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Quiet the voices in our heads

Here's a good one from the new website of Art Alliance Austin (formerly The Austin Fine Arts Alliance), which hosts the annual Austin Fine Arts Festival: "Austin is a creative Mecca comprised of an eclectic mix of university professors, students,
politicians, lobbyists, musicians, high-tech workers, and visual art luminaries such as Julie Speed,
Charles Umlauf, Elisabet Ney, Michael Ray Charles, Mel Ziegler, and Jim Franklin." Wait… isn't Elisabet Ney dead? And aren't Julie Speed and Mel Ziegler gone? [Read Michael Berryhill's response to my post about Ziegler leaving UT Austin on the message boards.] And politicians and lobbyists should be included in the list of eclecticness forming the creative Mecca that is Austin? Here's something else from the AAA site, then I'll leave them alone: "Each April, hundreds of the best juried independent and emerging
artists descend on the hub of innovation, expression, and individuality
that is Austin, Texas." They're speaking of the Keep Austin Weird-esque Austin Fine Arts Festival, the equivalent of this weekend's Bayou City Art Festival in Houston, a well-meaning street art fest of windchimes and handmade soaps that nobody, not even in a generous, street-walking mood, should waste their time on. Pointing it out is admittedly like kicking a horse that's already down, but calling it "the best juried independent and emerging artists" is a insult to jurying and emergence.

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3 Responses

  1. cion

    In recent meetings with Art Alliance Austin (formerly The Austin Fine Arts Alliance) I have been encouraged by their motivation to expand the vision of the Fine Arts Festival beyond the traditional art fair model that has previously been the role of the festival for the community.

    Art Alliance Austin has been in discussions with a range of artists, designers, and architects to determine the most effective ways of expanding the relevance of the festival and to provide a greater opportunity for a broader range of artists to participate in the festival.

    As a participant in the discussion on how to improve the festival and how to expand the role of Art Alliance Austin to best serve Austin’s creative community, I have found the Alliance to be genuinely interested in building a strong and meaningful arts festival. Does this mean “Down with Soap and Wiindchimes!”? Maybe not, but I think the Alliance is asking if there is a way to incorporate the wide range of craft artisans who’s work has been celebrated in the festival in the past, while also building opportunities to showcase new work that is challenging, inspiring, and original.

    I agree that claims like “the best juried independent and emerging artists” puts AAA at risk of scrutiny, but certainly we should wait to see what’s delivered this year as a result of the Aliance’s makeover before calling the festival a “waste of time”.

    Ian Cion
    October 2007

  2. ginnysanders

    The web site and all the press lately is talking about how the festival is moving away from your typical street festival and becoming more dynamic. I’m looking forward to more visual installations by local Austin artists like Mathew Rodriguez, Luke Savisky, and Becca Ward.The AIA partnership will be interesting to see too. I’m excited by the passion and drive behind the organization’s plan to re-invent the festival. I hope this review challenges the event producers to keep coming up with new ideas and collaborations that will have the Bayou City Art Festival eating dust…or turkey legs and funnel cakes.

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