Nina Katchadourian’s Curiouser at Blanton Museum of Art

Multimedia artist Nina Katchadourian’s exhibit Curiouser will be at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin until June 11, 2017

A child of transatlantic flights, raised by Armenian and Finnish parents, Nina Katchadourian is a conceptual artist steeped in mapping and translation. Her parents and brother figure into her pieces, appearing in video and audio works. They provide active and supportive participants for her rituals and mythologies which create unique order out of seemingly mundane, disparate items. For the viewer her multimedia pieces are playful, evocative and break down the molds imposed by popular culture and homogeneity.

Lavatory Self-Portrait in the Flemish Style #4

Lavatory Self-Portrait in the Flemish Style #4

Studies have shown that the mind when subjected to chronic stress and conventional demands over a period of time, with no space for reflection or creative re-organization, can begin to suffer loss of memory. Parts of the brain, through both overuse and atrophy can see a shrinking of connections and activity. The visual arts can be valuable in that they force a separation from the rational world, providing a controlled space in which one can engage with playful exercises in fragmentation or contradiction. Whether through surrealistic juxtaposition, the absurd, or an exploration of childhood play revisited after 30 years, Katchadourian’s art is perfect for this.  Her work engages in a natural disengagement from inherited conceptual categories. In one piece she takes apart all the countries on a Rand McNally map of the world and then pieces them back together, re-imagining geography. Her entire show resembles this process and is a welcome relief for our imagination. I saw groups of both children and adults delighting in the serendipity behind her creations. I can say with certainty that their minds grew and stretched happily in the process.

Geographic Art

In some of her pieces, such as the Genealogy of the Supermarket, Katchadourian locates absurd links between unrelated images, building enormous webs of relationships between them that could exist, if the world followed different rules.   In another she has observed a torn and abandoned spider web and she attempts to rebuild it with red thread.

The humor in her artworks is not a cynical humor, from a secure, knowing vantage point, ironically disrupting or challenging preconceptions in some cruel manner. Instead it is the humor of an outsider, traveler, or child who builds her own meaning and order, organizes and arranges collections that communicate relationships or patterns.

Katchadourian sees a world of languages and cultural objects and arranges them, repairing gaps like a broken spider web so they can communicate new stories. For the viewer, we are grateful for these changes to have our own static categories interrupted, challenged, and rebuilt. And for the modern mind, bogged down by repetition and tired structures, these new mythologies allow us to breathe and build new connections, maybe even with red thread.

Secret Art of Dr. Seuss

The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss on view at the Art on 5th Gallery on S. Lamar til April 9th.

Many of us grew up with the visual vocabulary of Dr. Seuss’s art. His wild trees with their fluffy tops or the whimsical horns on his animals all communicated not just creative freedom but also gave us a sense that there was more to the world than we were being taught.  Apparently there was more to Dr. Seuss as well. During the day he wrote children’s books, by night he was a surrealist painter.  Art on 5th Gallery has a wonderful collection of his many works, spanning a variety of styles and ranging from the familiar to more mature interpretations of his literary oeuvre.

at Art on 5th Gallery

Maybe you were one of those children who would spend hours pouring over the imagery in his books, absorbing the nuances in all of his characters wild expressions.  You owe yourself a favor to spend some time now, revisiting these wonders in a new light. While you discover more to Dr. Seuss than you knew you may gain a new look into your own grownup imagination and perhaps marvel at the journey you both took.

If viewing these works up close at Art on 5th Gallery is still not enough, there is a wonderful volume on this secret art of Dr. Seuss that offers an introduction by the equally formative Maurice Sendak. Similarly there is another work on his secret art entitled the Cat Behind the Hat (which is also the title of one of his works featured in the Gallery.)

 

New photograph acquisitions at the Harry Ransom Center

The Harry Ransom Center is world renowned for its photography archives and their holdings are continuing to grow. From Feb. 9 until May 29, 2016 they will be celebrating almost 200 new acquisitions. Look Inside: New Photography Acquisitions traces progressions in the art from the post-war period through to the contemporary era.

Enjoy their time-lapse installation video here:

Punk Rock Holiday Markets, Yule Bazaars and Cocktails

As the holidays pick up, more fun events are added to the local calendar. It’s hard to keep up! Subscribe to stay tuned in for new happenings and reviews!

 

punk rock xmas

Saturday, Dec. 12 at the Lost Well, 2421 Webberville Road, 2pm til 8pm.  Hand-rolled Tamales and over a dozen local Punk Rock Artists. Get unique gifts! Jewelry, organic soaps, art – full list of artists and info can be found here.

Or maybe you might be interested in Holistic/Wellness shopping for body products, jewelry, and crystals while sipping specialty cocktails like the Vampyress or Butterfly Nectar and enjoying out of this world Italian food? Sunday Dec. 13, 5pm-11pm at the Vortex on 2307 Manor Road. 

holistic market

 

Maybe you’re not interested in an evening affair – the same Butterfly Bar cocktails will be available next to the Vortex at the following weekend’s Winter Yule Bazaar. This one promises DJs and belly dancers and a morning Yule ritual! Gifts provided by the East Austin Handmade Market. From Noon to 5pm, all weekend, all ages and free.   Dec. 19 and 20th. 

yule bazaar

 

Done with your shopping and still want to get your holiday spirit on? Come out and join the Solstice Lantern Parade!
Monday, December 21st, 2015, 5 pm  ***KID FRIENDLY!***  The site is TBA, and there are instructions on the page to make and bring your own lantern. Music will be provided by the Minor Mishap Marching Band, “Bourbon Street meets Budapest” they describe themselves. Sure to be a magical way to celebrate the shortest day of the year.

lantern

Eastside Pop-up Holiday Shopping – Local and Weird

Everyday I hear about more and more holiday shopping parties, brunches and bazaars. Want to stay informed? Subscribe to my blog, you’ll find the button to your right.

event-poster-4942008

Eastside Pop-up is promoting the event and a number of other great bazaars and shows this month.

Eastside Popup

stay gold

holidaymarket

festivus

  • And if that weren’t enough and you’ve still put off getting gifts for all those far-flung relatives who wonder what Austin is all about, you have one more chance to sip mimosas while you shop. There will be another Bazaar Brunch at the Bouldin Creek Cafe, 1900 S. 1st, Dec. 20, 10am-3pm.