PREVIEW “Your Heart is not a Museum” is Levi Dugat and Leah DeVun’s second collaborative gallery show running at Domy Books, 913 E. Cesar Chavez, Austin from Sept. 12 to Oct. 22. Taking inspiration from traditional craftmaking, romance novels, daytime television, and Southern kitsch, Dugat and DeVun’s graphite drawings offer fantastical and iconographical portraits of their extended band of family, friends and favorite soap stars. Nevertheless, there is a certain romantic quality to the hundreds of old windmills slowly wasting away on the prairie. They are being replaced by a new wind machine intended to quench the thirst for the very electricity that made the old water pumps an endangered species. Wind turbines are as potent a symbol of the future as windmills are icons of the past. Texas produces more electricity from wind than any other state: 8,300 megawatts of capacity from more than 4o projects. That’s enough electricity for 4.1 million homes. The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, stretching over 47,000 acres between Sweetwater and Abilene, is the world’s largest wind farm, producing 735 megawatts. Two new farms under construction in West Texas will soon open and be even larger. A 165-foot-tall turbine spins at the entrance to the Wind Power Center, providing the museum and the neighborhood with electricity. Standing below the spinning blades, Patton explained how it worked without raising his voice. For something so big, it was remarkably quiet. Since climbing the mast is out of the question for most tour groups, the museum has another wind turbine disassembled on the ground. Visitors can crawl inside the hollow blades, climb into the generator room, or stick their heads into the nose cone to see the motors that adjust blade pitch. The museum is one of the few places where the public can get up close to the big machines. In terms of environmental complaints, Patton swears he’s never found a dead bird at the base of his tower, nor has he seen any livestock go insane from watching the blades turn. That’s not to say there might not be some problems elsewhere, but in West Texas there are few naysayers. “The people up and down the Great Plains are used to using the land for productive purposes,” Patton said. “People in this area welcomed it with open arms. You can still ranch, you can still farm.” Wind turbines elicit a lot of mixed feelings. Some love the simple, almost alien appearance and the elegant sweep of the blades. For some they represent science fiction come to life. For others, they are a blight on the high-desert plains, diminishing the wildness of the Texas rangelands made famous by ranchers and cowboys. Only time will tell whether poets will find the same literary inspiration in the giant white pinwheels that they have in the old machines, but in 1890, the pioneers probably didn’t think their windmills were all that beautiful, either. They were simply appliances, and a way of life. See a video of The American Wind Power Center and Museum at texasobserver.org . 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 4, 2009
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