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You gotta see this art: the hypnotic UT Skyspace with music

Michael Barnes, mbarnes@statesman.com
The Color Inside," a Skyspace installation by artist James Turrell, sits in the rooftop garden of the William C. Powers Jr. Student Activity Center at the University of Texas. One watches the sky change through an oval eye in the roof of the oval structure while the color of light in the room shifts. [Contributed]

Since it was installed on the University of Texas campus in 2013, James Turrell’s Skyspace, “The Color Inside,” has attracted more than half a million visitors to a pristine oval room with an oval eye exposed through its ceiling.

You should be next. Especially if there is music.

Turrell has been shaping light and space since the 1960s. UT’s “The Color Inside” is perched atop the William C. Powers Jr. Student Activity Center, a calming and welcoming building just east of Speedway, these days reserved almost exclusively for pedestrians.

The floor and seating in the oval room, which can comfortably seat about 25 people, are constructed of dark gray-to-black marble. Above that level is a high oval seatback, which makes it possible for seated visitors lean back to watch, not only the changes in the natural skyscape above, but also the subtly changing colors of the lighting underneath the ceiling.

While we watched during a partly cloudy sunset on Sunday, a jet strung out a fresh vapor trail that bisected the aperture, then drifted across the sky.

Transcendent.

This austere space was warmed immeasurably during this visit by the sublime voice of Stephanie Bergara, who fronts the Selena tribute band Bidi Bidi Banda.

Partnered with an acoustic guitarist, Bergara’s notes drifted up into the canted space, wrapping us with their purity.

Every once in a while, Bergara, dressed in a brightly hued outfit, looked up into the Skyspace’s eye. It was impossible to avoid the impression that she was singing directly to Selena.

IF YOU GO

Songs in the Skyspace’

As always, visits to “The Color Inside” Skyspace located on the rooftop of the William C. Powers Jr. Student Activity Center are free. Reservations for the music series performances are required and can be made at turrell.utexas.edu. The Skyspace is closed during university holidays.

Feb. 16: Texas Songhorns (a cappella)

Feb. 23: Absolute Pitch (a cappella)

Mar. 1: LOLA (Local Opera Local Artists)

Mar. 8: Austin Classical Guitar

Mar. 29: Beauties and the Beat (a cappella)

Apr. 5: Absolute Pitch (a cappella)

Apr. 12: Austin Ukestra (ukulele)

Apr. 19: Austin Classical Guitar

Apr. 26: Beauties and the Beat (a cappella)

May 3: Texas Songhorns (a cappella)

May 10: Noteworthy A Cappella (a cappella)

May 17: Austin Soundwaves