History Is Groovy

History is groovy.

Just one reason to visit the LBJ Library’s current exhibit Left to Right:  Radical Movements of the 1960s.   You’ll find the exhibit on the 4th floor of the Library and it’s on display through January 2, 2012.

The LBJ Library is open daily from 9 – 5.  Admission and parking are free.

Directions/parking: http://www.lbjlibrary.org/about-us/plan-your-visit.html

Left to Right

The upheavals and social disturbances that characterized the 1960s, clashes of generations, races, genders, cultural values, and political beliefs, appeared to have no end. Slogans from the movements became rallying cries:  Yippie, Women’s Lib, Silent
Majority, Black Power, States’ Rights, Make Love Not War, Generation Gap, and No Grapes.

Editorial cartoonist Ben Sargent, who drew an iconic portrayal of the struggles between the movements, describes what visitors will see as the final image of the new exhibit, “From all the vast cast of characters on the political stage of the ’60s, we picked a few from the left and from the right who epitomized the highly energized public discourse of those revolutionary days, tugging on the flag whose American principles both sides thought they were fighting to preserve.”

Sandor Cohen is Curator of the exhibit.  “The social and political divisions that existed in the 1960s are hard to imagine today,” said Cohen.  “But we, as a nation, survived this traumatic time…proving, once again, that freedom of expression is our greatest and most enduring strength.”

As the 1970s took hold, however, wholesale changes resulting from the radical movements of the 1960s clearly created a different world than the one which preceded it. On the left, the movements against racial and gender discrimination ultimately moved society toward a more tolerant view of equality in the workplace, the home, and human relationships. On the right, the rise of mainstream conservatism as a major political movement -primarily espousing traditional values, individual freedom, and smaller government -became the dominant political force in the 1980s and 1990s.

The radical movements which sprung to life in the 1960s were emblematic of the political and social divides that existed in that time period.  Were they necessary? Were they inevitable? How did they influence our society, and what is their legacy?

Left to Right: Radical Movements of the 1960s examines the impact both then and now.

 LBJ Library & Museum

At the LBJ Library, visitors have an opportunity to learn about one of this country’s most complex and fascinating presidents and the turbulent times of his administration.  It is the only presidential library with free admission.

In the Library’s core historical and cultural exhibits, experience the personal and political lives of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, step into a replica of the Oval Office, examine the continuing impact of the Great Society, and view the anguish of the Vietnam War.  The vast historical archives are an amazing resource for journalists, students, scholars, and the general public.

For more information, visit www.lbjlibrary.org


Austin Museum Day is Sept 25!

Hooray! Cooler weather finally seems to be upon us – and just in time for a big weekend here in Austin. The Blanton is gearing up for lots of events this coming Saturday, September 24, and Sunday, September 25. The highly anticipated exhibition El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa finally opens on Sunday. On Saturday, the artist will be here! At 2PM, the museum will feature a special talk with artist El Anatsui in conversation with Lisa Binder, curator for the Museum for African Art in New York, and UT art history professor Moyosore Okediji.

On Sunday, it’s Austin Museum Day! On this special day, museums across the city, including the Cultural Campus, open their doors to visitors free of admission. Each institution offers engaging and fun activities for families and kids.

El Anatsui, Oasis, 2008, Aluminum and copper wire, 106 x 90 in, Photo courtesy: Jane Katcher / Peter Harholdt

The Blanton is thrilled to be able to share El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa with the Austin community. We are the only venue in the southwest to host this stunning exhibition. Of the 60 or so works in the show, many are large-scale, mixed-media creations that carry a powerful presence. From a distance, El Anatsui’s carefully crafted wall hangings look as if various metals have been sewn together, but the construction is actually made of thousands of discarded bottle tops and other expendable material that has been repurposed. The transformation, once you recognize it, is quite amazing. And, the amount of work that went into these works speaks to the artist’s process – one of great care and attention to detail. The exhibition also includes works in wood, ceramic, and metal, and a selection of drawings, prints, and paintings. There is much more than meets the eye to El’s works. There is something profoundly universal about them – the narrative speaks to all of us – but at the same time they have an intimate quality as well.

We hope that you come by this weekend, to see this special exhibition for your self and enjoy all of the cool activities on Austin Museum Day. Speaking of cool – many will take place outside on The Blanton’s plaza, including a collaborative project featuring 45 lbs of candy inspired by El Anatsui’s works. While at the museum, take the opportunity to see our other fall exhibition, Storied Past: Four Centuries of French Drawings from the Blanton Museum of Art, which opened this past weekend.

Our Cultural Campus partners also have some wonderful things planned, so be sure to visit. The day is FREE and we are all within walking distance!


Q&A with Visual Arts Center’s Artist-in-Residence Mika Tajima

This fall, the Visual Arts Center (VAC) welcomes Mika Tajima as its Artist-in-Residence in the Vaulted Gallery. The NYC-based artist is known for her interrogation of the performer and the built environment, and her work as the founder of New Humans. We recently talked to Mika about her ideas and inspirations for the upcoming exhibition, and the relationship between art, design, and architecture.

Your site-specific installation, which opens September 9, is entitled The Architect’s Garden. What is the connection to architecture in this exhibition?

The built environment is of particular interest in my work and for the exhibition at the VAC. Not only are these surrounding environments a product of labor, but they also shape our activities at the same time in a feedback loop. I am interested in specific historical structures that have come to represent the evacuated modernist dream and its legacy—such as office cubicle designs and geopolitical border walls like the blast walls in Iraq. The urban landscape is of particular interest to me, especially with its transformations marked by the proliferation of half-built highrise condos and derelict buildings in the wake of post-industrial economy. One of the major visual markers of this condition is the ubiquitous scaffolding structure, these temporary architectural structures that cover half-built constructions and hide demolition sites (modern ruins). For the VAC, I’ll utilize scaffolds as both support and structure for various surfaces for painting/sculpture, and I’m interested in how surfaces of objects can function—i.e. how a painting becomes a covering or signage, always in a state of becoming something else such as a backdrop or a skin.

Why did you choose specifically to explore this topic here at the VAC in Austin?

In my work there is an aspect of refusal—to avoid determination and to defer expectations as a mode of autonomy. For this exhibition, I wanted to continue drawing on states of becoming and refusal in the face of this type of surrounding environment. Also, I am bringing specific research into the fold by engaging resources at UT and the link to Richard Linklater’s seminal film Slacker.

In recent projects, I’ve investigated the history of autonomists in Italy (a left workerist movement; those who lived in society but by “one’s own rule”) as well as referenced Situationists urban derive. For Austin, I wanted to continue thinking about these various topics but specific to a native version that emerged in Austin. In Slacker, Austin’s landscape is the backdrop for exploring these themes. In the current Austin, like other cities, we live amongst the overgrowth of capitalist overdevelopment. Slacker seems more relevant than ever now–finding one’s own way without joining the ranks.

As part of the exhibition, you’ve invited Nancy Kwallek, director of the interior design program in the School of Architecture, to join you in a discussion about Herman Miller’s and Knoll’s color palettes from the 1950s. What do you hope for people to take away from the talk about art’s relationship to design?

I’m addressing how the built environment has shaped our lives and how the legacy of modernism has seeped into every aspect of our culture, particularly at the register of decor and its overproduction. Another specific reference is Herman Miller’s “Action Office” system, the first cubicle ever, which revolutionized the modern workplace interior under the rubric of maximizing efficiency, human interaction, and progress. After discovering that the spaces the cubicles created were not exactly the idealized workspaces imagined, Herman Miller commissioned designer Alexander Girard to create silkscreen designs that were stretched over the cubicle panels to customize workers’ spaces (in another sense, to mask or decorate the alienating space of the cubicle). I also saw these cubicle designs (both the architectural structure as well as the surfaces) as instrumentalized paintings. So on the one hand, I’m investigating what has gotten us to this point, and on the other, I’m thinking about slack or avoidance of these situations—new undetermined spaces.

You spent part of your childhood here in Austin. What stood out the most about your time here?

I spent most of my childhood in Austin, but haven’t been back until this project for the VAC. In Austin there is a feeling that there is something else going on there, that things are “different” from the rest of Texas. I was in high school when Slacker came out and seeing a film like that gave me a feeling that there are other possibilities through different navigations and encounters of places—an everyday autonomy that propelled me to find out what else is out there.

The Bullock Museum wants to know if you are ready for some football.

This fall at The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, the special exhibition Texas High School Football: More Than The Game celebrates the state’s most popular sport and captures the sights and sounds of Texas’s Friday night life – from the action on the field, the noise in the stands, and the pageantry of halftime and homecoming – to tell a larger story about ourselves as Texans.


The exhibit was developed by the Museum and curated by Joe Nick Patoski, who has spent four decades writing about Texas and Texans – from musicians’ biographies to coffee table books on state parks. For this exhibit, Joe Nick spent two years travelling thousands of miles across the state to witness football in every incarnation in the hopes of discovering what it is about high school football that captivates so many people across the state of Texas.

In the exhibit, you’ll see the history of the game unfold through artifacts like uniforms from decades past, championship rings, and sports training contraptions that started in Texas and changed the game nationwide. You’ll experience photography, video, and oral histories from contemporary players, twirlers, cheerleaders, and fans from every corner of the state. And you’ll start to see that for at least a few hours every week in the fall, Texas high school football is the glue that transcends cultural, ethnic, and spiritual differences to define us all as Texan.

Additionally, The Museum has partnered with St. Edward’s University professor Bill Kennedy and eight of his photo- communication students to capture the spirit of football Friday nights in a companion photography exhibit, entitled Fridays in Focus, on display in the Museum’s third floor Austin Room from September 21 – October 5. The exhibit is FREE and open to the public during regular Museum hours.

The Museum offers free exhibit admission to its permanent exhibits and to Texas High School Football: More Than the Game from 2 – 6 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month; regular admission is $9 for adults; $8 for college students (with valid ID); $7 for seniors/military (with valid ID); $6 for youth ages 4-17, free for ages 3 and under.

Welcome to Austin’s Cultural Campus Blog

Austin’s Cultural Campus consists of six museums located near or on The University of Texas at Austin campus: the Blanton Museum of Art, The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Harry Ransom Center, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, the Texas Memorial Museum, and the Visual Arts Center. This pedestrian-friendly destination offers exhibitions that highlight visual and literary arts, history, and science, providing exceptional cultural experiences, performances, shopping, dining and more.

This blog (and our Facebook page) is your one-stop-shop for what’s going on in the museums around The University of Texas at Austin and Texas State Capitol complex area.