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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The coffees, sweets and treats of Italy at Lavazza Expression

Coffee cup and Texas State Capitol

What drew us in was the bright red decor. Well, that and the smell of chocolate and pastries and herbs. What they filled that little cup with made us stay.

The first sip of real European chocolate had me swooning!  No powdered cocoa mix in that cup…it was the real thing! And then there were the case of gelato. And Italian pastries.

Lavazza pastries

And there were sandwiches, too.

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Each sounded amazing…but they looked and smelled even better (we’ll be heading back to sample the sandwiches sometime soon!  I’ll update this section when we do.)

Inside, the space was a perfect mix of European modern and coffee house comfortable.

Expression Lavazza

Oh, and did I mention the coffee? Now, I’m not a coffee drinker, but I had someone along who was.

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And she prounouced it the best coffee she had ever had!

But that should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the history of Lavazza. Since the 1895’s. Lavazza has been making fine Italian coffee from their headquarters in Turin, Italy.  And they’re still considered the leaders in Italian coffee for home, businesses, and now, their coffee shop/cafe in Austin.

This is a perfect place to stop in for a weekday lunch or drop by on a day of sight-seeing or shopping downtown. It’s just down the street from the Capitol, and near the museums.

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 The Specs

914 Congress
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 505-8784

Mon–Fri 7:00 AM–6:00 PM
Sat–Sun 9:00 AM–6:00 PM

https://plus.google.com/105946016824851638008/about?hl=en

Lavazza Espression on Urbanspoon

Austin on the water…on Wordfree Wednesday

A walk along the boardwalk, at sunset.Boardwalk in Austin TexasA chance to see some beautiful autumn color…

Autumn colors in Austin Texas

And watch the sunlight illuminate the buildings.

austin skyline at sundownWe couldn’t help watching these beautiful spiders spinning webs along the railings…

Spider on railing

Or trying to figure out why there were belts on the handrail along the board walk…

belt on handrail in AustinBut in the end, we kept coming back to the view…

Austin skyline with paddleboarder

If you haven’t checked out the new boardwalk, please do! It’s stroller/dog/kid friendly, and the perspective on the city is beautiful.

Easy Tiger feels like Europe, right here in Austin

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Europeans know their bread. And pastries. And they know there’s no connection between the real thing and what passes for bread in grocery stores and big box discounters.

Thank goodness Austin isn’t condemed to live on mass produced bread. Nope. Because we have Easy Tiger.

But Easy Tiger isn’t easy to pin down.

Yes, it’s a bakery in the best tradition of bakeries in Germany, Italy, and France.

06-DSC04686Not only can you smell the wonderful breads, croissants and pastries baking as soon as you walk in, you can see it. A big glass window lets you peek at all the wonderful baking in process. And oh how wonderful it is.

Big, chewy loaves with real substance instead of air and chemicals.

10-DSC04693Flaky, sweet croissant and other treats baked with real butter.

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But turn around and head down the stairs, and Easy Tiger is something else entirely.

07-DSC04687Yes, you can order those luscious pastries downstairs with coffee and tea. But you can also order lunch or supper, or head to the beer garden just off the dining room/pub.

Like I said, Easy Tiger is hard to pin down. But as long as they keep making Pan au Chocolat, I’m a happy (and frequent) visitor.

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The Specs

709 East 6th Street
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 332-1122

http://www.easytigeraustin.com/

Bakery
Sun-Sat 7 am – 2 am

Beer Garten
Sun-Sat 11am – 2 am

Easy Tiger on Urbanspoon

Austin castle hides a wealth of classic sculpture on Wordfree Wednesday

 

02-DSC03663You may have seen it while you were driving or biking around town…a castle up on a hill above the city . Surrounded by adorable, quirky houses, this seemingly out-of-place castle is more than an odd architectural choice. It’s actually home to some of the most amazing sculptures I’ve seen outside of the world’s fine art museums.

The art is the work of Elisabet Ney, who worked in Austin in the late 19th to early 20th century. You can ready more about her and her work on the studio website. But since this is (nearly) Wordfree Wednesday, on to the images.

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And one last set of images. Lest you get overwhelmed by her artistry….a very human piece of the collection.

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A work of fine art? A treasured family heirloom? Read on….

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The Specs

304 East 44th Street
Austin, 78751
Phone: 512-458-2255
Fax: 512-453-0638
Hours:
Wednesday – Sunday 12pm – 5pm
Closed: Monday and Tuesday

 

 

SXSW 2014 in Pictures

Szkojani Charlatans

The SXSW experience is a lot of things.

It’s the sounds of music coming out of ten bars, and still being entranced by a busker playing on a street corner. It’s the smell of pizza and tacos and bar-b-que and something sweet right out of the oven as you walk past a row of food trucks. It’s free t-shirts and more can holders than anyone could every need (but you can’t help taking just one more.)

But most of that is impossible to capture on the page of a blog. So I’ll have to settle for sharing pictures.

I’m starting this post today, but I’ll be adding more pictures throughout the week. If you’re here, I hope you’re having a great time. But if you’re not, here’s a glimpse into the insanity that is SXSW.

(Oh, and one more thing…a new mascot is joining A is for Austin. Or rather a few mascots. When I was a kid, I loved trolls. So when a few showed up during a recent trip, I decided to make them a part of my blog for now. So look for Wanda (a pink haired troll) and a few other friends in some of my pictures, at least for awhile.  I hope you like the new addition!)

A line of guitar cases

monster drink truckunique guitar playing styleMable the dog chilling in AustinFree food A SXSW traditionBecause I believe in unicorns too20140309_182636Peruvian Creole Food TruckBuilindg the Vans venueNo badges neededRobot at the Game Expo SXSW 2014

Sundays in my City: Castle Hill Graffiti Park

Castle Park graffiti park 1I reserved Sundays on this blog for whatever strikes my fancy. This morning, my inspiration came from Traci from A Star in my Own Universewhen her Sunday in my City post landed in my inbox.  The post was part of meme from Unknown Mamiwhere she invites people to share posts that show something unique in their city. I loved the idea!

So here I am…sharing something that makes Austin unique, that was fun to look at, that made me smile. Castle Hill Graffiti.

Castle Park Graffiti creature

In lots of cities, graffiti is an underground art. Buildings are tagged, arrests are made, but as an art form, it’s undervalued. Not so in Austin. We have an entire park dedicated to graffiti artists.

Castle Park Graffiti 2This is not an elite park, reserved for the few. There are no forms to fill out, or approvals to seek. Artists from around the city simply bring their paints and their vision — and art happens.

artist at work at Castle Hill Graffiti Park AustinAnd the result is amazing! Colors, shapes, messages, interwoven in a collage that took my breath away…or made me smile.

DSC03558Even the park’s trash cans, light posts and drainage lines had been turned into works of art.

Castile Hill Park Drainage lineIt’s tempting to try my own skills with a spray paint can, and add to the colors of Austin. On the other hand, I am so impressed with the work of these mostly-young creators of color and design that I think I just might leave it to them, and remain an appreciative audience.