Museums can be locations for inspiration and creation. Of course we all know that museums function as repositories for creative works from decades and centuries ago, but at the Blanton, we try to emphasize that museums are more than just warehouses for treasures from art history. Musicians, artists, writers, designers, architects, filmmakers, dancers, and creative minds from many other backgrounds use museums to spark new ideas and innovative projects that our great-grandchildren will one day discover in the archives as the art of the 21st century.
We’re excited to provide opportunities for creativity to happen in the Blanton. Our music series SoundSpace and Beat the Rush feature musicians creating new performances and compositions right in front of the paintings and sculptures in our galleries. It’s always exciting to see how these collisions between old and new artists take place: what if a contemporary ensemble interpreted Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 3 through the lens of a painting by German refugee Karl Zerbe? What if we imagined an intricate tableau of visual images written as a poem about a monochromatic piece of pink fabric created by the minimalist artist Richard Tuttle? Can we compose music about renowned contemporary artists like El Anatsui and Anselm Kiefer using a kalimba, improvised objects for percussion, and a pink toy piano? If you’ve been visiting the museum during the past few months, you’ve seen all of these things happen.
Public programs at the Blanton emphasize that museums can be more than just archives for creative acts that have happened in the past, and that museums should also be places where creative people living in Austin in 2013 make new work. Our goal is to look deeper into visual art, and listen closer to music, trying to figure out how creatives throughout history have refined their techniques and created new forms, new styles, and movements.
We have many more programs planned during our 50th anniversary celebration, Fifty Fest, on April 27. We’ll host a string quartet as they rehearse a new work, and field questions from the audience during the performance, as we try to understand how musicians make choices about interpreting a musical score. We’ll feature the musicians and poets who have written and performed in the museum’s galleries in the past, and will also have musicians performing in the galleries throughout the afternoon. We’ll also be hosting conceptual artist and photographer Nic Nicosia, who talks about his one-of-a-kind process of creating staged tableaux about contemporary American society. Visiting the Blanton is a creatively rejuvenating experience, one we hope to continue to share with you.
— Adam Bennett, Blanton public programs manager