Life & Arts

Entertainment, live performance, food, cuisine, dining, theater, film, television, art, broadcasting, SXSW, and other arts and culture news in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Tomoko Bason

Right after the election, there were demonstrations in Austin and around the country against Donald Trump’s win. The protests died down, but some groups felt like their work was just starting -- and they’re not necessarily groups that would call themselves “political.” 

It's that time of year again. NPR Music has put out the call for your best desk-bound musical stylings for its third annual Tiny Desk Contest. 

The rules are simple: Record a video behind a desk of your choosing, upload the video to YouTube and then fill out this form on the contest's website. Entrants must be at least 21 and undiscovered – you can't be signed to a record label. 

Every year, a promising artist (or two) is awarded the Umlauf Prize, and their work is displayed at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden. This year, the Umlauf is displaying not just the current prize-winning artwork, but a retrospective of several past prize-winners.

On Saturday, January 14, the sculpture garden will host an Insights artist talk with several Umlauf winners, including this year's winning artist, Elizabeth McClellan.

Pete Smith / Courtesy Harry Ransom Center

The archives from the hit cable series "Mad Men" is headed to UT-Austin's Harry Ransom Center.

The collection includes script drafts, props, costumes and video used in the production of the show. The donation was made by the series' creator and executive producer, Matthew Weiner, and the show's production company, Lionsgate.  

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Ruth Brown, the original queen of rhythm and blues.

Brown’s career took her from the Apollo theatre to Broadway. She was the most prolific African American female R&B vocalist of the '50's, surpassing Dinah Washington for a time.

NPR's YouTube channel, Skunk Bear, answers your science questions. This week, we picked one in honor of David Bowie.

Austin History Center, PICA 18419

“They were very concerned that it would affect the chickens and they wouldn't know when to lay the egg.”

What could shake up things so much that chickens in Austin wouldn't know the right time to do their thing? That recollection from a newspaper article can be heard in a documentary called The Last of the Moonlight Towers, which illuminates (get it?) the history of those iconic towers. Seventeen of the 31 original towers built around Austin are still standing. And though Austin wasn't the first city in the country to get moonlight towers when they went up in the 1890s, Austin is the last city that still has functioning towers.

"This is the most ambitious production I've ever done," says Justin Sherburn of his new multimedia project The Time Machine. "It's definitely combining music and theater in a way that's new for me," he says, adding "the shows I've done in the past have been mostly music oriented with slight multimedia, [but] this is a full-on multimedia experience."

The show grew out of Sherburn's longstanding fascination with synthesizers. "I just always thought it'd be fun to... basically use a time machine as a theme to explore sythesizers.

In the sci-fi themed show, Sherburn and his band will journey through the 20th century, starting in Austin and moving through the decades and across the planet. Visual designer Stephen Fishman will manipulate an animation sequence live during the show, projecting images onto and around the band. "It makes it look like the band is actually immersed in this machine," Fishman says.

Michael T. Carter http://www.mtcphotography.com/blog

We get live music recommendations from KUTX program director Matt Reilly.


Ramen Tatsu-ya Facebook page

We get a taste of some of the Austin-area restaurant openings in 2017 from Austin American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam


jpegthedesultorylifeandtimes.blogspot

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with late Dr. John Hope Franklin, Ph.D.

Kate Groetzinger / KUT

When the Blanton unveils its reinstalled permanent collection in February, a 10-foot-tall, three-dimensional portrait made of 3,840 hair combs is sure to capture visitors’ attention.

The portrait depicts Madam C.J. Walker, an African-American entrepreneur who’s often called the first self-made female millionaire in U.S. history.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: A Texas judge issued an injunction Saturday against a federal mandate aimed to protect transgender people, finding that the federal health rule violates existing law.

The preliminary injunction, granted by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, is in response to a lawsuit filed by Texas, on behalf of religious hospital network Franciscan Alliance, and four other states in August.

From this Brighter Bites, month's Get Involved spotlight non-profit:

Brighter Bites is a non-profit that delivers fresh fruits and vegetables directly into families’ hands, while teaching them how to use and choose a different kind of fast food. We make it fun. We make it free. And we make it happen via a simple, three-part formula. Since summer 2015, Brighter Bites has distributed over 1 million pounds of produce to more than 3,500 Austin families.

Mission

Brighter Bites creates communities of health through fresh food.

Vision

Brighter Bites is rooted in the belief that if we give our kids something better to munch on, they will. And the lives they lead will be as vibrant as the foods they crave.

Photo by Jack Plunkett/Feature Photo Service for IBM

These days, many Americans would prefer to “age in place” – or stay in their home as long as they can live safely, independently and comfortably. How long will depend on each individual, but there’s a lab in Austin hoping to extend the timeline for all of us – with robots.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Gospel recording artist Bishop Rance Allen.

Bishop Allen and his brothers Tom and Steve formed The Rance Allen Group in 1969 and introduced a new contemporary and innovative sound to the gospel music audience, incorporating rock, jazz and soul into the music.

One of 12 children, Allen preached his first sermon and started performing as a gospel singer at age 5. He began playing piano by age 7 and the guitar a few years later.

Hir, a dark comedy by multi-award winning playwright Taylor Mac, debuted only a year ago in New York to much acclaim. This January, Capital T Theatre is bringing the play to Austin for the first time.

The play is, in broad terms, an installment in the long pantheon of American family dramas; the four person cast includes a father, a mother, and their two children, and much of the drama revolves around their dysfunctional relationships. 

But Hir is definitely a modern take on that long-lived dramatic genre. It's more of a black comedy than a straight drama, and its characters include a father who's barely able to communicate (in a very literal sense, due to a recent stroke) and who dresses like a clown, a mother who is struggling to assert her dominance after years of oppression, a son who's returning from war while also recovering from drug addiction and a daughter who is transitioning from female to male.

New Year's Eve is the biggest night of the year for many local restaurants, so you might consider booking now to ring in 2017 with a decadent meal. We get some recommendations from Austin American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam.


On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. concludes his conversation with Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, President and CEO of Huston Tillotson University.

As the first female president and chief executive officer of the merged Huston-Tillotson University and the second female president in the college’s 140-year history, Burnette began her new role on July 1, 2015.

Kirk Tuck

In only its third year, Zach Theatre's annual production of A Christmas Carol is already becoming a holiday tradition, for both audience and cast members. 

"I love it," says actress Kelly Petlin. "I tell [director] Dave [Steakley] 'I'll do this until you tell me you tell me I can't do it anymore.'" For actor Michael Valentine, the cast and crew of A Christmas Carol have become something of a surrogate family. "I'm not from Texas, but this is my third holiday season here," he says. "And I've always felt so embraced by this community."

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