Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience = happiness

Patience played to a full house, including all the children who arrived early for a special program and remained for the entire matinee performance yesterday, just as entranced as the rest of us.

H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado seem to be the most frequently performed masterpieces, but, thanks to our very own Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin, we are privileged to enjoy every gem and delight in the Gilbert and Sullivan repertory.

Sparkling in the intimate new performance setting of the arts center of Brentwood Christian School (map), which seats 400 and boasts an orchestra pit that conceals the professional-quality 15-piece orchestra, Patience is a complete theatrical experience. The 22-voice chorus (11 men, 11 women) sang with a snappy vigor and the clarity that made the supertitles showcasing the lyrics really unnecessary.

Every principal singer shone, and the audience welcomed the return of comic and musical stalwarts Arthur Di Bianca, Holton Johnson, Jeanette Jones, and Russell Gregory. Meredith Ruduski, as Patience the dairy maid herself, was a fine lyric and comic presence.

Everyone associated with this production should be very proud. A lot of the stage business and choreography was quite demanding. The audience laughed everywhere it was supposed to and nowhere it was not.

Just five performances remain: Thursday, 14 June, at 8 pm; Friday, 15 June, at 8 pm; Saturday, 16 June, at 3 pm and at 8 pm; and Sunday, 17 June, at 3 pm. For ticket information, call 474-5664; advance prices are $20 for adults ($25 at the door), $15 for students over 18 with identification ($20 at the door), and $7 for those 18 and under ($10 at the door).

Do not deprive yourself. If you love music or theater or both, treat yourself to Patience.

Hudson River school of painting: last day for this show

Today’s the very last day for a wonderful traveling exhibition at the Blanton Museum. There’s still time to get there before it closes at five.

It’s called “American Scenery: Different Views in Hudson River School Painting.” Views of the Susquehanna, Hudson, Saco, and other rivers and panoramas of Niagara, Lake George, Saranac astonish in their beauty. The 119 works of art are for the most part quite small, and the frames are as interesting as the art displayed within them. There’s always instructional material in addition to the labels mounted on the walls; look in the slots in the middle of the banks of benches in the exhibition halls.

The Blanton cafe and gift shop are worth visits for their own sake. There’s a gift in every price range for every age: books, toys, stationery, tabletop items, and much, much more.

Dreams of a life (SXSW)

So, I’ve never formally attended SXSW, and always wondered how I’d justify buying a wristband with so much free stuff already happening. Of course, I’ve never taken a week off work to attend either. This year see’s the normal chaotic schedule but one item is a standout for me.

British film, Dreams of a Life is scheduled for four showings between the 10th and 17th of March, starting on the 10th at 4:45pm at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. The Director Carol Morely will be on hand on Saturday to answer questions about the film, the background to the film and, inevitably the real life of Joyce Vincent and implications for a society which increasingly is moving from real to virtual, and online “friendships”.

The film explores how a young, popular party girl could disappear effectively without anyone noticing, only to be found 3-years later in her own apartment, dead, in front of the TV which was still turned-on. It’s part dramatic recreation, part documentary, part forensic anthropology and forensic archaeology. Director Morely(1) handles the topic inquisitively and sensitively, walking a fine line between being sensationalist or depressing. I left thinking about “lost” friends and actually did get in touch with a number of people in my immediate past, but also reached out to a number from a more distant past and was delighted to learn that someone I’d “heard” was dead, was in fact alive and well touring with musicians.

Dreams of a Life will make you wonder, who you are, and what happened to that friend, you know, the one you have not heard from for a while, go ahead, get in touch now, don’t wait until you’ve seen the film.

(1) Carol Morley received the Best Documentary Award at Melbourne International Film Festival for “The Alcohol Years”. In 2001 she was nominated for a BAFTA and received a special Grierson Award. Her first feature film “Edge” has been officially selected for the BFI London and Shanghai International Film Festivals.

Lucia di Lammermoor: operatic wonder

“Enthralling” is the one-word description for the current Austin Lyric Opera production of Lucia di Lammermoor. We all know that this is a peak allergy season, but there was seldom even a half-suppressed cough or sneeze to be heard; through most of the evening there was not a sound except from the stage and the orchestra pit. Once the performance was under way, the audience was all but mesmerized.

Lucia di Lammermoor from start to finish offered beautiful music. It would be worth the price of admission to hear only the overture. The singing is a high-wire act for the principal singers in the cast and we heard some spectacular vocal fireworks. We were fortunate indeed to hear not just a fine Lucia, but also fine performances from all the men, Edgardo in particular. Physical agility was demanded and it was not lacking.

It’s not a favorite practice for there to be action while the overture is playing (as there is here). The chorus attacked its first number in a way that sounded a bit muddy. Thereafter, though, there was no reason at all to quibble about anything.

Staging, costumes, lighting, and sets matched the superlative singing and playing. Our orchestra just sounds better and better and better.

We’ll probably never have the opportunity to attend a finer Lucia here in Austin. Tickets are still available for the remaining performances (Friday, February 2, at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, February 5, at 3 pm). There are no bad seats in the house and there’s an affordable ticket for everyone, starting from $19. Lucia di Lammermoor is for everyone who loves any type of music, and this production embodies excellence in every aspect.

Leslie Cochran’s 60th Birthday Party!


Leslie and the Challenger

Leslie and the Challenger

Leslie has once again become a staple of the ’04. Seen around on S 1st Street often in the morning, especially around La Mexicana bakery and Bouldin Coffee shop; in the evenings on South Congress, he’s back to his “old” self after last years pretty severe beating.

Tonight at Threadgills they are celebrating Leslie’s 60th birthday.

Location: Threadgill’s World Headquarters Restaurant
301 W. Riverside Dr., Austin, TX

TONI PRICE(*) will perform in celebration of Leslie’s 60th birthday party.  The warm-up band will be The Mayeux Broussard Band, consisting almost entirely members of SaySaySay, a local metal band, who are performing for the first time in a more country, blues style.

$10 requested donation to benefit The Challenger Street Newspaper – a publication the homeless sell for commission.

Come on out and wish the QUEEN of AUSTIN a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

The three-time Austin mayoral candidate, Leslie has a wikipedia entry if you want to know more.



Valentine hearts, handmade

If your Valentine dislikes the soppy or the flippant cards out there and you’re not inspired personally to create a stationery labor of love for the occasion, these are the cards for you.

There are many more designs than those in the illustration, but each one of these petite works of art is backed by quality red card stock and is accompanied by a sturdy envelope. The label says “home school” and there’s a site name ( that’s not up and running at the moment.

The insides are left blank, leaving room for you to create your own sentiment. It’s up to you to express the feelings that you want to convey, up to you to inscribe the poetical tribute of your choice. These are not cookie-cutter greetings. The sender makes them unique.

Collect ’em all, kids, if you can’t bear to send or give one. Find these and many other suitable heartfelt tributes to the occasion at Farm to Market Grocery on South Congress.

Magical mystical mural

Next to this handsome work of outdoor art is painted an enigmatic instruction that says “for fortune get the free tag reader at”

Someone other than y.t. must do this and explain in a comment for this entry, because I’m not a person equipped to follow the directions.

Art House United does offer an explanation of the process of consulting the mural, a “fortune telling wall.” The art was created by Fernando Pinon and Michelle Posey for Wall Flavor Murals.

Find this art at Cantu’s Imports on South First, next door to Capitol Cleaners, where most of the former patrons of Washburn’s Town and Country Cleaners on South Congress have taken their business. Don’t overlook Cantu’s itself when there to view the outdoor art.

Turner to Monet: today and tomorrow

Those wishing to tour the “Turner to Monet” exhibit at the Blanton Museum may do so from 11 am to 5 pm even though it’s New Year’s Day, and also during the same hours tomorrow, which is the very last day to see these masterpieces.

Yesterday, the line formed outside the doors before they opened. Being there early makes for a less crowded experience than arriving later, but these galleries are far from deserted. We found no exhibition catalogue or even a listing of the paintings, but the Web site mentions many of them. There’s a descriptive card for each painting, and the cards appear to be placed at a height convenient for those in wheelchairs; all others but the most diminutive or those with the sharpest vision must stoop to read. The galleries take viewers to an exit via the museum gift shop, where there are stationery items and other inventory related to the exhibit, most of which feature the Degas, Monet, or Manet.

Not to be missed is the exhibit upstairs called “Repartee: 19th-Century Prints and Drawings from The Blanton Collection.” This runs through January 16 and is intended to be a companion to the works downstairs. Here, the views are unobstructed by others, and the rewards to the viewer are exceptionally great.

We all have a fantasy art collection. I’d like the Asher B. Durand and the orientalist paintings, plus nearly every one of the prints and drawings in the Repartee exhibit. This is a wonderful alternative to football, football, and more football, and the entry fee is worth every penny.

Lines and more lines

Time’s running out, and not just on the year 2010. This picture of the tranquil allée outside the Blanton Museum does nothing to convey the bustle there this morning. Today is the last day of free admission for the loan exhibit from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, and long lines snaked everywhere. People were being admitted only as others left. After waiting but seeming to make no progress, we departed (as did many others), planning to try again tomorrow. “Turner to Monet” will be on view through January 2.

Katz’s will klose at the end of business on January 2. We waited in line there, also, today, seeing many familiar faces, but didn’t wait long enough to take a seat. Out-of-town visitors always want to visit Katz’s at least once a day while they’re in town. Katz’s for me has always been the place to go in the middle of the night. At those times, the acoustics are hushed, all are members of one big party, and everything tastes just as good as it can be. Everyone has a favorite main and side; in our household, we’ll especially miss the true milkshakes and the giant perfect potato pancakes.

All Katz’s souvenirs are sold out, it appears. The bar seems to be as it has ever been. The menu for these dwindling days is in abbreviated form and is not the complete one of yesteryear. So call ahead to learn whether your favorite is still being served.

Circus, circus

Only two shows remain (today, at 2 pm and 6 pm) before the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus moves on. Our tickets were fifteen dollars apiece, and they were worth every penny and more. There are no bad seats at the Erwin Center for Zing Zang Zoom, as the production’s called.

If there were favorites among the varied acts, they included the youthful Chinese acrobat troupe, the dog acts, the beautiful liberty zebras and horses (although I love those even better when there are plumes nodding atop their heads), the multi-platform Russian swing act, the chiffon dancers, and the beautifully choreographed and costumed vaguely Balinese dance accompanying the parade of elephants.

The band boasted nine pieces (two trumpets, a trombone, a saxophone, percussion, two guitars, and two keyboards), and it offered up a wonderful arrangement of our national anthem. For once, the ringmaster was not a singing one and so those of us spectators who sang were not overpowered by a show-bizzy vocal.

The costumes were all bright and clever, and the between-acts demonstration of a certain flying gizmo did a lot to sell examples to the audience. I succumbed to temptation myself, but haven’t yet tried out my skills. We all left the arena smiling, and some of us took time to peer backstage and see the artists, in and out of costume, and some of the jaunty performing dogs.

What an entertainment bargain!

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