There is a new show of newly acquired photographs at the Humanities Research Center on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Some great. Some good. Some less so.

The HRC at UT owns one of the foremost collections of photography in the world. Occasionally they show some to the general public. This season they have produced a show that shows work recently accessioned, by purchase or donation, to the collection. The bulk of the new work shown covers the time period from the 1960's to 2014. 

I went not knowing what to expect but I left knowing that I would have made a few different shopping choices. Let me get this out of the way: Alec Soth has gotten a lot of press in the art world for the last few years but if the two pieces I saw today are indicative of his current work I can only hope that the museum picked them up on the cheap. Like, in the territory of a couple of coffees and a scone cheap. Because the two images I saw from his recent black and white work (done in Texas originally for The Texas Triangle Magazine) were less than bad --- they were boring and plainly evocative of typical work from any one of thousands of college fine art student studying  photography in early days. Just printed a bit bigger. Two or three thumbs down for me. Maybe he was just on vacation from being an artist when he made the work on display....

On the other hand the acquisition included work by Andy Warhol that was fun and good, as well as some work by Anne Noggle that was provocative and well done. There is one photograph in the show that stopped me in my tracks and that was an image of by Dave Heath of a 10 or 12 year old boy on the street. The print was small. No bigger than 5x7 inches. It's one of the most compelling images I've seen in a long time and an exquisite example of the perfect use of narrow depth of field. 

The main gallery is sprinkled with gems amid photographs that are more important as footnotes than masterpieces. If you are in Austin the show is well worth taking time to visit. It will be up through the end of May. See the Alec Soth prints and imagine that you too could (easily) be a famous "ART" photographer. See the rest of the works and see actual creative thought instead. 

I am looking forward to visiting the nearby Blanton Museum later this coming week because they have a new show. Here's what the museum says about it:

Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s

February 21, 2016 - May 15, 2016
The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin presents Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s, the first major museum survey to examine, within an historical context, art that emerged in this pivotal decade. The exhibition showcases approximately 45 artists born or practicing in the United States—including Doug Aitken, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Glenn Ligon, Donald Moffett, Shirin Neshat, Catherine Opie, Gabriel Orozco, Shahzia Sikander, Frances Stark, and Kara Walker—and features installation, video, painting, sculpture, drawing, prints, photography, and early Internet art. Organized by the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey, the survey includes works created from 1989 to 2001, and explores a range of social and political issues as diverse as the decade from which they emerged.
I have high hopes for this show. It looks like a bunch of fun, dynamic and topical work examining the (nearly) current social landscape. 
I am constantly reminded of the value of looking at art. We live in a culture that tends to be so homogenous, it's refreshing to see creations that were made because artists felt compelled to make them for themselves and NOT for the money or potential return.  Go see some art.

Take a class: Become more skilled and knowledgable. Have more fun.

One of the original Craftsy Photo Classes and 
still one of the best! 

I met Lance a couple of weeks ago in Denver
and found him to be really fun and knowledgeable 
this class reflects what he teaches in hands-on
workshops in Ireland and Iceland, as well as 
cool places around the U.S.

How to make what we shoot into a cohesive
train of visual thought.