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Black Fret presents the ninth annual Black Fret Ball, where 20 local artists will be awarded hundreds of thousands in grants. There will be performances from 18 of the 20 Black Fret 2022 artists.

The artists receiving grants this year include Abhi the Nomad, Annabelle Chairlegs, Aubrey Hays, Blackillac, Bonnie Whitmore, Buffalo Nichols, Daniel Fears, Graham Weber, Indoor Creature, Jo James, KVN, Me Nd Adam, Mélat, Money Chicha, Natalie Price, Nik Parr and The Selfless Lovers, Pussy Gilette, Quentin and the Past Lives, Scott Strickland, and Urban Heat.

The gala is open to Black Fret members. Event attendees are also invited to an afterparty following the Ball.

Photo courtesy of Canje

2 Austin restaurants land on Esquire's prestigious best new restaurants list

simply the best

Esquire magazine has named three Texas restaurants to its list of The Best New Restaurants in America 2022, two from Austin and one from Houston.

They are: Canje, Austin chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph’s acclaimed Caribbean restaurant (No. 4); Tatemó, chef Emmanuel Chavez’s corn-obsessed tortilleria and Mexican restaurant in Houston (No. 19); and Birdie’s, Austin’s natural wine bar and cafe from husband-and-wife duo Arjav Ezekiel and Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel (No. 25).

Four writers — Omar Mamoon, Joshua David Stein, former Esquire food and drink editor Jeff Gordinier, and culture and lifestyle director Kevin Sintumuang — created the list by traveling the country. They found themselves drawn to restaurants that told a chef’s personal story.

“We’re always hooked when there is soul and a story to go with delicious, inventive dishes,” Sintumuang writes. “It’s hard to deny the reflection of lived experience imbued in a menu, a wine list, a cocktail, atmosphere.”

In Houston, Stein hails Tatemó for the many ways Chavez incorporates heirloom corn into the restaurant’s eight-course tasting menu, praising dishes such as totopos, consommé, and a quesadilla. “Corn has always been a character actor. Here it’s the leading man,” he writes.

Turning to Austin, Sintumuang notes that Canje goes to extreme lengths to deliver traditional Caribbean flavors — flying in cassareep for its signature wild boar pepper pot, and fermenting the marinade for its jerk chicken, a process chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph shared with CultureMap at the Southern Smoke Festival. Canje’s lively atmosphere adds to Sintumuang’s experience.

“And as the night rolls by, it can all start to feel like a celebration. Welcome to the party,” he writes.

Not only does Esquire include Birdie’s on the list, but wine director Arjav Ezekiel earns the title of “Wine Guru of the Year.” Sintumuang praises Ezekiel for his list of “approachable yet thrilling low-intervention wines” that both tasty and approachable.

Similarly, the magazine hails the restaurant’s counter service approach as a way to offer better wages to its staff and praises chef Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel’s eclectic menu. “The lines are worth it for the food, a casual refined mix of American, a little Italian, a little French, that all makes you want to linger a little longer into the warm Austin night and order another bottle,” he writes.

Esquire’s acclaim is only the most recent time both Birdie’s and Canje have made best new restaurant lists, following similar nods from Texas Monthly and Bon Appetit. The New York Times also included Birdie’s on its 2021 list of the 50 American restaurants it’s “most excited about right now.”

Photo courtesy of Connecther and Eloise DeJoria

10th Annual ConnectHER Film Festival

At the 10th Annual ConnectHER Film Festival, guests can screen films and hear words from inspiring leaders at the evening awards ceremony, where more than $30,000 in awards will be given out. The event celebrates global leaders and young filmmakers who are making a difference for women and girls around the world.

Photo by Scott Newton Courtesy of KLRU

ACL Hall of Fame Induction & Celebration Honoring Sheryl Crow & Joe Ely

The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Induction & Celebration will honor singer, songwriter, and superstar Sheryl Crow and Texas music pioneer Joe Ely, with an all-star line-up to celebrate them both.

Photo by Moyo Oyelola, courtesy of Texas Cultural Trust

Texas Medal of Arts unveils 2023 recipients, including 3 from Austin

Texas Medal of Awesome

After releasing initial details for next year's Texas Medal of the Arts Awards (TMAA), the Texas Cultural Trust (TXCT) has revealed the full lineup of 2023 honorees — and Austinites will recognize a few local names.

Taking place in venues across Austin, the two-day biannual event recognizes the creative contributions of Texans across multiple disciplines, from music to architecture, film, design, and beyond. Next year's honorees also span multiple geographical regions, with recipients representing Houston, El Paso, and everywhere in between.

“We are beyond thrilled to resume the TMAA celebration, after having to postpone and cancel in 2021 due to the pandemic, with an extraordinary lineup of talented Texans who have each inspired and captivated their communities, our state, and beyond,” says Texas Cultural Trust CEO Heidi Marquez Smith. “Our organization strives to spotlight the vital role the arts play in our state and our everyday lives. Texas has such a rich cultural heritage that deserves to be recognized, invested in, and celebrated.”

So, without further ado, the 2023 Texas Medal of Arts Honorees are:

  • Arts/Health: Center for Performing Arts Medicine, Houston
  • Lifetime Achievement/Musical Theatre: Carole Cook, Abilene
  • Music: Christopher Cross, San Antonio
  • Music/Songwriter: Miranda Lambert, Lindale
  • Architecture: Miró Rivera Architects, Austin
  • Visual Arts: Deborah Roberts, Austin
  • Design: Lela Rose, Dallas
  • Literary Arts: Benjamin Alire Saenz, El Paso
  • Film/Producer: Taylor Sheridan, Weatherford
  • Dance: Septime Webre, Brownsville
  • Film/Actor: Luke Wilson, Dallas

“I was really moved to hear that I would be a recipient of the Texas Medal of Arts Award,” said 2023 TMAA Honoree (and Austinite) Deborah Roberts. “As a native Texan, I’m extremely proud.”

Austinites will recognize Roberts' work from multiple galleries across the city, but perhaps especially from her incredible mural Little man, little man, which graced the 7th Street wall of The Contemporary Austin Jones Center a few years ago. A mixed media artist, Roberts' work has been exhibited internationally across the U.S. and Europe, including the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, New York); LACMA (Los Angeles, California); the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, Virginia); and many more.

Austin-based architecture firm, Miró Rivera Architects, was founded by Miguel Rivera, FAIA and Juan Miró, FAIA. Born just a few days apart in Puerto Rico and Spain, respectively, the pair first crossed paths while working at Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects in New York City. Miró married Rivera's sister, Rosa, and moved to Austin in 1996, where Miró went on to teach at the University of Texas School of Architecture and serve as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs for four years. Miró Rivera Architects designs a wide range of projects, from residential to educational, and they have received more than 100 design awards in their decades-long practice, including 40 American Institute of Art (AIA) awards.

The TXCT's signature two-day event will begin on February 21, 2023, with the Arts Alive! Reception at Commodore Perry Estate, culminating with an Awards Show and Gala Dinner at the Long Center for Performing Arts on February 22, 2023. This year's events are co-chaired by Linda LaMantia, civic leader and artist dedicated to supporting and promoting the arts and education; Judy Robison, philanthropic advocate for prioritizing equity in access to the arts for all children; and world-renowned fashion designer and 2019 TMAA Honoree Brandon Maxwell.

Besides Maxwell, previous honorees have included Matthew McConaughey, Jamie Foxx, ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, Dan Rather, Neiman Marcus, H-E-B, Robert Rodriguez, Walter Cronkite, Lawrence Wright, Sandra Cisneros, Lyle Lovett, Texas Monthly, and many more. In total, the TMAA have celebrated 118 Texas leaders and luminaries since its inception in 2001.

Austin-born mixed media artist Deborah Roberts will be one of three Austinites to receive the 2023 Texas Medal of Arts Awards.

Photo by Moyo Oyelola, courtesy of Texas Cultural Trust
Austin-born mixed media artist Deborah Roberts will be one of three Austinites to receive the 2023 Texas Medal of Arts Awards.
Photo courtesy of Lake Travis Film Festival

Lake Travis indie film festival rolls credits for 2022 lineup

Let The Good Times Roll

Movies and a weekend at the lake aren’t always on the itinerary together, so this festival is a special opportunity. The Lake Travis Film Festival returns for its third annual run from September 15 to 18. It will be hosted at several venues in Bee Caves and Lakeway, making it easy to drive from Austin, but fun to stay in one of the partner hotels, anyway.

The festival opens with a documentary about controversy at an Arkansas tourist destination by Michael Stephen Schwarz, Forever Majestic, and a dramedy by Laura Lehmus on opening night, Sweet Disaster. The latter, a chaotic and cheerfully surrealist German film follows a pregnant 40-year-old who has been abandoned by her partner. The festival will close with two selections: Jordan O’Neal’s Fabletown, about a comic book-based fairytale underground in New York City, and Sophie Miller's Ranch Water, a story about Texas and sisterhood that premiered at Austin Film Festival in 2021.

The lineup spreads 92 films over four days, focusing on input from the independent film community, both in the United States and internationally. Two thirds of the titles are short films, including student films, and there are eight narrative features. Keeping everything in “walking distance” and mixing in masterclasses, awards, and mixers, the schedule is packed at each venue. An attendee could easily choose to stay in one place all day, if they have the stamina. Every day, there will be announcements connecting guests with filmmakers.

“The third year brings an opportunity to hone into what we [do] best … curating an overall cinematic experience,” says festival founder and executive director Kat Albert says in a press release. “We do not sell individual tickets. The suburbs don’t have a traditional downtown, so we’ve worked to make our pop-up style festival work with three walkable hubs. … The festival is young but garnering a reputation as a unique experience for filmmakers, screenwriters, and the local community.”

Although the festival does not ticket individual movies, it does divide itself by day, which it vaguely themes. Thursday is when things kick off, with a light day of programming, a “Family Values” short films block, and an opening party. An all-day masterclass that first day with screenwriter Owen Egerton has its own tickets. Friday includes themes “Outdoor Sports” and tenser phrases that hint at suspense and grit. Events include script readings and an industry mixer.

Saturday is for “young, experimental, and musical filmmakers,” divided into those categories at three different venues: Bee Cave City Hall, Contracommon, and Goga Yoga, respectively. Wherever visitors spend the day, they can all come together at Contracommon for karaoke at night. Sunday includes brunch at Star Hill Ranch, the customary last location for the festival, with mostly narrative features in one building and more of a variety of features and shorts in the other.

Wristbands for the Lake Travis Film Festival are available by day ($60 for Thursday, $100 for Friday, Saturday, or Sunday), and can be purchased at laketravisfilmfestival.com. Four-day badges ($225) are also available on the website.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Mobile vet company brings its no-rush, stress-free services to Austin homes

Home Is Where the Vet Is

Austin, one of the largest no-kill shelter cities in the United States, already knows a lot about adopting instead of shopping. A puppy is a wonderful addition to the family, but senior dogs need love (and are loved), too. As many have learned firsthand, taking care of a senior pet can be challenging — with higher medical bills, potentially heavy lifting as joints stiffen, and tough decisions to make about what kind of care is necessary — but also incredibly rewarding.

November is National Senior Pet Health Month, calling for awareness about an older pet’s needs, and providing opportunities to celebrate wins all over local news. In Austin, one of those wins came in scrubs. The Vets, a mobile veterinary service that makes house calls, expanded into Austin in 2022 (after launching the year prior), eventually bringing the national count to 16 locations including Houston and Dallas. Texas and California are tied for the most locations, at three each.

“Among the top reasons that pet owners avoid or postpone their visit to the vet clinic include the stress of transporting their pet, restrictive pet carriers, and crowded waiting rooms,” explained a statement from the company. “Our no-rush visits give your pet the time to bond with our vet and you the opportunity to ask questions. And you always have the option to rebook the same vet to help grow that special relationship over time.”

This team provides care for every stage in a pet’s life, and most of their needs, too; that’s everything from routine wellness exams, microchipping, nutrition consulting, and even emergency services including those with specialized equipment like ultrasound machines. When the time comes to ease a pet’s end-of-life transition, the team also offers at-home euthanasia, dramatically reducing stress for both pets and people who don’t want a sterile environment or a tearful drive home.

The American Veterinary Medical Association lists many needs for senior pets, including increased medical care, vaccinations, and pet parents that are observant about environmental concerns like house structure and stimulation. With a home vet, pet owners might consider asking for opinions on how to streamline some of these interactions, without having to worry about having to write notes, try to remember potential issues in the space, or miss any important details a professional would see right away.

A good vet can make animals comfortable no matter what, but The Vets emphasizes the stronger relationships that its team can build in a comfortable, stress-free environment. In addition to a more convenient and comfortable experience, this can also mean better care for a pet that doesn’t have an entire puppyhood to adjust.

More information about The Vets, including scheduling, is available at thevets.com.

Austin-area pig rescue wins Airbnb contest to build one-of-a-kind pig-themed guest house

This Place is a Pigsty

KVUE — From tens of thousands of entries from around the world, 100 aspiring designers, architects, DIYers, and makers from more than 20 countries and regions have been chosen to bring their unique space ideas to life as part of the $10,000,000 Airbnb OMG! Fund.

One of those winners is Tracey Stabile, director of the Central Texas Pig Rescue (CTPR) in Austin. Tracey and Dan Illescas, founders of Central Texas Pig Rescue, will receive up to $100,000 to create a one-of-a-kind pig-shaped guest space. Over the course of the next 10 months, they will design, construct, and outfit the space to be guest-ready by summer 2023.

"Basically the OMG! Fund contest was a way for people to be really playful and kind of invent a really cool dwelling that would be something that's totally notable to people and be a destination," said Stabile.

Stabile said Airbnb left all of the freedom of creativity up to them. They went through several rounds of design and planning and review.

"Each step of the way, we were like, 'We're one step closer.' It was very exciting. Just getting those emails at each milestone and seeing that we were actually contenders in this contest. Then the fact that we, of course, won and now we're going to be able to build this amazing thing that we absolutely never would have been able to build under other circumstances. It's just an amazing opportunity," stated Stabile.

Stabile said she wanted to build something that was a little bit unpredictable and wanted to avoid some of the shapes that people might expect. The current pig sanctuary in Smithville, about 45 minutes outside of Austin, is home to over 200 pigs that were saved from abandonment. The sanctuary houses a mix of all different types of pigs, mostly potbellied pigs, and is 100 percent volunteer run and 100 percent donation based.

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Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Texas state parks beckon this holiday season with festive events and peaceful escapes

Silent nights

If roasting s'mores and hiking in the great outdoors sounds fun, pack up your family and visit one of Texas’ state parks this holiday season.

Texas state parks and historic sites are ringing in the holidays with a number of festive events. There are drive-thru light tours, special holiday hikes, arts and crafts for the kiddos, and more.

Reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to visit an individual park's website before you head out. And check the Holidays in the Parks page for many more fun options, pricing information, and more information.

Austin/San Antonio-area parks

Bastrop State Park
Follow ornaments with clues through the park every day in December during the annual Fa La La Through The Forest Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the Lost Pines Christmas Parade, a collaborative event with Bastrop and Buescher Parks, at 6 pm December 10. Tour the inside of the historic Refectory and see how the Civilian Conservation Corps celebrated Christmas away from home during A Lost Pines CCC Christmas 9 am-12 pm December 17.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Visit the popular attraction during December to learn how the farm staff get ready for das Weihnachten (Christmas). Return to the park at 5:30 pm December 18 for the 53rd Annual Tree Lighting, a holiday tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson.

Garner State Park
Join the Buffalo Soldiers program and friends as they stop into Garner State Park before leaving for Christmas break during the Marching Towards Christmas event 10 am-2 pm December 10. Christmas activities will include hand-dipped candles, frontier Christmas painting, Christmas-themed hard tack in Dutch ovens, and stories of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buescher State Park
On the Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt, you can follow ornaments with clues through the park to secure a prize at the end, December 1 to January 1. Enjoy the Smithville Festival of Lights and Lighted Parade, a collaborative effort between Buescher and Bastrop parks, on December 3.

Hill Country State Natural Area
See how art, history and state parks are connected; learn some basic watercolor techniques and paint a card or two to take home during the Watercolor Christmas Cards event 2:30-4 pm December 3. Come back for Horses in History & Ornament Craft from 2:30-4 pm December 22 and learn how horses played important roles in the lives of vaqueros, native people, ranchers and more. Then, play a round of horseshoes and paint a horse ornament to take with you.

South Llano River State Park
At Christmas at the Ranch, 2-5 pm December 3, guests can warm up with hot chocolate and cider, listen to live entertainment, enjoy crafts and cookie decorating, and anticipate Santa's visit while taking in the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations at the historic Ranch House that now serves as Park Headquarters.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area parks

Tyler State Park
Enjoy Reading Ranger Campfire Stories around a cozy campfire at 3 pm December 3. Head back December 9-10 for A Pineywoods Christmas, when you can stroll or drive through the Lakeview and Big Pine campgrounds to take in campers' elaborately decorated sites and take a Winter Wonderland Hike.

Lake Tawakoni State Park
Drive through or stay at the park and decorate your campsite with your favorite Christmas decorations to receive your second night of camping free during your stay. There will be a decorating contest, complete with awards, as well as a reading of The Night before Christmas — all part of Twinkle Tour 2022, 5-8 pm December 3.

Daingerfield State Park
Drive through the park lit up like Santa Land during the 10th annual Christmas in the Park drive thru lights tour December 14-17 (times vary). Marvel at the decorated campsites and lights, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for a chance to visit with Santa.

Eisenhower State Park
Help those in need and spread holiday cheer — and as a bonus, get free entry to the park — by bringing one unwrapped donation item to the park’s Holiday Donation Drive through December 19. Visit December 9-10 to visit the Light Up the Park drive-thru lights event, featuring milk and cookies with Santa. This year, the park is taking unwrapped toys to donate instead of collecting entrance fees for the event.

Cleburne State Park
Enjoy Pancakes With Santa and make pinecone bird feeders 9-11 am December 10.

Cedar Hill State Park
Search for birds taking their winter break at the park during their Winter Birding Walk, which takes place 7:30-8:30 am December 13. Explore Christmas on Penn Farm on December 17: Learn about the history and pioneers of the Penn Family and the farm they built 150 years ago.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Experience Christmas, cowboy style, at Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas, December 3. Park ranger and cowboy poet David Owens will gather guests around a campfire at the Lone Star Amphitheater for an evening of cowboy culture through songs, stories and poems.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
In partnership with Toys for Tots, the park is hosting Christmas in the Valley, a full day of ranger-led events, programs, family friendly activities, arts and crafts, food and more. Bring a new and unwrapped toy for free admission for the whole family. The event takes place 1-4 pm December 17.

Houston and Gulf Coast-area parks

Brazos Bend State Park
Holiday in the Park is an all-day affair on December 10. Events include a self-guided "Elf Hike," Christmas crafts, "Pup Parade," s'mores, and more.

Goose Island State Park
See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and camp for free when you decorate your campsite during Christmas in the Park on December 17. Guests are invited to "Santa's Village" at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Get in the holiday spirit with the second annual Holiday Light Drive Thru, 6-9 pm December 10. Visitors can enter the park for a drive through the lighted areas of Javelina and Opossum Bend camping loops, plus the Old Pavilion.

West Texas and the Panhandle-area parks

Franklin Mountains State Park
On December 3, make ornaments and holiday cards with recycled materials as part of the Art in the Parks series. During Cookies and Cocoa, you can decorate and take home your own Christmas treat while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate 2-4 pm December 23. Come back on Christmas Eve for a guided, two-mile Santa Hike at 11 am.

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Bring your family out for Home for the Holidays guided family hike on December 10 and moderate hike on December 17.

San Angelo State Park
Enjoy a drive-thru tour of lights and optional pictures with Santa and Smokey Bear during Holly-Days in the Park, 6-8 pm December 10.