This week, Arts in Context Shorts takes you up handrails and down half-pipes to explore skateboarding culture in a new light.
Torque and Axis, an exciting new exhibit by artist Jared Steffensen, showcases the materials, shapes and movements generated by skateboarders as they travel through urban landscapes in innovative ways. Using bright colors, fluid lines and repurposed materials, the exhibit emphasizes the contemplative and imaginative aspects of skateboarding. Many of the exhibit’s sculptures highlight the beauty of skateboarding equipment while a film installation explores the perseverance skateboarders employ in their practice.
Presented by the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas, Torque and Axis pulls skateboarding into the art world with fascinating results.
Having survived under a totalitarian regime, Cuban hip-hop duo Krudas Cubensi refuses to compromise. Lyrically, nothing is off limits as they spit fiery lines about politics and sexuality with a frankness and openness that is seldom seen. With a persistent Afro-Cuban rhythm, Odaymara Cuesta and Olivia Prendes use their art as a weapon “to fight against oppression, for justice, for balance, for our rights, to celebrate the life.” Now based out of Austin, Texas, Krudas Cubensi continues their fight for social justice through their incendiary, original hip-hop.
This week’s Arts in Context Shorts features Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s eerie photographs that possess a “wildly strange” nature. Often employing masks, dolls and sometimes his own children set against abandoned buildings and other eerie backdrops, Meatyard’s work differed from the documentary, photo-journalism approach that defined the mainstream definition of the photographer in the 1950s. His photographs blur (often quite literally) the distinctions between literature and visual art, encouraging viewers to explore the role of fiction in the photographic images and their representation of reality.
This week’s Arts in Context Shorts features the work of artist Denise Prince. Across the disciplines of film, photography, painting and object making, Prince’s work employs the commercial language of advertising to make explicit what is real or deftly, its counterpoint, fantasy. Prince’s portrait on cancer survivor and apparel designer Gail Chovan is supplemented by wit and made clear the pleasure with which she constructs narratives and then disrupts them. Through the artistic process, Prince has learned to live better by uncovering the thing we are not.
At Austin Speed Shop, rusty frames and stock vehicles are canvases for a unique group of artists. Through the collaborative vision and skill of the Austin Speed Shop crew, these canvases are painstakingly transformed into interactive works of art. Founded in 2005 by John Joyoprayitno (a biotech engineer), Dr. Dan Peterson (a neurosurgeon), and Cory Moore (a music manager), Austin Speed Shop is dedicated to restoring custom American cars and trucks from the 1920s through the early 1960s. In order to bring the beauty of the hot rod tradition of the past to the present day, each stock vehicle is completely dismantled and then fully restored. The final result is a work of automotive art that has been hand built with custom metal work, parts, paint, and interiors.
If you want to see some of Austin Speed Shop’s work on display, stop by the 14th Annual Lonestar Round Up, taking place April 17th-18th at the Travis County Expo Center. The Speed Shop will be hosting an open house at their location (3507 Chapman Ln) the night of April 17th from 6-10 pm, followed by a party for registered Round Up attendees the next evening from 7pm till midnight. Tickets are $15 for the two-day event and free fro children under 12.
This week Arts In Context Shorts show how medical illustrations can make beautiful art. Brazilian-born cardiologist Carlos Machado first discovered Frank Netter’s celebrated medical illustrations as a six-year-old boy. Over the course of his life and even throughout his time in medical school, Machado has worked to hone his talent for illustration while embracing hyperrealism. Eventually, he was chosen to become the successor to Dr. Netter and worked as a valuable contributor to “The Netter Collection of Medical Illustrations.”
This week, Arts In Context Shorts presents the art of thinking fast. Founded as a platform for hip-hop artists, the Austin Mic Exchange works tirelessly to create a community of aspiring and independent emcees. Their weekly open mic nights are a haven for artists seeking stage time, a forum for the city’s best emcees to connect with their peers, and an invaluable opportunity to hone their craft. Freestylers electrify the crowd as they perform their highwire act – improvising frenetically and letting the flow take over them. Part showcase, part community event, and all love, these open mics cultivate the small but fiercely active hip-hop community in Austin.
This week Arts In Context Shorts explores the beauty of Waller Creek. On November 13, 2014, a small stretch of Waller Creek in downtown Austin, Texas was lit up with modern light installations created by five local architects and landscape designers. These light pieces were designed to showcase the space’s potential, since soon a series of parks and connected trails will be developed in the location. Organized by the Waller Creek Conservancy and featuring live local music, the event drew strolling crowds to the walkways and various creekside businesses.
This week, Arts In Context Shorts takes you to the drive-in movie theater. Located on the sprawling tarmac of the old Austin airport is the Blue Starlite Drive-in. A few nights a week, up to fifty cars and a handful of walk-in moviegoers gradually fill the lot. While some people drop tailgates and inflate air mattresses in truck beds, others arrange sofa cushions in hatchbacks or unfold lawn chairs around coolers. As the sun sets behind the city skyline and the stars come out, people tune their radios into the theater’s own station attach one of many vintage speakers and settle in for the movie. In this short, we see why the Blue Starlite has become a worthy member of Austin’s unique collection of independent cinemas.
Arts In Context Shorts features an innovative project using art to empower. Through education and training, Arc of the Arts makes professional artists out of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program gives new skills to artists both in making art and in marketing and selling their works, providing a viable career path for a population with limited options. With a strong identity, a boost of confidence, self expression and platform for exposure, these artists meet new goals for refining their craft and for practicing social skills to use in their new career.
A shortened version of this story will air during PBS NewsHour Weekend on Saturday, September 13 at 6:30pm.