Again Awesome Austin

Austin was once again fabulous.  I got in late Thursday evening and had a great time visiting with Judy Taylor, Gallery Shoal Creek’s warm, wonderful and utterly gracious owner and director.  She told me that preparator Duane Sanford wouldn’t let her help install the 35* copies of (S)Edition.  The only instructions I’d sent pertaining to the installation as a whole were, “Don’t make them look like art!  Install randomly, as if they are growing in the space.  Have fun!” (Afterwards, he told Judy, “…Random is difficult!”)

Duane did a fantastic job. The books were installed on four walls, two on each side of the gallery’s entry room. It’s fronted by windows and is much larger than a foyer, with a wide entryway.  Because of the reflective quality of the windows, I couldn’t get a single shot of the entire installation, but it was most effective to experience; you were surrounded by sprouting books. I liked the rhythm, and seeing the books on the gallery’s grey/ olive/ tan walls – the depth and tonality of this color is also frustratingly elusive in photos.

I did do just a tiny bit of tweaking early Friday, tilting some of the books so that their covers were more visible. I documented, then had a lovely lunch upstairs with equally lovely Laura Harrison, who works with Judy.  More prep, Judy and I left to change clothes, and then: a massively packed reception. I had a great time reconnecting with Leonard Lehrer and meeting his lovely, funny spouse, Marilyn, and finally meeting Karen Kunc in person, as well as the other artists; seeing folks I’d met in 2008 again, and meeting many, many new people.  Best of all for me: our niece Jackie has just moved to Austin to begin working on her doctorate. She came to the opening too; it was her first ever.  I got to hang out with her in the back while resting my ears (which I usually do alone) between frequent schmooze forays into the huge, noisy crowd.  Excellent…the show got a thoughtful review, too.

Afterwards, a dinner party for 18 at Judy’s beautiful, comfortable home: two dinner tables elegantly prepared by designer Bonni Taylor, Judy’s niece (who once  did a floral re-interpretation of ‘Force and Duration’ for one of the gallery’s shows melding art and design). Delicious food, lovely wine, a fine flow of conversation and a lot of laughter as well: the word for the evening would be sumptuous. I happily collapsed at about 2 am, entirely satiated.

On Saturday, Jackie and I spent the entire day having a total blast. With a list of recommendations, we set out to explore a bit of Odd Austin.  This is not at all difficult to do in a city where you see the slogan, “Keep Austin Weird!” everywhere…do you wonder why I like it so much? We wandered all over South Congress (aka SoCo), with its huge assortment of weird and wonderful shops and congregations of food vans and airstream trailers in the vacant lots; then we went back towards the gallery and had a BBQ dinner at Ruby’s (mmmm), visited Toy Joy and Book People (where we ran into Judy), then took in the not-odd but lovely botanical gardens, and finished up with some fine gelato at Teo’s (my fave: salted caramel). So much fun…and so much more fun to be able to do this all with Jackie!

Sunday, Judy and I left for the airport early enough to thoroughly peruse an exhibition of Romare Bearden’s prints, which not only focused on the works themselves, but on his extensive experimentation within the various techniques, and he pretty much used them all: silkscreen, collagraph, lithography, etching, and offset.  Plates were hung along with the prints.  It was a fascinating show that I’d had to miss when it was here at the Cultural Center earlier this year, and it was great to see it with Judy, not only because I also met the curator and museum director who, of course, know her.

Just to top it all off, below was one of my last sights on the way to the plane. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be an artcar, but Austin does have an annual artcar parade.  Love the bumper, and I do love Austin. Many, many thanks to Judy, Jackie, Laura and everyone who made my visit so great.

* I was supposed to send 36.  I was sure I had but when I had two left over, I began to worry that somehow I had actually made 100, and not 99, and that I’d miscounted at the Morgan. Nope.  That was the only time I had counted correctly!  Right now there are 62 instead of 63 in Door County, 35 in Austin, one at North Branch projects, and one here at home (sigh).