NAMASTE Y’ALL! AUSTIN + YOGA + ART + TURRELL = BINGO
Austin. The streets are clean, the people are friendly, the restaurants are good and the hipsters abound in mass quantities. When I say hipsters I do not mean the original cats, I mean the unicorn rainbow tatt strutting, heavy beard in the middle of summer, fixy riding, cowgirl boot variety. You know, hipsters a la Texas. I don’t know if I have ever been in a city with such an enormous population of people in their 20’s and 30’s and oh yah, mostly if not totally all white. Ethnic diversity or lack there of was definitely my least favorite aspect of this locale. But putting that major detail aside Austin was uber clean and the forerunner of many noteable qualities. Above are images from Barton Springs, an incredible swimming spot just outside the city proper. The springs are refreshing and a popular spot for happy campers, (note the acro and yoga action being had). It was so wonderful to partake in full-blown aqua activities with throngs of beautiful people in the middle of Texas. Who knew? Don’t forget to cruise the links I have included on the post. I hope you find something there that you love.
I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with a native to the city who was exuberant to share all of Austin’s national rankings.
So the no. 1 list that Sean helped me compile is as follows…Austin is:
no. 1 Biggest boom town
no. 1 Largest capital building in the country
no. 1 Largest Urban bat population in the country
He had several more equally titillating rankings but they have escaped me at this point. Thanks Sean.
I had the gracious opportunity to stay at my friend Sylvia’s flat in the Downtown area. She is a fabulous artist and scientist I met in Berlin last summer. Unbeknownst to me the DOMA Abortion Filabuster happened around the corner from the flat last week led by the stalwart Wendy Davis. What a spectacle of corruption and an imbalanced system towards Women. I was thrilled that so many protesters came out to support Davis.
My experiences with people in Austin revealed an incredible altruistic attitude, from the friends I spent time with to those on the street. You know you are in the ebb and flow of grace when friends are outrageously generous and you get to share something back. This exchange makes the healthy and happy world go round.
I always thought that yoga mat towels were a total gimmick. That was until I practiced yoga in Austin. Particularly in Christina Sell’s Asana Junkie practice at Bfree Yoga. Try practicing advanced asana for two hours in a pool of your own juices. It was umm…slippery. New poses that Christina and Shelby revealed included a prep for full bekhasana with leg-breaking pose (still looking for the Sanskrit on that one), and a fabulous noose wrap around the neck variation of EPRK. I also had the opportunity to work of chakrasana with Matt at Caste Hill Fitness remembering to put both feet down on the floor first.
Got to spend some time biking on Lady Bird Trail with my friend Joseph. He is making it in Austin as a yogi, filmmaker and ad man. He had so many wonderful back streets and alleys to show me. Blessed to catch up with an old friend on two wheels.
Brutalist Architecture in Austin is a refreshing site after the inundation of nouveau riche live/work high rise flats. I can always get down for some
I was really looking forward to visiting the AMOA Arthouse with exhibits by Seher Shah & Pinaree Sanpitak. The renovated space with traces of turn of the century decorative murals, corinthian arabesques painted in terra cotta hues intersecting with brick walls spliced with small contemporary rectangular windows of hyper aqua light was stunning.
After being an art teacher for the past seven years I have a broad understanding of the messy and playful aspects of a hands-on experience. So walking into a proper art museum is a cool sigh of relief. To experience the order and simplicity, the clear frames created for viewing, the sparse use of color and the epic use of white truly makes me swoon.
I was particularly taken by Shah’s works loosely inspired by earlier works of Le Corbusier. Deconstructing a photograph by flattening the image thus obscuring the hierarchy within the image and then running it through a auto-cad, photo-montage process created the experience of phantasmagoric architecture in staunch black and white.
Here are some works of art that hit me with complete initial disdain and then after a second wave of viewing and understanding the work suddenly becomes meaningful, it becomes art. This is not the case with the work of James Turrell. I am immediately moved beyond words when approaching his light spaces and there is simply no question that his work is transcendent art that taps directly upon my first impression right into a spiritual experience. I made a small detour while driving to New Orleans from Austin stopping off at the Museum of Modern Art in Houston to participate in Turrell’s retrospective The Light Inside of topo-aquatints, light rooms and meanderings about flight, space and light.
In Rondo Blue the viewer enters a matte black hallway that leads around a corner and into a large rectangular room. The first thing I noticed before being struck by the piece was the soft reflection of indigo blue on the opposite entry wall, a translucent echo. Then turning around completely to face Rondo dead center I was taken off guard by the opaque blur of saturated blue. The projected color hummed with a vibratory quality that can truly only be experienced in person. This piece is Iceland to me. It is both a pulsating indigo wall and a frozen abyss. The total image is almost too much to take in as one impression, my eyeballs trembled. In many ways I was reminded of the paintings by Rothko, a similar rendering of color interactions with the human eye, but there is a significant difference between the play of color in pigment verses light. Yet both artists reach for a state of a transcendent experience simply through the use of hue. If you really want to get down with color I highly recommend the books The Primary Colors & The Secondary Colors by Alexander Theroux. These essays have made some deep impressions on me in terms of how I view and implement the use of color in works.
In Aurora & Aurora B Turrell uses the time from dawn till dusk sped up with a series of LED lights. You notice the subtle changes of light and color over a matter of moments as opposed to a matter of hours. This work has two if not three colors that dissolve into one another and off to the edges. The dissolution on the color on the rectangular edges appears like a stain dissolving on wet cloth.
There were many other notable works. I recommend you make a visit to the show.
Parting thoughts…..Austin is great, very clean, organized, hip and youth-oriented. There is great Art and a lot of Yoga. On a scale of 1-10 Sean, I would give it a straight up 7.