Top 10 Arts Stories You Cared About the Most

From racist comedy to new books, returning theatre, and new textile joy, the most-read stories about the Austin arts scene in 2021


Forbidden Fruit owner Terri Lynn Raridon (Photo by Jana Birchum)

1) “Tony Hinchcliffe’s Stand-up Racism” by Robert Faires, May 13
Podcaster, comic, and Joe Rogan tagalong Hinchcliffe made national headlines when he called fellow comedian Peng Dang a "filthy little fucking ch**k" before launching into a set heavy with racist and Asian-baiting material during a May set at Big Laugh Comedy. Hinchcliffe's supporters have continued to claim that he was falsely represented or some similar excuse, and he's tried to make light of it. But it's all there on the tape, bro.

2) “Nathan Harris Pens an Intimate Civil War Tale in The Sweetness of Water” by Robert Faires, June 18
Michener Center alum Harris debut novel, following brothers Landry and Prentiss as they make their way through changing post-Emancipation Proclamation Georgia, made the 2021 Booker Longlist. Chronicle Arts Editor Robert Faires talked with the author about his love for the writing program, his move to Austin, and how overlooked oral histories shaped his critically acclaimed novel.


Hyde Park Theatre’s Ken Webster in My Season With the Astros, Expos, and Phillies (photo by Carlo Lorenzo Garcia)
3) “Review: Hyde Park Theatre's My Season With the Astros, Expos, and Phillies” by Bob Abelman, Nov. 19
Few creative voices have defined the Austin theatre scene like Hyde Park Theatre Creative Director Ken Webster. And so his return to the stage – and the first time that the lights went up in the Central Austin institution in nearly two years – was inevitably an exciting event. As noted by Bob Abelman, this revival of his one-man show about baseball footnote John Bateman was the perfect end to the pandemic closure.

4) “Sex Sells: 40 Years of Forbidden Fruit” by Wayne Alan Brenner, Nov. 5
But of course it does. Wayne Alan Brenner sat down with that titan of temptation, Terri Lynn Raridon, whose a-HEM adult store Forbidden Fruit has become a local institution, a fortress against repressive and reactionary forces in Texas, and the launchpad for Austin's world-class burlesque scene. Plus, you know. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

5) “Moontower Comedy Comes Back in a Big Way!” By Robert Faires, June 10
The local comedy festival, like everyone else, was forced to take 2020 off but came back with a bang and a chortle as we began the slow crawl out of the pandemic. It also became one for the history books, as days after the in-person return wrapped the event announced it would be relaunching as Moontower Just for Laughs Austin, in conjunction with the Canadian comedy behemoth Just for Laughs.

6) “‘Beyond Van Gogh’” Is a Three-Dimensional Perspective with a One-Dimensional Outlook” by Cody Song, Aug. 20
The eagerly awaited arrival of the interactive touring show bringing the "Sunflower" artist's visions to Austin was a deflating experience. Neither the venue nor the exhibition gave the viewer the immersive entrance into the world of the revolutionary Dutch artist, and for Cody Song it was more like stepping into a digital photo frame.

7) “A Texas Snow Sculpture for a Fish that Died” by Wayne Alan Brenner, Feb. 18
Winter Storm Uri proved two things: 1) Texas falls apart in bad weather, and 2) you can't stop creativity. So when Albert Lucio (half of the Austin Séance and an award-winning sand sculptor) found himself surrounded by a snowscape, he saw a blank canvas with which to pay create a pietà for his poor dead pet, Sir Francis the Betta.

8) “Five Things to Appreciate on the West Austin Studio Tour” by Wayne Alan Brenner, Nov. 5
The Austin Studio Tour has become a citywide celebration of representational creativity, and an amazing opportunity for artists and their audiences to meet and mingle. After a virtual year, it was clear that you, dear reader, were eager to get back out into the galleries and workshops.

9) “Bored, Unemployed, and Extremely Online: Textile Artist Finds the Silver Linings” by Laiken Neumann, March 5
The pandemic, the lockdown, the lost jobs. In tragedy, Texas State graduate Odalys Vargas took up tufting as a hobby, and within a year had turned it into her own brand, Odd Rugs, as well as a way to survive the changing world. As she told Laiken Neumann, "I can take myself more seriously now that I feel like I've found something I'm passionate about."

10) “Live Comedy Clubs Are Coming Back” by Robert Faires, Feb. 11
It seems you were all ready for a laugh. Early in the year, the big news was the announcement of two venues ready to hit your funny bone: new arrival the Creek & the Cave taking over the space formerly occupied by Barracuda, and the return of the beloved Cap City Comedy at a new location, currently planned to reopen early 2022.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Top 10s 2021, Tony Hinchcliffe, Pen Dang, Nathan Harris, Ken Webster, Terri Lynn Raridon, Albert Lucio, The Sweetness of Water, My Season With the Astros, Expos, and Phillies, Beyond Van Gogh, Hyde Park Theatre, Forbidden Fruit, Moontower Comedy, The Cave & the Creek, Cap City Comedy, West Austin Studio Tour, Odalys Vargas

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