The Austin Biennial
Applications for the third annual Texas Biennial are now available at www.texasbiennial.com. A group art show composed of open submissions, the biennial, if you haven’t already guessed, is grossly biased toward Austin, the host city. In other words, the workaday Fort Worth artist should save his or her $20 submission fee – all it’s going to do is pay to promote artists from Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. You can count on one hand the number of Fort Worth artists who have biennial’d over the past three years. Hell, you can count on one hand the number of Dallas artists who have. Maybe North Texas artists don’t know – or care – about the show. Maybe North Texas artists are already established and feel, wrongly, that they would in some way disgrace themselves by daring to submit work. Maybe the biennial leans too much toward political-correctness and egalitarianism, which it does. I don’t know about Dallas artists, but ours should mobilize, merely out of a sense of civic pride.
Not only are Fort Worth artists rarely shown in the biennial, but hardly any Fort Worthians are chosen to facilitate or judge the project, which is another damn shame, considering that Fort Worth is the institutional art capital of the Southwest. The Kimbell Art Museum? The Amon Carter? The Modern?! There’s more valuable and significant art – and money and aesthetic intelligence – among our Big Three than in the rest of Texas combined. Are our fellow Texans in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio simply jealous? (Well, in their defense, they should be.) And I’m sick of the 817 being lumped in with Dallas. The biennial, according to the art czars in Austin, sees every city separately except us – we’re part of the Dallas-Fort Worth “region,” even though Fort Worth is a metropolis of 700,000-plus, making it the fifth-largest city in the massive Lone Star state and 18th largest in the country. We’re 10 times the size of El Paso, Lubbock, Waco, and every other allegedly “anti-hip hip” Texan city. Austin runs everything, from the capitol to SXSW, and I’m sick of it. All Austin cares about is … Austin. – Anthony Mariani