Courtesy Link & Pin

Nature captivates this month, not just in blooming and bursting forth with color, but in many of the exhibits on display this April in Austin. “Green Eyes” at Northern-Southern takes inspiration from riverscapes and explosions of sunlight; Nola Parker paints landscapes on panels capturing the contrast between nature's beauty and danger; and the Wildflower Center shows us a short film exhibit called “a seed a deer a seed” about conservation, vegetation, and wildlife. For more of mother nature’s beguiling ways, visit installations at Zilker Botanical Gardens and Waterloo Park. The arts are buzz-worthy and flourishing this month in Austin.


“Green Eyes: Michelle Marchesseault” — Now through April 30
Michelle Marchesseault, a multidisciplinary artist and designer, began the work for “Green Eyes” in rural isolation in the Catskills during the pandemic. She finished the show in Austin, where she now lives. Marchesseault describes the pieces — abstract, semi-representational, and symbolic — as, “Twists and Riverscapes. Picnics in ancient places. Memories tumbled with magic. Vulnerable practices, explosions of sunlight. Change and comfort.”

Wally Workman

“Nola Parker: Holding Space” — Now through April 30
Nola Parker is a self-taught landscape painter who lives and works in central Vermont. She paints landscapes on panels depicting scenes from Texas, Vermont, Colorado, and Massachusetts: landscapes both “stumbled upon and sought out from the past two years.” To Parker, the outdoors was always beautiful and a bit dangerous — a refuge but also a place of mystery. Her series The Neighborhood" depicts the manmade safety of our lives, while "The Wild" depicts the mystery of the undomesticated.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

“a seed a deer a seed” — Now through May 31
Marianne Hoffmeister Castro, a Chilean artist residing in the U.S. and this year’s St. Elmo Arts Fellow, examines the contemporary western world's representation of nature and animality. Her short film, “a seed a deer a seed,” shines a light on the Wildflower Center’s conservation efforts by threading together vegetation surveys, nocturnal footage of animals in the area, archival material from the herbarium, and fragments of conversations with Conservationist Botanist Minette Marr.

Zilker Botanical Garden

“The Surreal Garden Exhibition” — April 7 through 8 & 13 through 15
For the second consecutive year, Ion Art illuminates the Zilker Botanical Garden with “The Surreal Garden Exhibition.” The Surreal Series is an interactive art experience full of fantastical and whimsical neon sculptures created by Sharon and Greg Keshishian and the Ion Art Team. They have integrated the sculptures into the serene setting of the botanical garden, creating an enchanting neon world and a way to benefit the Garden. Dress up in surreal attire is encouraged.

Co-Lab Projects

“Sonic Meditation for Solo Performer Steve Parker” — April 13 through May 6
“Sonic Meditation” reimagines the college marching band as a tool for meditation. The project examines themes of healing, injury, and labor in NCAA football, drawing from legacies of sonic therapy. The installation is an ecosystem of automated sonic sculptures made from salvaged marching band instruments," and is activated by a viewer wearing an EEG headset. The device measures and transmits electrical brain activity, which is then translated in real-time to be played by the instruments.

ICOSA Collective Gallery

“Dream States” — April 14 through May 13
This exhibit presents the works of five animation artists and takes visitors on a journey to explore the pursuits of human connection and our relationships to technology and infrastructure, the natural world, and personal desires. “Dream States” includes hand drawn and painted cel animations, as well as original artwork from the films. In each piece, the filmmaker takes stock of the world as it is and responds in kind, playing with surrealism and varying tones of repetition, color, sound, and narrative storytelling.

Ballerina Dreaming by Sonja Kever

Courtesy Link & Pin

Ballerina Dreaming by Sonja Kever as part of “Size is Everything,” on display at Link & Pin Gallery this month.


Expresiones de Mexico, Arte de la Gente / Art of the People” — April 14 through August 20
Following the revolution in the 1920s, Mexico’s leaders sought to define and promote Mexico’s culture and art. This campaign included looking to artists from regions all over Mexico. Mexican art, past and present, comes in a great assortment of styles, subjects, and mediums. This collection has been compiled over the course of the nearly forty years of Mexic-Arte Museum’s history and will give light to some of the key master artists in Mexico who have made this art so sought out worldwide.

Link & Pin Gallery

“Size Is Everything” — April 22 through May 27
“Size is Everything” ponders the question, what if art was all one size? Not too big and not too small. And what if you combine modern art, abstract pieces, traditional works, and whimsical art all in the same room? With that in mind, gallery owner Debra Watkins has conceptualized an exhibit that displays diverse genres of art that are visually similar — only because all the works are 20x25 and have been framed similarly so that the show will look like one body of work.

Waterloo Park

“Seeing Bees” — April 23 through May 21
Featuring the artwork of world-renowned photographer Dan Winters, Wild Spirit Wild Places presents “Seeing Bees,” an immersive art and education experience inspired by the essential role bees play in our environment. View Winter’s subjects, the bees, through large format images created using a scanning electron microscope. The exhibit hopes to raise awareness and foster appreciation for the essential role these insects play in our ecosystem.

Mural mockup courtesy of the Museum of Graffiti

Museum of Graffiti paints Austin for the 50th anniversary of hip hop

Can they kick it?

Hip hop is about a lot more than beats, and despite the persistence of legend within the genre, it’s under-canonized in official collections. Miami’s Museum of Graffiti addresses that gap, calling itself “the world’s first Museum dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of graffiti art.” Austin will get to see the unique collection from March 10-28 at a pop-up to celebrate the 50th “anniversary” of the genre.

A grand opening during the weekend of March 10-12 coincides with the opening weekend of South by Southwest (although there does not seem to be an official relationship between the two). The festivities will include music programming, live art, fashion, complimentary drinks, panel discussions, and more.

“Many people around the world are celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip hop by placing an exclusive emphasis on the music,” said curator and co-founder Alan Ket. “However, hip hop is a movement with great cultural contributors across many creative disciplines, including graffiti. From Joe Conzo who photographed the early Bronx jams to Cey Adams who art directed many of the world’s biggest records including Public Enemy and The Notorious B.I.G.; There is no better time to celebrate their genius than in Austin during one of the largest annual cultural events in America.”

All this will be housed in one of the nondescript 6th Street buildings bordering I-35 (809 E 6th Street). West Chelsea Contemporary, a local gallery in Austin, plans to spruce up the walls on the building’s busier side in collaboration with Austin graffiti artist Sloke One and Los Angeles graffiti pioneer Risk (stylized RISK), in murals that will be painted live starting on February 25. Both have works at the gallery, separately from the museum’s arrival.

The main draw, an exhibition called “The Art of Hip Hop,” organizes photographs, album covers, logos, graffiti works, and any other important work by the creators responsible for the “visual identity of the genre.” Images of the home collection include works as diverse as skateboards, album art, archived tags (signatures), and more abstract collaborative experiments.

The museum also draws attention to its gift shop — arguably cooler than that of most classical collections — and gives visitors an opportunity to purchase original paintings made as long as 50 years ago.

The museum organizes its non-exhibit programming around the universally accepted “five pillars of hip hop”: MC’ing (lyricism), DJing, breakdancing (b-boying), graffiti, knowledge of the genre and its cultural context. Classes will touch on each pillar; There is no current schedule to reference, but weekly classes in Miami teach beginners how to use a spray can and kids how to draw in a street style.

Tickets ($12) to the Museum of Graffiti pop-up are available now at museumofgraffiti.com. Opening weekend will welcome guests ages 21 and older, but the remainder of the pop-up, including all workshops, are available to all ages.

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Here are all 22 Austin acts to add to your 2023 ACL Fest playlist

homegrown sounds

We're almost there. Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL Fest) is poised to take over Zilker Park across two weekends – October 6-8 and October 13-15 – and while Austinites surely have a running list of all the bigger touring acts that they want to see, they may not be aware of the many great locals on the lineup.

So, here’s a rundown of the 22 Austin-based artists that will be playing during either weekend. Take a look, make some notes, and go show some support! Don't forget to hydrate and get a snack between sets, too!

Asleep At The Wheel (W1)
Kick off weekend one of ACL with a fest tradition: a set from country legends Asleep At TheWheel, who have performed at just about every ACL since the festival’s inception in 2002. They’ll play on Friday, October 6, at 12:55 pm on the Honda Stage.

Die Spitz (W1)
With a raucous live show and their well-received 2023 EP, Teeth, Die Spitz have been one of the most buzzed-about bands out of Austin this year. You can catch the upstart rockers on Saturday, October 7, at 11:45 am on the Tito’s Stage.

Arya (W1)
Pop and R&B fans will find a lot to like when it comes to Arya, an up-and-coming songstress who now calls Austin home after having grown up in Serbia. Her set will take place on Saturday, October 7, at 11:45 am on the T-Mobile Stage.

Shooks (W1)
Fronted by Marlon Sexton (the son of guitarist Charlie Sexton), Shooks will be taking the stage at ACL for the second time since 2021. The band’s versatile indie rock sound can be experienced on Saturday, October 7, at 12:45 pm on the Tito’s Stage.

Calder Allen (W1&2)
Since last year’s release of his debut album, The Game, singer-songwriter Calder Allen has been on a steady ascent through the ranks of local acts. You can see him at both weekends of the fest – for each one he’ll play on Saturday (October 7 & 14) at 2:45 pm on the Tito’s Stage.

Ben Kweller (W1&2)
Celebrated indie rocker Ben Kweller has spent a good bit of the summer on the road with Ed Sheeran, and that will roll into appearances at both weekends of ACL. Look for him on each Saturday (October 7 & 14) at 3 pm on the Miller Lite Stage.

Ellis Bullard (W1)
Get a “true-blue honky tonk” experience via Ellis Bullard, who will be making his ACL debut justas he’s gearing up to release a new album, Honky Tonk Ain’t Noise Pollution!. You can see himon Sunday, October 8, at noon on the Barton Springs Stage.

Wesley Bray And The Disciples of Christ (W1)
Take a break from the noise of ACL and enjoy a spiritual moment with Stubb’s Gospel Brunch regulars Wesley Bray And The Disciples of Christ. They can be experienced on – of course – Sunday, October 8, at noon on the Tito’s stage.

Jane Leo (W1)
Centered around Jane Ellen Bryant and Daniel Leopold (of Leopold And His Fiction), Jane Leo are responsible for some of the catchiest alt-pop tunes you’ll find in Austin these days. Their ACL set is on Sunday, October 8, at 1 pm, on the Tito’s Stage.

Grace Sorensen (W1)
R&B/neo-soul artist Grace Sorenson has previously been a part of ACL as support for other acts, but she’ll make her full debut at the festival during Weekend One. Her performance will happen on Sunday, October 8, at 1:30 pm on the BMI Stage.

Jimmie Vaughan (W2)
Weekend two of ACL will get underway with a performance from guitar afficionado Jimmie Vaughn. Don’t miss his blues-filled performance on Friday, October 13, at 12:55 pm on the Honda Stage.

Font (W2)
Just after wrapping a supporting run with the popular Japanese band CHAI, Font will play their first ever ACL Fest. The post-punk act puts on a dynamic show and shouldn’t be missed on Friday, October 13, at 12:55 pm on the American Express Stage.

Huston-Tillotson University Jazz Collective (W2)
If the Huston-Tillotson University Jazz Collective isn’t on your radar, they should be, as they will be putting out some of the smoothest sounds you’ll find at the fest this year. Catch the urban contemporary jazz ensemble’s set on Friday, October 13, at 1:15 pm on the Tito’s Stage.

We Don’t Ride Llamas (W2)
From a love of the game Rock Band as kids to playing ACL, it’s been a heck of a ride so far for the four siblings behind We Don’t Ride Llamas. If you like bands that offer a little bit of everything sound-wise, then don’t miss their set on Friday, October 13, at 1:40 pm on the Miller Lite Stage.

Nemegata (W2)
Nemegata will be heading into ACL hot on the heels of their sophomore album, Voces, which the band describes as a “transcendent Afro-Indigenous Colombian odyssey.” You can see them on Saturday, October 14, at noon on the Barton Springs Stage.

Rattlesnake Milk (W2)
Country, punk, rock — Rattlesnake Milk is every bit of that and very much worthy of a slot on your “bands to see” list. Their set will go down on Saturday, October 14, at 1:15 pm on the BMI Stage.

Blakchyl (W2)
Just a week before she takes the stage at ACL, hip hop vet Blakchyl will release an anticipated album titled Better Than I Imagined. Hear tracks from it and more on Saturday, October 14, at11:45 am on the Tito’s Stage.

The Moriah Sisters (W2)
If you miss out on Wesley Bray And The Disciples of Christ during weekend one of ACL, you can still get your gospel fix in the next go-round with The Moriah Sisters. Their performance will take place on Sunday, October 15, at noon on the Tito’s Stage.

Kathryn Legendre (W2)
With “Cigarettes,” her brand new single in tow, “singer-songwriter, honky-tonker, and Hill Country gem” Kathryn Legendre will make her ACL debut. You can see her sure-to-be-charming set on Sunday, October 15, at noon on the Baron Springs Stage.

After years in Torino Black, Sisi has begun rolling out solo tunes, including a recent one titled “Lyin’ Cheat.” You can check out the singer-songwriter on Sunday, October 15, at 1 pm on the Tito’s Stage.

Quin NFN(W2)
The oft-buzzed-about rapper Quin NFN will swing into ACL Fest more than ready to show why he’s racked up of millions of streams and a dedicated following. Be sure to catch the spectacle on Sunday, October 15, at 2 pm on the Tito’s Stage.

Caramelo Haze (W2)
Beto Martínez & John Speice (Grupo Fantasma), Alex Chavez (Dos Santos), and Victor "El Guámbito" Cruz (Nemegata) are the minds behind the “electro neo-sōl odyssey” known as Carmelo Haze. They’ll be playing on Sunday, October 15, at 2 pm on the Tito’s Stage.

Austin 'Top Chef' winner emerges after controversy to open upscale Mexican restaurant

New Restaurants

Austin and the village of Bacalar in Southeastern Mexico share a similar ethos — that life revolves around the lake. Overlooking Town Lake, the new upscale Mexican restaurant Bacalar brings the tastes of one famous lake to another, with chef Gabe Erales at the helm.

The restaurant has opened at 44 East Ave. #100, after years of preparation and following controversy surrounding the chef's departure from his last role, at Comedor. A walk-up taco window called Tómalo Taquería is planned for the fall.

Food & Drink
Bacalar is all about duality, from the two lakes that inspired and accompany the food to an especially close collaboration between the chef and real estate and design firm Urbanspace on the interiors.

The menu features globally influenced dishes from the Yucatan region, including Castacan Tacos with pork belly; Squash & Chaya Tamal; and a chef's daily steak cut.

The menu balances on the concept of "comida milpera," or food system interdependence between farmers, suppliers, and chefs, according to the restaurant.

Erales explains, "'La milpa' is a twofold, parallel concept — the 'milpa' being essentially a pre-Hispanic farming system, where you planted complementary vegetables and fruit next to each other, and the byproduct of one is the input of another. [It] allowed people throughout Mexico to have a very flourished farming system with not a lot of water or rich soil. But in parallel to that, it was also thought of as a socio-cultural relationship system."

The restaurant hopes to embody that spirit on the menu, which places special emphasis on food and drink pairings. (Surely executive pastry chef Natalie Gazaui also has something up her sleeve, although the desserts were not explained in detail.)

Bar manager Dragan Milivojevic says he designed the cocktail menu to "follow the kitchen," and Erales points out that some hard-to-find flavors from the Yucatán Peninsula go great in drinks — for instance, cooking pastes called "recados." One of Milivojevic's special flavors comes in the form of a house-made Orgeat syrup derived from mamey sapote, a tropical fruit that many say tastes like sweet potato or pumpkin.

One specific restaurant-bar pairing complements fried octopus aguachile with a corn-infused agave spirit martini. In this pairing, the martini stands in for the more common choice of a corn chip. This also creates another outlet for corn use, as Bacalar purchases surplus grains not grown commercially, in order to support the communities keeping those heirloom varieties alive.

Bacalar also plans to offer weekly pairings of different mezcals with dishes from the kitchen. Milivojevic hopes that the bar will one day have the biggest mezcal program in Texas, and will introduce new people to the spirit.

Bacalar's interior design also aims for a careful balance that is neither too rustic nor too modern.

The team at Urbansapce — which manages famous buildings like The Independent, Seaholm Residences, and Brazos Lofts — points out the importance of the ground-floor location for the restaurant, and aligns itself with a longterm push to make downtown a residential destination as well as a business hub.

Urbanspace principal and interior designer for Bacalar, Merrill Alley, who introduced CEO Kevin Burns to Erales for the collaboration, says the team hopes the restaurant will be an amenity for people living in the residential spaces above at 44 East Ave (both the building's name and address).

Bacalar has been a long time coming for the chef-owner. Erales, who won Top Chef in July 2021, saw his celebration cut short by a very public break with Comedor. His official statement from July of 2021 summarized the situation as follows:

"I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Top Chef; however, I must continue to acknowledge my mistakes including the termination from my former job. To clarify, unbeknownst to my wife, I had a consensual relationship with a co-worker and later reduced her work hours, which in combination was a poor judgment call and led to my termination after I filmed Top Chef. ... My personal growth will be a perpetual apology in seeking forgiveness."

A statement by chef Philip Speer, who still helms Comdedor, echoes the story with the addition that the termination came from “repeated violations of our policies and for behavior in conflict with our values.”

Erales had announced his plans for Bacalar after departing Comedor, but before his Top Chef win, which brought major attention to past events.

He declined to comment further for CultureMap.

Bacalar is now open 5-10 pm Sunday-Wednesday, 5-11 pm Thursday-Saturday, and weekend brunch is coming soon, according to the website.

Nebraska Furniture Mart to bring massive new store and 700 jobs to Austin suburb

Moving in

Nebraska Furniture Mart is moving into Cedar Park. The Austin suburb will be the site of NFM's fifth U.S. store, the retailer has revealed.

According to a release, Nebraska-based NFM will anchor a development that will include a 250-room hotel and 30,000-square-foot convention center, at 750 E. New Hope Dr., near U.S. Highway 183A. It's a $400 million+ complex that's being called a "once-in-a-generation" project by local officials.

The project will break ground "as early as 2024," NFM says, and be completed in late 2026.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company says the Cedar Park store — including retail and warehouse spaces — will encompass 1.2 million square feet and will employ 700 workers. Positions will include managers, sales professionals, customer service specialists, interior designers, and warehouse personnel.

(For scale, the average Ikea is about 300,000 square feet, according to How Stuff Works.)

It will be NFM's second store in Texas behind one in The Colony, north of Dallas, which opened in 2015. (The only other NFMs around the country are in Omaha, Des Moines, and Kansas City, Kansas.)

“The city of Cedar Park and its surrounding communities have a great quality of life, and we are thrilled to be a part of it,” says Tony Boldt, NFM president and CEO, in the release.

NFM is a family-run, fifth-generation company that touts itself as "a one-stop shop for the home," offering furniture, flooring, appliances, and electronics, as well as interior design services, delivery, and installation. Nationwide, NFM employs 4,800 people.

"NFM places a priority on giving back to the community and staff are provided with 40 hours of paid volunteer time off each year," says the release. "In their 86-year history, NFM hasn’t had a single layoff, and they were named a Best Place to Work by Furniture Today in 2021 and 2022."

Cedar Park major Jim Penniman-Morin says NFM carefully researched communities across the nation before landing on the city 19 miles northwest of downtown Austin.

"I was very impressed by the thoughtful way that their existing development in north Texas blends the truly local and the truly global into a seamless retail experience," he says, "and I really look forward to seeing how NFM is able to build something just as vibrant and unique here in Cedar Park.”

It's been a big week for Austin-area furniture store news. The NFM announcement comes on the heels of the sad news that famous Austin furniture brand Louis Shanks is going out of business and closing its remaining stores after 80 years in business. A liquidation sale started Thursday, September 21.