Steve Busti wasn't like the other children in his classroom. While his peers were playing tag and collecting baseball cards, Steve was poring over books on Bermuda Triangle theories and UFOs. He frequented dime museums and sideshow carnivals, fascinated by the strange creatures and characters therein. As Steve grew older, he began to build a collection of oddities—trinkets he picked up from sideshows, props from movie sets, and curiosities he stumbled upon. So when he realized there was plenty of extra room in the back of the novelty shop he owned with his wife, Steve was inspired to open a museum—a shrine to all things odd, unnatural, and eerie.
Today, the Museum of the Weird is a treasure trove of peculiar exhibits, lauded by reporters from The Austin Chronicle as "a remarkable collision of genre film ephemera." Steve's giant pet lizards scuttle about the space, surprising guests who are busy examining bigfoot exhibits or trying to shake an uncomfortable feeling that they recognize one of the shrunken heads. The entire scene is watched over by lifelike wax figures of Dracula and The Wolf Man, as well as a glowering bust of King Kong. After visits, guests pop into Steve and his wife Veronica's shop—Lucky Lizards Curios & Gifts—to peruse an equally unusual collection of action figures, vintage items, and locally made wares.
Austin Details Art + Photo's solo and collaborative exhibitions display and sell artwork from a host of established artists. Photographer Jann Alexander snaps shots of Vanishing Austin to create a collection that showcases classic landmarks with vivid color and dynamic compositions. The 24"x36" Endangered Species of Austin poster assembles a survey of the show's images, including the Alamo Draft House, land-dwelling whales, and the State Theatre's scarlet sign set against a blue sky. Alexander's John Hancock graces 5"x7" prints of pieces such as Custard v Condos and Night Flight⎯windows into the city's iconic signage⎯as well as Competition, a visual narrative of Austin's architecture in a single frame. Alternatively, Groupon customers may opt to shop from other galleries, although availability of prints varies among artists. Art aficionados may also take advantage of an array of services such as fine-art printing, educational workshops, and spa treatments for overworked canvases.
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.
In 2009, Linda and Greg Racino were reaping the benefits of more than two fast-paced decades in the tech industry. Something was missing, though—creativity. So in February of that year the couple left behind the cold digital world for a brightly colored studio warmed by a blazing kiln. Lining their shelves with finished and unfinished clay and glass pieces, the Racinos today deal solely in creation. They guide customers through pottery painting and glass fusing—from picking out a blank bisque piece to arranging a unique design of glass pieces. Guests can also check out the calendar of events to learn about upcoming discounts and special projects, or to find out what day it is.
For three days in November, the Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas Market brings Olde World Christmas spirit to New Braunfels. Vendors set up cheery red and green booths in the German-style holiday market, where they sell homemade wares such as aromatic roasted nuts, unique toys, vintage cameos, and homemade toffee. Nearby, authors sit ready to discuss their novels or sing their favorite Christmas carols at the on-site book fair and a jolly Santa eats breakfast with kids of all ages. To keep guests warm during the event, Sophie's Cafe serves up warm mugs of soup paired with sandwiches or tempting desserts.
Proceeds from the event benefit The Sophienburg Museum and Archives, which serves as the hub for immigration ship logs, photos, and documents of the first German Americans who found their way to Texas.
When Archer M. Huntington donated 4,000 acres of land to The University of Texas at Austin, it was no surprise that the husband to renowned sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington stipulated it be used to support an art museum. Today, The Blanton Museum of Art—named Best Museum in the Austin Chronicle's 2012 Best of Austin Readers' Poll—honors Archer's request by providing access to more than 17,000 works and a variety of rotating exhibitions. The museum's collection of prints, paintings, and sculptures comprises more than 4,000 pieces from America and 1,800 from Latin America, and it even includes the Suida-Manning Collection—a group of 230 paintings and 400 drawings by Baroque and Renaissance masters that was much sought after by other museums, according to Frommer's. With these pieces as backdrop, the museum hosts Third Thursday events such as artist talks and Yoga in the Galleries, the latter of which finds instructors twisting sculptures into poses that will be easier on their spines.