Weekend arts pick: Biodiversity meets sound art with “17,000 Observations” at Laguna Gloria

It’s free. And it’s at the glorious Laguna Gloria site.

Part installation, part sound art riff on nature “17,000 Observations” launches Sunday.

Los Angeles artists Lucky Dragons (Sarah Rara and Luke Fischbeck) present their site-specific artwork inspired by the vast biological diversity of Laguna Gloria.

A sculptural mobile of circular mirrors will be suspended between trees across one of the footpaths on the lakeside peninsula. Accompanying the mirrored natural views is a sound track of a field recording made over a 24-hour period in which the songs and calls of numerous bird species are manipulated, overlapped and modulated.

On Sunday Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. a live ensemble will accompany a public presentation of the 30-minute manipulated field recording.

The “17,000 Observations” project takes its name from the fact that Laguna Gloria has one of the highest levels of species diversity in Travis County. The site has long been one of the most popular birding destinations in Texas.

A Yellow-Crowned Night Heron wades the marshes at Laguna Gloria. Photo  Martin do Nascimento/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
A Yellow-Crowned Night Heron wades the marshes at Laguna Gloria. Photo by Martin do Nascimento/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

A recent ecological site assessment for Laguna Gloria and the neighboring Mayfield Park revealed that birders documented 17,000 observations of birds in the Laguna Gloria and Mayfield Park area of which 16,443 were at Laguna Gloria.

Through Dec. 9 visitors to Laguna Gloria can access the “17,000 Observations” recording of the performance and view the sculptural installation through Dec. 9.

Contemporary Austin, Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St. Free. thecontemporaryaustin.org

Thursday arts pick: August Kleinzahler, poet

August Kleinzahler has been dubbed the “pugilistic poet” for his hard-boiled street-smart style that’s nevertheless laced with utterly lovely whimsy and thoughtful intelligence.

Kleinzahler reads from his work 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6, a guest of UT’s Michener Center for Writers.

The event is free and in  in the Avaya Auditorium in the ACES on the UT campus at the southeast corner of Speedway and 24th Streets.

Kleinzahler’s  Sleeping it Off in Rapid City (2008) won the National Book Critics Circle Award.  His newest book of poems is The Hotel Oneira, which the Guardian describes as “dreamlike yet savvy, among the most delightful flowerings of American poetry in our times.”

His prose also regularly appears in the London Review of Books and Slate, among others, and he has published a volume of meditative essays, Cutty One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained.

Among my personal favorites of Kleinzahler’s poems is  “The Dog Stoltz”  which manages to be absurd, surreal, gritty and endearing all at the same time.

Never one to mince his opinion, Kleinzahler added to his bad-boy reputation a few years ago when he rather famously took on Garrison Keillor and his cloying Writer’s Almanac show on NPR.

In his review of Keillor’s Good Poems anthology for Poetry magazine Kleinzahler wrote: “Everything that comes out of (Keillor’s) mouth in that treacly baritone, which occasionally releases into a high-pitched, breathless tremolo when he wants to convey emotion, is a sermon. The homily runs something like this: we are good, if foolish and weak, and may gain redemption through compassion, laughing at ourselves, and bad poetry badly read.”

Read the rest of Kleinzahler’s review here.


August Kleinzahler
August Kleinzahler

Recommended: Doris Salcedo at the Blanton Museum of Art

Colombian artist Doris Salcedo creates in response to the violence and trauma that marks contemporary life in her country.

Salcedo reshapes quotidian materials — tables and chairs, thread and fabric and clothing, simple household furniture — disrupting their everyday familiarity to create dysfunctional objects that are imbued with trauma.

The Blanton Museum of Art on Nov. 7 welcomes an installation of Salcedo’s work in its Klein Gallery which will continue through Feb. 22.   Salcedo will give a  talk at 6 p.m. Friday.

Among the works included is “Atrabiliarios (Defiant).” Salcedo uses shoes that belonged to women who were “disappeared” in the Colombian political, encasing them in wall alcoves behind sheets of translucent animal skin that is crudely stitched to the gallery wall. Reminiscent of the niches found in churchs, Salcedo shoe alcoves are augmented with small casket-like boxes that lie on the gallery floor, also made from the same eerie animal membrane.

Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.  blantonmuseum.org


Doris Salcedo.  "Atrabiliarios [Defiant]," 1992-93. Drywall, shoes, cow bladder, and surgical thread. Collection of Diane and Bruce Halle
Doris Salcedo.
“Atrabiliarios [Defiant],” 1992-93. Drywall, shoes, cow bladder, and surgical thread. Collection of Diane and Bruce Halle

Line Upon Line launches new concert season

Twice named Outstanding Ensemble by the Austin Critics Table, the continually inventiveLine Upon Line Percussion starts their Austin concert season Nov. 7, again commandeering Big Medium Gallery as their venue.

Enthusiastic purveyors of new and adventuresome music, the trio — Matthew Teodori, Cullen Faulk and Adam Bedell — will premiere Andrew Greenwald’s “99 Words” for three heavily-altered snare drums, a piece the group commissioned.

Also on the program is Toru Takemitsu’s “Rain Tree” (for a trio of marimbas and vibraphone) and Rolf Wallin’s “Stonewave” by Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin who use often uses fractal algorithms as the creative basis of his music.

Line Upon Line recently joined the TCA Texas Touring Roster which hopefully will mean other cities around the state will

8 p.m. Friday. Big Medium Gallery, Canopy, 916 Springdale Road. $10-$30. lineuponlinepercussion.org

Line Upon Line Percussion. Photo by Rino Pizzi
Line Upon Line Percussion. Photo by Rino Pizzi

Artist-made Frickbits free app is now available

Frickdits — the free iPhone app created by Austin artist Laurie Frick —  is now live and free via www.FrickBits.com or the App Store.

Frickbits tracks a user’s location data and draws patterns of where you’ve traveled with colorful cubes derived from Frick’s watercolor drawings.

Frickbits utilizes the most basic of today’s data-collecting: the location data gathered by the Apple iPhone operating system

“It’s already happening, whether you realize how much your data is collected or not,” says a self-described data artist. “Why not take control of it? And create art from it?”

Read a feature story of Frick, her art and Frickbits here: http://shar.es/10CBxX





Screen grab of Jeanne Claire van Ryzin’s Frickbits app.

Saturday arts pick: Capital T Theatre’s “Fool for Love”

Capital T Theatre brings Sam Shepard’s best-known work to the stage in a new production starring Joey Hood and Molly Karrasch.

Funny, urgent and tender, “Fool for Love” finds Eddie returning after a long absence to reclaim May, his lover since high school. Though she determined to make a fresh start, May’s efforts  are undermined by Eddie’s attempts to drag her back into the life from which she has escaped.

In a bleak motel on the edge of the Mojave desert the lovers long to be together — but the sorted truth of their past is more than they can overcome.

“Fool for Love” 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays through Nov. 22, Hyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd St. www.capitalt.org

Joey Hood stars in "Fool for Love"
Joey Hood stars in “Fool for Love”

Thursday arts pick: Trouble Puppet Theater’s “The Strange Case of Edward Hyde and Dr. Jekyll”

Trouble Puppet Theater Company brings its imaginative irreverence to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic horror story “Jekyll & Hyde.”

Using tabletop-style puppets that require three puppeteers each, the troupe, led by artistic director Connor Hopkins creates a visual spectacle to tell its spooky, clever, darkly funny story.

Music by Justin Sherburn of Okkervil River.

Note: The show is not suitable for children — it is Trouble Puppet, after all.

“The Strange Case of Edward Hyde and Dr. Jekyll”

8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 6 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 23

Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Road. $12-$20. www.troublepuppet.com


Fresh from Emmy win, KLRU’s “Arts in Context” launches new season

KLRU-TV’s arts documentary series “Arts in Context” just last week netted two Lone Star Emmy awards.

On Thursday its fifth season launches with the premiere episode “Rebirth,” on Austin’s experimental indie folk band Les Rav and its lead singer Lauren Burton.

The 30-minute “Arts in Context” airs Thursday nights with new episodes rolled out each month.

The fifth season also trains its lens on theater troupe the Rude Mechanicals, the Austin Bike Zoo, Blue Lapis Light aerial dance, clothing designer Gail Chovan and indie classical music purveyors Golden Hornet Project, among other creative efforts.


Blue Lapis Light
Blue Lapis Light



Monday arts pick: Sa-Ten Coffee and Eats at Canopy arts complex

Though the East Austin arts complex Canopy launched in early 2013, only in the last few weeks has an eatery opened in the space long reserved for such a business.

The owners of the large former warehouse complex at 916 Springdale Road intended Canopy always intended the mix of tenants to include a restaurant of some kind along with galleries, individual artist studios and creative business like the long-time residents, Blue Genie Art Industries.  (The property is owned by a consortium of private business people including architect Michael Hsu who designed the remodel).

But the site’s proximity to a school —Govalle Elementary is right next door — prevents any restaurant at Canopy from obtaining a liquor license.

Welcome, then, to Sa-Ten Coffee and Eats from the co-creators of East Side King and Kome Sushi.

Sa-Ten is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Lunch is served 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.




Non-profit group Big Medium — the folks who started the East Austin Studio Tour — act as Canopy’s anchor tenants and adjudicate the applications for artists studios.


Sunday arts pick (And Things We Love About Austin): Elisabet Ney Museum

On Oct. 24, we published “175 Reasons We Love Austin,” an idiosyncratic list of the lists various members of the American-Statesman Arts & Entertainment staff came up with.

The sprawling list of our personal lists went viral. You can read the whole thing here:  http://shar.es/1mNF5U (subscription-free link).

I chose things having to do with art and architecture for my list. And because I haven’t stopped loving them, I’m going to trickle them out on this blog in the next couple of weeks.

As it so happens, on Sunday, Oct. 26, the Elisabet Ney Museum is hosting “Polkapocalypse” a free celebration from noon to 5 p.m. of polka music with bands including Conjunto Los Pinkys and Grammy-winners Brave Combo. See the Facebook entry for the event here.

What I love about the idiosyncratic limestone building Ney built in 1892 and named “Formosa,” is that though eventually the German-born artist would add living quarters and a kitchen, the place was first and foremost an art studio not a house.

Hence the building’s odd architectural composition — it’s driven by the demands of Ney’s large-scale figurative marble sculpture-making.

Ney had moved to Austin in 1892 to resume her career as a sculptress after a 20 year lapse. She had just been commissioned to sculpt Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin for the 1892 Chicago World’s Fair.

Her art was her priority, not housekeeping. Most nights she slept on the roof. “Women are fools to be bothered with housework” she once said.

At first, the building — with its quirky mash-up of stylistic details both neo-Gothic and neo-Classical — was a large high-ceilinged studio with a small antechamber on one side.

Ney built her studio on the shore of Waller Creek in the Hyde Park neighborhood.
Ney built her studio on the shore of Waller Creek in the Hyde Park neighborhood.
First iteration of Formosa, Elisabet Ney's studio.
First iteration of Formosa, Elisabet Ney’s studio.


Only in 1902 did Ney add the tower and two-story addition that has a kitchen in the basement and sleeping quarters upstairs.

And the tower? Yes, there’s a “secret” door that leads out to Ney’s favorite place — the roof.