See the Light
The visual artist James Turrell splits his time living in Maryland, New York and Arizona, where he has been working on his Roden Crater project in an extinctvolcano since 1974, but it is legitimate for Texas to claim him as its own. He has two “skyspaces,” chambers with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky, in Dallas and two in Houston, with another, “The Color Inside,” scheduled to open at 6:25 a.m. on Oct. 19, on the rooftop of the University of Texas Student Activity Center, in Austin.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, also claims to have more Turrell works than any other American museum, and it will highlight seven “immersive light environments” through this weekend, part of the exhibition “The Light Inside.” Seeing one of these colorful light installations might feel hallucinatory and disorienting — a holding cell after being abducted by aliens. “He’s an orchestrator of experience,” the painter Chuck Close told The New York Times magazine in a June profile of Mr. Turrell, “not a creator of cheap effects.”
“The Light Inside” is one of three major Turrell exhibitions happening simultaneously — the two others are in Los Angeles and New York — making it an invitation to engage in part of the grandest art statement this year.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Sept. 20-22, mfah.org
Renewed beauty has blossomed from the 2011 Bastrop wildfires. Last summer, Texas artists staged “Art From the Ashes,” an exhibition of works derived from the ruins. This summer, Bastrop’s Lost Pines area serves as the backdrop of “Prince Avalanche,”the newest work from the Austin filmmaker David Gordon Green.
The movie’s soundtrack was scored by the Austin instrumental rock band Explosions in the Sky and their collaborator, David Wingo. Most people associate Explosions in the Sky with its blitzkrieg of electric guitars and hammering drums, as heard in its score for the Texas high school football drama “Friday Night Lights.” So the band may surprise some at the Breakaway Festival — the only Texas date on its current tour —with its evolved sound, full of muted, tender moments outfitted with piano and woodwinds. But perhaps this dramatic change of pace will inspire fans to revisit the new music in its proper context: with the movie, which is still in theaters.
FC Dallas Stadium, Sept. 21, 11 a.m., breakawayfestival.com
On the Road
Fredericksburg Road in northwest San Antonio was built in the 1840s as a portal for the military to access West Texas, and then, in the mid-1900s, the suburbs and strip malls proliferated, transforming the road into a main thoroughfare.
But much of that changed with the construction of Interstate 10. The exhibit “Traveling on Fredericksburg Road: 120 Years in 12 Miles” is a case study conducted by students at the University of Texas at San Antonio on urban expansion from 1890 to 2010, within the context of this road increasingly less traveled. In addition to photographs, maps, and interviews with residents and business owners — including Linda DeWese of the Tip Top Cafe — there will be the opportunity for time travel, via a short film that is sped up so viewers visually experience 120 years and 12 miles on Fredericksburg Road in less than eight minutes.
Institute of Texan Cultures, Sept. 19-Dec. 15, texancultures.com
The 13th annual West Texas Book Festival in Abilene has, in a sense, scooped the 18th annual Texas Book Festival in Austin, the state’s premier book event: four of the six authors advertised to appear at the West Texas Book Festival are also participating in the Texas Book Festival in Austin a month later.
That means bookworms can hear from former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on her book, “Unflinching Courage: Pioneering Women Who Shaped Texas,” and Jeff Guinn, the award-winning Fort Worth author who has written about Bonnie and Clyde as well as the shootout at the O.K. Corral, talk about his new biography of Charles Manson, well in advance of the literati who will pour into Austin the last weekend of October.
Abilene Public Library and Abilene Civic Center, Sept. 24-28, abilenetx.com
While Austin is known for its live music and food, it lags behind other Texas cities in its arts scene, a fact that the new Contemporary Austin — which recently received a $9 million donation to create a 12-acre lakeside sculpture garden — hopes to change with exhibitions opening this weekend.
The Contemporary Austin, Sept. 20-22, thecontemporaryaustin.org
Stradivarius violins, which the Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari started making in the late 17th century, are extremely rare, often costing millions. They are said to produce unparalleled sound, which people can hear at the Brilliant Lecture Series, where the Hungarian violinist Edvin Marton will play one.
Wortham Center, Sept. 20, 7:30 p.m., brilliantlectures.org