Listening With Landmarks

Taylor Wallace speaks with Kathleen Brady Stimpert, deputy director for Landmarks, the award-winning public art program of The University of Texas at Austin.

Landmarks is UT’s Public Art Program. The collection features 50 physical art pieces spread out across the 40 acres of the UT campus. Many of those pieces have an accompanying playlist curated by a member or group of the Austin music ecosystem. Walker Lukens, Britt Daniel, Sun June, and Golden Dawn Arkestra are just a handful of those. Those are part of Listening With Landmarks and they add a new menu of dimensions to each piece: the artist who curated the playlist; the experience of listening to the playlist while enjoying the piece; and being added to the web of connection between art, other artists’ inspiration through the piece, and yourself. 

But what is the best way to make the most of Listening With Landmarks? Like anything regarding art, it’s up to you. But Landmarks does provide several suggestions through their website and app.  And those are expanded on with Kathleen Brady Stimpert, Deputy Director of Landmarks, UT’s Public Art Program. We talk about the inspiration for Listening With Landmarks, the impact its made, and Songs in the Skyspace. It’s a series of live music shows in the Skyspace, a room in the UT Student Activities Center created by James Turrell with a big cutout to the sky at the top. Turrell uses his mastery of color to make the sky appear in colors not found in nature. And it’s always changing. 

There’s also a kinetic art component to Landmarks, where art lovers can experience a moving work of art, sometimes paired with its own original composition. Currently featured is Animals by David Ellis, which can be summarized as a visual exploration of “beats.” It has its own composition by Roberto Lange. I chose this piece for my playlist, which furthers the “beats” theme with songs from Radiohead, MF DOOM w/ FloFillz, Mocean Worker, Faust, Can, and more.

James Turrell the Color Inside, 2013. photo by Florian Holzherr

Several of us at KUTX have contributed playlists and more will roll out through this season as Landmarks has declared this the “Summer of KUTX.” In addition to previous contributions from John Aielli and Laurie Gallardo, playlists by Art Levy, Marnie Castor, Trina Quinn, and myself are rolling out throughout the summer. 

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