Arts & Culture
2007 Readers Poll
2007 Critics Picks
Best Actor/Actress

She's got more talent than a carbonated beverage has bubbles and makes us go all fizzy just watching her step onto a stage. Whether she's cracking wise as Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Molly Sloan in Salvage Vanguard's Intergalactic Nemesis, re-enacting the curly onslaught of puberty with the St. Idiot Collective, or showing improv comedians how it's really done, this tall drink of sweet water could charm the needles off a prickly pear.

Lee Eddy
Salvage Vanguard Theater
2803 Manor Rd.
www.salvagevanguard.org

Best Art Gallery

Explore the works of a new female Texas artist every five weeks or so, with installations ranging from high-end crafters like Whitney Lee to world-class photographers like Iranian artist Soody Sharifi. The gallery focuses on one artist at a time, giving each full control of everything from wall color to room size, creating a beautifully focused presentation. And don't miss their amazing gift shop (with the best coffeetable-book collection ever), worth a trip in and of itself.

Women & Their Work
1710 Lavaca
512/477-1064
www.womenandtheirwork.org

Best Clothing Designer

A local favorite among the SoCo set, Chia has many fans who insure multiple "Best of Austin" awards. Pink Salon and Boutique, among other retailers, can hardly keep Chia's clothes in stock. From her signature kitty-hats to bags, halter tops, and children's accessories, Chia designs have vast appeal in their naive charm.

Chia
512/457-9456
www.chiahats.com

Best Comedy Troupe

What do you get when a bunch of displaced NOLA kids start doing improv locally, gaining enough exposure and word-of-mouth to turn the ever-empty Space in to something useful: a place to laugh? You get ColdTowne, changing tragedy into comedy, their fate into a movement of laughter, right here in our lucky town. No one could ever be grateful for Katrina, but our readers are very grateful for ColdTowne coming to our town.

ColdTowne Theater
4803-B Airport
512/814-8696
www.coldtownetheater.com

Best Composer

The maestro magic of Graham Reynolds is hard to define. He's a composer, a collaborator, a bandleader, a pianist, a drummer, an everyman musician destined for the great masses. Whether scoring a blockbuster movie soundtrack or playing a local gig, one thing is certain: This is a man who makes sounds unlike any you've heard. We're lucky to call him ours for now, but catch him before his star rises him right out of our city limits.

www.grahamreynolds.com

Best Dance Company

When it comes to having all the right moves, both Tapestry Dance Company and Ballet Austin more than fit the bill. The 50-year-young ballet – now in its brand-new Downtown home, the Butler Dance Education Center and Community School – can satisfy traditionalists with classical work like Don Quixote and The Nutcracker (44 Christmases and counting!) but mixes in some mighty modern dance, such as this season's premiere of Cult of Color: Call to Color, blending choreography by Artistic Director Stephen Mills, music by Graham Reynolds, and artwork by Trenton Doyle Hancock. Multiform Tapestry – also in a new home this year – crafts a custom blend of original ballet, modern, and jazz spiced by new music from around the world in programs like November's Footprints, but co-founder and Artistic Director Acia Gray never neglects history, as is clear from its National Endowment for the Arts-sponsored, award-winning show The Souls of Our Feet, re-creating legendary routines of oh-so-sweet rhythm tap. Both companies also offer exceptional education programs, getting children and adults alike on their feet and joyfully in step.

Tapestry Dance Company
2302 Western Trails
512/474-9846
www.tapestry.org

Ballet Austin
501 W. Third
512/476-9151
www.balletaustin.org

Best Dance Lessons

Whether you have a natural gift for the swing or never graduated past the Humpty Hump, there's something for you to learn at Go Dance. They embrace the philosophy that we all can and should dance. With classes such as salsa, Western, ballroom, and then some, they teach more than 300 students monthly. With practice and the encouragement they're famous for, you'll be twinkling your toes in no time!

Go Dance
2525 W. Anderson
512/339-9391
www.godancestudio.com

Best Emergent Local Filmmaker

When most Texans get into a hairy situation south of the border, they hightail it home and never talk about it again. But triple-threat writer/producer/director Stovall turned his bad trip into his debut feature, Mexican Sunrise. It has picked up a raft of festival screenings, a batch of awards, and the attention of critics, film-buffs, and power players alike. All the more amazing, he turned the whole thing around in between finding out he was going to be a daddy and his daughter's birth in March this year. Mazel tov!

Rowdy Stovall
Red J Films
www.redjfilms.com

Best Film Series

It's a fairly recent re-pairing, the Austin Film Society and the Dobie Theatre, as this was the spot of the start of the society more than 20 years ago. This past year AFS@Dobie featured works from notable directors Lars von Trier, Ken Loach, and Johnny To, as well as timely documentaries like James D. Scurlock’s Maxed Out. Several award winners were spotted, too: The Wind That Shakes the Barley, winner of a Palme d’Or from Cannes, and three grand-jury prize-winners at Cannes and Sundance.

Austin Film Society
1901 E. 51st
512/322-0145
www.austinfilm.org

Best Museum

The wait for a world-class art gallery was a long one, but in its second year open, it's hard to believe we lasted without it. The coolly elegant Blanton, with its labyrinth of galleries looping around the massive central atrium, has an Old World grandeur. The 17,000-piece collection, regularly supported by touring exhibitions, proves Austin knows its Durer from its Rothko, and the monthly B Scene late-night event has lived up to its playful name by becoming must-see artistry. And by next fall, the twin building will be up and running with an auditorium, cafe, gift shop, and classrooms.

The Blanton Museum of Art
200 E. MLK
512/471-7324
www.blantonmuseum.org

photo by John Anderson

photo by John Anderson

Best Place to See New Art

The wait for a world-class art gallery was a long one, but in its second year open, it's hard to believe we lasted without it. The coolly elegant Blanton, with its labyrinth of galleries looping around the massive central atrium, has an Old World grandeur. The 17,000-piece collection, regularly supported by touring exhibitions, proves Austin knows its Durer from its Rothko, and the monthly B Scene late-night event has lived up to its playful name by becoming must-see artistry. And by next fall, the twin building will be up and running with an auditorium, cafe, gift shop, and classrooms.

The Blanton Museum of Art
200 E. MLK
512/471-7324
www.blantonmuseum.org

Best Theatre Director

Zach Scott's Dave Steakley has an especially deft hand with musicals, but this year he showed his boldness by daring to stage the all-conquering behemoth that is Disney's High School Musical and by presenting two big nonmusicals: Take Me Out and Noel Coward's Present Laughter. Meanwhile, Salvage Vanguard Theater's Jason Neulander started the year by promising it would be the biggest ever for his nurturing home for up-and-coming playwrights and did it in big style with an ongoing national tour of The Intergalactic Nemesis and by finally finding a home for his own itinerant troupe- a permanent place on Manor Road. Both prove bigger doesn't mean blander.

Jason Neulander
Salvage Vanguard Theater
2803 Manor Rd.
www.salvagevanguard.org

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

Jason Neulander (l) and Dave Steakley   Celesta Danger, Bret Brookshire

Best Theatre Performance Space

Zach Scott is well-deserving of an award for its performance spaces. With the original Kleberg stage; the smaller, newer Whisenhunt stage; and the soon-to-be-built 500-seat Kuykendall stage, Zach will have no trouble retaining the honor. With extraordinary set designer Michael Raiford usually at the helm, the simple spaces are transformed into a myriad of locales from churches to nightclubs, from city parks to lake fronts, from Jerusalem to New York – all right here in Austin.

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

Best Visual Artist

His cartoon-style artwork – replete with booze-swilling cats, homeless savants, and things that go happily bump in the graffitied night – brightens the walls of alleyways and galleries alike, whether in Austin, in L.A., or beyond. Is he big in Japan? No bigger than he is in Austin, where his post-Camp Fig stature continues to increase with every series of screen prints and each exhibition of his highly recognizable drawings and paintings.

www.msieben.com

Celesta Danger

 
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