New exhibition at McNay Art Museum showcases recreations of nature for the stage

click to enlarge Tony Straiges, Maquette element for Mother's Tree in Into the Woods, ca. 1987. Painted board and paper, with found objects. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of the artist. - COURTESY OF MCNAY ART MUSEUM
Courtesy of McNay Art Museum
Tony Straiges, Maquette element for Mother's Tree in Into the Woods, ca. 1987. Painted board and paper, with found objects. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of the artist.
The McNay Art Museum's latest exhibition examines how visual artistry helps enhance the experience of the performing arts.

"Is It Real? Staging Nature" showcases a selection of works by stage designers and artists created to mimic the natural world onstage.

Performances including plays, musicals, operas and ballet have been enhanced by stage design inspired by nature. Those designs can range from photorealistic recreations to dreamy, surreal interpretations of flora and fauna.

Featured pieces in the show include opera backdrops, a fairytale musical forest from Broadway, an enormous tree trunk set-piece by Houston painter Earl Staley as well as handcrafted Monarch butterflies and marionettes made by Mexico City theatre artists La Liga Teatro Elastico.

“The technical aspect of theatre is exciting — and visitors will find much of what they see in the gallery surprising,” Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts Curator R. Scott Blackshire said in a statement. “The artworks celebrate designers, costumers and set painters — artists in their own right — who transport audiences into caves, through forests and to worlds beyond the imagination.”

"Is It Real? Staging Nature" is on view through October 24.

$15-$20, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Satudays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays, Brown Gallery, McNay Art Museum, 6000 N. New Braunfels Ave., (210) 824-5368, mcnayart.org.

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