UT Austin/Facebook

It might be a bit reductive to call Austin a college town, but that's what makes it so good. It certainly benefits from the creativity and industry of college living, but there's a lot more to do than go to gentrified lunches and cool, underground shows. (If you exist outside of Sixth Street, anyway.)

Recognizing this special balance, financial website WalletHub has declared Austin the college city in the United States for 2023, beating out some obvious contenders like Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio.

In addition to being the best city overall, Austin also tops the large cities list, and is one of only two Texas locales represented in the top 10 of any category; the other is College Station, No. 6 on the small list.

The most represented state, perhaps not surprisingly, is Florida, with four cities in the overall top 10. The top 10 college cities for 2023, according to WalletHub, are:

1. Austin
2. Ann Arbor, Michigan
3. Orlando, Florida
4. Gainesville, Florida
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Rexburg, Idaho
7. Provo, Utah
8. Scottsdale, Arizona
9. Miami
10. Raleigh, North Carolina

And how did Austin make the grade? WalletHub looked at key metrics across three categories to determine the rankings.

Austin scored best, No. 12, in the “social environment” category, determined by metrics like students per capita; breweries, cafés, and food trucks per capita; and safety issues like vaccination and crime statistics.

Its ranking at No. 21 in the “academic & economic opportunities" category puts it in the 95th percentile, even above Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, famous for their Ivy League prevalence.

And perhaps unsurprising to those who currently reside here, the Capital City ranked worst in "wallet friendliness,” at No. 204 out of 415.

Elsewhere in Texas, El Paso did well on the overall list at No. 36, followed by Houston (No. 64), Dallas (99), Fort Worth (153), and San Antonio (169). Notably, cities that tend to fall lower in similar studies ranked relatively well among college towns.

Neill-Cochran Museum presents Modern Times Lecture Series - Texas Bird's Eye Views: A Merging of Commerce, History, and Art

Bird’s eye views of Texas cities and towns became very popular in the decades after the Civil War. They were often commissioned as advertisements to promote new towns and/or to document the tremendous growth of these places between 1870 and 1900. But these views are also remarkable evidence of specific buildings and neighborhoods and are thus wonderful tools for architectural historians.

In this talk, Neill-Cochran Museum will focus on Galveston, Houston, San Antonio, and, of course, Austin, and smaller towns such as Bastrop, New Braunfels, and Waco, to see what mysteries we can uncover.

Image courtesy of Neill-Cochran Museum

Neill-Cochran Museum presents Texas Bird’s Eye Views: A Merging of Commerce, History, and Art

Bird’s eye views of Texas cities and towns became very popular in the decades after the Civil War. They were often commissioned as advertisements to promote new towns and/or to document the tremendous growth of these places between 1870 and 1900. But these views are also remarkable evidence of specific buildings and neighborhoods and are thus wonderful tools for architectural historians.

In this talk Dr. Kenneth Hafertepe (The Material Culture of German Texans) will focus on Galveston, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, and smaller towns such as Bastrop, New Braunfels, and Waco, to see what mysteries can be uncovered.

AIA Austin ArchiTalks presents Climate Responsive Design with Barley|Pfeiffer Architecture

AIA Austin and the Austin Foundation for Architecture are wrapping up the fall season of ArchiTalks with Barley|Pfeiffer Architecture: Climate Responsive Design.

ArchiTalks showcases Austin’s architects and designers, with each installment focusing on an individual practitioner and their unique approach to their work.

Photo courtesy of Great Promise for American Indians

Austin Powwow and heritage festival approaches 30 years of dancing, food, and crafts

Great Promise

Most Austinites should know about a 12-hour party with great food, dancing, and jaw-dropping fashion, right? Yet, the Austin Powwow and American Indian Heritage Festival, now in its 29th year and one of the largest single-day powwows in the country, still flies under the radar for many. On November 12, the Travis County Expo Center will host a major celebration for indigenous Austinites, travelers in the know, and anyone who wants to get better acquainted with the culture.

The powwow is open to any interested public, and focuses on this opportunity for cultural exchange. “All the people that haven’t seen a powwow before, they get to come and share in our tradition and our culture of dancing and having a good time,” said a speaker in a promotional video for the 2021 event.

Powwows are essentially meetings or festivals (and of note to Southerners, are often closely related to rodeos), serving purposes that have changed as the standing of Indigenous people changed amongst each other and American society at large. Now that tribes have dispersed and come to share a new kind of postcolonial identity, events like the Austin Powwow are non-specific to any one tribe, emphasizing instead of formalism, an opportunity to celebrate and keep in touch with a wide variety of traditions.

This event features dancers from across the United States headed by a married couple based in Houston: Brody Screaming Eagle (Eastern Band Cherokee/Ojibwe) and Tania Screaming Eagle (Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara). The Gourd Dance, a men’s social dance, is led by Jordan Beartrack (Kiowa/Cheyenne) from Apache, Oklahoma. Powwow dancers come in ornate costumes and are judged on a point system.

Alongside the competitive and social festivities, a large market brings plenty of wares to browse over the many hours. Food vendors bring fry bread, popcorn, tacos, and other fair treats, while craft vendors sell jewelry, fashion, and home decor. An application for vendors on the website points out that booths are by invitation only, with priority to returning vendors, so standards are very high and visitors are likely to find favorites from past years.

Great Promise for American Indians, one of the organizing partners of the powwow, frames it as an educational opportunity in line with its goals to preserve American Indian culture while supporting ongoing programs for the health and education of its families. It presents the Great Promise Dancers, a troupe that demonstrates music and dance on tour, promising authentic cultural experiences.

The Austin Powwow and American Indian Heritage Festival will be held at the Travis County Expo Center on November 12, from 9 am to 9 pm. Anyone is welcome to attend. Tickets ($7 online, kids free) are available on Eventbrite.

The University of Texas Lecture Series presents Beate Hølmebakk

The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture will host a lecture with Beate Hølmebakk, Institute of Architecture. Hølmebakk is a professor at the Institute of Architecture at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design where she is responsible for TAP - The Architectural Project that runs two master studios in building design: Building in Landscape and Building in Life. Hølmebakk’s teaching focuses on conceptual clarity, structural logic, and architectural form.

Together with Per Tamsen, she is the founder of Manthey Kula, an internationally recognized office working between architecture, landscape architecture, and art. The office was nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award in 2009, 2011, 2019, and 2022 and has been represented in several international architecture collections, biennales, and exhibitions. Hølmebakk received her architectural education from AHO and The Cooper Union in New York. She has been professor at the Chalmers University of Technology and guest professor at Universidad de Navarra and Cornell University.

A recording will be available on the Texas Architecture YouTube channel following the live event.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

2 trailblazing Texans to be honored with history-making award at Austin museum

local history ripples

There are many conceptions of Texas around the world, but most can agree that Texans do have a knack for making history. An annual acknowledgement by the Texas State History Museum Foundation (TSHMF) will celebrate the contributions of two very different Texans who used their leadership skills to coordinate huge wins for their respective teams.

Retired Navy Admiral and former University of Texas System Chancellor William H. McRaven and former NFL quarterback Roger Staubach will be honored with the History-Making Texan Award at the 19th Annual Texas Independence Day Dinner, taking place March 2, 2023, at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

Photo courtesy of Bullock Museum

The History-Making Texan Award winners will be celebrated at the Bullock on March 2.

McRaven’s contributions and Staubach’s are similar by nature of leading teams — one commanded troops and the other played an integral part in the Dallas Cowboys into a wave of undeniable success — but the similarities mostly stop there.

McRaven led troops to rescue the ransomed Captain Richard Phillips, search for Osama Bin Laden, and ultimately capture Iraqi politician Saddam Hussein. The Four-Star admiral has advised U.S. presidents in his retirement and written several books, mostly imparting wisdom around changing one’s own life, and hopefully the world around them.

Staubach took a more entertainment-based path to greatness, rising to fame as a star player while lifting the rest of the Cowboys with him. The team had nine consecutive winning seasons with Staubach, of 20 total. Aside from giving Texans yet another point of state pride, Staubach spent his retirement and influence on real estate and philanthropy.

“Our recipients reached the pinnacle of accomplishments and eminence in their fields. Importantly, they were selected as honorees based on their personal character and commitment to improving the lives of others,” said dinner chair and TSHMF trustee Lisa Cooley in a press release. “They stand as role models to emulate, and we look forward to sharing their dramatic and inspiring stories with our guests.”

The dinner supports the Bullock Texas State History Museum with ticket sales and underwriting from nearly 500 attendees annually. Austin’s Jan Felts Bullock, wife of Bob Bullock and museum trustee, joins Dallas’ Cooley as honorary chair. In 2022, the award went to pianist James Dick and philanthropist Lyda Hill.

More information about the foundation and the History-Making Texan Award is available at tshmf.org.

SXSW rolls out next round of music showcases for 2023, including 29 Austin artists

300 more

Obviously, 190 music showcases is not enough for South by Southwest. That’s 19 a day? Make it another 301. On December 7, SXSW announced the second round of 2023 showcasing artists, bringing the current total to almost 500 acts performing March 13-18, 2023, in Austin.

Of those newly announced artists, 29 are from Austin, and eight more are from Texas, keeping the local numbers relatively high compared to the whole world. This round contains almost 10 percent Austin bands, while the first round contained nearly 7 percent.

Some of the more widely recognizable Austin acts announced in the second round include:

  • Good Looks: Vocalist and guitarist Tyler Jordan cites an increasingly venerated Austin band, Spoon, as an influence. Good Looks is guitar riff-driven, wistful, and a little Southern in sound.
  • Graham Reynolds (solo), Graham Reynolds & The Golden Arm Trio: A prolific composer and bandleader, Reynolds’ name pops up all over Austin films and awards ceremonies. He appears solo and with an eclectic jazz trio.
  • Kalu & The Electric Joint: Frontman Kalu James arrived in Austin from Nigeria at 18 and has made a strong name for himself (and guitarist Jonathan “JT” Holt) through psychedelic, vaguely jazzy, and decidedly funky jams.
  • Pleasure Venom: One of the rawest acts in town, Pleasure Venom is well-known for punk hits (and honest takes) that don’t hold back. The band is consistently making news between lots of live shows and festival appearances.
  • Primo the Alien: Solo artist and producer Primo the Alien is bringing the 80s back with synthy electro-pop. She attaches it all to a double persona that’s both candid on social media and a delivery system for sensory overload onstage.
  • The Tiarras: A triple-threat band of sisters, The Tiarras are always thinking about family and stepping into their power. They’ve tackled topics like lesbian and Latina representation, and although they’re young, they’re seasoned pros.

The remaining Austin bands in the second round are: Andrea Magee, Big Wy's Brass Band, Billy King & The Bad Bad Bad, Caleb De Casper, Daiistar, Del Castillo, El Combo Oscuro, Font, JM Stevens, Johnny Chops, Marshall Hood, Otis Wilkins, Pink Nasty Meets El Cento, Rett Smith, Rod Gatort, Schatzi, Shooks, S.L. Houser, The Tender Things, Thor & Friends, Trouble in The Streets, and West Texas Exiles.

Showcases are the base unit of the SXSW music experience, so to speak. They may be solo or part of a multi-day affair, especially when sponsored by large entities like Rolling Stone. Attendees with music wristbands get priority, but all wristbands get access if space remains.

Even as the lineup seems to bulge at the seams, a press release states that there are more to come. A full schedule of showcasing artists, where users can select events for their customized schedule, is available at schedule.sxsw.com.

Austin's Central Library announces open call for artists for future gallery exhibits

Beyond Books

People can learn a lot at the library. Besides all the books, magazines, online resources, and in-person programming, Austinites enjoy a buffet of rotating art exhibits that populate the gallery at the Central Library downtown, publicizing local artists and teaching visitors about the culture around them.

Now the ever-changing Austin Public Library is looking for another new exhibit sometime in 2024 between January and September, and inviting artists to apply through February 28.

Good news for artists who crave freedom, and frustrating news for artists who love something to bounce off of: This engagement offers few to no parameters. There is no explicit theme, but the library does claim a mission in a press release about the call for artists.

“The mission of the Central Library Gallery is to support local artists and art communities, raise awareness of contemporary and diverse forms of art, and to provide exhibitions in which a wide variety of identities and interests are represented,” said the release.

The Central Library website lists four current exhibitions: Hannah Hannah lends some expressionist portraits, Release the Puppets tells stories in a classic and playful medium, the Austin American-Statesman explores Austin communities of color through photographs, and a traveling exhibition documents Pride parades of the past.

The call is addressed to “artists, collectives, curators and beyond,” further widening the possibilities, but still restricting them to applicants residing in Texas. Applicants should consider the size of the gallery (2,700 square feet) and a few logistical stipulations, including that pieces may not be hung from the ceiling, and that walls may be painted.

When the jury — made up of local artists and others in the industry — announces a winning proposal in March 2023, the artist will be offered a stipend to complete the work. All project costs are the exhibitor’s responsibility, so this stipend is not unlike an advance, except that the project will not continue to generate revenue at the library.

Applications are open now through 11:59 pm on February 28, 2023. Applicants may make their proposals via submittable.com.