A great way to spend an afternoon and escape the heat (for free on Thursdays) is at the Blanton Museum of Art. The architecture of the building is impressive with it's fantastically high ceilings and skylights that let in natural light, and then there's the great installation by Teresita Fernandez, Stacked Waters, on the walls as you climb to the 2nd floor.
I always enjoy their ongoing exhibit America/Americas: Modern and Contemporary Art of the Americas, which combines their North and South American collections, and love spending time in Cildo Meireles' eery installation, Missão/Missões [Mission/Missions] (How to Build Cathedrals).
The current shows are:
The Collecting Impulse: Fifty Works from Dorothy and Herbert Vogel, through Aug. 12
Untitled (Portrait of the Vogels), 1988
"Our collection is about information. The role of art is to help us find our way in our own time." -Herbert Vogel, 1977
This show is probably most appropriate for lovers of conceptual and minimal art (or hapless art students), but may also interest those intrigued by the Vogel's story. The couple lived off of Dorothy's salary as a librarian and put all of Herb's income from his postal service job into collecting art. They could only afford early works of many artists who went on to become more successful, with the encouragement of the couple. The Blanton was the Texas recipient of the 50 works that the Vogels gave to each state when they decided to donate their work around the country (see Herb & Dorothy 50x50). The quotes by the artists included in the show reveal how influential the couple was and how well respected:
"Most of us go through the world never seeing anything. Then you meet somebody like Herb and Dorothy, who have eyes that see. Something goes from the eye to the soul without going through the brain." -Richard Tuttle, 2008
If you want to learn more about the couple and their collection, the museum is streaming the documentary made about them, titled Herb & Dorothy, and it's also available on Netflix instant-watch. Watch a trailer: http://vimeo.com/3069795
The Human Touch, through Aug. 12
Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled (Woman and Friends), 1990
This is a mixed-media exhibit featuring selections from the RGB Wealth Management Art Collection. As such it certainly displays work across the gambit from well-known artists to lesser known ones. I liked Carrie Mae Weems' photographs because, in direct contrast to many of the other works in the collection that stuck to more traditional portraiture, Weems shows an interaction between people, a relationship and a story. I also liked the mixed media and bold colors of Radcliffe Bailey, and the playfulness of Robin Rhode's Bike from Top.
(this is not the image in the exhibit, but gives you an idea of the kind of stuff Rhode does)
Go West! Representations of the American Frontier, through Oct. 14
Jerry Bywaters, Oil Field Girls, 1940
Most of the exhibit doesn't look like this, in fact this painting is in a small room at the end of the exhibit focusing on the end result of the rush west in the form of ghost towns and desolate landscapes. I just find this painting very interesting and moving - I like to look at it. But the rest of the exhibit is good too, and a nice follow up, thematically, to the Hudson River School paintings exhibited in the spring.