HOPE Farmers Market and a lazy Sunday morning with girl’s best friend

Live music, local produce, and handcrafted gifts and jewelry…you cannot ask for much more than that.  A hipster’s and non-hipster’s  dream alike, the HOPE farmers market that takes place year round every Sunday has a little something for everybody. The HOPE Farmers market is a part of the non-profit group Helping Other People Everywhere, an organization committed to helping artists promote social change through their work.  Meeka, my Siberian Husky and I decided to check it out this last Sunday morning.   

Meeka ready to go wreak farmers market havoc. Photo by Katie

It was the perfect day to be outdoors.  In the mid 80’s it was peculiarly cool for August in Texas.  Meeka and I took full advantage of this as we both enjoyed the fresh air on the car ride over; a nice change from the usual blasting air conditioning.  I have to be honest and say that farmers markets are both my least and favorite weekend activities; I absolutely adore meandering through the stalls with a cup of coffee and a fresh pastry, however find waking up before 10 am on a coveted day off utterly blasphemous.   The HOPE farmers market was looking out for me.  Open later in the day than most farmers markets, not opening until 10:00 and staying open until 2:00, they cater to those of us who are slightly less chipper in the wee hours of the morning.

I arrived a little after 10:30 to free and ample parking and the market in full swing.  It is a smaller farmers market located on the East side and boasts a charming,laid back atmosphere.  I was pleased to be among a nice sized amount of friendly people and not have to navigate my way through lines and large crowds.  Also unlike a traditional farmers market, HOPE does have local produce however also has other items available for purchase.  There was jewelry, olive oils and vinaigrettes, handmade bags, and ready to eat prepared food as well.  Some of the seasonal produce items I was excited about were the okra from Johnson’s Backyard Garden, and summer squash from Engel Farms.

Produce from Johnson’s Backyard Garden. Photo by Katie

Produce from Engel Farms. Photo by Katie

Handmade jewelry from Ranch-O-Matic Revival. Photo by Katie

A few of the goodies I snagged to take home were a handmade beaded wrap bracelet for myself from local artist Robin Herskowitz, and garlic infused olive oil for a gift from Texas Olive Ranch of Kyle, Texas.  I had been excited to try out some of the ready to eat food from regularly returning vendors offering vegan Indian food and gourmet coffee however Meeka, not quite one year old yet, had other plans that involved dragging me to every dog she saw and not allowing another free hand for food or beverage. Obedience issues aside,  the market was extremely pet friendly, a few vendors supplying water bowls for our furry friends and even an organic dog treat on the way the way out, deserved or not.

My new favorite addition to my jewelry collection, by Robin Herskowitz with Ranch-O-Matic Revival. Photo by Katie

The market also has regular live music, a staple here in the capital city.  Hello Caller, a self-described “dark folk, jangle rock” band from Austin played on the quaint shady stage at 11:00, just in time for me to catch them.

The folk band Hello Caller. Photo by Katie

All in all it was a pleasant late Sunday morning.  I hope to return this Sunday to sample the faire and pick up some more fresh veggies, either sans my four legged kiddo or plus another set of human hands.

Catch the next Farmers Market, next and every Sunday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm located at East 5th and Waller Street.

Blog by Katie

The 48 Hour Film Project hosts first 2012 event at Vuka Co-op in Austin

It was a great night to mingle with local film talent here in Austin. The 48 Hour Film Project hosted a “Meet n’ Greet” Thursday evening, July 19th at the new event space, “Vuka Co-Op”. (the venue will officially open on August 2nd).

The Meet-n-Greet at Vuka Co-op

The event brought together filmmakers, sponsors and community supporters.

The objective? To get filmmakers from the greater Austin area to compete to see who can make the best short film in only 48 hours. The winning film will go up against films from around the world. This is a very exciting competition and if you know anything about filmmaking, the pressure will be on.

“The 48 Hour Film Project began in 2001 as a local film challenge in Washington, DC among friends. In 2002, the Project grew to include Atlanta, Austin, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia. Since then, it has evolved into a truly global phenomenon and the world’s largest filmmaking competition. 2012 brings a new event producer for Austin, Noelle Schonefeld.”

In 2012, my team and I are working hard to create a fresh, young vibe for the project. The model is “New Crew, Same Rules”. We are focused on fun and are trying to generate a buzz and excitement around the hard work of the filmmakers. Our aim is to expand the reach of the 48HFP to involve as much of the Austin film and art community as possible and to celebrate the process of filmmaking and creativity. – Noelle Schonefeld, Producer of The 48 Hour Film Project.

“The Hosts” Noelle Schonefeld, Austin’s 48 Hour Film Project, Producer and Assistant Producer, Christina Martell

I’m not surprised that Noelle Schonefeld, along with Christina Martell, were able to pull this wonderful event off with only one months lead time. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Christina and know first hand, she makes things happen!

Dewy Brooks, Board Member of Austin Creative Alliance, with 48 Hour Film
Project Sponsor, Christine Thompson of AMFM Magazine/AMFM Studios

I met some of Austin’s movers and shakers at this 48 Hour Film Project event. Project Sponsor, Christine Thompson of AMFM Magazine-AMFM Studios attended as well as Media Sponsor, David Wyatt of Wyatt Brand.

Maddie Profilet, Director of Marketing & Public Relations at ChannelAustin, Event Sponsor

Event sponsors included, Guerrilla Camera & Gear@ the Austin School of FilmThe Long Center for Performing ArtsVuka Co-OpThe Scottish Rite Theater and channelAustin.

Macy McBeth Ryan and Christina Martell

Also in attendance were Eva and Dave Wolfe, the dynamic force behind St. Elmo Soundstage, a new resource for the Austin Film Community. For more go to: www.saintelmo.info.

Kevin Shaw

I also enjoyed chatting with 48 Hour Film Project Community Partner, Kevin Shaw,
also the Civic Arts Program Coordinator for the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, (CAD) and of Faces of Austin, a short film program.

Zach and Justin of Fragapane Events

Tasty dishes were for sale by Cazamance, www.cazamance.com and DJkidGorilla
kept things Groovin. Complimentary beer and craft cocktails with Tito’s Handmade Vodka were served by Mixologists and donors-in-kind, Zach and Justin of Fragapane EventsVuka Co-op is a  beautiful space to host events, for more info go to: www.vukacoop.com

Event sponsor, Caroline Duncan, Outreach Director, Vuka Co-op

It was a wonderful opportunity to meet many talented and engaging people in this creative mecca, Austin. The greater Austin community continues to impress with genuine dedication to the Arts as exemplified by The 48 Hour Film Project. A fun night was had by all!

  • The next 48 Hour Film Project event is on August 22, for further details go to: www.48hourfilm.com/en/austin and www.austin48hourfilm.com
  • The 48 Hour Film Project comes to Austin on the weekend of August 24-26  2012
  • Space is limited, Early Bird Registration is $140. Teams must register on or before Monday, July 30 to get this special rate. Regular registration is $160. If teams register after Tuesday, August 14 they must pay a rate of $175.
  • Stay connected and learn more with regular posts and resource links at: www.facebook.com/48hourfilmaustin

         Blog by Lucas

HOT TUNA back in Austin, 2012 at the One World Theater

Lucas and Jorma Kaukonen

Just when you think the music couldn’t get any better, it does.

I should know, my first Hot Tuna show was in 1972. Back then I had a seat on stage
(a trunk), behind the band, my uncle being the concert promoter. Mesmerized, I watched the band play with Papa John Creach (former member) on the Fiddle. Today I’m still in awe of these legendary musicians.

I’ve been crossing paths with Hot Tuna ever since. There were my high school years, shows in Commack, Belmont Racetrack (Jorma with rainbow-colored hair), the infamous Lone Star Cafe a few blocks from home in the West Village. There was my neighbor down the hall in the dorm at college, one of Hot Tuna’s future booking agents, now tour manager. The iconic slogans used along the way and the audience screaming, “Hot _’n Tuna”, “Jorma Saves”, “If you don’t know Jorma, you don’t know Jack”, “Got Jorma?”

 It was a stellar acoustic show!

And an unusually cool July evening in Austin, set against a beautiful sunset in the Texas
Hill Country. In this incarnation, Hot Tuna was composed of the Acoustic Trio, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and Barry Mitterhoff. It was my first, I hope of many shows in this intimate setting at the The One World Theater. The co-Founder and Executive Director, Hartt Stearns graciously offered us seats in the front of the house.

Hot Tuna and Cindy Cashdollar

Hot Tuna played classics as well as new tunes off the latest studio recording entitled, “Steady As She Goes”, produced by Larry Campbell at Levon Helm’s in Woodstock N.Y.

“We got the wondrous Cindy Cashdollar to sit in with us”– Jorma Kaukonen

Full of good surprises, Hot Tuna brought Cindy Cashdollar out on Dobro and Steel Guitar. Cindy is a stunning talent and adds a wonderful dimension to the Hot Tuna sound. Jorma was thrilled to have her back for the evening (she toured with Hot Tuna in 2006). An Austin resident, be sure to check Cindy out on Wednesdays at The Saxon Pub.

Barry Mitterhoff of Hot Tuna and Cindy Cashdollar

Whether it’s Roots, Blues, Acoustic or Electric, Hot Tuna keeps it fresh. Over the years they’ve had a rotating cast of musicians that have performed with the band. Well known talent such as GE Smith, Charlie Musslewhite, Steve Kimock to Jim Lauderdale and John Hammomd, just to name a few. Back at home in Ohio, Jorma with his wife Vanessa, run a guitar camp at the Fur Peace Ranch. Some of the musicians that tour and record with Hot Tuna are guest teachers at the ranch. If this isn’t enough, Hot Tuna still continues to tour the world, with recent stops in Israel and China.

It was a great evening of old and new friends. I had the pleasure of meeting Cash Edwards, Hot Tuna’s Austin based Publicist for a second time. We first meet at the monthly networking luncheon for Woman in Music Professional Society, (WIMPS). Austin, The Music Capital of the World, is happy Hot Tuna has us back on their touring schedule this year and hope to see them again next tour. Their dedication continues to shine through their music putting big smiles on many faces.



         Blog by Lucas

Sean Patton Live at Cap City Comedy Club

Let me start this off by saying, buy tickets in advance!  When I first checked out Cap City Comedy Club’s events online, I decided the Tuesday night PUNCH! show with Matt Bearden (the Club’s most popular show), sounded like something to check out.  Well, apparently so did everyone else in Austin.  I regretfully had not purchased tickets in advance, and the show was sold out the morning of.  I learned my lesson and quickly purchased tickets online for the next night’s show, featuring New York based comedian Sean Patton.

I got caught! Comedian, Sean Patton, incorporating the crazy girl with the camera into his act

The Capitol City Comedy Club has been around for 27 years here in Austin.  The Club features weekly shows with regular comedians, such as PUNCH! as well as touring comedians.  They also offer Defensive Driving classes . . . taught by comedians!  How great is that?  If you have to sit through a Defensive Driving class, I think having a trained comedian for an instructor is probably the best case scenario.  Cap City also has a full food and drink menu available during the shows, with classics such as fried pickles and Dudley and Bob nachos.  Not quite the venue for those of us who are watching our weight, but tasty none the less.

The seating space and stage at Cap City Comedy

I have to admit, I was not familiar with Sean Patton prior to the show though he has been seen on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Live at Gotham,” and most recently on “Conan.”  Mr. Patton quickly made me forget that this wasn’t the original show I had planned on attending.  With more focus on personal stories and perspectives rather than traditional punch line stand up, he kept me in stitches through his whole set.  Not the “I feel bad because no one else is laughing” sympathy laugh, but the tears rolling down your face, cramp in your side, unconsciously slapping your leg kind of laugh.   Sean, a Louisiana native told hysterical stories of growing up as a privileged white kid in the suburbs; out-drinking college frat boys and navigating through the confusions of puberty pre sex-education and YouTube.  Along with Sean, the audience also got to enjoy the comedic flairs of the host Mac Blake and special guest Josh Gondelman.  Mac kept the show rolling with digs on the “un-ultimateness” of ultimate Frisbee.  And Josh’s impersonations of a German tourist, Jersey gangster, and Latino preschool student left little room for predictability.

The host, Mac Blake

A voluntary photo with Sean Patton (notice the Oregon shirt, Go Oregon!)

There are still two more nights to check out Sean Patton at Cap City; tonight Friday July 20th, and tomorrow, Saturday July 21st!  Don’t forget the PUNCH! show coming up this Tuesday. Also, check out the next featured comedians at Cap City Comedy Club:

Sunday night Open Mic July 22nd and every Sunday

J.R. Brown with Matt Sadler July 25th-28th

Tommy Johnagin with Ramin Nazer August 1st-4th

Tom Simmons August 8th-11th

* Learn from my mistake and buy tickets online or over the phone at least a day before the show!

See the Cap City Calendar full a full listing of events

Blog by Katie

Art to Heal: A Local Artist’s Journey to Overcome the Obstacles of Life

Over the past few weeks I have come to learn more about Austin State Hospital, or ASH, and their various art programs and events. Since 1857 Austin State Hospital has provided psychiatric care to those with mental illnesses in Austin and the State of Texas. The hospital has a creative arts therapy program for current patients as well as a strategic plan to create a community Arts Space where individuals with mental illnesses can go to continue their healing process after being discharged through dance, visual arts, music and drama.  This past Friday, I checked them out for myself.  I had the pleasure of meeting with Bess Green, Art Therapist at ASH, and Susan Lee, an artist and current patient.

Image

The proposed design of ASH’s Art Space

The creative arts therapy program is one of their most successful at ASH, and is centered on the idea that healing can happen not only through traditional therapy and medication but also through creativity and art.  The Arts Space project, in its first phase of funding, hopes to be a continuance of the creative arst therapy program and stretch beyond current patients so as to stop the “revolving door scenario” of those recovering having to be hospitalized again.   The Arts Space would be a place where artists like Susan would be able to come and use space to create their art not only as an outlet for healing but also to further themselves as professional artists.

Susan Lee, a published author and emerging artist has always seen art as a way to release pent-up energy and frustrations.  She has also seen it as a way to connect with others when she cannot always say what she wants to verbally.  Her art, for me, is delicate yet also strong with vibrant colors and solid line work.  She says her favorite drawings to create are depictions of Jesus, a passion that can be seen in her drawings.

Acrylic by Susan Lee. Photo by Katie

Drawing by Susan Lee. Photo by Katie

Watercolor by Susan Lee. Photo by Katie

Ms. Lee’s book, Baphomet: The Apocalypse, which can be purchased at Amazon.com, is what she describes as a comedy tragedy.  It is a story of her journey as a foster child struggling to find her way to enlightenment and the many dark people and places she encounters on the way.

“I met him on a sweet warm night, that vampire Brad. It was not that he drank of blood but that his empathy lavished in the power of auras.   Many other maidens had been lured in by his reasons for conceit.  I was one of them…Slick locks gowned his face to the brow, a sinister split in the middle…His piercing blue eyes are what made the best of him.  They had known murder. “

                                              - An excerpt from Baphomet: The Apocalypse, by Susan Lee

Cover art for Baphomet: The Apocalypse by Susan Lee. Photo by Katie

Susan started creating art at a very young age.  She was always pushed by adults around her to draw, “instead of playing with dolls and toys like most other kids do, I was drawing”.   Her usual medium is acrylic; however with constraints at the hospital, most of her current work is drawings and watercolors.  Susan modestly describes her work as more cartoonish. I viewed it as refreshingly simplistic.  Not simplistic as in lacking, but quite the opposite; complex because of its simplicity.  While Susan’s current situation may not be her ideal, she looks at it with optimism and room for growth.  Or in her words, “It is better to laugh than cry”.

Watercolor by Susan Lee. Photo by Katie

Acrylic by Susan Lee. Photo by Katie

More of Susan Lee’s work can be found on DeviantArt.com

To make a donation to the ASH Arts Space, creative arts therapy program, or other programs at ASH please click here.

ASH’s creative arts program is also looking for volunteers! Are you an artist in any discipline looking to lend your talents?  Click here!

Blog by Katie

A Big Ass Canvas for Austin

by Margie Eades

If you have seen a group of excited people painting on giant 6 x 8.5 ft. canvases in various high-traffic locations around Austin, you have likely witnessed the magic of Big Ass Canvas (BAC) in action. BAC was founded earlier this year by two incredibly passionate and energetic young men, Travis Huse and Zach Horvath. Their idea is to build a large canvas, put it in a public place with some paint and brushes, encourage passers-by to paint, and see what happens. While it might seem simple in principle, BAC is implemented with a distinct purpose: “to encourage community access to the creative process” while promoting local community organizations and causes like the youth mentorship program, Explore Austin, and the Seton Healthcare Family’s pledge to upgrade Austin’s University Medical Center Brackenridge.

Goodies from the Big Ass Party fundraiser for Explore Austin. The event featured several canvases, free pizza, live music from Mars at Midnight, and more.

Zach, an Austin native, and Travis, originally from Anchorage, Alaska, met through CouchSurfing, a popular social network for backpackers and travelers all around the world. Sharing a penchant for helping people and making new friends, the two came up with the idea for BAC and set up their first blank canvas on The Drag (Guadalupe St. across from UT campus) in May of 2012.

I met the boys nearly ten color-filled canvases later at the 101X Summer Cinema Series at Central Market North Lamar, then caught up with them again at their “Big Ass Party” at Lustre Pearl on Rainey Street, a fundraiser for Explore Austin. Both Travis and Zach are outgoing and charismatic and, as evidenced by the defining characteristics of their artistic social experiment, love learning and sharing ideas with people.

Moviegoers settle down for Drop Dead Fred at the 101X Summer Cinema Series at Central Market N. Lamar. BAC will be in attendance all summer long.

Zach is an ambitious entrepreneur (ZCLOCO, Action Catalyst) who has chosen an unconventional educational and career path. Within a matter of days he will be departing on an open-ended trip to Europe with hopes of exploring both the world and himself. If you want to catch Zach before he leaves, you will probably find him wearing a dress shirt and shorts, a tie tucked into his shirt (so it doesn’t get paint on it, of course) and some red rubber boots or other funky accessory.

Lean and tall, Travis is just as hard to miss. He’ll be manning BAC for the rest of the summer so be on the lookout for his signature bowtie and thick-rimmed spectacles. Travis is an Austin transplant, but spend one minute talking with him and you will realize that his enthusiasm for inspiring and connecting the Austin community comes from the heart.

Zach and Travis of Big Ass Canvas. Photo taken from the Big Ass Canvas website

Their outlook on life and their determination – and ability – to make a difference in the world is refreshing.

Check out my short interview with the men of BAC as well as a video about their project below:

Do you have any events planned for selling the canvases?

Zach: We are still working on that. It would be great to have a gallery event where we could invite people to check out the artwork and bid on the canvases.

Travis: Currently we are marketing the canvases privately but haven’t sold any yet.  However, we recently obtained permission to display the canvases in the downtown 2nd Street District which will provide exposure to people who support the arts and local Austin organizations. (Please contact bigasscanvas@gmail.com if you are interested in purchasing a canvas).

Have you had any negative reactions to BAC’s name? I’ve seen children working on the canvases and wonder if their parents have any problem with the word “Ass”.

Z: We’ve had one or two negative responses, but for the most part our name and tagline are a hit.

You will be at Summer Cinema and Blues On the Green throughout the summer – then what?

T: BAC will continue to do events all summer and is continually gaining recognition, including press from KUT News [link] and Study Breaks Magazine. Many organizations have expressed an interest in having BAC at their events to cross-promote and raise awareness for different projects. We love meeting other people who want to pool resources to achieve something awesome in Austin and look forward to seeing where BAC takes us.

Why did you specifically choose to support Explore Austin and Seton’s Brackenridge?

Z: We chose Explore Austin because we are both adventurous people who want to encourage kids to experience their world in new ways. It just seemed to fit when we were looking for an organization to support. Brackenridge and Seton chose us after they saw what we were doing with BAC.

It is always great to see people pursuing their own projects rather than falling into the traditional school and work routine - but it is not always easy to take the unconventional road. What are your musings on entrepreneurial life?

T: We decided to implement BAC because it was something we could get excited about even though it is a struggle to make it financially sustainable in the short-term. These passion projects are a way to do what you love even when it doesn’t fit in the confines of the traditional 40 hour workweek formula.

Z: If you look around and see that you are walking in the same direction as a huge mob of people, run the other direction. Nothing good happens when the crowd is doing the same thing. It’s always good to be your own person, to take risks, to embrace the unknown, and to break a few rules in order to make a change in the world.

What are your personal aspirations for the future?

Z: I want to a life that allows me personal autonomy while creating a product or running a business that enables me to make a difference in the world. I want to do cool stuff with cool people and inspire others to do the same, to break out and explore and be themselves and not be boring “normal” people.

T: It’s important to me to be doing something I love. Austin is a place where people support homegrown efforts and it’s a great place to be creative and meet creative types. These attributes combine to make a recipe for a strong community. That is the kind of world I want to contribute to.

Big Ass Party

“This is not a Medium Ass Party”. Guests enjoy drinks, food, music, and painting at BAC’s party at Lustre Pearl.

-M

———————————–

UPCOMING EVENTS & LINKS:

101X Summer Cinema Series – Free Movies at Central Market N. Lamar!
Full Line-up:
Wednesday, June 6: Mean Girls
Wednesday, June 20: Drop Dead Fred
Tuesday, July 3: Captain America
Wednesday, July 18: Casino Royale
Wednesday, August 1: Wayne’s World

Remember your blankets, lawn chairs and an appetite. Summer Cinema will have $2.50 Blue Moons and great food from Central Market. Movies start at sun down. Thank you to our amazing sponsors who make this event possible!

93.3 KGSR Blues on the Green – Free Shows at Zilker Park!

KGSR’s Blues on the Green returns to Zilker Park for it’s 22nd season!

Every other Wednesday during the summer, Zilker Park will be filled with thousands of people, blankets and lawn chairs, families and music lovers.
As Austin’s largest FREE concert series KGSR’s Blues on the Green is consistently ranked as a top annual entertainment event and has become a staple of the Austin lifestyle and a very casual and comfortable experience. JOIN THE BLUES ON THE GREEN TEXT ALERT CLUB – text “BLUES” to 43981 to be the first to learn about this years show line-up!EVENT DATES:
May 30th – Charlie Mars w/ Max Gomez opening
June 13th – Rhett Miller w/ Wheeler Brothers opening
June 27th – Ben Kweller w/ Amy Cook opening
July 11th – BoDeans
July 25th – Marci Ball w/ Nakia opening
August 8th – TBA

BIG ASS CANVAS

Website: www.bigasscanvas.us

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BigAssCanvas

Twitter: @BigAssCanvas

Follow Zach’s trip to Europe: http://www.zcloco.com/

The Beat of the Drum at Ruta Maya

Organic coffee served by day and fresh lime margaritas by night.  Count me in. The Ruta Maya Coffee Company on South Congress first opened in Austin in 1993 with the mission to create great coffee that returns a fair portion of the profit to the Latin American generators.  It has since expanded from a coffee shop to a live music venue and yoga studio; offering salsa lessons, wellness classes, and Tai-Chi and Yoga classes.

While I appreciate the downward dog and the ancient art of yoga, in devotion to my Latin roots, I had to opt for the margaritas and dancing.  Every Wednesday night at 9:00, the café transforms into a salsa club with live music from La Moña Loca, an eleven piece salsa orchestra with a traditional Cuban style.  This last Wednesday, I decided to strap on my dancing shoes, leave my insecurities behind, and go check it out for myself.

One of two bars at Ruta Maya

The parking lot was packed when I pulled up to the Pennfield location café, and at only a quarter past nine!  I was pleasantly surprised to find a large venue with two bars and an outdoor patio.  Art that is available for sale covered the colorful walls and the pungent smell of good quality coffee filled the air.  I navigated through the swinging dancers and ordered a margarita for a little liquid courage before hitting the dance floor.  The music, however, ended up to be enough.  You cannot help but want to dance to the exotic sounds of La Moña Loca. Once nicknamed “Congo Katie” by a childhood music teacher, I was immediately drawn to the sounds of the drums.   Even my boyfriend, who adamantly proclaimed before we left the house that he was NOT going to dance, was tapping his foot and nodding his head to the beat.

Not the professional dancer, I appreciated the presence of salsa instructor Esther Weekes, founder of Austin Casino Salsa, who teaches regularly at Ruta Maya as well as at her home studio.  While I did not make it early enough to attend her free lesson right before the live show at 8:00, she could still be seen on the dance floor throughout the night.

Esther Weekes and I during a quick dance break

I could tell by the many couples moving with ease that Ruta Maya had some devout regulars.  With the great venue, people, music and drinks, I could see why one would want to return each week.  I left that evening with slightly sore feet and a little bit of a sweat, but with a great attitude and a knowledge that I would most definitely be back.

Check out Ruta Maya’s upcoming events!

6/28 Thursday at 9:00 pm, Zydeco Blanco

6/29 Friday at 7:30 pm, Explosions of Euphony Concert

6/30 Saturday at 4:00 pm, Austin BabyGlow Disco

7/4 and every Wednesday at 5:00 pm ASL Happy Hour

7/4 and every Wednesday at 9:00 pm Live Salsa Dancing with La Mona Loca
and FREE (with café purchase) group salsa class with Esther at 8:00pm

7/6 Friday at 9:00 pm Fever in the Funkhouse

Blog by Katie

Dividing the Estate: A Picture of the South

on stage at the ZACH Theatre for its last weekend!
by Margie Eades
———–
May 29, 2012 - July 1, 2012

Written by Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award-winner HORTON FOOTE
Directed bySTEVEN DIETZ (Doubt, Shooting Star and Becky’s New Car)
———–

Last weekend I visited the ZACH Theatre for the first time ever for the opening weekend of Fully Committed. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to return less than a week later for ZACH’s production of Dividing the Estate, written by the celebrated Texan playwright, Horton Foote (1916 – 2009).

The play follows the familiar dysfunctions of a Southern family, exaggerated by financial troubles and imperturbable greed. The Gordon children and grand-children constantly bicker about the future of their family’s historic – and valuable – estate, while Mamma Gordon (excellently portrayed by Marijane Vandivier) prefers to reminisce on days of a bygone era with her elderly servant, Doug (Eugene Lee).

Stella Gordon (Marijane Vandivier) and Doug (Eugene Lee) remember the “good old days” in Dividing the Estate. Photo by Kirk Tuck

If nothing else, Foote’s play serves as historical record of Texas in the 1980s: a Texas where big money and big hair ruled society and a strange sort of veiled racism still tinged the Southern mindset. I would even go as far as to say that this production of the play presents an opportunity for a brutally honest analysis of present-day Texan mentality towards issues such as race.  It was painful to see the characters of Mildred (Janis Stinson) and Cathleen (Sharayah Reed), the estate’s domestic workers, reduced to the stereotype of the large, overbearing Mammy figure. Historically, the Mammy archetype is one of the two roles (the other being the sensual Jezebel stereotype) that have been imposed upon Black actresses throughout the history of popular entertainment.

Mammy Stereotype (from Ethnic Notions by Marlon Riggs 1986)

However Foote must have been aware of the weight of the topic he was dealing with when writing the roles of the Black female domestic workers into the play, right? He did write the screenplay for To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) after all. My concern on Friday night was with how many of Foote’s fellow Texans actually caught on to the seriousness of these depictions. With the audience’s hearty laughter at every cliché “Mmmhmm” and cheeky comment made by the cook and her helper, I had to wonder how many others in the audience were having the same considerations I was about the historical and racial implications of these women’s roles in the script. Perhaps the fact that young Cathleen is attending a junior college while Emily and Sissy Gordon and their thick-headed mother Mary Jo can hardly do simple division presents a more accurate statement from Foote about the status of African-Americans in the South.

Mildred (Janis Stinson) and Cathleen (Sharayah Reed) in Dividing the Estate. Photo by Kirk Tuck

Mary Jo’s character, defined by relentless greed and a bad case of “youngest child syndrome”, is responsible for setting the tone of the entire drama. Unfortunately on Friday night, the lively actress Barbara Chisolm was unable to perform due to a death in the family and was temporarily replaced by Lauren Lane. While Lane played her new role bravely and whined and schemed very convincingly, her reading from a script inevitably took away from the play as a whole.

Marijane Vandivier’s portrayal of Stella “Mamma” Gordon hit straight to home, as I already mentioned. Her facetious quips about “overly educated women” divorce, living through the Great Depression, God’s wrath, reinstating plantation life, and Baptists versus Methodists are quintessentially “Southern grandma”. Whether it is her quirky and stubborn feminine ways or her pursed pink lips and permed white hair, there is something in her character that will remind every Texan of their grandmother. Her comments alone are revealing of the philosophy on life native to the South and make Foote’s play and ZACH’s production worth seeing.

Catch Dividing the Estate in its last weekend on the Kleberg Stage. A few more performances have been added due to popular demand. Get your tickets while you still can!

-M

CsillaWear Arrives on Congress Avenue

Csilla at work in her new retail space.

As part of our effort to expand Austin Creative Alliances’ support of the greater creative community, we are happy to showcase one of our newest, local fashion designers.

CsillaWear at 504 Congress Ave. (at 5th)

I met up with Csilla while she was hard at work cutting fabric for her next pattern. It’s impressive to meet this “hands-on” designer that retains a craft we rarely see in American-made fashion. As a young girl watching her grandmother sew, Csilla soon learned the skill. She explains that her passion for clothing design began while in High School, when she began making her own wardrobe and her own fashion statement. It blossomed from there.

“For my summer job at a local high-end boutique and seeing those cool clothes in the boutique gave her the idea. I put two and two together and bought one yard of fabric here and there and made a new dress or top every day through that summer”.

As a student at University of Texas, Csilla studied Interior Design and subsequently moved to New York to pursue a fashion career. Beginning with studies at Fashion Institute of Technology, lead to an internship with Nautica and eventually full-time positions with Liz Clairborne and Macy’s. After years of working in the corporate world, Csilla felt it was time for a change. With the support of her sister and friends she took the leap and went out on her own. CsillaWear was launched in New York City.

A Night to Indulge in Fashion and Beauty: CsillaWear recently hosted a fitting party to introduce her line to the broader Austin community where woman were invited to try-on the variety of her styles.

Attendees who graciously modeled CsillaWear.

Csilla’s designs are inspired by fabric, movement and silhouettes. She chooses an array of lively, colorful patterns to create fun to wear, elegant designs. Her international background influences her sophisticated styles, while all her creations have a natural, easy fit. Perfect for Austin.

Makeup artist Lecia Harkins.

Professional hair stylist, Deborah Lira and makeup artist, Lecia Harkins of Russ and Company Salon www.russandcompanysalon.com were also on site for all to enjoy a fresh look along with these stunning designs.

If you are looking for fashion with ease, dress it up or down, this is the place to shop, you’ll want to add a few styles to your wardrobe. Stop by and meet the lovely designer behind CsillaWear. Located at 504 Congress Ave. (at 5th St), Austin, TX. Hours M-F 11- 6pm, Saturdays 11-4pm.
www.csillawear.com

Blog by Lucas

Fully Committed: A Night of Comedy at Austin’s ZACH Theatre

by Margie Eades

——————- 

June 14, 2012 - September 2, 2012
at ZACH Theatre’s Whisenhunt Stage

written by Becky Mode
directed by Dave Steakley
starring Martin Burke

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One man, three desks, and forty-one characters could either be the ingredients for a long and confusing night at the theater, or for an entertaining hour and a half of the most unique theater experience you might ever have.

Perhaps as someone who was raised more on Russian ballet than comic theater, I am being overly enthusiastic, but I enjoyed every minute of Becky Mode’s Fully Committed which opened this weekend at the ZACH Theatre. The comedy features Martin Burke as the reservationist (and the Maître d’, and the chef, and the hostess, and all the guests trying to make reservations) for a trendy Manhattan restaurant who, like the rest of us, is just trying to do his job well and make it home alive at the end of the day. Yet there is more to the show than a series of funny impressions poking fun at the status driven socialites of New York. At its heart is Sam, a struggling actor trying to “make it big”, make rent, and make it home to see his widowed father for Christmas. While every character played by Burke is entertaining in his or her own right, the underlying plot is what takes Fully Committed from being any comedian’s nightly act to an engrossing story that the audience can connect with.

One of the things that makes this performance so special is the intimate Whisenthunt Stage – one of the ZACH’s two stages, with another addition of the new Topfer Theatre opening in September . Small but comfortable, the Whisenhunt Stage is an octagonal “theatre-in-the-round”  that makes you feel as if you are right in the office with Sam, even if you are sitting on the last row. This atmosphere allows more interaction between the audience and the actors – or actor in this case – which makes the experience more personal and enjoyable for both parties. During the performance it was obvious that Burke was thoroughly enjoying himself, feeding off of the audience’s laughter and even cracking himself up; the audience in turn was fully involved in every word, every inflection, every grimace and smirk of the performance.

Then again, how could we not have been totally engrossed in the play? Burke is handsome; he could make you fall in love with his twinkling blue eyes in an instant if he weren’t so busy running around the office answering phones! From the moment he rushed on stage, he was energetic and enthusiastic – so much so that he was sweating after only half an hour.

– “Sorry sir, we’re fully committed on that day”

– “Yer full o’ WHAT?!”

–“Uh, we don’t have any tables sir..”

From the restaurant’s fabulous French Maître d’ Jean-Claude:

–“Oh. My. God. She has a face like zee catfish.”,

to Naomi Campbell’s gay secretary Bryce:

–“You betcha I’ll hold!”

and other celebrities and wannabes in between, Burke is delightful and fascinating in his ability to switch between so many characters and not end up with some sort of identity crisis.

The script leaves room for improvisation and name-dropping. Such an instance pokes fun with a VIP reservation for Mort Topfer – “who the **** is that?!” -whose family the newest  theatre at ZACH is named after. Burke takes advantage of these opportunities to subtly and cleverly engage his audience with Austin related references. There are way too many characters to go on in detail; you simply have to see the performance yourself to enjoy its full hilarity.

A native of Austin, Burke has participated in dozens of local productions. He is most notorious for playing a Macy’s Christmas elf in the David Sedaris’ holiday favorite, The Santaland Diaries. Burke’s outstanding work has been recognized with numerous B. Iden Payne Awards, including one for “Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play” in Twelfth Night, directed by Robert Faires (Sneck Up! Productions, in association with VORTEX Repertory Company). Both The B. Iden Payne Council and VORTEX have participated in Austin Creative Alliance’s Sponsored Project program.

On Saturday as the lights were being dimmed, I counted only 4 empty seats in the entire theater. At the same time, I could not help but notice that less than a handful of the audience was under the age of thirty. A shame considering that my guest for the evening, my best friend’s 18 year old little sister and mass consumer of all things funny on Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, and any other popular or obscure website, absolutely loved the entire theater experience and found Fully Committed’s shenanigans and sentiments endearing.

My friend will be a sophomore at UT in the fall and has been wanting to do “more interesting artsy cultural activities”. Last Wednesday we attended the City Hall Council Meeting together to learn about the Imagine Austin Plan, for example. It is my hope, as a young adult who has grown up loving the arts, that producers andsupporters of the arts in Austin would continue to strive to reach out to young people like my friend and help them realize that the arts are for people of all ages.  If you need some incentive, ZACH offers discounted tickets for students an hour before every performance!

-M

Check out some of ZACH’s upcoming events below:

Upcoming Events:

Dividing the Estate

May 29, 2012 – July 1, 2012

Xanadu

July 17, 2012 – September 2, 2012

Fully Committed

June 14, 2012 – September 2, 2012

TOPFER THEATRE OPENING WEEKEND

ONCE UPON A DREAM

Thursday, September 27th, 2012
 Featuring:  JOHNNY MATHIS

ONCE UPON A DREAM will be a spectacular black-tie gala, which will showcase ZACH’s new Topfer Theatre in its greatest light. A cocktail reception in the theatre will be followed by a seated dinner on the People’s Plaza under a stunning custom tent. Then, Johnny Mathis himself will christen the Karen Kuykendall stage with an once-in-a-lifetime concert featuring his iconic songs. Tickets on sale soon!

DEEP IN THE HEART OF ZACH

Saturday, September 29th, 2012
 Featuring:  BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL, Broadway star of RAGTIME and Tony Award winner for KISS ME KATE, who will be joined at the end of his concert by ZACH performers in a rousing review that will include a special sneak peek at RAGTIME!

The Topfer Theatre and the entire ZACH campus will be ‘party central’ for our DEEP IN THE HEART OF ZACH! opening gala event. Besides concerts by Broadway headliner Mitchell, shows in ZACH’s other venues will take place concurrently all evening.

ZACH’s talented artists will be featured on the Kleberg and  Whisenhunt stages, while area bands perform on the Plaza.  VIP guests can attend Mitchell’s   first or second concert in the Topfer, then be free to partake in all the remaining festivities, and conclude with an exclusive post-concert reception.  All attendees will enjoy the opening ceremonies, food, drink, bands and ZACH performances. This progressive party will offer Austin’s choicest food vendors in a variety of food stations throughout ZACH’s campus.

Tickets on sale soon! 
Be on the lookout for an email from ZACH announcing more event details.