Culture Flash!

Big honors for a local portraitist, a pianist, and two high school seniors, plus Austin Books raises $2K for First Amendment protection

Michelle Schumann
Michelle Schumann

Michelle Schumann won the 2006 Janice K. Hodges Contemporary Piano performance competition at UT-San Antonio on Sunday, Feb. 5. The Austin pianist, known for her annual John Cage birthday concert and performances with Barbwire Music Project, Tosca String Quartet, and Austin Chamber Music Center, as well as the newly formed American Repertory Ensemble, received $500 with the honor. Schumann is working on an album of music specifically composed for her by new music consortium Common Sense, but you can hear her, along with Eric Johnson, Malford Milligan, Steve Barber, Bill Maddox, Chris Maresh, Stephen Bruton, Alejandro Escovedo, and others, at a benefit concert for the family of late singer-songwriter Chris Whitley on Saturday, March 4, at the Glenn, 13101 Hwy. 71.

Amber Kappes has had her painting Shaela and Elliott selected as a semifinalist in the Smithsonian's Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006. Chosen from a field of some 4,000 entries nationwide, the painting will be among 100 works being judged in Washington, D.C., next month. Finalists will be displayed in the National Gallery from July 4 to Jan. 1. The artist is a BFA graduate from UT-Permian Basin in Odessa who moved to Austin last fall. For more information, visit

Two area students received awards from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, a nonprofit that identifies, encourages, and rewards talented high school seniors. Chase Newell of Austin, who attends Interlochen Center for the Arts, was honored in the Theater, Musical category with a $1,000 prize; and William Short, who attends Round Rock High School, was honored in the Music, Bassoon category with a $3,000 award. The two were among 160 finalists who performed before a panel of notable judges during NFAA's Arts Recognition and Talent Search Week in Miami. Short has also been nominated to be a 2006 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts.

Austin Books and Comics raised more than $2,000 for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund on Feb. 3. Artist Terry Moore, writer-artist of the series Strangers in Paradise, was the featured guest, signing copies of a limited edition lithograph produced just for the event and featuring an unpublished image from Strangers in Paradise #80. Austin Books owner Brad Bankston reports that 142 fans packed the store (and consumed more than 30 pizzas, a keg of Shiner, and several cases of soda). CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein was so pleased with the event that he wants to use it as a model for similar fundraisers across the country.

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Amber Kappes, Shaela and Elliott, Smithsonian, Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006, National Gallery, UT-Permian Basin, Michelle Schumann, Janice K. Hodges Contemporary Piano performance competition, UT-San Antonio, Barbwire Music Project, Tosca String Quartet, Austin Chamber Music Center, American Repertory Ensemble, Common Sense, Chris Whitley, Eric Johnson, Malford Milligan, Steve Barber, Bill Maddox, Stephen Bruton

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