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Photo courtesy of Lil Wayne

The city is brimming with so many can’t-miss happenings these days, we would be remiss if we didn’t make room for at least one more on our agenda. Catch award-winning rapper Lil Wayne live in concert, discover the works of several local artists within the 78704 neighborhood on a self-guided tour, or taste open-flame food offerings. Check out the top six things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, May 4

Lil Wayne in concert
Grammy award-winning rapper Lil Wayne returns to Austin in support of his national tour, Welcome To Tha Carter. He rose to hip-hop stardom at 16, and has released 14 albums in his career, while amassed a dozen hits with songs like “Bling Bling,” “A Milli,” and “Lollipop.” For ticketing availability, check stubbsaustin.com.

Maie Day x First Thursdays
South Congress Hotel hosts a lavish evening of food, spirits, and merrymaking in honor of Maie Day’s one-year anniversary. Tickets include private bar access, early entry to the hotel’s popular First Thursday festivities, and a variety of bites inspired by the Maie Day menu. Get tickets to this special night of celebration on Tock.

Friday, May 5

Council on American Islamic Relations presents its Eid Celebration
Spend the day on the Texas Capitol grounds celebrating all things Eid at this event hosted by the Austin chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relation (CAIR-TX). Highlights of the day’s programming include keynotes from community leaders and officials, Islamic art showcases, free henna designs, authentic food, and more. Eid Celebration admission is free and open to the public.

Saturday, May 6

Art04 Studio Tour
The artistic talents of residents from the 78704 neighborhoods are on display at Fireseed Clay Arts Studios this weekend. The two-day, self-guided tour to various studios is free and allows guests to explore the creative processes of local artists, discover newfound pieces, and add works to their collections. Expect a firsthand experience of the art scenes in neighborhoods including Zilker, Boudin Creek, South River City, Travis Heights, Barton Hills, South Lamar, and more. Visit the art04studiotour.com for a full list of tour stops.

Austin Gay Men’s Chorus presents Ascending Colour
Musical compositions arranged and curated by people of color and LGBTQIA+ community members fill the auditorium at First Baptist Church of Austin. This special concert seeks to uplift and celebrate transgender and BIPOC artists through the art of music. Ascending Colour will include songs from new composers and a selection from Songs of the Phoenix, a new work curated by Andrew Lippa. Tickets for both Saturday and Sunday shows are available for purchase at atxgmc.org.

Sunday, May 7

a21 presents Heritage Fire Austin
Star Hill Ranch opens its gates to foodies near and far during this afternoon of outdoor culinary exploration. The live-fire event features more than 20 local chefs and brands who will each contribute their own fare to the open-flame feast. Tickets include access to unlimited food alcoholic beverages, and live entertainment. For ticketing options and a full schedule of events, go to the heritagefiretour.com.

Lil Wayne
Photo courtesy of Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne performs at Stubb's Bar-B-Q on May 4.

Rendering courtesy of Waterloo Greenway

How 'Portal Potties' became the unlikely opening installation for Austin's celebrated Creek Show

Dimensional Trans-port-ation

Kristen Gunn — one of the only two Creek Show designers not on a company team and, not coincidentally, one of the only two Creek Show designers who stayed up working all night — appears on a video call upside down against an ethereal white background. It looks like she’s calling from bed, but it’s reflective and glittering. Less glamorous than that, it’s a porta potty floor.

Gunn and Laura Salmo, “mom friends,” teamed up to create the most subversive Creek Show installation of 2022 (and possibly its entire history), dropping $10,000 and purposefully marring the entrance to the path with seemingly unremarkable worksite commodes.

This year's Creek Show, running from November 11-20, doesn’t have one official theme, but it's easy to see threads in the use of Day-Glo colors, neon or faux-neon tubing, and lots of reflective light. Waller Creek itself ties everything together, with a clearer path than the more meandering one through the architectural portion of the park in 2021. The water moves under glowing pieces like self-supporting pants under blacklights, giant glowing dragonflies, and abstract shapes.

By nature of following a stream, a visitor is bound to run into liminal spaces. Sculptures are tucked under and around bridges, lit only in the dark, as the water rushes away and tens of thousands of visitors pass. This impermanence takes root in “Portal Potties,” in two ways. First, the inspiration.

“The state of downtown Austin right now is construction,” says Salmo. “I look out here, and all I see is porta potties on every corner. More than Starbucks.” This elicits a surprised laugh from Gunn, who Salmo later scolds for impropriety, offscreen from inside the Portal Potties. Irony abounds. (If the Creek Show has any year-to-year theme, it’s the environment, and Salmo points out that these durable structures are also commonly associated with disaster relief.)

The second liminal element is in the name. During a preview the night before the show opened, Gunn dressed up as a custodian and handed out paper refraction glasses. She manned the single door in the back that opens up into the “portal” — a line of five porta potties with no interior borders, brightly lit and austere inside — invisible from the entrance.

It really does look like a row of temporary event amenities, except that no one walks in the doors spilling white light out toward the entrance. But people do walk out. It is figuratively a portal to an altered mental state, and literally the transition from the regular world to the show.

“[When] I first decided that we wanted to try to put in a bid for the Creek Show this year, I told [Salmo], ‘The only way I want to do the Creek Show is if we get to open the show, and we do something totally insane,” says Gunn. Both women are creative professionals, but this is the team’s first major project together, and it’s not representing a company with resources, tools, and training to build avant-garde structures.

“It's such an honor to have been picked,” she continues. “[The first meeting] was very humbling. Like, ‘I'm an impressive architect! We're the architecture conglomerate of Hootie-Hoo, whatever it is.’ I think of weird things in my hammock in my backyard.”

A stipend from the Creek Show helped, but the Portal Potties went significantly over budget. Gunn calculates the damages as equal to “multiple house payments,” although, at the same time, muttering she does not want to know. In addition to being the underdog team, so to speak, they accidentally chose a nearly impossible task — instead of constructing something from scratch, they learned to alter structures that are designed to be nearly indestructible. (Even a company assembler struggled to fulfill their initial vision.) The portal also had to hold up under 70,000 visitors walking through, by Gunn’s estimate.

Aside from the campy concept and deceptively difficult installation, the Portal Potties are beautiful. Lined with mirrors and diffraction grating, and viewed through disorienting glasses, the portal turns into a high-concept funhouse or a low-budget infinity room. The white light and white walls shimmer with rainbows, and it fully removes the viewer from downtown Austin, before they step out into the show.

The house payments have not gone wildly astray, since the team hopes the structure will be rented out after the show, or perhaps bought by “an eccentric tech millionaire-billionaire.” It’s about the size of two teardrop camper trailers combined, and there’s no place like Austin to toss it up on Airbnb.

In fact, as the team continues working together, Gunn and Salmo are forming grand plans for more immersive works including a house to rent out. Instead of selling tickets to an immersive experience, to be rushed through among strangers, visitors will get to live in the space. Gunn imagines refashioning the Portal Potties as an elevator entrance in the Airbnb house, now a mansion. “What's in the sub-basement of a porta potty? “I guess it would be, like, the rainbow factory.”

The Creek Show is open at Waller Creek through November 20, from 6-8 pm most days. A full schedule and more information about each installation is available at waterloogreenway.org.

Portal Potty mockup for the Austin Creek Show
Rendering courtesy of Waterloo Greenway

A rendering of the “Portal Potty” installation that comes to life at Creek Show.

Photo courtesy of Blue Genie Art Bazaar

The holiday shopping genie returns to Austin to fulfill one-stop browsing wishes

Best Wishes

Sometimes it feels like the only way all the holiday shopping can get done is if a genie steps in. Austin’s Blue Genie Art Bazaar (BGAB) isn’t far from that fantasy; no one can choose for you, but the curated artisan goods narrow down the possibilities, gathering a mix of people-pleasing and hyper-specific gifts under one roof.

November 18 kicks off the 22nd iteration of the bazaar, with nearly 200 vendors that generally steer clear of holiday clichés, focusing mostly on art, snacks, and home goods. It would be easiest to shop for friends and family who love decorating their homes and kitchens, but shoppers will also find accessories, toys, and sometimes even experiences.

The website divides the vendors into categories that make it easy to plan a trip with shoppers who like a plan, although seeing what stands out in person is at least half the fun. One step further into perfectly streamlined shopping, personal shoppers will make selections for a fee of 10% of the price of the item a home shopper selects (capped at $25).

Three of the four BGAB founders — all artists themselves — sent out some ideas to their nice list contacts:

  • Dana Younger recommends soap by Fleegal Farms, tea towels by Victrola and Kimball Prints, chocolate by Madhu, tea from White Cloud and SESA, and shirts by Supermaggie.
  • Kevin Collins recommends artworks by Dan Grissom and Danika Ostrowski, and accessories by JNA Designs.
  • Chris Coakley recommends art by JCR Work, Eya Claire, and another founder, Rory Skagen.

“As always, this year’s Blue Genie Art Bazaar will be filled with some of the best work of our local artists,” said Younger in a press release. “And, as always, we’ll have a mix of recognized favorites along with exciting new artists and plenty of items to surprise and inspire."

In 2021, Blue Genie’s efforts were acknowledged by Austin Chronicle readers, who voted it to the top of the Austin Gifts/Souvenirs category. In addition to a well-balanced curation, it offers a very shopper-friendly experience with free parking and admission, and a snack bar. Shoppers can feel good about supporting local artisans as well as the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Central and South Texas, which receives a portion of every Monday’s sales.

The 22nd annual Blue Genie Art Bazaar will be held in the Blue Genie Art building at 6100 Airport Boulevard, from 10 am to 10 pm daily until December 24. The last day, Christmas Eve, closes at 6 pm. More information and shopping links are available at bluegenieartbazaar.com.

Photo by Jennifer M. Ramos

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar gathers miraculous music lineup and 200 artisans

How Bazaar

Austinites are lucky as the holidays roll around. The city is brimming with creatives, yes, but also organizers who make sure these artisans can get their products in front of as many people as possible. No one takes this as far as Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, back again this December 17-23.

More than 200 artists — the most the event has ever curated — will gather for the shopping portion of the bazaar, many of whom carry wall art, pottery, and wood crafts. Much of the variety comes from different styles of similar arts, but there are outliers on the roster: The Austin Museum of Popular Culture will be there (presumably selling collectible posters or museum experiences), along with Crysalis Hammocks, Got Toys, Latika Beauty, and Luna Tigre Candles, to name a few.

The bazaar has been around so long that this year’s featured artist represents the second generation of a family’s work at the festival. Caya Crum, from Fort Worth, went to the bazaar for “nearly a decade and a half” with her parents, and this year created the original marketing materials for the event. Although the streak is impressive for a single family, it’s just a portion of the event’s history, which started in 1975 when country singer Lucinda Williams lamented that artists would not have a comfortable place to sell wares for Christmas.

Shoppers have the other half of the bazaar to look forward to as well, with live performances by two dozen local musical acts. Highlights include Latin Grammy nominee Gina Chávez, longtime Texas songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard, rockabilly guitarist Rosie Flores, and one of Austin’s more recent breakouts, Sir Woman.

In 2022, the bazaar adds a second stage, turning this annual live music celebration into something more like a festival. A press release promises an “even more intimate music experience” at the second stage, called “Stage Side.” Revelers can stop at the full bar or the “mobile honky tonk,” Hello Trouble Hall. This year is also the first time the bazaar is held indoors since 2019, and the first season that allows online buyers.

“The Stage Side will feature up-and-coming musicians and solo acts ... some of which have never played the Armadillo,” said booking agent Nancy Coplin in a press release. “For 33 years, I have had the honor of booking the music for this iconic event. We are so fortunate to be able to showcase both Austin music legends and upcoming artists who are rising stars. I am very excited that we are kicking off this year’s event with Gary P. Nunn, whose famous song ‘London Homesick Blues’ resonates the spirit of the Armadillo World Headquarters with the line, ‘I wanna go home to the Armadillo.’”

Producer and general manager Anne Johnson pointed out, “It’s the best live music deal in town…$2.25 a band is hard to beat anywhere! No other festival in Austin gives you more value for your money.”

The timing of the Christmas Bazaar also overlaps the majority of Chanukah, which starts on December 18. (It also ends on Festivus … just saying.)

Tickets ($12 for the day, $47 for the season) are available at armadillobazaar.com. The sale and festival takes place at the Palmer Events Center from December 17-23, 11 am to 8:30 pm.

Photo courtesy of Showroom

New designer showroom brings Austinites closer to their new favorite brands

Meet Your Maker

Although clothes are meant to express personality, wearers rarely get to meet designers. Showroom, a new store opening on November 10 at Domain Northside, brings a more personal touch to a luxe shopping experience, inviting designers to make appearances and closing the gap between maker and wearer. This is the store's second location, joining the original on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

The aesthetic focuses on feminine American, Scandinavian, and British design; a comb through Showroom’s catalog shows the muted colors, knitwear, and practical shapes someone might expect from this particular blend of sensibilities, but with little dips into exuberance in the form of a feathered hem or a metallic fabric.

It’s a unique mix for Austin, and the store plans to break ground in bringing many brands to the city for the first time. As the name suggests, it is a store, but visiting to browse will get many Austinites acquainted with unfamiliar styles and designers they love. (Although, ironically, it was a figurative name when the business was initially just e-commerce.)

Still, the curation is not obscure. Visitors might spot Victoria Beckham, Derek Lam, Joseph, and most of the silhouettes are overall traditional. Sizing appears to be inclusive, to a predictable limit; there are a few 2X items available on the online store that may or may not fit true-to-size. The store offers styling services by appointment, which automatically enrolls customers in a VIP program providing first access to new styles and even custom orders.

The showroom itself is designed in a modern and neutral style, with lots of whites and golds, by North Carolina design firm Lucy & Company. The more standout materials — custom oak and quartzite along the counter and cabinets — come from Austin’s own Edwood Studios, which, as a press release points out, particularly values sustainably sourced wood.

Showroom founder Erica Hanks is a paragon of the simple-but-not-uptight style found at the store, and has been featured by the New York Times. She developed her styling ethos working with athletes, and now works with other professionals in mind.

More information about Showroom is available at shopshowroom.com. The grand opening is scheduled for November 10 from 4-7 pm.

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Everything to know about Austin's 4th annual Stay Black and Live Juneteenth Festival

CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY

A weeklong celebration of Black history is returning to Austin with a focus on local organizations and people that are making long-lasting impacts in the local community. The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center is hosting the fourth annual Stay Black and Live (SB&L) Juneteenth Festival June 12-19.

The festival began as a livestream in 2020, and has since captured the attention of community members citywide, making it the cornerstone event for Austin's Juneteenth celebrations. SB&L's theme for 2023 is "Austin Family Reunion," centered around community kickbacks, cookouts, live music, and more.

In a release, Carver Museum director Carre Adams said the museum continuously aims to "honor the significance of Juneteenth" with their festival programming and education.

“We are incredibly proud to continue Austin’s Juneteenth celebration and tradition at our historic museum,” said Adams. “We invite the Austin community to join us as we commemorate this momentous occasion and bring Black history past, present and future to the forefront.”

The festival will begin with a presentation on Monday, June 12 hosted by 2023 Grammy Music Educator Award winner and Desoto, Texas high school music teacher Pamela Dawson. The website states she will sing and use "negro spirituals" during her interactive session to inform guests about "African-American contributions to the sonic art form." Dawson's lecture will take place from 6-8 pm at the Boyd Vance Theater.

Below is a full weekend schedule for the festival:

Thursday, June 15
James Beard award-winning food historian and author Michael W. Twitty will take the stage at the Boyd Vance Theater from 6-8 pm. He'll discuss the eating habits and culinary practices of African Americans, and open a conversation about modern-day abolitionist movements.

Friday, June 16
Austinites of every age are invited to the festival's community kickback and dance party from 6-9 pm at the Carver Museum's Freedom Lawn. The party will be accompanied by high-energy music by DJ Cysum and DJ Dontizl. The event is in partnership with Creative Action, who will also set up a "sensory station" for attendees to express themselves with glowsticks, kites, bubbles, and more. A special performance by BodyRockATX will close out the event.

Saturday, June 17
The day will begin at 10 am with the annual historic Juneteenth Parade through Austin's Rosewood neighborhood. The parade route starts on East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and goes all the way to Rosewood Park.

Following the parade, visitors can gather for the Austin Family Reunion Cookout and Music Festival behind the Carver Museum from 3-6 pm. Veteran pitmasters will provide the delicious barbecue while Lady Joy and KAZI 88.7 DJs host the festivities. Attendees can also enjoy a vendor market, carnival games, workshops, and more.

Saul Paul will host the music festival from 6-9 pm on the Freedom Lawn, with performances by Distinguished Soundz, Stretch Muzik, and DJ Kay Kali. Headliners GAPX will perform at 8 pm.

Monday, June 19
Historian, Harvard law professor, and Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed will lead a Free Your Mind Conversation Series discussion about her book, On Juneteenth, from 1-3 pm at the Boyd Vance Theater.

Later that afternoon from 5-8 pm, the museum will host their final event for the week with their "Community Revival and Remembrance" ceremony in partnership with the Austin Justice Coalition. The closing celebration will pay respect to those who were victims of police violence in Texas.

More information about the Stay Black and Live Juneteenth Festival can be found on juneteenthatx.com.

Political satirist John Oliver heads to Austin on standup tour

Terrifying Times, Again

After the end of the regular legislative session, many Texans could use a dose of political satire, and John Oliver is on his way. The comedian and TV writer will perform live at Bass Concert Hall on Sunday, August 20 as part of the John Oliver Live tour.

Oliver is best known as the host and producer of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a political recap show that showcases the English comedian's biting sarcasm, which has won him several awards: 23 Primetime Emmys, five Writer’s Guild Awards, two Critics’ Choice Television Awards, four Television Critics Association Awards, and two Peabodys.

His work with similar shows spans nearly two decades, starting as a correspondent on The Daily Show in 2006, and including his time hosting podcastThe Bugle with Andy Zaltzman.

Oliver's standup career goes about as far back, starting with his 2008 special, John Oliver: Terrifying Times. Fans may also recognize the actor for his role in Community as a disgruntled, morally-ambiguous professor of psychology, or his voice work on cartoons including Big Mouth, Bob's Burgers, and Rick & Morty.

Tickets will be available to Texas Performing Arts' "Texas Inner Circle" members on Wednesday, June 7. General sales begin on Friday, June 9, at 10 AM. Check Ticketmaster for availability.

Controversial comedian Dave Chappelle plots out 4 Texas arena shows, including Austin

Chappelle's Show(s)

Comedian/actor Dave Chappelle will soon bring his "Dave Chappelle Live" stand-up comedy show to arenas in four cities in Texas, including the Moody Center in Austin on July 14.

Other dates include the American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 29, the Toyota Center in Houston on July 1, and the AT&T Center in San Antonio on July 12.

Chappelle is a complicated figure who's been celebrated for his trailblazing comedy and vilified for his controversial stances. Chappelle's Show, which ran from 2003 to 2006 on Comedy Central, was widely praised, and Chappelle remained extremely popular despite the abrupt end of the show and him choosing to recede from the spotlight in the following decade.

His re-emergence in the late 2010s brought success in the form of three straight Grammy wins for Best Comedy Album, but also continued jokes aimed at transgender people. He has been the subject of multiple protests over that material, and has even had a show canceled by a venue in Minneapolis after receiving criticism for hosting him.

As if to underscore the contentious nature of his comedy, no cellphones, cameras, or recording devices will be allowed at any of the four shows. All phones and smart watches will be secured in special pouches that can be unlocked at the end of the show. Anyone caught with a cellphone in the venue will be immediately ejected.

Tickets for the four shows will go on sale at 5 pm on June 5 at ticketmaster.com.