Though soon-to-be-wed couple Kelly Frye and Nick Campbell are the definition of jet-setters—traveling all around the globe, from filming in New Orleans, living it up in Hollywood or hopping across the pond to Campbell’s English hometown—the pair has put down roots in Austin.
The “Secrets of Sulphur Springs” actress and international fine art consultant Campbell will tie the knot this week in Houston, Frye’s hometown, officially starting their new life together in the Lone Star State. Though the couple is looking to buy their own land in Austin, they are currently renting a home in the Travis Heights neighborhood while they navigate the red-hot real estate sphere.
Between Frye’s mystery character in “Hypnotic,” which was filmed in Austin with Ben Affleck, and Campbell’s Austin-based art advisory company making a case for buying local art, the new residents have already made a splash in the city.
So what made this international power couple want to make Austin a home base?
Frye: It’s the Hill Country drives and artistic freedom
Frye has been living in Austin on and off since 2018, the same year she met Campbell, but ever since the pandemic began and auditions went virtual, she’s been able to spend more time in her home state.
While she’s here, Frye’s inner Texan comes out as she explores the many food options on South Congress and greater Hill Country towns like Lockhart for some Black’s Barbecue or Fredericksburg for antiquing and wineries. Having spent lots of time in Austin, Los Angeles and New Orleans, Frye likes to pride herself on her tour guide abilities.
“I like getting in there and finding my favorite spots, discovering a city, discovering the neat things that it has to offer, no lenses,” Frye said.
Frye said she is fortunate to have been able to keep up her travels despite the pandemic but since relocating to Austin, the local opportunities have come to her: Frye will star alongside Affleck and Alicia Braga in Robert Rodriguez’s upcoming feature, “Hypnotic.”
Frye said landing a Rodriguez film was one of her top five career goals—so important, in fact, that she left a vacation in Greece less than 24 hours in for the chance to be booked and dyed her signature red hair blonde.
Frye starred alongside Affleck in the new movie, which famously filmed in downtown Austin September-November. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
“('Hypnotic' was) a total dream come true—I was pinching myself,” Frye said. “So traveling 37 hours and dyeing my hair blonde was a big moment, but so worth it. (Rodriguez) is a true creative. The people he works with are like extensions of himself as a creative, which is an amazing thing to watch.”
Frye wouldn’t release many details about her character other than she’s “a reveal” and a “boss ‘b,’” but the film could be in theaters as early as this summer.
Campbell: Austin is “on the brink of something exciting.”
Much newer to town than his fiancée, English-born Campbell said he is still learning the local ropes having only been in Austin for a few weeks but is excited to be part of the city’s growth spurt.
“This established, but small, very vibrant, very exciting city is going through this sort of unprecedented state of flux in a very positive way,” Campbell said. “It just seems like it's a city that's on the brink of something very exciting, so we wanted to be a part of that.”
Campbell comes bearing a new perspective in the art collection industry—he launched Narcissus Arts, an art consulting firm specializing in art under $14,000, or £10,000, in 2010 with the intent of bringing fine art to the masses. Campbell then launched Campbell Art Advisory, based in Austin and Los Angeles, catering to all price brackets in 2018.
“It seemed to me that there was this growing number of friends that had, as it were, smaller resources to put into art,” Campbell said. “There was obviously an incredible amount of supply out there but one just needed to know where to look.”
Campbell is leveraging his new home base by connecting Texan artists Adrian Armstrong, Shaun O'Dell and Kyle Steed to buyers who can support their endeavors.
“I think that the talent is here, that's very obvious, and they need to be supported,” Campbell said. “There are people here who are telling interesting stories that are very talented at telling those stories, and they need to have a light shone on them and should be celebrated.”
Reflecting both Frye’s love of Houston and Campbell’s art profession, the pair plan to get married in the Rothko Chapel this week. They plan on continuing to split their time between here and L.A., so don’t be surprised if you spot the pair on South Congress.
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The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus is urging Gov. Greg Abbott to call an emergency special legislative session to consider a variety of gun restrictions and safety measures in the wake of a mass school shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two adults dead this week.
In a letter released Saturday morning, all 13 Senate Democrats demanded lawmakers pass legislation that raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 years old. The Uvalde gunman was 18 and had purchased two AR-style rifles which he used in the attack.
The caucus is also calling for universal background checks for all firearm sales, “red flag” laws that allow a judge to temporarily remove firearms from people who are considered an imminent threat to themselves or others, a “cooling off period” for the purchase of a firearm and regulations on high capacity magazines for citizens.
“Texas has suffered more mass shootings over the past decade than any other state. In Sutherland Springs, 26 people died. At Santa Fe High School outside Houston, 10 people died. In El Paso, 23 people died at a Walmart. Seven people died in Midland-Odessa,” the letter reads. “After each of these mass killings, you have held press conferences and roundtables promising things would change. After the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, those broken promises have never rung more hollow. The time to take real action is now.”
Such laws are unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled Legislature, which has a track record of favoring legislation that loosens gun restrictions. Only the governor has the power to call lawmakers back into a special session for emergency work.
Asked about a special session at a Friday press conference in Uvalde, Abbott said “all options are on the table” adding that he believed laws would ultimately be passed to address this week’s horrors. However, he suggested laws would be more tailored toward addressing mental health, rather than gun control.
“You can expect robust discussion and my hope is laws are passed, that I will sign, addressing health care in this state,” he said, “That status quo is unacceptable. This crime is unacceptable. We’re not going to be here and do nothing about it.”
He resisted the idea of increasing the age to purchase a firearm, saying that since Texas became a state, 18-year-olds have been able to buy a gun.
He also dismissed universal background checks saying existing background check policies did not prevent the Santa Fe and Sutherland Springs shootings, which both happened while he has been in office.
“If everyone wants to seize upon a particular strategy and say that’s the golden strategy right there, look at what happened in the Santa Fe shooting,” he said. “A background check had no relevance because the shooter took the gun from his parents…Anyone who suggests we should focus on background checks as opposed to mental health, I suggest is mistaken.”
Since the massacre at Robb Elementary School, the governor’s comments about potential solutions have centered around increasing mental health services, rather than restricting access to firearms.
This story has been edited for length.
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Designs for stations along Project Connect’s Blue Line were presented this week, giving a detailed look at what part of the rail system extending from downtown to the airport could look like.
The planned stations that have gotten the latest focus include Waterfront, Travis Heights and Lakeshore stations past Lady Bird Lake.
At the Waterfront station, the preliminary design aims to prevent visual obstructions and save on costs. This is accomplished by a transit guideway that will lower from the bridge to a level station.
Heading onto East Riverside Drive, the light rail faces a curve requiring a slow down to about 10 miles per hour.
The Travis Heights station could involve relocating a pedestrian crosswalk zone at Alameda Drive to Blunn Creek. Since light rails can't effectively operate on a steep grade, this allows the transit guideway to avoid that.
From there, the rail will extend to the Norwood Park area, and though it will reach along the right-of-way zone, the park will be able to remain open.
A view of the Blue Line by Lady Bird Lake. (Project Connect)
The line involves some coordination with the Texas Department of Transportation. That's because the department is working on an intersection that will have to be built before the phasing of the section of the Blue Line involving an I-35 crossing.
When it comes to the safety of cyclists and walkers, design ideas include a pedestrian hybrid beacon by East Bouldin Creek that would provide a protected signal to cross. And for the intersection TxDOT is carrying out, Project Connect is working with them on pedestrian access across the intersection. It could involve shared use paths along the street and crossings beneath it.
This summer, the public can expect 30% of design and cost estimates to be released. Though the project was $7.1 billion when voters approved it in November 2020, the latest estimates factoring in inflation and supply chain constraints show it could ultimately be upwards of $10 billion.
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