Archive for: April 2014

Graduation: A New Beginning

By Rachel Bush, Rabeea Tahir, and Ingrid Vasquez

 

While most University of Texas seniors are currently worrying about finals, graduate school, or where they will be working in the future, athletic training major Nikki Hogan has a different, yet equally pressing, matter to attend to.

Receiving both her UT class ring and her engagement ring this year has been an emotional experience. "I’m happy to be done with undergrad," Hogan said, "but I’m going to miss this place so much."

Receiving both her UT class ring and her engagement ring this year has been an emotional experience. “I’m happy to be done with undergrad,” Hogan said, “but I’m going to miss this place so much.”

“Wedding planning is a lot more fun than school work,” Hogan said, when asked about her upcoming wedding, a mere four weeks after graduation. “It’ll be really nice once I graduate though because I’ll finally be able to put all my attention on the wedding, which is what I really want to do!”
Hogan, who works with the UT women’s swimming and diving team, met her fiancée, Casey Hight, when the two worked together at JCPenney’s. Five years later, on Aug. 23, 2013, the night before Hogan was to return to Austin for her senior year at UT, Hight proposed.
Since the proposal, Hogan’s life has been a constant cycle of wedding planning, tests, and work with the UT athletic department. As a full-time student, it has been a challenge for Hogan to balance enough time for classes while still putting in adequate time for wedding planning, but she attributes the accomplishment of the planning to one person.

Hogan and Hight recently took their engagement pictures in downtown Houston, where they will be celebrating their wedding at Annunciation Catholic Church in June.

Hogan and Hight recently took their engagement pictures in downtown Houston, where they will be celebrating their wedding at Annunciation Catholic Church in June.
(Photo via Nikki Hogan)

“Planning my wedding and my graduation at the same time is hard, but my mom has been the biggest blessing in my life,” Hogan said. “She’s doing most of the planning and I help as much as I can. When tests [and other things] come up, I’m able to take a break from it.”
While getting married is not at the top of most graduating seniors’ to-do list, Hogan has been fortunate to have mostly positive reactions to her upcoming nuptials.

“Only one person has given me a slightly negative comment, most people are happy and excited,” Hogan said. “I was taking vitals on an athlete and he noticed my ring and asked if I was getting married. I told him ‘Yes, in June!’ and he said ‘But you’re so young!’”
Graduating from UT and getting married are not the only exciting transitions for Hogan this summer. In July, she will start her job as a graduate assistant with the women’s swimming and diving team at the University of Houston and will then begin graduate school at UH in the fall.
“As far as my future [in athletic training], I want to work as a high school athletic trainer and ultimately in a sports medicine clinic,” Hogan said. “But if an awesome opportunity arises, I will certainly take it!”

Hogan and Hight, an alumnus of Sam Houston State University, show their rivaling school spirit.  (Photo via Nikki Hogan)

Hogan and Hight, an alumnus of Sam Houston State University, show their rivaling school spirit.
(Photo via Nikki Hogan)

While the reality of her upcoming graduation and wedding has not yet completely sunk in, Hogan has conflicting feelings about the two events.
“The wedding is so happy and the graduation is so sad! I’m going to miss UT and Austin so much,” Hogan said. “This is where I really found myself and became me. But what I’m leaving for is the happiest, greatest thing I could imagine…a marriage with Casey Hight. That is amazing and scary and exciting and nerve-wracking! The wedding is keeping me from getting too sad [about graduation], because most of my friends are coming to the wedding!”

 

 

The Jane Claire Hervey Story

By Faith Daniel and Nataly Torres

What starts here changes the world.

That’s the motto that is emblazoned across The University of Texas at Austin. From the moment that students step forth onto the Forty Acres, they are encouraged to strive for greatness and find passion in their work. Since August 2011, Jane Claire Hervey has done just that. Hervey is one of more than 50,000 students that roam the Forty Acres on a daily basis. What differentiates the Rio Hondo native is that she isn’t aimlessly wandering around. Hervey knows the path that she’s taking.

Hervey is graduating in December 2014 with a Bachelor of Journalism. Although her time as a Longhorn will have been less than many of her peers, Hervey has made the most of her time as a student. Hervey currently serves as the editor-in-chief of Orange Magazine, the university’s student-run online magazine. Whenever she’s not reporting on local happenings, Hervey serves as a campus ambassador for KIND Bars, fuels peers’ procrastination by writing quirky posts for BuzzFeed and sings her heart out at the Love Goat. Hervey manages multiple projects at once all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Talk about girl power.

On top of being a busy bee, Hervey’s passions lie in many causes. Professor Gene Burd is retiring at the end of this school after serving the university for 42 years. Burd is the oldest and longest serving professor at the university. The journalism department doesn’t have any formal plans to recognize him for his service, so Hervey took it upon herself to cook up something for the deserving and beloved Burd.

To honor Burd, Hervey is organizing a walk from his Barton Springs Road apartment to campus. For those who don’t know, Burd makes the three-mile trek from his home to the Belo Center for New Media everyday, rain or shine. The walk is open to students and faculty as a way to join him in a daily ritual and show their appreciation for his work and dedication to the university.
“The journalism department as an entity has no intention of doing it as a whole, which I think is kind of sucky. He’s been here for 42 years and I just don’t think he’s gotten any credit he deserves. So, that’s where the walk came in,” says Hervey.

When she was younger, Hervey struggled with self-esteem issues. With her confident demeanor, that may come as a surprise to many. Her self-esteem issues stemmed from her weight, which at times hindered her from believing in herself and her abilities. It was in her junior year of high school that Hervey took control of the reins and began to get her life back. She focused on herself and her well-being and it was in that moment that she rose. After rising, Hervey never came back down.

“If I’m going to get somewhere, I’ve got to do it myself,” says Hervey. “Do I sleep a lot? No, I don’t sleep very much. I’ve been blessed with certain abilities and talents and if I’m not using them to help others then I’m wasting my time.”

Hook’em, Jane!

Minis and Friends

By Dylan Carter, Jarrid Denman, Kristina Latham, Tricia Small and Katie Paschall

Despite the rain, Mini’s and Friends visited the residents of Southwood Care Center in Austin on Saturday.

A non-profit organization, Mini’s and Friends brings trained miniature horse ambassadors to visit people of all ages with special needs.

“Our mission is to provide an equine experience for those who need their spirits lifted,” Co-founder Sally Iwanski said. “From small children to people in nursing homes, these horses give all kinds of people something to smile about.”

Pamela Alvarez, a patient at Southwood Care Center, gushes over “how cute” the mini horses are. The smiles on the patients faces is what makes Krystal Ludecke, activity director for the center, “love” her job. “I get to do what I love to do,” Ludecke said.

Pamela Alvarez, a patient at Southwood Care Center, gushes over “how cute” the mini horses are. The smiles on the patients faces is what makes Krystal Ludecke, activity director for the center, “love” her job. “I get to do what I love to do,” Ludecke said.

What had originally started as a small operation shared between a few friends, Mini’s and Friends has turned into a well-known 501(c)(3) organization in Austin. In an effort to bring mini horses to people of all ages who may be suffering mentally, physically and emotionally, this is a group filled with caring people who love horses.

“Our mini’s are very little, they stand about thirty inches tall,” Iwanski said. “Even though they are little horses, they have big hearts.”

Every weekend, the volunteers at Mini’s and Friends take nine mini horses and one mini donkey to various locations around the Austin area. Iwanski, 62, says Mini’s and Friends makes appearances at the Buddy Walk, Dell Children’s Medical Center and even at Austin-area public schools. In the future, the organization hopes to branch out and work with Brown Santa and several new assisted living facilities.

Mini’s and Friends is sponsored by more than 35 companies, including Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Home Depot. Additionally, many local companies also donate to Mini’s and Friends, including Gnarly Gar, Austin Equine Hospital and Austin City Living.

Growing up around horses, Iwanski said she always knew she wanted to live her life working with them. She says she has seen how therapeutic horses can be and the joy they provide to people who are suffering.

“Both my mother and daughter have suffered from mental illnesses. I have seen the horses work miracles in their lives,” Iwanski said as she wiped a tear from her cheek. “As a matter of fact, when I had cancer, sometimes the most comforting friend was a mini.”

Iwanski’s husband, Gil Iwanski, had never worked with horses, let alone grew up around them. He and Sally run the organization together on the weekends as a hobby.

“Sally has really started an organization that touches a lot of people’s lives,” Gil Iwanski said. “She is really proud and she believes in what she’s doing. I feel lucky to be a part of it.”

Sally calls Gil the “horse-whisperer” of the organization. She says the horses respond to him better than anyone else involved.

“We are continuously growing,” Gil Iwanski, Sally’s husband said. “We have a lot of volunteer applications and a lot of people who want their mini’s to be involved in our organization. It will be interesting where we will go from here.”

Minis and Friends volunteers end their day with Remington, Sean Monet and Mastercard with a group picture. Most of their volunteers come back multiple times assisting with the minis.

Minis and Friends volunteers end their day with Remington, Sean Monet and Mastercard with a group picture. Most of their volunteers come back multiple times assisting with the minis.

The two are constantly working together to grow their non-profit organization with hopes to quit their day jobs to solely focus on Mini’s and Friends. They are seeking to build a barn near South Austin, where people can come to them for therapy during the week.

“We have a lot big dreams when it comes to the Mini’s and Friends organization,” Sally Iwanski said. “And it’s all because of the horses.”

To learn more about Mini’s and Friends, donate or request a visit, go to their website here: http://www.minisandfriends.org/MinisProfiles.aspx

 

 

 

The Omelettry says goodbye to Burnet Road after 36 years

By Chris Caraveo and Taylor Prewitt

Flipping omelets under the same roof for 36 years never got old for Kenny Carpenter. Come this fall, he and his crew will have to whip up eggs somewhere else.

The Omelettry, a breakfast restaurant located at the tri-street intersection of Burnet Road, Woodward Avenue and 49th Street, will likely close its current venue in October and move to a new location two miles away on Airport Boulevard near In-n-Out Burger. Its lease expires in 2015 but Kenny Carpenter, The Omelettry’s owner, wants to get a head start at the new spot.

However, Carpenter is not ready to bid the current location adieu. His son Jesse basically grew up there. When Jesse was small his mother set up a crib in the office and read to him. Carpenter’s daughter, now a doctor in Galveston, also worked there. Jesse has since become a co-owner with his father.

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Kenny Carpenter may not have made the memories he did without advice from friends when he first though of opening a restaurant.

Prior to opening The Omelettry he had spent six months in Santa Barbara, California cooking omelettes. When he came back to Austin something was missing.

“There’s no place like that in Austin,” he said.

 

The only breakfast places were Denny’s, IHOP and a little venue called Flapjack Canyon.

He originally wanted to start up in Denton, but his girlfriend—and now wife—was headed to school at the University of Texas in Austin. His friends recommended that he go to Austin too.

“They told me if you open a restaurant and you’re going to be anchored someplace for a long time, it ought to be somewhere you like,” Carpenter said. “I said ‘yeah I like Austin.’”

So he settled on the Texas capital and found the Omelettry’s location on a whim.

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One day in 1978 he drove down Burnet Road and came across the building he now calls his second home. He saw a “For Rent” sign on the window. He approached the place and looked inside.

“Cool man! It’s got dishes and equipment and everything!”

Satisfied with the property he called the landlord and rented it.

That same year The Omelettry opened, serving traditional omelettes like the Vegetarian or

Mushroom. Since then, Popeye’s Favorite, a mixture of fresh spinach, crisp bacon and sautéed onions inside a cheese omelette, has become popular among customers.

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Hot food has always been the priority at The Omelettry. Waiters team up at every table.

“We don’t have sections,” Carpenter said. “If someone needs their order taken one of our waiters runs over and takes it.”

Tips eventually even out among workers despite sharing customers.

Carpenter started some of his own competition. A year after opening he bought out the owner of the old Jolly J restaurant on Lake Austin Boulevard for $10,000. He found partners in Kent Cole and Patricia Atkinson–who were married at the time–at that location. They renamed the place Omelettry West.  One year later, however, the couple divorced and the Atkinson opened Kerbey Lane.

“But I stayed partners with her ex-husband for six or seven years and finally I got tired of having a partner,” Carpenter said. “He bought me out and changed the name to Magnolia Café. So I ended up creating a lot of my own competition.”

Spending 36 years in one city, Carpenter has seen the change in Austin. Back then there was a lot to do in Austin. But at the same time it was very simple, laid-back and affordable, unlike today.

“That’s what I miss, the simplicity,” he said.

Carpenter has tried buying the building for 25 years. But the owner refused to sell it.

Now, development along Burnet Road has caused property values to double in the last three years at an amount Carpenter cannot afford to purchase the place. After the owner passed away five years ago, his daughter took ownership and is ready to cash in on developers who can purchase the lot.

“It’ll sit here and probably get covered with graffiti until it gets bought and demolished.”

Carpenter has repaired electrical and plumbing issues nearly every week. Seeing this place torn down will not be easy for him.

The new location will give The Omelettry a more diner-like look with curved, glass windows.  But Carpenter wants to maintain its funkiness.

“And that’s the trick,” he said. “How do you keep it really simple and have that funky stuff in a newer building.”

They will bring the same equipment they have right now in order to keep it that way. Some of the pictures plastered on the walls will go up in the new building, especially family photos and the Omelettry’s early days.

The Carpenters, their staff and customers will soon say goodbye to The Omelettry’s 36-year-old home.

Regulars who reside near the current restaurant won’t have the luxury of proximity.

“We have to get the cars out. We got to ride our bikes. We used to walk there.”

Those who live around the new location will finally get the breakfast diner that has been absent in their area.

“Cool, you’re moving closer to us!”

Despite the move, Carpenter has no doubts The Omelettry will continue to thrive.

“We’re feeling pretty confident that most of our customers will come over there.”

Top Austin Model Adds a New Model to Austin’s Fashion Scene

Host Brianna Fleet speaks to audience minutes before announcing the winner of Top Austin Model 2014 at the Chateau Bellevue on Sunday, March 30. Photo By Angela Buenrostro

Host Brianna Fleet speaks to audience minutes before announcing the winner of Top Austin Model 2014 at the Chateau Bellevue on Sunday, March 30. Photo By Angela Buenrostro

By: Chelsea Bass, Angela Buenrostro, Joanie Ferguson and Rachel Hill

The Austin fashion scene gained a new model after Priscilla Sodeke won first place in the final round of the Top Austin Model competition at the Chateau Bellevue March 30.

“Not that I didn’t feel confident, but I saw a lot of talent in… the other girls so I was surprised [when she won],” Sodeke said.

The three part competition, hosted by ButterFly Entertainment, started with a casting call in January where 15 were chosen to continue on to the next two rounds. The open casting call consisted of a walkthrough with the panel of five judges and a mini photo shoot.

“The first night that I saw her I knew I had to have her,” fashion designer Rick Gonyo said. “I said,’ I don’t care if she wins or not I have to have her.’”

The open casting call was followed by a showcase, in February, of the 15 semi-finalists, which held an elimination round that left 10 models to participate in the last leg of the competition.

Although Sodeke has only worked with one other modelling agency, and has less than a year of experience she breezed through each round.

Priscilla Sodeke - 2014 Top Austin Model competition winner and ButterFly Model. Photo By Angela Buenrostro

Priscilla Sodeke – 2014 Top Austin Model competition winner and ButterFly Model. Photo By Angela Buenrostro

“Top Austin Model is the first real experience I’ve had with modeling,” Sodeke said.

Sodeke’s recent passion for modeling was initially ignited as a young girl when she noticed a relatable model showing up in fashion spreads.

“I first started thinking ‘oh maybe that’s something I could do,’ is when I saw Alex Wek modeling.” Sodeke said. “I identified with her and it was encouraging to me.”

The annual Austin-based competition was created in 2011 by Brianna Fleet, ButterFly Entertainment’s founder and CEO.

Fleet started modeling in 2004. She noticed there was a modeling niche that needed to be filled in Austin and started the Top Austin Model competition to recruit local talent for her agency. It gives Austin locals a chance enter the fashion world which is typically associated with larger U.S. cities like Los Angeles and New York City. The company has since hosted 30 fashion related events.

The modeling side of the company, ButterFly Models has grown to over 20 models since its inception.

Sodeke is the third model to win in a Top Austin Model event.

“All the craziness in the moment just feels really rewarding afterwards, it’s kind of a rush,” Sodeke said.

Judges and designers of the completion accredited 27-year-old Sodeke’s win to her poise, in comparison to the other younger models.

“I noticed that having a certain amount of calmness and poise that maybe, sometimes, comes from age,” Sodeke said. “…maybe came through in my walk and poses.”

When she first arrived for casting, Gonyo described the then blonde-haired beauty’s look as “effortless and graceful.”

Designer Rick Gonyo. Photo By Angela Buenrostro

Designer Rick Gonyo. Photo By Angela Buenrostro

“It was marvelous [working with Priscilla],” Gonyo said. “Just her poise, and she’s so beautiful, she didn’t try to do the sex kitten thing…she just radiated.”The competition also gives local designers, like Gonyo a former costume designer, the opportunity to showcase their designs and participate in an event that could potentially elevate their careers.

“About 4 years ago, I decided I really want to do women’s clothes,” Gonyo said. “Now here I am getting to present my own show [during Austin fashion week].”The Top Austin Model finale was followed by several Austin fashion week events ending with ButterFly Kisses, hosted by ButterFly Entertainment April 27, that raised money to benefit the Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas. The All of the proceeds acquired from the “looks” or fashion items that were showcased on the runway went towards the BCRC.

Sodeke, and previous winners of the Top Austin Model competition, won a management contract with ButterFly Models. Sodeke hopes to use her new influence to be a “role model and encouragement or inspiration to someone else.”

“I want to hold up a standard of modesty that young girls can look to saying,’ hey she’s not naked or bearing everything but she’s good at what she does and I can do it to,” Sodeke said.

 

 

The Chateau Bellevue was built in 1874 and it is a venue where special occasions take place. Since 1929, the mansion has been home to the Austin Woman’s Club.

 

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West Campus Restaurants: Thrive or Die

By Elyana Barrera, Kirby Camerino, Bryce Gibson and Claudia Resendez

While they may be Instagramming photos of dishes instead of eating them, there’s one thing undeniable about West Campus residents — they love food.0

In a neighborhood mostly occupied by college students, Yelp lists 177 eateries currently operating in the UT/West Campus area. While some of the listings are non-permanent food trucks, others are restaurants struggling to take their business from trendy talk to local landmark. A handful of places act as West Campus anchor restaurants, holding their lots throughout a decade or more and focusing on college students while providing a pleasant atmosphere.

Not unlike birds in a zoo exhibit, college students can be seen cramming the outdoor patio at Cain & Abel’s on Tuesdays. Established in Austin 1991, the bar and restaurant on Rio Grande and 24th streets offers Dollar Beer Night, where patrons are able to drink their fill of domestic beer for $1 each. However, UT student Colton Daniels said their student-friendly prices aren’t the only reason Cain & Abel’s stays in business.


West Campus Restaurants: How to Thrive from Bryce Gibson on Vimeo.

“Cain & Abel’s is known as the place where you go to have a good group of people around you that are similar in age,” Daniels said.

A fun atmosphere is also what keeps people eating at Pluckers, opened in 1995, said UT freshman Gailen Hills.

“It’s really close to campus walking distance, and you get good food. It’s a good environment to just come with your friends and hang out,” Hills said.

Pluckers also focuses on engaging college students by using popular topics during Trivia Night Wednesdays and by pushing a rewards card during parents week, assistant manager Melissa Kuhn said. She said while other restaurants are big corporations, Pluckers’ local origins and involvement with students makes it unique.



“We like to give out free wings to sororities and Fraternities and stuff for events,” Kuhn said. “And then at the football games we give out Five Free Wings coupons whenever Texas wins.

Just overall we like to include the school with Pluckers because it is a very important part of it.”

Marketing toward college students and being a locally established joint aren’t the only things that help stand the test of time. Not to be overlooked, a friendly wait staff is also on the list of must-haves for successful businesses in West Campus.

“They always have a smile on and always make you happy. It’s just very comfortable inside,” Jessica Sosa said about campus area diner Kerbey Lane Cafe. “It’s a nice environment and it’s close to where I live, so it’s nice to come by if you want to see friends or study. It has good service, good food, I like it.”

Similarly to Cain & Abel’s and Pluckers, Kerbey Lane assistant manager John Habem said Kerbey Lane Cafe has a student-oriented atmosphere that often attracts students looking for a place to hang out.

“I think the fact that we’re right here in west campus right next to the dorms and stuff definitely helps out,” Habem said.

New restaurants in West Campus seem to close their doors almost as quickly as they open up shop. Other establishments, such as the former Cuatros on San Gabriel Street, have to rebrand and remodel to keep customers coming in. But restaurants in West Campus that have 10 or more years notched on their belt know the keys to success — provide a welcoming ambiance and cater to college students.

Beer List

What’s the Hold Up? The Mopac Improvement Project

Traffic zooms over Mopac on the 35th street overpass. By Emma Banks

Traffic zooms over Mopac on the 35th street overpass. By Emma Banks

By Emma Banks, Katherine Recatto Caroline Khoury, and Alexis Chastain

Long-awaited improvements to State Highway Loop 1- affectionately nicknamed Mopac because of the train that travels in between the north and southbound lanes, the Missouri Pacific – have finally begun, and will continue for the better part of the next year. The project is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2015, with final touches finishing up by early 2016, according to the project’s Director of Community Relations Steve Pustelnyk.

The project spans the length of Parmer Lane to Lady Bird Lake, an 11-mile stretch of work that will include adding additional asphalt, widening some bridges so one additional lane can be added in each direction, and new ramps that will be built to connect downtown with the new express lanes.

Construction begins on the express lane that will run northbound on Mopac.

Construction begins on the express lane that will run northbound on Mopac. By Caroline Khoury.

 

“Because we are doing work on the highway, traffic for the period we’re operating will be not as optimal as when we started construction,” Pustelnyk said. “But hopefully everyone is keeping the end product in line so that in 2015 we do have a better Mopac that’s faster and smoother and has some options for getting past congestion when it does occur.”

In 2012 the Texas Department of Transportation named Travis County’s I-35 2nd in total annual hours of delay in the state and 2nd highest in annual delay cost. That’s 5.1 million hours of delay per year and $110.25 million spent per year on traffic delays alone. The Mopac Improvement Project hopes to change that.

The focus of the project is the addition of express toll lanes, which will allow drivers to largely bypass congestion. But Pustelnyk said these are not for everyday use; they’re for those days when you’re on a high priority trip and are willing to pay a decent amount of money to get there quick. The base fee is 25 cents for each leg (North and South), or 50 cents total; that fee increases based on the number of cars in the lane.

Construction on the express lanes. By Caroline Khoury.

Construction on the express lanes. By Caroline Khoury.

“What we’ll be doing is analyzing traffic volumes and saying ‘Oh, we’re going to get congested here if we don’t start raising the price,’ so if we’re still getting congested we’ll raise it some more,” Pustelnyk said. “Essentially when we get to the point where people say, ‘Oh, that’s too expensive, I’m not going to use it,’ and we keep traffic flowing with the lane at full capacity but not congested, then that’s what the price will be. It’s being driven by the users.”

So as the lane gets congested, a computer that has been analyzing data will suggest a price, a human will confirm that price, and the toll rises. According to Pustelnyk, during rush hour drivers could be paying as much as $6 or $7 a trip; in the middle of the night, the toll will likely bottom-out at 50 cents.

Adding a toll road, however, can’t possibly solve the entire problem, at least according to Texas Alliance Group engineer Jeff Loskorn. Loskorn knows traffic; maybe that’s why his optimism is characterized by hesitation.

“This is not a simple problem nor does it have a simple solution,” Loskorn said. “There are too many people trying to use the highway system during rush hour. There’s no silver bullet to fix this problem.”

Still, the pros look great, on paper: drivers will have access to express lanes that allow them to bypass traffic, and Mopac will be more easily accessible with extra ramps downtown. The cons? Almost two years of construction, reduced speed limits on Mopac, confusing temporary lane striping, and a whole lot of noise.

Temporary striping on MoPac that is the cause of existing traffic as well as the reduced speed limit.

Temporary striping on MoPac that is the cause of existing traffic as well as the reduced speed limit. By Caroline Khoury.

In an effort to better connect with the community during what is expected to be a difficult and trying process for many Austinites – especially those that live in close proximity to Mopac – Pustelnyk has crowned himself the “Mopac Man,” a superhero-inspired motif that yes, does include a cape, and a hard hat.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge with a lot of interaction with the public, and we wanted to try and use people’s concerns a bit and take a light-hearted approach to what is going to be a challenging and difficult project,” Pustelnyk said. “We can’t solve all the problems out there, but we’ll do our best to help navigate construction on Mopac.”

Pustelnyk said they largely have the acceptance of the community that the project is moving forward. Complaints are expected, but minor. Austin resident Janie Leland commutes every day to and from Westlake for her nanny job, but she’s not necessarily one of the project’s supporters.

“I use Mopac everyday to get to work,” Leland said. “I go southbound so the construction doesn’t really bother me right now, but the more North I go the worse it gets. It’s kind of frustrating because I know it’s for a toll road, and I am not going to pay for a toll road once it’s built.”

The Mopac Improvement Project could be the answer to a large part of Austin’s traffic problem, but it seems the city will have to wait just a little while longer until any fruit comes from such an extensive undertaking.

                         
Do you think the express toll lane will help eliminate traffic?

The Perfect Adjective for These Murals: Austintatious

Photo by Joan Vinson

Photo by Joan Vinson

By Jasmine Alexander, Jessica Duong, Kaine Korzekwa and Joan Vinson

A much needed touch-up to two of Austin’s well-known murals is close to being completed.

In 1974, artists Kerry Awn, Tom Bauman, and Rick Turner painted a mural for the University Co-op depicting Austin’s uniqueness. Since then, the mural has become a big part of Austin. Visitors take pictures of, and pose next to, the artwork.

“This stretch of what is 23rd street, from Guadalupe to the alley, was the meeting place for every musician, artist and any creative individual in Central Texas,” said Brian Jewell, vice president of marketing for the University Co-op. “This was the epicenter of the creative world back in the ‘70s.”

Jewell said the artworks play the role of a time capsule. It’s a way “to let people know what Austin was about 40 years ago.”

“This is the best way to give back to make sure that it stays.” Jewell said. “It’s inherent in who we are — to give back to the   community.”

Forty years after first creating the mural, the original artists are back to restore it after it was vandalized earlier this year.


Two unknown taggers painted over the iconic murals in the wee morning hours of Jan. 7, The Daily Texan reports. Large tags left the historical murals defaced and local residents upset. Public outcry re-established the importance of the well-known murals.

“It’s almost like it’s expected,” Awn said. “It’s a public art — out here where everybody walks by. I’m surprised it wasn’t vandalized years before, but it’s never a pleasant feeling to have your work vandalized. I don’t really fault them, it’s almost too tempting of a target. It is what it is.”

The City of Austin Graffiti Abatement program allows for the removal of graffiti from private and public property around Austin. The program is allotted some $500,000 a year, which is used to employ disadvantaged youths to remove graffiti throughout the city.

“We mostly deal with public sidewalks and fences and art through the city’s Art in Public Places program, but we also clean up privately-own murals,” said Julia Narum, program supervisor for the landscaping & graffiti abatement services in the city of Austin Department of Health & Human Services.

Although Narum tries to utilize recycled paint she said she still easily blows through her budget because of the ever-increasing amount of graffiti with 200 to 400 calls coming in through Austin 311 every week.

“We have plenty of work,” she said. “We clean close to a million-and-a-half square feet a year. When I started eight years ago we were cleaning 800,000 square feet and now we’re cleaning almost a million-and-a-half.”

She also notes that the UT campus area is one of the worst areas in the city so the tagging of the Co-op murals did not surprise her.

“Because we only remove the graffiti and don’t have the resources to restore any murals we fix, it’s great that the Co-op was able to stay in contact with Kerry Awn and his crew,” Narum said.

Graffiti removal is just one step in bringing the Austintatious and Tejas murals back to their former glory. The University Co-op and Awn estimated that $30,000 was needed to completely restore the murals.

The Co-op provided the artists with $5,000 and paint company Winsor & Newton donated paint and supplies to complete the restoration. Even with these donations, the artists were still left with a large shortfall.

The artists turned to the masses, launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise the necessary remaining funds. The campaign closed on April 16 with a total of $21,958 in funds raised.

The Co-op also installed surveillance cameras and additional lighting in a hope to deter future vandalism of the murals.

Austintatious and Tejas aren’t the first Austin-area murals to be vandalized. Back in December 2013, the iconic “Hi, how are you” mural was defaced by a woman who claimed the mural was personally insulting. Taggers also struck the “I love you so much” mural, located on South Congress, in January of 2011.

The group estimates the murals will be finished in three weeks. Get your cameras ready, Austin.

 

Femme Film

At the 86th Academy Awards this year, Cate Blanchett, the Australian actress of screen and stage, accepted her second Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, in which she played the lead.

“Perhaps, to those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences, they are not,” Blanchett told the crowd as she held a male figure rendered in gold.

Her admonition to the filmmaking elite attending the Academy Awards was not unwarranted. As a new study by fivethirtyeight.com suggests, a common myth persists among filmmakers and studios that films about and for women do poorly at the box office. Studios and filmmakers often credit the poor turnout of female films as the reason that more aren’t created.

In 2007, former Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov stated his company would stop making films about women after a poor performance at the box office of several films with leading women including The Invasion and The Brave One featuring Nicole Kidman and Jodie Foster respectively.

The idea that women are bad for business has been oft refuted by box office statistics that show women attend movie theaters with the same frequency as men. In fact, ticket stats released by MPAA, a lobbying group in Hollywood, in 2013 show that women actually attend theaters at a higher percentage than men – 52 percent to men’s 48 percent.

The films that female moviegoers see are made mainly by men and about men. Of the top 250 films created in 2012, women accounted for 9 percent of directors according to a Celluloid Ceiling report. The same report found that the largest percent of the films studied, 38 percent, employed zero or only one woman.

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With women comprising a small part of the filmmaking process, female filmmakers locally worry that stories about women can’t, or maybe aren’t, being accurately portrayed by male filmmakers.

“In order to make a good work, it has to be personal in some way,” says Karen Skloss, an Austin documentary and narrative filmmaker, “and there’s a big difference between the perspective of a man and a woman.”

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Michelle Voss, the founder and executive director of Femme Film Texas, an Austin organization that teaches filmmaking and media literacy to young women, believes the differences between men and women in filmmaking are cultural. She believes an exclusive male movie culture is responsible for the lack of women in filmmaking.

“[From] my experience… working in film and noticing there just weren’t even women to hire, there was something weird happening in the culture where women were not thinking of themselves as filmmakers,” says Voss.  “Then they weren’t getting the technical skills to make films.”

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Voss’ female filmmaking programs are just some of the advances for females in film. The implementation of the Bechdel test, a test that measures the amount and context of female speaking roles in movies, is gaining traction. In Sweden, cinemas are now rating films based on their measuring up (or failing) to the test. All female film festivals like Birds Eye View of London are similarly appearing.

“I think it’s become kind of hip and cool to be a female filmmaker now,” Skloss says. “And it’s something I’m really excited about.”

 

 

A Round of Applause for a Good Cause

UntitledThere’s more than a few ways to raise money for charities in Austin. However, AW Media, the publisher of Austin Woman and ATX Man magazines took it to another level on April 4, at their Second Annual ATX Man Golf Classic.

Set in the rolling hills on the challenging golf course of River Place Country Club, AW Media raised more than $55,000 for 18 deserving local charities, including The Girl Scouts of Central Texas, The Salvation Army and Seton Breast Care Center.ATX Man Golf Classic 2014

“One of the missions of ATX Man is to encourage our readers to become actively involved in our community and to educate them about opportunities to engage with local non-profits,” Christopher Garvey, co-publisher of AW Media, said. “We saw this event as a way to support these organizations while having fun and to introduce participants to eighteen different organizations they may want to become involved with in the future.”

By showcasing one charity per hole on the golf course, Publisher and President Melinda Garvey said the event was designed to be an innovative way to raise awareness, as well as funds, for a variety of local charities through a spectacular round of golf.

ATX Man Golf Classic 2014

But the event didn’t stop there. Participants were treated to a Rudy’s barbecue lunch, cocktails on the course and a gourmet dinner provided by Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse. A reception followed with multiple awards, recognition of sponsors and volunteers, a silent auction – including sports memorabilia from Tyson’s Sports – and entertainment by Pat Hazell, one of the original writers for Seinfeld and professional stand-up comedian.

“We were very blessed to have such an amazing event,” Melinda Garvey said. “We couldn’t have done it without all those involved and the event wouldn’t have been possible without our title sponsor Roger Beasley Mazda.”

Suzy's Soldiers for Seton Breast Cancer Center interact with golfers at hole 13 of the River Place Country Club.

Suzy’s Soldiers for Seton Breast Cancer Center interact with golfers at hole 13 of the River Place Country Club.

The representatives for the charities had nothing but positive things to say about participating in the Friday tournament.

“Each time the players shuffled around the golf course we were able to meet new faces and connect with potential sponsors and donors from the Austin area,” Sky Hays, a volunteer for the American Lung Association, said. “It was such a beautiful day to sit outside on the course, too.”

Host AW Media made complimentary beverages available at random holes.

Host AW Media made complimentary beverages available at various holes.

ATX Man Golf Classic 2014

Staff members of AW Media explained how long and hard they had been working to put together the event for the 18 deserving charities.

“We haven’t stopped brainstorming and piecing together the golf tournament since last year’s tournament,” Jennifer Day, ad designer for AW Media, said. “This year’s event tripled the funds raised in 2013.”

ATX Man Golf Classic 2014

Players enjoyed a full day of golf with opportunities to win a Mazda or Hyundai from Roger Beasley Mazda by sinking a hole in one. Oscar Lopez, a member of the winning team at the tournament, commented on his team’s performance that day.

“We didn’t get any hole-in-ones,” Lopez said. “But we were pretty proud that we won and excited that we were able to do what we love and play a round of golf for 18 different causes.”

HEB formed one of the 18 teams that competed at the River Place Country Club on April 4.

HEB formed one of the 18 teams that competed at the River Place Country Club on April 4.

A list of the 18 charities involved: The First Tee, The Girl Scouts of Central Texas, The Salvation Army, The Rainforest Partnership, Easter Seals, Con Mi Madre, CASA of Central Texas, Wonders and Worries, Suzy’s Soldiers for the Seton Breast Care Center, The Boys and Girls Club, HealinComfort4aChange.org,  Superhero Kids, CTX Sports, Ride On Center for Kids, Student Charities, Interfaith Action of Central Texas, American Lung Association, and Ignite a Dream.

ABOUT AW MEDIA:

Locally owned and operated, AW Media, Inc., publications include Austin Woman magazine, ATX Man magazine, Pink Pages and the Guide to Good Health.  Austin Woman magazine, the flagship publication is currently in its 12th year of publication with 27,000 monthly issues distributed at over 1200 locations and a readership of 100,000 monthly. The go-to resource for women in central Texas, Austin Woman is one of Austin’s most trusted and respected publications. ATX Man began publication in 2011 with quarterly publication of 27,000 copies distributed at over 800 locations and has quickly become recognized as the premiere resource for men in the Austin area. AW Media also produces three signature events; The ATXMAN Golf Classic, AW Anniversary luncheon and a new addition, The Woman’s Way Business Awards for woman-owned businesses. In twelve years of publication, AW Media has supported more than 500 local organizations and events.