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A planetary power lunch at Space Center Houston

Written by | Published November 15, 2013

For space buffs, astronauts are intensely fascinating. Only a select few dreamers make NASA’s cut to join the ranks of space travelers. Their mastery of science, aviation, and physical fitness sets them apart. Their explorations are heralded in classrooms, books, and movies.

 

Events mark 50 years since JFK assassination

Written by | Published November 14, 2013

This tabletop model at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza shows the positions of the president's car as three shots were fired from the building, then known as the Texas School Book Depository.

Trash be gone!

Written by | Published November 7, 2013

Here's a fun idea to combine recreation and altruism in Austin this weekend: Sign up for the first annual Let's Get Trashed event, hosted by Kung Fu Saloon, a martial-arts themed bar and video arcade at 5th and Rio Grande. 

It may seem like the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy has been dissected in every manner imaginable. But the assassination's pending 50th anniversary on November 22 continues to reveal new perspectives of the event. Case in point: Wednesday's opening of the Ruth Paine House Museum, the suburban Irving home where Lee Harvey Oswald stayed the night before he shot Kennedy.

A Tower of Power

Written by | Published November 1, 2013

Yes, according to the calendar, it has been “officially” fall since September 22, but it sure hasn’t felt like it yet. But somehow, cooler temperatures have arrived just in time to set our clocks back this weekend, meaning that—among other advantages—there’s one extra hour of enjoy evening happy hours! Here’s a suggestion for those of you in the Bastrop area: Make tracks to the Bastrop Brewhouse, whose multi-level deck overlooks the Colorado River. (Weather reports indicate a low temperature of 52 on Saturday night; that’s a practically perfect condition for al fresco dining.)

The heart of downtown Fort Worth is debuting its  makeover with the grand opening celebration of the new Sundance Square Plaza.

Wildfires, parched pastures, evaporating lakes, we all have our own experience of the drought that's been plaguing Texas in recent years. A photo exhibit on display this week at the State Capitol shares new perspectives from citizens across the state.

Dry lake bed at Lake Meredith. Photo © Kent Satterwhite. Dry lake bed at Lake Meredith. Photo © Kent Satterwhite.

The Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Water Development Board, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are showcasing the photographs as part of their "What does your Texas drought look like?" campaign.

The exhibit opened Monday and continues through Friday in the Capitol's 2nd Floor Extension, Central Gallery.

Despite recent rainfall in much of the state, 62 percent of Texas remains in drought and another 24 percent is abnormally dry, according to the federal government's U.S. Drought Monitor.

The exhibit includes some of the hundreds of images that people across Texas shared via Flickr, Instagram, and Twitter as part of the agencies' photo project. You can see some of the photos on the project's Flickr page.

The project has created a historical record of the drought, and represents both water supply deficits and the ways Texans deal with drought through conservation efforts, according to a news release.

If we get the rainfall predicted this week, let's hope the exhibit stays up for another couple of weeks. It couldn't hurt.

By Lois M. Rodriguez

For the past few years, I've enjoyed the opportunity to be part of Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest's Cooking School. It's hard to explain how much I enjoy sharing a few baking tricks to let others discover their own baking skills, but I do enjoy it." It's fun to open up the inner-chef in people who think they cannot bake. 

It's hard to say what's most impressive about the new Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio. It could be Pancho Villa's last-known saddle, decorated with braided silver. Or the exhibit of more than 100 spurs, presented as a "school" swimming in an aquarium-like display case. Or the Frederic Remington colorful oil painting, "A Dandy on the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City, 1890."

The Color Inside

Written by | Published October 25, 2013

On Monday night, as a brief thunderstorm brewed over Austin, I witnessed a marriage of art, nature, and technology that left me speechless and reverent. Along with a dozen or so other guests, I ventured to the rooftop garden of the University of Texas' Student Activity Center to experience sunset at artist James Turrell’s The Color Inside, a new, permanent skyspace commissioned by Landmarks, the university’s public arts program. Since Landmarks debuted several years ago, the program has brought more than 20 pieces by nationally renowned artists to the UT campus.

Turrell, known as a “sculptor of light” has long been fascinated with light, color, space, and perception. More than 80 Turrell skyspaces exist around the world; this one is comparatively small, with room for about 25 people at a time. Entering the elliptical skyspace feels similar to entering an inexplicably comfortable cave, the black basalt benches are hard (but don’t seem so) and they’re angled so that it’s simple to gaze upward through the hole in the ceiling.

The night of my visit, the curved nature of the space united us ––mouths open, gasping in wonder at times –– as we gazed through the hole (Turrell calls it an oculus) into the sky. As the sun began to set, LED lights projected color into the ceiling and walls, creating vibrant color washes of pink, lavender, periwinkle, yellow, orange, and green. The oculus somehow intensifies the sky while making it more abstract; at times, it’s hard to discern where the walls end and the sky begins. Birds flying across the oculus become a dramatic event, as do random clouds, and a plane (if you’re lucky).

At one particular moment, surrounded by a wash of periwinkle blue and lavender, gazing skyward at an inky sky while raindrops cascaded through the oculus like diamonds, I may have had an out-of-body experience.

While The Color Inside is open for observation throughout the day, Turrell considers his art to be visible only at sunrise and sunset, during light sequences. Timing, of course, depends on the season. (Because the Student Activity Center is usually closed at sunrise, your best bet is to make a reservation for a sunset experience; be prepared for a wait. Because the installation just opened to the public on October 19, interest is very high, but don’t despair. The wait will be worth it.)

 

 

The Light Inside, photo by Lori Moffatt The Color Inside, photo © Lori Moffatt

photoThe Color Inside, on the 3rd floor of the Student Activity Center (at 22nd and Speedway) is free to experience. To make a reservation, visit www.turrell.utexas.edu.

Tee Pee Dreaming!

Written by | Published October 18, 2013

Wharton's Tee Pee Motel, photo by Lori Moffatt Wharton's Tee Pee Motel (Photo © Lori Moffatt)

Now that most of Texas has seen a cool snap, a visit to the beach might not seem as enticing as it does during the summer. But the ocean in wintertime reveals a different character. In my opinion, there is no better time to visit Texas' coastal destinations than during the off-season, when crowds are light and the sun's rays are gentler. On my list for this year is Palacios, a seaside village known for birding, fishing, and best of all: relaxing. Texas Highways has published stories in the past about Palacios' historic Luther Hotel, which dates to 1903 and faces the bay; I'd love to stay there and kick back with a book on the hotel's broad porches.

With the reopening of the federal government, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is open to visitors in time for its colorful fall foliage season. As of this week, the park’s bigtooth maples are still green and the colors are still to come.Study Tour, Guadalupe Mtns St Pk

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