Art in Downtown Austin – Different Strokes for Different Folks

Art in Downtown Austin – Different Strokes for Different Folks

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We like to highlight good and interesting art on DAB.  I’ve recently written about the cool little Art-O-Matic found at a couple of downtown locations, and the public art piece High Water Mark.

Back in 2012, Jude bought out the entirety of Austin Java when he learned about Mike Johnston aka “Truth”, and throughout 2013 we admired the work at The People’s Gallery showcase at Austin City Hall.

Last month, the REATX office acquired a very special work that had been showcased next to the City Hall elevators for the past year.  It’s called Different Strokes for Different Folks, and is the concept of up-and-coming artist Hallie Rae Ward.

Artist Hallie Rae Ward with DAB Publisher Jude Galligan

Artist Hallie Rae Ward with Jude Galligan in the REATX Realty office

Different Strokes for Different Folks was one of two pieces Hallie had featured in the 2013 People’s Gallery.  Hallie will be showcasing more of her work at this year’s West Austin Studio Tour - so, please check it out!

Below, I ask Hallie a few questions about what inspires her work.  You can learn more about Hallie on her website or Facebook page.

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Girls Night Out in Downtown Austin – Eat at Chavez

Girls Night Out in Downtown Austin – Eat at Chavez

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I never thought I’d say this, but if you want to check out a really cool new restaurant, you should hit up The Radisson at Congress and Cesar Chavez.

No kidding.

The Radisson is now the home of the simply hip and delicious new restaurant, Chavez, owned by Parkside’s (and Backspace’s) own Shawn Cirkiel.

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Girls Night Out – Things to Do in Downtown Austin

Girls Night Out – Things to Do in Downtown Austin

Me and some of my lady friends enjoying culture at The Contemporary.

Note: This evening’s itinerary also works for date night!

I like to do a group outing with girlfriends once every week or two, but sometimes we get into a rut – where we are doing the same things, going to the same places, etc.  So, for 2014, I’ve made a commitment to try and mix things up a little (nothing too crazy) and try to do something a little different each time we get together.  Last night was our first night since the holiday madness, and me and gals decided to hit up the northern edge of Congress near the Capitol – frankly, a seeming no man’s land in the evenings.

Me and some of my lady friends enjoying culture at The Contemporary.

Me and some of my lady friends at the beginning of girls night.  At The Contemporary.

Stop 1 – 6pm: The Contemporary – The Jones Center at 7th and Congress

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An artistic shot of the staircase at The Contemporary – The Jones Center. Photo by Lindsey Strobel.

For a steal at $5, you can get in to The Contemporary – Jones Center, and view the exhibitions on site (apparently, your receipt gets you [Read more...]





Last Minute Christmas Gifts You Can Buy Downtown

Last Minute Christmas Gifts You Can Buy Downtown

Neo Jumper

Christmas is in four days, y’all.  If you want to live dangerously – you can try doing your last minute shopping online and cross your fingers that it gets shipped to you in time OR you can go to the mall and get something completely lackluster, but why risk it?

You can pick up unique gifts right here in downtown without biting your nails about when it will arrive.  One of the many benefits of shopping local.

But Amber, you say, I don’t have the time to visit a lot of unfamiliar stores, look through all their wares, and make a decision.  Never you fear – Amber is here! I’ve done a little of the heavy lifting for you, and below provided you a curated list of some cool shops and some cool stuff they’ve got so you can run in, get a special gift, and run out.

REMEMBER – Check the websites for the store hours!  If you are unsure about something, probably also a good idea to call ahead!

My list, of course, is not exhaustive – if you know of a cool downtown / downtown-adjacent shop – feel free to tell us in the comments below!

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List of Google Fiber Proposed “Community Connection” Sites Released

List of Google Fiber Proposed “Community Connection” Sites Released

Google Fiber logo

In an update to the story below… Austin City Council elected to postpone adoption of the List of 100 Community Connection Sites until its Dec. 12th meeting saying they wanted to review and tweak the list some more with Google.  KUT has more on Council activity here.

Also floating around out there in the Fibersphere is this post from Google Fiber Chief, Mark Strama, that discusses how the construction process is being envisioned as it makes its way around the city starting sometime mid 2014.

ORIGINAL STORY – Here is a link to the PDFs of the LIST & Council RESOLUTION of Proposed Google Fiber Community Connection Sites coming before City Council tomorrow, November 21st.

And here are those sites neatly MAPPED courtesy of KUT.

After spending only about five minutes reviewing the list, some inexplicable glaring omissions would include:

  • University of Texas – the 40 acres and other facilities like the Pickle research campus, ATI, IC2, etc.
  • Austin Community College – all of their campuses and, in particular, the new Highland Center that will be a major central city magnet for the tech and creative industries over the next 5+ years.
  • Austin Studios – film and production facilities on East 51st St
  • Hospitals in our emerging health care services growth cluster
  • …and no doubt much more!

How is this possible? These are all mega bandwidth users and fit the criteria for inclusion in the Community Connectedness program of public service locations intended for free Fiber service.  St. Edward’s, Huston-Tillotson, Concordia are all on there – appropriately – but not UT or ACC.  Seriously?





Art in Downtown Austin – The Art-o-mat®

Art in Downtown Austin – The Art-o-mat®

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I see this quirky little machine every time I walk in Whole Foods HQ downtown to get a healthy helping of freshly made vegetable juice.  But I’m usually in too much of a hurry to pay much attention to it.  I kinda always knew what it was, just never *really* looked at it.  However, I had a few seconds the other day and I FINALLY took a closer look and was just as charmed as I always thought I would be!

It’s a vending machine for reasonably priced art ($5!)!  Yay!

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According to their website:

The inspiration for Art-o-mat® came to artist Clark Whittington while observing a friend who had a Pavlovian reaction to the crinkle of cellophane. When the friend heard someone opening a snack, he had the uncontrollable urge to have one too.

In June 1997, Clark was set to have a solo art show at a local cafe, Penny Universitie in Winston-Salem, N.C. He used a recently-banned cigarette machine to create the first Art-o-mat®. It was installed along with 12 of his paintings. The machine sold Clark’s black & white photographs mounted on blocks for $1.00 each.

The show was scheduled to be dismantled in July 1997. However, owner Cynthia Giles loved the machine and asked that it stay permanently. At that point, it was clear that involvement of other artists was needed if the project was going to continue. Cynthia introduced Clark to a handful of other local artists and the group Artists in Cellophane (AIC) was formed.

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These little machines are all over the nation, with four locations in Austin (they are currently in Whole Foods Global HQ on Lamar, Whole Foods @ Arbor Trails, Whole Foods in Bee Cave, and the Mercury store in the 2nd Street District – Whole Foods @ The Domain is in the works). I LOVE this concept because I think these little pieces of art make great gifts, and are a way better way to spend $5 than on a coke and a couple of candy bars or useless pieces of junk that you may get from other vending machines.

I was so intrigued that I just had to find out more.  So, I got in touch with the owner of the concept, Clark Whittington.  First off, he had only positive things to say about Austin, which is not surprising in the least.  He says that Mercury was the first venue in Austin and they’ve been there about 6 years or so – he says that Mercury has been great to work with.  Whole Foods then contacted him and has since taken the concept under their wing, which he says has taken the concept to a whole new level.

He also told me that, even though the machines are throughout the US, there are several Austin-based artists who have work in the Art-o-mats. Here’s the list of current Austin-based artists:

Deborah Abbott
Marilyn Kirk
Jon Lawrence
Donna Toutin
Gabrielle Toutin

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Clark says that the real mission of the project is to promote artists. They have about 120 machines and about 300 or so participating artists. He describes the concept as the balance of art versus commerce.

I asked him how the concept has grown over the years. How it had started from one machine in a coffee shop in Winston-Salem to 120 machines across the nation. Here’s what he said:

I don’t really contact people because when I do I get treated like I’m selling vinyl siding, so I wait until I hear from people and then go from there. We’re an art project – it’s not the best business model.  It’s really weird how art centers and museums – if I pitch someone – they just start crunching numbers.  Lots of times, businesses like Whole Foods and Mercury understand that there’s more too it than every little nickel and dime.  Art-o-mat is not pretentious – we are reaching out to everyone, everyone is invited to participate.

I just want to share this with the world – with people that do get it.  The last thing I’d want to do is expand in a way that doesn’t mesh with what we’re doing.  We have to be calculated and relaxed with how we do things.  Artists and hosts have to find us on their own.

Logistically, every machine is owned by the studio – not only to control the quality of inventory – but because, at the end of the day, this represents Clark’s livelihood. There are a few collectors that own their machine, but most are on a lease. Then the host buys art from Art-o-mat on invoice, as needed. Clark works with artists to curate and distribute the art for the machines.

Clark says they are in need of artists, especially Texas artists.  If you, or someone you know, has an interest in either hosting a machine or providing art for the machine – you can visit Art-o-mat’s contact page on their website. He seems to be pretty responsive.  Want to see some amazing samples of the type of art work in the machines? Visit their Flickr page.





DAB Profile: Chuck Smith, Restaurateur

DAB Profile: Chuck Smith, Restaurateur

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Downtowner Chuck Smith is a lover of history, a proponent of Texas charm and knows how to create spaces in Austin that keep people coming back. The restaurateur is warm and welcoming, and loves Austin for its “energized people and positive vibes.”

Smith is one of the creative minds behind the Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill, located at 4th and Red River. Architecture and travel are important to Smith, who would rather read a book on urban spaces than watch the Food Network, and loves visiting small coastal communities with his family.

“I’m a big fan of the coast, and small communities that are designed for mingling and a back-to-basics lifestyle,” he said.

Chuck Smith, Proprietor of Moonshine

Chuck Smith, Proprietor of Moonshine

But Moonshine, Smith shared, is less about “other things seen,” and is a result of its own history and what it was.  A hotbed of trade and commerce in the late 1880s, the mansion that now houses the best brunch in Austin and a “culture of comfort” is what Smith describes as a place that “calls to all.”

Along with cofounder Larry Perdido, Smith wanted to instill that “back-to-basics” vibe, which tells a good story and speaks to the people of Austin. He and his team have managed to do this for 10 years this month at Moonshine.

Smith said giving back to the community is a major reason for his restaurants’ growth and success downtown, where he is known as a generous supporter of many community-driven causes.

“I can’t give a number, but we pretty much say yes to just about every fundraiser that approaches us. It’s important for us to build community in that way, and contribute to those groups.”

For the future of his businesses and Downtown Austin, Smith said he hopes that amid the city’s growth and change people will still “maintain that Texas charm of looking each other in the eye and giving friendly nods as we pass.”

Historic 3rd @ Red River

Historic 3rd @ Red River

No matter what the future brings for the city, downtowners can be rest assured they’ll find those “positive vibes” at the Moonshine when Smith is around.  He said that Austin is a city where people are thriving and succeeding, but we can’t loose the character that makes the city and its people unique. When asked why he loves the restaurant business, Smith said he values the friendships he has made and the people he has been able to bring together, and has even seen employees marry and start families together. “It’s a blessing,” he said. 

Claim to Fame: One of the first 3 people to paddleboard in Austin. “People looked at me like I was crazy…I have a custom wooden paddleboard from Talking Fish.”

Favorite Band: U2. “I love their message and what they stand for.”

Favorite Book: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. “This book was that groundwork for me in creating a culture in my business. 

Downtown Favorite: Easy Tiger. “I absolutely love what those guys are doing!”





Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 4/16/14 10:55 AM PDT. Neither the Board nor ACTRIS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. All data is provided “AS IS” and with all faults. Data maintained by the Board or ACTRIS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.

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