Heading down to Ladybird Lake a little earlier, it was still surprisingly pleasant at 10:30. We were ready for a cool down and brunch by noon. Dottie and I checked out the Whip In Friday evening at 8:00, but it was too crowded so we left. Intrigued by the insightful selection of commodities and cuisine at this convenience store (and so much more) we returned for lunch on Saturday. Some background: Whip In boasted a substantial selection of specialty beer and wines since its inception. There was a humidor at the front and a knowledgeable wine steward manning the till in years past. These days, his son has carved out a unique cafe and beer bar with bands and a patio that should be most inhabitable in Fall and Spring. Stepping into the store is like entering a scene from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. The menu is healthy, a delightful blend of MexIndian. I had grilled egg nan with cilantro chutney that was very satisfying, a pleasant break in the endless parade of breakfast tacos. Local and organic foods are part of the appeal (shout out to Aurora); the Vital Farms eggs are nutritious and delicious. I must try the Mumbai migas plate soon and I’ve heard that the queso chutney is also out of this world. Funky, yes. Better than a food trailer? Yep. An unexpected treat? Most definitely; there is likely to be a happy hour update very soon.
Austin is known for its love of tattoos. In exploring the murals and street art around town I find that, like its people, Austin is full of tattoos – ambient art suited for sauntering. The gallery below shows murals around UT, some moving a little north on Guadalupe and two interior murals at Fonda San Miguel.
On my way to Ladybird Lake I couldn’t help noticing a smorgasbord of visual art dotting South Lamar. This photo essay is certainly an advertisement for the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture and bridges new and “classic” Austin. Next time I’ll look inside. I’m not sure West or North Austin can compete with South and East, but I’ll take my camera out someday and see.
Late to the party, I only recently heard about A is Red, drummer Don Harvey’s new collaboration with: Glenn Fukunaga–bass, Stefano Intelisano–Keyboards, Kullen Fuchs-Vibes, trumpet, Kevin Flatt–Trumpet, and Adam Sultan-Guitar. The Continental Club Gallery is the upstairs companion to the Continental Club with a nice wall of windows overlooking downtown Austin. It was a small space for a big sound, rolling over the audience in thunderous aural waves, courtesy of A is Red. Their music is described variously as jazz, fusion, world and soul but given its sensual impact and bouts of restrained cacophony, I’ll call it Kundalini jazz. Great mind/body sensations: serpentine textures created by unexpected pairings of trumpet, guitar, electric piano and vibes buoyed by melodic bass and drum syncopation energized and awakened attentive fans. I was held suspended like a bee in amber by music flowing around me like sweet, hard candy. In the end I moseyed home, uplifted and refreshed by a group of fine musicians who will continue to dazzle and surprise on Monday nights at the Continental Club Gallery. I’d like to see them at the Elephant Room in summer, underground in another cool cave on Congress and look forward in anticipation to new compositions from Harvey et al.
The Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in Kansas, City, Missouri takes an elegant approach to showcasing its collection. We skipped the Impressionists exhibit in favor of the American Indian, Modern and Contemporary, the Chinese and Japanese art and the Photography collections. Here is a glimpse of what they have to offer.
Kansas City has a vibrant art and music scene, with many fine murals and a good combination of traditional and imaginative architecture. Although we didn’t find the perfect barbecue, we had a few good meals and listened to a rockin’ zydeco band, Blue Orleans at BB’s Lawnside and Bar B Que. I didn’t bring my camera to the club but the joint was jumping and I would certainly go back again. We stayed at the Raphael Hotel, a grand dame from the 1920’s and enjoyed walking around the Crossroads before going out to the Power and Light district downtown for First Friday. There were a few too many cartoon character sculptures for my taste but all in all, good times. So for now, Goodbye to Kansas City, New York City here we come.
Back in my old neighborhood, enjoying the music with those who dared not venture downtown. I was certainly in my demographic, probably mostly locals out for a spin. Starting with a glass of white Bordeaux at Enoteca and stopping in at Perla’s helped keep us cool between stops. Alejandro Escovedo is always worth fighting the crowd to see. Forgive the shaky video, it’s worth hearing a snippet of Alejandro and the Orchestra.
Shown in the gallery of photos below, Sophia, a young violinist, stood in front of Vespaio playing for contributions to MS research. Her mother has MS and Sophia will ride from Houston to Austin to raise money with the hope of contributing to a cure. Please check Sofia’s website for information on how to contribute to efforts to combat Multiple Sclerosis.
Walking into the Chicago Art Institute was like walking into a textbook. The sheer number of iconic paintings was dizzying. Unfortunately, we left without seeing the photography exhibit, the new media exhibit or Native American art, which I will save for future visits. The Impressionist exhibit alone was life altering. As I said in Facebook, “Art was pouring out of my eyes” when we left the gallery. Chicago has a lot of character. It will take me many visits to feel like I know what this city is about.
On the way back from Uvalde, Texas, after our journey through the underworld in the Caves of Sonora, Bill and I made a delightful discovery in Castroville, an Alsatian community and artists’ enclave with an incredible European restaurant. Although there were some nice rolling hills and scenic vistas on the drive between Sonora and Uvalde, the towns we passed through were a hodgepodge of trailers, decaying and abandoned homes and trucks, unplanned and untended communities. From Devil’s Sinkhole to dry devil’s creek, river; this was devil’s country. Uvalde had a few attractive buildings and some evidence of life, certainly enough fast food joints but other than the” little gallery that could”, The Art Lab, the experience was forgettable.
It was such a pleasure to roll into Castroville. Right away, the layout and feel of the town was picturesque, European, tidy. OK, I betray my roots, I like aesthetically planned communities. The sloping roofs and old country feel of the homes brought back memories of Bavaria. I include shots of the city in the gallery below. The Old Alsatian Steakhouse and Ristorante will be reviewed in the Dining section of this site. Suffice it to say, it was a rare gem. More trips to Castroville are in the cards.