Arts & Culture
2004 Readers Poll
2004 Critics Picks
Best Art Gallery

Conveniently located between the UT campus and downtown, Women & Their Work has been celebrating female artists in Texas for decades. A nonprofit organization dedicated to educating our city about contemporary art and extolling the women who create it, their small, exquisite gallery is truly the finest in Austin. Their gift shop can provide just the right gift for any occasion, and visiting the gallery is always free.

Women & Their Work
1311 E. Cesar Chavez

Best Museum

More and more Austinites like hanging out and looking at what's hanging on AMOA's walls. Sometimes we're drawn to superstar shows like the record-breaking Andy Warhol retrospective, but we also like work by their own, and director Dana Friis-Hansen makes sure the city gets in-depth looks at sterling local artists such as Michael Ray Charles, Tre Arenz, and Lance Letscher. This is a museum folks feel at home in.

Austin Museum of Art – Downtown
823 Congress

Best Painter/Sculptor

Er, how about best collagist, although what Letscher does with tiny little pieces of paper – from antique books, from modern magazines, from forgotten theses on resublimated thiotimoline – might be appropriately considered the finest marriage between both painting and sculpting. His work often flies beyond Austin's gilded cage these days, but this local-born artist, represented exclusively by Austin's D Berman Gallery, still wows 'em here in the old hometown.

Lance Letscher
D Berman Gallery
1701 Guadalupe

Best Author/Poet

For some, the act of prosody is one best conducted under dark of night, a wee-hour's dare that urges words forth through the sheer power of desperation, deprivation, or solitude. For others it is a meticulously mathematical balance between form and function. For Zell Miller III, the act of versification is proof that not only can lightning strike in the same place twice but in more than one place at the same time. Writer-poet-performer-director, Miller defies prediction. He's a high-pressure system of regale force intensity, and the proof is in the name-dropping: Sweatt Symposium Slam UT, International Poetry Slam, National Slam Team, opening for Nikki Giovanni, and SXSW with DJ Brainchild, The Heretic Chronicles Volume 1 on CD. His work is included in the upcoming anthology of hip-hop theatre published by TCG, Plays From the Boombox Galaxy. When audiences hear that Zell Miller III on the radar, they'd better batten down the hatches and make a beeline for the eye of that storm.

Trú Rúts Endeavors, 1416 Madison St., NE #1, Minneapolis, MN 55413, 612

Best Stand-Up Comic

Eventually, everybody's gonna have to figure out whether to spell Walsh's first name with an O or an A, because it's likely to become a household one. Of course, it may be relegated to that room in every residence that's reserved for laughing one's ass off (surely your own apartment has one of these, right?), as this guy is so good at the comedic stuff he's not only tied for this honor but he's also this year's official Funniest Person in Austin. Rob "Holy Cross" Nash, on the other hand, well, it's not just that he's of equal laugh-making ability, it's that his particular talent for embodying myriad distinctly different characters means you'll often get a dozen or so goofballs, miscreants, and lovable eccentrics for the price of one.

Brendan Walsh
Cap City Comedy Club
8120 Research #100

Rob Nash
The Vortex
2307 Manor Rd.

Best Dance Company

Ballet Austin and Tapestry have been delighting Austin audiences, young and old, for years with time-honored traditional presentations and ground-breaking new shows. 2004 will be Ballet Austin’s 42nd year of dancing The Nutcracker, and Tapestry frequently performs shows that are progressive, inimitable blends of tap, ballet, modern, and jazz (watch for In the Pocket at the end of October at the Paramount). In addition, both companies offer notable education programs, teaching children and adults alike about artistic beauty and unconventional self-expression.

Tapestry Dance Company
2015 E. Riverside Ste. 7-BD

Best Live Theatre

The secret to Zach's success? It ain't nothin' but the blues ... and a little pop and soul from those fabulous Beehive gals, and country ballads by Patsy Cline and maybe a touch of comic relief from David Sedaris' little elf, and certainly Artistic Director Dave Steakley's uncanny balance of pop-music pizzazz and artistic adventure, as with the post-9/11 satire Omnium Gatherum. Zach keeps the beat that gets our feet tapping and our pulse racing.

Topfer Theatre at Zach
202 S. Lamar

Best Theatre Director

P.T. Barnum's got nothing on this guy, boy howdy, and we're not even talking about his directorial skills. But we must, and Neulander's got those in spades. In fact, he brings such heart to the innovative mounting of the edgy, original plays his Salvage Vanguard Theater produces, it's no wonder our readers have picked him as a veritable diamond of Austin's sprawling thespian club.

Jason Neulander
Salvage Vanguard Theater
2803 Manor Rd.

Best Actor/Actress

Well, of course it's a tie. And if you wanted these talented women to pretend it was a tie between two Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling from Brooklyn, they'd make it look so real you'd be able to smell the blood and sweat dripping onto the squared circle. Two retired Ministers of Finance from the old Soviet Union? They'd manifest papercuts from archived ledgers like acolytes manifesting stigmata and croak obscure fiduciary stats with Lower Ukrainian accents. You name it, they'll portray it – with excellent timing, delivery, and manner. OK, so one's way tall, the other not so much; but both are giants of the local stage.

Lee Eddy
Salvage Vanguard Theater
2803 Manor Rd.

Lana Lesley
Rude Mechanicals
2211-A Hidalgo

Best Local Filmmaker

DGA? We don't need no stinkin' DGA! While Austin's cinematic secret weapon has resigned his membership in that catty director's club, fans of hi-octane moviemaking will no doubt be blown through the rear wall of the theatre upon seeing his upcoming adaptation of Frank Miller's cult comic Sin City, with assists from QT and Miller himself. Add to that Rodriguez's (with wife/producing partner Elizabeth Avellán) visionary work with his own Troublemaker Studios, Austin Studios, and his mad passion for hi-definition filmmaking and the limitless possibilities of CGI over traditional film stock and you've got one of the most important – and utterly hands-on – filmmakers since Chaplin. (Rumors that he'll be remaking City Lights as El Trampo Muerto appear sadly unfounded, however.)

Best Film Location

You can bet that if a major motion picture is being filmed in Austin, Austin Studios at the old Mueller airport will be responsible for bringing it to a theatre near you. With recent production credits that include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), The Life of David Gale, Friday Night Lights, Cheer Up, and The Wendell Baker Story, how could they not be voted Best Film Location?

Austin Studios
1901 E. 51st

Best Live (Club/Party) DJ

Cutting his teeth as Nasty's resident DJ on Hip Hop Mondays, Mel has branched out from old-school and soul to all things Eighties with his stupendously dope Rock the Casbah nights. Chicken George has spun with some of the greatest in the game – one show in Houston alone featured Soul Survivor Pete Rock and Gangstarr's DJ Premier – yet can still be found on the grind at humble spots like Mojo's.

DJ Mel

DJ Chicken George

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