Miniature house builder, Bruce Miller, discusses the origins of his passion for the scaled-down construction and remodeling of petite homes. He explains his process for mini-sized interior design, and the reasoning behind different room furnishings.
As they strive to connect the community together through arts, Creative Action holds a monthly event called Community Art Sundays. This event is designed to introduce members of the community to one another through fun, family friendly art related activities.
Prakash Mohandas, founder of Agni The Dance Company, has set his mark in Austin by opening the first Bollywood dance studio in the area. Founded in 2007, Agni consists of professional performers, aspiring artists, instructors, production assistants and a management team united by a common love of the performing arts and creative expression.
One of Agni’s primary goals is to provide quality Indian, performing arts education in various locations in Austin and Round Rock areas through classes conducted by experienced and renowned instructors.
“Austin is fantastic for eclectic audiences,” he said. “I think it’s one of the cities that I’ve seen that is so welcoming to new kinds of art forms and a new kinds of dance.”
Dance Another World has created a new standard on the classic view of learning a new language. Through dance, Dance Another World, intertwines an English immersion program for young non-native females in America. Founded by trained ballerina, Dawn Mann, Dance Another World helps refugees and students from low socioeconomic communities by inspiring its students to express their thoughts and feelings into a creative movement.
For over eleven years, Cinematic Symphony has shared its love for the music of film, television and video games with the Austin community. With two concerts per year, this ensemble comprised of local musicians is dedicated to promoting musical education in the form of entertainment. Visual displays and popular music of our time provide an enriching opportunity and introduction to classical music.
Cinematic Symphony has a concert on May 14th. Get more details
More than an after-school program, the Austin Community Steelband has created an expressive place to uplift local youth through learning steelpan music. Originating in Trinidad, steelbands served as a way for poor and oppressed people to come together and express themselves through music. Executive Director Paula Beaird and Musical Director Cecil Francis continue manifest the soul of Trinidad by providing a free musical instruction where underprivileged children learn skills like memorization, focus and listening that they can take home and apply to their lives at home and in school. With an emphasis on collaborative and enriching learning, the students have turned it into more than an after-school program. They are now a part of a vibrant, historically-rich musical community that extends beyond the city limits of Austin, Texas.
The Austin Samba School has created a new twist on the classic western “horse opera.” Fusing Brazilian Carnaval rhythms and dancing with Texas’ musical history, the performers of Austin Samba School are truly a community who come from all walks of life and in all sizes, shapes, colors, races and nationalities. This diversity allows them to take on creative challenges with full force and to create a performance unlike any other – cattle and cowboys, blues and rock, spangles and feathers, glitter and gold, samba and country.
The Chicano movement empowered Mexican Americans from all walks of life to celebrate their roots. In the fourth installment of Austin Revealed: Chicano Civil Rights, hear how locals fought criticism and came together to embrace their heritage through the arts.
Austin Revealed: Chicano Civil Rights debuts on Thursdays in March on KLRU.org. Past installments address the rise of Mexican Americans in politics, organizing and activism and the struggle of the Chicano movement as the Mexican-American community in Austin continues to fight for their rights.
KLRU has also partnered with The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center to present a screening and discussion of the documentary on March 31 as part of their César Chávez celebrations. Find more information about the screening here.
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?”
Austin Revealed is an oral history project sharing the stories of Austin’s past and present to encourage discussion and thought around the city’s future. In this series of Austin Revealed, Pioneers From the East, we profile three of the first families of Chinese origin to settle in the Austin area – the Sing family, the Wong family and the Lung family. In addition, Austin Revealed takes you inside Austin’s Asian American Resource Center, a community center focusing on celebrating Austin’s unique Asian community.
We sat down with filmmaker Tim Tsai, who partnered with KLRU on the project, to talk about his passion for Asian American history, why it’s important to Austin and why he got involved with this project.
What initially attracted you to this project, and what made you decide to get involved?
As a filmmaker, I’ve always had an interest in exploring Asian American identities as well as an interest in history. When the funding came through for this project, [KLRU] thought of me as a potential partner. I was completely on board. I didn’t know that much about these particular families’ history, but just knowing how long they’ve been here in Austin was already a surprise to me, and I definitely was curious to find out more, to find out what these families’ experiences were like as immigrants. I was very excited to take on this project and to be able to profile these families.
Why do you think it’s important to tell these stories?
I think these stories, particularly minority history, is overlooked. When you look at history textbooks and the curriculum in schools, the non-majority history is often barely mentioned. I bet if you ask Austinites today when the first Asians settled in Austin, they would maybe think since the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s. Not a lot of people know about the earliest Asian immigrants here. Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act (a United States federal law signed in1882 which prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers), the Chinese population here, most of whom came to work on the railroads, that population was not allowed to grow. We were a small minority here. But a few of these families did come here, did decide to make Austin their home, and so their stories are very much visible when you talk about Texas history in general. Texans love their history, but certain parts of it are often overlooked.
What did you learn from this project?
I had kind of assumed when there’s such a small number of Chinese Americans here, I would have thought they would band together and be very close. Some of these families did know each other for multiple generations, but really, these three families we profiled, one of them ran a laundry, the other one ran a restaurant, the other one ran a grocery store. They were in different businesses. They lived in different parts of town. They had to integrate. There was no way they could survive if they just kept to their own community, so they all integrated very well into Austin.
What’s also very fascinating is that all these different families have a different connection to their Chinese ancestry. I thought it was fantastic that the Sing family, they identify as Hispanic today, and they’re very proud of their heritage. The Lung family, today, you cannot really identify them just by looking at them that they’re Chinese American. The Wong family, who looks Chinese because subsequent generations did marry Chinese, but what’s interesting is that Dr. Mitchel Wong, he married a first-generation immigrant from Taiwan. There was a cultural difference there. Being first-generation versus third-generation is a big difference.
I came into it expecting some of these episodes to maybe be repetitive, that their stories may be very similar, but I found the opposite, that their stories are actually very different, very unique. They all had different ways of integrating into this community and making their lives here.
What do you think people should take away from this project?
Asian American history and Chinese American history is very diverse. We have very different stories. These communities are not all homogeneous. Each family has their own story to tell. And their story is important. The story of how Chinese Texans came here and how they’ve contributed to our community here is important to document and remember and celebrate.