Step inside a fresh look at art at The Contemporary Austin

The Contemproary AustinOne of the common complaints I hear about Austin is the lack of a serious art museum. (And to be honest, I’ve said it myself.) Nearby Houston has an entire museum and arts district — something many of us would love to see here in town.

But I’m discovering that Austin does have some wonderful small museums and galleries, including my newest find: The Contemporary Austin.

We made an unplanned visit last week to the Jones Center location (honestly, we were just out for a walk and saw the sign) and were very pleasantly surprised. The spacious galleries featured an installation by Do Ho Suh and his vision of the art in everyday objects and spaces.

DO HO SUH toilet

His work strips away the shells and reveals the essence of space and function. The installation includes a full-size house created from translucent fabric and a bare-bones structure.

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According to the docent, his intent was to illustrate what we carry from house to house as we move through life — our ghost memories of walls and sinks, doorways and cabinets.

3-2014-12-06 19.44.10An installation of this size and complexity is usually reserved for larger museums in big cities. (Do Ho Suh’s work has recently been displayed in New York City, Hong Kong and Singapore.) So its presence in Austin says something significant about the art community here.

The Contemporary Austin actually consists of two locations. The Jones Center, located downtown at 700 Congress Avenue and Laguna Gloria with its indoor and outdoor space, located at 3809 W 35th Street in Austin. Both locations are committed to bringing innovative and cutting edge art work and installations to the Austin art community.

Admission to either location is only $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors. Members get in free, and Tuesdays are free to all visitors (although donations are gratefully accepted). The museum offers art classes, programs for teens and children and special events throughout the year.

The Specs

The Jones Center
700 Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701
512-453-5312

Mon- Closed
Tues – Sat 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Sun 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Laguna Gloria
3809 West 35th Street
Austin, Texas 78703
512-458-8191

Gallery
Mon: Closed
Tues. – Sun 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Grounds
Mon. – Sat. 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sun. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

http://www.thecontemporaryaustin.org/

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Wild Child Rocks it on Wordfree Wednesday

Wild Chld video set at The Boneyard in Austin

I think I heard Wild Child for the first time at a show in one of Austin’s clubs. I had no idea who they were when the show started…by the end, I had become a fan!

Since then, I have made it to several other shows, and they were all amazing.

But nothing was as incredible as being invited to participate in the filming of their new videos!  So off we headed to a place called The Boneyard (more about that place in another post!), and the fun began. Unfortunately, we left the good camera behind!  So please forgive us for these camera phone-quality shots. We promise to do better next time!

Wild Child video prep

Classic stage crew poseRehersalwarm up2014-02-01 17.11.042014-02-01 17.11.0020140201_17582320140201_18240420140201_182416-0012014-02-01 18.13.34We were so happy to be a part of Wild Child’s new video event!  Next time, though, we’ll remember the camera!

You can learn more about Wild Child and their upcoming performances on their Facebook page and website. Hope to see y’all at a show!

Walk into Post-Apocolyptic Austin at Ecopocalypse

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Photo courtesy of Ecopocalypse

There are only a couple of day until Halloween, so pay attention Austin!  You need to make some time tomorrow night or Wednesday night to bravely walk into the Austin of the future. But be prepared!  Ecopocalypse is not about shiny flying cars or date nights in space.

It’s about survival.  And it’s scary!

Food? It’s scarce — the shelves of HEB and Whole Foods empty. Clean water? No Texas Rainwater or Evian to be found. Medicine? Good luck finding that…Seton and St David’s are distant memories. Family pets?  Hide them!

This terrifying glimpse into the “Austin that could be” is the newest addition to how-to-get-scared on-Halloween here in town — if you’re brave enough, it’s the one you won’t want to miss.

Unlike the typical “walk through and watch” haunted house, the creators of Ecopocalypse pull you into the action. You enter in small groups of 5 or 6, and wander through the entire experience at your own pace, choosing where to turn (or when to turn back, if it gets too scary!)  You aren’t just a visitor…you become a part of the story, whether you want to or not!

Who should go:

This is a great choice for adults and teens, but the full immersion experience might be too terrifying for kids. I wouldn’t bring anyone under 10 or so, and even then it depends on how they handle near-complete darkness, scary realistic people interacting directly with them, and some pretty realistic scenes of gore.

Television gets its own Festival in Austin

ATX Television Festival Austin Texas

Someday, when the ATX Television Festival is as big as the Sundance Film Festival, I will be able to say I was there for the very first year.

Come to think of it, I was there for Sundance’s early years, too, when their showings were screened in tiny Salt Lake City venues like the The Blue Mouse Movie Theatre in Salt Lake City and the Tower Theatre, and the audience was a mix of film makers, film buffs, and high school and college students.  From small beginnings….

This year’s first ever television festival was made up of a similar mix to those early Sundance crowds, with a few more families thrown in.  We didn’t make it to the first day’s events, including a screening of the newest episode of “Royal Pains”, but we did go to the screening of local favorite “Friday Night Lights”, held in the parking lot between Jo’s Coffee and the San Jose Hotel on South Congress.  About 300 people showed up with folding chairs and blankets to meet FNL cast members, snack on goodies from Sweet Leaf Iced Tea, Cornucopia Popcorn, and more, and then settle down to watch the show on the big screen. The crowd applauded as their favorite characters appeared on screen or local  spots appeared (yes, as Austin newcomers, we were lost!)

On Sunday, we attended screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse, and met more members of the festival staff.  The highlight for us was the screening of an episode of Firefly, and a chance to meet and talk with the writers Ben Edlund and Jose Molina. Geek heaven! There were also panels on Saturday and Sunday where industry pros and industry hopefuls could share information and ideas about televisions production, program development and scripting.

Festival creators Emily Gipson and Caitlin McFarland were on hand throughout the weekend.  Emily told me that the festival was created as a way to offer the television industry a way to showcase their art form…one that often takes second place to big screen productions.  It’s also planned as a way to allow fans a way to honor their favorite shows and performers.

Plans are already underway for next year’s event.  “We’ll review the results of this year’s festival, and then start planning,” said Emily.  “We plan to be back next year with even more.”

Shakespeare goes Bollywood with the Austin Shakespeare Company

Austin Shakespeare Twelfth Night in Zilker Park Austin Texas

For 28 years, Austin Shakespeare has been offering local drama fans a chance to relax on the hill in Zilker Park with picnics and spring breezes while they bring the best of the bard to life on stage.

If this year’s production, our first in Austin, was typical, we are in for an annual treat.  I have been to Shakespeare in the Park in places as diverse as Harrisburg, PA., Cedar City, Utah and New York City.  And I have to say this production rivals the very best I have seen in any of them.

This was no Ren Faire sideshow or community theatre production.  The acting was true to the characters with original touches that gave an old story a new richness.  The casting, costuming and blocking were spot on, and the lighting by Jason Amato was perfectly set to enhance both the story and the actors.

But I have to save my highest praise for the composer and the directors.

Setting a Shakespearean production to music and dance is no easy task, and is doubly difficult when you overlay another time or culture onto it.  Composer Naga Valli‘s original score conveyed the energy of Bollywood mixed with the (often ribald) humor of Shakespeare’s story. And she did it seamlessly.

Directors Ann Ciccolella and Alex Alford created a production that so successfully integrated Bollywood and the Bard that one could easily believe this was the intent of the playwright from the start.  As Lance said after the final scene, “Shakespeare would have approved.”

The company’s 29th season begins in late autumn, with Noel Coward’s Design for Living, followed by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  Next year’s Shakespeare in the Park production will be The Winter’s Tale.

The group also offers a Shakespeare reading group, which meets weekly to read, discuss and act out all of the plays.