Arts & Entertainment
2023 Readers Poll
2023 Critics Picks

Photo by Maggie M. Bailey / Courtesy of BLiPSWiTCH

Best Choreography of Human Kinesis

Taryn Lavery and Alex Miller's gang of body-movers soars and staggers modern dance beyond the known and into areas that engage with multiple futures – the futures of movement, of technology, of humans who must embody the shape of things to come – and bring our contentious present into bracing relief. In a world increasingly run via algorithms, there is nothing artificial about this physical intelligence.

Best Hardcore-and-More Return

Earlier this year, when founder Juan-Carlos Silva was explaining the 50-month delayed return of This Is Austin, Not That Great, he shared his one goal for the early March hardcore/extreme metal jamboree: “Rich people are gonna get off the plane for South by Southwest and walk into a nuclear fallout zone.” Pee-ew, indeed. Thanks to a lineup encompassing the foulest extremities of hard, heavy music (with some emo-rap aside), TIANTG gathered a small armada of municipal-patched punks to Red River. Mohawk, Empire, and Chess Club employees haven’t been able to scrape the glorious grime off their walls since.

Glue performs at Mohawk for This Is Austin, Not That Great on March 3, 2023   Photo by John Anderson

Artist Credits: Cat Barrera (left), Chris Cody of Sage Studio ATX (right)   via Instagram

Best Fusion of Art and Sport

Win or lose – and this season there’s been more of the latter than the former, alas – a day at Q2 Stadium is something to remember. With the Austin FC Matchday Poster Series, you’ll have a permanent, gallery-worthy memento. Part of the club’s ATXFC Artist Initiative, the poster series invites notable local artists like Cat Barrera, Lauren Dickens, Kevin Muñoz, and Chris Cody to design home game posters for extremely stylish posterity. These collectibles are only available on match day, but if you enter Austin FC’s sweepstakes, you might be one of the lucky few to win all 17 in the series.

Best All-Around Champion of Comedy

Rochelle McConico returned to her hometown of Austin during COVID and dedicated herself to uplifting others through comedy. Whether she's teaching stand-up and improv classes or bringing the all-female second annual Lysistrata Comedy Festival to Austin, she wants you to thrive. A talented all-around performer in her own right, she's acted in short films and commercials, performed improv across the country, and played at Moontower Just for Laughs. McConico is making a splash by ensuring that those around her not only laugh, but feel encouraged, inspired, and praised.

Courtesy of MoonCricket Productions

Queer Film Theory hosts Mike Graupmann and Lesley Clayton   photo by Alison Grabe

Coolest Queer Film Class

Da moviesh, as Sean Connery called them, are often made by and for straight people – you know, like Sean Connery. Thankfully, any and all movies can be hit by the homosexual analysis beam. Queer Film Theory 101, the monthly “class” held at Drafthouse Mueller bar Barrel O’ Fun and hosted by Mike Graupmann and Lesley Clayton, features an ever-changing lineup of queer movie “professors” who wax cinematic on their fave films’ subtextual notes of homosexuality. A little queer theory improves any viewing, so sign up to speak or simply sit back and get schooled. Either way, you’ll be leaving each QFT 101 session with a whole new appreciation for da moviesh.

Best Synesthesia

As David Bowie once famously asked: “Don’t you wonder sometimes about sound and vision?” Artist Tim Wakefield has both in mind with his canvases as he takes the soundwave images of songs and converts them into vivid, colorfully pulsing prints. From his Lockhart gallery and studio, his Soundwaves Art Foundation nonprofit has partnered with over 500 musicians to sign limited-edition runs of his works, in the process raising more than $7 million for global organizations focused on refugee and disaster support, music education, environmental causes, mental health services, and social justice. Wakefield’s prints give fans a new way to experience and connect with their favorite songs.

Ray Wylie Hubbard signs "Conversation With the Devil"   Courtesy of Soundwaves

Ryan Crowder (l) and Nathan Jerkins   Credit: Errich Petersen (photo) & Kimberley Mead (visual effect)

Best Two Men in a One-Man Show

Penfold Theatre boldly went where no one-man show has gone before with its beautifully executed production of Leonard Nimoy’s Vincent, the telling of Vincent Van Gogh’s life story as told from the perspective of his art dealer brother Theo shortly after Vincent’s death and just six months before his own. Here, artistic directors/actors Ryan Crowder and Nathan Jerkins tag-teamed in the role of Theo by taking the stage on alternating nights. Doing so not only offered two unique interpretations of the same play, which Beth Burns directed, but also cleverly enticed theatregoers to make the trip out twice.

Best Outdoor Movie Mavens

Musician Justin Sherburn responded to the pandemic in a clever way: by starting an outdoor film screening business. It was a brilliant move, considering how everyone wanted to gather to watch movies but couldn’t do so in a crowded indoor theatre. But with the lifting of COVID restrictions, Rocket Cinema proved it still had a place in post-pandemic exhibition, going strong with frequent screenings hosted by Austin Parks Foundation, local breweries, and other venues with screening space and a healthy appreciation for film.

Courtesy of Rocket Cinemas

"Window Dressing XXVII" by Damian Noll   photo by Zeke Barbaro

Best See-It-Anytime-24/7 Visual Art Gallery

Whenever the main venue is closed for installation, the ICOSA Collective's gallery at Canopy presents a showcase in their storefront window space that highlights the work of new members – emerging, local, and underrepresented artists, all exploring the possibilities of such a space's limitation. These mini-exhibitions, stunning samplers of what each talented maker conjures at larger scale beyond, are on view 24/7 through the gallery’s front glass and available for your eyes' delight any time you need an art fix.

916 Springdale #102

Best Musical Time Machine

Company director Daniel Johnson’s talented ensemble regularly transports audiences into a vibrant past with sublime presentations of medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and early classical music by exceptional artists whose passion is palpable. Since 2002, TEMP (which Johnson first organized at UT way back in the Eighties) has offered a six-concert season from the fall through the spring of each year, supercharging September to May with glorious sound in addition to teaching historical performance practice at the Armstrong Community Music School, fulfilling their mission of “preserving the past, enriching the present, and engaging the future.”

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