When Ken Bradley, Cathy Grant, and Damian Gillen created The Company Theatre in 1993, they had one mission: to offer an live entertainment alternative to television or movies. Their lively adaptations of classic literature and popular stories have toured to theatres, schools, and churches all over Texas. No staging is too unconventional for the The Company Theatre: the troupe presents a condensed version of the complete works of Shakespeare with three fast-talking actors, and performs their production of “Charlotte’s Web” at an operating farm.
Everyone has a different vision of how their living space should look, which is why ART on 5th fills its three-level, 6,000-square-foot gallery with art to suit all tastes. Works by notable names such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Theodor Seuss Geisel—better known as Dr. Seuss—rub shoulders with rotating collections from some 60 lesser-known artists.
In addition to displaying fine paintings, ART on 5th offers custom-framing services, and backs each of its frames with a lifetime guarantee. The store’s artisans meticulously choose a flattering frame for each piece from more than 3,000 styles—helping artwork mesh stylistically with its destination, be it a living-room wall or an endless hall of mirrors. They eschew colored, paper mats in favor of neutral-toned, hand-wrapped linen mats, leaving some wiggle room between art and frame and imbuing each piece with richness and depth. Each frame is hung with kevlar, a bulletproof material that prevents damage caused by rusted hanging wires and showboating ’80s action-movie stars.
Art can be divisive, but playtime is not. Maybe that’s why Art Alliance Austin chose red rope swings hung in surprise downtown areas to headline the 2012 Art City Austin festival. Courtesy of Austin’s The Red Swing Project, a collective dedicated to transforming neglected urban areas into welcoming play spaces, the swings are just one example of the partnerships Art Alliance Austin makes to achieve its goal of building community through local art projects. And considering Austin’s explosive growth in recent years, that mission is timelier than ever. “It all comes down to creating spaces for a common narrative, a common culture, and common experience to emerge,” explains Art Alliance Austin’s communications liaison Michu Benaim. “And we can achieve that by encouraging people to connect.” Art Alliance Austin designs its annual festivals to be as much block parties as art shows—Michu describes Art City Austin, for example, as local, homegrown, and neighborly. Since 1956, the group has woven its philosophies into Austin's pulse during its many shows, festivals, and events, which have included Art Night Austin, Art Week Austin, and coproduction of Pecha Kucha Austin, each one helping ensure the city remains a vibrant and creative place to live.
1020 Glass Art and Decor takes its name from its mission to provide exquisite artwork to everyday people by often pricing its handmade glass creations between $10 and $20. Behind the downtown Austin’s space-age art-deco storefront, their sales team of enthusiastic and knowledgeable designers and art experts as they amass a collection of more than 5,000 glass vases, drink sets, bowls, figurines, and chandeliers. As a locally-owned business, 1020 takes pride in its community and boosts the city’s culture scene by employing 10 highly trained in-house art consultants. They also give back through charitable functions and support of area nonprofits, such as Project Transitions’s hospice and housing care for HIV and AIDS patients. The designers even show their love for their home state through their inventory, with a number of Texas-themed pieces available for purchase, such as a majestic longhorn steer, a golden-horn wine stopper, or a miniaturized Lyle Lovett imprisoned in a crystal paperweight.
Every year, more than 75,000 visitors?from schoolchildren to serious art collectors?visit the Mexic-Arte Museum in downtown Austin. They come to see the innovative exhibitions, explore the collections, and soak up the resources that have made the museum a go-to source for educational and cultural programming. Designated as the Official Mexican and Mexican-American Fine Art Museum of Texas, Mexic-Arte was founded by a group of artists in 1984; it's one of the few museums in the United States dedicated to Mexican art. Mexic-Arte showcases the works of both established and emerging artists from Mexico, the United States, and Latin America, allowing them to reach a large audience without having to create extra-large pieces to unravel from the tops of nearby skyscrapers.
To avoid last year's embarrassment of inventing modern art 90 years after the fact, it might do you good to visit an art museum and see what art movements already exist. Marvel and muse among the aesthetically astute with today's Groupon: for $30, you'll get a yearlong household membership to both locations of the Austin Museum of Art. Benefits include: