• Weekend Recs: Wells Mason Gallery, South for the Summer, Keep Austin Weird, Skanky Summer

    A new contemporary art gallery in East Austin, Wells Mason Gallery, will hold exhibits primarily of abstract expressionism and deconstructivist art.
    WHAT: Wells Mason Gallery Opening & Reception
    WHEN: Friday, June 24 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    WHERE: 727 Airport Boulevard
    ADMISSION: Free

    Take a quick day trip to Texas Music Theater in San Marcos on Saturday for the South for the Summer concert showcase, featuring local bands such as The Canvas Waiting, Suite 709 and Eyes Burn Electric.
    WHAT: South for the Summer Showcase 2011
    WHEN: Saturday, June 25 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
    WHERE: Texas Music Theater, 120 E. San Marcos
    ADMISSION: $5

    Embracing the city’s quirks, Keep Austin Weird Festival & 5K celebrates local arts, music, food and philanthropy. Attendees are highly encouraged to come in their most creative costumes.
    WHAT: Keep Austin Weird Festival & 5K
    WHEN: Saturday, June 25 at 2 p.m.
    WHERE: The Long Center
    ADMISSION: Free

    Acclaimed local folk-pop indie band Little Lo is releasing its EP, “A Poison Tree” Sunday at the Parish.
    WHAT: Skanky Summer: Little Lo EP Release with One Hundred Flowers, Sip Sip + More
    WHEN: Sunday, June 26 from 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
    WHERE: The Parish
    ADMISSION: $7 at the door, free Little Lo EP with ticket

  • Art in Translation: Construction on Congress

    Jorge Galvan’s “This Land Was Made” is a sculptural installation made with mixed media.
    Jorge Galvan’s “This Land Was Made” is a sculptural installation made with mixed media.

    Hey, everyone! Back again, art in tow.

    Walking into Mexic-Arte Museum on Congress Avenue and Fifth Street, I was immediately intrigued by the brightly colored graphic prints and eclectic, wall-mounted sculptures straight ahead as I walked into the exhibit. The show, “Thought Cloud,” features the work of 10 Texas-based contemporary artists, all under the age of 35, each expressing their own views on the human condition in the 21st century. I was looking at a bright, pinkish-lavender screen print depicting cartoon cats when I turned around and instantly locked eyes on an industrial installation piece.

    What we’re looking at is a 2-D outline of a telephone pole decaled on the wall, whose wires reach upward, dangling three light bulbs in the air. On the ground, in front of this, are snippets of the lyrics to the classic American folk song “This Land is Your Land.” Each letter of the lyrics depicted in a different medium ranging from steel to copper wires to fiberglass — all of which are common materials found at a construction site.

    “This Land Was Made” is a sculptural installation by Jorge Galvan and is comprised of mixed media — that’s the official way of saying there are so many different materials that it would be tedious to list them all. But for this installation, Galvan used wire, light bulbs, various metal coils, steel, and glass, to name a few. On his info card, Galvan says his work expresses an inner struggle to not feel like an outsider in both his native Mexico and his life-long home, the United States.

    The piece specifically reflects his experiences working with Project Row House, an art-based nonprofit organization in Houston’s third ward. Galvan was inspired by the juxtaposition of the inner city environment against the organization’s thriving arts scene.

    This piece is a stand out because it takes all of the resources normally concealed in a finished building and creates beauty out of them. All of the mismatched parts seem to coexist and create something harmonious. Although it is not necessarily the smoothest or most refined piece, the sense of raw, unfinished exposure shows that the process of creating can be just as captivating ­­­­— in its own way — as a completed project. It’s somewhat enchanting in its imperfection.

    Personally, I look at it and feel like it shows that you can find beauty in the parts of a sum, giving way for art to exist in the most unlikely of places, such as a construction site. If a building can be beautiful, why not the metallic coils that conduct its electricity? Why not the wood? Why not the cement foundation that supports it all? Why do wires have to be a tangled mess when instead they could be a wild, intertwined web of vines?

    I challenge you all to find beauty in the underbelly of your lives. Where do you see it?

    Until Wednesday! 

  • The Garage Sale Review: The Circle of Life['s crap]

    Roger Rice, an avid hunter of bargains at garage sales, examines one of his favorite things to find when he's out treasure hunt
    Roger Rice, an avid hunter of bargains at garage sales, examines one of his favorite things to find when he's out treasure hunt

    Howdy, you wonderful people!

    It’s time for another edition of The Garage Sale Review. If you don’t remember, The Garage Sale Review is just a fancy name for that thing I do on Mondays where I talk about all the funky junk I find for sale in strangers’ yards and garages around Austin. It’s a breathtakingly fun time, let me tell you. There’s nothing quite like reaching your bare hand into an unlabeled cardboard box, pulling out a strange family heirloom from the ’80s and haggling with the seller over the heirloom’s price while trying to avoid touching the stray pieces of hair that have adhered to the object’s faintly sticky exterior. Trust me, brave adventurer, ignore that stickiness; it will all be worth it when you get home, wash your hands and immediately toss your purchase onto some shelf where you’ll never see it again. Well, at least until you host your own garage sale and attempt to dump the sticky artifact onto some other unsuspecting traveler. That’s the way the sacred Circle of Life(‘s crap) works, you see?

    At this point, you might be saying to yourself, “When is this guy going to stop blabbering and do the thing where he talks about weird garage sale stuff?” Well, guess what, people who might be saying that? I’m not going to do that this week. Now, before you click away to check on your Myface’s and Twappers, allow me to explain.

    This is a very special week in the short but lovely life of The Garage Sale Review. As you may be aware, Father’s Day was this last weekend. Father’s Day is a pretty important day for fathers everywhere, no doubt, but it’s perhaps the most important day for this series of garage sale focused Internet postings. If you’ve read the last two weeks’ posts, you know that the fire that burns in my blood for yard sales can be traced back to my own father, whose passion for garage selling is like a fierce, blazing sun compared to my own. Given The Garage Sale Review’s roots, I feel like it’s only right that I call him up on this day of days and conduct a short Q&A with the man. So, without further ado, I give you Allen West.

    Actually, he didn’t answer. But fear not, there is a substitute! Roger Rice, a long-time friend of my father’s and a valiant garage-seller to boot, has graciously agreed to answer any questions I might have.

    Q&A with Roger Rice, a seasoned garage seller

    The Garage Sale Review: How long have you been garage selling?

    Roger Rice: 15 years, probably. [confers with Ms. Rice, who is sitting next to him]. Well, 25 years. Let’s make it 25 years. I’ve consulted someone else who knows me better, so 25 years.

    GSR: Who introduced you to garage selling?

    RR: I don’t know. Myself. My dad and my mom weren’t garage sale people, but I enjoy it thoroughly.

    GSR: What stands out to you as a particularly juicy find at a garage sale that you’ve been to?

    RR: Last year I found two bicycles that were five bucks apiece that I gave to Steve (Mr. Rice’s son) and Jessica (Steve’s girlfriend) for Christmas. They were $1,000 bikes that I got for five bucks apiece.

    GSR: Did the sellers not know they were $1,000 bikes?

    RR: I don’t know if they did or not. One was a Bianchi and one was a Trek. We had actually already bought Steve a bike that he wanted but then the next week I found these bikes that were better than what he asked for. The secret is to go to a bunch of them and you’ll find something you want at a really good price.

    GSR: What’s the strangest thing you’ve found at a garage sale?

    RR: Women’s underwear. I find it to be extremely strange that anyone would buy underwear from a garage sale. Also, wedding dresses. I see those at garage sales and that’s just bizarre.

    GSR: Do you have any advice for any novice garage sellers out there?

    RR: Don’t feel like you have to buy something from every garage sale. Go to multiple garage sales — one or two won’t be enough. The earlier you go the better.

    GSR: What time do you hit the streets when you’re garage selling?

    RR: If the garage sale starts at 7, you need to be there at a quarter 'til  7. And the reason is, if it’s a really good garage sale, by 7:30 they’re going to be finished selling all their stuff so you’re going to miss all of the good deals.

    GSR: Any more tips?

    RR: The best garage sales to go to are where someone is trying to get rid of their stuff and not trying to make a lot of money. There are professional garage sale people that use garage sales as a store outlet because they’re trying to make a living. Also, go with a buddy so that you have a good time even if you don’t end up buying anything.

    GSR: What about any tips as far as haggling goes?

    RR: Never pay what they’re asking. As the day goes on, the prices should drop, so be willing to walk away or at least act like you’re walking away if they don’t accept your price.

    GSR: Wow, have you employed the bluff before?

    RR: Oh yeah.

    GSR: Is there anything that you find yourself buying a lot of, inexplicably perhaps?

    RR: Barbecue pits.

    There you have it, folks — sacred advice from a veteran garage seller. We’ll be back to our normal programming next week, so stay tuned and watch out for barbecue pits; they’re like Sirens on the rocks.

  • The Basement Tapes: The Lovely Sparrows

    Local indie folk-pop band the Lovely Sparrows have graced the Austin scene for more than half a decade, creating tracks that embrace lead singer Shawn Jones’ melancholy lyrics, Southern spirit, classical music performance training and whimsical imagination.

    From the music video for their popular single, “The Year of the Dog,” where in a paper-constructed forest, Jones sings about his loyalty to love to Jones’ latest project multimedia project for the band’s second LP, music from the Lovely Sparrows is more than just songs and lyrics.

    The band will be releasing their EP, Tall Cedars of Lebanon, in the upcoming month and their second LP tentatively in October.

    The Lovely Sparrows will be playing with fellow local bands at Scoot Inn this weekend and will be kicking off their tour this month.

    The Texan interviewed band mates Shawn Jones and Lauryn Gould, as well as the band’s upcoming book illustrator Derek Van Giesen, about their upcoming EP, LP and the album’s analogous art book.

    Daily Texan: You were telling me how there’s a delay in the EP, hence why the performance Saturday is now more just a concert than a release party. So what has the recording process been like?

    Shawn Jones: Well, I didn’t even think we were going to put out an EP because normally, I just have the right amount of songs for the full length — that we’ve been working forever on, but this time we had a bunch of songs. A lot of them are older stuff that we never put out. A couple other ones that kind of end with being mellower, slower that was bogging down the full length. I want this full length to be another kind of break. I’m very much like ‘OK, I did that, now I want this to be something different,’ or ‘oh OK, we’re a quiet, go-to-the-bathroom folk band, well no, not anymore,’ or ‘Lovely Sparrows are this, and I’m like no.’

    Lauryn Gould: We just want to make people dance.

    Jones: Yeah, we’ve turned into a dance band.

    DT: What’s each of your favorite song to dance to?

    Jones: Well she’s like a dancer dancer, so maybe something from the ‘20s.

    Gould: Yeah, I like to swing dance, so I like jazz.

    Jones: I’ve only got like tiny movements; that’s about all I have. [laughs]

    Gould: You know, I can even dance to some bhangra. I can dance to some Indian hip-hop.

    Jones: Yeah, I don’t know. That last Destroyer show was fun.

    Gould: We had our own little dance party.

    DT: So what’s the inspiration behind the upcoming LP? And do you have a name for it yet?

    Jones: The EP, we have a name for. It’s going to be called Tall Cedars of Lebanon.

    DT: That’s beautiful.

    Jones: Why, thank you. Just wait, you’ll soon know why. The LP, I’m thinking right now should be self-titled cause it’s coming out with that book. I think I just want to call the book and the LP, “the Lovely Sparrows.” So Derek’s doing all the art for the book.

    DT: So what made you decide to just make a book with the LP?

    Jones: I guess right now after Bury the Cynics came out, I had writer’s block for like three or four months and I was like ‘gah, I don’t want to do this anymore,’ so I just started writing these little short stories, kind of like exaggerated autobiography stuff and ended up working on that for three months and at one time it was like a 20,000 words little novella. So I called Derek and left this 15 to 20 minute rant on his machine saying ‘oh, you know, I got this idea, and its going to be this multimedia project, and oh yeah, I can’t pay you in advance, but you’re the only person I want for the job so, uh you don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it.’

    DT: So how did you feel about that, Derek? That’s a lot of pressure.

    Derek Van Giesen: Well, there was a lot of back and forth to reigning back into something I could just sink my teeth into.

    Jones: Reign into a 160-page book. [laughs]

    DT: What are some of the stories about?

    Jones: I guess the last couple of years I really got into David Lynch and Twin Peaks, and I don’t want to say too much cause it’s still in the process and it won’t be until October before it comes out. Solely possibly that this week, it’ll take another left turn. But it’s kind of a dark comedy. It’s got a loose plot that shifts through this weird other place, other world maybe.

    Ghoul: Science fiction? Kurt Vonnegut style?

    Jones: Science fiction, I don’t know about that. There’s definitely some Vonnegut in there.

    DT: Going back, can you tell me more about the inspiration behind the LP?

    Jones: Well, working on that book kind of got me out of that writer’s block and so I started writing songs with that in mind and I didn’t really realize that those were going to go together yet. It hadn’t dawn on me that giving someone a 20,000 page, sorry, [laughs], that would be crazy! 20,000 word book and saying, ‘hey, you have to read this to get what’s happening on the record,’ that might be a little pretentious. But I was drawn from that to get the songs. But the songs are more — there’s stuff from growing up in the South, weird religious imageries and working with perspective… not making anyone a martyr, a delicate balance to not make anyone weepy.

    DT: So having been in the Austin music scene for quite some time, how would you describe the scene when you first got here and how it is now?

    Jones: I had a really, really good time there for a long time. It was actually with a lot of KVRX kids and stuff. There was this house venue called Jessie’s Bed and Breakfast that our friend Michael Landon ran out of his house and he got all of these great K Records people like Phil Elverum and the Microphones, Karl Blau, Moldy Peaches, and all of those northwest folk bands to come through and we opened for them and stuff.

    Ghoul: Those were the days!

    Jones: Those were the days. And it was really fun and it kind of bottomed out for a while and actually the last couple of years have been awesome too. Made a lot of friends, like with the Sour Notes and Eastern Sea.
     

  • Apron Optional: Black Bean Salad

    I want to say something. I’m going to put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don’t, send it right back: I love black beans. I also love the movie Anchorman, if you didn’t catch that. About a year ago, I sat down laptop in tow to watch the blessed film (of which I literally can recite every line) and find a recipe for black bean salad that was quick, easy and delicious. I don’t know why exactly, but I refused to rest until I found what I believed to be the perfect one. Perhaps I was inspired by Ron Burgundy and his suits, so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo.

    So I adapted this recipe from one I found about a year ago deep in the archives of the user comments on the Bush’s Beans website (I told you, I was a woman obsessed!). The recipe is relatively simple to make, as it really only involves chopping. This can be a bit time consuming especially if you are just starting out, but I strongly suggest you don’t rush the process. After all, the more fingers you lose, the less you will be able to try your hand at the recipes I post. Okay, bad pun, but seriously — please don’t chop off your finger(s).

    To do the prep work, you are going to need a cutting board (the larger the better), a sharp knife, measuring cups, a colander, a can opener and a large mixing bowl. If you’re planning to serve it the same day, I would recommend nixing the mixing bowl and using whatever you plan to serve it in instead to avoid washing extra dishes. As I mentioned last Friday, it would be wise to place your onion in the freezer now for 10-15 minutes to eliminate some of the tear-inducing fumes.

    First, open the cans of black beans and pour them into the colander over the sink. Running the beans under cold water, sift them around with your hand to get all of the extra juice off (if you haven’t washed your hands yet, now would be a good time to do so and I suggest not mentioning the oversight to any dinner guests). When all of the runoff water is clear, gently shake the colander to remove excess liquid and dump the beans into your bowl. Then, open the can of corn, drain out all of the liquid and pour them in the bowl, too.

    Now, on to the chopping. Rinse off your bell pepper and cut it in vertical halves. Remove the stem, seeds, and white junk inside, carefully cutting around the edges if necessary. Place each half face down on the cutting board and make thin, parallel slices from top to bottom, keeping the pieces in place. Then, do the same thing going in the other direction to make tiny squares of pepper. You can cut them larger if that is your preference; I happen to think bell peppers are flavor bullies so I keep them small to avoid masking all of the other flavors. When you’re done, throw that in the bowl — this time with enthusiasm!

      

    Next, chop the onion. You will only need a fourth of a cup, so there is absolutely no way you will need more than half of it for now. For detailed onion-chopping instructions, refer back to last week’s post, chopping the pieces small (the same size as the bell pepper or smaller). Once you have tackled that beast, chop up some of the sweet roasted pepper into pieces the same size as the bell pepper and onion. There is no exact count of pieces to cut, so I just throw them in the measuring cup as I go. If you want it to be a little sweeter, go for a full half cup. Add all of that to your bowl as well.

    For the cilantro you don’t use the stems, so it’s now time for the arduous task of plucking all of the leaves off. You will need a full half cup, and because the leaves compact after they are chopped, you’re going to have to pluck a lot (you can still measure it out precut to get an idea of how much more you will need). It’s a mindless task, so feel free to crank up the best of the ‘90s (or whatever your preference) and jam a little while you work. Once you think you have enough, bunch it together into a pile on your cutting board and make parallel cuts (as if you are cutting into a loaf of bread) vertically and horizontally until the majority of the cilantro is chopped. Measure it out and chop more if necessary. Then pour it in with everything else.

    With the queso fresco, all you really have to do is crumble it off of the block. The recipe calls for half a cup, but feel free to add more if you so desire — I probably will. Add it in with everything else.

    Mix everything together and salt and pepper to taste. Let it sit in the fridge for about an hour before serving and enjoy!

      

    The great thing about this dish is that you can dress it up a bunch of different ways: If you want to add an extra kick of flavor, add a teaspoon of paprika and/or cumin or a teaspoon of cayenne pepper if you want a bit of heat. Mix and taste, adding a dash more if necessary. And if you REALLY want to add some heat, try adding some raw jalapeño, diced very small, following cutting instructions similar to that of the bell pepper. Be extremely careful not to touch your eyes during/afterward until you’ve washed them!

    I like to serve it with lime wedges on the side so you can squeeze the juice on top. I usually eat it with meat and tortillas taco-style, with chips as a hearty dip, or on its own as a side dish.

    Until next week, happy chopping — except your fingers.

    Photos by Anastasia Garcia.

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