Names in Lights
The Austin Critics' Table Awards, the annual awards for achievement in Austin area arts, were announced last evening in a casual, open-to-the-public ceremony held at Cap City Comedy Club.
The Invincible Czars, Austin's whimsical symphonic punk band, provided the soundtrack for the evening, which perfectly matched the setting and mood of the awards show. As the categories progressed through visual arts, design, choral and instrumental music, and theatre and dance, nominees flowed between the ceremony in the main room and the socializing in the side bar.
In the Visual Arts categories, Laurie Frick's amazingly intricate Quantify Me exhibition at Women & Their Work Gallery shared the Best Artist award with the deeply emotional pieces of UT MFA Miguel Aragon, who most recently showed at Tiny Park Gallery's opening exhibition. AMOA-Arthouse won for Museum Exhibition with their current "Art on the Green" interactive exhibit. And the Blanton's exquisite "El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You About Africa" show won for best Touring Art Show.
Tapestry Dance Company's Acia Gray won for Dance Choreography for her work on April Fools and A Jazz Nutcracker. Ballet Austin's Hansel and Gretel won for best Ensemble performance, and Sharon Marroquin won both Best Dancer and Best Dance Concert for her breast cancer survival piece, The Materiality of Impermanence.
Among the big winners for theatre were Hyde Park Theatre's recent production of The Aliens, Austin Shakespeare's Arcadia and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the UT Department of Theatre & Dance. Hyde Park's Ken Webster and UT's Daria Davis shared the honor of Best Direction. The Aliens' Jude Hickey recieved a Lead Actor award along with Arcadia's Liz Beckham and supporting actor Shelby Davenport. And Dr. Jeckyll and Arcadia both received Best Drama Production honors.
Regional theatre, ZACH, also made an impressive showing with lead acting honors for Eugene Lee (The Book of Grace and God of Carnage) and supporing actor awards for the incomparable Janis Stinson in Hairspray and the outstanding young Kelli Schultz of Next to Normal. Lighting designer Jason Amato was recognized for his work on Hairspray and Next to Normal. And Willa Kaye Warren won a "Monumental Tease" special citation for her wigs in Hairspray.
Scenic designer Ia Enstera continued her reign as the most sought-after designer for new work theatre in Austin. Enstera turned out compelling set pieces for at least eight productions throughout the season, including the steampunk-inspired double set for twin shows, Paper Moon's The 21 Would-Lives of Phineas Hamm and Cambiare's Messenger No. 4.
Major Austin institutions like The Austin Symphony and Austin Lyric Opera received their share of Classical honors, along with the Cage: Musicircus event at the Blanton Museum. Relative newcomer, the New Music Co-op, the grass roots community organization that focuses on educating and increasing awareness of new music styles, won the Best Ensemble award.
Finally, the big winners for the evening were the 2012 inductees to the Austin Arts Hall of Fame. These individuals were artists and art lovers in the early days of Austin's cultural foundations. This year's Hall of Famers are: architect Hal Box, new work theatre artist Linalice Carey, philanthropists Gail and Jeff Kodosky, and music educator Margaret Perry.
Congratulations to all of this year's winners as well as to the nominees. Austin's arts scene is more vibrant than ever, and this is just a small way we can recognize and thank the hard work these talented, spirited, motivated individuals put in to making the city great. Now get out and see more art!