Plan II senior Blair Robbins and radio-television-film senior Santiago Dietche perform at La Peña art gallery Sunday evening. The gallery features photographs by Rena Effendi’s “Liquid Land — Land of Fire” series, which will be showcased at La Peña art gallery during South By Southwest.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Glen Dolfi, the curator of La Peña’s latest art exhibit, is bringing Azerbaijan to Texas. 

The multimedia exhibition is a combination of photographs by Azeri photographer Rena Effendi, Azeri music and archival footage shot in Azerbaijan by French filmmaker Vincent Moon and radio-television-film senior Garson Ormiston. 

Dolfi said the artists he met during his travels to Azerbaijan captivated him. He knew he had to bring their unrecognized talents to America. 

“There are a lot of imaginative, creative people sort of hidden away,” Dolfi said. “Many people here don’t know anything about it.” 

Dolfi said the artists come together to represent a poetic voice from a relatively unknown country. The photo series, titled “Liquid Land — Land of Fire,” compiles Effendi’s portraits of Azeri people and images of regional butterflies that Effendi’s father took.  

“This is not just a photojournalism project; this is a connection from the area that [Effendi] grew up in,” Dolfi said. “She has this loving connection to her father, his work and photographs that were never published in his lifetime.” 

In addition to the photographs, a number of musical artists from Azerbaijan will perform at the gallery during South By Southwest. Qarabagh Ensemble and Qaraqan, who will perform at an official SXSW showcase of artists that perform traditional Mugham folk music, will take part in the exhibit. 

In an effort to make the exhibit interactive, Effendi’s printed photographs will hang along the north wall of the gallery and in trees surrounding the gallery — free for the taking. 

Dolfi said “Liquid Land” stands out in SXSW’s increasingly commercialized climate. The project seeks to offer personal art that aims to bridge a gap between two communities isolated from one another, according to Dolfi. 

“We’re bringing an international exhibit with international music to an international festival,” Dolfi said. “I think it’s a really positive step for the city of Austin and for La Peña to have the vision to bring international art.” 

Ormiston filmed Azeri musicians when he traveled the country last summer. His footage will play in the gallery alongside the photographs and music performances. He said the archival footage acts as a window into an unseen world. 

“I think it’s more like visual poetry. The way we shot it, it’s like a postcard of Azerbaijan,” Ormiston said. “It’s a way to show the culture, sites and sounds. It’s supposed to give you a sense of what the country’s like in a broad stroke.” 

UT’s Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies and the Center for Middle Eastern studies are co-sponsoring the event. Mary Neuburger, director at the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, said the center supports the effort to inform people about the rich culture of Azerbaijan. 

“Exposure to these powerful images connects us to distant realities, like the Azeri one, that both differ dramatically from our own, and yet, in their enduring humanity, are also deeply familiar.” Neuberger said. 

With a gift from UT alumni Judy and Charles Tate of Houston, The Blanton Museum of Art exceeded its “Campaign for Texas” fundraising goal, an eight-year, $3-billion fundraising effort. The donation included 120 modern and contemporary Latin American artworks and an endowment contribution valued at a total of $10 million.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

The Blanton Museum of Art received a gift of 120 modern and contemporary Latin American artworks and an endowment contribution valued at a total of $10 million from UT alumni Judy and Charles Tate of Houston, museum officials announced Thursday. 

“With this gift, Charles and Judy have once again made a hugely valuable contribution to the life of UT-Austin,” President William Powers Jr. said in a statement Thursday. “This gift will continue to put us at the forefront as one of the country’s best museums for Latin American art and will provide many new opportunities for students, faculty and art historians.”

The gift enabled the museum to exceed its fundraising goal in “Campaign for Texas,” an eight-year, $3-billion University-wide fundraising effort ending Aug. 31. The Tates’ donation of $1 million will create an endowment for a curator of Latin American art.

Works by Frida Kahlo and her partner Diego Rivera, best known for murals and paintings in Mexico and the U.S., and Joaquín Torres-García, founder of the School of the South that brought geometric abstraction to artists in South America, are among the works donated to the Blanton.

Blanton spokeswoman Kathleen Stimpert said the museum is already a major institution in the field of Latin American art whose legacy of exhibitions and scholarship in the field goes back to 1988, when it became the first museum in the U.S. to establish a Latin American art curator position. 

“We were one of the first institutions in the United States to begin collecting in any serious way Latin American art and presenting it as an important part of the art historical canon,” Stimpert said. 

The museum’s holdings in the field of Latin American art have grown to 2,200 pieces, after starting with a donation of 54 paintings by Texas collectors John and Barbara Duncan in 1971. 

Beverly Adams, the inaugural Charles and Judy Tate curator of Latin American art, started working at the museum in January. Among her first endeavors has been the planning of “La Línea Continua,” an exhibition starting Sept. 20 that will include a selection of approximately 70 works from the Tates’ collection. 

Dr. Eric White presents the Tarlton Law Library’s earliest printed books during the ninth annual rare book lecture in the the School of Law Thursday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Gabriella Belzer | Daily Texan Staff

The UT School of Law houses some of the oldest and rarest printed books in the world. Eric White, a curator for the Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University, discussed several of the books in detail on Thursday in a lecture hosted by the law school’s Tarlton Law Library

White explained the processes behind the early years of mechanized printing in Europe in the latter half of the 15th century. He also identified the unique aspects of individual books in the library from that era.

“Tarlton Law Library’s holdings are important for research,” White said. 

The first printed books were produced when the German blacksmith Johannes Gutenberg printed copies of the Latin Bible in Mainz, Germany, during the 1450s. Gutenberg’s method of printing, including the invention of the printing press and movable type, was so popular that by 1500, 10 million books had been printed in Europe, White said. 

White’s lecture focused on the typefaces and histories behind specimens of 15th-century printed books, and his talk highlighted several books from Tarlton Law Library’s rare book collection. White also talked about the printing of early law books in the 15th century — several of which can be found in their original form at the library.

“Tarlton’s earliest books are useful specimens for early 15th-century printings,” White said. “There is much for the serious researcher of Northern European law to study here.” 

White’s talk was the ninth annual lecture of the library’s Rare Book Lecture Series. The lecture was organized by Elizabeth Haluska-Rausch, director of special collections at the library. Rausch said the lecture series was created to promote the library’s book collection. 

“The early history of the printed book is integral to understanding the intellectual history of the early modern period,” Haluska-Rausch said. “Books produced with movable type constituted a genuine communication revolution.” 

Information studies graduate student Aizul Ortega said she attended the lecture Thursday because of her interest in preservation studies. Ortega said she was surprised by the number of rare books that can be found at UT. 

“They really interest me,” she said. “I want to know as much as I can about them.”

Ortega said studying antique books like those presented by White allows people to see where knowledge has originated.

“It’s part of our history,” Ortega said. “It teaches how people would think [during the 15th century] and how we have evolved from those thought processes and what we have in common with them.”

Published on March 1, 2013 as "Curator gives rare-book lecture". 

Aaron Baker, curator of the Playboy art collection, discussed how he came into the position as well as the start of the collection. Baker also detailed his work as an advocate for other 20th century icons such as Andy Warhol and Tom Wasselmann.

Photo Credit: Kiersten Holms | Daily Texan Staff

Students should keep an open mind and be willing to think outside of the box when pursuing careers, said Aaron Baker, curator of the Playboy Collection.

Baker spoke from experience at the Art in Practice series sponsored by the Visual Arts Center on Tuesday. He detailed his journey from a post-graduate student working as a furniture mover to curator of the collection of all Playboy memorabilia, including an art collection with an estimated worth of more than $25 million.

“Be patient,” Baker said. “Be open to new opportunities and don’t assume that all you can do is teach. Just be open to being a creative person in different ways than what you’ve traditionally thought you were supposed to do or were limited to doing.”

Xochi Solis, program coordinator for the Visual Arts Center, said the center wanted to feature Baker in the speaker series because the Art in Practice program’s goal is to inform students about different career paths in art, even unconventional ones.

“There are a lot of nuances of becoming a professional artist,” Solis said. “There are a lot of strange jobs you pick up along the way.”

Baker, who graduated from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in 1998 with a master’s degree in studio art, said he never expected to become curator of Playboy’s archive of 5,000 pieces of original art, 20 million photos, cartoons and editorial content.

“I just kind of fell into this career by being open to different opportunities,” Baker said. “It’s been a nice surprise to go to school for a studio degree and just assume I was going to make art and maybe teach and then fall into this weird career.”

Baker found there were no jobs available as an art instructor when he graduated and was working as a frustrated furniture mover when his wife convinced him to become an art handler at an auction house, he said. Baker said he rose through the ranks of the business and was an art appraiser when Playboy decided to auction off some of its collection in 2002. Baker formed a relationship with the retiring curator during his evaluation of the Playboy works and was hired following the auction, he said.

In the subsequent decade, Baker has cared for original artwork, editorial content and interview material from famous personalities, including Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, Fidel Castro, Frank Sinatra, Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, Ian Fleming, John Updike and Hunter S. Thompson, he said. A posterity archive of Playboy memorabilia that includes a variety of objects including memorabilia from the original Playboy mansion and Hugh Hefner’s private jet is also under the control of Baker, he said.

The short-lived 2011 television show “The Playboy Club” relied heavily on Baker’s and his associates’ research in the posterity archive, as well as Hugh Hefner’s personal collection of 3,000 scrapbooks and personal comic strips to help find pieces from a certain era, Baker said.

Studio art junior Rachel Wade said seeing the variety of ways Baker has utilized his art background was very beneficial to students.

“I’m learning a lot more about curating and auctioning,” Wade said. “He was very personal and helped give advice to students on how we can get to have such a cool job like he has.”