Two tip-top Austin parties side-by-side

Not often that two tip-top Austin parties take place atop two downtown buildings. Even less often when those buildings rise side-by-side across a narrow alley.

Luci Johnson, Amiko Kauderer and Capt. Scott Kelly at the Johnson penthouse for Paramount Theatre party. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

First off was a salute to Capt. Scott Kelly, the retired astronaut who spent a 520 days, 10 hours and 33 minutes in space, including almost a year during one stay on the Space Station. He appeared to be acclimatized to Earth again and introduced me to his fiancé,  Amiko Kauderer, a former NASA public affairs officer who helped shape his Twitter presence.

This reception took place at Luci Johnson and Ian Turpin‘s penthouse in the Norwood Building, which overlooks the Paramount Theatrewhere Kelly is to speak tonight about his  memoir “The Sky Is Not the Limit: Lessons from a Year in Space.”

Johnson was her usual gracious self. Yet introducing Jim Ritts, president and CEO of the Austin Theatre Alliance, she reminded us that she can be among the best public speakers in town, her cadences recalling the finest traditions of American oratory.

Now a little joke on me. Upon meeting Amiko, I was confused. I thought Kelly was married to former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, and that I had met the couple during an Austin party at the Highball. Oh no! That was Scott Kelly’s identical twin brother Mark Kelly, another retired astronaut. The pair were part of NASA’s twins research. Luckily, I learned this before going to press.

Booth Art Prize Party

There’s probably never been a month when Austin produced more major art news stories. Recently, Landmarks unveiled José Parlá‘s mammoth mural, “Amistad América,” at UT’s Rowling Hall. On Feb. 10, Pease Park Conservancy officially opens Stickwork sculptor Patrick Dougherty‘s utterly charming “Yippy Ki Yay” in said park. Feb. 18, in the biggest reveal of all, the Blanton Museum of Art invites the public into late artist Ellsworth Kelly‘s only designed structure, “Austin,” which will inevitably change the way the world sees the city and its art.

Rodney McMillian and Suzanne Booth at the Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize last dinner at the Contemporary. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Meanwhile, the Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize produced its first visible fruits. Right away, it figured to be one of the biggest such awards in the country with a $100,000 unrestricted purse. The inaugural honor, announced in 2016, went to Rodney McMillian and includes a full exhibition, catalogue and other  supporting activity at the Contemporary Austin. So, all told, a $400,000 project.

Last night, the museum previewed the immersive installation, “Against a Civic Death,” with a party at its downtown Jones Center. Since I had dropped by the Johnson reception first, I missed seeing McMillian’s hard-hitting video on the first floor, but I’ll spend an afternoon soon downstairs and upstairs, where the mood is more celebratory and includes the voice of 1972 presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm.

On the rooftop over a three-course dinner, a few hundred guests gathered to lionize McMillian, as well as Booth, who made the transformative gift to endow this prize. Among those front and center were the Contemporary’s Louis Grachos, Landmarks’ Andrée Bober, Blanton Museum’s Simone Wicha, art super-collectors Michael and Jeanne Klein, and civic trailblazers Melba and Ted Whatley.

 

Austin parties we love: Early 2018

After a holiday break, the Austin social scene warms up rapidly. Peek at some parties we eagerly anticipate.

Jan. 27: Opening night of Austin Opera’s “Ariadne auf Naxos.” Long Center.

Jan. 27: Dell Children’s Gala. Austin Convention Center.

Jan. 27: Human Rights Campaign Austin Gala. JW Marriott.

Jan. 31: Promise to Children Award Luncheon for Camp Fire Central Texas. St. David’s Episcopal Church.

Feb. 2: Angelina Eberly Luncheon for Austin History Center Association. Driskill Hotel.

Feb. 3: Rodeo Austin Gala with Jack Ingram, Bruce Robison and Charlie Robison. Palmer Events Center.

Feb. 3: Casablanca for CASA of Travis County. JW Marriott.

Feb. 3: Corazón Awards for Con Mi Madre. After-party with Bidi Bidi Band. Brazos Hall.

Feb. 3: Puppy Bowl for Austin Humane Society. 124 W. Anderson Lane.

Feb. 3: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner for Project Transitions. The Thinkery and other venues.

Feb. 10: Winemaker Valentine Luncheon. Fall Creek Vineyards.

Feb. 10: Carnaval Brasileiro. Palmer Events Center.

Feb. 11: The Nobelity Project’s Feed the Peace Awards. Four Seasons Hotel.

Feb. 11: Women’s Symphony League presents Red Haute Valentine Party. Omni Barton Creek Resort.

Feb. 12: Austin Blues Revue and mixer. Antone’s Nightclub.

Feb. 15: Rockin’ Round Up for Any Baby Can. ACL Live.

 

Sneak peek: Con Mi Madre’s big-hearted Corazón Awards

We’ve made no secret of our admiration for Teresa Granillo and her group, Con Mi Madre, which guides Latinas and their mothers through the educational system. They are setting up a national model with their record of what works and what does not.
Well, the group’s big annual benefit, the Corazón Awards, comes up soon Feb. 3 at Brazos Hall.
The 2017 Con Mi Madre’s Corazón Awards and Gala at Brazos Hall. Contributed
Here’s a sneak peek at the 2018 honorees.
Con Mi Madre Award

Judith Loredo

Corazón Award

Congressman Lloyd Doggett

Mariposa Awards

Austin Independent School District

The Colmenero Family

Google

Sandy Segura Alcalá

Cindy Maciel-Reyes

Sonia Briseño Castellanos

El Paso Independent School District

The Junior League of Austin

Trellis Foundation

The University of Texas Steve Hicks School of Social Work