Art Attack Visits The People's Republic of Travis County (Or Not)

The more things change, the more they...change but also sort of stay the same? ArtAttack was in Austin yesterday, taking in the old and the new in the Capitol City. Here's what we saw on and around Congress Avenue:

Changed with a vengeance: the architecture and visual arts scenes. They had nowhere to go but up, and up indeed they've gone. You can learn a lot about Austin's emergence as a city with treats for the eyes, not just the ears, with a visit to the newly renovated Arthouse building, designed by rising New York architecture stars Lewis Tsurakami Lewis. Prominently placed on Congress Avenue just down from the capitol and across from the Paramount Theater, the spunky-yet-sophisticated facade indicates the arrival of a new seriousness to the Austin architecture scene.

Change has been on the wind in Austin for awhile--over the last decade, numerous welcome advancements have been made in the gallery and museum departments. But sorry Austin, you still have a lot of catching up to do; we're still not over the late-90s, Herzog de Meuron/Blanton Museum debacle.

The same: Earnest Austin citizens work hard to keep the quality of life in their city high, in this case protesting the proposed closing of some historic urban Austin schools, as well as deep budget cuts that are contemplated as a result of the state's ballooning budget deficit.

Sort of changed, yet also sort of the same: Our former one-party Democrat state has become a one-party Republican state, and how. The legislature has gone into session with its new class of freshman conservatives, a group that has zealously expressed their desire to reduce the size of government. Boy, are they going to get their wish, the budget shortfall making cuts more of a practical necessity than a philosophical imperative.

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Jenny Staff Johnson