a blog about poetic creativity*******************all images © Stephanie Reid for HaikuFlash


naughty green fairy
hid the way back home from me
how sweet to be lost

Bon Courage

French flag towers

Bon Courage

As shock, grief, and anger worked its way through me over this event I took my time to write out my thoughts and feelings over it before really discussing it publicly.

Friday, November 13th, 2015: Attacks in Paris. Over 300 deaths and injuries, such as possibly debilitating ones like bullets in the legs. Many people, including those who have bad mouthed France, and especially Paris, to me colorize their Facebook pages in the colors of the French flag or the peace symbol with Eiffel Tower graphic in support. I refrain because I don’t want to be misunderstood as simply jumping on the bandwagon or not caring about attacks elsewhere in the world. I hope those who though ill of Paris before have had a change of heart after seeing how well they stuck together. My thoughts below are in my constant defense of the City of Light. Have you seen a sunset there or on a train from Paris to the SE coast? It is indescribably lovely. The pink light on centuries old carved stone, the river, the twinkling tower on the hour, the fairy tale chateaus and hills dotted with sheep. Then there is the food! Don’t get me started. Paris & France are not better than anywhere else, but unique in a marvelous way.

Saturday, November 14th, 2015: I’m not going to hide the fact that I resent people trying to make us feel guilty for our grief over Friday’s attacks in Paris or worse yet acting like the people who were killed had it coming to them because their governments are corrupt. I had seen it mentioned in the news just as I had seen the attacks in the Kenyan university in April and the almost constant attacks in the Middle East. I read all of them and cried but know not what to do, so have to quickly separate myself from it. What would you have us do, stare into the face of terrorism every day? Have it effect our entire life when we have no control over it? I’m not going to apologize for not wanting to be in pain every day. So, if two other people hadn’t brought it up that night in more detail I probably would have moved on with my life and not given it more of my energy, despite the fact that I have been to Paris several times, spent enough time there to feel I know it well, and spent a lot of time practicing speaking French.

However, as details were revealed, on top of feeling like a dear friend has been hurt and a large number of people injured or killed while they were in her arms, I am seeing the effect of this on music. I spend a great deal of time in concert halls and venues. Not only has the entire city been shut down for days, but many musicians have lost their livelihood by having their shows canceled there. If you know nothing about Paris, you should at least know that creativity has thrived there for decades. A vast list of talented people flock to, are accepted, and thrive there…Nina Simone, Salvador Dali, Coco Chanel, Albert Camus, Brassaï, Marcel Duchamp, Josephine Baker, Vincent Van Gogh, Daguerre, The Lumière Brothers, Les Nubians, Birdy Nam Nam…If these names mean nothing to you perhaps this is why you can’t understand how tragic this feels. I am an artist, so it hits me hard.

A man made a song as an emotional response and way to cope with this situation and people are commenting on his Soundcloud page that he is trying to cash in and/or get attention in the wake of this tragedy (despite him not selling the song). Seriously?! If you have no understanding of the need to express yourself artistically, please find an outlet. Art is not a crime and neither is a party or being fabulous. This sound artist was trying to heal himself with his artform and thankfully many responses were positive, including from a 10th arrondisement resident who said it was therapeutic while dealing with the aftermath. Others angrily wanted to know why he didn’t write a song for the people who died in Beirut or Baghdad…

Have you ever been to Paris? Yes, many of us in the west know a great deal more about it than those two cities because we have been there. I have been welcomed there on several occasions and had an amazing time. No, I don’t buy into the, “Everyone is rude in Paris,” line because I have never had anyone be rude to me there. It’s a big city. Just because you spent a lot of money on your vacation to get there, doesn’t mean everyone is going to want to be your best friend once you arrive. If someone bumps into you in the sidewalk because you were standing in the middle of foot traffic looking at your map expecting them to say, “excuse me” is ridiculous (True story). Trust me, if someone in Paris, New York, or Miami wants to get rude with you, it will be blatantly clear.

Like most major cities, Paris is very multicultural, meaning it welcomes people around the world to represent it. Pulling out the, “You’re only upset about this because white people got hurt,” card is extremely insensitive, two-dimensional, and well, I hate to say it, but racist. The musician I wrote about in the previous paragraph is black. I implore people with this sentiment to check the list they have made so far of people who died in that concert hall and soccer arena, then think a little harder before jumping to spread more hatred in this world. Unless one has personally found a remedy to the situation in Syria, or anywhere else there is bloodshed, they are not morally superior to those who feel more personal grief for a place they are familiar with than a place they are not. If someone has a peaceful solution, I wish they would share it with us. I am sure there are millions of people who would join to enact it. Many of us pray for peace in this world and act as consciously as we can to be sensitive to other people’s plights. We wait for our current leaders try to undo the mess the ones before them have made. We wait for them to make the best decisions and when it’s not working, we must wait some more until they try something different. We must voice our opinions and hope they listen to reason. We must keep peace and tolerance on an individual and local level. It has a domino effect. We must find assertive ways to try to change the minds of people who are racist and aggressive.

In the meanwhile, please don’t tell others they shouldn’t be upset or supportive of the people, in a place we feel an affinity for, after vicious bloodshed. How would it feel if my friend’s home and your family’s home were bombed and I told you that people shouldn’t be upset about your home because that would mean they don’t care about my friend’s home being bombed? That doesn’t even make sense! Peaceful people don’t want anyone in the world to suffer and there are many of us out there. I daresay we are the majority, despite what fear mongerers would like to believe and have you do the same. The anti-muslim sentiments need to stop as well. No one wants to feel like an outsider or be harassed because of their upbringing. I can’t believe that on this day someone smeared pages torn from the Koran with feces on the walls of a mosque in a suburb of my city. The interview on the radio was with a Muslim man who is American born and a member of that house of worship. He was beside himself with trying to figure out how to explain this obscenity to his children.

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015: Oh and here’s a good one…victim blaming. I read someone post about how the empires have colonized the rest of the world for centuries and now the European colonizers are “getting theirs”. Then as an after thought, a statement of sympathy for the people of Paris and those who died. Pardon me? How is it that any of the people who were harmed responsible for history? Talk about opportunism! Then there are politicians saying they brought it on themselves because they were listening to death metal. Apparently they have never heard of primal scream therapy or had a healthy thrashing about to release anger without hurting anyone.

Here’s the thing that needs to be said over and over, whoever is responsible for these atrocities can not be allowed to make us live in fear or turn against each other. United we stand, divided we fall. This is a fact, not a nationalistic cliché.

Monday, November 23rd, 2015: I think I can finally put this to rest after watching this Parisian man discuss the attacks with his young son in such a brave and kind way. Bon courage mes amis. Je t’aime toujours, peu importe ce que quelqu’un dit ou fait.


87.4° F but Feels like 94 (34.4ºC)

I’m glad it’s not cold, but we wish it would rain already. This heat and humidity is making it like the tropics. Not very autumn-like…

dragonfly bouncing

off hot shiny car rooftop

mirage of water

The Tenuous Fate of National Geographic

Nat Geo

 Since I was a little girl my family always had a subscription to National Geographic. They still do. When I visit I read a few issues from front to back and marvel at the photography in them. I still buy individual issues that peak my interest. There is often an angle or history of a topic, that I have never heard before. This one from May 2015 comes to mind:


I did notice at one point that began putting more ads in the magazine, which kind of bothered me, but I also understand that their readership probably went down, so they had to compensate. Still some of the ads running seemed counter to their mission. Automobile, oil, and pharmaceutical companies with large budgets now fill the spaces in between articles and their content still maintained its integrity. I still drive a car that uses gasoline. I don’t make the income to afford a hybrid, but still I can’t judge.

However, now the sad news has been revealed that Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, the sensationalist station which thrives on getting people addicted to the rush of getting all up in arms by rumors, twisting of information, and flat out lies, has purchased National Geographic. This only serves to further cement their lack of critical thinking skills and prejudices. Below is a nice little page giving a run down of multiple discrepancies with truth given by that station. Note that this site, Politifact, won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for its work in the 2008 presidential campaign to verify statements reported in the media and sort fact from fiction.


I didn’t want to believe that Murdoch really bought NG, so I fact checked and read in this article from The Washington Post that among the 180 of 2,000 employees at NG, the NG Channel had several fact checkers laid off. I haven’t owned a TV in ages, so am not familiar with the National Geographic Channel and have heard that some of their programming is “dumbed down fluff”. After perusing their schedule, I question the purpose of their shows like “Cops” inspired “Alaska State Troopers”, and “Border Wars”. I would have to watch some episodes to make an assessment as to whether their stance is classist, racist, and nationalist, but at face value they seem to be. If that is the case, I would not be interested in supporting their channel even if there are still shows, which from their descriptions are clearly educational, such as “Breakthrough” and “Grand Canyon Skywalk”. I wonder which types of shows the dismissed fact checkers were assigned to.


I find it really upsetting that the #1 inspiration for my life as a photographer specializing in art, nature, travel, and photojournalism, has been taken over by people who feed into the fears and neurosis of the populous. That is my goal here today. To make sure that the readership of National Geographic are aware of this story SHOULD they find a strange shift that doesn’t match what they have come to trust in before. I wish strength to the staff who are made it through this transition and hope they are able to keep their positions without too much compromise. Well wishes to the ones who were laid off, too.

It reminds me of the time I turned on KUT, a local station that reports from BBC and NPR to hear a man ranting about Obama, talking about how he planned to disarm the nation so that Islamic extremists could take over America. There were sound bites that were shoddily edited together to “prove” his point. I was seriously bummed out that my station allowed this program to air with them. The same guy was on the next day. Then I realized that after getting my battery changed, my station presets had cancelled out. I was listening to Alex Jones on some station I’d never listened to prior. WHEW! The world hasn’t been overrun entirely by the crackpots, but keep ever vigilant about what is being said between the lines. A healthy amount of skepticism is wise.

A dia de los muertos dedicated to artists who couldn’t take it anymore

Rothko altar piece

For Mary Quite Contrary, a beautiful woman, who during the brief encounters I had with her offered genuine kindness and the artistry of being true to herself. We were born within a week of each other in the same month (not same year though), so I understand the stubbornness everyone said she had about not wanting help or letting anyone know she needed it. Her ashes were scattered in the ocean. At her memorial yesterday, I filled a half shell collected on the shore of the creek at the Enchanted Forest with its water and gave it to her spirit to drink from. I found some potentially lovely rocks to play with there too and this haiku came to me:

Taurean hardness

My colors dull til river

Rain people cleanse me

…We’ve lost another beautiful soul. It’s way too many now who have taken their own life or accidentally OD’d or been in fatal / severe wrecks on drugs and alcohol. It’s possible that what the Tibetans think is true, people are born with a certain amount of breaths alotted to them. Maybe their time was up. Still, to know that people I respected as an acquaintance of my best friends or loved as a person close to me has been suffering so badly in their last breath is heartache. I have been knocked to my knees by the heavy blow of finding out my best friend was killed in his own drunk driving accident. My eyes surrounded by broken blood vessels from crying so hard, so long. I have seen men comatose while awake over the shock of losing their sons. I have experienced even more that I don’t wish on anyone.

If you or someone you know is in anguish, seek professional help. Even for unresolved PTSD or other issues that are not causing suicidal thoughts a good counselor can really assist. If you don’t think your first, or second counselor is guiding you well, find another or seek out other resources within your reach to help you heal. It really is within your power. You have to decide to change the way you’ve been taught to think and act. Often prescriptions are given and believed to be a cure of sorts. Luckily, when I was given them, I was told that they were only meant to be temporary help while I sorted out my head. I stopped taking them many years ago. I definitely recognize there are people that need to stay on them, but many don’t. Too often I have seen them being used as crutches, with no effective work by the psychiatrist or patient to improve mental health. I am very certain many high paying doctors and pharmaceutical companies line each others’ pockets in this way. In this interview with Alt-J musician, Thom Green he says, “drumming found me” vs. “they put me on ritalin”. Listen to the first part of this video to find out how that happened:


The more you realize you have control over your own life, the less you will feel compelled to control others in codependent or other draining types of relationships. You don’t have to be disabled by your labels: bipolar disorder, ADHD, etc. I love this PSA :


Okay, but where to start. The following list contains some things that have helped me in the past when I was severely broken. Keep in mind, healing, forgiveness, and undoing years of damage takes time. Be patient with yourself. It can take years and years to finish pulling invasives from your garden. I’m certainly still trying to work out some things, but am in a much better place that I have been. It’s really hard work, so when you recognize you have made even a little progress, it is something to be pleased with yourself over. Have faith that although the nagging thoughts might return, you will continue to progress, because you want to and love yourself. Keep going when you have the energy, but be sure to make the time, as it is not only important for you, but the rest of us too.

1) Watch “What the Bleep do we Know!?” It’s a narrative wrapped around theories that show if we were raised in a setting (home, school, or social) that was unhealthy, we probably became addicted to our own chemical reactions to harmful emotions and therefore find ourselves looping in scenarios which activate those chemicals. We must consciously reset ourselves to not be constantly seeking a rush…or burn out. It also discusses the studies of Masaru Emoto, who discovered that our words and thoughts can send energy to water and effect it according to their intent. If we are 55-60% water, then those actions will effect us too. There’s a bit more, but these are the most down-to-earth ideas in the film.

2) Dance…even if you think you aren’t that good at it. You can get better at it by practicing and watching others who are graceful or cool at it. They will most likely appreciate your effort and show you some moves. Or just do it at home when your jam comes on the stereo. For me it is the single most expressive way to lose the shame we have been taught to have over our bodies. Get inside the music. If you are self conscious about it because you don’t want people to laugh at you for wiling out, remember those people are probably really insecure. That’s sad. Make friends with the music. It’s my best friend. I didn’t have siblings and I was often home alone, but music kept me company all the time. The person who made it would probably love seeing you dance to it. Some girls in their spiked heels and hindered moves were sniggering about me the other night but I just ignored them and a few minutes later a super styley badass friend of the DJs told me I was the cutest dancer in the club. No, he was not trying to pick me up.

3) There are many excellent books. Here are four amazing ones with poetic wisdom, simple but powerful meditation exercises and rituals to make your own.

Women Who Run With Wolves – I did my own version of her descansos ritual as part of an art film I made last year. It was very effective for me.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying – Even if you’re not Buddhist, the text is framed to be all inclusive.

Trickster Makes This World – By the advice of my grad school advisor, I have skipped ahead to the chapter titled “Speechless Shame and Shameless Speech”.

Awakened Mind – This book is chock full of meditation sequences on how to control your mind by controlling your brainwave frequencies (beta, alpha, theta, delta). Record the ones you want to do on your device of choice and play it back to lead yourself into the programs.

4) Do something creative. Many people are afraid of failing so don’t start. That’s not a cliché, it’s true. They think it has to be perfect or not worth doing. Don’t fall into that trap. There is plenty of art and music out there that could be improved upon, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile of attention or our time making it. I like process based art. The philosophy is that the experience takes importance over the outcome. You can hone your technique as you go should you want a better outcome, but just PLAYING :) is key.

If you aren’t afraid of failing, but don’t know how to start, pick a medium or instrument and just go. The art will usually take on a life of its own. It wants to be born. Pretend like you’re its great parent, helping it along, but not making all the decisions for it. Have fun!

5) Find people who you feel safe and good around. Find people who you can confide it without overburdening them. If it is really serious or something you are obsessed with, talk with a professional. Here is a potent short featuring Professor Green, a British rapper who lost his father to suicide. It focuses on mental health for men. I love the bumper sticker that reads, “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes,” or something to that effect. In honor of the gentlemen who so eloquently spoke theirs yesterday even though they were clearly experiencing inner turmoil over the loss of their love, their daughter, their best friend:


6) Health. Try to eat healthy food as much as possible. Vitamin D and B. If you aren’t in the sun without sunscreen on a regular basis, you should consider taking supplements or making sure your diet provides it. Also, low Vitamin B levels cause stress and anxiety. Many women don’t know that their birth control pills deplete it from their system. Reduce PMS mood symptoms by adding it back in. Find the types of exercise that you enjoy and go! Listen to your body. If you need a massage or chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture just get them. Your liver can only take so many pills.

Well wishes to you all.


Thank you to the Enchanted Forest for opening up to us once again.

Pop Austin International 2015 – Illumination

Fair Market on E. 5th Street in Austin hosted another enjoyable Pop International art fair October 23rd – 25th. Smartly designed to be quite different from their event last year’s, the theme of Illumination featuring a  installation work which utilized wide variety of lighting techniques including neon, video, colored bulbs and LEDs, black lights, fiber optics, and holograms.


Colour Code triptych

Variations of Hans Kotter’s color changing bar entitled Colour Code


Hans Kotter color changing illusion of tunnels in infinite space

Hans Kotter color changing illusion of tunnels in infinite space


Educator and PsiPlay partner Jerome Morrison uses a Kinect motion sensor to create interactive videos. At Illumination he created a video installation room with several television monitors and headphones for an intimate viewing experience and communion with an entity from the heart and soul of the broadcast universe.


Adela Andea installation work

Adela Andea installation detail with spinning CD drives



Lori Hersberger's Constellation

Lori Hersberger’s Constellation



Hologram (Green/Orange) by James Turrell


Todd Sanders neon Luchadores



Nonotak art partners,  Noemi Schipfer and  Takami Nakamoto experiential installation video clip:


Nonotak (Noemi Schipfer and Takami Nakamoto) collaborative video installation work

Nonotak video installation still

Nonotak (Noemi Schipfer and Takami Nakamoto) collaborative video installation work

Nonotak (Noemi Schipfer and Takami Nakamoto) collaborative video installation work detail

Nonotak video installation still

Nonotak video installation still





Nonotak video installation still



Carlo Bernardini fiber optic strand installation


Other pieces in this section included:

Lili Lakich’s “Soul to Soul: Portrait of Stevie Ray Vaughn” wall sculpture made from cut aluminum in the shape of the guitar hero himself, holding a real guitar, and animated with neon and crackling krypton gas filled tubes, which simulates lightning.

Cut metal symbols, such as the infinity loop, inset with colored light bulbs by Alyssa Taylor Wendt.

Neon and plastics sign by Matthew Lapenta.

Backlit, mixed media acrylic painted panels, reminiscent of a landscape, by Claudia Meyer.


Evan Voyles "White Noise"

Evan Voyles “White Noise”


Bale Creek Allen showed cast metal tumbleweeds at the last Pop International show in Austin. This time around he made a row of right-side up and upside-down white neon crosses.

Lisa Schulte hung a massive wall with neon emoji symbols.


Sharon Keshishian's neon landscape

Sharon Keshishian’s neon landscape


Jeongmoon Choi's "?" from UV lights and string

Jeongmoon Choi’s “?” from UV lights and string



my austin favs for visitors and new comers

I’m always surprised when I meet someone who has been here for several months and still hasn’t been to any of the nature spots, bar / music venues, or longstanding restaurants that give Austin deep character. I’ve lived here for 20 years, so I feel pretty qualified to write this post. Most of these eateries have well seasoned grills, which really comes through in the food as a seasoned iron skillet does. Finally, they are all pretty damn cheap with generous helpings. It’s sad to learn that people only know about what is a corporate chain, trendy, and/or posh here. Not that some of those places aren’t really great too, I’m all for innovation, but my favorite locally owned spots are so down-to-earth, funky, and friendly, like the heart of Austin. I hope you love it as much as I do. I haven’t put any sushi places here because in my opinion, any of our sushi restaurants are better than most places in the world with wide variety and unique rolls. Music and art shows are day by day, check the Chronicle, but I threw a few long standing venues in here always feature Austin’s best bands. Enjoy! P.S. Please share with your friends. Thanks!

Food and Drink


#1 All Time Favorite – Curra’s Grill Mother of Mex (not Tex-Mex) on Oltorf between I-35 and Congress. If the lot is full, park on Rebel St. This is one of the only places where I can order anything on the menu for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and feel as satisfied by it as my previous favorites. If you’re there for breakfast, you must get a Oaxacan (wa-ha-kan) coffee. Soft corn tortillas. Red corn tortillas. If you like smoky Scotches, get a Mezcal (smoky tequila) drink or try their avocado margaritas. Not many places serve those.


2 – Polvo’s on South 1st. I crave their salsa bar. Three types. All delicious. My fav is always the Goliath Burrito with fish, but any filling is delicious and includes squash and other veggies.

3 – Guero’s on South Congress near the river. Delicious raspberry puree margaritas. I usually either get the El Presidente Burrito, but sometimes a Sante Fe enchilada, which comes with a fried egg on top.

4 – Matt’s El Rancho on South Lamar. Really great patio if it’s not too hot. Food’s good too.

5 – Maria’s Taco Xpress on South Lamar. Migas breakfast taco is the bomb! The only place in town that serves chimichurra salsa at their bar. It’s the one that is made primarily of cilantro and chilis, not liquid like most salsa. Funky style old school Austin setting.

6 – El Alma on Barton Springs. The only place good enough to stay in business in the tricky spot. They even have a parking lot across the street now. My drink of choice is the Chilanga, an very orangy margarita with chili salt on the rim. I go in when I just want a happy hour drink and appetizer of their jack and shrimp tostaditos that come with a side of escabeche (ay-ska-bay-chay) which is picked veggies. I don’t even normally like that stuff, but theirs is special.

7 – Habana Cuban on South Congress. Best Cuban sandwich. Best tres leches cake (with cinnamon). Theirs is not too dry or too wet. Great mojitos with the option for mango or coconut rum. Little straw cabana booths outside for when the weather is nice.

*****Can you tell I’m a Southside girl ;)

8 – 888 Asian (Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese) Their wide noodles with seafood is my fav. The scallops are especially impressive for this price. I’ve tried friends’ plates and those almost made me wish I’d ordered what they had. Of course, family style is also an option. Open very late although there might be a line.

9 – IM Thai. Sunset Valley (SW Austin). Ok this is one is fairly new, but they have the best som tam of anywhere in Austin. I lived in Bangkok for two years, so am picky about Thai food. Get the one on their House Specials menu and share it with your friend. That one comes with marinated meats and sticky rice.

10 – Conan’s Pizza on Stassney. Not only do they serve great pizza, especially the thick, but this location has an antique piano that you might be lucky to be accompanied on or even get to play.

11 – Square Rut Kava Bar on South Congress. Direct from the South Pacific pure kava beverage in a coconut shell cup. Different strains for different effects. Talk to the bartender. If you are sensitive to bitter, drink slowly and get them add flavoring such as chocolate caramel. There’s one on the Northside too if you stay there.

12 – Maudies on South Lamar. Nachos baked on thick chips.

All over town:

1 – Taco Shack. El Nino breakfast tacos (If you can handle it!) egg, chorizo, pickled jalapenos and cheese.

2 – Trudy’s. Again, all good for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Even their mix and match 3-5 vegetarian dishes are sooo good, especially considering they aren’t a veggie restaurant. Best broccoli ever.

3 – Chi’Lantro’s trucks (ck Twitter for the location that day) or storefront on S. Lamar. Ok, these guys are new school, but local and started in a trailer. Bulgogi fries w/ special sauce. Sick! In a good way though.

4 – East Side King trucks and storefront on S. Lamar. Also pretty up and coming, but is my favorite since my favorite Thai restaurant, Spin closed down, which Sway on S. 1st is similar to. Everything on the ESK menus, which vary by location, is delicious and inexpensive.

Downtown / Central / Campus Area:

1 – Ruby’s BBQ. Off of Guadalupe on 29th. They smoke it there in the back. Rich red sauce and great sides. Shiner and other brews by the bottle.

2 – Spider House on Fruth St. coffee shop with cool patio full of funky vintage furniture and decor. Rust and time. Outdoor stage with regular shows. Their venue around the corner from their parking lot also has regular concerts where all my favorite bands play.

3 – Pubs: Fado’s Irish food and pub on 4th Street and around the corner from it AND Gingerman on Lavaca with over 50 beers on tap. I preferred their old building, but the new one is similar.


1 – El Azteca on E. 7th. Chipotle chicken

2 – Licha’s Cantina on E. 6th. Ok, pretty new establishment, but in a cute older house with patio covered in stencil art. One of the few places serving huitlacoche (hweet-la-co-chay), AKA corn truffle :) Have you ever tried hibiscus flower quesadillas? Now is your chance! Wide selection of mezcal.

3 – Takoba on E.7th and Onion. Again, not really longstanding, but I have to rave about their mojito. They grind the mint up so you REALLY get the flavor of it. Smart. Delicious food. A little pricier than the others.

4 – El Chile on Manor Rd. Essentially the same as El Alma on the Southside.

5 – Mi Madres on Manor Rd. I heart their burritos with french fries inside. They are the only place that serves café de olla (cinnamon stick coffee in a clay mug).

6 – Hoover’s Southern Food on Manor Rd. I usually go here for New Year’s Eve to get my lucky black eyed peas. Lot’s of other delicious down home style offerings though.

7 – Blue Dahlia French Cuisine on E. 11th. In my opinion, moules et frites (mussels and fries) and ratatouille are their specialties. Pretty garden dining.

8 – Juan in a Million on E Cesar Chavez. Famous for their Don Juan breakfast taco. No one makes one like this. Semi mashed potato, cheese, egg, and crumbled crispy bacon.


1 – Fonda San Miguel. Gorgeous interior Mexican decor. You know colored tiles, old carved wood furniture, lots of plants. Wonderful food. Sunday brunch extravaganza.

2 – Korea House on Anderson Lane. Most generous variety of banchan (tiny appetizer bowls). A large menu of sushi options. If you want, you can take a table with a galbi grill in the center. There you can prepare the meats as is popular in Korea.

*Bonus: Terra Toys is super close in case you want to go in and play a bit.

3 – Din Ho on 183. Chinese spot with delicious seafood. BBQ pork on sticky buns. Dim Sum.

Vegetarian only:

Veggie Heaven; Mother’s (still my favorite veggie burger in town); Casa de Luz – macrobiotic in a lovely setting; See Trudy’s write up above; Mr. Natural on South Lamar or E. Cesar Chavez


Music and Drinks

1 – Flamingo Cantina on 6th Street. The only place on Dirty 6th that I frequent regularly. World, Soul, and Reggae music in a funky space with great outside upper deck overlooking the stage.

2 – Sahara Lounge. Far NE. Worth the drive. Always bumpin’ world music. Latin, African, Jamaican, etc. etc. in a shack filled with old African instruments and jazz, reggae, and world music concert posters and photos. A large backyard including lots of picnic tables. Signature drink: Sahara Slant ginger and cinnamon buzz.

3 – Whip In on S.IH35 access road between Riverside and Oltorf. Vintage Indian decor in the stage area for local acts. Wooden booths. 2nd outside patio and stage. Beer and wine bar. Inexpensive home style Indian food.

4 – Continental Club / The Gallery (upstairs) AND C-Boys Heart and Soul both on South Congress. Always primo acts.

5 – Hole in the Wall on the Drag (Guadelupe across from UT campus). Many talented bands got their start here because the owners were willing to take a chance on them. Well known musicians have played here too though. Now East Side Kings, one of our best Thai food vendors, is sharing the space with them.

6 – Waterloo Records on South Lamar. I hadn’t added this at first bcz I thought it didn’t need to be mentioned. Then I heard someone say they were going to order a CD online of a local band bcz they didn’t know this longtime music vendor would have it. Call first. If they don’t have it, they will get it fast and call you. Support local. Four point five rows of vinyl. Lots of used CDs. Videos. Listening stations. In store mini concerts. Toys. Books. Gear. This place kicks ass.

7 – Book People on South Lamar. Ok some books are cheaper online, but spending time browsing a great book / magazine store like this is just plain old fun. It’s two stories. Coffee shop. Gifts and cards. In store author lectures / book signings.

8 – Elephant Room under Congress. Underground jazz bar. Always featuring great acts. Brannen Temple and Ephraim Owens are the ultra talented stars of this scene.

9 – Half Step on Rainey Street (South Central). Classy newish place in an old Rainey Street house with comfy booths. The bartenders put on an entertaining drink making show, sometimes those big square ice cubes. Kind of trendy drink menu, but low key. Great patio. Highly talented bands like improv funk / soul / jazz crew Canned Beets playing on Wednesday nights and teen blues act The Peterson Brothers on Thursdays.

10 – Russia House on E. 5th St. I haven’t eaten there yet, but I heard it’s good. I have sampled from their wall of flavored vodkas though. It’s like digging into a bag of Jelly Bellies. Name the flavor and they’ve infused their vodka jars. Bands play on some nights.

11 – Vortex Repertory Theater on E. Manor Rd. All original productions including fantasy, fairy tales, hip hop, sky dancers in this intimate space. The Butterfly Bar is attached. There is a courtyard of picnic tables to enjoy the weather and eat a meal from one of their trailers serving Italian and ?

12 – Skylark Lounge on Airport. East Austin Soul. Originale patio.

13 – Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon on Burnet. Feels like a country shack inside. Friendly staff. Tiny stage with talented country acts. Fiddlin’. Chicken Shit Bingo on some Sundays.


Nature Parks

(besides Zilker Park, Botanical Garden, and Barton Springs)

1 – Mayfield Park is a centrally located. Lovely water ponds and peacocks amongst huge palm trees. There is a walking trail if you want to go down to the water.

*Bonus: Laguna Gloria is right there next to it. This is an old, well maintained villa converted into art museum. Walking trail to the left has my all time favorite climbing tree in the world! You will see it. There is a bench underneath to help petite people like me get up.

2 – Greenbelt secret mini waterfalls trail! The Greenbelt goes all around town as the name suggests, but I usually love to enter through parking lot of Retreat at Barton Creek Apts. on S. Lamar Blvd. Park in a visitors spot by the office / pool. To the right of those, you will see a space between the back and side buildings where a bamboo grove stands. To the left of the grove there is a trail going all the way down to the river. Very private.

3 – Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in very Southwest Austin. Best in spring. Go up the tower to see the fields or walk around the gardens and trails. Vast blankets of color.

4 – McKinney Falls State Park is in near SE Austin.

5 – If you have time to get out of town, Enchanted Rock! Pink granite mounds. Ancient Native American sacred place. If you are sensitive, you can feel the magic. I love going around Thanksgiving when the leaves are turned. If you climb up the rock (it’s pretty steep, but if you have strong legs or a walking stick, you can do it!), you get a beautiful vista view of the autumn trees. It’s fun in the spring too though when the wildflowers are blooming. I’ve seen roadrunners and an armadillo there.


Art Galleries

(besides downtown – Mexicarte, The Contemporary, The Blanton)

1 – Women & Their Work on Lavaca. Super cool and fun. A sidewall in foyer holds big square brochures of past exhibits for several years. Gift shop with local artisan jewelry, books, and unique gifts. Open Mon-Sat business hours.

2 – Canopy art complex on Springdale houses Big Medium, Co-Lab, Art.Science.Gallery, a coffee shop, high quality craftwork shops, and studios. Ck hours before going.

3 – Laguna Gloria (see Mayfield Park above)

4 – grayDUCK on E. Cesar Chavez. From what I’ve seen is always showing top quality Austin artist’s work.

5 – Dougherty Arts Center Gallery on Barton Springs. This humble place often gets overlooked because although it has been promised funding for a face lift after winning votes in the bond election twice, it has never gotten it. It has so much heart. Please drop in. Community or two person shows exhibit here. Always lovely. Check the theater schedule for performances.


Place to stay next time you’re in town in group of people


Contemporary architecture with Balinese decor. Fresh and gorgeous. Filled with quirky artwork. Lush gardens. Pool. Firepit. Screened in patio with swings. Super nice proprietor. Currently I am the groundskeeper here.

Supper, Lower East Side, NYC

My favorite Italian restaurant in New York. An intimate supper with classmates from Transart Institute MFA program.

Supper has a nice selection of wine by the glass or bottle. They offer fresh bread and garlicky Tuscany beans as a starter. I love their hearty risotto on a cold night. Others enjoyed entrées such as

delectably smooth mozzarella topped pasta and beet salad. To seal the deal, we shared a piece of tiramisu, which was not too sweet and super creamy.

Reservations required for large parties, Cash only



All images copyright © 2014 by Stephanie Reid

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New York City, Chelsea District, January 2015

All images copyright © 2014 by Stephanie Reid

Click any image below to enlarge

To view the area from a different angle, take a walk on the Chelsea High Line, an elevated railroad track that has been converted into a boardwalk and garden.

If you’re a foodie, be sure to check out the Chelsea Market which holds a wide array of gourmet restaurants, a fresh spice vendor, books, and sometimes an arts and crafts bazaar inside a beautifully restored National Biscuit Company factory. This is also where The Food Network has its offices.


Also recommended is the cozy Co Pane pizza serving 17 unique, wood-fired combos.


Fashionistas! Check out the Comme des Garçons shop. It’s like being in a toyshop elf’s closet. Besides pointy shoes, apparel becomes outrageously fun wearable sculpture in here.



Chelsea Gallery Tour Favs:

Murray Guy Gallery, Lucy Skaer’s exhibit Sticks and Stones takes two forms cut from a dissected mahogany tree and duplicates each in a variety of materials. This successful interpretation of belonging to a group with similarities while retaining individuality gives new, exciting meaning to sculpture.

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Peggy Preheim’s exhibit Archipelago combines nostalgic pencil drawings of people in found photos with pressed leaves or other natural materials such as feathers and fur. The delicate illustrations ask us to imagine stories of interaction between gentle humans and nature.


Gagosian Gallery, Takashi Murakami’s exhibit In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow is exhilarating in its scale and use of cutting edge materials. Taking queue, as Murakami does, from graphic design precious metals sheets are embossed with skulls then over painted with acrylic landscapes and characters straight from a comic book and screened designs of acidic suns. Thick glossy lacquers embedded with glitter enhance the dimensional quality of the works where mandalas of Buddhist masters beckon neophytes to walk the thin line between the land of living and dead, their insane gestures and eyes give warning of what we will experience there. Gigantic guardian sculptures guard the gates of Nirvana and fight those who try to enter before they are well prepared. The gorgeous scent of ancient wood permeates the front gallery which is entered through a replica of a shinto shrine.


303 Gallery, Mike Nelson’s exhibit Gang of Seven takes found objects collected on his tour of the west coast of the United States and Canada and turns them into imaginative and sometimes disturbing sculpture.

New York City, MoMA, January 10, 2015

During the winter residency for my grad school MFA program, I had the pleasure of visiting several places that I love in New York. In this post, I will share some of the highlights of my first stop, the Museum of Modern Art.

MoMa Courtyard in the Snow

*Henri Matisse Cutouts show. Excellent curation. For those of you are less familiar with art history, the painter Matisse became disabled as he aged and was confined to a wheelchair. This was when he produced a new phase of works from collaged paper cutouts. With the help of his lovely assistants, he was able to create monumental murals and even chapel stained glass designs.

Enter the exhibit:  A room of playful works commissioned by Verve Magazine. The circus themes and flowing shapes of the Icarus myth are prevalent. A quote from the artist elucidates his experience making those cutouts, “You have no idea how, during the cutout paper period, the sensation of flight which emanated forms helped me better to adjust my hand when it used scissors…It’s a kind of linear and graphic equivalence to the sensation of flight.”

Next: A room meant to mimic his studio with mockups, paper samples, and photos of him, scissors in hand surrounded by scraps of paper which had fallen to the ground – negative spaces of shapes he had cut. Two long walls hold examples of his “Oceania” series which were printed into wallpaper – sandy beige backgrounds with all white cutouts of seagulls, flora and fauna of the waters.

A darker room: Watch a film of Matisse working with an assistant to design vestments (cloaks) for the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence. Stained glass sections are lit from behind. *In the gift shop I purchased holiday cards with tinted acetate covers to look like one the chapel windows maquettes, La Nuit de Noël (Christmas Night).

The monumental works: The highlights in the last few rooms are works inspired by Islamic art such as Large Decoration with Masks which is approximately 11′ x 32′. You will also see the joyful, immersive work The Parakeet and the Mermaid, which is approximately 11’ x 25’ and meant to give the sensation of being in a garden. It was completed towards the end of his life when he was no longer to enjoy his own garden as he once had.

Souvenir: Amongst prints and lengthy books about the artist’s life and career, I found a gem produced by MoMa who commissioned a cutout artist to create illustrations about Matisse and his inspiration from nature and his garden. By printing it on matte surface paper, the book better represents his cutouts, especially in the bonus gatefold pages of his works.



*In the contemporary art gallery, adjacent the Matisse Cutouts, I discovered a contemporary artist whose work I would like to share here. Her name is Kerstin Brätsch. These works are large scale oil on paper:


*A choice selection from the permanent collection of modern masters was on display. They are hard to capture in photos, especially when they are behind glass and A Starry Night and The Persistence of Memory are now. Sadly, some of the life has been sucked out of them by this addition, which was not there the last time I saw those pieces on tour. I was not in awe of the vortex pulling me in as I had been when Van Gogh’s masterpiece was on view in Houston. This is what happens when people insist on touching the art or using flash! Luckily the Guggenheim had some of his work out (sans glass) and I got a taste of that vibrance on this visit.  Less famous, but not less important than the above mentioned paintings, my favorite Matisse oil, Goldfish and Palette, was on view as a nice counterpart to the cutouts exhibit. Other pieces I adore by Léger, Brancusi (Mademoiselle Pogany sculpture below), Cornell, Picasso, and Klimt were present as well.


*In the design section, Tomáš Gabzdil Libertinya presented a vessel slowly made by bees using a “vase-shaped scaffold” for a beehive which was removed to reveal the waxen vase seen here:



*Another special exhibit was a retrospective, entitled The Heart is Not a Metaphor, of the sculptor Robert Gober‘s work. Seemingly irreverent with its wallpaper of penis and vagina line art, other rooms papered like a fall forest scene with objects protruding out of wax torsos and crotches coming out from the bottoms of walls , and the like, his work has a serious tone which requires us to think of domesticity, sexuality, and religion more closely. Within the vast, sparse rooms, I felt less claustrophobic than I normally do when thinking of a permanent home. Sexuality felt like an ordinary and mundane activity that might take a turn for the bizarre if one becomes too familiar with it. A sinister underbelly is exposed inside of a fireplace full of girls disembodies legs, pink Mary Jane shoes and bobby socks intact. A nearby installation of a large vintage suitcase had its bottom cutout to accommodate a sewage grate installed into the gallery floor where below a softly lit scene of rocks and water plants swayed in flowing water and bubbles. This somehow lessened the blow of the previous difficult subject matter by offering an escape for the mind before exiting the show. The denouement of his story played out gently with an easy chair covered in custom designed fabric of pink, yellow, and blue florals and birds and other digestible fare.


*Soul of the Underground, an exhibit featuring works by Jean DuBuffet, contained prints, paintings, and sculptures made from dirt, sticks, aluminum foil, grass, and other common materials used in unexpected ways to evoke gritty, playful, and sometimes shamanistic imagery as antithesis of la bourgeoisie. In the third image below, Landscape with Bulldog, random objects were inked, pressed, and then reassembled to create the final composition.

Le Magicien

Landscape with Bulldog …………………………………..

*Modern Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection 1909-1949 reminded me of the fun and experimentation I had when I started taking black and white photos in the 80’s. The surprise revealed on paper in the darkroom is unparalleled by digital photography and I look forward to working in one again someday. At the height of film photography we can see here that playing with light, shadow, form, and perspective are emphasized when color is taken out of the equation. The luxurious platinum, palladium, and silver surfaces reminded me of a treasure box. This is truly an art form that has been lost, but many young people are recognizing this and word has it that shuttered analog photo departments are being revived around the country. This news has helped relieve some of my melancholy around the matter. For a virtual tour, visit the MoMa page below:



*Finally, I would like to give mention to the Making Music Modern: Design for Ear and Eye section which showcased vintage stereo equipment, posters, and album art. Especially inspiring to me is this print by Koichi Sato for New Music Media and this stereo with swinging, detachable speakers by artist Mario Bellini and Manufactured by Brionvega S.p.A., Italy.

Koichi Sato New Music Media


*To see what is on showing at MoMa for during your next visit to Manhattan, check their calendar:



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