Arts In Context Shorts: Curating Cosmic Vida

With “Cosmic Vida,” an exhibition at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, curator Raul Valdez gave visitors a glimpse into the cosmos.

“Cosmic Vida” is the first show Valdez curated in more than a decade. An artist himself, he curated the collection after he realized he could not produce enough work to fill up the space himself. The exhibition, which is no longer on display, juxtaposed dynamic and subdued pieces. With artworks of various mediums, colors, sizes and imagery, he explored the literal and symbolic meaning of the exhibit’s title.

Valdez hoped the audience was inspired to make their own interpretations on the universal experiences of La Raza, the human race.

“You can see the chicano in it, but you can also see the universal part,” Valdez said

What’s happening this weekend: Nov. 6-8

Austin Skyline

Happy November, Austin! Now that it’s finally starting to feel like fall, here are a few ideas for how to celebrate another fabulous (but probably rainy, unfortunately) Austin weekend.

Let there be fun!

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest, held this year at Auditorium Shores. Headliners include Chvrches, Jane’s Addiction, Chromeo, Wu-Tang Clan and Ms. Lauryn Hill, who’s filling in at the last minute for D’Angelo and the Vanguard, who had to cancel. Ms. Lauryn Hill is also taping Austin City Limits Saturday night, so you have two chances to check her out! Check out this documentary about Fun Fun Fun Fest that Arts In Context made in 2013 to get in the mood. Have fun (…fun…fun…)!

Lineup, tickets and schedule available at

Salute to veterans

Veterans Day is Wednesday, Nov. 11, but KLRU and PBS have already launched special programming honoring the brave men and women who have served our country.

A special Central Texas Gardener, Taking Care of Trees, airs Saturday at noon and 4 p.m. This program includes a healing warriors garden at Fort Sam Houston. It’s a story that features the Warrior and Family Support System gardens at Fort Sam Houston. Emotional, powerful, encouraging stories about a beautiful garden designed for healing warriors, including burn patients.

Watch the episode below.

Click here for a list of full Veterans Day programming on KLRU throughout next week.

Stay out of the rain (then get outside when it’s sunny!)

It’s supposed to rain again in Austin this weekend (yeah, we know), but the good news is, cooler weather is coming Sunday! In the meantime, we recommend cuddling up on the couch and binge-watching your favorite PBS shows – we recommend Masterpiece or choose one of many Frontline documentaries (the recent three-part series “My Brother’s Bomber” is a good start) – then get outside on Sunday for some cool weather and fall sunshine! Click here for Austin’s trail directory – pick your favorite and pack a picnic!

You can always find full event calendars from our friends at Austin360, CultureMap Austin and Free Fun In Austin.

Arts In Context Shorts: The Neon Jungle

Evan Voyles builds signs to last generations. Voyles is the sovereign sign-maker of South Congress – he hand-created and repurposed vintage signs for Magnolia Cafe, Homeslice, Soul, Stag, Creatures, Turquoise Door, Lucy’s Fried Chicken, Perla’s, Wahoo’s Fish Taco, Yard Dog and Uncommon Objects, the last two going on 20 years of age. Voyles started on his craft as a vintage neon sign collector and began to build signs when clients asked for specialized styles. Most recently, Voyles faced one of his biggest challenges yet: a 50-foot-tall replica of a 1952 Fender Telecaster for Austin Vintage Guitars. His personal artistry is on full display as he creates a new iconic masterpiece.

“I get to change the way my hometown looks,” Voyles said. “Who really gets to say that?”

After Memorial Day Flood, BMX Park Almost Totally Rebuilt

The 9th Street BMX Park has been a community project since it was first built over 20 years ago.  What started as a single dirt jump constructed by local riders has grown into a whole series of jumps maintained entirely by volunteers.

“This was all flat, and there was one jump in the middle, that’s what we started with,” recalls Steven Tyler, one of the BMX riders to help construct the first jumps.  “You think, what happened, did these sprout out of the ground? No. That’s a lot of time spent digging out here, and a lot of credit needs to be given to a lot of people to have a place like this. People put a lot of work into a place like this.”

That group effort mentality is something Ty Bement instills in his students.  Bement teaches BMX lessons to those interested in taking up the sport.

“We talk about safety gear, how to push through jumps,” Bement says.  “Before we start any of that, we talk about how to use a broom and a water hose.”

The dirt jumps are constantly being torn down and reconstructed, but on Memorial Day, every jump was destroyed in a wall of water.

BMX Park Flooding

After Memorial Day, the 9th Street BMX Park was completely underwater. Photo courtesy Darren Drewitz.

“Everything was underwater. You could swim down here,” Bement recalls.  “That was a trail apocalypse for Austin.”

“It was racing through my mind, are they gonna rebuild it?” says Dakin Drewitz, a student of Bement’s. “Is it going to be the same as it used to be?”


After nearly four months and a lot of work by volunteers and community members, the answer is yes.  Most of the jumps have been reconstructed in the wake of May’s devastating flood, but this labor of love never quite wraps up.

“The dirt jumps are really never done,” Bement says. “They’re ongoing work.”





What’s happening this weekend: Sept. 18-20

Austin Skyline

Happy Friday, Austin! Here are our top picks for this mid-September weekend.

Celebrate Austin’s best student poets and artists!

On Friday night, Austin ISD and Austin Community College are hosting an awards celebration for the winners of the Vision + Voice poetry contest, featuring multilingual poetry from K-12 AISD students paired with artwork from ACC students. One winning poem and one or two honorable mentions are selected per grade level. The poems and artwork are created into posters to be displayed across the school district and the city of Austin. The Vision + Voice Celebration Reception Friday evening will feature student poetry readings and the poster gallery of the winning poems. Refreshments will be provided.

Click here for a list of contest winners, and click here to watch KLRU’s videos of 2014 contest winners.

Hours: Reception starts at 6 p.m. Admission: Free. Click here for details and to RSVP.

Tune into American Masters for a chance to win a free photography book!

In line with KLRU and PBS Hispanic Heritage Month programming, Friday night’s episode of American Masters highlights the life and work of Mexican-American photographer Pedro E. Guerrero, who collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright and sculptors Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson. KLRU is giving away copies of “Picturing Wright,” a book featuring photography from Guerrero’s work with Wright. If you’re interested, email for a chance to win!

Hours: The program airs from 8 to 9 p.m. Admission: Free, of course! Episode details here.

Support one of Austin’s grungiest, most beloved music venues

We’re sure by now you’ve heard the news that Hole in The Wall is at risk of closing. According to the Austin Chronicle, the 41-year-old bar and music venue’s lease expires in December, and rent is set to increase from $15,000 to $20,000 monthly. Owner Will Tanner told the Chronicle that even if he could afford the rent increase, he’s not sure he could negotiate a new lease.

None of us want HITW to close (maybe we’re a little biased since our building is right across the street), so if you’re in the mood to check out some live music or just feel nostalgic for days of Austin past, swing by for a drink or two. Click here to see the calendar of artists performing this weekend!

Last year, as HITW was preparing to celebrate its 40th anniversary, Tanner told KLRU, “The Hole in the Wall is this great place that’s been here a long time and it’s had to change a lot to survive, but I think what has been kept from the past is what makes us great. Ultimately [this] is a place for like minded, and maybe even not like minded, people to come and enjoy themselves and enjoy live art . . . eat good food and drink great local beer and just spend some of your life.” Amen, Will.

Free museum admission all day Sunday

Sunday is Austin Museum Day! That means free access to exhibits and activities at Austin-area museums. More than 40 museums in the greater Austin area will offer special programming for visitors of all ages. This is the 18th year of Austin Museum Day, organized by the Austin Museum Partnership yearly since 1998.

They’re also having an Instagram contest, which you can find details about here.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: Free. Details and event listings here.

What’s happening this weekend: Sept. 11-13

Austin Skyline

Celebrate Mexico’s independence

Help celebrate Mexico’s independence with free games, prizes, music & food Friday night at the Metz Theatre’s Community Deiz de Seis celebration! The city is hosting the celebration and it’s free for the whole family.

Then, on Saturday, the city hosts a ¡Viva México! celebration at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center featuring guest speakers and music.

Mid-September starts Hispanic Heritage Month. Stay tuned throughout the month for special programming from PBS and KLRU. Click here for programs and air dates.

Deiz de Seis celebration Friday – Hours: 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission: Free. Details here. ¡Viva México! Saturday – Hours: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission: Free. Details here.

Free music at the Hill Country Galleria

If you haven’t been out to the Saturday night concert series at the Hill Country Galleria, you’re missing out. It may be a bit of a drive depending on where you live, but the outdoor ampitheater theater is charming and so is the galleria itself. The week’s rain is expected to clear up by Saturday, and the temperature isn’t supposed to get much higher than 90 degrees, so expect a nice night with vendors, food and kids’ events like face painting. Rosie Flores is playing this week!

To feel inspired and get in a musical mood, check out this story from Student Reporting Labs alumnus and KLRU intern Kennedy Huff, which aired on PBS NewsHour last week. Gardner-Betts Juvenile Justice Center serves as a probation facility for the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. While in detention, the residents continue working toward their high school diploma, get exposure to trades, and learn a variety of arts.

Hours: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission: Free. Details here.

Let your teens officially say goodbye to summer

Last weekend was Labor Day, which we all know signifies the official end of summer. If you’re still holding on to summer days (and your teenagers are, too) the Austin Rec Center is hosting the So Long Summer Fest on Saturday featuring local teen bands and DJs, a film competition and games.

Meanwhile, PBS Parents has endless resources on parenting teenagers and preteens. Click here to get informed!

Hours: Music starts at noon. Admission: Free. Details and RSVP here.

What’s happening this weekend: Aug. 29-30

Austin Skyline

School may have started for most Austin schools, but that doesn’t mean you can’t kick back and relax this weekend. Here are some of our suggestions.

Stay in the AC with The Muppets!

Alamo Drafthouse is offering a donation-based screening of The Muppet Movie as part of its Alamo Kids Camp on Saturday. For just $1, $2 or $3, join the Drafthouse as Gonzo, Rowlf, Fozzie, Piggy, Kermit and the gang embark on a cross-country trip that shows us just how the Muppets came to be. Donations benefit the Austin Film Society’s community education program. Obviously, before you go, you should catch up on some episodes of Sesame Street and then watch this PBS NewsHour clip in which Sonia Manzano, who will leave Sesame Street after playing Maria for more than 40 years, talks about who her favorite muppet is — and why.

Hours: 12 p.m. Admission: Donation-based. Details and tickets here.

Free live music, food and fun at Fair Market

Would it truly be an Austin weekend without some sort of free festival featuring some of Austin’s best live music? Probably not. This weekend, it’s the Lone Star Beer Texas Heritage Festival at Fair Market, which is sure to fill up fast, so get there early. The festival will feature performances from Dale Watson and his Lonestars, The Black Angels, Old 97s, Grupo Fantasma and LaTasha Lee, along with vendors, a live mural painting, carnival games and more. Get in the mood and watch The Black Angels perform “Don’t Play With Guns” from their 2013 Austin City Limits performance.

Hours: 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission: Free. Details here and on Facebook.

Get your groove on for free!

Whether you’re a pro dancer or you’ve always wanted to learn, this weekend’s free days of dance are welcoming all skill levels at studios in Austin and Pflugerville. On Saturday, Lone Star Dance Center in Pflugerville is hosting free jazz, hip hop, ballet, lyrical and more classes for a range of age groups. Then, on Sunday, get your groove on at Come Dance! 2015 at Ballet Austin featuring Afro-Brazilian, Ballet, Bollywood, Contemporary, Fosse Jazz, Hip Hop, Horton-based Modern, Hula, Jazz, Jazz Funk, Modern, Tap, West African Dance & Drums, Videodance, Zumba, Cardio Dance, Piloxing and even some kid-friendly classes! Before you go, watch Arts in Context highlight contemporary and performance art from Austin’s Fusebox Festival. Fusebox is a space where artists and audiences can take risks, ask questions and explore ideas together, break rules, and blur boundaries. The 2012 festival features an amazing mix of local and international artists performing theater, dance and music.

Hours: Varying class times. Admission: Free! Details here for Lone Star Dance Center and here for Ballet Austin.

What’s happening this weekend: Aug. 21-23

Austin Skyline

Can you believe summer is almost over, and students go back to school next week?! If you’re looking to enjoy one last sweet, summer weekend with the family, here are our recommendations.

GirlStart Back To School STEM Saturday

GirlStart is hosting a free back-to-school party to celebrate all things STEM! The event will feature hands-on activities, mini planetarium star shows and more.

Learn more about the effort to get more girls and women involved in science, technology, engineering and math fields in Immense Possibilities — The STEM Girls: Melting the Barriers. Millions of girls are raised to believe they have no aptitude and little chance for success in the STEM disciplines, but their thinking is changing, thanks to the professional role models and volunteers determined to encourage them to dream big and then make their dreams real.

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to noon. Admission: Free. Details here.

Blow bubbles at the library

Austin Public Library’s Twin Oaks Branch is celebrating its fifth anniversary in its new location this August, and the theme of the birthday bash is bubbles! Watch a puppet show from Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre, bubble games, cake and a special talk entitled “Libraries: Humanity’s Greatest Achievement (Besides Whiskey and Chocolate),” from Owen Egerton, a local screenwriter, novelist, performer and host of the monthly KUT podcast, The Write Up. Speaking of reading, school starts Monday – how are your kids doing in the Austin Public Library and KLRU’s Summer Reading Program?

PBSKids_300x250_Anytime[1]Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission: Free. Details here.

Sweat it out at the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival

We know it’s the middle of August, and the Austin Chronicle’s 25th Hot Sauce Festival may make you just a little hotter, but it’s worth your while. Dress light, pack a water bottle (you’ll need a refresher after sampling some of those spicy, spicy sauces) and head on down to Fiesta Gardens Sunday to sweat it out with food trucks, live music and more.

Get in the mood and watch Dale Watson perform “I Lie When I Drink” during his Austin City Limits taping. Watson and his Lonestars are performing Sunday afternoon at the Hot Sauce Festival.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: $5 or three healthy, nonperishable food items. Details here.

Celebrate Austin’s arts scene at the Long Center

On Sunday, 14 of Austin’s arts organizations are hosting the Austin Arts Block Party celebrating more than 138 shows, concerts, exhibits and events through the 2015-2016 season! Learn more about some of Austin’s best arts organizations and experience art, dance, music and more for free. KLRU has worked with the Long Center on many arts projects — including featuring the first live-action graphic novel, The Intergalactic Nemesis, Book One: Target Earth, on Arts In Context. Created by an original comic-book story projected panel-by-panel on a video screen while three actors voiced the characters, one performer created sound-effects, and a keyboardist performed the score. Watch the documentary below!

Hours: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission: Free. Details here.

What’s happening this weekend: Aug. 8-9

Austin Skyline

Stay cool this weekend with these event recommendations!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for the Austin Ice Cream Festival!

With this mid-August heat, the only way you can spend any time outside is if you’re eating or drinking something ice cold. Bring yourself, your friends, your family and even your dog to the 9th Annual Austin Ice Cream Festival on Saturday. There’s even a homemade ice cream making contest and a popsicle stick sculpture contest! Even better, the festival benefits charities like Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Austin Children’s Shelter. In case you feel like making your own ice cream before venturing over to Fiesta Gardens, check out PBS Food’s recipe for homemade soft-serve!


Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission: $10 ticket includes ice cream! Details here.

Go to a carnival! Kind of…

If you’re a bibliophile like us, this is right up your alley. Join BookPeople on Saturday for their Carnival of Books as they celebrate all things books and reading with raucous merriment, bookish carnival games, giveaways, readings of kids’ stories, free books and, of course, CAKE! Test your literary strength with trivia and old fashioned book-balancing, win prizes at Book Pong, visit a fortune teller for predictions of this year’s big fall books, and much more! They’ll also reveal their full fall author event line-up and toast the coming season with champagne.

Before you go…get in the bookish spirit with the best thing to happen on Netflix since House of Cards: volume one of Reading Rainbow is now streaming! We’re not saying to stay inside Friday night and binge-watch all of them…okay, yeah we are.


Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: Free. Details here.

Grab the kids and cool off with Junie B. Jones

Everyone’s favorite ridiculous childhood book character is coming to life for free for 15 days this month! The Austin Summer Musical presents Junie B. Jones The Musical, based on the famous books by Barbara Park, at the Boyd Vance Theater inside the George Washington Carver Museum. The show is recommended for children between the ages of 3 and 10.


What better way to get in the spirit than by getting together with your kids and reading (or rereading) some Junie B.? PBS Parents recognizes the books as good reading material for your kids – Junie B. is fun, spunky and hilarious. All the books are clever and cute, but some of our favorites are Junie B. Jones Is Not A Crook, Junie B. Jones Is A Beauty Shop Guy, and Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy. Click here for a full list of the books!

Showtimes: Saturday at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. (The play runs weekends through August 23.) Admission: Free. Details here.  

Brave the heat for the flea market

The Summertime Austin Flea will not disappoint if you’re looking to take a look inside Austin’s creative culture and even purchase items from local artists and vendors. The Austin Flea has been featuring local, handmade, and vintage vendors in Austin since 2009, and even lived in a few iterations a few years before that. This year it’s taking place at The Highball, right next to the newly renovated Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar.

Before you go, you have to check out this episode of In Context, “Design Build Ballet.” Among other artists, sculptor Paul Reimert creates life-sized, classic figure studies out of flea market kitsch.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission: Free. Details here and on Facebook.

Race a duck 

Okay, not a real duck. Benefitting The Boys and Girls Club of the Austin Area, the Austin Duck Derby features 10,000 rubber ducks dropped into Lady Bird Lake from the Ann Richards Bridge on Congress Avenue. Ducks will race to the finish line, and winners will receive prizes. During the race, enjoy kids’ activities, music, food and fun at the mini festival on the grounds of the Austin American-Statesman parking lot. You can rent a duck for $5 at 

Before you go, check out what The Boys and Girls Club of the Austin Area does for low-income children during the summer months to combat “summer brain drain” in this KLRU American Graduate News Brief.

Hours: Race starts at 11 a.m. Admission: $5 to rent a duck, all other activities are free. Details here.

What’s happening this weekend: July 31-Aug. 2

Austin Skyline

Now that the summer heat has arrived in full force, we know you’re looking for ways to stay cool this weekend. We’ve got some suggestions for you!

Check out the Texas Robot Roundup

Watch high school teams from across the state compete at the fifth annual Texas Robot Roundup at the Austin Convention Center Friday and Saturday. What’s cooler than watching smart young people show off their amazing creations? Before you go, get inspired by this clip from SciTech Now and watch elementary, middle and high school students take part in robots competitions through the nonprofit organization FIRST.

Admission: Free to spectators. Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Details here.

Visit the Carver Museum’s newest exhibit
The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center’s newest exhibit, John Yancey’s Can u see, opened Thursday. Yancey is a Chicago artist who was influenced by social and political events of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s to create public murals and mosaics and commissioned sculptures and paintings. Yancey is currently a studio art professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Before you go, watch this clip from the 2012 episode of Juneteenth Jamboree, in which KLRU features the Carver Museum and its curator.

Admission: Free. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday. Details here.

Extreme bird-watching in the Capital Plaza Shopping Center
If you live in Austin, chances are you’ve watched the bats come out from the Congress Avenue Bridge. But have you ever watched purple martins roost at Capital Plaza? The Travis Audubon Society has hosted purple martin parties on Friday and Saturday nights this summer. Bring a lawn chair and watch hundreds of thousands of purple martins roost in the Live Oaks near Shepler’s Western Wear at Capital Plaza. The good news is the purple martins roost at dusk, so you don’t have to worry about the summer sun — and the Travis Audubon Society says it’s even better than watching the bats! If you’d like to know more about purple martins before you go, watch this video from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Admission: Free. Hours: 7:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Details here.

Landmarks Guided Tour of Bass Concert Hall
Escape the blistering summer temperatures and join The University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts’ Landmarks for a docent-led tour of art in Bass Concert Hall on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The collection features striking examples of postwar and contemporary sculpture from influential artists such as Magdalena Abakanowicz and Ursula von Rydingsvard. Check out Ursula von Rydingsvard’s artwork featured in Ecology, as artists explore how our understanding of the natural world becomes deeply cultural.

Admission: Free. Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Details here.