My family and I were fortunate to spend part of the scorching Texas summer on Nantucket, a 50-square-mile island off the Massachusetts coastline. Known mainly for its maritime history, Nantucket also has a rich history as an art colony. Even today, if you walk through any of the quaint antiques stores that dot the island, you’re likely to find a trove of artistic treasures, both old and new.
I found one such treasure recently in Nantucket House Antiques, a charming store near the center of town that specializes in fine 18th- and 19th-century English and American furniture and accessories.
“Tell me about this piece,” I said to the shopkeeper while pointing at a blue and green pinwheel-shaped ceramic bowl that, frankly, seemed a bit out of place. “Oh, that’s not old,” she said, almost apologetically. “That’s a new piece by ceramic artist Piero Fenci.”
Susan Antone, the managing owner of the world-famous blues club, Antone’s, is well known as one of the chief architects of Austin’s nightlife scene. But few know that she is also an accomplished photographer with an archive of thousands of photographs at UT Austin’s Briscoe Center for American History. I’m lucky enough to call Susan a friend and feel fortunate to have in our collection a photograph that she took of the great blues vocalist and harmonica player, Junior Wells. No one in Austin better blends the worlds of nightlife and art, so, for Tribeza’s Nightlife Issue, I had to ask for an audience with Susan Antone.
Think of the masterpieces of 20th and 21st century design — the Eames Lounge Chair, the Noguchi Table and the Marshmallow Sofa, to name a few — and you’ll realize a common denominator is Herman Miller. Founded in 1905, Herman Miller is arguably the world’s most important and influential producer of modern furniture.
One of the foremost experts on the 106-year-old company is design scholar John Berry, the former Herman Miller executive who penned the book, Herman Miller: The Purpose of Design, published by Rizzoli International in 2004. Now in its second printing, the book served as the primary source for Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller, an exhibition about the venerable furniture company at the Austin Museum of Art-Downtown through September.
When you meet singer, songwriter and actor, Lyle Lovett, as I did for the first time three years ago, it’s hard not to feel a bit defenseless. As Austin film producer and Lovett friend, Christy Pipkin, says, “Lyle has the most disarming smile in history.” Even more disarming is Lovett’s kindness, authenticity and complete lack of pretense. Maybe that’s why “Pantry,” a song about putting away groceries that he co-wrote with his long-time girlfriend, April Kimble, popped into my head the last time we spoke. When I asked him what inspired him to write that song, Lovett said, “It’s fun to unpack groceries and see what might be for dinner.
Graham Reynolds may be best known for scoring Richard Linklater’s 2006 film, A Scanner Darkly, but this supremely talented, Austin-based composer and pianist may also be the hardest working man in Austin showbiz.
About 30 minutes into Building Hope, Turk Pipkin’s inspiring, new film about building the first high school for a rural Kenyan community, there’s a shot of parent volunteers laying down stones to create a road so a truck can bring construction materials to the building site. As I watched the scene unfold, I was struck by how well it serves as a metaphor for Mahiga Hope High School, an effort built on people working together to pave the way for so many more.
Now open and serving 350 students, Mahiga Hope High School includes an eight-classroom building, fully-equipped science and computer labs, a library, a kitchen, a dining room and the award-winning RainWater court, a basketball court with a roof that collects 30,000 liters of purified drinking water with every two inches of rain.
One of the most unforgettable performances I’ve ever seen on television is award-winning actor Kyle Chandler’s performance as the ill-fated bomb squad leader on the medical series, Grey’s Anatomy. It was riveting and earned Chandler the first of two Emmy nominations.
Chandler’s second nomination came last year for his work as Coach Eric Taylor on the critically-acclaimed TV series, Friday Night Lights, which wrapped production recently after five seasons.
I had the chance to meet Chandler last year when I was seated next to him at a dinner and learned that he is as down-to-earth and gracious as he is talented. When I found out that he would be accepting The Star of Texas Award for Friday Night Lights at this month’s Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards, I had to ask for an audience with Kyle Chandler.
Q & A with Kyle
Listening to Broken Gold, the new record from singer-songwriter Erin Ivey & The Finest Kind (Rolf Ordahl, Ross Alexander, and JJ Johnson), brings me back to the first time I heard Erin sing. It was a beautiful night last May and I had invited a group of women—including Erin, who was a new friend—over to the house for margaritas. When she walked in with her guitar in tow, I knew we were in for a treat. After about an hour, she pulled me aside and asked quietly, “Would you like me to do a song or two?” Does a margarita have salt? Cocktails in hand, we gathered around as Erin—gorgeous without a stitch of make-up—sat down on the edge of the sofa, lifted her guitar onto her lap and began to sing. Her voice as warm and breezy as the summer night, the moment was sublime. Erin sang two songs for us that evening: “Chocolate,” a French ditty about “her favorite drug,” and “Go!
Robert Wilson may be the most prolific and influential artist of our generation. Perhaps best known for his groundbreaking opera, “Einstein on the Beach,” a collaboration with composer Philip Glass, Wilson is a theater director, producer, designer, choreographer, performer, architect, furniture maker, videographer and sculptor. When I asked him recently how he defines himself, he said, “I simply say I am an artist.” Indeed.
Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage,” and I’d venture to guess that no two members of Austin’s theater community are bringing that line from As You Like It to life more than Jen Brown and Susie Gidseg. Brown, an actor and director, and Gidseg, a director, are the founders of the Vestige Group, one of Austin’s most innovative theater companies.