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.





Kimber Modern Is Coming To Downtown Austin – And It Looks Incredible

Kimber Modern Is Coming To Downtown Austin – And It Looks Incredible

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If you have ever looked for parking behind the Continental Club on South Congress, you may have been surprised to see the Kimber Modern hotel quietly tucked along the back street.

The Kimber, with it’s clean, manicured building lines, has become a favorite destination for people visiting Austin, or even Austinites taking a staycation.

Though the notion of a Kimber Modern in the Rainey District has been percolating for a while now, the principals have been very tight lipped.

For the first time, we have an original rendering of the project that we can share, and can confirm that it will be called, simply, “Kimber Modern Rainey.”

Here’s what we know… 

- 30 hotel rooms (approx.)
- Four above grade floors
- One floor of underground parking
- Street level lobby, bar, pool, and restaurant open to the public
- Three floors of rooms
- Designed by Burton Baldridge
- Will be operated by Kimber Modern Team
- Co-Developed and built by Acero Construction

In almost poetic contrast to some of the recent cookie-cutter development in and around downtown, the Kimber Modern Rainey will be one of a kind.

Rendering of new Kimber Modern coming to Rainey Street district

Rendering of new Kimber Modern coming to Rainey Street district

 

It’s always refreshing to see a development putting forth a bold design vision.  Despite how much downtown Austin has evolved, many of us feel a bit let down by safe “beige box” aesthetic of several new buildings.  Hat tip to Burton Baldridge on the design.

Site as it is today

Site as it is today

 

The site for the chic bed & breakfast’s 2nd location will be on East Ave (near the corner of River St), sharing an alley with the core of Rainey Street.  Made up of two adjacent lots: 62 & 64 East Ave, it will welcome people into the neighborhood.

Site of Kimber Modern Rainey

Site of Kimber Modern Rainey

 

I’m excited that owner Kimber Cavendish and Vicki Faust are bringing this kind of quality, home-grown hospitality into the Rainey Street area, four years after they launched their South Congress base.

Notably, the South Congress location picked as on of 13 winners (out of 227 entries) in 2012 to receive the Texas Society of Architects Design Awards from a total of 227 entries.

The Kimber joins Hotel Van Zandt in the neighborhood, which finally erupted into construction earlier this year after years of smoke. Just outside the ‘hood the mega-luxury, mega-size Fairmont is also looking to get underway soon.





Plans Evolve For Rainey Street’s Waller Center

Plans Evolve For Rainey Street’s Waller Center

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Here are the latest revisions to the 3 acre Waller Center plan – an ambitious project that stretches along the east bank of Waller Creek, from E Cesar Chavez to Davis Street.

The updated renderings (below) give a more comprehensive vision for the massing of three distinct towers, and how they could be best be oriented.  According to the ABJ‘s interview with development firm, The Sutton Company, their target is to submit plans to the City of Austin for approval by late November

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Here’s what we know about the goals of the project:

  • Tower A is a 21 story office building
  • Tower B is a 46 story residential tower
  • Tower C is a 38 story mixed use Tower
  • Target FAR is 10:1
  • 26,000 ft retail (possibly grocery store)

Checkout the images below.

[Read more...]





The Whitley Apartment Building Is For Sale

The Whitley Apartment Building Is For Sale

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Downtown Austin’s most recently completed apartment building is for sale according to commercial real estate company CBRE’s website.

The timing is interesting because the Whitley just welcomed its first tenants only a few months ago.  And, we were very excited when Royal Blue Grocery was announced as an anchor bodega-grocery store.

Construction of the Whitley was first announced back in September 2011, and would replace the former Whitley Paper warehouse that occupied a half-block at the northeast corner of 3rd & Brazos Street (just south of the Railyard condos).

Since the building’s completion, they have already achieved 66% occupancy, according to the info on CBRE’s website.   That’s nearly 176 apartments rented in just a few months!!!

Details:
-266 units (66% leased)
-16 stories
-12,000 ft of ground level retail space (100% leased)
-333 structured parking spaces
-Price is to be determined by market

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View of the Whitley from southwest corner of 3rd & Brazos





It’s Open!  No Va Kitchen and Bar on Rainey Street

It’s Open! No Va Kitchen and Bar on Rainey Street

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I’ve been watching 87 Rainey for some time, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting to try No Va Kitchen and Bar since I first saw the TABC notice on the door in May 2012.

Well, it’s finally open, and I had the chance to try it last night.  Despite the name, the restaurant / bar concept is a definite go.

So many things to like!  First off, there’s a celebrity chef component (Brad Sorenson of The Next Food Network Star fame), AND he’s really friendly! Second, more FOOD on Rainey (which, as a Rainey resident, is very near and dear to my heart and stomach).  The food is tasty and not crazy expensive!

[Read more...]





Craft Cocktail Bar in Downtown Austin: CU-29

Craft Cocktail Bar in Downtown Austin: CU-29

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Named after the touches of Copper decorating the interior of the bar, CU-29 is the latest craft cocktail bar to hit the downtown Austin scene.  Located near Brazos Place Condos and across the street from the Omni, this little gem is a great place to order a fancy cocktail after a long day at work. Prices run from about $10 (and up) per drink AND people who live or work downtown ALWAYS get 20% off!

[Read more...]





Skyhouse Apartments on Rainey

Skyhouse Apartments on Rainey

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If you are looking for a new downtown apartment to rent come late November 2013, Skyhouse Apartments on Rainey Street across from the Milago Condos may be a viable option.

They’ve been on our radar lately, most notably because of the recent announcement confirming that Royal Blue Grocery will be occupying a large part of the ground floor frontage, which will be a HUGE add to the Rainey Street District (we’re excited about the Salvage Pizza, too!).

I personally also think this is an interesting apartment development because Novare and Batson-Cook are building / have built, for all intents and purposes, the EXACT same building (the footprints of the units are a little smaller in the Austin iteration) in two other major southern cities that I’ve lived in – Houston and Atlanta.

Prices for the Skyhouse Austin [Read more...]





Downtown Austin News & Rumor Roundup

Downtown Austin News & Rumor Roundup

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It’s official: Rainey St getting a grocer, pizzeria

Exalted sighs of relief erupted among residents in the Rainey Street District, which includes yours truly, with the recent announcement that we are getting proper food establishments… the kind open before 4pm.

Royal Blue Grocery will add a fifth location to its collection of neighborhood grocery stores with a 2,550 square foot location fronting on Rainey Street at the base of the SkyHouse apartment tower.  Salvation Pizza will open its second Austin location, bringing authentic New Haven style pizza there too.

Don’t get me wrong, the food trucks are great but sometimes you just want a simple morning coffee.

Brazos benches yanked out

If you haven’t noticed yet, there are a few less benches along Brazos Street around 6th Street.  The city took decisive action after businesses and residents in the area banded together to demand a solution to the vagrants camping along there and harassing passers-by.   In all, 23 benches were taken out, cleaned and put in storage to live somewhere else another day.

(Disclosure: I voted in favor of supporting a letter to remove the benches as a board member of DANA)

According to a pretty darn good report from KXAN, “The city’s sit/lie ordinance, where loiterers are asked to move, does not apply to benches. It only applies to planters and sidewalks. One business owner said he was calling police for help about six times a day.”

Dell Medical School prep-construction starts this fall

The University of Texas is losing no time getting to work on its ambitious medical district master plan.

Earlier this week, UT officials spent their evening at City Hall, first getting the Urban Transportation Commission’s blessing to move Red River, then a couple hours later sailing through the Planning Commission.

UT officials told the Planning Commission that they plan to get the road reconstruction and utility relocation started this fall, and that sometime between 2014 and 2015 Red River would be closed to through traffic while work is underway.

Transportation Director Rob Spillar promised at the meeting that the campus would focus on bike and pedestrian ease-of-use, not car-centric plans. (Note to Bill Powers: Careful with those benches!)





Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 9/21/14 10:06 PM 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.

Information being provided is for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.

This IDX solution is (c) Diverse Solutions 2014.