BACK TO TOP

2012ReadersArts & Culture

Best Actor/Actress
Kaci Beeler

Yeah, it was a grueling feat to fit this multi-talented painter, improviser, and actor into a single category of win. Whether she's wowing audiences live onstage with improv troupe Parallelogramophonograph in Austin and London and Hawaii, cutting melodramatic capers in the "Tarantulas on a Hovercraft" short and brightening the imagefinder of René Pinnell's best Backpack Picnic camera, hawking Wendy's burgers, or ringing up the purchases of an extraterrestrial shopper in this year's H-E-B Superbowl commercial, Beeler's at the top of the performative charts.

Best Annual Comedy Event
Moontower

Why did the chicken climb the moontower? To get to this Mount Everest of hilarity, of course! Whether you like your funny ha-ha or twisted, the brand new Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival is a 5-day laugh-in that took over venues all over town this year and plans to each spring. From up-and-coming locals like funny gal Kat Ramzinski to famous faces like Aziz Ansari, from stand-up to musical mayhem, Moontower is the place where Austin chickens get their yuks and clucks.

Moontower, www.moontowercomedyfestival.com

Best Art Gallery
Women and Their Work

For over 30 years, Women and Their Work has fought the notion that art is the province of men. The gallery focuses on a much more contemporary conversation – with shows ranging from Ann Wood's disturbing pastorals to Lauren Kelley's meditations on race. And the gift shop is one of Austin's finest, a jewel within a jewel.

Women & Their Work, 1710 Lavaca, 512/477-1064, www.womenandtheirwork.org

Best Arts Festival
East Austin Studio Tour

Austin readers agree, when it comes to art, ain't no party like an Eastside party 'cause an Eastside party don't stooooop! Wait, what? The East Austin Studio Tour is the best and most impervious defense against those who wail that Austin is a no-art town. Sure, we don't have that cruddy crude-money that bankrolled art in some other Texas towns, but what we do have are hordes of people who are interested in living and working in a city that gives creative energy as good as it gets it. Austin is an incubator for the visual arts – and all the reasons to believe in Austin are encapsulated by the weeklong studio art and gallery tour 'round Austin's Eastside. To do all 175 stops, you'd have to be Wonder Woman. And that's the point: You. Can't. See. It. All.

East Austin Studio Tour, 916 Springdale Bldg. 2 #101, 512/939-6665, www.eastaustinstudiotour.com

Best Clothing Designer
Gail Chovan

No goth she, Ms. Chovan proves that everyone looks better in black. She's been praised in these pages before for her window designs, for her luscious personality – but it's the clothes, people, the clothes we care about! Her designs speak of a love for all things Parisian (she's practically a dual citizen!), yet are truly located somewhere between architectural and Austin-easy. And, for the record, not all garments created by Chovan are black, mmmkay? Just almost all.

Gail Chovan, www.blackmaildesign.blogspot.com

Best Comedian or Comedy Troupe
Master Pancake

Movie-mocking comedy troupe Master Pancake is dangerous. Eating or drinking or even breathing while laughing so damn hard is a real choking hazard. We’re surprised they don’t make us sign a waiver before allowing us to watch their brilliant mocks of Con Air, Twilight, or Forrest Gump. Plus, Erler in his underpants? Total heart attack risk (me-ow!).

Master Pancake, www.fb.com

Best Composer
Graham Reynolds

This mighty maestro is nonpareil in the realm of original musical compositions, whether it's for movies (Bernie, A Scanner Darkly), theatre (spacestation1985, Guest by Courtesy), dance (The Geometry of Proximity, Trash Dance, Cult of Color), animation (Boxer Story), or webseries (Up to Speed). Not to mention what he's done for and with Ballet Austin and the Austin Symphony Orchestra and Tosca String Quartet and his own Golden Arm Trio; nor that he plays as well, like some beautiful demon on keyboards and percussion, and the best pianos in town love and fear him.

Best Dancer or Dance Company
Blue Lapis Light

Unlike other companies that perform in the still, hot air of theatres or halls, aerial dance company Blue Lapis Light stages their productions in urban environments like warehouses, power plants, and, most recently, the City Terrace at the Long Center. The juxtaposition is almost eerie in its beauty; the performers – wrapped up in silks or suspended by wires – are soft and fluid against the industrial lines. Performers float, twist, and dance at surreal angles as the audience looks up in wonder. It's art like this that reminds us: With talent and ingenuity, anything is possible.

Blue Lapis Light Studios, 10331 Old Manchaca Rd, Unit B, 512/280-6688, bluelapislight.org

Best Edutainment Event
Nerd Nite

In a universe where smarts are sexy, brains beat brawn, and geek is glorious, there can only be Ash nazg durbatulûk. Austin’s Nerd Nite has proven a worthy ringbearer, bringing the best of nerd-o-tainment to the discerning masses for years, doling out brain candy and washing it down with a side of beer. The best of both worlds, and found only in this galaxy. All their base are belong to you, my friend. All their base are belong to you.

Nerd Nite, austin.nerdnite.com

Best Emergent Local Filmmaker
Ericka Marsalis-LaManna

She's talkin' 'bout a new generation. This first-time, Austin-based filmmaker (and Texas State University alumna) is a jack of all film trades: producer, writer, director, and editor of the award-winning, locally shot comedy Generation Me. The film examines dating in the age of social networking, where online status updates and a single-sentence comment can make or break a relationship, especially when friends weigh in. Marsalis-LaManna's TrendSmasher Productions expects to begin production on its second feature film this spring.

Ericka Marsalis-LaManna, www.lifesontheline.com

Best Movie Theater
Alamo Drafthouse

More should be said around here about how genuinely grateful we are to the Alamo for facilitating getting sauced at the movies. Seriously, have you ever tried smuggling a 40 into a packed movie theatre? The stress can ruin a movie, especially after you accidentally spill malt liquor on a middle schooler during that lame love scene in Avatar. Anyway, the Alamo is the best. Besides serving reputable booze – these nuts have their own signature line of wine! – and great food, they screen a most impressive array of serious films, summer blockbusters, popcorn fare (P.S.: order some popcorn), bizarre foreign masterpieces, forgotten experimental relics, and regular ol’ movies. We are so spoiled … and just a little sauced.

Alamo Drafthouse Village, 2700 W. Anderson, 512/861-7030, drafthouse.com

Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 S. Lamar, 512/861-7040, drafthouse.com

Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz, 320 E. Sixth, 512/861-7020, drafthouse.com

2 more locations

Best Museum
Blanton Museum of Art

Our readers are visiting another award on this UT institution. Its focus is often on underrepresented contemporary works in general and specifically the Michener Collection and works from Central and South America, or its capsule collection of late American drawings. Increasingly, with each wise acquisition (the Suida-Manning Renaissance collection and Steinberg prints, for example), what started as the feather in Austin's cultural cap becomes an essential U.S. art destination.

The Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E. MLK, 512/471-7324, www.blantonmuseum.org

Best Performance Space
The Long Center

The Long Center fosters Austin's creative spirit with world-class style. Cultivating culture (whether it's kombucha, yogurt, or theatre) is no easy task, so one has to be meticulously focused on the quality of the product. Ballet, opera, symphony, performance art, and soul – from this summer's Concerts in the Park series to the aerial antics of Blue Lapis Light along the Long's vaunted ring – art has found itself right at home at the Long Center.

Best Place to See Local Art
East Austin Studio Tour

Austin readers agree, when it comes to art, ain't no party like an Eastside party 'cause an Eastside party don't stooooop! Wait, what? The East Austin Studio Tour is the best and most impervious defense against those who wail that Austin is a no-art town. Sure, we don't have that cruddy crude-money that bankrolled art in some other Texas towns, but what we do have are hordes of people who are interested in living and working in a city that gives creative energy as good as it gets it. Austin is an incubator for the visual arts – and all the reasons to believe in Austin are encapsulated by the weeklong studio art and gallery tour 'round Austin's Eastside. To do all 175 stops, you'd have to be Wonder Woman. And that's the point: You. Can't. See. It. All.

East Austin Studio Tour, 916 Springdale Bldg. 2 #101, 512/939-6665, www.eastaustinstudiotour.com

Best Theatre Director
Ken Webster

What do we expect when the man continues to do his usual excellent job with the actors and the dialogue and the blocking and the timing and, oh, all that thespian stuff at Hyde Park Theatre, but also brings us something as sublime and transcendent as Annie Baker's The Aliens with the incomparable Jude Hickey in it? The instances when his directing choices most resemble a fail? When they keep this hardworking Webster, also a fine actor, off the stage himself.

Ken Webster, Hyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd, www.hydeparktheatre.org

Best Visual Artist
Tim Doyle

Slim chance any other graphic inkslinger could command such popularity the way Doyle is carving up the local and international landscape into vertical chunks adorned with his (and his company Nakatomi Inc.'s) bright and pop-culture-saturated artwork. From his limited-edition "Unreal Estate" series to his Bill Murray sticker sets, from his comics to his original portrait of Richard Nixon in the "Presidential Losers" show at Salvage Vanguard Theater, this honch heado brings you the skinny on what's hip, vivid, and frameworthy.

Tim Doyle, 512/940-3838, www.mrdoyle.com

Readers: Architecture & Lodging
Readers: Entertainment
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)