Last week at Troublemaker Studios, Capital Area Statues unveiled its third major public sculpture, that of music idol and cultural touchstone Nelson. At one point, the real Red-Headed Stranger gripped an inscribed maquette of artist Clete Shields’ affable image while leaning against the bronze edition, which is taller, even, than entertainer Turk Pipkin, who stood nearby
The group’s previous gifts to the city were the Philosopher’s Rock (local author trio J. Frank Dobie, Roy Bedichek and Walter Prescott Webb) at Barton Springs and Archives War cannoneer Angelina Eberly on Congress Avenue. In this case, the subject is living. And he needs no historical elaboration.
The $300,000 future tourist attraction is slated for installation at the base of the ACL Live stairs at the W Austin Hotel and Residences sometime in early 2012. Its arrival was slowed by concerns over the safety of folks who will inevitably talk to the bronze Willie, play guitar with Willie and ask Willie career advice on the corner site.
“If we make a mistake, it could last a thousand years,” said author and CAST board member Lawrence Wright, while assuring the ecstatic mass of 100 or so guests that new safety measures would make the statue even more magnetic.
His braids coming back just as the statue will memorialize them in bronze, Nelson beamed and joked, but said little during the outdoor unveiling at the studios where producer and CAST board member Elizabeth Avellan and director Robert Rodriguez make their magic. (All invitees signed agreements not to reveal anything about ongoing projects we might spy at the converted office complex on the former Mueller Airport site. All I could make out were posters and props from past movie projects, including a mannikin with a gun that I kept thinking was a potential subject for a social photograph.)
Rodriguez had secured the services of artist Shields, who had made sculptures in tandem with the filmmaker’s movies. The Nelson piece was financed by selling 29 maquettes of the final product for $10,000 each. One remains to be sold.
The reception gathered multiple Austin clans, mixing media, movies, music, business and charity types. Also on the CAST board are author and screenwriter Bill Wittliff, lawyer Amon Burton, publicist Vincent Salas, singer Marcia Ball and author Stephen Harrigan. Representing “Austin City Limits” and/or ACL Live were Terry Lickona, Ed Bailey, Tim Neece, Colleen Fischer and Freddy Fletcher, as well as crucial development connectors Val and Beau Armstrong.
Adding to the evening’s lustre were mayors present and past Lee Leffingwell (who will make “an announcment” about his political future soon) and Will Wynn, notable Nelson family members Bobbie and Annie, filmmaker and humanitarian Christy Pipkin (along with aforementioned towering husband, on his way to the Napa Valley Film Festival), Downtown Austin Alliance’s Charlie Betts, key charity supporter Sally Wittliff, communicator Dan Bullock, U.S. Money Reserve’s Olga Campos and CultureMap Austin’s Kevin Benz.
Why not show the sculpture in its entirety here? Because we agreed not to do so. The public and the rest of the media will enjoy the full visual disclosure in 2012. Promise.
Ihad so many questions about the Settlement Home Garage Sale. Volunteer leadersMarilyn Willson, Margaret Scott and Michele Brocatoanswered many of them during the preview party at the Palmer Events Center. Then Andrea Ball’s American-Statesman story on Nov. 4 answered the rest of them.
Just one look at the hundreds of thousands of items for resale in the vast center was enough to convince me that this fundraiser is a yearlong effort. As Ball reported, the Garage Sale, which will return next year, brings in more than 15,000 people and up to $500,000 a year to fund the treatment center for abused, neglected and emotionally troubled girls. Volunteers are collecting, cleaning, organizing and moving the massive trove of cast-offs every month of the year.
I surveyed what seemed like acres of clothing, shoes, furniture, books, DVDs, posters, toys, hunting gear and even some high-end-looking silver and china. Familiar Austinites — Ann Showers Butler, Lance Avery Morgan, Denise Gamino, Pat Brown, David Stark, Dick Rathgeber, for instance — were waiting around every corner.
The Settlement Home is one of Austin’s oldest charities. I always group it in my mind with the Helping Hand Home for Children and Austin Symphony Orchesta. The three have found proven ways of raising money by tapping into the loyalty of volunteers. Let’s hope they continue to do so.