Reporting Texas
News and features from UT-Austin's School of Journalism

Arts & Culture

James Beard Award Semifinalists Dish on Prominence of Mexican Food in Austin’s Culinary Scene

Of the six James Beard award semifinalists in Austin, three are Mexican food establishments. Comadre Panadería is nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker, Suerte for Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program, and La Condesa for Outstanding Restaurant. 

The James Beard Foundation, founded in 1986, is a non-profit that celebrates and promotes America’s diverse culinary heritage through events and awards. 

Their annual awards, first given 1990, are often referred to as the “Oscars of the food world.”

Broken Spoke Is Counting on a City Hall Two-Step to Protect Its Future

The Broken Spoke faces a critical turning point this spring, as the Austin City Council considers designating the lot surrounding the Texas dance hall as a historic zone, a declaration that would protect the 58-year-old venue from real estate development along South Lamar Boulevard.
In November, the council initiated a proclamation naming the Broken Spoke a historical landmark. But that largely ceremonial proclamation, brought by Council Member Ann Kitchen, in itself does not ensure long-term preservation of the dance hall and restaurant. So, Kitchen initiated the city’s historic zoning process that would make it more difficult for the landowner to develop the Broken Spoke site.
“She didn’t want it to go the way of so many other historic landmarks unofficially named in town,” said the author of a 2017 book on the dance hall. “She wanted it to be here for future generations. So she started the process.”

From the Military to the Kitchen, These Veterans Are Choosing a Career That Brings Out Their Passion for Food

The smell of spices and chicken had people lining up at an Austin food festival to get Shirley Newell’s Dominican food. The U.S. Army veteran was rapidly taking orders, flipping her marinated chicken and packing food to-go. “Food is my comfort, my passion and how I express myself,” Newell said. “When I was in the military is when I actually started cooking.”
Now, cooking is her livelihood. She started Phatty Boy food truck nine years after she left the Army as an automated logistics specialist. For some Texas veterans, opening food-service businesses feels like a natural step after their military career.

Into the Tunnels: Austin’s Electronic Dance Underground

The scene looked like the Cavern in Liverpool, England, reminiscent of the early days of the Beatles. The space was dark and dank. Candles flickered, while party lights illuminated the work of graffiti taggers.

Amidst it all HONEY — the performing name of Eric Wieser — worked his turntable and manipulated his electronic mixes to drive his audience into a jubilant dance in Austin’s underground.

“I have to remind myself that the goal isn’t necessarily to be the king of the underground or the king of odd, cool, obscure kinds of parties,” Weiser said. “I make sure that I’m enjoying it in the time that it’s happening.”

Underground parties are private, smaller events that are held in secret locations for a limited audience. They consist of multiple live DJs playing electronic dance music that is much heavier than the mainstream tunes that are mixed at bars. These raves are usually an inclusive, diverse environment held at warehouses, run down homes or in this case tunnels. Wieser started After Hours, a set of tunnel events, after noticing a lack of uniqueness in the party scene in Austin.

Oct 27, 2022

Award-Winning Chef Edgar Rico’s Taqueria Is Giving Back, One Free Meal at a Time

Edgar Rico, chef and co-owner of the taqueria, hosts the biggest community fridge in East Austin, a project born of the financial struggles of the COVID pandemic.

“Hundreds of people a day were coming to our door to ask for food,” recalled Rico, a second-generation Mexican chef who recently appeared on Time magazine’s “100 Next 2022” list of influential people. 

In June, Rico won a James Beard Award — the so-called “Oscars of the food world” — as best emerging chef, and his restaurant continues to appear on “best of” lists. That success traces to his love of the culture of his parents’ home country and a desire to inspire and help others through food, both through his restaurant and through the community fridge it stocks. 

May 31, 2022

Just Call Me By My Name: UT Students Reflect on Their Identity

A name is the first glimpse into a person’s character. It, too, is one’s brand.

Names correlate with self-worth, personality and status. According to author Ralph Ellison, it is through our names how we first place ourselves in this world.

Three University of Texas at Austin students share how their names shaped their identities, often not without struggle.

May 23, 2022

Diversity in Tattooing Opens Up Art Form to People with Different Identities

In the years she’s been a tattoo shop owner and artist, Tina Poe has witnessed more body art studios opening, increased diversity in artists and more creative work being put out. It’s exciting to see more demographics being represented in the industry, she said. One demographic Poe noted was women. The majority of Moon Tattoo’s clients are female now, she said.

May 13, 2022

George Clinton Art Exhibit  ‘Grooves from the Deep’ in East Austin

The Carver Museum exhibit, “Grooves from the Deep and the Space Math of George Clinton,” opened March 10 and will run through June 19. It’s the first public museum showing for Clinton, who debuted his visual art in a solo exhibition in a private gallery in New Orleans in 2021.

Carre Adams, Carver Museum culture and arts education manager, said Clinton’s visual art is an extension of his music — a singular form of eclectic psychedelic funk that he performs in outrageous costumes with his band Parliament Funkadelic.
The exhibit features dozens of mixed-media paintings made by the artist, album covers from his records, posters, videos and photographs. 

Apr 28, 2022

Fiesta’s Return Proved San Antonio Still Knows How To Celebrate Culture

Bryan Campa doesn’t attend Fiesta for the food or the alcohol, though he doesn’t begrudge people who do. To him, Fiesta is a chance to celebrate his culture. Fiesta, a festival that lasts for 11 days during April, honors the Battle of the Alamo and Battle of San Jacinto and celebrates the Mexican-American and other […]

Apr 25, 2022

Acclaim for ‘CODA’ a Sign that Times Are Changing for the Deaf Community

Students at the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin, hope acclaim for “CODA” is just the beginning for better representation of the deaf community and opens the door for more opportunities for deaf individuals in the film industry.

Apr 12, 2022

At Mexic-Arte, Activists and Artists Pay Tribute To Chicano Movement, Culture

East Austin community activist Paul Hernandez left such an imprint on Austin that his image adorns the walls outside Mexic-Arte Museum. The mural’s completion coincided with the opening Friday of an art exhibit dedicated to the Chicano political and civil rights movement of a half-century ago that sought to end discrimination against Mexican Americans.

 The photographs at the entry of the exhibit, “Chicano/a Art, Movimiento y Más en Austen, Tejas 1960s to 1980s,” capture Hernandez and other activists in the Austin community working to bring about change. 

Dec 27, 2021

How Austin’s LGBTQ Community Hopes to Recover from COVID’s Cultural Vacuum

As venues, bars and theaters shut their doors and cultural funding dried up because of COVID, many Austin LGBTQ arts organizers struggled to keep their heads above water and found it increasingly difficult to connect with their communities. 

Dec 17, 2021

Austin Rapper Sees Busking as Steppingstone to Success

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, Karl Anthony arrives on West Sixth Street around 11:15 p.m. in a silver Jeep Wrangler. He parks alongside the curb, turns his hazard lights on and sets up two amplifiers, lighting equipment and a microphone — all of which are needed to prepare for a three-hour shift rapping to the crowd of revelers, some of whom toss money into a box in front of Anthony. On a good evening, he can make more than $1,200.

Dec 13, 2021

Amid Pandemic and Stress, UT Freshman Finds Safe Place in Songwriting When Bird Anderson started writing songs around 7 years old, they were about things around her like Legos. Growing up, her house was often filled with the noise of banging drums, guitars or banjos as her father taught Bird and her three brothers to play different instruments. “[Songwriting] developed more into how I like […]

Dec 13, 2021

A Podcast: James White’s Legacy Unbroken at The Broken Spoke

James White, the founder of the The Broken Spoke, died almost a year ago in January 2021. But his presence and vision lives on through the vibrato of cowboy boots two-stepping across the legendary honky-tonk’s dance floor to the wail of traditional country music. Reporting Texas’ Danielle Streetenberger and Sarah Velasquez sat down with White’s […]

Dec 13, 2021

14 Years and a Reversed Veto Later, Dog Advocates Get Their Animal Cruelty Law

A new Texas law requires drinking water for outdoor animals, prohibits the use of chain restraints and eliminates a 24-hour waiting period that kept animal control officers from addressing tethered animal situations immediately.

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