Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Baking for father

A party’s not really a party without a cake, and an event barely counts unless there’s a giant sheet cake at the center of it. Sure; there are those who bring their home-baked German chocolate cake with lots of native pecans, but a large gathering virtually demands a commensurate sheet cake, ideally one with the right theme and decorations.

Who can resist this one? It’s from the weekly ad supplement for our favorite local three-letter grocery (click on the linked image to see a larger version). It’s especially for the father who spends all his time recumbent in front of televised sports events, predominantly football and baseball.

Is Dad brandishing a remote control, as he appears to be? Is that a beverage in a cylindrical container in his other hand? Does this cake reflect the predominant view of contemporary fatherhood? I hope to see an actual example of this cake in the bakery case at the store.

“Human Bodies” Exhibit at the Stark Center

I just heard about the Human Bodies exhibit at Stark Center. It’s basically real preserved human bodies and organs stripped down to show the underlying muscles and such. It’s an artistic anatomy lesson that they say is appropriate for all ages.

So whether you want to know what your muscles look like while kicking a soccer ball, or what what someone might look like if flayed alive by an evil witch (gratuitous reference for all you BTVS fans), then check it out! I know I will!

Adaptive reuse at St. Ed’s

The March issue of Metropolis magazine highlights the conversion of Doyle Hall and additions to it at St. Edward’s University. Credits go to Austin architectural firm Specht Harpman, which made extensive use of aluminum solar sunshades manufactured by Austin American Awning (on St. Elmo Road, a great unknown street for exploring), using stock parts. Also mentioned is Sasaki Associates, responsible for the campus’s master landscape plan as well as the part of it encompassing the Doyle Hall project and nearby Premont Hall.

The Metropolis issue is not on line yet. Browsers at a magazine rack will find this two-page article beginning on page 34 (byline Marc Kristal). This complex is on the map at the northwest corner of campus, toward South Congress.

Sometimes it seems that all we ever hear about or read about are the Forty Acres, and it’s easy to forget that St. Ed’s and Huston-Tillotson both enjoy enviable views of all Austin from their hilltops, one south of downtown and one just east of it, and that they both can be seen themselves from many vantage points around town.

I think it’s funny that there’s mention of a live oak tree, described as “an object of reverence in Texas.”

Austin art exhibition receives national notice

The exhibition of the Petrobelli altarpiece by Veronese, just concluded at the Blanton, receives a good three print pages in The New Republic (“Venice in Texas,” byline Jed Perl, February 18). Here’s a representative quotation offering tribute to the curatorial knowledge at the Blanton: “In Austin, the exhibition was embraced by a loyal audience that has come to expect word-class scholarly work from the curators at the Blanton.” The accomplishments so far and the goals for the future are recognized. Perl dislikes the atrium and staircase as much as many of us do (“simultaneously overbearing and bland”). The Blanton is credited at its fiest with “exhibitions in which the best art historical scholarship, closely linked to the academic values of the university, flows seamlessly into the dazzling showmanship that any museum needs to attract the public.” The Veronese show is said to be “a powerful example of a modium-sized museum building on its strengths and coming up with something truly substantial.” The Suida-Manning, Leo Steinberg, and Latin American collections are recognized for their artistic and scholarly value. “Even after you have factored in Austin’s long tradition of intellectual sophistication, there is something rather extraordinary about the amount of money that has been raised to support a program of collections and exibitions,” Perl says. I’ve noticed that the Blanton seems to have cut back on its mailings and other forms of publicity. We should not overlook the gem in our midst; the rest of the world doesn’t.

Pulling up the drawbridge

Farewell to the Cactus Cafe, scene of countless wonderful musical experience for countless Austinites, whether affiliated officially with the campus or not. Farewell to Union Informal Classes, where people from every part of our community could be introduced to or continue learning about subjects that they might not otherwise encounter, meeting their neighbors and paying a modest fee. It makes me too sad to think about all the music over all the years, for which so many of us are so grateful. I’ll never forget the instructors or the fellow students in various wine-tasting classes, dance classes, and Spanish classes. It was via UT that so many of us here in Austin heard our first operas, being lectured on the bus by Dr. Walter Ducloux of sainted memory or Dr. William Reber. We’d travel to Houston or to Dallas by bus, and dine before the matinee performance, returning to Austin very late and stepping out into the real world again at the Villa Capri parking lot. Support for the formation of Austin Lyric Opera arose directly from those entertaining and educational jaunts. And I’ll never forget the sight of Placido Domingo being borne across the stage (precariously, it seemed) standing on a shield carried on the shoulders of a bunch of hefty guys during the Aida triumphal procession. Long gone are the fascinating movie series at the Union and elsewhere, which showed many, many movies each week and which introduced the best of Hong Kong productions to us. The obliteration of the Cactus and informal claases will result in paltry monetary savings and a great loss to our community. The fine folks at the local daily (Michael Corcoran and Tony Plohetsky) write about these latest planned curtailments at length.

Domy, definitely

not to be missed

not to be missed

Domy Books is a real feast for anyone who has eyes. Finish your holiday shopping for yourself and for those on your lists in one delightful stop. We concentrated on books and limited-edition works on paper, with a little side stop at the Poketo artist billfolds. Domy stocks the Charley Harper alphabet board books, not just for little kids. There’s an extensive selection of kidrobot and other art toys. It was easy to resist the oevre of Stan Brakhage, not a personal favorite (one viewing of Dog Star Man in a lifetime is quite enough for some), but his work is among the DVDs available. R. Crumb’s illustrated Genesis is also in stock. Russell, most affable and apparently the presiding genius of the place, was there to answer all questions. There are many surprises to be found on Domy’s shelves, a perfect example of serendipity at work. At Domy, all is available for inspection, not locked away, no matter how precious, it appears. Fiction is not overlooked (Dumas, Roberto Bolaño); nor is the instructional (how to make it at home; how to play dozens of card games). Do you need books that are photo souvenirs of ever-changing Austin, post cards, pocket calendars, unique greeting cards, journals to write in that distinguish you from the rest? Find them at Domy. Don’t go before noon, which is when Domy opens its doors seven days a week, but do go.

Remembering Andrea Burden

While we’ve all probably grown tired of hearing about swine flu, or H1N1, and being reminded to sneeze on our sleeves, wash hands regularly etc.

Andrea Burden from

Andrea Burden from

I was shocked to learn on Monday, that Sunday evening local illustrator, artist and mother, Andrea Burden had died on Sunday of bacterial menangitis. Although not as contagious as H1N1, Bacterial Meningitus is spread in much the same way.

Andrea’s work featured a mystical style that combined oil painting with digital photography and photoshop. While the home page on her website currently contains details of today’s funeral. You can view examples of her work using this link. Andrea was the illustrator for Jane Bozarths “The Fairy Godmother Academy” series of books, of which books #2 and #3 will be available in 2010, published by Random House. She was also one of the major contributors to Evilution, at the Austin Music Hall back in 1999.

Portal and Friends has posted a remembrance set of beautiful photographs of a beautiful woman, and another set of her beautiful art. on flickr. In many ways, her art was a view into her innerself. Andreas was just 40 when she died. I hope in death her surroundings are as beautiful as her life.

{thanks to Mike at Launch787 for notifying me about Andrea}

KUT and the President, words matter

[An open letter to the Regents at the University of Texas, and the KUT Board]

I was a big supporter of NPR when I lived in New York, not only was WNYC informative, it was educational. When I moved to Austin, before I even got here, I paid to join two organizations, Austin Triathletes, and KUT. Both have been a disappointment.

After two years of membership of KUT, despite numerous written requests from KUT and especially new station general manager Stewart Vanderwilt, the seemingly endless bi-annual membership drives, this year I figured I wouldn’t just pay, I’d make a conscious decision about membership. A couple of close friends had raised their concerns about KUT membership with me, despite as far as I’m aware, having never discussed it with them before.

A quick perusal of the Internet, letters in the Austin Statesman, The Chronicle, etc. reveals I’m not alone in being uncomfortable with the recent changes at KUT.

Tonights coverage of the Presidents speech summed it up for me though. At 7:18, some 15-minutes into live coverage, KUT cut away to “commercial endorsement” from a number of commercial organizations, fronted by none other than Station General Manager Stewart Vanderwilt. Ok, so maybe the first incident was an accident, some pre-programmed error. Then around 7:29, the same thing.

Stewart, words matter, the fact you ran commercials over two key sections of the Presidents speech is not only disrespectful, it illustrates for me all thats wrong at KUT. And let’s remember, I’m not a US Citizen, wasn’t born in the US, yet I still can’t understand how this happended.

ACL: Take the shuttle

but not for the environmental impact.

I’d guess there will be a lot of hand wringing over this years Austin City Limits, the bands, the venue, the environmental impact and of course the grass. I’d bet that right now, over at  C3 Presents , a member of staff will be working on a press release extolling the virtues of the recycling effort, etc. etc.

I only did ACL Friday this year, the music wasn’t really my “scene”. Anyway, to the point of my post. Saturday evening I found myself downtown for dinner at La Condesa on 2nd St. What stunned me was between 7:15pm and about 9pm, the sheer number of Cap Metro shuttle buses streaming past the restaurant completely empty.

Tonight I stopped off on the way home around 7:30pm and counted the empty buses on their way back to Republic park. Again, mostly for the 30-minutes I waited there were a dozen or more buses, travelling back completely empty. As far as I could see, none of these were Cap Metro’s fleet of Gas powered buses, they were the older stock diesel buses. On my way along Caesar Chavez doing the regulation 35MPH, I was overtaken by a bus doing at least 5MPH faster.

For a city that makes a big deal of it’s environmental efforts this needs addressing for next year. Sure, C3 contracts with Cap Metro to run a bus every so many minutes. At peak times, I’m sure that is not enough and a backlog of passengers builds-up. However, there has got to be a better way than shuttling back and forwards all these empty buses.

Next headline: Zilker Park becomes private entertainment complex, fenced off again for 2010!

Hand Made in Austin

The Lone Star stateIf you missed last weeks All Austin Hand Made bash, don’t dispair, especially if you are looking for that illusive, unique gift, don’t worry.

Austin Handmade have moved their shop from it’s (apprently) temporary home on the corner of South 1st and W Mary to next door to Once over coffee at 2009 Sout 1St, which has easy access parking and stops for the #10 bus route. They have a small gallery in the store. More interestingly though, they’ve been hosting  the Austin Handmade Market, on the 2nd and last Saturday of each month. It’s a small outdoor of some 5-6 stalls offering goods created exclusively by Austin area artists & makers of things.

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