Jim Waltrip – Color Pops at the Graeber House

I was introduced to the Graeber House at 410 at It’s Environmentally Inspired, another pop up show featuring a variety of artists, sculptors and potters.  This weekend show: Color Pops – Portals Within in partnership with Pecan Street Gallery, featured visual artist Jim Waltrip in his first solo show.

Jim, a native Texan, grew up in San Antonio and has lived in Austin 20 years. He captures organic imagery such as flowers, fruits, herbs, and leaves using high resolution digital scanners and macro photography. The images are rendered onto metallic substrates and mounted under acrylic glass and resins. The resulting pieces are detailed, vibrant, colorful images that celebrate the infinite complexity of life.

Jim is the owner of the Graeber House, an architectural marvel tucked between the 512 Bar and the Museum of the Weird, at once in the thick of the action and yet, a sanctuary of good taste.  If you have been to dirty sixth lately, you know what a rarity that is. Fortunately, it’s a block away from 5th street with Antone’s, Eddie V’s, Russian House  and Trinity Hall.

Keep an eye out for more weeknight pop up shows and cultural events from Jim Waltrip and Suzy French.  The Graeber House is well worth the visit.

Beauty in all directions

As part of the practice of being in beauty, I sauntered Ladybird Lake during our fall butterfly season. On such a gorgeous day,  walking in beauty came easily. I was surrounded.

Sometimes you just feel like dancing. This town.

B3 Summit @ Antones – snaps from Austin music nerds

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Click on photo for snaps

The B3 Summit at Antone’s this Saturday reminded me of why I love this city.  Where else will four internationally renowned jazz, rock, soul and funk influenced organists share a bill designed for music nerds and musicians? I predict we will not see the likes of a groove this deep for some time.

The Hammond B3 is part of the soundtrack of our lives, from its heyday in the 50’s and 60’s in jazz or rock. From Ray Manzarek of the Doors to the incomparable Jimmy Smith, it’s the “take me out to the ballgame” sound of classic Americana.

Ike Stubblefield has played with Motown legends like the Four Tops, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves, Stevie Wonder and Rare Earth. His soulful R&B style helped forge the sound of Al Green, Ike & Tina Turner, Curtis Mayfield, B.B. King, The Pointer Sisters and George Benson and more recently, Cee Lo Green. Ike’s band is the first featured in the video highlights below.

Luckily, three of these four B3 masters live in Austin. Red Young has played with musicians ranging in style from: Eric Burdon, Linda Ronstadt, Dan Hicks, Joan Armatrading and  George Clinton to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker with time in between on the Sonny and Cher show. More entrepreneurial than most, he has owned nightclubs and performs throughout the world in many different formats – both piano, organ, on vocals, conducting, producing and arranging his own and others’ compositions.  See upcoming gigs for the many flavors of Red. Brannen Temple, the drummer featured in the video has worked with Eric Burdon, Lizz Wright, The Dixie Chicks, Sheena Easton, Chaka Kahn and too many Austin acts to name. Look for him at the One 2 One, Elephant Room and Antone’s with Red Young and many others. Mike Malone, the saxophonist featured in the video, plays with NuJazzSwing and often with Brannen Temple and other jazz musicians in town.

Dr. James Polk & Centerpeace may keep a more relaxed pace than his counterparts, but he is no lightweight on the national music scene. Polk is best-known for his work with Ray Charles, touring as an organist, pianist, writer, arranger and conductor from 1978 to 1985. He’s Texas born and bred, with roots in Deep Elum, along with Ornette Coleman. He moved to Austin in the 1970’s, forming James Polk and the Brothers, featuring Angela Strehli, with WC Clark on bass and John X Reed on guitar. These days, his main focus is on the Dr. James Polk Academy of Arts and Technology and helping to hold down the jazz scene in Austin.

Mike Flanigin is the fourth B3 player in the video. His latest project, The Drifter, was described as “the perfect record for late-night parties or all-day drives through the desert” by Rolling Stone. Billy Gibbons, Alejandro Escovedo and Kat Edmondson are among the supporting artists. Mike has regular gigs at the Continental Club Gallery, C-Boys Heart and Soul and Antone’s.

While this was a truly exceptional show, there is fine music happening every night in this town. Go out and support our incredible local talent!

Final homage to the B3 from Jimmy Smith, enjoy.

Austin Music Summit – The FeedBak

Two months ago I attended one of the  Austin Music Summit meetings at Strange Brew and met Bak Zoumanigui, an Austin podcaster and blogger. A veteran of Austin’s nightlife, his website The FeedBak features videos and podcasts from 2 am interviews, stories in the night and most recently, three excellent shows highlighting the City of Austin’s process of soliciting feedback from citizens at art and music summits. The recommendations for stabilizing the Austin creative ecosystem can be found here.

I’ve been here since the 1970’s, going to school, working at UT, the Austin Public Libraries, as a waitress, gallery assistant and unpaid artist and writer.  Artists and musicians created what is a now storied entertainment scene during a time in which housing and the cost of living was kind to creatives.  The same two bedroom cottage I rented in Travis Heights for $125 a month in 1976 would sell for at least $500,000 now.  Affordability is one of the biggest challenges working artists and musicians face in 21st Century Austin.

This is an ongoing conversation, in the meantime check FeedBak podcasts to catch up:

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FDBK Ep. 098 – Save Austin Music Part 1 – Work With The City. Do Not Rely On It

Interviews with Rebecca Farrell, an attorney at Austin Music Law and Tee Double, the founder of Urban Artist Alliance, helping urban artists learn about the business side of the music industry.

FDBK Ep. 099 – Save Austin Music Part 2 – Bet On Music Tech

Bak talks with Chris Bush, the CEO of TipCow, and Dan Redman, founder of Mosaic Sound Collective about how their ventures fit in Mayor Adler’s Omnibus Resolution to preserve the Austin music scene.

Yesterday, Bak talked with Music Summit organizers at City Hall in his 100th podcast for the Feedbak.  If you were not able to attend the meetings, these conversations are the next best thing.  Please give them a listen and use the link in the photo below for the last in the series.  Austin is striving to find ways to keep the city livable for artists and musicians. Thanks Bak, for getting the word out and please consider joining the fight and donating to the FeedBak!

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Thornton Road – West Austin Studio Tour

ThorntonWestAustinThe collective at the Thornton Road Studios, located by ABGB at Oltorf and Thornton Road boasts an important victory for artists trying to live and work in Austin.  In February, the Austin City Council decided 10 -1 in favor of denying a request for a zoning change, which would have razed the studio complex in favor of a mixed use development (read more condos).  It seems that every available parcel of land in South Austin is being gobbled up, transforming lush, green tracts on  Del Curto Drive and Clawson Lane into crowded, condo tunnels. Mayor Steve Adler has launched  the Austin Music and  Creative Omnibus Resolution which seeks input from the creative sector on keeping Austin artist friendly, stemming the tide of increasingly unaffordable housing and venue loss. In short, a battle for the soul-y of our city and I don’t just mean our “brand.”  This is one of a series of posts about the summits, which The Austin Chronicle reported on in April.

In addition to the creation of a Cultural District downtown on Red River and the thinkEAST living and working development, I would encourage cultivating creative corridors that are already developing organically in South Austin (SOCO, SOLA and SOCHACA)  and in North Austin (BURO).  Rather than building new units, it might be wise for the city to reclaim and upgrade apartments and offer grants to venues (like Strange Brew) that share an intention to grow collaboratively with other vendors or partners like ACC.

The West and East Austin Studio Tours are a great way to get an impression of just how many artists are meeting the affordability challenge in pursuit of their passion.  I offer a few in the gallery below who have made Thornton Road Studios their creative home. Featured artists include: Creative Side Metal Works, Wyss Bronko – Drugparty Collaborative, Cindy Corkill, Rita Marie Ross, Jacob Colburn, Mindy Graber, Sandy Muckleroy, Christine Gilbert and Greg Davis.

West Austin Studio Tour – South

Took a short tour of a couple South venues on the West Austin Studio tour. I’ve been curious about the Space music rehearsal studio on Manchaca Road for awhile.  The Sound : Vision show featured work from the Austin Art Refugees, a roving band of artists I will be following, shown in the gallery below: Hannah Lee, Ann Wieding, Dave McClinton, Patrick Moran and Bart Kibbe.  I had to stop in at David Amdur’s studio to see his new stone and wood carvings and check out the latest addition to the Manchaca Road corridor, Articulture, making art out of life.  More to come next week, when we’ll have another chance to explore more Westside art.

His funkiness Maceo Parker @Antone’s

Hornplayer My first trip to the new Antone’s was also my first live Maceo Parker experience. I’ve been a fan since his James Brown days, then ParliamentLife on Planet Groove and beyond.  He’s still 2% jazz and 98% funky.
Soul PowerThe band  featured in the video below  includes: Maceo Parker (sax/flute/vocals), Dennis Rollins (trombone), Will Boulware (keys), Bruno Speight (guitar), Rodney “Skeet” Curtis (bass), Marcus Parker (drums), Martha High (vocals) and Corey Parker (vocals).

Hard to keep the camera still when you gotta shake everything you got.  Happy music for him and all the fans getting their groove on.  I liked the new Antone’s location, next to Eddie V’s and the Russian House, which long since replaced Amdur gallery on 5th.  What’s old is new on a block where I worked and played for many years.

Community First – Creating a village in East Austin

Mobile Loaves and Fishes and a consortium of private partners and foundations have created a community for homeless residents that could serve as a template for many who are interested in sustainable co-housing .  The village consists of tiny homes, tent and teepee dwellings with a section for RVs with hook ups. Residents pay rent, ranging from $225 to $400 (all bills paid) depending on whether they opt for a tent, RV or house.

The collaboration of non-profits, architects and Austin residents has come together in ways that highlight their talents and commitment. As you walk the grounds, the feeling of being in a village built to encourage community, while still allowing for privacy and uniqueness is reflected in the diversity of homes and styles, obviously crafted with pride and creativity.  It is a very human  community on 27 acres designed to be partially self-sustaining.

Bath houses with private shower and toilet facilities and a community kitchen, gardens, a chicken coop and a small herd of dairy goats provide work, sustenance and healthy social opportunities. Bee hives are planned and an art house, a forge and onsite wi-fi will support  micro-enterprise development and job seekers who wish to reenter or join the workforce. Onsite health services and a new bus stop en route to Austin help residents take care of their basic needs and participate in the care and support their evolving community provides. Members of the Mobile Loaves and Fishes mission are in residence to assist and counsel those with questions or concerns.  As Sociology doctoral student, Brandon Robinson said, “This is a dissertation waiting to happen.” The data from this project will be invaluable in funding future villages and in keeping this one viable. From Invisible in Austin to Community First, there is plenty for our ethnographers to research.

Mobile Loaves and Fishes has been a source of sustainment and support for hungry people in Austin for many years.  Their model of community first is an inspiration to many who have partnered to turn this idea into an exciting reality, founded on love and respect. They = we.

Barton Creek and Blunn Creek – January 2016

It’s always nice to enjoy the trails along Barton Creek in January, when the weather is so very fine. Kids of all ages and their dogs swarm the greenbelt like happy bees with spring almost in the air, sun shining down like honey .

There were fewer people on the trail at the Blunn Creek Nature Preserve, an urban oasis in South Austin and one of several ancient volcanoes that dot the area from St. Edward’s University to Stacy Park in Travis Heights. My favorite oak, probably 500 years old, is queen of the forest and was too big to fit into my camera’s frame.

Water Meditation – Flowing

Shamans of the Avant Garde – Miro and the Crazy World of Arthur Brown

woman_bird_star_AS03162Art is never more obscure than when it invokes the language of the unconscious. Thankfully, we have guides – shamans who venture into the unknown and return, inviting us to join them . Avant garde artist Joan Miro is a shaman of symbolic art.  I saw his “Experience of Seeing” exhibit at the McNay Museum in San Antonio and entered the realm of the body/mind in order to see it.  Joan Miro acknowledges:

It is difficult for me to talk about my painting, since it is always born in a state of hallucination, brought on by some jolt or another – whether objective or subjective-which I am not in the least responsible for.

Joan Miro - BirdArt critic Waldemar George described it in 1929 “as the painting of a physical vacuousness that easily balances out its interior magic, with ties to cosmic sentiment and the intuition of mystery seen in the ancestors, like those who painted the caves of Altimara, whom he specifically mentions on one hand and to “congruent paintings, brought to life by strange homunculi and fantastical plants on the other. In this defining moment there came to be an encounter between the escape from speres and the attraction to the abyss.”
Miro, Joan-Head in the NightJacques Dupin elaborated, “There remains a space where things and beings can abide and encounter one another through a series of exchanges and metamorphoses, and this passing site is none other than the earth: neither sheltered from the risk from below, or the beckoning from above.”

Arthur Brown knows something of above and below, exhorting us to hold a vision in our heart, to face our fears and join him in the formless depths of Zim Zam Zim.

Miro’s paintings and found object sculptures beckon us to see space as a psychological landscape – to respond without preconception to what comes our way, as children do.

I will make my work emerge naturally, like the song of a bird or the music of Mozart, with no apparent effort, but thought out at length and worked out from within . . everything becomes strange, shifting, clear and confused at the same time. Forms give birth to other forms, constantly changing into something else.

ShamanArthur Brown invites us with many of the same numinous symbols as Miro: the spirit bird of our imagination, woman, sex and the fire of fear, rage and ultimate annihilation.  An existential burlesque that finally asks, “Who the fuck am I?” in this montage from his Strange Brew show in Austin (without his full band).

As we traipse from day to dreams, through all the stages of our lives and our imagination, it’s a good idea to keep a healthy dose of humor amidst the drama. So why do we even enter into the shape shifting realm of the unconscious?

Quoting Miro, ” As Kant said, it is the irruption of the infinite into the finite. A pebble, which is a finite and immobile object, suggests not only movement to me but movement that has no end. In my paintings, this translates into the spar-like forms that leap out of the frame, as though from a volcano.

That volcano is the fire of creation  in the heart of Zim Zam Zim.