Arts & Culture
2005 Readers Poll
2005 Critics Picks

Bret Brookshire

Best Actor/Actress

Lee Eddy, unafraid to tackle material dark or light, has fewer performance boundaries than a blogger with Tourette's. What's equally important is that she's got the pure talent and, after years of dazzling in so many of this theatre-rich city's offerings, the skill to support her flights of fancy. There's not a stage in the world that would be unimproved by her presence upon it.

Lee Eddy
Salvage Vanguard Theater
2803 Manor Rd.

Best Art Gallery

Every summer Arthouse is host to "New American Talent," an exhibit whose name speaks for itself. There’s also the annual 5x7 auction, in which artistic creations of postcard-sized proportions vie for the attention of collectors. Family days abound on Arthouse’s calendar, with hands-on activities for the kiddos young and old, all tying into the themes of the artworks all around. Bringing the cutting-edge to the heart of Congress, we like to think of Arthouse at the Jones Center as AMOA's punk rock, Southern cousin.

The Contemporary Austin
700 Congress

Bret Brookshire

Best Author/Poet

There’s something about being the wacky outsider living on the fringes with which Austin can identify. Friedman’s alter ego, a super-sleuthing New York detective, serves as the main character for a series of mystery novels penned by the "next governor of Texas." With one-liners that’ll have you bursting into laughter at the bus stop and sweet Southern charm to boot, the Kinkster's novels have earned him the prestige of being named by our readers: Austin’s best author/poet.

Kinky Friedman for Governor
5010 Burleson Rd.

Best Dance Company

Not content to rest on its "biggest game in town" laurels, Artistic Director Stephen Mills took the company to new heights and depths with the Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project, an ambitious community project with UT's College of Education. No weekend romp in a swan-infested forest, this project included public lectures, professional development opportunities for teachers, an art installation on the hike-and-bike trail, and culminated in a new ballet. A grande jeté, indeed.

Ballet Austin
501 W. Third

Bret Brookshire

Best Dance Lessons

Interest during the Nineties' swing and early 2000s' salsa crazes turned out to not be fading trends, as local dance groups still seem to be popping up all over town. Go Dance wins this brand-new category for their smooth moves and many workshops (Cha Cha with David! Salsa Team with Azucena and Carlos!), classes (over 40 weekly!), and social dance parties (a chance to hone or show off your chops). So don't just hold up the bricks like a wallflower, go dance, and shake what your mama gave ya!

Go Dance
2525 W. Anderson

Best Film Location

Watching Austin outgrow its film industry kid gloves as it bustled through its more formative years has been a wild ride of slackers, spies, sharks, and sin. Austin Studios and their 20 acres of celluloid dreamscapes are now boxing with the big boys, dually giving our western neighbors a welcome respite from Hollywood and a run for their money in talent, production, and wit. Despite the vast potential of imagination in a CGI world, we can't think of a more befitting use of space.

Austin Studios
1901 E. 51st

Best Local Filmmaker

The award-winning director was born and raised in San Antonio, but was claimed by Austin as our own since the early Nineties when he made a big splash at UT. His first movie, El Mariachi, had a worldwide theatrical release and became the lowest-budget movie ever released by a major studio. Since then, he has dazzled with From Dusk Till Dawn, Desperado, the Spy Kids series, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Sin City. Rodriguez is also an Advisory Board member of the Austin Film Society and a beloved citizen.

Best Museum

Modern giants like Annie Leibovitz and Andy Goldsworthy, this quarter alone, are fine examples of the caliber of internationally renowned art that this group of two museums has brought to our town. AMOA–Downtown and AMOA–Laguna Gloria are truly attentive to what makes Austin unique, with a focus fine-tuned to contemporary horizon-expanding American art. The current downtown exhibit (through Oct. 30) is "New Art in Austin, 22 to Watch," featuring groundbreaking work by young, local talent, including Ledia Carroll, Peat Duggins, Alia Hasan-Khan, Young-Min Kang, and more.

823 Congress

Best Painter/Sculptor

Paul Gauguin once stated that "art is either plagiarism or revolution." With respect to Gauguin, there are the rare artists that are a combination of the two. Seamlessly blending Renaissance figurative paintings with Magritte-like contextualization or postmodern reimagination, Julie Speed's works are groundbreaking ... except that Ms. Speed is breaking ground with the techniques of her predecessors.

Julie Speed
Allene Lapides Gallery
558 Canyon
Santa Fe

Best Stand-Up Comic

Kerry Awn is a legend in the Austin comedy scene, making us laugh since ... well, practically the Stone Age as one of the original Uranium Savages. For the two people left in Austin who don't know him, he's the guy behind the Velveeta Room's cheesy institution Ronnie Velveeta. Last year's BoA winner for Best Comic, Brendan Walsh (no, he was not on 90210) has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and took home the title of Funniest Person in Austin, 2004.

Kerry Awn

Brendan Walsh
Cap City Comedy Club
8120 Research #100

Best Theatre Director

In a year that ran the gamut from canine capers to Ghengis Khan to Greek gore to Victorian goth to NPR, Neulander wowed Chronicle readers with his seemingly inexhaustable ability to surprise. And thrill. And horrify. And amuse. And intrigue.

Jason Neulander
Salvage Vanguard Theater
2803 Manor Rd.

Best Theatre Performance Space

Eighty-eight years and still going strong, this ornate downtown fixture has been lighting up Congress since before Austin even had traffic. With glitzy Hollywood premieres, children's plays, Broadway series, and the annual casserole of Tuna classics, the old-timey marquis is an eye-catcher, especially when classics like Casablanca hit the screen. (The Paramount was one of the very few that featured the original screening and reran it for the recent 50th anniversary of the film.)

Paramount Theatre
713 Congress

Bret Brookshire

Readers: Architecture & Lodging
Readers: Entertainment

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