Creek Show preview: First peek at illuminated installations coming to Waller Creek

The Waller Creek Conservancy’s popular “Creek Show” is coming to downtown Austin in just a few weeks.

And today, the organizers have released renderings of the five illuminated site-specific temporary installations that will light up four blocks of Waller Creek from 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 10-19.

The free happening is a means for the conservancy — a nonprofit partner helping the city shape the transformation of 1.5 miles of downtown creekside —  to bring the public’s attention to the overlooked subterranean stretch of Waller Creek.

The opening night party starts at 6 p.m. Nov. 10; there will be a DJ creekside and drink specials available at creek-adjacent bars including Easy Tiger, the Gatsby, Waller Creek Pub House and more.

And on Nov. 15, I will be moderating an artists’ talk at 6:30 p.m. at the Palm Door on Sabine during which I’ll get the Creek Show designers to open up about their creative process, the challenge of working with an ephemeral artistic medium such as light and the uniqueness of designing something for a singular spot in the urban landscape.

In the meantime, here’s a quick look at renderings of the five temporary projects:

Jules Buck Jones is making a 40-foot sculpture of an extinct sea lizard called a Mosasaur that 65 million years ago swam through the shallow sea that covered Central Texas. UT geology students found an almost complete skeleton of a Mosasaur in Onion Creek in 1935, and it’s now on exhibit at the Texas Memorial Museum. Jones’ sculpture will be under the East Eighth Street bridge.

E 8th Street Bridge over Waller Creek
Jules Buck Jones illuminated sculpture of a Mosasaur,


• “Nimbus Cloud,” by Dharmesh Patel and Autumn Ewalt, is a raincloud-shaped sculpture with programmable LEDs that will change in pattern and light, the water below reflecting the ephemeral display.



• The team of East Side Collective and Drophouse Design (Tim Derrington, Wilson Hanks and Christian Klein) conceived of “Deep Curiosity,” a partially submerged enormous illuminated circular form dipped into the murky nighttime creek water just on the south side of the East Sixth Street bridge near the Easy Tiger terrace.

“Deep Curiosity” is near Easy Tiger.


Kory Bieg’s “The Creek Zipper” is an undulating stretch of milled aluminum forms — some stretched over the water — that will extend the length of the creek between the East Sixth Street bridge ending near the Seventh Street bridge.

"The Creek Zipper"
“The Creek Zipper”

“Phantom Diversion,” by Alisa West and Travis Cook, will draw attention to the stretch of large, above-grade diversion pipes that will someday be replaced when the intake station (part of the Waller Creek flood control project) is up and functional. In the meantime, West and Cook will give us a double helix of lovely light.

"Phanton Diversion"
“Phanton Diversion”


Austin’s newest mural art: ‘Juegala Fria: Play it Cool Austin’

Last week we caught up with David “Shek” Vega, the San Antonio artist and owner of buzzed about Gravelmouth Gallery who serves as curator’s for this year’s Young Latino Artists exhibit at Mexic-Arte Museum.

Vega titled the exhibt “Amexican@” — that @ symbol a key to defining the 11 artists and one collective Vega selected, all millennials or younger born in the 1980s and 1990s.

“These artists deal with identity, but not necessarily in the same way as the Chicano artists who came before them,” told me during our walk through the exhibit. “We’re Mexican and we’re American and so we’re ‘Amexican@.’”

Since he was curating the current show (it’s up through Aug. 28; Sundays offer free admission), Mexic-Arte Museum invited Vega — a busy muralist, check out what he did for the Spurs — to create a mural on the museum’s East Fifth Street outside wall.

Check out our story on “Young Latino Artists 21: Amexican@”

Vega and his “Juegala Fria: Play it Cool Austin” mural at Mexic-Arte Museum, E. Fifth St. and Congress Ave.


Camp Austin360: An artful mid-summer night’s sky viewing

Here’s an artful option: Why not see the summer sunset in sublime color at the Turrell skyspace?

Tucked on top of a University of Texas building, a sleek curvilinear roofless chamber is James Turrell’s “The Color Inside,” one of the famed artist’s “skyspaces” — a radically reimagined observatory for creative contemplation of the sky.


At sunset, an hourlong sequence of slowly changing colored LED lights illuminate the inside walls, radically yet subtly altering your perception of the heavens.

Over the course of an hour, the colors shift, saturating the space with intense and varying shades of purple, green, yellow, pink, blue. And through the aperture in the ceiling, a remarkable visual phenomena happens. The sky appears in complementary hues. Walls awash in blue make the sky look yellow. A flush of pink turns the sky green.

A recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, Turrell is a pioneer in the use of light as an artistic medium.

In naming “The Color Inside,” Turrell said: “I was thinking about what you see inside, and inside the sky, and what the sky holds within it that we don’t see the possibility of in our regular life.”

Commissioned by UT’s public art program, Landmarks, “The Color Inside” is a permanent work of art, one of several daring pieces added to the campus.



“The Color Inside” is open every day that the UT Student Activity Building is open. Start time for the evening light sequence changes daily. And if you can’t make the evening light sequence you can visit anyway. Turrell’s

Admission free but with seating limited to 25 people, reservations are recommended.




And be sure to check out our guides to Austin’s museums and galleries



Choose your own interactive tour of Austin’s arts scene

We know. There’s lots to do in Austin. And whether you’re new to town or have been here for years, Austin’s ever-exploding arts scene can sometimes overwhelm.

Not to worry. We’ve got it all laid out for you to peruse with several interactive, easy-to-use map guides that will get you out and seeing things.


Print Austin fest at the Canopy arts complex
Print Austin fest at the Canopy arts complex in East Austin




Films about vaudeville, Frida Kahlo on Ransom Centers free summer series

The Harry Ransom Center is hosting a three-movie free film series this summer.

The films dovetail with the center’s collections from Samuel Beckett’s experimental film, to the whackiness of 1920s vaudeville and even a biopic of Frida Kahlo, whose “Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird,” is currently on view in the Ransom Center’s lobby.

Fort Worth Majestic Program. Hoblitzelle-Interstate Collection. Ransom Center.

Screenings happen in the center’s 125-seat Prothro Theater. Doors open 30 minutes in advance of the 7 p.m. screenings.

The Ransom Center is located at 21st and Guadalupe streets on the edge of the UT campus.

“Film” and “Notfilm”
7 p.m. June 16

  • Samuel Beckett’s sole film project, “Film” (1965), stars Buster Keaton and was directed by Alan Schneider. Recently restored, “Film” will be followed by “Notfilm,” a feature-length experimental essay on “Film.” Runtime of “Film” is 22 minutes, and “Notfilm” run time is 128 minutes.

“Vaudeville and Vitaphone”
7 p.m. June 30

  • In the early days of talkies, Warner Brothers hired some of the top variety stars of the day to create “living sound” recordings of their acts. This “Vaudeville and Vitaphone” series of rarely-seen short films breathes life into the extensive vaudeville collections at the Ransom Center.

7 p.m. July 14

  • Salma Hayek stars as Frida Kahlo in the 2002 film “Frida,” directed by Julie Taymor. Run time is 123 minutes, rated R.

In a new exhibit in Austin, the history of photography clicks forward

Among the more than 5 million items in its renowned photo collection, the University of Texas’ Ransom Center claims the world’s first photograph (made in 1826 or 1827) and keeps it on permanent display.

The center is particularly rich with photographs from 19th-century including the work Victorian pioneers such as Lewis Carroll and Julia Margaret Cameron.

Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). Alice Liddell and her two sisters. Albumen print, c. 1859. Harry Ransom Center.
Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). Alice Liddell and her two sisters. Albumen print, c. 1859. Harry Ransom Center.

Thankfully the Ransom Center isn’t resting on its laurels.

In a new exhibit opening today, the research archive unveils some of its especially important recent acquisitions of contemporary innovators whose experiments with photographic process push the medium forward.

Penelope Umbrico (American, b. 1957), Moving Mountains #108, from the series Range, 2015. Color inkjet print, 8 x 8 in. Harry Ransom Center Collection, purchased with funds provided by the Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Endowment in Photography © Penelope Umbrico

Starting today and continuing through May 29, nearly 200 photographs go on display for the first time in Look Inside: New Photography Acquisitions.

Photography curator Jessica S. McDonald has done a very admiral job of adding photographs to the collection that continue the story of what could be considered a very democratic art form.

McDonald unveils work made during particularly vibrant periods in the medium’s artistic evolution, such as the American “photo boom” of the 1960s and 1970s during which artist like Betty Hahn who shook up the formalities of the medium.

Betty Hahn (American, b. 1940), Starry Night Variation #2, from the series Who Was that Masked Man? I Wanted to Thank Him, 1977. Screenprint, 22 x 18 in. Harry Ransom Center Collection, purchased with funds provided by the Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Endowment in Photography © Betty Hahn Courtesy of Harry Ransom Center.
Betty Hahn (American, b. 1940), Starry Night Variation #2, from the series Who Was that Masked Man? I Wanted to Thank Him, 1977. Screenprint, 22 x 18 in. Harry Ransom Center Collection, purchased with funds provided by the Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Endowment in Photography © Betty Hahn

Also now a part of the Ransom Center’s story of the history of photography are images by current artists like Alejandro Cartagena who offer a vision that is decidedly contemporary.

Alejandro Cartagena (Mexican, b. Dominican Republic, 1977), Carpoolers 49, 2011–2012. Color inkjet print, 22 x 14 1/4 in. Harry Ransom Center Collection, purchased with funds provided by the David Douglas Duncan Endowment for Photojournalism © Alejandro Cartagena
Alejandro Cartagena (Mexican, b. Dominican Republic, 1977), Carpoolers 49, 2011–2012. Color inkjet print, 22 x 14 1/4 in. Harry Ransom Center Collection, purchased with funds provided by the David Douglas Duncan Endowment for Photojournalism © Alejandro Cartagena

Admission to the Ransom Center is free and it’s open every day of the week.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays (Thursdays until 7 p.m.), noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Harry Ransom Center, 300 W. 21st St.

Theater review: Austin Shakepeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”

(This review is written by American-Statesman freelance arts critic Cate Blouke.)


Old time country music twangs and a cool spring breeze blows across the Zilker hillside as the moon hangs low on the horizon. Our unseasonably pleasant spring weather this year is a lovely start to the Zilker Hillside Theater season and a compelling reason to bring out the picnic blankets and coolers for Austin Shakespeare’s production of “The Taming of the Shrew,” running through May 24. 11182286_10153799668523222_7020810462981748141_n

One of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, “Taming” has inspired plenty of re-tellings over the years: from “Kiss Me Kate” to “10 Things I Hate About You,” we’ve watched countless men conspire to marry off a shrewish elder sister so that others may woo her demure younger sibling.

For those able to overlook the overt sexism and problematic currents of domestic violence in the play, this production is an entertaining foray into romantic comedy silliness.

In keeping with Austin Shakespeare’s tradition of late, director Anne Ciccolella has set the production far away in time and space from Shakespeare’s original imagining. Rather than the streets of Padua, characters ramble through the Texas hill country back in the 1890s, and to set the scene, the cast treats audiences to a rousing rendition of “Deep in the Heart of Texas” at the top of the show.

Admittedly, it takes a while for our ears to get used to hearing “Austin” and “Fredericksburg” inserted into the verse, but the southern setting allows for some dramatic license that’ll get laughs.

Another feather in the production’s cap is the talented Marc Pouhé playing the romantic lead (Petruchio). Pouhé commands attention in his ankle length black duster and cowboy hat, which turns out to be a surprisingly fitting ensemble for the proud and blustery suitor.

With its thick layers of silliness, the production makes for a cute evening.

Bianca (Sara Cormier) walks onstage licking a lollypop the size of her head and the rodeo-style wrestling with her elder sister Kate (Gwedolyn Kelso) ends up remarkably well supported by the text. Tony Salinas also stands out for his clowning as Grumio, Petruchio’s hapless servant.

The quirky setting brings Texas charm to the Bard’s story at some inevitable cost to textual integrity. So while the production’s liberties will likely make Shakespeare purists cringe, the familiarity of the setting allows for some extra-textual fun that more laid-back audiences will certainly appreciate.

“The Taming of the Shrew” continues 8 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays through May 24 at Zilker Hillside Theatre.

Free live music! Austin Classical Guitar concerts in May

Austin Classical Guitar once again teams up with Austin Public Libraries to present a series of free concert during May.

Thomas Echols
Thomas Echols

Concerts are at 2 p.m. each Sunday in May at the Faulk Central Library, 801 Guadalupe St.

For more info,

Thomas Echols
2 p.m. May 3

With a diverse repertoire, Austin guitarist Thomas Echols will play music ranging from Rodrigo to Takemitsu to Monk.

UT Guitar Quartet
2 p.m. May 10

The quartet  of Thales Smith, Tyler Rhodes, Kyle Comer and Carlos Martinez just won the prestigious UT System Regents’ Outstanding Student Award in Arts and Humanities.

Nicolas Emilfork
2 p.m. May 17

Chilean guitarist and UT doctoral student Nicolas Emilfork is an impressive and expressive performer.

ACG Community Guitarists
2 p.m. May 31

Serious classical guitarists in Austin play together in this ensemble.

Free screening of woodcut animated film, “The Jackleg Testament Part I”

bolotin-web-blog-event-460pxJay Bolotin won Best Animation at the 2007 Santa Fe Film Festival for “The Jackleg Testament Part I: The Story of Jack & Eve,” a beguiling and quirky 60-minute animated film made from 40 handmade woodcut prints and set to an original score.

The elaborately created film started with Bolotin creating intricate colored woodcut prints that he then digitally photographed, scanned and animated them with motion graphics software. He spent five years working on “Jackleg.”

A reinterpretation of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, “Jackleg Testament” fuses a Southern Gothic sensibility with some American folk art style and with a little traditional Renaissance imagery.

Bolotin composed the score, an operatic soundtrack with a folk music twang.

Now, the film comes to Austin for a free screening Jan. 15, presented by Landmarks, the University of Texas public art program as part of Print Austin, the month-long festival of fine art printing.

Bolotin will be on hand for a question-and-answer session after the screening.

5:30 p.m. Thursday. Off Center, 2211 Hidalgo St.