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Photo by Moyo Oyelola, courtesy of Texas Cultural Trust

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 Feels So Good

Staple Austin screen printer and record label rebrands for inclusivity

Feels So Right

Naming a company Fine Southern Gentlemen sure gives it something specific and lofty to uphold. When the multifaceted business — which now offers “screen printing, design, retail, vintage, vinyl and good times” — was just booking shows and selling tees 15 years ago, it was just two guys: best friends Justin Weems and Anthony Sanchez. Two fine, Southern gentlemen.

With the addition of business partner Dan Henderson, a growing team, expanding interests, and a new location in South Austin, 2022 feels like time to make a change. The company has rebranded to Feels So Good, a moniker that sticks to the abbreviation FSG.

“After moving into our newest shop, I remember finally just stopping and looking around one day at the 40ish people that were working in the shop around me. I realized that at least half the staff, if not more, were female, trans or non-binary. It was time for a change,” said Weems in a press release.

“Feels So Good represents everything that we’re trying to achieve, whether that’s the tee we’re making for you, or the experience you’re having at one of our events,” he said. “It better represents the people that work here and the 100+ artists and vendors that contribute to our store.”

The name is not completely new to the company, which adopted it first for its record label, launched in June of 2019. The goal was to further commit in collaborations between the merchandiser and its artist clients. Some artists featured in upcoming events include Rattlesnake Milk, JD Clark & The Stuck in the Mud Band, The Bad Lovers, Loteria, Aaron McDonnell.

One of those upcoming events is the “FSG Rebrand x Coming Out Party.” The November 12 event is as yet a mystery, but hints at live performances and renews the Feels So Good Fest of 2021. The “fest” featured a dozen artists, more than 20 vendors, tattoos, haircuts, and tarot readings. Throw in a rebrand and that’ll be another can’t miss event.

On a more regular basis, free FSG Sessions will be held every Thursday at 6 pm, featuring local musicians, and keeping the party going with drinks. The first ticketed show since the announcement invites veteran and well-loved Texas rockers ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail Of Dead on September 3, along with two other groups, American Sharks and MontaZ.

A week later on September 10, FSG teams up with another recently-rebranded booking agency, Resound, for a “Block Party,” celebrating their shared vicinity at Alpine Street. The free party puts more than 10 bands on two stages, with a vendor market, food, and drinks.

The store is staying open and mostly as-is — not ruling out any kind of natural evolution, but not throwing the screen printer out with the bathwater, so to speak. Of course, there will be some new merch to commemorate the change.

The shop is open Monday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm, and weekends from 11 am to 7 pm. Visitors can partake in coffee and “rotating refreshments” and coffee by Fase Cafe from Friday to Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm. More information is available at fsgprints.com.

Fine Southern Gentlemen is adopting the name of its existing record label, Feels So Good.

Photo courtesy of Feels So Good
Fine Southern Gentlemen is adopting the name of its existing record label, Feels So Good.
Photo by Brianna Caleri

The top 11 Texas boutiques for plus-size fashion featured at Austin's Le Garage Sale

Plus Eleven

Le Garage Sale feels illicit in a great way: Austin's Palmer Events Center rippled on August 27 and 28 with visitors systematically breaking down this massive semi-annual boutique sale vendor-by-vendor. With more than 140 of them spanning clothes, jewelry, shoes, backpacks, and home goods, that may have taken some thorough shoppers the full two days. And somehow, people in Austin don’t seem to know much about it.

Visitors on the first day or VIP presale get the first pick, but visitors on the second day get dramatic price advantages as vendors slash them and become more open to bartering, especially in the final hours. Ticket prices often drop 90 percent. Unfortunately, shoppers looking for extended sizing are competing for limited stock; but it may not be as bad as they’d expect.

Unlike a sample sale, which usually maxes out at size 6, this event is for boutiques bringing their regular wares and overstock. When CultureMap went to investigate, there appeared to be 41 vendors carrying at least one plus-size item, which we defined as starting at extra large or 12. A few vendors carried up to 3X, and 2X was not uncommon to find. A list compiled by the sale includes every vendor carrying extended sizing, although without seeing the items, this may lead to disappointment (one-size kaftans that run small, for example).

Shoppers looking for plus sizes shouldn’t be relegated to Shein. Although the selection at Le Garage did not include much of the hyper-trendy design of the fast fashion company constantly recommended to bigger shoppers, the sale overwhelmingly avoided those styles in straight sizes, too. These stores may not carry all your needs, but a haul of few great pieces from Texas sellers sounds like a win.

CultureMap went to every vendor on the first day, starting at 11:30 am and picking through as many offerings as possible in five hours. We made a note of every plus size we could find, narrowing down to the top 11 based on availability and quality. It is not only possible, but probable that we overlooked some harder-to-find vendors with larger sizes, or vendors whose larger stock was gone by the time we arrived.

Our goal was to discover which vendors are available year-round, somewhere in Texas. This list includes 11 recommendations to shop online, visit in person, or look for during the spring sale. These are all Texas businesses that don’t just claim extended sizing — they actually bring it. So, let’s go shopping.

11. Holley Clothier — Austin
A new vintage project from Austin interior designer Erica Holley curates a small number of unique pieces in a wide range of sizes. Holley says she grabs bigger waist sizes when she sees them, knowing typical vintage shortcomings, which recently included a “3X or 4X” corset.

10. Blur Boutique — Hutto
This boutique was somewhat limited in range, stopping XL and 14 dresses, but it had a notable selection within those sizes. These designs are boho style — still drapey and colorful without dipping into the more folksy, amorphous styles that overtook the sale.

9. Be. — Cuero
The selection advertised online for this boutique in Cuero (Southwest of San Antonio) is more folksy than what they had at the sale, which included lots of stripes, sweaters, and contemporary basics. There was a good selection of 2X items, and jeans up to 31.

8. Jenn Lee — Houston/Bali
This “eco-luxury resort wear” designer works with Balinese artisans to produce beautiful cotton and rayon cover ups that look as great over a regular brunch outfit as a bathing suit. The shirts are one-size and can be worn unbuttoned. Shorts and drawstring pants are marked L/XL.

7. Spring Frost — Austin
Spring Frost operates one of the sale’s best selections of contemporary designer clothes that look the part. The size range at the sale is limited and only seems to reach 14 with some digging, but the online selection is varied and interesting, and includes a good number of XLs.

6. Man Outfitters — Austin
Le Garage Sale is lacking in men’s options, but Man Outfitters had a great distribution of sizes, with about as many XL and XXL shirts as any straight size section. This outdoorsy seller carries recognizable high-quality brands including Howler Brothers, the North Face, and Cotopaxi.

5. The Gift Solution — Austin
This shop carried a wide variety of styles up to 3X, which mostly included the embroidered peasant style blouses that are popular at this sale, especially in larger sizes. This was also one of the most affordable shops, and included a larger stylistic range than shown on the website.

4. Good Company — Austin
This designer-owned Austin boutique operates three locations catering to women. Styles are varied, but include mostly business-casual neutrals with collars or draping. At Le Garage Sale, Good Company carried some one-size items, some XL items, and shorts marked 42XL.

3. Diamonds & Rust at Side Kitsch Vintage — Austin
A vendor from one of Austin’s wackiest vintage stores — for both furniture and clothes — brought a range of styles up to XXL to the sale. Side Kitsch always has bright prints, sparkles, cool leathers and suedes, and unique cuts. It also carries fun men’s and unisex styles, and lots of accessories.

2. Bizzy Lizzy — Houston
Bizzy Lizzy knows its niche, which is that ubiquitous embroidered peasant blouse. However, in a sea of sort-of-awkward floral chaos, pieces from this vendor show a lot of restraint in color and pattern without leaning on neutrals. These were some of the sale’s highest-quality 3X clothes.

1. Alana Kay Art — Fort Worth
This creative store is run by resin artist Alana Kay, who prints her works on dresses, activewear, accessories, and home decor. The wrap dresses in particular are joyful, unique and go up to XL. Kay says the manufacturer is working on restocking up to 3X. These are true statement pieces.

Courtesy of rag & bone

Luxury fashion brand opens first Austin store in trendy South Congress development

Music to our ears

If there's anything South Congress needs, it's more luxury shopping options. And if you didn't detect that hint of sarcasm, you're in luck — especially if you love out-of-state transplants. New York-based fashion brand rag & bone is joining the mix at Music Lane.

Tucked into a pocket behind iconic South Congress Avenue, rag & bone is located at 1011 South Congress Ave., Building 2, Suite 155. The Music Lane outpost is the brand's first location in Austin — and third in Texas.

Started in New York in 2002, rag & bone combines English heritage with directional design and has "become synonymous with innately wearable clothing that has an edgy yet understated New York aesthetic," notes a release.

Featuring a mix of signature rag & bone touches with new and subtle twists, the 2,274-square foot store carries men's and women's ready-to-wear denim, footwear, and accessories collections.

The store will also offer customers private appointments in person, as well as virtual appointments, consignment, store pickup, and shipping.

“We are thrilled to add rag & bone to the tenant mix at MusicLane,” said Turnbridge Equities Director of Marketing, Mallory Miller. “We have such an incredible community of retailers, restaurants, and businesses here at Music Lane and rag & bone is the perfect addition to the development.”

Photo by Joseph Johnson

Former Texas Longhorn launches luxury shopping destination in South Austin

Sporting Fashion

University of Texas at Austin alum and former Longhorn football player Kenny Vaccaro is launching a new fashion boutique on South Congress. Celebrating its grand opening between 10 am and 8 pm on Saturday, June 18, Konnect features a variety of designer collections and is located inside Vaccaro’s social performance club, The Kollective, right off of Music Lane on South Congress Avenue.

The former All-American strong safety, who went on to play in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans, has pursued an entrepreneurial career since his retirement from football in 2021. In December 2021, he co-founded Gamers First, an esports organization, where he serves as CEO and focuses on business development and talent.

Both of Vaccaro’s ventures, Gamers First and Konnect, share space in the Kollective, a 22,000-square-foot gym and 5,000-square-foot facility where his businesses sit at the intersection of fashion, gaming, and fitness.

Konnect will rotate several designer brands where guests can browse a curated selection of shoes, apparel, exclusive vintage tees, hats, accessories, and more.

Featured luxury brands include Louis Vuitton, Dior, OFF-WHITE, Fear of God, Amiri, Rhude, and Just Don. Shoes for sale include Jordans, Nike Dunks, and OFF-WHITE collabs, ranges of Travis Scott sneaker collabs, Yeezy’s, and more limited edition footwear. In addition, Vaccaro will be designing custom apparel for Konnect and the Kollective called “By Kenny.” Fans of Gamers First will also now be able to find branded merchandise that represents Austin’s esports organization.

“Fashion has always coincided with my love for both gaming and football – since these industries are all interconnected,” said Vaccaro in a release. “I’m excited to introduce Austin to the designer wear that I’ve always been a fan of and offer customers one place to explore a variety of luxury brands.”

Vaccaro’s partners for Konnect include local and upcoming entrepreneurs Gino Silvas, Will Harper, Jake White, and Rafael Mercardo; his executive assistant, Miranda Paige Klaproth, will be managing operations.

The new store features a custom, hand-painted sign by local artist Andrew Manning, who uses traditional techniques including hand lettering, glass gliding, and custom mural painting. Located at 200 Academy Drive, Konnect joins other high-end retail neighbors, like the new Hermes store, which opened in April 2021.

Courtesy of Kendra Scott

Austin jewelry star Kendra Scott shines with dazzling engagement ring collection

Great Scott

Already a go-to for wedding jewelry essentials, Austin-based Kendra Scott is expanding into a new category with the introduction of The Engagement Collection by Kendra Scott on Monday, May 23.

This launch is the second category expansion for the homegrown brand's landmark 20th anniversary — it waded into watches and watch bands in April. The Engagement Collection is available at 12 retail locations across the country, as well as via virtual appointments.

Inspired by Scott’s signature pieces, each engagement silhouette bears custom details unique to the brand’s "design DNA."

Featuring a traditional center stone (round, oval, and emerald), rings are available in solitaire, halo, and signature silhouettes with customizable options in 14 karat white, rose, or yellow gold. A singular yellow sapphire acts as the bridge of each solitaire setting and the base of each halo ring, signifying joy, optimism, and the promise of a bright future.

The bespoke customer experience includes a dedicated in-house diamond expert to guide the couple through their ring journey. The couple selects every facet of the ring, from carat weight to pavé additions to metal selections and personalized engraving. The custom rings are made to order and delivered in approximately three weeks.

In line with the brand’s continued emphasis on innovation, founder Kendra Scott decided to work with lab grown diamonds for the new collection. The debut 11-piece Engagement Collection by Kendra Scott features lab grown diamonds that are F in color (colorless), VS2 in clarity range, and available in carat weight from 0.5 to 2 carats. Price points range between $1,350–$8,150.

“For twenty years, our customers have invited us to be a part of their wedding journeys. The launch of the Engagement Collection by Kendra Scott will allow us to be the wedding destination from proposal to happily ever after,” says Kendra Scott, founder, designer, and executive chairwoman of the brand. “When creating this collection, we challenged ourselves to consider every detail. Fundamental to our design process, each ring can be customized and curated to match every couple's unique love story.”

Austin’s South Congress flagship store is one of three Texas retail stores to carry the new line, along with Dallas' Preston Center and Houston's Heights Mercantile. Customers can also make virtual appointments online.

The Engagement Collection by Kendra Scott is available in twelve retail stores across the country, including three in Texas.

Courtesy of Kendra Scott
The Engagement Collection by Kendra Scott is available in twelve retail stores across the country, including three in Texas.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

H-E-B unveils merch for super fans, plus more hot Austin headlines

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B unveils merchandise for brand super fans, available exclusively at one store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise in celebration of its 117th anniversary.

2. Austin bar transforms into a magical winter wonderland this holiday season. Don your favorite elf socks and meet the lovely citizens of “Tinseltown.”

3. Draft 'Vision Plan' for Zilker Park unveils land bridge and more possibilities. Austinites are invited to comment on a vision plan that will inform the future of Zilker Park.

4. Austin ranks among world’s 100 best cities in prestigious new report. Austin is the No. 43 best city in the world, according to a new study. (And yes, we beat Dallas.)

5. Austin airport launches new SkySquad travel assistants in time for the holiday rush. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping lines moving during a period of heavy travel with a new team of airport assistants.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta acquires award-winning California resort

tilman goes laguna

Fans of Tilman Fertitta's nationwide hospitality brands are in for a treat. The Billion Dollar Buyer has just secured an award-winning, 30-acre resort in sunny Southern California.

Fertitta has purchased the acclaimed Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel, a premier beachfront property in the sunny SoCal getaway destination. Notably, the Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel is one of only six hotels in the U.S. to score the Forbes Triple Five-Star hotel status. The Montage has also been included among Travel + Leisure’s Top Hotels in the World.

Image courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach

Fertitta's newest purchase overlooks the ocean in Laguna Beach.

“I am truly thrilled to acquire this world-renowned property and add one of America’s most iconic trophy resorts to our luxury hotel portfolio,” Fertitta noted in a statement. “I have been traveling to Laguna Beach for over 30 years. It is one of my favorite places to visit and one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The Montage is a stunning oceanfront property and one of the premier hotel brands in the world.”

Press materials didn't list the property purchase price, but Law360 reports that the deal is in excess of $660 million.

The Craftsman-style resort sits on a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Impressive amenities are highlighted by the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage, which offers eucalyptus steam rooms, dry redwood saunas, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a movement studio, and a lap pool.

More outdoor fun includes two pools and direct beach access, a museum-quality fine art collection, and more than 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, per press materials.

Every resident space — the 260 guestrooms, including 60 suites, beach bungalow-style rooms, and multi-bedroom villas — boast stunning views of the Pacific.

Dining destinations offer chef-driven interpretations of coastal California flavors inspired by region. The property is designated and included in the distinctive Legend Collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

“We are thrilled that Tilman is the new owner of this one-of-a-kind property and welcome him into the Montage family,” said Alan Fuerstman, founder, CEO, and chairman of Montage International. Mary Rogers, the Montage's GM added, “The staff is thrilled to be working with Tilman. Everyone here at the property is tremendously excited about his purchase and look forward to continuing to provide a world-class experience to all of our guests."

Aside from his palatial Post Oak Hotel in Houston, Fertitta also owns 14 other hotel properties around the country, including the award-winning San Luis Resort in Galveston, plus five popular Golden Nugget casino and hotel locations.

Another feather in Fertitta’s luxury portfolio cap is the iconic Huntting Inn, one of the most charming and historic locales in East Hampton, New York.

No stranger to California, Fertitta's presence there includes Catch Seafood and Catch Steak, Mastro’s Ocean Club and Mastro’s Steakhouse, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, The Palm, and more — all part of his 60 brands and more than 600 concepts nationwide.