Cult of Color: Call to Color–A Collaboration at Arthouse at the Jones Center

While I was in Austin, Texas in April to hear Katy Siegel and Wade Saunders talk to MFA students and the public at UT Austin, I stopped in to see the exhibition at Arthouse.

Cult of Color:Call to Color–Notes on a Collaboration featured the work of visual artist Trenton Doyle Hancock, choreographer Stephen Mills and composer Graham Reynolds who developed a ballet commissioned by Ballet Austin. The dynamic complexity of the collaborative process was distilled through visual art displays, video and music.

Cult of Color: Call to Color is a chapter in Trenton Doyle Hancock’s ongoing artistic mythology. Hancock’s paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, and individual performances work together to represent his characters, the Mounds, the Vegans, and other imaginative creatures, who are at the center of the artist’s unfolding operatic narrative. Hancock’s characters and their dilemmas embody themes of life and death, the struggle between good and evil, love, authority, spirituality and moral relativism. Biblical in scope, mythological in content, and comic book in style, the story tells of a battle fought between the gentle Mounds and the mutant Vegans. In this chapter of Hancock’s story we are introduced to the Vegan minister, Sesom (Moses spelled backwards) who, like his namesake, offers the possibility of salvation to the unruly and war-like Vegan followers through the intervention of a loving character, Painter. And, just as all the Vegans appear to convert to the goodness of “The Cult of Color,” one antagonist, Betto, resists. The ensuing violent struggles for power between these forces of will are at the core of this episode of Hancock’s tale. Balancing moral dilemmas with wit and a musical sense of language and color, Hancock creates a painterly space of psychological dimension.


It’s wild and wacky and amazing creative fodder for dancers and musicians. Elaborate fabric designs and funky colored trees created as part of the set for the ballet are also on display as well as scores from the musical composition and video of dance rehearsals. It was an entertaining look at the collaborative process.

Unfortunately, I was not able to see the completed production of the ballet, but perhaps it will tour in the future.

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