Arts & Culture
1999 Readers Poll
1999 Critics Picks
Best Annual Event

Age wears well on the donkey. No matter his age, his celebration brings the legions forth. It's clear our readers bray in unison about some things, and this year marks a decade of pinning the winning tail on Eeyore. Sponsored by the University YMCA each spring, nothing mirrors our far-flung diversity more than this unrivaled spectacle. For families, it's a festive day with group games, contests, and face painting. For more uninhibited revelers, it's an uproarious costumed romp of drum circles, live music, and wild dancing. Kids will be kids, and well - so will the grownups.

Best Art Gallery

With 3,000 square feet filled with Rauschenberg and Warhol, Haring and Hockney, Matisse and Peter Max, this is by far the best collection of modern and contemporary art in the city. No kidding. Housed in the former Children's Museum space in West Towne Common, Art on 5th covers modern art in all its varied styles, with more than the usual touch of whimsy, as noted in the kinetic sculptures of Fredrick Prescott and the drawings of Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. And in the short time since its opening in April 1998, our readers have voted it their favorite.

Ao5 Gallery
3005 S. Lamar
512/481-1111
www.ao5gallery.com

Best Artist

Check out the life's worth of art at Mary Doerr's Images of Austin store on Burnet Road. The lingering impression is that this local artist loves her locale. Her lifelike, almost photographic images of Austin convey a spirit and verve that leaps way beyond the concept of realism. It's her true passion for this town that makes those cityscapes shine, that makes our unimprovably near-perfect landmarks and natural treasures seem even more sparkly and kissed by the gods.

Mary Doerr
Gallery Images of Austin
4612 Burnet
www.images-austin.com/artwork1.htm

Best Author/Poet

Sharon Bridgforth's legendary root wy'mn theatre company pulled a 1996 Critics Pick for "Theatre of the Soul." This, however, is the first showing for our local bridger of "traditional storytelling and nontraditional verse," according to the root wo'mn herself on the back cover of her first book the bull-jean stories. While both the smoooooth and sultry author Sharon and the badass, hot-butt character bull-jean have appeared in numerous plays and published anthologies, this is their first ever, totally solo thang. What a book. What a writer. What a glorious thang it is. But, then, you already knew that, now didn't you?

Best Choreographer

"Bravo! Bravissimo!" Our readers applaud enthusiastically for this local dance diva, awarding "Best Choreographer" to Bravo for the second year in a row. Bravo means "brave," an apt word to describe this independent local artist who uses modern dance as her vehicle for courageously addressing social and political issues. Her clever piece "Gender Boxes," performed last November at Mendez Middle School, tackled the feminine/masculine mystique by placing bodies in the context of used car sales. Honk if you love Bravo.

Toni Bravo
Ballet Austin Studio
3002 Guadalupe
www.balletaustin.org

Best Dance Company

This company's strengths grows with its ambitions. Their Asleep at the Wheel collaboration was a highlight of this past season along with their reliable but never stale Nutcracker. This is a traditional company that knows its city, and the residents return the favor with this repeat winner.

Best Stage Director

Just when readers thought they had him pegged as a strictly pop-musical kinda guy, Steakley pulls a fast one and scores with the über-ambitious Angels in America. The upcoming season sees more of Steakley stretching his artistic muscles while keeping the faith with his musical foundations.

Dave Steakley
Topfer Theatre at Zach
202 S. Lamar
www.zachtheatre.org

Best Stand-up Comic

It's the end of an era. At some point in every king's reign, a bold youth must step forward, challenge the king, and usurp his power so that the kingdom remains vital and alive. Alas, young Brently Heilbron has wrested the scepter of Austin's Best Comic from Kerry Awn. Heilbron is one of the most prolific and inventive comics anywhere. His work with Monks' Night Out and Only Ninety Percent Effective have earned critical acclaim, and his shows Wondrous Pudding of Joy and Bucket of Shins have created a cult following in Austin. Heilbron recently performed at the HBO Workspace in Hollywood, so his star is on the rise. You can generally find Brently at the Velveeta Room of a weekend, riffing wildly on anything from the decline of DJ Jazzy Jeff to the resurgence of Colonel Sanders. Congrats, fair prince!

Best Theatre Actor/Actress

After 20 years, Joe York continues to surprise and delight our readers with his singular blend of showmanship and crossdressing depth. Ron Berry, in just a few seasons, has made his mark on the readers' memories with his energetic and expressive turns on a variety of local stages.

Joe York

Ron Berry
Blue Theatre
916 Springdale
www.bluetheatre.org

Best Theatre Company

Zach scores again thanks to its mix of stylish, toe-tappin' musicals and beautifully realized plays. Our readers know that whatever the fare, the show will be carefully conceived and professionally executed at every level. Readers, critics, and B. Iden Payne members can't all be wrong.

Topfer Theatre at Zach
202 S. Lamar
512/476-0541
www.zachtheatre.org

photo by John Anderson

Best Theatre Space

Walking into this exquisite bastion of glamor transforms the occasion (touring show, locally produced musical, summer movie) into just that: an occasion. And as Harry Knowles knows, you just have to have your Hollywood premiere at the only theatre in town worthy of such an event. Elizabeth Hurley, Matthew McConaughey, and their cohorts were fêted in style at the EdTV premiere last March. It's easy to imagine the red carpet as you saunter in yourself.

Paramount Theatre
713 Congress
512/472-5470
www.austintheatre.org

 
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