a blog about poetic creativity*******************ALL IMAGES © Stephanie Reid for HaikuFlash

Texas

Gorman Falls and Colorado Bend State Park, Texas

Raccoons raid campsites

Barking echoes in canyons

Boars grumble in the night

 


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.

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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

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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.

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Adela Andea installation work

Adela Andea installation detail with spinning CD drives

Illumination-11

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Lori Hersberger's Constellation

Lori Hersberger’s Constellation

Constellation-2

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Hologram (Green/Orange) by James Turrell

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Todd Sanders neon Luchadores

Illumination-17

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

https://vimeo.com/143813138

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

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Carlo Bernardini fiber optic strand installation

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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.

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Evan Voyles "White Noise"

Evan Voyles “White Noise”

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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.

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Sharon Keshishian's neon landscape

Sharon Keshishian’s neon landscape

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

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

Illumination-52

 


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

Southside:

#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.

DSCN1358

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.

East:

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.

North:

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

www.LoftHouseAustin.com

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.


Festival of Texas Fiddling

All images copyright © 2014 by Stephanie Reid

Twin Sisters Dance Hall, Blanco, Texas
December 6th, 2014

Various styles of Texas fiddling graced the room that night:

Los Triñeros, a Mexican-American son Huasteco style that originated in NE Mexico and is a blend of native and Spanish music.
Son Huasteco is usually played by a trio on a small instrument similar to a mandolin, called a jarana; a lower clef instrument called guitarra huapanguera;
and a violin. The highlights usually include the violinist playing with bravado and the vocalist singing in a falsetto, which to me sounds like a voice impersonating the high notes of the violin.

https://vimeo.com/114588521

Los Triñeros

Sean Orr, Country-style fiddler recognizable influenced by Celtic music

Mia Orosco, who I didn’t get to hear, but is an award winning contest fiddler who can be seen elsewhere on the Internet. I would describe her playing as crisp and clean.

Howard Rains, who was apparently playing old style and is involved with a group who has taken the time to learn O. Henry, parlor style songs.

Ed Poullard from Beaumont playing a Cajun style. The song in the video here (https://vimeo.com/114585849) reminds me of unrequited love, very French indeed.

Bryan Marshall, played polish flavored tunes, that I missed during the festival but was able to hear around the fire pit later that night.

To end the night, Al Dressen’s Super Swing Revue played a nice long set for the dancers to practice their waltz, two-step, reel, and of course, swing moves.

(https://vimeo.com/114600381)

AFTER PARTY!

Fire pit jam videos: Bryan Marshall, Ed Poullard, and Mark Rubin on fiddle in videos one and two below, Frank Motley on accordion and Jakub Marshall on clarinet in video three.

1) https://vimeo.com/114741894

2) https://vimeo.com/114742897

3) https://vimeo.com/114607236

TEXAS FIDDLE SAMPLE CD

One of the main sponsors of the event was Texas Folklife has compiled a sampler CD of fiddling called, Traditional Music of Texas, Volume 1: Fiddle Recordings from the Texas Folklife Archives, that can be ordered on their web page https://squareup.com/market/texas-folklife I picked one up and have been addicted to it! Nothin’ like a cheery fiddle tune for the holidays.

**Two new terms fiddling terms I heard on that CD are ‘breakdown’ and ‘double stop’. The definition of ‘breakdown’ seems to vary depending on where the players are from. In the north, from what I gather, it refers to a fast paced 2/4 or 4/4 song that allows for a lot of footwork, but in southern climates, it tends to be a bit slower so that dancers don’t overheat. ‘Double stop’ means to play two notes at the same time, which is apparently difficult to do. To ‘stop’ a string is to press it down, but on a ‘double stop’ this is not necessarily the case. In addition, one string can be plucked and the other bowed to play the ‘double stop’.**


The Last Enchanted Forest Easter

forest-friends

In my mind, the Enchanted Forest will forever be the heart and soul of Austin, a secret landscape in the middle of South Austin where artists, musicians, dancers, teachers, and mind explorers from all over the world have come to commune for over a decade. I remembered entering the forest in the fall of 2005, in response to their spray-painted-sign-on-a-sheet calling for help with the annual Haunted Trail event. Halloween is my favorite holiday and I’d been itching to be an actor in a haunted house for years. I’m always the one in the front of my line, blocking and dodging demons so my screaming friends can get by, so I figured I’d be good at scaring people, too.

I’d just moved to South Lamar and the Enchanted Forest, Zilker, Flipnotics, and my workplace, the Dougherty Art School were all within an easy bike ride away. My rent was $399 including giant community gardens in the courtyards. So, I rolled over there on my imitation BMX from the junkyard and took them up on their friendly invitation. The volunteers had convened inside a patio and I recognized some people I knew. Baruzula, a legendary Austin fire spinner, textile, and body artist and Johnny Slug, another well known character in town, who was a DJ at my favorite early 90’s industrial and electronic music club, Ohms. Hurricane Katrina had just brought many refugees to Austin and several street performers and musicians from New Orleans were staying at the forest in tents. I imagine this made the environment even more circus-like and stimulating than it already was. Plus, a Cajun cook was ready and willing to prepare delicious food for everyone!

For the next few weeks we prepared to freak people out. The event ran for a few weekends and I got to be four different characters. Some of the highlights were as follows. Imagine walking through a pitch black tunnel in the Forest at night, someone may or may not jump out at you, but either way you rush to get back into the moonlight. When you emerge, a path leads you to stepping stones over the stream towards a shack where a country woman is rocking herself on the porch. As you get closer, you see shelves of apothecary jars containing formaldehyde and creepy looking things, bones, claws, and innards. She stands up and you can see it is a man disguised in a straw bonnet and dress, sharpening two large knife blades together, beckoning you, blood curdling wailing and pleas for help come from behind the shack. As he/she walks towards you with the knives and you scurry down the path, from the direction you are heading, a shirtless man with piercings and scarification covering his chest and a white haired, twisted faced mask starts his chainsaw chases you shrieking down the path…You stroll along and catch your breath as you walk upon an alter attached to a tree in the middle of the path. A shelf is nailed to the tree to hold voodoo baby dolls, dead roses, and other manner of eerie accoutréments. The two trees flanking the alter tree hold two scarecrows. Beyond the trees is another wooden shack. Reluctantly you creep towards the building as the path goes through the entrance door and out the exit door, which you can see from where you stand. Suddenly a deep growling voice calls you by name and demands to know, “What are you doing here?!!!” You hear, “Get off of my property!” as one of the scarecrows leaps from the tree and continues to angrily berate you as it edges you into the dark tiny house. A bathtub full of blood awaits and a reanimated corpse of a girl emerges. You jump to the other side of the room and slink towards the exit as she beseeches you with outstretched dripping bloody arms and hands to come closer and bring her favorite toy with you. She cries like a dead-eyed doll as you leave without appeasing her. You soon encounter a John Wayne Gacy look-alike in a black light illuminated tent spray painted with fluorescent obscenities. You block out what happens inside and emerge feeling as if your consciousness has just blacked out temporarily. You almost forget you are on a haunted trail until you come upon a skeletal witch doctor with shrunken heads, toadstools, and a steamy cauldron that she wants you to stir. She seems harmless enough so you allow her to coax you into assisting her. She tells you story but never finishes because in mid-sentence the cauldron tips over to reveal a heathen man grabbing at your ankles to pull you into his pit of despair. They both cackle and curse as you get away by running across a metal bridge passing over the creek. When you are halfway across, a troll bangs on the underside of it with a hammer, which almost give you a heart attack! Just as you cross over, a human sized raven jumps out from behind a tree, croaking menacingly at you for waking it up. It practically pushed you out of it’s territory and you see the exit is near, but one last dreamy surprise awaits you before you make it to the end…A stilt-walker in large billed bird mask tries to envelop you in its shroud so you can never leave.

It was the best haunted production I’ve ever seen and it was a total blast. I never knew I could do those things with my voice. I scared myself a little as I played a tortured girl behind the shack, the scarecrow, undead girl in the tub, and raven.

Halloween parties were hosted for days. Shows consisted of fire, hula hoop, and Butoh style dancing. A suspension ritual from a high tree was undertaken by the Cajun cook. Vaudeville musicians and jugglers in black and white stripes made us laugh. DJs spun as we danced under the stars in our costumes…til the next event…

Art Outside, the festival now held in Apache Pass, Texas was started right there at the Enchanted Forest on Oltorf. In the spring, the spooky took a backseat the fresh ideas and collaborative efforts of artists all over town. Installations, bands, and food sampling were sprinkled throughout the woods for guests to enjoy in the dappled sunlight. At night, mysterious Baruzaland shadow puppet shows were presented on a giant screen with live instrumental accompaniment. Afterwards a lively dance party broke out as, The Emeralds, a rambunctious surf punk outfit who were visiting from Japan, rocked the stage.

I only experienced the Forest for a short while, but those were my favorite months in Austin. The Enchanted Forest was the last bastion of free spirits in our beloved town before it became what I see it as now, a pretty big city. Shortly after my time in the Forest, I ran off to Paris with one of the French NOLA refugees and then to live in Asia for three years. When I returned to Austin, it was shockingly different than it had been in the past 15 years I had lived here. It took me a very long time to find a full time job, despite knowing people all over town, and rent prices were unfathomable to me. I considered going back overseas, but my family of friends are here and I didn’t want to lose touch with my home for any longer than I already had. I made the decision to tough it out because although it’s getting more crowded and expensive, the arts are still alive here. Culture and nature are still valued. It just doesn’t feel as loose and free-spirited…especially now that the Enchanted Forest must close its gates. We fear for the trees and the water there. We are sad that the wildflowers will lose yet another patch of soil to grow as it wills. The birds will still be able to perch in the heritage oaks though. It would be illegal for the new owners to cut down hundreds of years old trees in Austin. (See https://www.austintreeexperts.com/blog/austin-heritage-tree-ordinanace/)

Since I returned from my sojourn, friends of the Forest, including myself, met with city officials, trade members, and community spokespeople, to try to come up with a plan to continue hosting events without getting fined by the city for code violations of this or that sort. The expense of readying it was too much and the property taxes got too high. The most generous proprietor, Albert tried to find a non-profit or community organization to purchase the land, but none could pay a price to sustain him and his family. He has grandchildren now and is planning to start a small farm just a short drive out of town. Eventually he agreed to sell it to developers, who could afford to pay the price he needed for his next chapter. So despite the loss, we are happy that his lovely family’s future is still bright.

And so it goes…I spent the evening of the last Enchanted Forest Easter in this gem of a green space. To allow the forest creatures to convene in the forest one last time, the Forest family threw a big Easter party. I didn’t arrive until nearly sundown, as bunnies are wont to do, but I could tell from the crushed cascarones and confetti strewn about everywhere, that it had been a huge success. Rowdy children wanted to smash watermelon rabbits as if they were pumpkins. Adults lolled around on a bright AstroTurf blanket pleased with the perfect temperature and absence of mosquitoes. I said goodbye to old friend wishing it a positive future as I wandered through with Himalayan protection incense, ring

Now the hardest part comes. Even those who don’t live in the Forest, but are sensitive to its presence, will have a grieving period as bulldozers and concrete take it over. For those who do live there, it must be agonizing. I see in their eyes that they are still trying to release it, some with more ease than others. We have to get used to the fact that Austin will never be the same as it was pre-2006. Many of the people, such as artists, craftspeople, restaurant workers, and gardeners, who made this city appealing to the people who moved here in the past 1-5 years, are getting pushed further and further away from the center. Rents are just too high now. Wages are not getting higher congruently. Many jobs for artists are now being done with free labor known as the unpaid internship. We are not able to make a living in our fields as easily as we were able to before. However, there is a lot of talk lately by the city and grassroots organizations about getting more affordable housing for artists and musicians, initiating rent control, and putting regulations on unpaid internships because what will Austin become if we can’t live here anymore?

This is a call to all who value community, culture, art, music, poetry, nature, health, and good food to be sure you are nurturing those treasures as often as possible. Teach people, who are not familiar with their value, to open themselves up. Welcome them. Show them there is a way to be free. Let the spirit of the Enchanted Forest infiltrate the city, so that the healing powers of creativity and authenticity rule the great city of Austin, Texas y’all!