Photo courtesy of Austin PBS

There are so many things made in Austin that it's hard to know what they are. Austin PBS is here to help, following its Made in Austin Premiere Night on April 20, where it showed clips of new programming for 2023-24. It will continue to share musical performances on Austin City Limits, while adding a food series, and bringing back a gardening series and another series with one of Austin's top journalists.

“Although we have gathered to view and celebrate our new Austin PBS original programming, this is first and foremost a celebration of our community,” said president and CEO Luis Patiño, as quoted in a news release. “I believe that Austin PBS is truly in the right place, at the right time, to tell the stories of this diverse community and give voice to the multitude of artists, changemakers and leaders that call Austin and the surrounding communities home."

"Without people — and their willingness to share their stories with us — we would not be able to create the impactful content that enriches and transforms the communities we serve," he added. "Above all, Austin PBS will continue to create and cultivate collaboration that is community-serving and community-focused.”

The highlighted shows are as follows:

Taco Mafia: This limited docuseries of four episodes explores Austin through its tacos — not a brand new idea, by any means, but these hosts are well-known around town for their contributions on top of tortillas. James Beard Award winner Edgar Rico of Nixta Taqueria, Beto Robledo of Cuantos Tacos, and Xose Velasco and Anthony Pratto of Discada join together as the "Taco Mafia" to talk about "entrepreneurship, sustainability, immigration, cultural appropriation, gentrification and the pandemic," all while creating a stronger bond and taco community.

“Our mission is to showcase not only the exceptional members of the Taco Mafia in this show, but also the networks of individuals who contribute to the Mafia's unique identity,” said Rico. “From highlighting the journey of Raymundo Escamilla of La Colonial in San Antonio to our corn farmer Hugo Gomez in Oaxaca, Mexico, we aim to feature all of the exceptional individuals who have helped craft the DNA of our establishments and make them so special. We are excited for everyone to tune in and witness the remarkable work that Austin PBS has put into the production and vision of our show.”

Central Texas Gardener: Central Texas Gardener is a DIY show that tours gardens for inspiration and tips for gardeners of every experience level. It also places an emphasis on sustainability through "organic techniques, water-wise plants, and homegrown food." The real Texas gardens are also a great way to get to know our surrounding area and the people that take care of the land in their gardens. Aside from aired episodes, Central Texas Gardener runs a blog for easier reference, as well as an extensive list of resources for browsing.

Overheard With Evan Smith: This interview series enters its 11th season, in a notable reappearance by host Evan Smith, who recently left his post as the CEO of the publication he co-founded, The Texas Tribune. This is not a hyperlocal show: it airs nationally in 136 markets, inviting well-known guests that often qualify as household names. Season 10 included former President George W. Bush, author John Grisham, musician Jeff Tweedy, and more. It also featured some category compilations that may be an interesting entry point for someone new to the show.

Austin PBS recently acquired the state-wide streaming and broadcast rights to Deep In The Heart: A Texas Wildlife Story, which features the voice of Matthew McConaughey over scenes of Texas landscapes. Viewers will see wildlife and scenery that can't be found anywhere outside the Lone Star State. This show was made possible through a gift from private benefactors Lisa and Desi Rhoden.

In March, the station also announced a new show about the murals around the city, called Muraling Austin. Another notable show out of Austin, a National Geographic contribution called Restaurants at the End of the World, features Top Chef winner Kristen Kish traveling the world and preparing regional foods in remote locations. Austin TV speaks most to the people who are likely to see its subjects on the street, but the Capital City is increasingly interesting to people all over.

The above programs will be air or stream on KLRU-TV, the Austin PBS app, and austinpbs.org. A full schedule is available on the website.

Photo by Alan Lessig

PBS series takes locals and visitors on a tour of Austin murals

murals or mirrors?

Austin wears its love of art on its walls. Some of the city’s best-known sites are murals, but it’s hard to get all the context just by walking around. A three-part PBS docuseries breaks down some of the city’s “most inspiring murals,” giving viewers a deeper understanding of Austin’s history and providing a handy itinerary for an art-led tour.

Although locals will certainly recognize some of the murals — the Wonder Woman piece on Cesar Chavez is one of the hardest to miss in the whole city — many will illuminate pockets of the city with less traffic. Some of the works are private, so the only chance to see them may be through film.

Muraling Austin, which premieres on March 24, goes beyond artistic inspiration to include information about the organizations that commissioned them, as well as the social causes the art supports.

“We are excited to launch a series that celebrates the phenomenal public art in Austin,” said the show’s executive producer and founder of Nelda Studios Nelda Buckman in a press release. Before creating Muraling Austin, the studio has worked with site-specific material from a Broadway tour (The Prom) to Austin’s Boggy Creek Greenbelt (“Ghost Line X”).

“As supporters of Austin’s creative community, we were drawn to the incredible and moving stories behind these murals and the artists who created them,” she continued. “There’s no better partner for this project than Austin PBS, a highly respected community voice that has reflected the pulse of Austin for over 60 years.”

Along with Wonder Woman, some of the featured murals honor real women like Frida Kahlo andAngela Davis, and mark important historical developments such as the 19th Amendment and the triumphs of the Austin Black Senators baseball team, a minor league, all-Black team playing as early as 1908.

The 30-minute episodes adhere to their own themes: “Pride of Place,” on March 24, is about “community change makers” here and across the country, a theme that is central to the series but especially built out in this episode. “Women Rising,” on March 31st, marks notable women in several fields — the arts, activism, spirituality, and the intersection of all three — plus the artists who relate to them. “Big, Bright & Bold,” on April 7, takes a more aesthetic focus, which highlights not just the painted images, but the architecture they enhance.

"Through feedback and listening, we know our viewers are very interested in Austin’s art and culture, which is why Austin PBS is so excited to bring Muraling Austin to broadcast and streaming audiences,” said Chief Content Officer Sara Robertson. “Our community is full of stories that deserve to be told, and we rely on storytellers like Nelda Studios to help us achieve that mission.”

Featured works and artists are as follows:

  • The Beauty of Liberty and Equality (SandraChevrier, Shepard Fairey)
  • Protectors of Red Bluff (Ruben Esquivel)
  • The Pillars Project: Our History Our Trail (Samara Barks, Amado Castillo III, Chroma Collective, Will Hatch Crosby, Ruben Esquivel, Anabel Gómez, Sadé Channell Lawson, Armando Martinez, Raymond “Rage” Mendoza, J. Muzacz, Carmen Rangel, Kendrick Rudolph, Reji Thomas, Serena Tijerina,Lakeem Wilson)
  • Reconnect Yourself (NIZ)
  • Viva la Vida (ULOANG)
  • It’s Okay Not to Be Okay (Sadé Channell Lawson)
  • Paradise Found (Zuzu)
  • Virtual Hike (SoledadFernandez-Whitechurch)
  • Where The Wildflowers Grow (DAAS)

More information about Muraling Austin is available at muralingaustin.com. The show will air on Austin PBS at 7:30 pm on March 24 and 31, and April 7.

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Dip your toes into these 7 Austin pools with passes, snacks, and summer events

Wet Hot Austin Summer

Memorial Day is here, which means so are the days of sitting in a lounge chair and sweating while looking unreasonably fabulous. Whether it's to beat the summer heat or to show off a new swimsuit, Austinites may have more options than they think to take a swim at the many pools around town. Even if you haven't committed to an overnight stay, most hotels offer day passes, and some even offer other deals or poolside programming.

One great way to find passes not just to pools around town, but also to spas and other hotel amenities, is to browse ResortPass. (Not sponsored, just cool.) There are 26 Austin options on the site right now.

But we wanted to let you know what's going on beyond the pass — who will set you up for a great meal, who lets you drink out of a coconut, and whose views (or lack thereof) provide the best ambiance for your day off. Some of our choices aren't even on the platform.

Go grab your sandals, and save us a towel.

Greater Austin YMCA
Let's start with the less glamorous before we break out the poolside fashion. The YMCA is a family staple for a reason, and if your goal is just to get in the water regularly throughout the summer, especially with kids, it's a great place to start. There are "interactive hours" at the outdoor pools (more fun than swimming laps) at the East Communities, Hays Communities, Northwest Family, Southwest Family, and Springs Family YMCAs, as well as the YMCA at Camp Moody. The Y is semi-affordable; It would probably be cheaper to visit a hotel pool once or twice, but a Y membership includes a month of access, guest passes, and much more, and may replace your gym membership for the summer. $69 per month, with age and household discounts. austinymca.org

Hotel Van Zandt
If your pool visit doesn't include spritz and giggles, why are you even there? Hotel Van Zandt is opening up its stylish rooftop pool for the "Spritz & Giggles Poolside Happy Hour & Sunset Swim" event series. Every Monday through Thursday, visitors can enjoy $8 frozen Aperol spritzes, $8 specialty cocktails, and a special pool menu with items like a refreshing green salad, pork belly al pastor tacos, and a spicy fried chicken sandwich. Geraldine's, the main restaurant, is right inside for even better drinks, expanded bites, and sometimes live music. Starting at $48 per day for adults, $15 for kids. hotelvanzandt.com

Carpenter Hotel
If one day at the Carpenter Hotel pool is just not enough, the hotel has now added monthly passes. In addition to unlimited access to the secluded pool in the Zilker neighborhood, a pass gets a $30 discount for the new monthly BBQ Pool Parties (bringing attendance down to $25). That will include a great spread of less commonly seen barbecue items like grilled bay scallops, mushroom skewers, elotes, deviled potato salad, and more. Monthly pass holders also get to bring one child under 8 for free. $40 daily, $200 monthly. Both Monday through Thursday. carpenterhotel.com

South Congress Hotel
The South Congress Hotel is right in the middle of where many Austinites want to be on a summer day, if it weren't so dang hot. This rooftop pool solves that problem in style, with daily pool passes every day of the week, as well as cabana rentals. Café No Sé supplies poolside drinks and snacks, and downstairs, Austin's Best New Restaurant Maie Day offers a hearty meal after a day of napping in the sun. Cabanas can be rented for four people and include self-parking, bottled water, and a bottle of champagne or bucket of High Noon. Days for $40 and cabanas for $300 on weekdays; days for $75 and cabanas for $400 on weekends. southcongresshotel.com

Hotel Viata
Hotel Viata is a bit of a sleeper hotel among Austin boutiques, as it's located a little beyond West Lake Hills. Still, if you want a taste of Italy, the drive to this retreat will be worth it. Not to mention, with the extra room these downtown hotels can't offer, a pool pass includes access to a hot tub, fire pits, and great views of the hills around the city. Pool passes are available, but if you want to see it for free before you spend, wait for June 10; The hotel invites guests 21 and up to check out the pool for free at the "Summer Festa in Piscina" party, with a "Taste of Italy" add-on ($55) for Aperol Spritz, limoncello lemon drops, and negronis all day. $45 per day for adults, $25 for children. resortpass.com

Wax Myrtle's
This rooftop bar and pool is known for its never-ending events calendar, and of course that energy extends to poolside entertainment. There will be live music on the weekends, plus live DJ sets on Saturday nights, alongside whatever other programming happens to be going on inside. Even if it's a do-nothing day, these large, over-the-top drinks will give you a delicious challenge. The "Boot Scootin Fruity" mixes rum, an aperitivo, hibiscus, and lime in a cowboy hat punch bowl ($90); the luxe "Mojito 75" combines Moët & Chandon with rum and mojito must-haves in a disco ball ($230); and an unnamed cocktail is worth trying just to enjoy it from a real coconut. Starting at $15 for adults, $10 for children, and more for daybeds and cabanas. waxmyrtles.com

Austin Motel
Perhaps one of the best known pools in Austin for its retro vibes, fun events, and accessibility to on-foot wanderers is the Austin Motel. This is a great, less expensive choice that's probably more fun for casual pool revelers who would feel a little put out by having to dress up and behave in a more luxe hotel setting. There are also frequent poolside events at this motel, like the free "Bounce Motel" series with live DJs, or the body-positive "Chunky Dunk." The pool is offers daily passes every day, even when there's nothing on the calendar. $25 on weekdays, $45 on weekends, or $600 in three-and-a-half-month "waves." austinmotel.com

Carpenter Hotel pool

Photo by Andrea Calo

Austinites don't need to stay at a hotel to be invited to the pool. (Pictured: The Carpenter Hotel)

6 Austin museums are offering free admission for military families all summer long

spread the museum love

Half a dozen Austin museums are honoring active-duty military personnel and their families with free admission through the Blue Star Museums initiative, May 20 through September 4, 2023.

Established by the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the U.S. Department of Defense, the Blue Star Museums program annually provides military families free access to 2,000 museums nationwide throughout the summer. The program begins yearly on Armed Forces Day in May and ends on Labor Day.

Free admission is extended to personnel currently serving in the U.S Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard (including those in the Reserve), and all National Guardsman. Members of the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps and NOAA Commissioned Corps are also included in the program.

Those who qualify can use their military ID to bring up to five family members – including relatives of those currently deployed. More information about qualifications can be found here.

There is no limit on the number of participating museums that qualifying families may visit. Admission for non-active military veterans, however, is not included.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts website, the initiative was created to help "improve the quality of life for active duty military families" with a specific focus on children. The site states two million have had a parent deployed since 2001.

"Blue Star Museums was created to show support for military families who have faced multiple deployments and the challenges of reintegration," the website says. "This program offers these families a chance to visit museums this summer when many will have limited resources and limited time to be together."

Among Austin's participating museums, the Blanton Museum of Art recently held its grand opening celebration to debut their new grounds, complete with a new large mural by Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera.

“As a museum that has long been at the forefront of collecting work by artists of Latin American descent, as well as the place where Ellsworth Kelly realized his last great work of art, entering the collection at this moment marks a high point in my long career," Herrera said.

Here's a look at all the museums in Austin that participate in the Blue Star Museums initiative.

For those looking to take a drive around Central Texas, the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum and Taylor's Moody Museum are also participants in the Blue Star Museums initiative.

More information about Blue Star Museums and a full list of participants can be found on arts.gov.

Awe-inspiring new exhibit debuts at the Alamo with sneak peek


Ask first-time visitors about their experience at the Alamo, and you're likely to hear a frequent refrain. Guests accustomed to hearing about the mission's heroic history are surprised that the grounds are so small. But that's slowly changing with ambitious plans to bring the site's original footprint back to life.

Starting May 25, visitors will get a sneak peek at the complex's newest structure, the Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit, before it officially opens in 2024. Funded in part by a $3 million donation from the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation, the exhibition gives guests a broader understanding of the Alamo's scale.

The historical recreation was crafted by lauded San Antonio artist Carlos Cortés. A third-generation concrete faux bois artisan, his work is featured throughout the city, most notably on the River Walk, where his fantastical The Grotto greets thousands of Museum Reach visitors each year.

The life-size sculpture stands in for the original main gate of the fort at the southern boundary of the complex. Cannons and placards scattered throughout give crucial context to the structure. Though early renderings show the beams and spiked fence with more verisimilitude, the forms currently stand in ghostly concrete — inviting quiet contemplation.

When the exhibit is finished next year, guests will be more fully immersed in the hallowed grounds, which extend far beyond the walls of the iconic Church and Long Barrack. Coupled with the upcoming Alamo Visitor Center and Museum and the recently debuted Ralston Family Collections Center, it will turn the grounds into one of Texas' most awe-inspiring historical sites.

"We are deeply grateful to the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation for their support of the Alamo and our ongoing efforts to preserve this important piece of Texas history," said Dr. Kate Rogers, Executive Director of the Alamo Trust, Inc., via a release. "Their generosity will allow us to continue to educate and inspire visitors from around the world, ensuring that the legacy of the Alamo lives on for generations to come."

Alamo Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit

Photo courtesy of the Alamo.

The Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit gives visitors an understanding of the original ground's scale.