles a full-size Airstream trailer and what seems like several hundred costumes to the stage, the production requires a massive amount of equipment and man-power to take on the road. As such, we’re lucky to have it come through town, and this touring spectacle is not to be missed for any lover of Broadway, Madonna, or glam.

    “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” continues through Sunday.

    Cate Blouke is an American-Statesman freelance arts critic.