Austin as a Cultural Center? Not Likely, Brabantio.

April 14, 2011 10:39 AM | Link to this

I lived in Austin for 11 years (now live in LA) and during my time there, I enjoyed increasing national and international recognition for my work. By contrast, my experiences with curators and directors of Austin’s local galleries and larger institutions like Arthouse, and AMOA, felt amateurish by comparison. Petty and political, or simply out of touch. The only outreach seems to be repeat requests to donate work for fund-raising, followed by consistent refusals to exhibit the same work.

From my own experiences, and from talking with other artists who also worked with these institutions in Austin, the outreach to artists and the handling of their work is felt to be insensitive at best. Relationship-building with artists doesn’t seem to be part of the considerations. This was a sad article to read, but consistent with what I experienced as an artist when I was in Austin.

The shining, sole exception seems to be Russell Etchen of Domy Books who consistently curates shows that bring nationally-known artists, authors and performers while also promoting the work of local talent.


It’s sad, really. I’ve been in other cities that think Austin is just drunk on itself.  It’s sad when you’re that last at the party to realise — that for the entire party — your fly has been unzipped. That vision thing? Again?  Plus, does the world really need two LA’s? Seems infinitely cheaper to buy airfare to LA rather than culturally plagarise it… And for what purpose? Anytime anything is uncomfortable in it’s own skin — you have a problem. It can be solved but it’s going to take people with curatorial and cultural knowledge to pull it off. Austin’s has never seen anyone wearing that hat — only photos thereof. The notion is — wink, wink — let’s bring  what ‘we’ ‘think’ is culture and see if ‘we’ can pull it off… and so far, baby — for 30 years — they, Austin’s cultural elite, have gotten it fatally wrong. And from what I can see on the horizon — buckle up for another ten years of ‘me-too-ism.’  From a funding perspective  it’s starting to look like, in Austin, TX, if you want to promote the  ‘new, new thing’ — your going to have to dig down deep into your own pocket book to do so. And that promises to be exciting. Stay tuned…

Sometimes — throwing money at things isn’t a fix — sometimes problems require DEEP THOUGHT… the difference between ‘new’ and ‘old’ money. and what an abyss it is… follow me!


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