Arts In Context Shorts introduces us to a group working to change lives. Teaching students to embrace their own cultures, Roots & Rhythms is an after-school drumming program founded in 2008 by Sevylla del Mazo. With drums created from recycled buckets, the bilingual students of Roots & Rhythms collaborate, create, and have some fun while learning the basics of percussion. Thanks to a grant from the City of Austin’s Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services Office/Cultural Arts Division, this program continues to foster ties in surrounding communities and inspires hope for local children.
This week Arts In Context Shorts explores the beauty of Waller Creek. On November 13, 2014, a small stretch of Waller Creek in downtown Austin, Texas was lit up with modern light installations created by five local architects and landscape designers. These light pieces were designed to showcase the space’s potential, since soon a series of parks and connected trails will be developed in the location. Organized by the Waller Creek Conservancy and featuring live local music, the event drew strolling crowds to the walkways and various creekside businesses.
Combining the rich traditions of Ladino music with the rhythms of Flamenco, Flamenco Sephardit brings together Judaeo-Spanish culture and Spanish folk music in a musical experience that captivates and entrances audiences. Produced by Maestro Jeffrey Eckstein, musicians from varying disciplines collaborate to fuse Ladino pieces with Flamenco music in a bold display of skill, grace, and passion. The language of Ladino has changed considerably since its exodus from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition, changing and evolving over centuries as Sephardic Jews who fled the country spoke it in secret. With opera singers, guitarists, and string instruments, Maestro Eckstein marries the music of Ladino with Flamenco in a showcase of rich Spanish cultures and harmonies. Drawing audiences with its intensity, Flamenco Sephardit puts a dramatic twist on an art form so historical that some consider it to be lost.
This month, Arts In Context Shorts profiles a musician who is creating her own style. Gina Chavez is exactly who she is supposed to be. This award-winning Austin musician uses her multi-ethnic roots to create her own sound. Influenced by the music she heard and the people she met while traveling through Central and South America, Chavez delves into cumbia, bossa nova, vintage pop, reggaeton and folk. Singing in both English and Spanish, her contagious love of life shines through in her unique fusion of musical styles.
This week, Arts In Context Shorts gets you moving! More than a dance, tango is a connection between two people – and the teachers and students of Esquina Tango know that to dance it well, you must be tuned into the other person’s body and movement. More than a dance studio, Esquina Tango offers a variety of classes and is a cultural center that uses dance as a tool to bring people together, with tango at the heart of it. With patient instructors and classes for all ages and incomes, this non-profit dance studio has tuned in to the needs of its East Austin community and continues to grow with panache.
This week, Arts In Context Shorts takes you to the drive-in movie theater. Located on the sprawling tarmac of the old Austin airport is the Blue Starlite Drive-in. A few nights a week, up to fifty cars and a handful of walk-in moviegoers gradually fill the lot. While some people drop tailgates and inflate air mattresses in truck beds, others arrange sofa cushions in hatchbacks or unfold lawn chairs around coolers. As the sun sets behind the city skyline and the stars come out, people tune their radios into the theater’s own station attach one of many vintage speakers and settle in for the movie. In this short, we see why the Blue Starlite has become a worthy member of Austin’s unique collection of independent cinemas.
Arts In Context Shorts features an innovative project using art to empower. Through education and training, Arc of the Arts makes professional artists out of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program gives new skills to artists both in making art and in marketing and selling their works, providing a viable career path for a population with limited options. With a strong identity, a boost of confidence, self expression and platform for exposure, these artists meet new goals for refining their craft and for practicing social skills to use in their new career.
A shortened version of this story will air during PBS NewsHour Weekend on Saturday, September 13 at 6:30pm.
This week, Arts In Context Shorts features a project that combines haunting music with nature.
Set against the stunning backdrop of Laguna Gloria, R. Murray Schafer’s Music for Wilderness Lake is a contemplative experience that combines a natural soundscape with haunting music. Organized by Director Steve Parker, twelve trombonists position themselves around the lagoon to play the experimental piece at dawn and at dusk, while a conductor sits in a canoe in the middle of the lagoon, signaling the trombonists with flags. Taking advantage of the unique air patterns and natural sounds during these times of day, Schafer invites the audience to listen to their natural surroundings along with the piece itself. While both observing and absorbing the landscape around them, listeners of Music for Wilderness Lake find themselves transported to a meditative state of being.
Music for Wilderness Lake was performed at Laguna Gloria at the Contemporary Austin on June 27th and 28th, 2014.
Arts In Context Shorts focuses on community collaboration in this week’s story. In it’s tenth year as a grassroots, national festival, Combating Latent Inequality Together (C.L.I.T.) Fest comes to life in Austin for the first time. The DIY, punk and feminist communities come together bringing awareness to sexism, trans-phobia, gender inequalities and other forms of discrimination through workshops, bands and artist collaboration. Benefiting SAFEPLACE, a resource that provides safety for individuals and families affected by sexual and domestic violence, C.L.I.T. Fest reminds others that punk music is a vehicle for activism.
This week, Arts In Context Shorts presents the fun side of art. In the sequel of “More Awkward Than Heavy,” Ink Tank Lab‘s artists focus on collaborating, having fun and letting their imaginations go wild. “MATH2″ is an installation that explores going to art shows as a social event and pokes fun at museum and gallery stereotypes. Ink Tank’s artists want the attendees to participate, touch and help create the “awkward” experience. While some work in academic or museum settings and all have different aesthetics, working together as Ink Tank Lab allows these artists to lose the restraints put on when creating ‘serious’ artwork.