March 23, 2018

weekend links: arts funding, sensitive rap, weird religion

Tracy K. Smith. Image courtesy Tanya and Zhenya Posternak/Vogue.

Last Wednesday, Congress released their FY2018 spending bill, and in a surprise twist, they allocated an increase in funding for both the NEA and NEH. Read the specifics on the bill and what this means for artistic communities around the world. [Arts Action Fund]

More great news for the poetry world: current poet laureate of the United States Tracy K. Smith has just been confirmed for a second term, and she has a new collection on the way. For the project, Smith traveled to Geechee country, Georgia, to research its Civil War–era history. She says of the experience, “I had stood that same afternoon on a bridge where slave auctions had taken place. There was nothing there. A picnic table. Then, that night, to have somebody say, ‘Here is this living force that I want to give you.’ I think it just woke me up.” [Vogue]

Marvin Bell, Iowa’s first poet laureate and author of over 20 books, published a poem for his wife, Dorothy, in 2000. Eighteen years and multiple technological advances later, the poem has become a viral hit and was included in Bustle’s “10 Romantic Valentine’s Day Poems To Recite To Your Sweetheart.” Discover the story behind the poem and how it came to be so popular in this interview.  [The Rumpus]

In the past couple of years, a subgenre of rap that deals exclusively with emotions and feeling has emerged. Today, there is rap made about desperation, mental illness, and general struggling to get better. Learn how artists like Nolan the Ninja, Danny Brown, and Jazz Cartier use their lyrics and images to convey balance in a fight to become the best versions of themselves. [DJ Booth]

Religious inspiration may seem passé, but painter Ben Sanders attended service at a California church for two years and came out with some of the most innovative and chilling paintings in his career. The works, currently on display at Ochi Projects in Los Angeles, display guilt and repression personified through 1970s Teleflora vases and giant insects. Here, he discusses his inspiration for the paintings and shows a glimpse of the humorous and weirdly frightening pieces. [Artsy]

And happy birthday to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the famous co-founder of San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore, who turns 99 on Saturday. Ferlinghetti’s influence as both a Beat poet and an independent publisher is impossible to overstate, and even in his old age, the man remains as vibrant and important as ever. [San Francisco Chronicle]

—Nia KB and Sean Redmond

March 16, 2018

weekend links: SXSW, The Merry Spinster, The BreakBeat Poets

Princess Nokia. Image courtesy David Brendan Hall/The Austin Chronicle.

SXSW is upon us, which means rappers can actually be found in Austin. Described as “the only time of the year you’ll see a rapper perform on the yuppie enclave of Rainey Street,” much of SXSW’s star power this year comes from its rap lineups. Vets like Common and newcomers like Princess Nokia are a reminder that today’s rap scene is as vibrant as ever. [Austin Chronicle]

In the past 20 years, the number of new art galleries opening has significantly decreased. At the same time, established galleries have been closing. This poses the question: is the arts community in a crisis? Arts economist Dr. Clare McAndrew analyzes the decline in galleries and what arts communities can do to save themselves from extinction. [Artsy]

In her new book, editor, author, and journalist Mallory Ortberg shows that she has mastered the balance of humor and stoicism. Ortberg’s short story collection, The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror, explores humor through remixing fairytales and criticizing Western Civilization in a way that makes you laugh and think simultaneously. [Rumpus]

You would think that Ann Beattie has conquered all possible literary genres—but Beattie’s work is still changing. Short story writer, novelist, and children’s book writer Beattie claims that her work is evolving, and here, she explains what it means to evolve and what to expect from her new book, The Accomplished Guest. [Oxford Magazine]

Critically acclaimed actress and “How to Get Away with Murder” star Viola Davis says her childhood was rough. Because of this, she’s been inspired to write a continuation of the Don Freeman’s Corduroy series titled Corduroy Takes a Bow. Davis said the stories helped her get through her childhood, and she’s excited about recreating hope in her first children’s book. [People]

On Wednesday, students across the nation walked out of class in protest of gun violence. Students created banners, posters, and various body art that memorialized the lives lost. Here, we see a number of pictures where creative expression and activism meet, and one can only hope that lawmakers paid attention and are ready to take action. [The Guardian]

Today, we are seeing a Black Art renaissance with black women at its forefront. More than 60 black women are featured in the new anthology The BreakBeat Poets Volume 2: Black Girl Magic. One of the editors is spoken word artist Mahogany L. Browne. Here, she discusses how the anthology came to be, its development since the first volume, and her thoughts on the black renaissance. [Chicago Reader]

Plans for the dismantling of UT Austin’s Fine Arts Library have been in motion since December 2017. The process would involve the removal of “tens of thousands of fine art books, collection materials, periodicals, and music scores…into off-site warehouse space.” Three months later, protests from students and faculty have culminated with a passionate letter from the curatorial team at UT’s Blanton Museum of Art. We stand with UT’s arts faculty and students in calling for these important materials to remain accessible and on campus. [Glasstire]

—Nia KB

March 9, 2018

weekend links: Olafur Eliasson, Caroline Says, SX Foreplay

Olafur Eliasson, Reality projector (2018). Image courtesy The LA Times.

Los Angelenos are in for a treat, as Olafur Eliasson’s new installation, Reality projector, opened this month at the Marciano Art Foundation. By shining intense white light through monochromatic gels, Eliasson achieves a pureness of color that transcends typical visual experience. His large-scale installations are known for transporting viewers into heightened sensual spheres, and with Reality projector, the artist has done it again. [LA Times]

Independent, an experimental art fair made by and for art gallerists and collectors, opened this past week to a crowd atypical of a usual art fair. With its no-aisles, new-and-old artists approach, Independent has managed to create a space where you forget that the items are even for sale—a stylistic choice made by the fair’s creators. [Artsy]

Houston-based artist collective Havel Ruck Projects have debuted a new exhibition that reimagines a Houston bungalow. The project, titled Ripple, includes swirled cut-outs of walls and floors to create a three-dimensional sculpture that displays great respect for early preservationists, and the collective says that they intended to play with negative space. Here, you can read more of their rationale as well as admire the spiral-filled home the collective has reimagined. [Arts and Culture TX]

Austin-based folk act and fields friends Caroline Says release their highly anticipated sophomore album on March 16, but you can listen to the new album, No Fool Like An Old Fool, over at Stereogum. From the first song (titled, fittingly, “First Song”) the album pulls you into a delicate, lilting trance, and it keeps you there for the course of its ten songs. [Stereogum]

With a style that resembles Biggie, Fresh Prince, and various cartoons, Chicago-native Tobi Lou looks to forge his own path as a melting pot of creativity. His aesthetic is described as cartoonish, and his idiosyncratic rapping is bouncy and impossible to not repeat. Here, Tobi Lou explains his musical journey, why he moved from Chicago to LA, and the idea behind his crazy visual, “Troop.” [DJ Booth]

Although she’s only in her late 20s, Dominican writer Naima Coster is no newcomer to the nuances of race, gentrification, and family dynamics. In her debut novel, Halsey Street, Coster reckons with her feelings about her Brooklyn neighborhood, which has changed drastically since her childhood. In her novel, she navigates through these worlds using Halsey Street, the street she grew up on. Discover how her novel came to be, the pushback she’s received due to her use of Spanish and English, and her overall writing process. [The Rumpus]

Artists on a budget: Austin-based financial planner Lewis Weil has put together a comprehensive guide specifically made for the working artist. Weil details how to make art a full-time job no matter your status, and he throws in some advice about exponential thinking, budgeting, and saving. [The Creative Independent]

It’s officially SXSW season, and since thousands of people around the globe come to Austin for the event, you may be feeling left out if you don’t have the cash to go. But artist Jeff Brown has a festival in Dallas that’s a hell of a lot cheaper. The festival, titled SX Foreplay, features 10 up-and-coming artists, some of which were already coming through Dallas on their way to SXSW. Brown, with his collective King Camel, only charges a cover to help the artists with touring, and he always chooses bands he know will put on a great show. If you’re into folk, punk or garage rock and don’t have the funds (or patience) for SXSW, consider taking a road trip to Dallas for spring break. [Dallas Observer]

And we pause to honor the poet Lucie Brock-Broido, who passed away this week at the too-young age of 61. An author of four books, including 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Stay, Illusion, will be remembered by her many students at Columbia University and the rest of the poetry world for the way she fought against injustice through the beautiful language of her poems. [Melville House]

—Nia KB and Sean Redmond

March 2, 2018

weekend links: Judy Chicago, The Boys in the Band, pregnancy fiction

Judy Chicago, Rainbow Man (1984). Image courtesy BOMB Magazine.

Artist Judy Chicago, creator of The Dinner Party, widely considered the first landmark piece of feminist artwork (on permanent display at the Brooklyn Museum), discusses toxic masculinity in the context of her series PowerPlay. The pieces and their garish, theatrical masculinity have taken on greater resonance as we’ve become more aware of the many ills that traditional concepts of masculinity (and the paranoia, fear, and anger it provokes) wreaks on our social fabric. [BOMB]

On Monday, the revival cast of Mart Crowley’s classic queer play The Boys in the Band uploaded multiple videos reading contemporary queer poetry. The videos, curated by poet Danez Smith, celebrate gay culture and set examples of queer men embracing who they are. Here you can read more of Smith’s ideas behind the video series and view 10 of Smith’s selections. [NYT Magazine]

Pregnancy seems to generally get ignored in fiction, but author Jessie Greengrass didn’t realize it until she experienced it. She wanted to both write a novel about the medical history of pregnancy and have a baby; while researching for the novel, she realized that there is a scarce amount of pregnancy represented in fiction, and when pregnancy is present, it is generally viewed as an inconvenience. Greengrass opens a much-needed discussion about pregnancy in fiction while arguing that there is something we can all learn from the female experience of bearing a child. [The Guardian]

After the well-deserved success of Citizen, Claudia Rankine decided to pursue playwriting. In fact, she said she got the idea while on a book tour for Citizen. She said there’s no way to talk about race in a sustained way, and her play, which debuted in Boston and runs through April 1, allows for that conversation. Austin bonus: she’ll be reading at the Blanton on April 5. [Boston Magazine]

Author Sherman Alexie finally addressed the rumors of sexual harassment that have swirled around him in recent days… sort of. His vague, non-apology has left many unsatisfied. Although details are scant, the sheer volume of voices speaking out have added to the legitimacy of the claims, prompting the Institute of American Arts to rename its MFA Alumni Scholarship and many authors to drop references to him from their books. [Seattle Times]

Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, says she got her start as a writer at an intersection of neighborhoods in Los Angeles. At school, she was constantly surrounded by white people, whereas at home, she was solely around people of her own race; this dichotomy, along with a Ray Bradbury novel, led her to being the “weird” and passionate writer she is today. [The New York Times]

In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, poets Tenaya Nasser-Frederick and sam sax contemplate the significance of Allen Ginsberg’s legendary poem “Howl.” Though reluctant to approach Ginsburg’s work at first, Nasser-Frederick says it stings now more than ever: “The fact that you have this metaphor for the military-industrial complex being a god of child sacrifice… It just hits you over the head with how pertinent that is this past week.” The two poets contemplate Ginsburg’s genius and how it can help us get through today’s trying times. [KQED]

Have you ever thought a sculpture looked so good that you could eat it? Apparently someone has, and that has led to the phenomenon of edible sculptures. This past week, the Arlington Museum of Art hosted the Eat Your Art Out Fundraiser, which celebrates this innovative art form by providing cake samples and champagne to ticket holders. So if you ever want to eat some art, head over to Arlington, Texas. [Dallas Observer]

Austin arts collective Raw Paw suffered a devastating and unthinkable act at the beginning of 2018: arson. Raw Paw co-founder Chris Rock said they were already barely surviving when the fire took place, so the event really felt like a tragic end. Luckily, their family and friends showed up with their arms open for a recent benefit, and they’re working to rebuild everything from the ground up. [Austin Chronicle]

Chicago rapper Valee debuted his album GOOD Job, You Found Me this past week, and it is riddled with anarchy-driven fire! Over the past two years, he has been building up to this point, and here, we learn four things about his EP that will formally introduce us to the unorthodox style that Valee brings to the table. [DJ Booth]

Last week, the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) opened in Morocco. The museum, like Cape Town’s Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art, focuses on exhibiting Africa’s own artists, hosting initiatives that cultivate their respective scenes, and, most importantly, bringing a gift to Africa that they can call their own. The Zeitz Museum has been a huge success since its opening last year, and MACAAL is hoping to continue this promising trend. [Artsy]

—Nia KB and Sean Redmond

February 24, 2018

weekend links: Patricia Smith, bisexual lighting, San Antonio’s tricentennial

Christopher Knowles, The Sundance Kid Is Beautiful (2013). Image courtesy ICA Philadelphia/Artsy.

Established poet and educator Patricia Smith won the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award based at Claremont Graduate University this Tuesday for her collection Incendiary Art: Poems, which explores violence done to black men and the grieving of black mothers. The prestigious award is given to a poet in their mid-career, and the prize is currently the largest poetry award in the country. A second prize was also given to poet and educator Donika Kelly for her collection Bestiary, which has also won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and the 2017 Hurston/Wright Award for poetry. [Daily Bulletin]

By utilizing text, sound, painting, sculpture, and performance, visual artist Christopher Knowles strives to make sense of the world around him. Knowles, who was born with autism, started his Texas career with a one-man performance in 2012 titled The Sundance Kid Is Beautiful. The performance featured walls and floors papered with headlines and photos from the New York Times. Three painted cones stood near a table with a can of Coca-Cola and a glass on it, a red alarm clock, and a green window-frame. He described it as a mirror to his world—a representation of how it feels to live with “information overload.” Now, The Sundance Kid Is Beautiful is performed in locations around the country, and is currently the centerpiece of a retrospective of the artist at the Contemporary Museum of Art Houston. [Artsy]

The 2017 film Atomic Blonde, starring Charlize Theron as a bisexual spy, spawned the birth of “bisexual lighting,” wherein a bisexual character is portrayed in magenta and blue lighting, to mirror the bisexual pride flag. The B in LGBTQ has often been overlooked, questioned, and stigmatized, and it’s refreshing to see it find its own identity in popular culture. Janelle Monáe’s new video for the song “Make Me Feel” features the color scheme aplenty. It may just be a coincidence, but we still love it. [Vulture]

Austin rapper and India native Abhi the Nomad says music is the only thing he can rely on. After moving to different countries throughout his life and continuously adapting to a new place, Abhi started singing and playing the guitar. Here, he talks about being a “third-culture kid,” discovering American hip hop, and his new project, Marbled. Judging by his infectious flow and impressive hooks, one can expect Abhi the Nomad to be an Austin staple and possibly the pop star of tomorrow. [Austin Chronicle]

To celebrate San Antonio’s tricentennial, visual artist Ana Fernandez debuted an oil painting that represents present-day Main Plaza in 1849 with San Antonio organization Common Currents. Common Currents is a 300-artist showcase of San Antonio’s history presented over six venues. Given her interest in the past and history of documenting the city’s urban landscapes, Fernandez’s piece fit right in to the showcase. Here, we learn more about Common Currents as well as the selection process for such a big celebration of San Antonio’s 300th birthday. [Arts and Culture TX]

With their witty lyrics and idiosyncratic style, Atlanta rap duo EarthGang has been forging their way to the top for some time. Since meeting J Cole and opening on Ab Soul’s These Days tour in 2014, they have kept their names relevant by constantly dropping good content, and their Recent EP Royalty is no different. Being its third of the group’s 3-EP installment to precursor their sophomore album, Royalty includes undeniable bangers such as “Build” as well as tracks that leave you wanting more like “Cocktail.” There’s no doubt that these two are talented, and this EP might be the thing that finally solidifies their place in mainstream hip hop. [DJ Booth]

Is every poem a love poem? Award-winning poet and Executive Director of the Cave Canem Foundation Nicole Sealey thinks so. Here, she discusses how she started writing poetry, nuances in her debut poetry collection Ordinary Beast, and how she reads every poem as a profession of love to something. [Paris Review]

With its new TV series American Creed, PBS aims to highlight stories of citizen-activists to show the many different experiences of being American. For the show that airs on February 27, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz shares his experiences growing up as an immigrant in New Jersey and how that has shaped his literary career and his outlook on life. [Remezcla]

—Nia KB

February 16, 2018

weekend links: Obama portraits, Third World Press, Austin jazz

Michelle Obama, Amy Sherald (2018). Image courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution/Hyperallergic.

Barack and Michelle Obama’s portraits for the National Portrait Gallery were unveiled earlier this week. Kehinde Wiley’s colorful portrait of Barack drew accolades, but Amy Sherald’s painting of Michelle stole the show. The portrait beguiled viewers, many of whom felt it didn’t look like the former First Lady. (They may have been looking at small, low-resolution images—the portrait is undoubtedly of Michelle, albeit in a pose and expression not often expressed on TV.) Sherald’s painting is masterful, audacious in its form and even more impressive in its palette than Wiley’s pop-art portrait of her husband. However, as Chiquita Paschale writes, “it’s okay to feel ambivalent about Michelle Obama’s official portrait.” [Hyperallergic]

After growing up in the Jim Crow South, moving to Chicago, and being influenced by the growing Black Arts Movement, Haki R. Madhubuti founded Third World Press, a publisher for black poets, historians, scholars, novelists, and essayists that became the most important literary addition to the era. In addition to publishing voices otherwise overlooked, Madhubuti embarked on a literary career himself. Here, he discusses his interest in art and how he came to be a driving force in the Black Arts community for decades and decades to come. [Biography]

Because the White House proposed another budget that seeks to eliminate the NEA, the NEH, and many other important initiatives for the arts, artists are speaking out against the administration. Here, arts leaders point out why the cuts are illogical and damaging to communities around the country, threatening museums, theaters, community centers, and more. [Washington Post]

In Florida’s Jim Crow era, a group of two dozen black painters known as the Highwaymen survived by selling paintings out of their car trunks due to galleries turning them away. Every day, by car or bike, these men made ends meet by painting and selling, most times on the same day, to tourists, business owners, and anyone passing by. Today, some of those same paintings will be shown at the Smithsonian to highlight the tenacity of the men and the legacy of their story, and finally, they have the opportunity to be loved and celebrated, but this time on a much larger scale. [Artsy]

Austin is known as the music capital in Texas, and by music capital most mean psychedelic, rock, or singer-songwriters. Along with those genres, Austin has a jazz scene that has, for a long time, been overlooked.  In 2016, Austin’s jazz community started taking matters into their own hands and creating spaces for themselves, which has resulted in local musicians Kris Kimura and Eric Leonard’s new joint, Parker Jazz Club, and a monthly speakeasy on Cesar Chavez called Monks. With these new developments, it raises a serious question: Can Austin be a jazz city? [Austin Chronicle]

In the last half-decade, hip hop has been so influential that it’s made its way to classrooms. Because of its elevated use of the English language and relatability to students, teachers are now seeing hip hop as an educational tool and using it either to teach various concepts, or teaching hip hop as its own class. Here, a math teacher and a student-run indie label exec talk about how hip hop culture influences the classroom and how they’ve used it to both promote learning and local art. [DJ Booth]

Since grade school, you’ve probably heard of the innovative and highly influential William Shakespeare. Romeo & Juliet, King Lear, and others have been common reads in America for (at least) the last two centuries, and for a number of years, scholars have wondered what inspired Shakespeare. Thanks to new plagiarism software used by teachers to check students’ papers, it’s been discovered that Shakespeare was heavily inspired by a manuscript titled A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels, and now one of the world’s most celebrated authors might be under scrutiny. [The New York Times]

While we’re thrilled with Ellsworth Kelly’s beautiful Austin (see our Instagram for a sneak peek), Michael Argesta reminds us of the terrible paradox at play in Austin’s arts community: as we grow our stature on the international stage, our local artists are being pushed out of their spaces at an alarming rate. If we’re not supporting our own talent, will we ever truly become a respected arts destination? [Texas Monthly]

Artists and co-curators Billi London-Gray and Daniel Bernard Gray have a history of hosting pop-ups that both market and politicize their unconventional art, but this time, they’re showcasing their art in their own front lawn in Arlington, Texas. Their new front-yard exhibition, Vexillology, features 10 to 12 flags from artists around the U.S., and they plan to introduce new pieces through a flag-raising ceremony every month. Each flag stands for something different, and through this public display, Billi and Daniel hope to both promote the art through their imprint, Zosima Gallery, for all of 2018 and beyond. [Dallas Observer]

In light of America’s latest gun tragedy on school campus, we’re just going to leave this here. RIP. [The Rumpus]

—Nia KB

February 10, 2018

weekend links: Ellsworth Kelly, Quincy Jones, Ravyn Lenae

A view inside Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin. Image courtesy Victoria Sambunaris/The New York Times.

On February 18th, Color Field artist Ellsworth Kelly will be posthumously debuting what may be his finest achievement: Austin, a nondenominational “chapel” that brings together many of the artist’s signature forms and ideas. Many have asked how, out of all places, did his work end up in Austin? Discover the story behind this landmark piece and its 30 year gestation, and see it for yourself when it opens next weekend. [The New York Times]

In sadder Austin arts news, Flatbed Press will be joining the long list of galleries closing their doors in 2018. The reason? You guessed it: the landlord sold the lease. Get ready for another batch of condos, and another nail in Austin’s creative spirit. [Sightlines]

In case you missed it: Quincy Jones is back in the cultural zeitgeist with a juicy new interview. The 84-year-old music producer turns off his filter for a freewheeling interview that dishes on the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, burners, Marlon Brando, contemporary hip-hop and more. [Vulture]

Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts announced yesterday that it acquired a 30-foot high, stainless steel piece by Anish Kapoor—a spiritual sister to Chicago’s Cloud Access (popularly known as “the Bean”). It will be situated near the entrance of the museum’s Glassell School of Art Building and will open in late spring. [Houston Chronicle]

Promising Chicago singer-songwriter and recent Atlantic Records signee Ravyn Lenae just dropped her new EP, Crush. With executive production and vocals from Steve Lacy, R&B band The Internet’s breakout star, Crush channels funk, hip-hop, soul and jazz to create a beautiful music gumbo. Through the songstress’ beautiful voice and Lacy’s heavy guitar licks, the EP further solidifies Lenae’s place in contemporary R&B. She wasn’t lying when she tweeted that 2018 is hers. [Fader]

New Yorkers are lucky to have two important and very different exhibits on display right now. Baya Mahieddine was an Algerian teenager in the 1940s when she first began making colorful portraits of women. Her paintings are as striking now as ever, and her first U.S. solo exhibition is on display at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery through March 31. Meanwhile, over at Pace Gallery, Thomas Nozkowski’s abstract, improvisational pieces are on display through February 15. Nozkowski’s form-free works, featuring a variety of materials and paintings, demonstrate the artist’s original approach to painting. The results transcend abstraction, creating a world and language all their own.

Painter and salon owner Preston Pannek and his girlfriend, Adrienne Creasey, are decorating the arts district of Dallas with their own murals. Through their company, House of Pannek, they plan to spray paint 10 murals that focus on pop culture, then celebrate the occasion by donating them and hosting a show at Deep Ellum Art Co. in May. [Dallas Observer]

Local artists Charlie Martin and Will Taylor, better known by their band name, Pillcore, just released their new LP, Cranberry. Here, the artists explain how they first met, what events led them to where they are today, and what to expect from their lo-fi infused, dreamy new project. [Austin Chronicle]

—Nia KB and Sean Redmond

February 2, 2018

weekend links: Danez Smith, Morgan Parker, Sonnenzimmer

Sonnenzimmer, Knuckles [.cava] (2017). Image courtesy Glasstire.

“Every poem is political,” claims Danez Smith, author of the bestselling Don’t Call Us Dead. In addition to his page poetry, Smith maintains a slam poetry career, and his poem “Dear White America” has over 320,000 views. In this introduction to Smith, he discusses his beginnings, how he came to be a poet, and his aspiration for Trump to move poets who have long thought of poetry as apolitical. [The Guardian]

With the premiere of Black Panther just around the corner, it was recently announced that rap label TDE will be in charge of executive producing the movie’s soundtrack. Along with highlighting artists from the label, TDE has decided to give lesser known artists their big moment. The tracklist is riddled with raw talent from the underground, and so you can anticipate what’s to come, we have the list of who’s who and their current released work here. [DJ Booth]

Third Root, Austin’s highly educated rap trio, are persistent with educating both in classrooms and on their hip hop tracks. DJ Chicken George, one-third of the group, says that it’s their duty to speak on themes such as social justice and issues concerning people of color in their music. In the near future, Third Root will be performing cuts from their latest album, Libertad, at the Austin Music Awards, and we can’t wait to see what the groovy innovators have in store. [Austin Chronicle]

Yesterday was World Read Aloud Day, and to celebrate, LitWorld and Scholastic teamed up to offer online resources for teachers and parents to encourage read-aloud events at schools and homes. Ron Charles, book critic and editor, shared a touching story about how he reads to his wife every day. If you want restored faith in the significance of books and humanity, look no further than here. [Washington Post]

To start Black History Month with a bang, Penguin Classics announced that they will be restoring six books by African American writers. The publication chose W. E. B. DuBois’ infamous The Souls of Black Folk along with five other works that were made possible by the Harlem Renaissance. This is great news for anyone that wants to learn about race and identity politics through the African American lens and especially good for anyone looking to be enlightened on problems the black community faced in the 20th century (and continue to face).  [NPR]

Emerging visual artist Matt Browning took the idea to make art out of zinc and ran with it. In his new exhibition, Moving Metal, Browning displays “rectangular prisms [or plinths], side by side, constructed by an open framework of thin oak strips… [with one] topped with a steel panel that has been splatter-coated by heating up pennies until their inner zinc bursts through their copper shells.” Browning draws inspiration from early expressionists and continues to forge his career forward with nostalgic-yet-fresh depictions of Seattle life. [The Stranger]

A self-described poet, teacher, bathtub enthusiast, and author of a Beyoncé-themed collection regarding depression and multiplicity, Morgan Parker took time out of her multi-hyphenated schedule to discuss her takes on poetry, Black America, and ethnography. As an avid reader and admirer of Parker’s work, her eloquence, charisma and poetics is something hard to not love. [The Rumpus]

After a year of renovations, Philadelphia “LOVE” sculpture is back just in time for Valentine’s Day. Here we learn how the sculpture came to be, the reasoning behind its updates throughout its 40-year history, and how its popularity across the world has spawned replicas and selfies galore. [The New York Times]

Houston visual artist Francesca Fuchs has been in the city’s arts scene for at least the past 20 years, but never before has she worked with a canvas so large and pivotal in her career. Her new mural, North Exterior Wall, signifies a departure from her comfort zone as well as an interaction of the art with the venue. Through October 2018, the entire north side of the Lawndale Art Center will be a display for Fuchs’s work, and by the looks of this, her leap to the impermanent nature of wall painting succeeded. [Arts and Culture TX]

Austinites, if you haven’t yet, check out Café Avatar, the new exhibit from Nick Butcher & Nadine Nakanishi (a.k.a. Sonnenzimmer) over at grayDUCK Gallery, on view through February 18. Featuring beautiful screen printed works on felt, bags, and concrete bananas, the show is a playful exploration of technology and a highlight of Print Austin. [Glasstire]

—Nia KB

January 26, 2018

weekend links: Ursula K. Le Guin, Mark E. Smith, Swiss rebels

Internationally celebrated writer Ursula K. Le Guin passed away this week. The literary world will remember her for her trailblazing accomplishments and her importance to feminist, environmental, and other progressive causes. Margaret Atwood recalls her first meeting with Le Guin and remarks on how important her voice was to women’s movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp in this moving tribute. [Washington Post]

Mark E. Smith, leader of post-punk band The Fall, also passed away this week after a long-fought illness. In remembrance, The Guardian has compiled interviews and quotes from some of his various collaborators that highlight both Smith’s humor and undeniable musical talent. [The Guardian]

The American Booksellers Association hosted a Winter Institute this week in Memphis, and celebrated author/keynote speaker Junot Díaz had a couple of things to say about faux diversity. He urged booksellers and librarians to take action by decolonizing bookshelves instead of “pretending to be” allies. Here’s to hoping his speech didn’t fall on deaf ears. [Publishers Weekly]

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth is known for its 19th– and 20th-century work, but it’s gone contemporary with its new exhibit Commanding Space: Women Sculptors of Texas. This exhibit highlights sculptures by five Texan women in a way that is unorthodox for the museum’s usual audience, and consequently, there has been some inevitable backlash. [Arts and Culture TX]

Swiss photographer Karlheinz Weinberger captured Switzerland’s biker boys and Elvis look-alikes over 50 years ago, and because of their near-perfect capture of counterculture movements and resistance via wardrobe, these pictures are still being praised today. Take a moment to explore Weinberger’s life: his beginnings, accomplishments, motivations, and aspirations. [Artsy]

Detroit rapper Nolan the Ninja has undeniable talent for delivering lyric-driven flows over beats reminiscent of the ’90s boom bap era. It may be easy to place him in the category of “boom bap rap,” but the label is unfairly limiting. Here, we learn the entire story of what makes Nolan the Ninja a complex, thought-provoking rapper who’s worth more than mere nostalgia. [DJ Booth]

This year, Body Rock ATX, a monthly “Party/Jam” hosted by Riders Against the Storm (RAS), turns eight. Over those years, the group has managed to get people from all walks of life to come party. Here are eight things you should know before attending a jam session with the guys that once said “Partying is the bastard child of ceremony.” [Austin 360]

Author Verónica Gerber Bicecci and translator Christina MacSweeney are debuting Empty Set, a collaborative novel that makes sense of loss, in early February. Here, MacSweeny and Bicecci talk about the creation of the novel and some of the artistic choices that come with a creation with two heads. [The Rumpus]

The name Michelangelo is famous for two reasons: It is both the namesake of a famous artist and the namesake of one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has an exhibition dedicated to one of them named Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman & Designer, and guess who made an appearance to see it? [Huffington Post]

—Nia KB

January 19, 2018

weekend links: Maxo Kream, alien abductions, Leslie Jamison

David Huggins, Implant. Image courtesy of Love & Saucers/Artsy.

Houston rapper Maxo Kream has been on a steady upward trajectory since 2012, but his most recent project may be the thing that tips him into stardom. His most recent album, Punken, highlights Kream’s accomplishments, including opening for Chief Keef and being consigned by A$AP Ant, and chronicles hard-hitting times in his life such as Hurricane Harvey and growing up in a dangerous neighborhood. Given Punken’s unfiltered storytelling and Kream’s impeccable delivery, the future of trap music looks bright. [DJ Booth]

Have you ever been abducted by aliens constantly to the point where you grow an attachment to them? 74-year-old painter David Huggins has. He claims that he has life-long connections with extraterrestrials and has personally fathered a number of alien-human babies. Throughout the years, most have dismissed Huggins’s claims as impossible, but filmmaker Brad Abrahams believed Huggins enough to make a short documentary titled Love & Saucers that features some of Huggins’ paintings of his alternative life with aliens. [Artsy]

South Dallas visual artist William Binnie is debuting his first exhibit at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art this March. His work, titled The Vine that Ate the South, focuses on America, with an overarching theme of suffocation, a theme he says is rooted in America’s past and national identity. In this piece, Binnie discusses his art as a reflection of America and explains how his relationship to various arts scenes has influenced his work. [Dallas Observer]

Life after a breakup can be a terrible mess where one feels like everything in life is over, but, simultaneously, it can also be an experience that propels you to learn more about yourself. For that reason, Chicago comedian-turned-HBO star Pete Holmes made a TV show out of it. Holmes took the time to talk about the creation of his series, Crashing, and how a devastating breakup dovetailed with his early years as a comic. [Chicago Reader]

Novelist and essayist Leslie Jamison enters a years-long debate about one of the most prevalent stereotypes about women: they are “overly emotional.” “For years, I described myself as someone who wasn’t prone to anger,” Jamison says, claiming that sadness is seen as more “selfless” or “redefined.” From here, she argues that this inclination is not only inaccurate but can be damaging to one’s psyche in the long run. [New York Times]

Big Bill is slowly becoming a household name in Austin, and their most recent LP explores absurdism in a new and refreshing way as they try their hardest to rebel against punk stereotypes. Eric Braden, the band’s frontman, describes their new material as “unsettling” and “an element of attack,” and after listening, we can definitely agree that the band is unlike anything else in the Austin scene. [Austin Chronicle]

Kaveh Akbar, author of the stunning poetry collection Calling a Wolf a Wolf has been named poetry’s “biggest cheerleader.” Along with his daily writing, he runs Divedapper, a site where he conducts in-depth interviews with poets that shape the literary scene. If you’re not yet familiar with Akbar’s work, check out our interview with him in our newest issue. [NPR]

A group of Austin arts organizations have worked to persuade the city’s Parks and Recreation department to make cultural centers more available to artists, but to no avail. Laura Esparanza, division manager for Austin museums and cultural programs, said they are trying their best to accompany artists, but will this be enough to make the city’s artistic communities happy and sustainable? [Austin Monitor]

In a span of two years, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen went from being rejected by every graduate school music program to which he applied to being a New York Times-cosigned star. Just last year, he competed in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and won Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition, the latter of which landed him a spot in the world-renowned Houston Grand Opera Studio. Cohen’s story is a reminder that we should embrace failure and not let it keep us from pursuing our dreams. [Arts and Culture TX]

Through January 28, The Getty in LA will be featuring Photography in Argentina, 1850–2010: Contradiction and Continuity, an exhibit that uses photography as a primary identifier of Argentina’s identity after colonialism. Through the depiction of everyday life as an Argentinian, this exhibit aims to show how photography through the centuries has preserved history for the entire region. Looking through the images gives insight into what it means to be an Argentinian. [Hyperallergic]

—Nia KB

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