Arts & Culture
2012 Readers Poll
2012 Critics Picks
Best Drum Circle, Line, Triangle, Rhombus, and Moebius Strip

Austinites with a yen to drum tend to form a ring, but here are three guys who dare to think outside the circle – and outside the drum, too. As line upon line percussion, Adam Bedell, Cullen Faulk, and Matthew Teodori have demonstrated over the past three years a remarkable commitment to banging on drums, cymbals, gongs, wood blocks, hubcaps, trash cans, triangles, bells, glasses, pipes, and anything else they can get an interesting sound out of. They're explorers in the realm of rhythm and aural texture, constantly searching for new and challenging music they can play. Thanks to their ambitious programming (a festival devoted to music by experimental composer Iannis Xenakis), collaborative spirit (working with the New Music Co-op, Fast Forward Austin, and the Austin Chamber Music Center), and some high-profile gigs (college tours, SXSW, and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention here in Austin), their drumbeats are starting to be heard around the world. Which means you may have to stand in line for line upon line.

line upon line percussion

Best Emergent Art Collective

Besides having, in our humble opinion, the best group show title, OC/DC - a mash-up that seems to describe the fastidious and hard rock structure of EAST itself - Kitty_City's roster has us drooling. From Sarah Frey, droll doyenne of zine culture and .gif aesthetics, to Doug Pollard's hand-drawn Crumb-ish panels, this group of artists comes out of the fertile Aquarena Spring-fed grounds of San Marcos. Truly, this young upstart collective is a testament to the import of the aesthetics and energies of those who came before. On their first jaunt out as a group, Kitty_City is bound to impress … but hey, no pressure, guys.

68 Navasota

Best Film Programming

Locally owned and programmed, this relative newcomer among Austin film venues regularly brings in movies that would otherwise go unseen on Austin screens. Recent examples include Wim Wenders’ 3-D documentary, Pina; last year’s Iranian Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Film, A Separation; Kelly Reichardt’s contemplative Western drama, Meek’s Cutoff; and Andrew Haigh’s multi-award-winner about gay relationships, Weekend. Moreover, these films are booked for weeklong runs, offering a viable, thriving home for arthouse films.

Violet Crown Cinema
434 W. Second

Best Glass Blower

Jay Massey hasn't lost his marbles; the glass just metamorphosed into other functions, like gun pipes, "Sherlocks" and bubblers, curvy, nude lady pipes, and other sleek and compelling figurines. His glass can be found at damn near every head shop within a 50-mile radius of Austin, and he happily shares his love for the profession through glass blowing classes at Austin Flameworks. Flame on, Jay!

JMass Glass

Best Independent Fashion Education

Designer Mary Margaret Quadlander opened Austin School of Fashion Design a few years ago as an alternative to UT's apparel design program. Quadlander teaches all levels of sewing for children and adults, as well as draping and flat-patterning, with crash courses and summer camps. Pick the classes you want, or sign up for the entire program. What you'll get from Mary Margaret is sure to propel you further and higher into the sewing and design stratosphere.

Austin School of Fashion Design
3216 S. Congress

Best Indie Film Cred Boost

After a brief hiatus, this homegrown group of movie nerds is back to cleanse us of summer blockbusters and feed us intellectually nutritious independent features. The nomadic collective hosts screenings and discussions wherever they can get their grubby hands on a screen and a projector, so check the website for screening dates and locations.


Todd V. Wolfson

Best Movement Illuminator

You may think your walk is, well, pedestrian, but there's one choreographer in town who sees it as art. Allison Orr has made a career of elevating and celebrating the movements of our daily existence – routine motions around the house or on the job – by putting them on the stage and showing them to us in performance. Isolated in the spotlight, their beauty and elegance is revealed, and even the simplest, most mundane gesture becomes artfully compelling. Whether working on an epic scale, as in The Trash Project, her justly celebrated work with the city's Solid Waste Services Department employees and their equipment, or in miniature, as in Solo Symphony, this past summer's haunting collaboration with Austin Symphony Orchestra conductor Peter Bay, Orr lets us see the grace in all the ordinary movement about us and so transforms our view of the world into a place brimming with dance.

Forklift Danceworks
2023 E. Cesar Chavez

Best Place To Air Your Kiss-and-Tell (or, Perhaps, a Bit More Than That)

What's a more titillating delight than this monthly show run by the smart, sassy, and sexily literate Sadie Smythe, Julie Gillis, Mia Martina, and Rosie Q? Hear friends, neighbors, and complete strangers take the stage to dish on their own erotic lives between the, oh, steamiest readings by writers and musicians and actors and whomever else the quimmy quadrumvirate can coax into their revealing spotlight. You know you're in the right place, you omni-curious men and women, when the door prizes are brand-new sex toys and the crowd is no less likely to have tattoos of Bettie Page than they are of Shere Hite.

Bedpost Confessions

Best Schtickers

We've often fantasized about how a band of performative queerballs would play in the Poconos. The most exciting thing about the queer, Jewish, feminist Lipschtick Collective is their borscht-belt brand of activism. Earlier this year, they were performing demented burlesque that cleverly disguised a double-horned critique of pop culture's insistence on depicting Judaism as quaint. Now, they've been trotting and grapevine-ing videos that abandon the notion of the dour activist. Inventive, heebish, and anarchic, Lipschtick continues to impress by making a revolution of the self. Oh, and try the liver, it's fantastic.

Lipschtick Collective

Best Valkyrie of the Set

After you see the name credited with the set design in so many programs in so few months &ndash Middletown, Spacestation1985, The Twelfth Labor, Rose Rage, Rapunzel's Bad Hair Day, The Materiality of Impermanence, The Aliens, The Schooling of Bento Bonchev, Arcadia all in 2012, along with another half-dozen shows &ndash you gotta figure this Ia Ensterä must be some Scandinavian scene-building consortium, an IKEA for stage sets that's cornered the local market. Truly, how could one person design and construct that much scenic material in a year? Then you see her, this tall, sinewy Finn with the frost-colored hair and intense eyes, wielding a hammer like Thor, and you realize she can do all that by herself and more; this is a warrior woman right out of Valhalla. With an audacious imagination to match her fierce drive and construction skills, Ensterä has crafted several of the boldest and most memorable stage settings of the past few seasons, and in a short time has become a major force in the Austin performing arts scene.

Ia Ensterä

John Anderson

John Anderson

Most Continuously Innovative Improv Troupe

Parallelogramophonograph shares a history that spans six years, 450 shows, a B. Iden Payne award, and a monthlong run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. With that much “yes, and” being volleyed around, one might expect to see occasional repetition in their shows. Not Pgraph. With a range that spans French farce to GRIMM, film noir to period dramas, this funny foursome brings fresh insight into their organic narrative improv that moves audiences (and each other) to feel like it's their first time, every time.


Quirkiest Quarter-Life Crisis

Hey, what 25-year-old doesn’t freak out a little – quit his/her job to backpack through Guatemala, or maybe get an MFA. So what did aGLIFF, our city’s long-running festival of queer cinema, do when it hit the quarter-mark? Went and got itself a fancy new name with underground cachet. Taking its name from archaic British gay slang, Polari has risen from aGLIFF’s ashes … and baby, you’re a firework.

1107 S. Eighth

Todd V. Wolfson

Savviest Smeller

Alyssa Harad's funny, galvanizing memoir Coming To My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride explores the personal and the political of eau de parfum, and provides much food for thought about our own arbitrary lines in the sand vis-à-vis feminism and femininity. Call it scent and sensibility – and a sweet read, to boot.

Critics: Architecture & Lodging
Critics: Entertainment

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