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

Scott Westerfeld is a bestselling author of books for both children and adults best known for his young adult series Uglies and Leviathan. While on tour with his new graphic novel Spill Zone, Westerfeld spoke with The Write Up host Owen Egerton about monsters, collaboration, teenagers and storytelling.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The musicians’ song fades over the audience, which is seated in a bright blue room with guitars hanging on the walls. It seems like a regular show somewhere in the Live Music Capital of the World. But this open mic is unique. It takes place at Recovery Unplugged, an in-patient treatment center for addiction.

From Swan Songs, this month's Get Involved spotlight nonprofit:

Swan Songs mission is to fulfill musical last wishes by organizing private concerts for individuals with a terminal illness or nearing the end of life. At their request, a favorite style of music or local musician is brought directly to the home or healthcare facility. The concert allows the recipient, family and friends to focus beyond the illness and come together through music. 

Over the past 14 years, Forklift Danceworks has staged numerous large-scale shows that explore the choreography of everyday people and the beauty found in unexpected professions. Several of those shows have focused on the employees of City of Austin departments -- they've produced dances with the city's Sanitation Department, with Austin Energy, and Austin's Urban Forestry Division, to name a few.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Moses Shepherd, founder and CEO of ACE Petroleum, a Detroit-based national fuel supplier.

"The Long Center has always, of course, been known as a performing arts center," says Gallery 701 curator Philip Rogers. "And they began to think ... that they wanted to introduce the visual arts." Rogers came on board and, after some recommended renovations to make the space more visual-art-friendly, began putting up art shows.

"One of the things that was stressed to me by the Long Center and by the funding entity was that they wanted to have it as much a community space as possible," Rogers says. "So each show has all been artists from the Austin area, and that will always be the case."

Ricardo B. Brazziell, Austin American-Statesman

Among the new restaurants popping up on Burnet Road in North Austin is a French-inspired place the owners describe as a cross between Waffle House and a French bistro.

We asked Austin American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam about his review of Bonhomie


On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. concludes his conversation with Joyce F.  King, broadcaster, columnist and author of Exonerated: A Brief and Dangerous Freedom.

"I used to always talk to my mom about wanting to do something in the park -- something creative, something that would bring the community together," says NOOK Turner about the origins of Jump On It. Twenty years ago, when Turner was still a teenager, he was given the opportunity to create the summer concert series when he answered a citywide call for ideas on using Rosewood Park.

Errich Petersen

"As a woman and feminist, I'm constantly learning about feminism... and it was so surprising to find out, in my naive Sarah Marie brain, that this is not a new idea, women's equality," says actor Sarah Marie Curry. "It's not just the past fifty to one hundred years. And to find out that this woman had made a declaration of women's rights back during the French Revolution... to me is humbling and powerful and also sad."

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

A new series at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center will use food to create connections with the history showcased in the museum and the contributions of African and African-Americans to food around the world.

Austin chef and writer Angela Shelf Medearis kicks off the “Eat Your Way Through History: Lunch and Learn” events Monday with an African, Caribbean and Texan menu. She’s hoping people from all over Austin will come to learn some history and about each other.

"We threw a party ... where we had our friends come, dressed as fake wrestlers, and sort of wrestle in my living room," says director and co-founder Chris Monica, describing the humble origins of Party World Rasslin'. "It was really fun, and so we decided we'd do it again in a few months with like more planning."

From there, Monica and his friends moved onto a homemade backyard wrestling ring. "It was really dangerous and really fun," he says. "Afterwards, we were like 'That was a great thing we did. Let's be sure to never do that again."

But friends and friends-of-friends demanded more, and Party World Rasslin' was born. The backyard bouts continued, with crowds getting bigger and bigger. "For the first year, every show we had was doubling in attendance," Monica notes.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The Contemporary Austin has been making headlines lately – first with the installation of two sculptures by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, then with news that it will transfer its indoor art collection to the Blanton Museum.

It turns out, this is all part of a larger project meant to turn Austin into a "museum without walls."

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Joyce F.  King, broadcaster, columnist, and author of ‘Exonerated: A Brief and Dangerous Freedom.’

"We're all about walking the tightrope where it might go horribly wrong," says the Institution Theater's Asaf Ronen. "And I think people kind of appreciate that about what we do."

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Adrian Ortega stood back from the pool at the Austin Motel on South Congress Avenue looking uncertain.

“I have done nothing like this before,” said Ortega, a former Austin lifeguard who now oversees the city’s aquatics programs, including swim teams. “It’s totally outside of my comfort zone.”

Mary Kang for KUT

As rents for residents and businesses continue to climb, Austin City Council has approved a plan to help the city’s artists afford to keep their venues and creative spaces.

Ralph Barrera, Austin American-Statesman

A restaurant that opened in 1946 in Austin's Bouldin Creek neighborhood just got a major overhaul. Green Pastures is now Mattie's at Green Pastures.

Does the new food live up to the character and history of the establishment? We asked Austin American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam about his review.


Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

For years, Mike “Truth” Johnston has been pasting his colorful portraits of icons from Michael Jordan to Martin Luther King Jr. on dumpsters, billboards and electrical boxes around the city. 

KUT’s Syeda Hasan caught up with the Austin street artist to learn more about his creative process. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

SXSW CEO and co-founder Roland Swenson says moving the festival out of Texas would not be a solution to protest Senate Bill 4, the state's new "sanctuary cities" law.

"Austin is our home and an integral part of who we are," Swenson said in response to a call from two U.S. senators for the festival to move. "We stand by the City of Austin in their challenge against SB4 and will continue to speak out against it, and all discriminatory legislation."

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