Public Notice: Shared History
Art and journalism: Incubator 1.0
Thirty-five years ago this summer, on what may have been July 9, The Austin Chronicle moved into our first office, sharing space with the sorta-famous art collective known as Sheauxnough Studios.
We were enormously fortunate to fall in with this group – and not just because $300 a month for 10,000 square feet of office space Downtown was a remarkable bargain, even if it wasn't air conditioned. The Sheauxnough folks had been part of the Armadillo Art Squad, turning out a decade's worth of amazing posters for that seminal Austin club, and had also brought that design sense to The Austin Sun, a hugely influential underground paper of the mid-Seventies (some of whose staff went on to found LA Weekly a bit later, helping move the industry from "underground" to "alternative").
Micael Priest was the leader of the pack, but the other artists in residence were equally talented: Guy Juke, Danny Garrett, and Dale Wilkins at that point – other folks moved in and out, and stopped in to work or hang out, but those four were the core group while we were there. And "in residence" was not just a figurative term; each of the guys had a makeshift bunk setup, so they could literally roll out of bed and get to work, and we were so jealous, because we had to go home to our own shitty apartments each night, and who knew what drama, or inspiration, we might miss.
As an added bonus, the space came with a marvelous old Robertson process camera that was about 30 feet long, and took up two rooms, one of which was a darkroom where various substances were consumed, relationships consummated, and tears shed. But with that 30-foot span, the Robertson could reduce or enlarge an image to anywhere from 20% to 500% of its size, with a single exposure. The mind boggled.
Priest, and then Juke, defined the early look of the Chronicle, and a lot of the worldview, as well. Then within two years, that era was over, and that building was torn down. The Chronicle went on to other spaces, and other eras, and bore witness to the maturation of an Austin music industry, and then a film industry, and then a tech industry. And the artists moved on as well, a few of them still working prolifically, others not still active, but still providing an inspiration to the generations that have come after.
This week the Chronicle is hosting the Association of Alternative Newsmedia convention, an annual get-together for papers like ours from around the U.S. and Canada, and the South Austin Popular Culture Center (SouthPop) is hosting the closing party for their current exhibit, Sheauxnough Studios: Counter Culture Art Designers – "a selection of the photos, posters, and papers that came out of Sheauxnough, chronicling this artist collective and studio that kept Austin weird as the Seventies became the Eighties. You can see how the second generation of Armadillo artists learned from their predecessors, and see just what it is about Austin's sound and style that stays the same." The closing reception takes place on International Eddy Day, July 9, at 7:09pm, with live music and suitable refreshments, and I can't imagine a more genuine way to close out the AAN convention.
Admission to the museum is always free, but they ask for a $5 donation for events (members free). There's no parking at the center (1516-B S. Lamar) for the reception; please park just south on Collier Street. See www.southpop.org for more info.
Trapped, a 2016 documentary about legislation across the country targeting abortion providers, won the Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. It screens tonight as part of Controversy and Conversation, a documentary film series presented by the UT Humanities Institute's Difficult Dialogues program, in conjunction with Austin Public Libraries. Thu., July 7, 7pm, at Terrazas Branch Library, 1105 E. Cesar Chavez.
Aquatic Master Planning: As of last weekend, all city of Austin pools are operating on their normal schedule. But that wasn't the case for the first month of the summer, as the Austin Parks and Recreation Department was (again) unable to recruit enough lifeguards to open all the pools, and the public reaction was, well, heated. That may not have been on PARD planners' minds when they set these meetings up, but I bet it's a talking point now.
Over the next couple of weeks, PARD will host four Aquatic Alternatives Meetings to present and hear feedback on the Aquatic Master Plan that's being developed. The intent is to air "alternative options" for the aquatic system based on staff and community feedback. "The Aquatic Master Plan will help [PARD] decide how to manage existing pools and guide installation of new pools where they are needed most." Get in on the discussion:
• Tue., July 12, 6-8pm, Circle C Community Center, 7817 La Crosse Ave.
• Wed., July 13, 6-8pm, Montopolis Rec Center, 1200 Montopolis Dr.
• Tue., July 19, 6-8pm, Spicewood Springs Branch Library, 8637 Spicewood Springs Rd.
• Wed., July 20, 6-8pm, Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Rd.