Everything Is Exemplary

The 2014-15 Austin Critics Table Awards

For 22 years, the critics have been the ones handing out the honors at their annual presentation of awards for outstanding artistic achievements, but this year the Critics Tables were turned, so to speak. Los Outsiders, in accepting their award for Outstanding Group Gallery Exhibition, dispensed awards of their own creation to the critics.

Margo Sawyer, accepting her award for Artist of the Year (Photo by John Anderson)

The "You Write Good" awards, recognizing articles that the local arts writers had "successfully published" – zing! – and printed on the same cheap office-supply store certificates that the critics have always favored – zing zing! – were issued by the Silver Harddrive Ingenuity Table, and if you haven't already gotten that joke, just take a minute to let that august body's acronym sink in.

Photo by Robert Faires

It was just one instance in which art insinuated itself into this year's ceremony. The winner for Outstanding Independent or Public Project went to Ahöm, a massive project in which 60-plus artists transformed the 7,500-sqaure-foot Museum of Human Achievement space into an Ikea knockoff, and when it was announced, artist Manik Raj Nakra shuffled to the stage, handing out Ahöm fliers. Wearing a blond wig, blue polo shirt, and corporate ID badge, he shyly introduced himself as junior sales trainee Oörk Hjälmar Oôrk and spent the entire acceptance speech in character, awkwardly plugging the company.

Most of the time, the art at the awards came in the form of dance, erupting spontaneously from those at the mic: Austin Arts Hall of Fame inductee Heloise Gold, who vibrated with excitement to the music of house band the Invincible Czars; members of the A'lante Flamenco Dance Ensemble (including Critics Table member Claire Spera) giving a furious sample of the stamping and clapping that won the company Outstanding Ensemble, Dance; and the very young son of retiring Ballet Austin ballerina Michelle Thompson, who joined his mother on the stage when she accepted her Outstanding Dancer award for her work in Belle Redux and shook his preschool booty for all it was worth, proving the apple hasn't fallen far from that family tree.

Retiring Ballet Austin dancer Michelle Thompson and her fan club (Photo by John Anderson)

The displays of creativity by awards recipients was just further evidence of what the Critics Table Awards have always been about: celebrating the inventiveness and artistic drive that fills this community. This year, the in formal association of arts writers from the Chronicle and Austin American-Statesman distributed honors in 39 categories, as well as welcoming three more local creatives – Gold, Fidencio Duran, and Allen Robertson – into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame.

Salvage Vanguard Theater's Thr3e Zisters took top honors at the 23rd Austin Critics Table Awards Monday. The irreverent riff on Chekhov was recognized in four areas, including Outstanding Production of a Comedy. Netting three awards each were LOLA Austin's La Femme Bohème and Texas State's Kiss Me, Kate. Nine projects took home two prizes apiece: Ballet Austin’s Belle Redux; Zach Theatre’s Cenicienta; Half & Half ProductionsChicago; Hyde Park Theatre’s The Christians; Theatre en Bloc’s Cock; Physical Plant Theater’s Everything Is Established; the Austin Classical Guitar/Conspirare/Texas Performing Arts collaboration How Little You Are; Performa/Dance’s Ignite: Three Works; and Trouble Puppet Theatre’s The Wars of Heaven, Part I.

For a gallery of images from the ceremony, go here.

THEATRE

Production, Drama
Cock, Theatre en Bloc

Production, Comedy (tie)
Everything Is Established, Physical Plant Theater
Thr3e Zisters, Salvage Vanguard Theater

Production, Musical
Kiss Me, Kate, Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance

Direction
Derek Kolluri, Cock/Jacob’s Ladder
Yuri Umov, Thr3e Zisters

Acting in a Leading Role
Jacques Coliman, Bright Now Beyond
Leslie Hollingsworth, Chicago (Half & Half)
Marc Pouhé, Cyrano de Bergerac/The Mountaintop/The Taming of the Shrew
Gricelda Silva, Changelings/Simple Sundries/Cenicienta

Acting in a Supporting Role
Melvin Abston, All the Way
Joey Hood, The Christians
Jessica Hughes, The Christians

Ensemble Performance
Everything Is Established, Physical Plant Theater

Music Direction
John VanderGheynst, Chicago (Half & Half)

Movement
Cassie Abate, Kiss Me, Kate

David Mark Cohen New Play Award (tie)
Am I White?, Adrienne Dawes
Cenicienta, Rupert Reyes and Caroline Reck


DANCE

Dance Concert
Ignite: Three Works, Performa/Dance

Short Work
“On Truth and Love,” Performa/Dance

Choreographer
Nicholas Kepley, Season of Innocence

Dancer
Siobhan Cooke, Soul/Sole Connections
Michelle Thompson, Belle Redux

Duet
Alyson Dolan & Jack Anthony Dunlap II, Briefs: An Episodic Adventure

Ensemble
A’lante Flamenco Dance Ensemble, Desplazados

Touring Show
Otro Teatro, Luciana Achugar, Fusebox Festival


Scenic Designer Ia Ensterä, winner of this year's John Bustin Award for Conspicuous Versatility (Photo by John Anderson)

DESIGN

Scenic Design
Ia Ensterä, We Play Chekhov/Detroit/The Tempest/Thr3e Zisters

Costume Design
Michael Raiford, Belle Redux/Kiss Me, Kate

Lighting Design
Natalie George, The Tuning Project/Gold Show Rose Show/Feast of My Heart/Thr3e Zisters/1,000 Forest Gorillas in Kansas

Sound Design
K. Eliot Haynes, Once There Were Six Seasons/The Wars of Heaven, Part I


CLASSICAL MUSIC

Classical Performance
Austin Symphony Orchestra with Alison Balsom

Chamber Performance
La Femme Bohème, LOLA Austin

Choral Performance
Muhly: How Little You Are, Austin Classical Guitar/Conspirare/Texas Performing Arts

Singer
Emily Breedlove, La Femme Bohème
Julie Taylor, La Femme Bohème
Nick Zammit, Bach Vs. Handel Smackdown

Emily Breedlove (l) and Julie Taylor, accepting their awards for their performances in La Femme Bohème (Photo by John Anderson)

Original Composition/Score (tie)
How Little You Are, Nico Muhly
The Wars of Heaven, Part I, Justin Sherburn

Instrumentalist
Sandy Yamamoto, Franck: Sonata in A Major

Ensemble
Conspirare


VISUAL ART

Museum Exhibition
“Do Ho Suh,” The Contemporary Austin

Solo Gallery Exhibition (tie)
“Contamination | Pollination: Elizabeth McDonald,” Pump Project
“Dave Culpepper: Wake Me When It’s Quitting Time,” Co-Lab Projects

Group Gallery Exhibition
“Gently Fried,” Los Outsiders, curators; Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center

Work of Art: Independent or Public Project
AHOM, Museum of Human Achievement

Artist of the Year
Margo Sawyer

Gallery, Body of Work
Women & Their Work


SPECIAL CITATIONS

John Bustin Award for Conspicuous Versatility
Ia Ensterä

W.H. “Deacon” Crain Award for Outstanding Student Work
Elizabeth Brady, Texas State University
Patrick Shaw, University of Texas

Flight of Fancy Award
Landmarks and Nancy Rubins for Monochrome

Making Bad Award
Long Center for the support and development of David Krabb’s Bad Kid

That’s Entertainment Award
Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards

Austin Arts Hall of Fame
Fidencio Duran
Heloise Gold
Allen Robertson


Critics participating in this year’s awards – covering the period from May 1, 2014, to April 30, 2015 – were the Austin American-Statesman’s Cate Blouke (theatre), Claire Canavan (theatre), Luke Quinton (classical music/visual art), Claire Spera (dance), and Jeanne Claire van Ryzin (arts); and the Chronicle’s Elizabeth Cobbe (theatre), Caitlin Greenwood (visual art), Adam Roberts (theatre/classical music), Elissa Russell (theatre), Seth Orion Schwaiger (visual art), Jonelle Seitz (dance), Natalie Zeldin (classical music), and Robert Faires (arts).

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Austin Critics Table Awards, Austin Critics Table, Austin Arts Hall of Fame, Thr3e Zisters, Cock, Kiss Me Kate, La Femme Bohème, Belle Redux, Cenicienta, Everything Is Established, How Little You Are, The Christians, Ignite: Three Works, The Wars of Heaven, Part I, Los Outsiders, Michelle Thompson, Heloise Gold, A'lante Flamenco Dance Ensemble

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