As part of a commitment to uplift local artists, three resident creators debuted new collections of work spanning three different mediums through FotoHouse’s Artist-In-Residency program.
The program is a quarterly “incubating” affair—each resident is selected by “leading photographers, videographers, and tastemakers in the Austin scene,” paired with a local mentor artist from their field and then given guidance and FotoHouse, 1701 Guadelupe St., resources to execute the project.
Artists received monthly check-in meetings to help solve problems and lend support. According to a release from FAIR, the program allows artists “to pursue new ideas and take provocative risks to expand their artistic practice,” while giving them the eyes they need on their work.
Closing out the first artist residency program of 2022, FotoHouse showcased the work of Carla Taylor, a makeup artist and photographer; Ron Wayne, a model and musician; and Luke Lidell, a filmographer, with a mid-February viewing.
Carla “CT” Taylor | Makeup artist and photographer
A photographer and makeup artist by trade and first-generation American by heritage, Carla Taylor’s showcase focused on a multimedia display that put Black women at the forefront.
Paired with local artist Matthew Trujillo, the project was composed of constructed portraits, with Taylor executing both the makeup and the shutter while Trujillo created the colorful backdrops. The end result draped colorfully-painted photos over FotoHouse’s rounded walls.
Luke Lidell | Film maker
After most recently getting his name out there with his film “Devexity,” which starred Black Pumas frontman Eric Burton, Luke Lidell premiered a proof-of-concept trailer that will be used to generate interest in creating a full-length feature.
Called “Eyes,” Lidell’s film follows the true story of a “UFO” sighting by 60 schoolchildren at Ariel School in Zimbabwe in 1994. During a Q&A for the premiere, Lidell said the trailer was filmed on an exotic wildlife ranch in Texas over the course of two days.
Lidell pictured with "Eyes" actors Stella Wren (center) and KarieAnn Randol (right). (Laura Figi/Austonia)
“I really wanted to show these characters just going about a natural day, casually hearing about it in the news,” Lidell said. “Then something very dramatic happens to these children that they will never change their story on or forget the change all their lives, forever.”
Working with a small budget, Lidell said he wants to get the proof-of-concept video in front of as many people as possible—especially Dan Aykroyd, who Lidell said has a vested interest in the story. Since his proof-of-concept focused mostly on the incident, Lidell said he wants to focus more on the interactions between parents and children in the full-length film.
“I think the main thing would be diving into some of the character’s dynamics—some of their parents don’t believe, some of them do,” Lidell said. “I just think it's an amazing story and they ended up here like going back to their original school later, as adults, and talking about their experience so I’ll maybe show that in the film as well.”
Ron Wayne | Rapper and model
Leveraging his talents in both performance and modeling, Ron Wayne used his residency to create his first rap music video “One in a Million.” Though he has already found success in modeling for Urban Outfitters, Fila, Vogue Magazine and New York Fashion Week, Wayne is making the shift toward music.
The music video, which splices the audio in and out as Wayne transitions in and out of two different versions of his own life, is meant to show vulnerability while chasing aspirations and breaking the cycle of what you were given.
“Everyone wants to chase their dreams, whether there's anything that's stopping internally or externally outside yourself, you don't want to let anything block you,” Wayne said. “So if you have a dream, believe in it.”
In conjunction with FotoHouse’s support, Wayne will debut his EP and career as a musician at SXSW 2022.
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Is the key to a new Sixth Street making it more like Broadway?
In Nashville, Tennessee, the mix of bars, restaurants and honky-tonks playing live music on the major thoroughfare of Broadway keeps the city’s downtown lively even as other parts of the area bring in office workers and residential units.
Crissy Cassetty, director of economic development with the Nashville Downtown Partnership, says she thinks Nashville has always kind of compared itself to Austin, and that Broadway is their Sixth Street.
“That's where the majority of our live music is. We have several artists and venues downtown,” Cassetty said, noting music spaces from country stars Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean.
“Over the years, our smaller, local honky tonks have kind of transformed into bigger entertainment venues that take multiple floors, and levels,” Cassetty said. “The growth and the attraction of Broadway hasn't slowed down forever.”
In Austin, the pandemic took a toll on Sixth Street and other parts of downtown. A recent report by the Downtown Austin Alliance noted that pedestrian foot traffic has started to return to downtown nightlife districts, including East and West Sixth. Total monthly visits surpassed 200,000 on West Sixth in October 2021, beating out the visits in that month in 2019, though East Sixth slugged behind the 2019 total. On the progress of recovery for downtown entertainment districts, the report says, “the live music economy continues to suffer as ticket sales and attendance at shows remain depressed,”
Public safety concerns haven't helped with a revival of Sixth Street. Sunday marked a year since a mass shooting that led to 14 injuries and one death. On the last day of SXSW this year, another shooting left four injured. To address incidents like these, the city has moved forward with a Safer Sixth Street initiative to tackle gun violence, ensure EMS can care for patients quickly and look into more seating and dining in the area, among other practices.
But investments from commercial agency Stream Realty aim to transform the district by adding improvements between Neches and Sabine streets. Caitlin Ryan, the head of the Austin office says Sixth Street is the city’s special tool in the center of downtown.
“If I can fast forward 10 years, I think we look back, and we've made a significant change and Sixth Street is not only a place for night, but also the day,” Ryan said. “But it's evolved from not only our city council preservation asset, historic landmark, but everybody in our city, the music commission, coming together to form a street that our city can be proud of.”
For Broadway’s public safety approach, Cassetty says groups like the mayor’s office, police department and the convention and visitor’s bureau have the common goal of making the street feel clean and secure.
Still, she described the matter of keeping nightlife alive while also keeping the area safe and friendly as an “ongoing battle.”
“The more successful an area becomes, you just have to figure out how to balance all of it. Especially when you're in a downtown footprint, that balance of the play, along with the residential population and the workforce population,” Cassetty said. “And making sure you don't upset the residents or the employees because they're a big part of the downtown culture. You don't want to lose that because you have a successful entertainment district.”
Aside from that, improvements also involve infrastructure. Julie Fitch, chief operating officer of Downtown Austin Alliance, said they’d like to see investment from both the private sector and the city in rebuilding the infrastructure of Sixth Street. Part of the vision from Stream involves introducing wider festival sidewalks, only three lanes of traffic and the construction of four- and five-story buildings.
The entertainment elements will remain, which Fitch said is fantastic.
“I think that with the opportunity that comes with this level of investment, it really has a chance to expand Sixth Street’s appeal to a wider variety of audiences,” Fitch said.
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Travis County is hosting a free Juneteenth gathering filled with food trucks, dancing and activities for all ages in celebration of freedom. The theme is “Homecoming: Meet us at the gathering spot."
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday | 📍 Lower level parking garage, 800 Lavaca St.
Start your weekend at the ballgame! This week Round Rock takes on the Houston-area Sugar Land Space Cowboys at home. Tickets start at $12 and there will be fireworks after the game.7:05 p.m. Friday | 📍 Dell Diamond, 3400 E Palm Valley Blvd.
Sneakerheads listen up—Music Lane is getting a new fashion boutique, Konnect, by former Longhorn and Gamers First founder Kenny Vaccaro. The boutique will rotate designer brands and luxury shoes.10 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday | 📍 The Kollective, 200 Academy Dr.
Honoring the historically Black holiday of Juneteenth, this year’s Freedom Fest will feature a barbecue competition, sling-shot showcase, a performance by the Soul of our City musicians, local food trucks and children’s activities. Best of all, the event is completely free.1-4 p.m. Saturday | 📍 Colony Park District Park, 7201 Colony Loop Dr.
Contracommon and The Little Gay Shop are teaming for a quick pop-up showcasing LGBTQ+ and BIPOC artists. The market was curated by Molly Sydnor to go along with her exhibition, Hysteria.3-6 p.m. Saturday | 📍 Contracommon, 12912 Hill Country Blvd.
The Austin Motel is inviting everyone to dance under its neon lights, pose and relive prom with festive cocktails and Hot Dog King on site. Winner of the Prom Star parade will win a membership to the Austin Motel Swim Club. Tickets are $25 per person.
6-10 p.m. Saturday | 📍 Austin Motel, 1220 S Congress Ave.
Catch some classic, collector, antique, sports cars and more at the monthly Round Rock Car Show. The event is free and open to all ages.10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday | 📍 Old Settlers Park, 2002 Harrell Pkwy.
Join May Magdalene, Mars and Veronica Valentine and special guests for a lively drag brunch you won’t soon forget on the patio at The Volstead Lounge. This event is 21+ and don’t forget to tip your queens!1 p.m. Sunday | 📍 The Volstead Lounge, 1500 E 6th St.