Two forthcoming exhibitions perfectly underscore the different missions of their host institutions, which both bear “art” in their names.
From June 16 through Sept. 10, the San Antonio Museum of Art will present Heaven and Hell: Salvation and Retribution in Pure Land Buddhism. The exhibition’s 70 paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects are examples of art and objects used in the devotional and funerary traditions of the Pure Land Buddhism sect.
As an exhibition of art from a foreign culture, coming on the heels of the Lam Collection of contemporary Australian Aboriginal art exhibition, it reflects the museum’s mission of collecting and bringing in “significant works of art representing a broad range of history and world cultures.”
Rather than being imported from another institution, Heaven and Hell was curated by Emily Sano, the Museum of Art’s Coates-Cowden-Brown senior advisor for Asian art and former director of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Sano chose works from the museum’s own Asian collections as well as from those of the Asian Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Cleveland Art Museum, and the Dallas Museum of Art, among others.
“Heaven and Hell provides a dynamic and in-depth view of Pure Land Buddhism, highlighting the way different cultures adopted and adapted the faith,” Sano said. “Its adherents found commonality in inspiration and devotion, while also contributing their local beliefs and imagery to the practice.”
Pure Land Buddhism differs from traditional Theravada Buddhism in that the believer attains nirvana upon death simply by calling the name of Amitābha, the Buddha of the Western Paradise, rather than through study and meditation. The sect has flourished and expanded throughout Asia.
The day after Heaven and Hell opens, the McNay Art Museum will present an eight-day pop-up showcase of recent work by five local artists and one from Austin. Even its name, 6 Texas Artists | 8 Summer Days | 1 Cool Museum, reflects the modern vibe of the McNay, which opened in 1954 as an institution to engage “a diverse community in the discovery and enjoyment of the visual arts.” Built upon Marion Koogler McNay’s collection of more than 700 modern works, it was the first museum of modern art in Texas.
6 Texas Artists is one of a series of annual pop-ups of South Texas artists who work at the cutting edge of their forms. Visitors can expect visual and intellectual delight. Rene Paul Barilleaux, the McNay’s head of curatorial affairs, told the Rivard Report he chose works that “celebrate beauty and optimism, popular culture and material manipulation, social consciousness and cultural identity.”
The six Texas artists are accomplished in diverse materials and subjects:
- Jane Dunnewold, a nationally acclaimed fiber artist, teacher, and author, uses antique quilts originally made from salvaged clothing and fabrics as sources for new sculptural compositions.
- Ana Fernandez’s paintings depict landscapes from her San Antonio neighborhood and emphasize Latino culture and the supernatural.
- Kelly O’Connor creates psychedelic collages using pop imagery from the 1950s and 1960s, evoking fantasy and nostalgia.
- Advertising Executive Curt Slangal combines graphic art, nature, spirituality, and personal history in pop-art images. Texas flora and fauna, religious iconography, and family photographs come to life in vibrant color.
- Southtown framing shop owner Andy Villarreal makes paintings that burst with bold colors and figures referencing early Meso-American culture and pre-Columbian mythologies.
- Austin-based Sally Weber investigates how light occupies space and its relationship to the viewer through a range of mediums, including large-scale color photography.