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2007CriticsArts & Culture

Best Art One-Stop Shop South of the River
Gallery Soco

Since its opening in 2000, Gallery Soco has risen to prominence in Austin's art scene by offering contemporary fine art, museum-quality custom framing, art searches, artist representation, and art consultations on the chic SoCo strip. With a strong background from a family that owned art galleries, Gallery Soco owner Jason Siegel selects original art as well as limited-edition prints, such as the giclée and serigraph editions the gallery is noted for. Plus, when you buy work from Gallery Soco, it usually includes delivery and installation.

Gallery Soco, 1714 S. Congress Ste. A, 512/442-5144, www.gallerysoco.com

Best Fire-Spinning
Sangre del Sol Fire Dancers

With your eyes locked and mouth open, you may be spoiled by what you see. And feel. Witnessing these mystical dancers may make the usual campfire seem like a wet pack of matches. Worry not; it happens to every first-time spectator. Fire-spinning. Fire-dancing. Yes, we're talking fireballs at the ends of chains, rods, and whatever else can be employed in the twirling and spinning of fire precariously close to bodies and hurtling through the air. Fresh from a tour in Japan, these pros will spin at the Enchanted Forest's upcoming Halloween fest. Workshops are available for the pyro-inclined.

Sangre del Sol, 512/796-2467, www.sangredelsol.info

Best Surprise! We Have an Art Show Here!
Austin Area Interreligious Ministries Hosting Luis Abreux

One step in the door of the agency’s Eastside location, and all eyes become riveted to Luis Abreux’s vibrant, fantastical work. Vivid colors reminiscent of the painter's native Cuba and the dynamism of the topics command attention; it's as if his subjects were run through a Chuck Jones-meets-Picasso daydream. You may be tempted to stay and gaze for hours or wish you could take them all home. The local nonprofit gave the honor of their first foray into the art world to Abreux, whose recent situation qualified him for their services, allowing him to participate in his own assistance.

Austin Area Interreligious Ministries, 701 Tillery #8, 512/386-9145, www.aaimaustin.org

Best Window Into the Creative Process
Ballet Austin's Butler Dance Education Center

Most art gets created behind closed doors, in the studio or rehearsal hall or writer's room, where most never see the long, slow process of development and refinement involved in bringing an artistic project to life. But in developing a new home for itself in the old Aus-Tex Printing facility Downtown, Ballet Austin has given the public a means of seeing how its dances are created: studios with walls of glass that allow people outside to witness the trial and error, the discovery, the repetition taking place inside – the inspiration and the craft that leads to the art they see on stage. And with the Armstrong-Connelly Studio having a window to the street, the city itself is able to see how art comes to be. Talk about a priceless view.

Butler Dance Education Center, 501 W. Third, 512/476-9151, www.balletaustin.org

Most Glamorous Fashion Event
The Beauty of Life Fundraiser for Hospice Austin

Among the dozens of annual fashion-related events, the Beauty of Life, a benefit for Hospice Austin, goes beyond the run-of-the-mill fashion show. With guests such as Finola Hughes from the Style Network's How Do I Look? and the winner of season two of Project Runway, Chloe Dao, the Beauty of Life benefit, founded by Hospice Austin supporter Karen Landa, brings together fashion luminaries who inform and delight the audience, and this year raised $45,000 for the organization.

Hospice Austin, 4107 Spicewood Springs Rd. #100, 512/342-4700, www.hospiceaustin.org

Hospice Austin - Williamson County, 1101 Williams Dr. #102, Georgetown, 512/863-8700, www.hospiceaustin.org

Most Multiple Multimedia Idea
Monofonus Press

"We come to the table or leave it a connection of friends with different skills," Monofonus founder Morgan Coy tells us. "In this individualist culture, I like the idea of a community behind everybody." His concept is to package some local combination of prose, music, visual art, and film with each release: In a couple of weeks, you can walk into Waterloo Records and/or BookPeople and buy Monofonus No. 2 – a short story by former Austinite Rebecca Bengal, illustrated by Austinite Virginia Yount, and accompanied by a CD from some dude in Austin's Sword – for $10. Numbers 3 and 4 will follow soon after. Coy plans to do six a year. Pipe dreams, savvy gambles, last gasps, and noble efforts sold separately.

Monofonus Press, 610 Vermont, www.monofonuspress.com

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