Arts & Culture
1996 Readers Poll
1996 Critics Picks
Best Annual Party

A few years back, this annual fundraiser for the YMCA was being sneered at as "Too Old-Austin Hippie." Of course, that was before bellbottoms became hip again, as did this celebration named for A. A. Milne's doleful donkey. Tiggers also welcome.

Best Art Gallery

Last year, Spike Gillespie wrote, "Gorgeous landscaping for art's sake on the outside. Art for your sake on the inside." We think that comment about AMOA@LG is just as appropriate this year.

3809 W. 35th, 458-8191

Devaki Knowles

Best Artist

Peña's spare yet voluptuous images grace the walls of so many businesses around town (and the state, for that matter) that even if you don't know his work, you've likely seen it. His canvasses symbolize the rich cultural background of Austin in pastel and earth tones and mark the artist as one of our treasures.

Best Book By A Local Author

There is little of essayist Marion Winik's life that isn't public record, and the living drama that is her life is beautifully documented in First Comes Love, the story of her marriage to a gay man who died of AIDS. Words like "touching" and "emotional" seem too trite for this book, which melds love with bohemian lifestyle and a true passion for writing.

Best Choreographer

The guiding hand of Ballet Austin has consistently expanded the city's notion of what ballet is, breathing fire into the form with a leather-jacketed Firebird, balletic riffs to jazz with artists like Acia Gray and Boyd Vance, and a ballet about a creator of ballets. Our readers know him as one choreographer who keeps them on their toes.

Best Comic

If there were an Austin dictionary, Kerry Awn's face would be under the phrase "perennial favorite." Voted Best Comic for the umpteenth time by the readers, the man who gives us Buck Husky and Ronnie Velveeta, not to mention a mean Elvis, is more than deserving of the honor.

Best Dance Company

The city's big ballet company keeps getting better and better, reworking old reliables such as The Nutcracker, constantly testing itself with new material, blending ballet with other forms of dance, such as tap and tangos, and adding dynamic performers such as Nadya Zybine to the troupe. Our readers know that a trip to BA these days can be electrifying.

Best Dance Space

South Austin holds many a hidden treasure and our readers believe one is this studio hidden in an unassuming building on South First. As host to classes in Power Yoga, bellydancing, drumming, art, acting , personal growth, and Nia Technique (hence the name), we figure there's a spiritual atmosphere in NiaSpace that adds excitement to dances there.

Best Library

Gee, talk about rocking that vote - it was awfully close with the Christian Science Reading Room. But seriously, the public library isn't just for books. It's also magazines, videos, recordings, and much more.

Best Photographer (Art)

Check out his b&w splendor in any of the gorgeous By George's ads.

Best Place To Hear Poetry

Poetry -- or its Nineties incarnation, "spoken word" -- has never been stronger in Austin, and the word really resonates in Ruta Maya's comfy concrete confines. Oh yeah -- smoking is allowed.

Best Stage Director

Cullum is not only the heart and soul of Planet Theatre (and its predecessor, the VORTEX Performance Cafe), she's one of our most fearless theatre artists. She boldly and unapologetically stages some of the most unconventional and experimental new drama in town, and as a result we're already getting a good look at the theatre of the 21st century.

Bonnie Cullum
The Vortex
2307 Manor Rd.

Best Theatre Actor

A 10-year veteran of Austin's theatre scene, Miller has embodied dozens of characters, from the luckless Lucky in Waiting for Godot to the imperious Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. No doubt our readers enjoy the sense of play and decency that Miller brings to his roles, spillovers from the personality of the actor. He's universally considered "the nicest man in Austin theatre."

Best Theatre Company

The Divine Miss S. and the grande dame of Austin comedy troupes are so inseparable, we opted to write about them together. Sedwick and the Follies typify Austin theatre -- and Austin in general -- at its best: smart, sly, not afraid to take a potshot at some sacred cow, and certainly not afraid to have a little fun (make that a lotta fun). Sedwick and the Follies have won our readers' hearts before; now, they're requesting an encore.

Esther's Follies
525 E. Sixth

Best Theatre Space

With the combo of a surprisingly spacious 200-seat thrust stage auditorium (the Kleberg) and a cozily compact 120-seat arena theatre (the Whisenhunt), Zach gives us a one-two punch of theatrical intimacy and flexibility. For audiences who love being in the action -- our readers, obviously -- ZSTC is the space (er, spaces) to beat.

Topfer Theatre at Zach
202 S. Lamar

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