5X7XHUNDREDS It wasn't the usual 5x7 Art Splurge that Arthouse (www.arthousetexas.org) puts on. For one thing, it wasn't at Arthouse (that's being renovated); it was at the Whitley Building – the sprawling, un-air-conditioned space that also held the lame Perez Hilton party during South by Southwest. After some rain earlier in the day, the air was sopping with humidity, but as I arrived Downtown with my trusty photographer Seabrook, there was no evidence that this bothered anyone ... until we got inside. It was a bit of a sauna in there, but the piped in air did create pockets of coolness here and there, and that's where so many of the guests gathered before continuing on to look at the 1,100 pieces of art (all 5-by-7 inches, natch) by more than 900 artists. Wearing a wildly colored Robert Graham shirt from seasons past with white jeans, I was happy with my summery look but not with the summery weather. Guess I'll just have to get used to it, huh? (Someone commented on my shirt, saying that I looked good in that color. "Which one?" I asked, looking at the dozens of colors I was wearing.) I met up with my date for the evening, the eligible fine artist Graydon Parrish – or is it the fine eligible artist Graydon Parrish? – and we mingled and gossiped with many friends, including Amy Holloway and Kevin Smothers, with whom we uproariously selected what we considered to be the best art in the show, as well as what we considered to be the worst art in the show. We'll be keeping our selections to ourselves, of course. There was stunning art at the show – gorgeous, fascinating compositions, some that were parts of series, though most stood alone. This is exactly the kind of thing that brings droves of people to this event year after year. But it did somehow seem a little different this year. As with all of the events all the other social diarists and commentators and I have attended lately, the absence of many of Austin's leading philanthropists and socialites was noticed. My guess is that those who used to attend virtually every fundraiser now have to pick and choose the ones closest to their hearts. But that didn't mean there wasn't glitter and glam present – just somehow a little less of it. Shoring up the ranks of attendees were Dana Friis-Hansen and Mark Holzbach, Deborah Green, Johnna Jones, Karen and Rick Hawkins (Karen is so dazzling that you almost have to turn your eyes away from her), among so many others. Another regular attendee is Kevin "Star Bar" Williamson of Ranch 616, who has done the food for this event as long as I've been attending it. I always have several of the divinely spicy shrimp shooters, and Kevin is always so much fun to visit with. A new attendee was Karen Morgan with her spread of fabulous gluten-free desserts from Blackbird Bakery (www.blackbird-bakery.com). Those macaroon things she had were nothing short of addictive. But the real treat of the evening was the slide show of Arthouse's new building. Sheer glass walls and enormous viewing spaces promise that this little project will turn Austin's art scene on its ear, creating new interest in regional art. Yes, it was another pretty fabulous production from Arthouse – and again I offer my annual congratulations to them for a job well done.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS While my mother was getting her hair done up the street, I spent a couple of hours browsing flowers, trees, and shrubs at the Great Outdoors on South Congress. Of course I'd seen its work before all over town, but I'd never been to the nursery location before. Turns out that owner Tom Tinguely is practically my neighbor out here in Manchaca – in addition to a Downtown pied-à-terre, he and his partner, Danny Hatt, also have Hummingbird House (www.hummingbirdhouse.info), a lush and tropical event venue on Arroyo Doble Drive. Both of Tom's ventures are amazing: Great Outdoors with its endless rows of every kind of growable matter is clearly a major springtime destination, and Hummingbird House is booked virtually every weekend with weddings and other affairs that demand a discerning and private location. Tom and Danny make it all seem effortless, but there's no question that they're among the hardest-working people in Austin.
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