The year was 1995.
Gas was $1.09 a gallon. OJ was found innocent. A broken laser pointer was the first item that sold for $14.83 on a brand new site called eBay. Pedro Martínez pitched a perfect game (kind of). Kid ‘n Play broke up. Microsoft released Windows 95, and people camped out in lines to get copies, for some reason. A plucky new intern named Monica Lewinsky began working at the White House. George Lucas began writing The Phantom Menace, which we all knew was going to be great.
Opening February 21, Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s explores the art that emerged in this pivotal decade.The comprehensive 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. But the 90s were about so much more than just art and the Contract With America; they were about the music, man! Specifically, they were about music recorded off the radio onto Maxell XLII-90 cassettes that you decorated yourself. That’s right, Mary Sue; we’re talking about mixtapes. Whether you thought that Stone Temple Pilots were the best thing since Alice In Chains, or intensely followed the careers of Heavy D as well as his Boyz, mixtapes were the soundtrack of your 90s life.
To enjoy the music of the 90s alongside the art of the 90s, visitors to Come as You Are will be able to hear the sweet, sweet sounds of the 90s the way they were meant to be heard—on cassette mixtapes played on portable Sony Walkmans*. You heard us right—visitors to the show will be able to check out real Walkmans (get excited!) and listen to mixtapes of 90s music as they walk through the exhibition. Because there’s no better way to experience the art of the 90s than with those hurt-y foam headphones on.
But hey, you may ask, where will these mixtapes come from? Why, from you, of course! All sorts of people will be contributing mixtapes for visitors to listen to (including some artists represented in the show), but it’s you, the visitor to the Blanton who still has a cassette deck in your home, that we want to hear from the most! Visitors who bring a 90s cassette mixtape with them will receive free admission to the Blanton and to Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s. Here’s how this will work:
- You make a cassette mixtape of 1990s music at home.
- You bring that cassette mixtape to the Blanton Museum of Art.
- We let you in for free.
- You enjoy the hell out of Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s.
For those of you who like to frequently ask questions, here are some Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: I don’t have a cassette deck at home. Can I just send you a playlist on Spotify or something?
A: Sure! Only the cassette will get you a free admission (limit one admission per mixtape), but we’d love to hear your playlist. Send it to us on Twitter: @blantonmuseum and include the hashtag #Artofthe1990s.
Q: So, what do you consider to be “music of the 1990s”?
A: Music on your mixtape must have been created and released between 1989 and 2001.
Q: Will you judge and/or make fun of the music I put on my mix tape?
A: Probably, but not necessarily.
Q: What kind of tape should I use?
A: Any standard compact cassette (60 minutes, 90 minutes, 120 minutes) will do.
Q: Can I decorate the tape with glitter and stars and stuff?
A: Yes. Proclamations of eternal love are also strongly encouraged.
Q: Is it okay if I put Montell Jordan’s 1995 hit “This Is How We Do It” on my mixtape?
A: Of course.
Q: Will I get my mixtape back?
A: No, so please make sure your tape is something you can part with.
Above all, have a good time making your tape! Remember Nick Hornby’s advice from High Fidelity: “To me, making a tape is like writing a letter—there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do.”
See you at the Blanton for Come as You Are!
*Yes, the plural of “walkman” is “walkmans.” We checked.