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Can austin be better for art?

BAD AT SPORTS has a fantastic podcast roundtable with BAS stalwart host
Duncan MacKenzie, critic Lori
, critic (and current Art History Ph.D. candidate at UT Austin!) Kathryn Hixson and SAIC Art History, Theory and Criticism faculty member James Yood on a variety of topics, like
"Robert Storr vs. the universe," and even more interestingly,
regionalism as felt in Chicago.
The steps they detail for a city to become an important art center
sound pretty reasonable: national media headquartered in the city,
being a major transportation hub with a top airport, and most
importantly, a league of either university professors or grad students
willing to put in the hours to show they can compete outside of a
regional model. Austin fails at all of these though it certainly has tried hard with the last one. If any city in Texas were
to become an important art center, Houston or Dallas would beat us to a
bloody pulp.

One of the most important things they discuss in developing an art
scene that transcends regionalism is a school that has its shit
together. Unfortunately, UT Austin does not have it shit together, at
least not in any creative degree program. It is a hotbed for
conventional thinking. And from my experiences this is something that
comes from the top, from Deans with small expectations and short term
goals who are probably terrified of the board of the University and the
weird accountability required by a public university in a pretty
conservative state. What works for science programs or business schools
is very different from what works for the arts.
(Image borrowed from here
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2 Responses

  1. rachel

    Thanks for bringing up some interesting points Ivan. My two cents on RS vs the world… Robert Storr and Ingrid Schaffner were here at UT viewpoints guest lecturing several years ago. Miss Schaffner talked first. Then Mr. Storr took the podium and said something like …I am adjusting my notes, since Miss Schaffner has gone over her time by 5 minutes and interfered with my plans, you will be missing points. This is not my first book and will not be reading my doctoral thesis to you now…..then he talked about his interest in ‘the grotesque’ in art… HE WAS MEAN, he attacked his fellow lecturer for no reason, he was aggressive and petty. I remember feeling offended and wondering if I should leave immediately so as not fuel his apparent need to dominate and control (5 min over!!?) the room. Was anyone else there? is there a recording of this? He struck me as a bully, the kind who wins by yelling the loudest, rather than by creating nuanced arguments. he can talk real fast about art.

  2. tobrienwriter

    you can read about this kind of thing on an international stage in the last six months of Artforum (or the wrap up on artnet) where he rebuts every single critic to his biennale with numerous, 8000-word diatribes, attacking them each personally. A snarky aside or two I can understand – but 10 page refutations of every single criticism? I think the guy clearly has (somewhat infamous) issues. It was funny to see, after the first round, how the critics kind of went “whoa; whatever dude” and left him hanging by his own petard…

    And I agree a school is a really important element in fomenting a scene. I don’t see how you can do it without one – its creating a low, industrial-strength glass ceiling in Dallas. Big D has a lot going for it, but the lack of a truly exemplary, forward looking, comprehensive art program somewhere around is a big problem. And a good one is years away, at best…there are a few highlights, but nothing cohesive.

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