AUSTIN – there is no other!!

A whirlwind visit with Willie. A wOw weekend!
In case you missed it: Carmen Miranda has pink nails 🙂
I just experienced a Thursday through Sunday non-stop birthday weekend, which included spending time with family, meeting new friends, reuniting with old friends, encountering several well-known public figures, speaking briefly with a nationally known personage to promote absolutely amazing jewelry design, buying an entrancing piece of art, enjoying two evenings in one of the most beautiful spaces in Austin and constantly eating delicious food while doing all of the above.
This ancient Cinderella, who is now eligible for social security, had a blast!
Caro-Gray Bosca (l) and Mary Hughes (r) of
Hughes-Bosca
Two happenings during my weekend in Austin revolved around the Centennial Celebrations at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, one of the most beautiful areas in all of Austin and one of the greatest guardians of our future in the region. La Grande Fête, naturally, being the Gala on Friday night. This annual event is the Center’s main fundraising opportunity, for which a number of well known and highly regarded artists and artisans donate their work to be entered into a silent auction, which runs in the background during the festive evening. In this centennial year, these generous gifts were, shall we say supplemented, by the extraordinary gift of one million dollars by Luci Baines Johnson, Lady Birds younger daughter, and Luci’s husband Ian Turpin. This donation to her mother’s beloved Wildflower Center will realize the ‘Family Garden’, designed to teach future generations conservation and sustainability while enjoying nature. 
Extraordinary Labradorite
On the evening preceding the gala, I was excitedly anticipating a reception for all those incredibly gifted, creative maestros of paint, clay, wood, glass, metals and gemstones. It was called ‘A Wild Night Out’ and a team of bellows yielding artists, otherwise known as goldsmith, had invited me and Barry to share a wild birthday night out with them. I am referring to Mary Hughes and Caro-Gray Bosca of Hughes-Bosca in Gloucester, Massachusetts. These two ladies had donated an exquisitely elegant, hand forged necklace in 18k gold, set with Tanzanite cabochons, with lovely matching ear rings, designed to commemorate Lady Bird’s love of her Texas bluebonnets. I got a major kick out of ‘modeling’ other pieces of jewelry for Hughes-Bosca during the party. Having these stunning Labradorites around my neck, if ever so temporarily, was a gift in itself, but Mary didn’t stop there, she gave my two equally splendid art glasses as a birthday present. These are mouth-blown Wonkie Jimmie glasses by Elizabeth Pannell and James Watkins of the Peàn Doubulyu Glass in Rhode Island, which Mary carries in her Side Street Gallery.      
Mouth-blown Peàn Doubulyu art glasses
oceanite frog
Barry and I had a great time looking at the many works of art on display in the Visitor’s Gallery, critiquing, praising, admiring. There were several pieces we especially liked, in particular an ever so subtly mesmerizing graphite, ink and pastel drawing by Austin artist Katie Maratta. I think, it’s safe to say that Barry fell in love with her horizonscapes.
However, all that gorgeous art and tasty tidbits (fab food!!) not withstanding, the best part of the evening was reuniting with my friend Karen. Karen Affeld of Mikarma Farm in Red Rock, Karen of Kangal Livestock Guarding Dogs und Missouri Fox-trotter fame, who, by the way, also happens to be the Director of Development at the LBJ Wildflower Center. In other words, la jefa for all those festivities we were enjoying! Secondly, it was the momentos occasion of a first time meeting between Mary and me. We had shared plenty of phone time and extended electronic interaction, but this was face time! Honestly, I didn’t like her that much as a person … I loved her! There’s a picture on the Wildflower Center Facebook Page (photos -> albums: A Wild Night Out -> picture #5), where we all huddle together on a bench, Mary is kneeling on the ground, Caro is barely visible, Karen has her back to the camera, my face is almost there and Barry is standing behind the bench. We’re talking and laughing – it was that kind of night!
The next night was a whole lot more serious. No, not really. But there were many serious and/or famous people about, which could’ve been intimidating, but wasn’t. The setting was so beautiful and serene, the air sweet and the atmosphere warmhearted and cheerful. Perambulating with a glass of lovely red wine in my hand, wearing a long chain of sparkling spinels (modeling for Hughes-Bosca again :), popping the occasional smocked salmon morsel between rouged lips, allowing a young granddaughter of Lady Bird to hold the door for my elderly self and speaking a few words with the lovely former First Lady Laura Busch, gave me the confidence to actually bid successfully for Barry’s favorite picture in the silent auction benefiting the Center. I was thrilled with my purchase, because he is such a great guy and he always, always finds wonderful things with which to surprise me, so I was delighted to be able to do the same for once. 
 
With Karen’s help, we were able to take the painting home with us and it’s now temporarily housed above our display shelves. You can see it sitting along the upper edge of the case. A skinny, long, dark rectangle with a light bar along it’s center. As it is surrounded, almost swallowed, by Zuni cows, an Athabascan bear, Mary’s glasses, Acoma pottery and a Kachina doll, as well as a Navajo rug looming large above it, one scarcely notices the disappearing horizon! Katie Maratta’s ‘Country Church and Birds’ is only one (1) inch wide, but it is four feet long. It is, after all, the image of a horizon. You have to step up and slowly walk along the length of the horizon to discover it’s details. This placement is just about eye level for Barry, perfect to admire his horizonscape. Check out Katie’s work at
  http://www.onefootoftexas.com
‘Country Church and Birds’ by Katie Maratta
1″x48″, detail, left edge, mounted on scrap metal 
Having written so much already, I’ll have to keep the remainder of my weekend report in rapid telegraph style: 
Hugging my children late Friday night after returning from the Gala …
Having a fabulous birthday brunch with them and Barry at La Condesa. You won’t believe, what they can do with skirt steak there … 
Visiting Mary and Caro-Gray at the W Hotel, where they were having their Austin Salon Show to benefit the Jeremiah Program. Trying on more jewelry …

Visiting Willie right outside the W and the new ACL space in the Moody Theater …   
  
That’s my travel kachina doll, adoring Willie from the foot of his statue.  My sister Diana carved her for me and she goes everywhere with me, Costa Rica, Paris, South Beach …
Looking in vain for picture frames for eight little canvasses … 
Stopping at Café 131 in Dripping Springs, the new enterprise of our friend Rebecca Minnick. Having Eggs Florentine with jalapeños – delicious …
Finally making it home to relax after a fabulous weekend …
The End

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