As a new year rolls in and annual resolutions reset, the Austin arts beckon with exhibits to motivate, inspire, and ignite a new year of creativity. Peek behind the scenes with the Ransom Center’s moviemaking exhibit, or see the works of glass and oil on canvas from Austin artist Rejina Thomas at t he Neill-Cochran House. There’s also Print Austin’s annual “5×5” exhibition at Link & Pin, and a a multi-disciplinary exploration of what’s behind the “Façade” at the Visual Arts Center. It’s a smorgasbord of arts to energize the start of your year!
“El Nacimiento” — Now through February 5
If you aren’t ready to say goodbye to the holiday season just yet, visit Mexic-Arte to enjoy the largest museum display of Mexican nativity scenes in Texas. Each year on December 16th, nacimientos are set up in homes throughout Mexico, demonstrating the diversity and richness of cultural ancestry. Mexic-Arte Museum presents a variety of nacimientos from all over Mexico, including Chihuahua, Izúcar de Matamoros, Oaxaca, Mexico City, Metepec, Santa Maria de Garcia, Tlaquepaque, and Tonalá. Over 400 pieces reflects how nacimiento-making has transformed over the years, integrating uniquely Mexican motifs, styles, and iconography.
“Renee Lai: In The Water You Become” — January 7 through February 19
Renee Lai is an Asian American artist working in painting and drawing whose latest oeuvre focuses on the line between representation and anonymity. The exhibit demonstrates, “traces left behind by my body — silhouettes, records of movements made while swimming, a doubling of myself in a painting,” says Lai in an artist statement. “The large scale of the work imbues my body’s outlines with a mystical power. The reductive shapes of my body form an imposing collection, body after body confronting the viewer.”
Women & Their Work
“Jade Walker: Wayfinding” — January 7 through February 23
In this large-scale installation, sculptor Jade Walker uses color, weaving, rope, tools, notions of signage, and found objects to articulate questions around how we engage with our environment. “Wayfinding” asks whether we embed in our landscape or attain places to hold as our own. Influenced by the modernist writer and poet, Nan Shepherd, nature writer and linguist, Robert Mcfarlane, and textiles as a form of universal language, Walker’s exhibition includes architectural interventions as well as intimate embellishments of familiar tools and found natural elements. Walker’s art identifies the need for wayfinding as we navigate the environment for ourselves and for future generations.
The Neill-Cochran House Museum
“Signs and Symbols: The Trees are Talking” — January 11 through August 13
This one-woman show features the work of longtime Austin artist Rejina Thomas, whose graphic glass studio became the first East Austin hub for many Austin creatives. Featuring more than 40 works of glass and oil on canvas, this exhibition explores how signs and symbols constantly surround us in both the natural and built environments. Her work blurs past and present, reminding us that we are all connected — not only to one another, but to those who came before us and those who will follow. Navigating both America and Austin as a Black woman has given Thomas a unique perspective on her own heritage, as well as the cultural ties that bind us across races and ethnicities.
Old Bakery and Emporium
“Walking in My Shoes: The Art of Robert R. Jones” — January 14 through March 18
“Walking In My Shoes” is an artistic exploration of walking in someone else’s shoes. This perspective shift provides a different angle from which to experience love, entertainment, and empathy. “Many ideas and themes come from my observations of daily life and spirit filled activities in and around my community,” Jones says in her artist statement. “Things I experience, see, and feel passionate about. Growing up was a simple pleasure and continues to lend nostalgic memories to many of my paintings.” Bright and colorful images bring a joyous feeling of visual contentment, even where there is pain or sorrow deep within.
Link & Pin Gallery
“Print Austin’s 2023 5×5 Exhibition” — January 19 through February 11
Starting in 2021 as an online exhibit, the concept for “5×5” was to have five artists judged on five submitted works. Artists drawn to submit to this call have at least five pieces of work, presented together and chosen from among all the entries.
The Visual Arts Center, The University of Texas at Austin
“Façade” — January 20 through March 10
“Façade” brings together the work of artists from various disciplines and backgrounds to explore the truths within any given object, historical narrative, or identity. Through sculpture, works on paper, video and painting, these artists question outward appearances, both personal and communal, addressing the notion of an idealized self, replicas, false control, and performative interactions. In doing so, they attempt to uncover the motivations behind our drive to conceal, perform, and play pretend. The artists in this exhibition consider façade an undeniable reality, encouraging visitors to take a critical view of façadism and examine how our attachments to performance and deception influence our experiences of the world around us.
Lydia Street Gallery
“Daniel & Marjory Johnston: The What of Whom” — January 21 through March 5
This exhibit presents new, never-before-created works of art by the world-renowned outsider poet, writer, and musician Daniel Johnston. In collaboration with his sister, artist Marjory Johnston, these works created contain lyrics from some of his over 900 songs, depicted in over 100 watercolors and collages. Each piece has the song and CD title identified on the piece.
Harry Ransom Center
“Drawing the Motion Picture – Production Art and Storyboards” — January 28 through July 16
Explore the beauty and complexity of moviemaking through sketches, storyboards, and designs that illuminate history of film production from the silent era to the present day. Rare concept paintings, set designs, film stills, and more tell a visual story of some of our favorite films, bringing a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the creative process of filmmaking. See production art associated with iconic movies like Rebel Without a Cause, Raging Bull, Top Gun, Apollo 13, and Lawrence of Arabia — many connected with innovative directors like Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean, Mike Nichols, Michael Powell, Nicholas Ray, Martin Scorsese, Stephen Spielberg, King Vidor, and more.