That’s right, it was one of those six-event autumn days.
MEDIA: About 125 students crowded into the classroom. They were there at Texas State University to hear LGBTQ issues in mass media as part of Mass Comm Week. Leading the discussion was Texas State professor Bruce Smith. Joining me on a restless panel — no sitting behind nameplates here — was Texas State student reporter Ernest Macias. Egged on by the students, we explored the past, present and future of gay representation in the media. We covered countless issues, but kept returning to a few basic principals: Listen to the community, respect its individuals and let them tell their stories. Get out of the way of how they express their lives and identities. We also talked a lot about the generational shifts from when I first started following the subject in the media during the 1960s. Pretty cool stuff.
CHARITY: We need to hear more from Arc of the Capital Area. The group that empowers folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities has moved into a new home with a big art studio at 49th and Grover streets (the old Girling spot). During the group’s annual art show at the Hyatt Regency Austin, director Susan Eason told me a tantalizing bit about her 33-year history with Arc, how she started out as a mom seeking help for her daughter, then became a volunteer before joining the staff, which now employs a staff of 32 on a $2 million budget. What’s easy to forget at this unforgettable event is the unquestionable quality of much of the art created by clients (they are branching out into digital media). You also get to meet the artists who give you even more insight into their creative growth.
HEALTH: Let’s not bury the lead here. The Aware Awake Alive event, for the group that educates young folks about binge drinking and alcohol poisoning, was held in the penthouse of Luci Baines Johnson and Ian Turpin. If you haven’t been there — and I hadn’t — it’s atop the Neo-Gothic Norwood Tower and it’s a beauty. The two-story residence echoes the exterior with beveled surfaces interpreted in clean modern lines with plenty of blond wood to warm the place up. Mementos from the Johnson clan can be seen everywhere, but don’t overwhelm. Back to the charity: The group was founded on the death of Austin-born Carson Starkey following a fraternity initiation ritual in California. They’ve made admirable progress in Texas, California and elsewhere with college students and are now focusing on high school students. As anyone who has re-watched “Friday Night Lights” — we are currently back in Season 2 — there’s a need. Although fictional, we know Dillon is duplicated all over the state.
HISTORY: I attended a small event that toasted the innovative “La Belle” exhibit at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Although I enjoyed several historical chats, it’s best to let Pam LeBlanc explain the plans to reassemble La Salle’s ship in front of visitors and cameras. Taken from her story in the Statesman: “Coming soon to a museum — or computer — near you: A team of experts, rebuilding a 17th-century shipwreck found along the Texas coast. Starting Saturday, visitors to the Bullock Texas State History Museum will be able to watch curators and technicians reassemble the hull of the French ship La Belle, which sank in Matagorda Bay in 1686. The work, which will be broadcast live via webcam, is part of a new special exhibit called “La Belle: The Ship That Changed History.” The job should take about seven months. Next May, crews will wheel the hull into the museum’s main gallery, tilt it to the 21-degree angle at which it was discovered, replace its cargo, encase the whole thing in glass and build a ramp around it so visitors can look inside. The main gallery will be closed starting in February to prepare for the permanent exhibit, which is expected to open in fall 2015.” http://shar.es/1mPtPP
MOVIES: Once again, it was less about the food and the drink and more about the people. Austinites have grown quite accustomed to events that allow one to sample the delicacies of our city’s top kitchens. Food and Film, which kicks off the Austin Film Festival, is one of the oldest and most respected. Yet, one a day when there were many, many competing events, I was able to spend maybe an hour bouncing around the upper lobby of the Driskill Hotel. There, film and sports reporter Victor Diaz told me all about Natasha Verma, a television journalist and filmmaker who graduated from the University of Texas at age 17, completed her master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University and directed a film about a female boxer while hosting a new show in Florida. At age 20. Kathy Blackwell, formerly of the American-Statesman and now editor of Austin Way, traded all sorts of tips about recent social events and possible future ones. It’s a pleasure to have her out and about.
NATURE: My final event for Oct. 23, 2014 was Dress by Candlelight. This annual affair benefits the Candelight Ranch, which provides outdoor activities for special-needs and at-risk kids. I’ve always wanted to spend an entire evening at this undressy affair, but, as you can see, it’s often scheduled on a busy, busy night. Brazos Hall was laid out for a fashion show with silent auction galleys alongside the main action. I spent the most time with Mike Johnston, who makes “live painting.” You might have seen some of these quick-study artists at other events, who might paint a large canvas in the course of a few minutes or hours. Johnston, however, is the only one I’ve met who lives in Austin. His painting and his spirit well represented the good impressions I’ve always had about Candlelight Ranch. Someday, the whole evening …
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post got the name of Aware Awake Alive wrong.