April 29, 2008
To say that Texans have a bit of a cultural chip on their shoulders is a gross understatement – sort of like saying there’s not much fresh air in outer space or that the KKK is racially insensitive. The ugly truth is that the folks who settled Texas were pretty much riff-raff: Immigrants, opportunists, criminals, rubes, and other desperate types looking for the big score – sort of like Qua on a Saturday night. Sounds like a lot of fun, until you realize the shark tank dance floor is just chump bait for gold diggers and leased Lexus douche bags with nugget jewelry. Back in the day, of course, clubbing was an entirely different activity, and when people sported nuggets, it didn’t mean they were frontin’, it just meant they had poor hygiene. Most importantly, there wasn’t a lot of high art going on, which is understandable. When you’ve spent the whole day busting sod in the Panhandle, chopping cedar in the Hill Country, or slogging through an East Texas swamp hunting nutria, it tends to put the kibosh on your artistic oeuvre. Though some would have you believe differently, art isn’t a necessity; it’s a luxury. Art is what you do when your stomach is full and you’re not freezing to death or parched with thirst or trying to outrun a vicious mountain lion. Happily, all of that early industriousness and opportunism eventually paid off, and today Texans are able to buy all the art their hearts and tax accountants desire. Except … most Texans wouldn’t know what art was even if it smacked them in the head like an oak two-by-four (which might, in fact, be folk art if it was colorfully painted by a toothless, barefoot Appalachian illiterate). Furthermore, Texans generally don’t care that they don’t know art … until they get some money or some edumacation or both. That’s when things really get ugly, and the cultural pissing match begins. Just because ol’ Jed became a billionaire without the advantage of a high school diploma doesn’t mean he doesn’t have culture. In fact, he’s probably got bigger and better culture than any Art History major from Wellesley – and if he doesn’t, he’s willing to pay for it. Nobody out-cultures a Texan, which goes a long way in explaining why Texas is blessed with some of the finest art museums in the nation. One of them, the Blanton, is right down on MLK. Not only is the Blanton the third largest museum in Texas, it’s also the largest university art museum in the country – might have something to do with the fact that its genesis was a $12 million gift from Houston “Endowment” Inc. Regardless, eat it, New York. Texas wins. We’re crazy sick with culture. If you want to see for yourself, you can for 10 bucks this Friday, at the Blanton’s monthly B Scene party. Not only can you check out the Blanton’s wicked big art collection, you can nosh on complimentary hors d’oeuvres, drink “Blantinis,” watch a sample theatrical piece from the Fuse Box Festival, and groove to the sound of Austin’s own Future Clouds & Radar. This deal is totally worth the money. Aren’t you glad Austin is endowed?