Well Played Old Bean

It’s unusual to see Robert E. Lee Rd. get so backed up on a Thursday night, even more so to have a carnival crowd of tents and people teeming within the Umlauf Sculpture Gardens. But if it’s Spring, it must be the annual Umlauf Garden Party.

DSCN2127.jpgNow in its 7th year, the Garden Party brings together the hoi polloi, upscale hipsters, and old guard blue bloods to celebrate and support this Austin institution. I’ve often wondered how to get invited to the shindig, until this year the wife discovered that you simply buy tickets in advance. Brilliant!

The Umlauf Sculpture Garden was created in 1991 after Charles and Angeline Umlauf had the extreme decency to donate their home, studio, and sizeable sculpture collection to the City of Austin. The garden’s modest endowment is dependent upon ongoing private support to maintain and improve the grounds, spawning this annual party as a central fundraising opportunity.

The party was a grand sampling of food and festivity. While the Nash Hernandez Orchestra entertained with a swing pastiche, the crowd of ersatz philanthropists sampled wine from Twin Liquors and appetizers from local restaurants. The buffalo meatballs from the Y Restaurant and Green Pastures‘ crab cakes were personal favorites, but how did we miss the offerings from 7 or wink? The fun kicked into high gear as the deadline for silent auctions approached and vino-fuelled bidders made their eBay-esque rush to victory. We almost nabbed Toni Price’s custom-painted flower pot, but instead focused on winning comfy pajamas for the Missus.

Having recently tied the knot amidst the oaks and knurled bronze, I am highly partial to the garden’s charms. Not only does it house a peaceful oasis of culture, it also captures an element of Austin’s history amid the increasingly-turbulent nearby urbania. Inside the gates of Umlauf, it’s not so hard to imagine how isolated the Zilker area must have felt in the days before luxury condos, soccer leagues, and ACL Fest. These are the places that keep the Old Austin in our hearts as the New Austin paves over the rest.

1 Comment so far

  1. Rantor (unregistered) on April 29th, 2005 @ 10:34 am

    I always think of C.U.’s works as examples of Capitalist Realism. He often depicted Happy Capitalist Families. They’re sort of a cross between Henry Moore derivatives and works of the Heroic Soviet period. There’s one gracing the business school at U.T. and another at the Teacher Retirement System. There are others to be seen all around town. Don’t confuse any of them with Elisabet Ney’s Sam Houston in a Masonic apron.

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