James Surls:

With out, With in

March 5 – August 18, 2019

Despite Surls’ longtime status as one of America’s preeminent sculptors, the UMLAUF is proud to present his first-ever solo exhibition of sculptures in Austin. This pioneering exhibition features nearly 30 large and small objects spanning nearly 40 years, arrayed throughout the gallery and garden. James Surls: With Out, With In includes ample public programming for adults and children, partnerships with other local and national organizations, and a full-color brochure.


Texas native Surls (b. 1943, Terrell) earned a BS at Sam Houston State College and an MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art. After teaching at Southern Methodist University for 11 years, in 1977 he moved to Splendora, TX, with artist Charmaine Locke, whom he married. Primarily known for his sculptures of wood, steel, and bronze, for his entire career Surls has created fluid, evocative drawings and prints, in addition to films. He is one of the founders of Lawndale Art Center, the multidisciplinary contemporary art space in Houston. A prolific artist and educator, Surls currently lives and works in Carbondale, Colorado. 


Reading of Brochure by UMLAUF Curator Katie Robinson Edwards

James Surls Essay - read by Katie Robinson Edwards
00:00 / 00:00

In addition to a long history of major exhibitions throughout the United States, Surls’ large works have been commissioned in Singapore, Houston, New York, Colorado, and Los Angeles. He is represented in more than fifty public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, SFMOMA, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and nearly every major museum in Texas. Surls' artwork has been displayed in over 400 solo, group, museum and gallery exhibitions across the world, and he has been featured in over 450 publications. Surls was the recipient of a Texas Artist of the Year Award and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship.

James Surls. Photo by Cindy Hernandez.

Fotän Fable Redux

originally commissioned by

waller creek conservancy


Photo By Tim Graves

  • “form follows function” … “form follows fiction…”


  • photon (fōtän) :  a particle representing a quantum of light or other electromagnetic radiation. A photon carries energy proportional to the radiation frequency but has zero rest mass.


  • fable :  a story, typically a supernatural one incorporating elements of myth and legend.


  • redux :  brought back, revived.


“What surprised people most about the kraken — aside, that is, from the fact of the kraken, its sudden appearance in their neighborhood, the fact that it had emerged from their small creek, which fed into a small pond that some people tried to call a lake — was how fast it could move over dry land. That it could move over land at all. What with the tentacles and the gills — if a kraken even had gills — and the myths, so many myths about them coming from the darkest depths of the wildest seas. And yet. Here it was,” —“The Kraken” (excerpt from the original short story by Manuel Gonzales created in conjunction with this art installation)

Visitors are encouraged to both observe and read fōtän FABLE redux both as an object and as an original work of fiction. The viewer can read a portion of the illuminated story in situ as well as feel transported to a rendered Architectural reality of atmospheric light. The fiction activates the garden space and road at twilight encouraging the public to linger, read and let their imaginations be stirred. The original work, fōtän FABLE supported the public awareness campaign of Austin’s Waller Creek Conservancy through their annual public art program, CREEKSHOW 2017. In 2018, The Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum approached the artist about a reinterpretation and fōtän FABLE redux was conceived. The work like every monster movie is no mere sequel but a further exploration of the intersection of literature, architectural folie, the natural environment and urban life. Artist and Author inspired each other in this unique collaboration to realize the Kraken.

About the Artist:  Jamie Crawley

Crawley received the 2018 National Young Architects Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as one of eighteen recipients and the only from Texas. He is a naturalized Texan originally from Montreal, Quebec Canada who formed HA Architecture studio, an emerging design practice in East Austin. In 2015 he was named one of 10 Young Licensed Architects in Texas honored in a juried portfolio competition “10 under 10” and subsequently was honored by AIA Austin in 2016 as Emerging Professional of the Year. He was recognized as a finalist in the 2018 Ken Roberts Annual Delineation Competition for a mixed media travel sketch and previously as a finalist for his Sculpture and Literature collaboration (also with Gonzales) titled “Entourage” for the Field Constructs Juried Show at the Circle Acres Nature Preserve in 2015. He has taught Architecture at Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M and most recently at the University of Texas at Arlington.  He currently is a board member of the Austin Soccer Foundation, who serve disadvantaged youths through academic scholarships, field refurbishment, and mentoring programs. 

About the Author: Manuel Gonzales

Gonzales is the author of The Miniature Wife and Other Stories, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and the John Gardner Prize for Fiction, and the novel, The Regional Office is Under Attack! A graduate of the Columbia University Creative Writing Program, he teaches writing at the University of Kentucky and the Institute of American Indian Arts. He has published fiction and nonfiction in Open City, Fence, One Story, Esquire, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, and The Believer. Gonzales lives in Kentucky with his wife and two children. He joins the Bennington faculty in Fall 2018 and is also a core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars. Also a graduate of the University of Texas, he is the former executive director of Austin Bat Cave and founder of the Austin Writers Lab.

Click here to read the full short story.


Acknowledgments: Special Thanks to Daniel Kumburis of North Loop Builders for his expertise and collaboration in installation of the piece as well as Jerry Vader for additional metal fabrication and on-site assistance. Also thank you to the volunteers that aided the installation of fōtän FABLE redux at the Umlauf. It would not have been possible without your help. Though modified for this location we wish to acknowledge our appreciation for the individuals and groups associated with the fabrication and installation of the previous work: EP Hamilton, Sarabi Studio, LEAP Structures, Ryan Campbell, Brad McCorkle and Rob Hellams.


605 Azie Morton Rd.

Austin, TX 78704


Tuesday - Friday: 10-4

Saturday & Sunday: 11-4

Monday: closed