Blanton Museum

Wild Art | 09.11.14

Art history freshman Erik Olivarez explores the "In the Company of Cats and Dogs" exhibit in the Blanton Museum on Wednesday afternoon.
Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

A tour guide at the Blanton Museum of Art presents “The Changing American Landscape” to a group of elementary students on Thursday afternoon. The exhibit features a series of landscape art pieces ranging from 17th century to modern day.

Photo Credit: David Lopez | Daily Texan Staff

The natural landscapes of the American West captivated artists from around the world at the beginning of the 20th century — and today, the Blanton Museum of Art staff hopes the paintings those artists produced are equally ready to captivate visitors.

Docent Marion Werner led a tour Thursday of the Blanton’s C.R. Smith Collection of western art, titled “The Changing American Landscape.”

“In the late 1800s and early 1900s, [painting the American West] is what the artists were doing in the United States,” Werner said.

Werner said William Robinson’s “Leigh The Roping,” a 1914 painting featuring a cowboy riding a horse, focuses on the wildness of the West.

“What is it that you see when you look at [the painting]?” Werner said. “Can you see the sand coming all up? You can feel the dust, the wind. There is almost a sound when you look at it.”

The tour also looked at paintings depicting Native Americans during the era of westward American expansion. Werner said Albert Bierstadt, who painted “Sioux Village near Fort Laramie” in 1859, admired the strong connection between Native Americans and their environment.

“He had this idea that the [Native] Americans had this natural world,” Werner said. “It is a pastoral [painting] — look at the way the Indians live.”

English junior Jonas Kleinkert, an exchange student from Germany, said he has had a fascination with the American West since he was a child.

“I always wanted to be a cowboy when I was a kid,” Kleinkert said.

Mimi Deaton, a volunteer at the Blanton, said she found “Leigh The Roping” especially compelling.

“In general, I like it because it’s lively — movement, horses stampeding — lively,” Deaton said. “It evokes West Texas. I actually grew up in North and East Texas, which [has] tiny trees, but that stuff — the colors and the landscape — that’s West Texas.”

Deaton also said few of the artists painting the American West were originally from the area.

“A lot of them were not from the out-West area,” Deaton said. “They were from Europe or the East Coast, and they went out and painted the West.”

Werner said the painters featured in the Smith Collection were seeking to portray an American identity.

“How do you express the land of the free?” Werner said.

Wild Art



Families walk through the Blanton Museum while attending the Blanton Summer Family Days’ Art Lab on Thursday Morning.



Horticulturist Mick Vann takes a break outside of the University of Texas Greenhouse on Thursday morning.



Families spend Thursday evening playing on Butler Park’s Doug Sahm Hill.

Created solely to acquire the $33 million Suida-Manning Art Collection for the Blanton Museum of Art in 1998, the UT Fine Arts Foundation is paying off the remaining balance on the collection and is expected to transfer full ownership to the museum by 2016.

The UT Fine Arts Foundation is one of several nonprofits that manage gifts to the University. UT President William Powers Jr. appointed University administrators to lead the UT Fine Arts Foundation, but most external foundations, including the School of Law Foundation, are governed by an independent board. 

The independent boards often include University employees, but most are not appointed by the University. 

The University holds the collection through a lease agreement with the foundation, and it is housed and displayed at the Blanton Museum. The foundation is still paying off the collection in quarterly payments. UT pays the foundation every three months for a larger ownership of the collection, which the foundation uses toward the acquisition, according to Patricia Ohlendorf, the University’s vice president for legal affairs and president of the foundation.

“These transactions will be finalized in April 2016, at which time UT will own the full collection and the need for the Foundation will cease,” Ohlendorf said in an email.

The entire process required approval by the UT System Board of Regents. Unlike other external foundations, the UT Fine Arts Foundation no longer raises funds because it was not set up to continuously fundraise for the University. As a nonprofit, the foundation could legally accept gifts, though tax documents filed by the foundation show no new contributions in recent years. 

The Suida-Manning Art Collection is comprised of almost 250 European paintings, 400 drawings and 20 sculptures from the 1300s to the 1700s. Wilhelm Suida and his daughter Bertina Manning assembled the collection, and Manning’s daughter was essential in the acquisition of the collection for UT. Alessandra Manning Dolnier and her husband donated a part of the collection along with $5 million from four anonymous supporters, according to a 1999 Blanton press release.

The permanent exhibition displays 50 works of art in the Blanton Museum.

“[The collection] is used for teaching, research, display and special programming, all within the mission and public purposes of UT and the foundation,” Ohlendorf said.

Even though the foundation’s mission statement lists the College of Fine Arts as a benefactor, the college does not benefit from the foundation, fine arts Dean Doug Dempster said through a spokesperson. Dempster is the foundation’s vice president and secretary.

Blanton Museum spokeswoman Kathleen Stimpert said acquiring the collection was significant for the museum and the University.

“It brought to campus one of the nation’s preeminent collections of Renaissance and Baroque art, providing new opportunities for research and scholarship, and a chance for UT students, faculty and staff to engage with masterworks not available anywhere else in Austin.”

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Created solely to acquire the $33 million Suida-Manning Art Collection for the Blanton Museum of Art in 1998, the UT Fine Arts Foundation is paying off the remaining balance on the collection and is expected to transfer full ownership to the museum by 2016.

The UT Fine Arts Foundation is one of several nonprofits that manage gifts to the University. UT President William Powers Jr. appointed University administrators to lead the UT Fine Arts Foundation, but most external foundations, including the School of Law Foundation, are governed by an independent board. 

The independent boards often include University employees, but most are not appointed by the University. 

The University holds the collection through a lease agreement with the foundation, and it is housed and displayed at the Blanton Museum. The foundation is still paying off the collection in quarterly payments. UT pays the foundation every three months for a larger ownership of the collection, which the foundation uses toward the acquisition, according to Patricia Ohlendorf, the University’s vice president for legal affairs and president of the foundation.

“These transactions will be finalized in April 2016, at which time UT will own the full collection and the need for the Foundation will cease,” Ohlendorf said in an email.

The entire process required approval by the UT System Board of Regents. Unlike other external foundations, the UT Fine Arts Foundation no longer raises funds because it was not set up to continuously fundraise for the University. As a nonprofit, the foundation could legally accept gifts, though tax documents filed by the foundation show no new contributions in recent years. 

The Suida-Manning Art Collection is comprised of almost 250 European paintings, 400 drawings and 20 sculptures from the 1300s to the 1700s. Wilhelm Suida and his daughter Bertina Manning assembled the collection, and Manning’s daughter was essential in the acquisition of the collection for UT. Alessandra Manning Dolnier and her husband donated a part of the collection along with $5 million from four anonymous supporters, according to a 1999 Blanton press release.

The permanent exhibition displays 50 works of art in the Blanton Museum.

“[The collection] is used for teaching, research, display and special programming, all within the mission and public purposes of UT and the foundation,” Ohlendorf said.

Even though the foundation’s mission statement lists the College of Fine Arts as a benefactor, the college does not benefit from the foundation, fine arts Dean Doug Dempster said through a spokesperson. Dempster is the foundation’s vice president and secretary.

Blanton Museum spokeswoman Kathleen Stimpert said acquiring the collection was significant for the museum and the University.

“It brought to campus one of the nation’s preeminent collections of Renaissance and Baroque art, providing new opportunities for research and scholarship, and a chance for UT students, faculty and staff to engage with masterworks not available anywhere else in Austin.”

Free Minds Project Director Viv Griffith leads her students on a tour of the Blanton poetry project on Thursday evening.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Tari Jordan wants to teach elementary school English, and Free Minds, a program administrated out of UT, is helping her to do it.

“I thought I knew so much already,” Jordan said. “I don’t want it to end. I love the professors.”

Jordan, a mother of two, said the program should help her go to college and pursue her dream. Free Minds’ free humanities course, which she is enrolled in, took a field trip to UT this weekend in a bid to draw inspiration from the Blanton Museum’s collection. The seven-year-old program is a collaboration between the University’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Austin Community College and Foundation Communities. 

“We want them to become comfortable being on a college campus and to feel that they belong there,” program director Vive Griffith said. “The resources at UT are theirs to explore and use.”

Free Minds aims to help its students, some of whom have never been in a college class, advance themselves in their career paths and lives by using its lessons to potentially go on to education elsewhere. The group hosts a bi-weekly nine-month course at the M Station apartments in East Austin, where two UT professors, two ACC professors and one UT graduate writing student spend both semesters teaching literature, philosophy, history, creative writing and sometimes drama.

“We’re looking for motivation, and then we’re looking for need,” Griffith said. “We’re targeting the people who have barriers in front of them.”

To qualify, students must have a GED or high school diploma and be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. They must then write an essay and go through an interview for a shot at being a member of the 25-student course.

Griffith, who teaches creative writing in the course, said visiting the Blanton Museum is an opportunity to help with her lesson. Students were expected to write their own poetry on a piece of art after reading and seeing examples.

Teachers in the program say they have learned from their students.

Domino Perez, director of the Center for Mexican American Studies, associate English professor and a three-time teacher for the course’s literature unit, said she gets a different perspective from her students and admires how hard they work.

“Working with people who have not had equal access to education has been humbling. Their mindset is completely different,” Perez said. “They teach me how to see familiar literature in new and exciting ways.” 

Perez said she hopes students see themselves from a different perspective as well.

“I want them to think about themselves as students,” Perez said. “As critical thinkers engaging the world around them.”

Published on March 25, 2013 as "Low-income program increases opportunities". 

Steve Parker, the director of SoundSpace, plays trombone in the Blanton Museum of Art during the art interactive show, SoundSpace. Photo courtesy of Adam Bennett.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo | Daily Texan Staff

The halls of The Blanton Museum of Art are normally filled with silent spectators; but on March 10, local musicians will perform live with the art as their backdrop. In the audience interactive show, “SoundSpace,” viewers have the opportunity to absorb the Blanton’s collection of art while the series of concerts perform around them. 

With music played in the untraditional setting of a museum, Adam Bennett, the manager of public programs at the Blanton, said “SoundSpace” can shed light on museums as a positive experience and dispel negative feelings surrounding them. 

“I love when we are able to demonstrate that the museum can be a site for creativity to happen — live and in the moment,” Bennett said. “A lot of people think of museums as warehouses and memorials to creative works that were created 100 years ago to store. And they are that. But museums can also be places where people find inspiration from the art. The museum doesn’t always have to function as a warehouse. Museums should be alive and fun and places where creativity happens.”

Having directed “SoundSpace” since its beginnings in 2011, Steve Parker said “SoundSpace” is different than a typical museum experience because of the cross disciplinary performances playing simultaneously throughout the Blanton Museum. Parker said the audience can gain from this experience by having the freedom to explore the galleries of the museum while interacting with the musicians.  

An event that is a blend of aspects from traditional concerts and the customary museum visits, Bennett said “SoundSpace” affects an audience at a different level than other artistic or musical events. 

“‘SoundSpace’ is not a concert with a fixed location, like other concerts in Austin. It’s partly a musical concert, focusing on the sound, but it also focuses also the space,” Bennett said. “The performances are very visual as well. They are somewhat theatrical and are a blend of performance art and concert, rather than just a band playing while the crowd cheers.” 

Andrew Sigler, a PHD candidate at the Butler School of Music at UT as well as one of the musicians being featured at “SoundSpace,” said this event offers a more welcoming experience for those who don’t understand classical music or traditional art. 

“What’s interesting about ‘SoundSpace’ is that it puts the audience in a position to experience the music on their own terms in a way I don’t think they are able to in a concert setting,” Sigler said. “Especially with classical music. This concert is post-classical, so the music draws a lot from pop and rock; immediately the concert might be more accessible to someone who doesn’t listen to the sometimes more difficult classical music.” 

While the museum setting is a novel place to listen to music, Parker said it’s an exciting and rare experience for the performers as well. A trombone player, Parker has performed at past “SoundSpace” events and understands the experience firsthand. 

“The space is an incredibly inspiring venue in which to perform. I like that audiences can observe the performance just inches away, and have the freedom to inspect the performance from a variety of angles,” Parker said. “I find it much easier to connect with listeners that way, in contrast to a recital hall or concert stage.”  

Sigler said this interaction between the performers and the audience is what creates such a compelling experience for the viewer while absorbing the art and the music. 

“I think all art, whether visual or oral such as music, ultimately happens in the head of the listener,” Sigler said. “If you’re in a museum, and you have a particular piece of visual art that may stimulate you in a certain way, and music that stimulates you in a certain way, that’s going to have a completely different impact than if you were listening to the music at home, or if you were at the museum, quietly looking at the art work alone.” 

Published on March 7, 2013 as "Blanton overflows with musical masterpieces". 

It's a good day to fly

A visitor to the Blanton Museum stops to admire Paul Villinski’s piece titled “Passage” while taking advantage of the museum’s Third Thursday event. This event features free tours and various activities, including Yoga in the Gallery.

Weekend Recs: Third Thursday, Swanky Jazzy, Pop on Cello, Happy Birthday Iggi

The Blanton Museum is hosting a free evening of art and activities, with main events including a screening of John Berger’s 1972 BBC television series “Ways of Seeing,” yoga in the galleries and a book club discussion on “Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You” led by Sam Gosling, UT psychology professor and author of the book.

WHAT: Third Thursday at the Blanton
WHEN: July 21 at 5 p.m.
WHERE: The Blanton Museum
ADMISSION: FREE

Lead by Austin’s swanky six-piece jazz band The Copa Kings, the HighBall is traveling back in time to the sophisticated days of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s with straight scotch over ice, swing dancing and some scat singing.

WHAT: The Copa Kings
WHEN: July 22 at 7 p.m.
WHERE: The HighBall
ADMISSION: FREE, 21+

Classically-trained pop cellist Ben Sollee and his bandmates are making a pit stop in Austin, perhaps hot off their bicycles. Known for their quirks — from touring across America and hauling their instruments on bikes to intertwining American folk with pop and classical music — the band is the perfect dose of flawless musicality and youthful fun.

WHAT: Ben Sollee with Thousands
WHEN: July 23 at 8 p.m.
WHERE: The Parish
ADMISSION: $12 online, $15 at door

The deliciously greasy vegan food trailer, Iggi’s Texatarian is celebrating its first birthday this Saturday with live music from DJ uLovei and DJ Fredster and bands such as Coma in Algiers, Wicked Poseur and The Bang Bang Theodores. There’ll also be some yummy food from Iggi’s and Asian fusion trailer Me So Hungry and face painting!

WHAT: Iggi’s One-Year Anniversary Party
WHEN: Saturday, July 23 from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
WHERE: Cheer Up Charlie’s
ADMISSION: Free, 21+

Warhol print of Farrah Fawcett suspected found

Bright green eyes and pouty red lips grace actress Farrah Fawcett’s face in Andy Warhol’s portrait of the movie maiden. One of two original silkscreen and paint portraits hangs in the Blanton Museum after Fawcett willed her artwork to the University, her alma mater.

The other original Warhol silkscreen remains missing, but it may have been found this week.

ABC News showed footage of Ryan O’Neal’s reality show in which a portrait similar to the Blanton’s Warhol hangs above the bed of O’Neal, who is Fawcett’s former partner.

University and the Blanton Museum representatives refused to comment.

The portrait at the Blanton Museum will remain on display through Sept. 4.