“Women in the Tejano community have always kept cultural traditions alive.”
– Teresa Palomo Acosta and Ruthe Winegarten, Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History
For a combined 106 years of hard work in downtown Austin; investment, sacrifice, curation, community-building, activism and not to mention 10s of 1000s of skillets of migas, three amazing women stood out equally as the Pecan Street Association’s choice for 2017’s Heritage Award: Lidia Pérez, Cynthia Pérez and Sylvia Orozco.
Since 1983, Sylvia Orozco has been producing Mexican-American cultural programs and multimedia exhibits in downtown Austin, starting with the Día de los Muertos festival, and in 1984, establishing Mexic-Arte Museum, alongside Sam Coronado and Pio Pulido. In 1988, it moved from the Arts Warehouse space, known originally as Galería Mexico, at 300 San Antonio, to its present home at 419 Congress and receives approximately 75,000 visitors annually. The beloved Viva la Vida, is the largest and longest-running Día de los Muertos celebration in Austin.
Ms. Orozco is the daughter of a boot-maker from Guadalajara, and her mother was a community organizer and crafter. Even as a young girl, Sylvia was a collector – using found objects to make art. In the mid 1970s, she joined the Chicano student movement, lending her artistic skills. You can hear more about her early days in this interview, and see some of her paintings here, and hear Ms. Orozco educate us on some lost Latino downtown history.
Among her many honors, in 2007, she received the Ohtli Award from the Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior of the General Consulate of Mexico and in 2009, was selected for the Austin Arts Hall of Fame.
In 1981, after a few years selling tacos from a stand on the drag, sisters Cynthia and Lidia Pérez opened Las Manitas on Congress Avenue, before any serious rehabilitation was taking place downtown. Soon after, they opened La Peña, the South-American term meaning, “festivals where local artisans gather to share art, music, poetry, performances, and social commentary.” Both venues became more than just a restaurant (or a music venue) or just an art gallery, they became gathering spots where folks came to share, just as they had imagined.
Raised in San Antonio, with seven siblings, by pecan shellers, “community” was in their blood. Their parents opened a bakery and corner store, which became the de-facto community center. Their mother took on the role of community godmother, helping migrant workers with their English, getting on a path to citizenship, helping with their finances and even marriage counseling. Like mother/like daughters, they too have become godmothers, especially to their staff. “We don’t let them stay as dishwashers,” Lidia asserts. “We’re always coaching them, teaching them, promoting them up the line.”
It’s no wonder waitstaff at Las Manitas wore a T-shirt “bearing a collegiate-like crest for the ‘University of Rice and Beans.'”
Then the developers came…and the story of the struggle for Las Manitas (and their adjoining day care, Escuelita del Alma) became national, and the sisters, Comandantas in the fight. Austinites of all persuasions had come to see Las Manitas as “one of the places that makes Austin Austin.” Austin definitely lost a bit of its soul with its passing, but the sisters fight on via La Peña, and through those they mentored that continue the struggle.
The sisters have been honored by a variety of groups, including the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and AIA Austin – where, in 2016, they were named “Collaborators of the Year.”
We are proud to present our poster and t-shirts design for this fall; which will be available at the Pecan Street Association booth at 6th St. and Trinity during the festival.
It is designed by our featured artist, Eleanor Herasimchuk (known as “Niz“). An Austinite, originally from Lima, Peru, and with Ukrainian roots, she typically works on mural scale. She fuses Mesoamerican magical realism/”mythical photorealism” with contemporary, hip-hop insight.
Designated “the Queen of Austin stencil art” by renown graffiti artist Nate Nordstrom, her work is instantly recognizable and sets a bar for other street artists. Her work can be seen outside Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop in south Austin, Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, The Parlor Room on Rainey, Stay Gold, Sparkle Kids Upscale Resale, Salon Sovay, SoCo Lofts, New India Restaurant, Elizabeth Ney Museum and by Home Slice Pizza on S. Congress Ave.
She was recently a part of Mexic-Arte Museum’s El Mero Muro mural project. Watch a time-lapse video of her working on a Janice Joplin piece.
It is difficult to find anyone these days that hasn’t heard of the music scene, breweries, or even BBQ in Austin. Is that all that the capital of Texas has to offer though? AustinPartyRide.com
have compiled a massive infographic detailing the best of the best in Austin and why you should consider either a visit or a relocation to this great city.
The City of Austin will present a proclamation this Thursday, June 22, 5pm, at City Hall/Council Chambers, pre-declaring “Boyd Vance Day” on July 9 (his birthday).
UPDATE: Here’s the video – click on “Proclamation 1.”
Boyd Vance was the Pecan Street Association’s posthumous Heritage Award winner last year, as an artist/producer/organizer, preserving and promoting the arts in Austin. Councilmember Ora Houston was gracious enough to sponsor a similar honor this year, while Council is tackling the long-overdue issue of systematic racism in our City – something Boyd would have been at the forefront of as he fought to preserve African-American culture while Austin’s African-American population was dwindling.
Please join us for the reading, alongside his brother Clen and twin brother Booker, and a brief reception following in the lobby.
Booker Vance (front center); Clen Vance (rear center), Mayor Adler, Cmbr. Ora Houston (sponsor) and friends
A message from his brothers:
With the name of the Creator
Little Man with the Giant Footprint
It has been 12 years since our brother transitioned to the big stage in the sky. We want to thank everyone in the Austin community for remembering and acknowledging his influence. He has been honored with many proclamations/awards and since his death with a theater named after him and most recently the Pecan Street Association’s Heritage Award. A street where his voice can still be heard coming out of the clubs there. He left a legacy as an educator, comic, actor, singer, dancer, director, community activist, coordinator, aids advocate, proud gay man, party animal, cook, speaker, Christian, story teller, cheerleader, confidant, gossiper, cousin, nephew, uncle, brother-in-law, HNIC and most of all our BROTHER.
We love him and miss him madly. Thank you Austin again and everyone behind the scenes who made this happen.
May the Creator continue to bless and keep my brother,
Clen Del and Booker Vance
The Pecan Street Festival needs YOUR voice!
We are constantly striving to improve our Festival. It’s the little things that matter, and we are here to create an experience where even those little things are being given proper attention and commitment. Let’s become more amazing together.
Our electrician, Bob Cannon, better known as – and usually ONLY known as – “Bulb,” has been with the Pecan Street Festival longer than anyone, except for Shannon Sedwick and Michael Shelton.
photo courtesy of the Austin Chronicle
He is, in and of himself, an Austin institution. He has been behind the scenes of so many things that have made this city the city that it is, but with little recognition. John T. Wright, Pecan Street Association board member, noted that in his past work as a promoter, he would schedule weekly coffee sit-downs with his maintenance/electrician leads; that “they became good friends and mentors, and their foundational contributions and ideas were invaluable.” So it is with Bulb.
He provides power to the entire event. From the lights and fans in the vendor booths, to the sound systems on all three stages, to the grills and coolers for the food vendors, this show literally cannot run without him!
This Saturday, at 12:40pm on the Main Stage (7th & Neches), we will be honoring Bulb.
“More than an electrician, Bulb is a hero,” noted Luis Zapata, Special Events Management, producer of Pecan Street Festival. Luis highlights Bulb’s “Master Fix-It” abilities: if other service providers had an issue they couldn’t resolve, Bulb found a way to fix it and keep the festival running smoothly. Luis says when he arrives at 3:00am Saturday morning before the show all stressed out, he sees Bulb’s truck and the stress dissipates. He also values Bulb teaching him blues guitar riffs during the down times!
This will be Bulb’s last festival to be in charge of all things electrical as he moves slowly into retirement, but will consult and train the new workers over the next few festivals.
Bulb says he’s “honored to be recognized for having provided a comfortable and safe environment for millions of people!”
THE LONGEST RESUME IN AUSTIN!:
In April of 1982, Bulb first lit up the Austin Blues Heritage Festival and wired Brook’s Home Cooked Meals at 418 E. Sixth St. – the second venue to have live music on Sixth St. when it opened 20+ years earlier. In May of that year, he worked his first Pecan Street Festival – and has worked every one since.
In 1983, he became the in-house electrician for the Austin Opera House and in his 10-year tenure until it closed, he brought light and sound to the likes of Ray Charles and Stevie Ray Vaughn for their live album recordings.
Also in 1983, he installed the electrical system for Southpark Meadows, the 30,000-seat natural amphitheater, and managed the system for several hundred concerts until it’s closing in 2000.
Other venues he helped build or managed electrical for shows, concerts, private parties: Austin Music Hall; La Zona Rosa; The Backyard; Stubbs; Zilker Park (Blues on the Green; Freedom Fests; ACL Fests; 4th of July Celebration); Auditorium Shores (AquaFest, Reggae Fest, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Spamarama and many, many more); Waterloo Park (Fun Fun Fun Fest, Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, Ice Cream Festival, Spamarama, various concerts); Travis County Expo Center (Republic of Texas “ROT” Rally; Texas Heat Wave; Makers Faire, various concerts); Old Settlers Fest and concerts at the Seaholm Power Plant.
He’s also worked: the A2K Festival; ROT Rally events on Congress/Sixth St.; Bat Fest; Motorola Marathon; New Year’s Balldrop; SXSW (for 30 years: once handling 15 shows at a time!); the Chronicle Music Awards; Armadillo Christmas Bazzaar; Gay Pride Festival; Aqua Palooza; Buchanan Dam 50th Birthday Party; Viva Zavida/Mexicarte Museum; Woody Awards; Swamp Romp; White Water Amphitheater on Canyon Lake; events in Luckenbach, TX; Cedar Park Center; Circuit of the Americas Amphitheater; Lollapalooza, Rosenberg, TX; The Houston Astrodome (U2 live broadcast); and t.v productions for Uplink Studios.
He’s also had long-term customers including several hot rod shops, Maggie Mae’s, Jackalope, Moose Knuckle Pub, The Library on Sixth, The Belmont, and Antone’s.
And this is just the short form! 😉
Celebrate WEIRD: Come in Costume!
The City of Austin is recognizing The Pecan Street Festival as the City’s very own overarching “heritage festival.” We have many a nationality and ethnicity to celebrate in Austin, but we lack one large-scale art and music festival that honors them all…that honors the “weird cultural diversity” that is our fair city.
To that end, we encourage festival-goers to COME IN COSTUME to help us celebrate the 40th anniversary, harking back to “a carefree, casual-festival time in Austin <during the> days of Aquafest, the Spam Festival, and other unassuming, unexpected Austin revelry.” (Laura Cottam Sajbel)
Join us on Saturday, May 6th at 12:40pm at the Main Stage at Neches and 7th St. for a presentation with Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo:
We are pleased to announce Luis Abreux, of CANOPY Studios, as our 40th Anniversary Pecan Street Spring Festival FEATURED ARTIST!
Luis has been in Austin for 12 years, hailing from Cuba, where he received his Masters in Painting at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes “San Alejandro” (The National Academy of Fine Arts, Cuba), considered the oldest and most prestigious art school in Cuba. He received his U.S. citizenship in 2011.
His work has been exhibited world-wide, from Bari, Italy to Springfield, Missouri, and he was a finalist in the Hunting Art Prize competition in 2007.
Life in Cuba inspired his whimsical work, much of it based on memories and sensations. He says that “the realism of Cuba inspired surrealism to survive.”
“The setting seems festive, but there are menacing undertones, much like the homeland Abreux left behind.” – Olivia Flores Alvarez, Houston Press
The festival poster and t-shirts feature his work, “Deep Dreams.” You can purchase them at the Pecan Street Association “Merch Booth” at Sixth St. and Trinity during the festival – and Luis will be in the next booth to sign them, along with exhibiting many of his “it’s an island thing!” works.
32 years later and we’re still kicking up our cow-heels on Pecan Street!
The Pecan Street Association:
CALL FOR PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
In Expanding the Historical Archives of
THE PECAN STREET FESTIVAL
In line with our 40th Anniversary Spring Festival!
40 DAYS FOR 40 YEARS
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Bi-Annual Pecan Street Festival. The Spring Festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, May 6th and 7th, 2017.
The Pecan Street Association (PSA), the non-profit organization behind the Festival, gives back to our community by investing in historical preservation and providing funding to local artists and non-profits.
The PSA is now asking our community to “give back to us” by sharing your memories from 40 years of festivals!
We are appealing to the public at large and all past festival attendees, vendors, musicians, street performers, crew workers, charitable recipients, etc. to help us build our archive of the Pecan Street Festival.
- PHOTOS of/at the Pecan Street Festival (especially from the 1980s -1990s): of you, your friends/family, vendors, art/artists, performers, bands on stages, street scenes, etc.
- TESTIMONIALS: Brief stories of a specific Festival that you recall, or what the Festival means to you and/or to Austin.
- VIDEOS: Consider making a fun video of yourself telling us your story, showing art, photos, posters or anything you purchased or received from a Festival (perhaps even in appropriate “Keep Austin Weird” attire!)
We want to credit YOU for helping us build this archive, so please include your full name and written permission to publicize your submission.
40 Days For 40 Years: For the 40 days leading up to our spring Festival, we will be sharing your submissions through our social media (#PecanStreetFest40), the press, our website and at the festival itself (at the Pecan Street Festival booth).
For the PSA, the Festival has always been about creating and maintaining an event that reflects the unique character of our city and the people who make Austin Austin (that’s YOU!).
So dig out those photos, artifacts and memories, and help us celebrate 40 years of an Austin ORIGINAL – The Pecan Street Festival.
Some sample submissions:
Unknown street artist, Fall, 1996 – from Meghan Browne
1974, E. Sixth St.: 3 years before the first Pecan Street Festival, from Henry Williams. Currently researching identity of some of the folks. We do know that artist Jim Franklin is 5th from right.
“My mother, Anne Flanagan, took this great photo of my brothers Paddy, Joe, and me -with Doodlebug the Clown- during the fall Pecan Street Fest in 1996.” The family moved away, but Meghan notes that memories like Pecan Street Festival are part of the reason the siblings returned home in adulthood. “Viva Austin!” – Meghan Browne
“Back in 1987, with the immense riches from my $10k salary as an editorial assistant at the old 3rd Coast magazine, my friend Diane Bolling (now Wedig), and I came downtown on a beautiful Saturday for the festival. My big splurge from that happy afternoon was a numbered, signed copy (67/750) of the poster called ‘Big Slices’ by Jerry Seagle. It still hangs, framed, in my home, a tribute to a carefree, casual-festival time in Austin….days of Aquafest, the Spam Festival, and other unassuming, unexpected Austin revelry.” – Laura Cottam Sajbel
Photo credit: Austin Chronicle
BOYD VANCE: 2016 HERITAGE AWARD RECIPIENT
Boyd Vance was born in Houston on July 9, 1957, in Houston’s Third Ward. He made his way to Austin to attend St. Stephen’s Episcopal High School from which he graduated in May 1975.
After attending Rice University for one year, his love for Austin brought him back where he graduated from the University of Texas in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in English.
Actor, director, singer, dancer, children’s theater teacher and theater company administrator, Boyd never sat still. He was not only an accomplished performer and producer of the arts, he was an arts champion who provided a creative outlet for minority actors, exposed minority audiences to significant theater, and “let white audiences in on the black experience.” (John Bustin, “He’s Keeping Busy,” Duende, June, 1988).
As a singer (in musical theater and with local bands), he could emulate many of the great vocal stylists.
He worked with numerous groups in Austin, including Tapestry Dance Company, Ballet East, Aztlan Dance Company, Huston Tillotson University, Austin’s Comedy Troupe , Esther’s Follies, Austin Community College, Dance Umbrella, Ballet Austin, WH Passon Society, Capital City Playhouse (formerly Gaslight Theater), AISD, University of Texas at Austin. He’s well-known for his work with Zachary Scott Theater, and their Project InterAct, where he produced/performed in over 40 main stage plays and musicals, including “Ain’t Misbehavin”, “A Raisin in the Sun,” “The African Company presents Richard the Third” and many others.
His first major notice was for the Master of Ceremonies in “Cabaret” for the Gaslight Theater, where “the young actor’s reputation here was assured.” (Bustin, 1988) Since then, he went on to make a splash as Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and as a player at Esther’s Follies, and then clinched his first directorship with, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” for Huston-Tillotson College (now “University”).
Boyd founded ProArts Collective in 1993 as a vehicle to produce significant African-American works like “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “For Colored Girls who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enough.” It grew into a multi-disciplinary support organization to provide services such as networking for emerging artists, administration, production assistance and a casting company of African-American performers to other troupes. ProArts Collective received local, state and federal grants and began producing full seasons of dramatic and musical theater. It went on to produce arts programs in schools and an annual African-American dance festival. From there, The African American Community Heritage Festival was born, which continues to this day.
Other festivals/events he’s produced include: A Soulful Christmas Bazaar, The African-American Festival of Dance, The Tejano Low Rider Festival, United Artists for Peace Silent Auction and Art Fiesta.
Boyd served as a peer panelist for the Texas Commission on the Arts Performing Arts Programs and as a consultant to Austin Independent School District’s Children’s arts programs.
In 1994, he went on brief hiatus from Austin to work with the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention as a Treatment Advocacy Coordinator and then Coordinator of Direct Services.
In 2001, he founded the African-American Arts Technical Resource Center which supported artists of color in central east Austin.
In 2004, the Austin Critics Table inducted Boyd into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame. Later that same year, the Austin Circle of Theaters awarded him with the B. Iden Payne Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Achievement in Austin theater. After his death, following unexpected heart surgery in 2005, the City of Austin renamed an existing theater at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center in Vance’s honor “for his contribution to the Austin community.”
Boyd Vance was a passionate supporter of both arts and justice. His legacy is the exhibition and development of emerging artists in Austin. The Pecan Street Association is proud to honor their 2016 Heritage Award to him for his promotion and preservation of the arts. His brother, Clen Vance, will accept the award at an event prior to the festival.