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

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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/

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.

The Music Bus ROCKS! Local musicians share their talent with kids and the nation

With funding in the arts being continuously cut from school programs we are losing touch with the benefits music has on our lives. That is why The Music Bus ROCKS! has created a mobile environment where the arts can flourish right outside your door. With raising gas prices everyone is taking a hit in their wallets, they save you fuel and time by coming to you!

The Music Bus ROCKS! is a fully interactive music technology classroom that provides a hands-on learning environment for each and every student. Students are able to take advantage of on board computers and music technology software. The Bus is outfitted with a full digital piano and acoustic drum set. They teach every instrument family on the bus and have a high regard for cross training and being able to see, touch, and hear other instruments.

This year, The Music Bus ROCKS! has been invited to Wakarusa Music Festival, a grassroots festival nestled in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas where the beauty of nature synchronizes with the euphoric sounds of live music. They have programming for the festival that will include a junkyard orchestra ensemble with instruments that will be made from re-purposed hardware materials and supplies. In addition, every day of the festival The Music Bus ROCKS! will hold drum circles, jam sessions (in which audience members are strongly encouraged to participate) and music education workshops.

Their ability to be able to share this creatively educational experience with patrons of Wakarusa will give them the ability to spread the word about their work and eventually build a potential donor base that will help partially fund our aspirations of beginning a Non-Profit sponsored project version of The Music Bus ROCKS! that covers a broader spectrum of the arts (visual art, music, dance, theatre, physics of movement, etc.).

The Impact

The Music Bus ROCKS!  wants to be able to share the gift of music with as many people as possible and believe that Wakarusa will give them the visibility that they will need in order to boost donor funds for our sponsored project version of The MBR! They’ve expressed the desire to go into the areas of Austin that are losing arts programs due to federal and state budget cuts and reinstate to children the profound value that the arts have on our personal well being.

blog by Nnedi Agbaroji

“Grounded in Music” Benefit makes it a Musical Night to Remember at the Gibson Showroom

Wednesday night at the Gibson Guitar Showroom in South Austin, Grounded in Music’s 2012 Benefit Concert line-up brought us some big names in Country music. Jack Ingram headlining and co-headlining was Hayes CarllSavannah Berry opened the show, which was then kicked off with a performance by Grounded in Music’s young students and beneficiaries. An inspiring night of music and a rare opportunity to see some of these performers in an intimate setting.

Photo by Christine Lucas

Jack and Hayes have a great rapport and shared some funny stories with us about growing up in the same suburb in north Houston.

Jack Ingram and Hayes Carll. Photo by Christine Lucas

Hayes Carll and Jack Ingram. Photo by Christine Lucas

Read more about these artists at: http://www.hayescarll.com  and  http://www.jackingram.net

Savannah Berry is just 17 years old and a native of Houston, Texas. A powerful and graceful performer, no doubt we will be hearing a lot more from her.

Savannah Berry. Photo by Christine Lucas

When I spoke with Savannah Berry about why she wanted to be a part of the Grounded in Music Benefit, she said “I wanted to do something good for kids and this benefit spoke to my heart”. “If she had not had music in her own life as a creative outlet, she wouldn’t have had the rich life experiences that come from this passion”. She believes “music brings a heart to heart connection to people and it is a great honor to be a part of this benefit”. Savannah Berry is a testament that music does shape lives.

See a video clip from her performance here. 

You can read more about Savannah Berry at http://savannahberrymusic.com

Blog by Lucas

Create Austin Passes!

The Creative Alliance was very excited to see CreateAustin become approved by the City Council.

From Cookie Ruiz’s Speech to the Council

“Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and Council Members,

In December of 2006 a diverse group of 75 Community Leaders accepted the charge of developing a Cultural Plan for Austin for the next 10 years.  Along the way we worked with hundreds of Austin’s working artists, organizations and representatives of a broad array of creative enterprises…listening to their needs and concerns.  Somewhere in the process we experienced a dramatic shift….we moved from a collection of disparate artistic genres and disciplines comprised of organizations and individuals…. to a collective creative community that annually generates $2.2B in economic activity and is responsible for 44,000 jobs.

So what have we accomplished since our briefing in these chambers two years ago? As the consultant contract ended, a group of citizens gathered in September of 2008 and committed to never let this investment of time and resources sit on the shelf…Our citizen volunteers decided to keep moving forward with a second phase of the process… the process of prioritization…using personal resources and time.  We reviewed the plan’s top 10 recommendations and decided to dig more deeply into the following areas in order to establish clear priorities for implementation….. (See Full text of speech:  Final Endorsement)”

Also- Check out the Official  Resolution Here.

Thanks for rolling out, Austin Arts Community! Was wonderful to see so many of you stand in support of CreateAustin!

Playwright’s Prize Established

–thanks to ArtsBeat ( of the NYTimes) for this scoop! And to our wonderful friend ALT.com for his spreading of the word!

Playwright’s Prize Established in Honor of Horton Foote

By DAVE ITZKOFF

Horton Foote’s work includes the “Orphan’s Home Cycle” of plays and the screenplays for “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Trip to Bountiful.”

The name and spirit of Horton Foote, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter, will live on in a playwriting award that will be given out for the first time this fall. Continue reading

Lets proclaim it from the rooftops!(Today ACoT becomes GACA)

United we stand: Executive director of the Austin Circle of Theaters Latifah Taormina (r) and attorney Randy Houston (l) Photo by John Anderson. Credit Austin Chronicle.

United we stand: Executive director of the Austin Circle of Theaters Latifah Taormina (r) and attorney Randy Houston (l) Photo by John Anderson. Credit Austin Chronicle.

At 5:30 pm today, Austin Circle Theatres will become the Greater Austin Creative Alliance (GACA.) The Mayor and the city council will officially announce not only the start of Get Your Art On, but also, give an official welcome to the new alliance.

The past few days have been a blur, and tonight it will become reality.  Saying goodbye to an institution and saying hello to our new Alliance is an exciting thing, and also one that allows us to look back over the past 35 years, and think of all that  has been accomplished. Continue reading

Huge News! ACoT becomes the Greater Austin Creative Alliance!

 

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GET YOUR ART ON Mayoral Proclamation, and press conference
on Austin Circle of Theaters re-branding Austin Circle of Theaters Becomes The Greater Austin Creative Alliance, with expanded mission and scope
______________________________________________________________________________
WHO:
Mayor Lee Leffingwell and The Greater Austin Creative Alliance (formerly Austin Circle of
Theaters), in partnership with the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division and CreateAustin, with sponsor Capital One Bank

WHAT:
Mayoral Proclamation that October is time to “Get Your Art On,” Austin’s month-long celebration of art, culture and creativity in honor of National Arts and Humanities Month. Immediately following
the Mayoral Proclamation, Austin Circle of Theaters will hold a press conference to announce their re-branding as The Greater Austin Creative Alliance. Continue reading

Meet Anne-Marie:Membership Services Director of ACoT

Random Facts About Anne-Marie!

anne

She has two cats – Rubix Muffin Cubes and Winston Churchill – They already picked out their Halloween costumes – Rubi is going to be an Angel (which is rather ironic) and Winston is going to be a Court Jester (he hopes that people will laugh with him rather than at him) In 6th grade she moved to her family’s farm out in Cedar Creek, TX and had to sometimes do homework by oil lantern for a month before they had electricity poles installed on the property (Not such a big fan of camping these days – maybe this had something to do with it?) Continue reading

Technical Noms

TECHNICAL

Outstanding Set Design

Theada Bellenger (Les Misérables)

Ann Marie Gordon (Oceana)

Lisa Laratta (Black Snow)

Lisa Laratta (Ophelia)

Mark Pickell and Tommy Grubbs (Killer Joe)

Cliff Simon (The Grapes of Wrath)

Continue reading