Vaudeville broke sexual, gender, racial and cultural taboos and continues its evolution today in performances by Colbert, on Saturday Night Live and in many live venues worldwide. I was also struck by it as an early prototype of the internet – browsing an oddball collection of incidental entertainment.
Comedian George Gordon Fuller created the Vaudeville Managers Association, or White Rats Union, originally open only to white impresarios. As the demand grew and the shows evolved, women and black entertainers started circuits and shows of their own. Both white and black actors used black face and minstrel formats, some black artists ironically. You can see some of the musicians and stars who progressed into the movie and TV era with much more power than their Vaudeville predecessors.
Drag shows are nothing new. Few performers had careers that were as vaunted and long lasting as drag sensation Vander Clyde/Dora Kallmus from Austria, known internationally as Barbette.
Sex, music, magic, comedy and drama still exert their fascination. The exhibit is up until July 15th. Go see the show!
After a tip from the Austin Monthly about the growing art scene in Johnson City I sauntered over to see for myself. Despite construction along parts of 290 (and whatever Dripping Springs is morphing into) I felt more like a friend than a stranger driving through the scenic hill country. I skipped Lyndon’s boyhood home (which is actually cool) stopped for a quick view of the Pedernales River and headed into town.
My first stop was the A.Smith Gallery. Amanda Smith and Kevin Tully are the gallery directors and artists in residence. The current exhibit of juried (by Kate Breakey) photographs and sculpture is tastefully curated in an inviting gallery and salon space. Amanda and Kevin offer workshops and events to keep things lively in between last Saturday art walks, which I’m looking forward to.
Mark L. Smith , one of the founding members of Flatbed Press and owner of the Texas Arthouse Gallery, has a storied history in Austin as both a University of Texas professor and dean and as a fine art consultant for museums and collectors. He is a self-described Raushenbergian, who remains a strong influence on his style. My conversations with Amanda Smith and with Mark Smith at the Texas Arthouse were lively and inspiring, which didn’t leave me time to visit other galleries. I’ll remedy that when I attend the art walk on June 30th. Both galleries are open by appointment and on the weekends, don’t miss them.
I stopped at the Science Mill briefly, which was abuzz with children of all ages. Mark Smith at the Arthouse Gallery said the cultural scene in Johnson City was focused more on fine art and its intersection with science, rather than the typical hodgepodge of antiques and collectibles. Don’t despair, Johnson City still has a few shops for flea market fans. For families considering a day trip to the hill country, the exhibits at the Science Mill offer a nice variety of kid friendly options between gallery and restaurant strolls. Their Summer Camps are also getting rave reviews and increasing a broad array of sponsorships.
By the time I checked in at Bryan’s on 290 for lunch, I was hot and hungry. The lightly dusted shrimp with cajun grits and roasted brussel sprouts were delectable and the conversation engaging. News of Anthony Bourdain’s passing that day shook the food community and we toasted to his life over a glass of Vino Bianco, a special selection from “The Piedmont Guy“. Servers and management were friendly and knowledgable and I insisted on taking a picture of the kitchen crew as a tribute to Bourdain’s friendship and support of cooks everywhere. I highly recommend Bryan’s, but there are many other enticing options in and around town.
I visited Johnson City in April of 2012 but it has since grown into a vital arts community with something for everyone. It will be interesting to go back for the Last Saturday Art Walk on June 30th to visit some of the galleries and restaurants I missed this time. Enthusiastic two thumbs up for a day trip!
Sometime when I’m walking
the breeze shifts, blowing from
the mouth of the universe
Whispered waves of indigo
and bluebonnet perfume
seeping into every pore
Lifting my heart into bliss and
flowing back to the sea of flowers
in a waterfall of love
I’ve been looking forward to seeing the new Central Library, an evolutionary leap into the future of community reading and reflection. To get the most from my visit, I walked from the hike and bike trail, a luxury I truly enjoy.
There is always construction in downtown Austin, an eager beaver metropolis bent on eliminating the very things that made it so delightful. The new Central Library, however, is an investment in our collective soul. It’s shiny and new, but mindful of our need to find a shared sanctuary. This is a cathedral of libraries, a stadium among warehouses. The reading rooms are varied, the design flows aesthetically and there are good reading nooks everywhere.
Art and music spaces and rooms to write and collaborate are sprinkled throughout. The Lance Letscher and the Armadillo Art Squad exhibits were authentically weird and brought back fond memories of great Austin eras in music and art.
With so many nooks and crannies to explore, the Austin Central Library is a perfect place to rediscover your joy in reading. For many screen junkies, this will be a great way to fall in love with a good book and get off the endless cycle of bad news. Saunter over, it’s a beautiful day.
It’s impossible to resist the allure of a sunny autumn day, so I took my camera with me to the hike and bike trail at Ladybird Lake. Since you never know what will catch your eye, I started architecturally and flowed into the colors of fall vegetation. Rest in joy Chris, remembering your sweet smile and SRV tearing it up at Auditorium Shores.
From Cannon Beach, I headed south to Yachats, often referred to as the Gem of the Oregon Coast. The beaches got rockier and towns dotting the coastline smaller and more picturesque. Depoe Bay, where grey whales come to graze along the shoreline, is a magnet for tourists. I caught a glimpse of a whale back nearby and two spouts offshore, which I heard was a mother and her calf.
In Yachats, I stayed at the Fireside Motel, up close and personal with the spectacular, rocky ocean views that make the Cape Perpetua area such a draw.
You can’t have too many transporting moments on a nature trip. But, it was at the Drift Inn, while enjoying a rare offering of Mediterranean mushroom crepes, that I experienced that special feeling of connection. Maybe it was the waitress with the blue hair, the murals keeping it weird, or Richard Sharpless on guitar, but I felt a gemutlichkeit as I listened to the music and watched people of all ages and kinds enjoying a communal meal. Nothing like a warm, golden glow and friendly people to make your visit memorable.
Another beautiful sunset greeted me on my way back to the hotel.
The next morning I was off and sauntering, in search of tide pools and sea creatures. The wind rippling the water created some fabulous painterly effects, an unexpected bonus.
All in all a wonderful, rejuvenating jaunt. When one experiences major life changes, it always helps to pause, recenter and find your compass. Between the ocean’s roar, the towering forests and the gorgeous beaches, I found mine in resonance with the beauty of the Oregon Coast. I’ll be heading back, sauntering north along Washington’s Pacific Coast trail and looking forward to taking the train into Vancouver.
I didn’t really remember the Pacific Ocean’s booming, rowdy surf and immeasurable depth. It’s very different from my usual haunts in the Gulf of Mexico. The vast horizontal embracing the towering vertical of mighty spruce trees resonates through the coastland in a deeply grounding spiritual wave.
This is what I came for – to put my tap root into the earth – to remember that I am. My reset begins in Forest Park, on the way to the Oregon coast.
The drive to Cannon Beach on Hwy 26 is an easy ride, rolling through sun-dappled forests, reminding me of biking through the woods as a kid in Germany. The breeze is cool, the forest fragrant with earth and the sap of evergreens, and the sun beams through the trees painting my skin with warm and cool stripes. The joy of being a kid – the energy, the excitement of discovery and delight – kindled a light in my bones that flowed out into the woods in waves of gratitude and love.
My first view of the beach in Seaside reminded me to play.
When I got to Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock was just outside my balcony. It is a beacon to people from all times and traditions. The ancient ones abide.
The moon rising over Haystack rock
the waves caressing the shore
bring me back to Center
where I am