Around the State

Art Museum Of South Texas

Corpus Christi

LET’S BE BRUTALLY HONEST: Corpus Christi’s art scene flies well below the radar, if it leaves the ground at all. Cutting-edge installations or high-profile exhibitions? Any self-respecting art snob knows to go to Houston or Dallas or Fort Worth or San Antonio. Marfa attracts more curious visitors, for goodness’ sake.

But forget the obvious for a moment. Lately this port metropolis has been striving to snag the state’s attention and attract some culturati of its own. One need only notice the recent bumper crop of civic institutions and entertainment hubs springing up: the Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz International Center in 2000, the Concrete Street Amphitheater in 2001, the American Bank Center in 2004, Whataburger Field and the Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi Performing Arts Center in 2005. Arguably the most beautifully situated city in Texas, Corpus Christi may soon be more than just the gateway to Padre Island. “We’ve had this mind-set that if something has been good all these years, it’s good enough for us,” says Corpus Christi Caller-Times columnist Nick Jimenez of his town’s inability to break out of mediocrity. “Now we’re thinking, ‘What took us so long?’”

Indeed. At the nucleus of this newfound energy is the Art Museum of South Texas, which unveils a second building—stark white like the first, and also by a big-deal architect—on October 8. It may not be the year’s most anticipated opening, but it’s an apt symbol of Corpus Christi’s resurgence—and resolve. The original Philip Johnson–designed museum made headlines when it opened in 1972, but the city’s cultural bulb dimmed in the next decades (the eighties oil bust didn’t help). Yet now the repository is in the spotlight again. And unlike the year’s other big museum project (that would be Austin’s Blanton), this one is as much about creating a pretty space as it is about showing off the permanent collection.

The first structure was a tough act to follow, much less add to. But Ricardo Legorreta, one of Mexico’s best-known architects (together with his son, Victor) has played it smart. Their work may look a lot like its predecessor (well, except for those gleaming copper pyramids on the roof), but inside it’s replete with Legorreta hallmarks—bold colors, lots of light, unusual wall placement. Plus, it has 12,000 more square feet for exhibits and a cafe that looks out on a moving picture show of ships. Lovely and functional, how ’bout that.

Though three exhibits opening this month are highlights from the permanent holdings (“Modernism/Abstraction,” “Contemporary Expressions,” and “Western and Wildlife Art”), look for director Bill Otton to bring in a range of shows. Past block- busters like 2004’s “¡Arte Caliente!” and “Migrations: Humanity in Transition” were a hit with the region’s Hispanic audience. A wider appeal, good educational programming, and playing up the museum as a lei- sure destination should help it keep its luster this time around. (Says Jimenez: “I might go just to have a sandwich in the cafe.”)

Here’s hoping these developments give way to a revitalized identity for Corpus Christi, both in and out of town. The Sparkling City by the Sea might just deserve a
big colored thumbtack on the state’s cultural map after all. 1902 N. Shoreline Blvd,
361-825-3500, artmuseumofsouthtexas.org

JORDAN BREAL

No Moss Here

El Paso, Austin

Just as the Rolling Stones’ campy, machismo-oozing, blues-based rock and roll signaled a musical shift in the sixties, their enduring popularity heralds today’s demographic truth: It’s a baby boomer’s world. Still slim-hipped and frisky (onstage at least), the band members (all 59 or older) haven’t escaped a spate of recent mortality- reminding setbacks: Keith Richards’s brain surgery after plopping out of a coconut tree in Fiji, Ron Wood’s stint in rehab, Mick Jagger’s concert-canceling bout with laryngitis. But the men, who were still boys in 1966 when they sang “What a drag it is getting old,” aren’t sitting on their aging posteriors. Instead they’re embarking on an encore of last year’s “A Bigger Bang” tour and performing in various cities for the first time, Austin included. Student discounts and young (relatively speaking), hip guest artists (Kanye West and Dave Matthews, for example) might be concessions to more-youthful fans, but make no mistake—a Stones concert gets sweeter with age. Oct 20: Sun Bowl Stadium, Baltimore & Sun Bowl Dr, El Paso; 915-544-8444; utep.edu/events. Oct 22: Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin; 866-461-2782

Gold Fingers

Beaumont

What do you get when you combine a rock band for hire, a symphony, and forty-plus years’ worth of musical scores from one of the longest-running film franchises in the world? That’s right, a genre-bending night set to the tunes of Bond—James Bond. Jeans ’n Classics—an alternating cast of Canadian musicians who mainly cover classic rock and R&B staples—will join the Symphony of Southeast Texas for Shaken Not Stirred: The Music of James Bond. The singers and musicians who went through the Bond vaults to pick the evening’s killer songs had plenty of work for themselves, says Peter Brennan, who writes out the band’s and orchestra’s music for each performance. “There’s a lot more material than you can cover in one show.” Which only means that much more fun for fans, especially during the tribute to the Austin Powers spy spoofs, featuring songs from Marvin Gaye, the Zombies, and the Monkees. And what Bond affair would be complete without the dapper Sean Connery? Alas, the original Agent 007 won’t be attending this performance, but keyboardist John Regan, who serves as host for the evening, will unleash his own “extremely bad” (read: hilarious) Connery impersonation on the crowd. “He’s a busy boy,” notes Brennan. Oct 7. Jefferson Theatre, 345 Fannin; 409-892-2257; sost.org

Agent of Change

Houston

“We have loss of innocent life on both sides, in Israel as well as in Lebanon. It has to stop … because every death sows another seed of militancy in the future, and of enmity, of distrust, of anger, that can last generations.” The Brilliant Lecture Series welcomes Queen

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