Friday, November 17, 2017

On Display

(All photos taken by Camille Wheeler at last year's On Display at the Blanton Museum of Art)

Join Body Shift and a cast of local dancers, actors, and activists of diverse ages, abilities and backgrounds as we present Heidi Latsky's ON DISPLAY at the Blanton Museum of Art on December 3rd from 1-3:30pm.

ON DISPLAY is meant to be viewed as an art installation so you may come and go as you please during the performance time. The event is included with the cost of admission to the museum (Free for members and UT faculty/students; $9 for adults; $7 for seniors; $5 for youth; Free for children 12 years and younger; Free for active military).

Dancers of mixed abilities dressed in white form a variety of human sculptures

ON DISPLAY is a deconstructed art exhibit/fashion show and commentary on the body as spectacle and society's obsession with body image. It turns a cast of diverse and extreme bodies into a sculpture court where the performers are the sculptures. ON DISPLAY began as a simple human sculpture court and is now a movement, a growing portfolio of works that explore and demonstrate inclusion through art.

We’ve always been taught not to stare; not to look at someone deeply because it might offend them; that if someone “different” catches our eye we have objectified them. This is the life of the viewer. Alternatively, should we possess a birthmark, a glorious height, or unknown disability we risk being too noticeable and often ostracized or worse. This is the life of the viewed.

In both lives there is a harsh limitation where one does not have the time to see beyond mere characteristics and the other cannot be seen as anything but other. How can we possibly create a safer space for both to really look?

An empty wheelchair sits in the foreground with dancers forming sculptures behind

Click here to read Tanya Winters' response to her experience as a dancer with a disability taking part in On Display on the Pflueger Pedestrian Bridge and at the Blanton Museum last year.

ON DISPLAY Austin is the local platform of an annual worldwide initiative ON DISPLAY Global that evolved out of Heidi Latsky Dance’s partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Office and the UN in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

A dancer leans against a wall while a second dancer using a wheelchair forms a different sculpture behind

Friday, November 10, 2017

Behind the Scenes at the Holiday Art Show

I know, I know, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet and all the holiday bazaars are opening their doors to entice all the early holiday shoppers. Well not to be outdone, we have a unique opportunity for our “Unique Boutique” to support artists with disabilities and VSA Texas at the same time.

We started this tradition nine years ago at our ACCESS Gallery on 34th Street off Guadalupe. After closing the gallery, we moved our little bazaar to the AGE Building where our offices are located. We took the opportunity to transform our large classroom (Room 101) into a holiday bazaar filled with lights, music, arts and crafts of all kinds, and delicious holiday smells. We have knitted dresses, jewelry, braille cards, paintings, wood carved clocks, the cutest little spoons with designer spoon handles, glassware, and so much more. Artists get 70% of the sale price and VSA Texas gets 30%.

Here's a glimpse of just what it takes to produce this thing:

1. Before we even receive the art, we alert the media and begin to promote the show on social media.
2. We send out a statewide call for art.
3. Our Artworks Director and Executive Director review submissions and determine which pieces will work best in the show.
4. Selected pieces make their way here through the mail or hand delivery and down the hall to Room 101 where everything gets categorized and unpacked.

April hauls empty cardboard boxes out of Room 101.

5. We print the artist statements to be hung in Room 101.
6. Linens get steamed, panels go up, tables pulled out, shelves painted, lights strung (BLING).

Bright overhead lights shine on the art in Room 101.

7. Showcases for jewelry and glassware are lit up (more BLING).
8. We hang the art, and everything gets put in its alluring place.
9. Pizza figures into the weeks of set-up.

Pizza pie!

...and the box it came in

10. Signage arrives for the outside of the AGE Building.
11. The banner is printed (after finding out the file isn't right and having to rush the order, but it gets done, sigh).
12. Posters and postcards arrive (poster may have a problem, but it gets resolved, another sigh).
13. Signage assembled and ready to post outside
14. Lights strung around our stellar new banner at the entrance to the show
15. The opening reception is around the corner: food ordered, people invited, hair pulled, “where is that battery for our lights???”

Whew! And that doesn't even cover it. After several months of preparation and promotion, we finally open the show, and it’s MAGIC. We have over 70 original pieces on display with multiple replacements, so we are really looking at hundreds of items ready to be sold.

“Cat” painting by Allison Merriweather

Fused glass tray made by Jordana Gerlach

Be sure to join us for our Preview Party Monday, November 13th, from 6:00-8:00 PM in Room 101 of the AGE of Central Texas Building off 38th Street, east of Guadalupe. Look for the signs! Direct yourself to 3707 Home Lane for the most convenient entrance. All doors are locked for this secret event, but phone numbers will be posted so that we can let you in. RSVP and invite your friends to our Facebook event page here.

AND REMEMBER THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: This is an opportunity for these artists to showcase their talent, be recognized, and sell their art! Every year I have a favorite piece, and this year it's a wonderful Flamenco Dancer (below), but I also like the fused glass wind chimes. Hmmm...

“Flamenco Dancers at Fiesta” by Miguel Vasquez

Fused glass wind chimes made by Sue Lloyd-Ducette

Thursday, November 2, 2017

VSA Texas Unsung Hero of the Week: Victor Gallo

The VSA Texas family learned of the passing of a good friend and creative soul this week. We were saddened to hear that Victor Gallo is no longer with us. He was a wonderful young man who has been involved with our programs since 2011. Victor was a student in our first New Media Arts Summer Camp where he learned about arts and technology – two things Victor was very interested in.

Victor and the NMA Crew doing a photo shoot with a cool old car

A volunteer, Victor, and Michael wearing their Apple T-Shirts after a visit to the Apple Store

Victor returned in Summer 2012 to our Music Camp. This time he was a volunteer helping others learn techniques in digital recording and sound. The three photos below show Victor working with Jourdan on recording a song during that camp:

Victor loved music! It was something he was passionate about. He created eerie and beautiful music on his keyboard, some of which you can hear on his website here. He also loved to dance and once proposed hosting a dance party at VSA Texas. He was a regular at our original Open Mic at Access Gallery in 2012 and often showed us his short films when it was his turn. He even debuted his short film “No More Nukes” at our Disability From Real to Reel Film Festival in 2012. Victor was always fun to be around. We will miss his presence greatly!

Victor playing a kettle drum

Victor drumming while Krisha plays harmonica at the Open Mic