Not because the NY Times just featured it in their Sunday travel magazine. But yes I can agree with their writer. Austin could grow on you. My husband has stories of friendly people and misspent youth that take place in Austin. I had never been and was curious. This IS a town with special charm. Why? Austin's style and vibe, unique in all of Texas? That Texas joy de vivre? It has a buzz, but it's not at all the NYC or Hollywood kind. It has a ...well...maybe you know what kind I mean! Is it the bars - so many and so vast? We visited a few museums, an average bar in Austin could hold all of the museums we visited with room to spare. (A good or bad thing?) Is it that EVERYWHERE is live music? Free food and yes, beer? What a town!
And yes it's true, "dining" trucks have also come to Austin in a big way. Unlike in L.A., they stay in one place. Maybe they invented the food trucks - anyone know?
Even the trash receptacles are colorful.
As everywhere, there is shopping. I have never outgrown my enthusiasm for folk art. (Hello color, simplicity, directness of means, delight in ornament!) Tesoros Trading Company at 1500 S. Congress has an extensive and very well chosen range of things from all over the world.
To name a few: Indian movie posters, moroccan rugs and lanterns, uzbek suzanis, baskets of every kind, flowers-of-paper tinsel and glass beads, mexican ceramics, tibetan metalwork, vietnamese papers, chinese lanterns, papier mache dolls and masks, terracotta acorn-like finials in many sizes. Retablos, ex-votos, santos, milagros. You want it, they got! They have a website (www.tesoros.com) that sells wholesale and retail. I left Austin without a purchase from Tesoros but I could really get into trouble with that website!
In keeping with that SXSW vibe: Allens Boots also on S. Congress: Must haves (if you have the readies.....note the price tag - yeah all "9"'s). Of course more reasonable styles available.
Further on up Congress towards the state Capitol building we found the Mexic-Arte Museum (www.mexic-artemuseum.org). Through Saturday October 17 they are having papier mache workshops in preparation for the Viva la Vida Dia de los Muertos procession October 24, 2009.
I love the art that comes out of the Dia de los Muertos celebrations. It so embraces the dark and light in life, it is both solemn and exuberant.
I would have been very happy to stay and get my hands wet. I adore papier mache. It is so versatile and so tactile. And the flour paste smells so good.
Finally, a piece by Gil Rocha was part of an exhibit at the Mexic-Arte Museum. For many people in the Americas today, this piece needs no explanation.
The piece was a part of the "TARP 'does not equal' Lona" exhibit. (Actually they use the "is not equal to" symbol in the exhibit name but I don't have it on my keyboard.)
The exhibit's theme as stated: "In times of troubled assets relief programs (TARP) ......we have the opportunity to look to art and culture...for comfort."
Gil Rocha's piece: Maybe not SO comforting.
I also liked the pieces by Carlos Donjuan, Santiago Forero, Hector Hernandez, James Huizar and Randy Muniz in this show. A separate print exhibit, "Serie X", had some original ideas and very accomplished draftsmanship.
Once I met someone who wasn't really arty who asked me about what my art meant to me in my life. I told her that it enabled me to experience life on a different plane. A plane where I can create an alternate or parallel reality. A place removed from the material and the immediate. A place where I am in charge of the choices and which allows me to abandon myself to something bigger than myself without risk of dire bodily or psychic harm. THIS - IS another version of paradise.
Lona means canvas (also cover, or shield) in spanish. My canvas is my paradise.
Did I need to go to Austin, TX to be reminded of that? MAY BE.