Author Archives: Renée Rice

Party at the Moontower Lounge Wonderland

Who doesn’t love a good holiday cocktail party? It’s the perfect excuse to don your best outfit. For any of you with parties on the agenda between now and the 25th,  we’re sharing a few ideas to step up the game for your holiday party.

Whether it’s a corporate affair or an intimate gathering of friends, Party at the Moontower puts together holiday lounge looks that bring an extra bit of pizazz to your party. Let your guests relax and mingle while sipping spiked eggnog!

Recreating a winter wonderland? This lounge set up was inspired by that feeling of fresh snow falling (though maybe not here in Texas!) But imagine being all bundled up, with string lights across the ceiling twinkling above your guests.
Winter Holiday Lounge
The concept of this party is a setup that’s refined without being rigid, sweet without being saccharine, cheerful, abundant, still festive!

This lounge is all about the golden details. Gold-rimmed coffee tables and accents make for a fancier soiree. The added faux fur will make it feel warm and cozy as you serve up hot toddies!
Golden Holiday Lounge
Another December, another company holiday party… and what’s a party without an open bar? If you’re treating your team to free beverages, you’ll need a festive bar to decorate with red berries and greenery. Add in cocktail tables for mingling and set them throughout your venue.
Holiday settings
We’re excited to be working with Party at the Moontower for our Green Room this year, they sure know how to set a festive mood. Let them elevate your holiday parties this year, you’ll be the toast of the town!

Meet the 2017 Featured Art Artist

This year’s featured art is by Robert Hurst. Read our interview below with Hurst to learn more about the work behind the featured art piece and his art career.

Tell us about yourself, your artistic background/career, where you are from and where you live now.

I’ve always been drawn to creating art and drew pictures constantly in my childhood. I would look at small photos of my classmates and render them larger to better know what my friends looked like, as I had awful eyesight. Finally at the age of 10 or so I got glasses, but still kept drawing. I lived in South Houston for my first 10 years then my family moved to the Spring, Texas area where I remained until moving to Austin in my 20’s. I visited Austin many times throughout high school and was definitely drawn to the city. I finally moved to ATX in 1985 with $50.00 and two boxes of clothes.

Throughout my life, most — but not all — of my jobs had some connection with art; picture framer, graphic designer, architectural illustrator, part time art show exhibitor, etc. My first job in Austin was at Ultra Art, a frame shop just purchased by the illustrious Dalhart Windberg. There I framed Mr. Windberg’s originals and prints. After 3 years of some much needed tutelage, I moved on to GoGo Studios where I worked for the most awesome Bill Narum doing album covers and music posters for Antone’s, Threadgill’s, and various band and events. I went from a fairly regimented work place to a fairly gonzo one. Both men (Windberg and Narum) are / were brilliant and I owe so much to them.

Throughout most of my life I’ve been active in sports (martial arts, motocross, football, baseball, rugby, volleyball), so I painted what I knew. In 1990 Earl Campbell commissioned me to do several pieces for him. Then I began doing sports memorabilia shows and found my niche. And, as they say, “The rest is history”.

What was your creative process for the featured art piece?

While meeting with the Armadillo team several ideas popped in my head immediately, and most were scuttled just as quickly. When I’m excited about a painting / project my mind often works this way, fast and furious. One image kept creeping in, however. An armadillo casually walking away from the viewer on a keyboard. From there I researched, then went to canvas with paints, as I do not sketch in advance.

What was your favorite part to put together?

This piece had a lot of the elements that I enjoy incorporating in my art: color, movement, composition, unusual angles, and creating an entirely new image.

Was there a challenging part of creating the featured art piece?

I often have a “finished” composition in my head before I start. Then it’s time to find reference material. That takes as much time as creating the painting.

Is there a 709 hidden in the piece?

There is a “709” in the headstock of the guitar.

Tell us about your history with the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.

I’m not sure of the exact year I began showing at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. It was soon after it was moved from the Opera House to the Austin Music Hall. Mid ’90’s, I think. Chip and Debra Dupont lobbied for my acceptance. Bruce took a chance on a “sports artist” and we both think it was well worth it. My first year at the ‘Dillo was quite the learning experience. Although I had been to the ‘Dillo many times as a patron before my first year as an artist I had no idea the professionalism, stamina, dedication, and commitment the show requires. Bruce and many other artists offered suggestions that helped me become a better presenter of my art and helped ease the transition from a wanna be Armadillo artist to one in fact. What I learned subsequently affected every other show I did (do) in a positive way. Over the years, my work has expanded from almost exclusively sports themed to music, critters, and Austin-Texana. Much of my sports and music art is autographed by the subject. This is the biggest show I do and has been for 15 years. It was an honor to be invited and to now be part of the family.

Tell us about the first dollar you made selling your art.

The first “dollar” I made was 50 cents for a colored pencil drawing of a deer jumping over a log in second grade to a classmate’s father.

What are your favorite art supplies or tools?

I’m almost exclusively an acrylic on canvas artist, although I am versed in watercolor, oil, pastel, inks, marker, and some clay sculpting.

If you could work in any other medium, what would it be?

I’m interested in doing more sculpture, painting more plein air, and travel subjects.

Tell us about being a sports artist.

I kinda got into sports art (primarily painting subjects related to sports) by accident. I always included one or two sports paintings in my early art shows, but never considered IT as my niche. After the Earl Campbell commissions my focus changed to sports. I began doing sports memorabilia shows. That introduced my work to many of the greats (past and current) in the sports world at the time; Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Muhammad Ali, Earl Campbell, Bob Lilly and more. In 1994 I was invited to be one of the artists in the new Ballpark in Arlington Sports Art Gallery. It was the first exclusively sports art gallery within a ballpark. Soon I was in Minute Maid Park, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, and a sports art gallery in Atlanta. At one time I was in more sports art galleries than any other artist in the country, albeit briefly. I became the artist for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, the artist for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006, and artist for the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011. What I do is paint each of the inductees. Prints are then made, signed by the inductees, and offered for sale. This is a fundraiser for the museums. I also did work for the College Football Hall of Fame for a few years, and from 2001 – 2009 created the artwork for Rodeo Austin (AKA Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo).

The inductee paintings are usually a single image. My favorite sports pieces to create are complex multi-image compilations celebrating a championship, a city’s history, an individual’s history, etc.

What are your five favorite songs, albums, or musicians?

Hmmmm, that’s a toughie. Nothing gets my air drumming “skills” hopping more than Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying”. Best concerts were Pink Floyd’s “Animals” tour and Bruce Springsteen circa 1975. I love live jazz, the purity of voice of Eva Cassidy, ELO, U2, B-52s, The Offspring, AC/DC, ABBA, and Linkin Park are great traveling music. Kate Bush is way up there, too!

Is there any wisdom you would like to pass on to emerging artists?

Always be lernin’.


Far Out Fittings styles it up!

Artists Lounge
We’re loving the way Far Out Fittings styled our artists lounge. It’s been a cozy place for our bands and artists to chill out for a bit. If you’re in need of cool furniture for your place, definitely check out Far Out Home Fittings, located in the heart of South Austin. Their inventory is updated daily, they have negotiable pricing, and cheap delivery. They also currently have holiday season sales and can help you find that perfect inspired gift that will tickle your loved one’s memories and leave them with a Christmas to remember. Want a peek before you head down there? Their website has a Current Inventory page that is updated regularly!

far out sofa

Not sleeping so great? Far Out Fittings also has a sister company called Lunar Mattress. It’s actually located at the same place as Far Out, kind of a two-for one shopping experience! Let Lunar Mattress solve your sleeping problems with their bed offerings of innerspring, latex foam, and memory foam mattresses along with a variety of accessories. Start your new year off in a new comfy bed.

Far Out Fittings Bed


Music Monday: Emily Gimble

Gimble at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

The three-time Best Keyboards Winner of the Austin Music Awards and former keyboardist for iconic Texas western swing band Asleep at the Wheel, Emily Gimble will be bringing her notable sultry, bluesy voice to the Armadillo stage for the first time this year. As the granddaughter of legendary fiddler Johnny Gimble and daughter of noted CenTex guitarist and fiddle player, Dick Gimble, Emily has music in her blood. With vocals reminiscent of Billy Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Norah Jones, we just know you’re going to love her soulful, thoughtful songs.

Emily Gimble will play the Armadillo stage Tuesday, December 20th at 11am


New Artist Spotlight: Desarae Lee

Desarae Lee at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Desarae Lee’s work is intricate and whimsical. She creates her work using either pen and ink or a printmaking process called drypoint, which is an intaglio technique similar to etching. Her work makes a great gift for college students, young couples, and kids!

Let’s learn more about Desarae and her work…

How long have you been creating, and how has your work changed?
I’ve been creating since I was a child, but I’ve been doing art for a living for the past five or six years. I would hope that my work has become more refined over time. My style continues to develop as I try to add layers of meaning and complexity.

If you could work in any other medium, what would it be?
I would love to work in a three-dimensional medium, like steel or wood.

What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
In Utah I live next to some of the most beautiful mountains on earth, so I spend a fair amount of my free time rock climbing, hiking, and camping.

Desarae Lee at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

What makes you excited about doing Armadillo Christmas Bazaar?
I’m always excited to see my other friends who do art shows, and some of my favorites will be at Armadillo this year! I’m also excited to get my first year under my belt, to meet new patrons and get more involved with Armadillo.

Tell us about the first dollar you made selling your art:
The first dollar I made selling my art in recent memory was at my very first gallery show. I only had five small art pieces in that show, and back then I was selling my work for practically nothing! Two pieces sold and I remember feeling amazed that I could make money with something I had drawn.

Is there a band you are looking forward to seeing (or hearing from your booth – ha!)?
I love the music scene in Austin so I’m just excited to hear a breadth of the local music!

Is there an artist at Armadillo you are looking forward to shopping from?
Too many to choose from! Among my favorites are Dave Borba, Shawn Harris, Vladimir Ovtcharov, Steve and Bonnie Harmston…I could go on.

Desarae Lee at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Find Desarae’s work in booth N-1

New Artist Spotlight: Van Horn Enterprises

Van Horn at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Van Horn Enterprises creates treasures from wood. We’re excited to have their wood writing instruments in our show. Principal Artist, Karen Van Horn, produces art that is both beautiful and functional. Karen travels extensively seeking out small sawmills that focus on producing high quality lumber from trees down by storms. Her pens will make the perfect gift for that pen collector in your life.

Let’s learn more about Karen and her work…

How long have you been creating, and how has your work changed?
Approximately 5 years. Van Horn started making writing instruments and then extended my scope to include sculptured boxes. I’ve used my experience in finishing pens to support my creations of boxes with an exceptional finish.

What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
Ride my road bike. I’m an avid cyclist completing 2300 miles this year to date including a MS150 ride in Texas and a 450 mile organized ride in Iowa (RAGBRAI). I also likes to camp either tent camping or camping in my 32 ft travel trailer.

What makes you excited about doing Armadillo Christmas Bazaar?
I attended the Armadillo in 2015 and was very impressed with the environment and displays. I also visited with a number of the artists and was very impressed with their positive comments about the team work. During our meeting with the production team in Austin we gained a new appreciation of the learning opportunities with regard to lighting and display.

Tell us about the first dollar you made selling your art:
My first show was a local show that were mostly vendors that sold purchased goods and a few with low end crafts. I sold pens at the time so my first sale was a $45.00 pen. We were trying our booth set up and credit card machine for the first time. We learned to focus on better art shows where all items are made by the artist at the show.

Is there a band you are looking forward to seeing (or hearing from your booth – ha!)?
I look forward to Asleep at the Wheel.

Van Horn pens Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Find Karen’s work in booth A-2


Music Monday: Los Coast

Los Coast at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Los Coast’s music is a punchy, psych-tinged, lyrical variety of rock and soul. For the band’s three principals, Trey Privott, John Courtney, and Megan Hartman, this style of music is a uniquely efficient medium of communication—one that reaffirms music’s role as the universal language of the intangible.

Los Coast formed like Voltron, and Trey happened to be the heart. He is Los Coast’s “Stax-worthy” vocal feature. To put it simply, “there’s something about Trey’s voice that resonates with you.” He was introduced first to jazz—by his uncle Hiram Bullock—but Trey’s musical enthusiasm embraces gospel, punk rock, electronica, folk, and hip-hop, among other genres, and his eclectic songwriting style reflects his universal musical interests.

John is a multi-instrumentalist with a particular aptitude for keyboard and lead guitar. He is primarily responsible for most aspects of composition and production for Los Coast, and his creative impact on the band is significant. John’s style is deeply rooted in Americana and heavily influenced by an acute understanding of music theory, which he honed studying mood, texture, and composition at Berklee College of Music.

Trey and John formed Los Coast in January of 2015 and recorded their debut album “Voila” in Athens, Georgia with Drew Vandenberg. They subsequently recruited the talented Megan Hartman to join the band on electric and stand-up bass and feature several local percussionists and horn players in their live performances. They are sure to get everyone at Armadillo moving their feet!

Los Coast will play the Armadillo stage Monday, December 19th at 11am


New Artist Spotlight: Lisa Morales

Lisa Morales at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Mixed-media artist Lisa Morales was born and raised in Texas. Much like a painter would use oil or acrylic paint as their chosen media, she uses paper to achieve the same results. She hand paints and textures papers of all kinds and then tears them by hand and perfectly place them to create collages full of whimsy and surprise. Even though the paper is painted, the markings from the text, illustrations, or patterns on the paper shows through the paint creating a visual layered feast for the viewer’s eye. The longer you look, the more interesting the piece becomes. Aside from beautiful art pieces, Lisa will also have have great gift items like journals, coffee cups, and calendars featuring her work.

Let’s get to know more about Lisa and her work…

How long have you been creating, and how has your work changed?
I actually consider myself to be a “late bloomer” when it comes to visual art. At the age of 42, I took my first drawing class at a community college as an elective when I was studying to be a court reporter. I had grown up in the performing side of the art world as a dancer and never considered visual art something I could master. I thought visual art was something that was innate in people. I remember so vividly how that first drawing class completely changed my perspective about what being an “artist” meant. I took color theory, 2-D design, and collage classes next. And I fell in love—with the process, the techniques, the critiques, the like-minded people, and the PAPER!! I have always considered myself to be a creative person but when I found paper, I knew in my marrow that I needed this part of the creative process to be in my life. I love it. I love the way it feels, the way it smells, and how you can create art by tearing it into tiny pieces and putting it all back together again.

If you could work in any other medium, what would it be?
Because I build my collages on flat wood panels I would love to work in sculpture or fabric or any other media that is 3-D in nature.

What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
On the weekends I turn ordinary children in to princesses, super heroes and beautiful butterflies as a professional face painter. The “moving canvas” is a challenge to work on sometimes but the reward of seeing a child’s face light up when they see the finished face paint is well worth the effort. I truly feel blessed that I can bring that kind of joy to children.

Lisa Morales at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

What makes you excited about doing Armadillo Christmas Bazaar?
I am thrilled that a show of this caliber exist in my home state and I am excited for a whole new audience to see my work. I am also looking forward to being inspired by and meeting the other artist in the show.

Tell us about the first dollar you made selling your art:
I sold my first art piece after a workshop. One of the other students in the class offered to buy what I made and I was blown away. I was one of those people who thought that you needed to work for a lifetime at your craft to be able to sell your work. That first sale was a game changer for me and a complete validation in my mind that what I had to offer was “good enough” to be considered art worth buying.

Is there a band you are looking forward to seeing (or hearing from your booth – ha!)?
All of them. My husband is a musician so I think he is looking forward to that part of the show as much as I am.

Is there an artist at Armadillo you are looking forward to shopping from?
Let’s put it this way. When I got the promo postcard with sample of work from only five or six artist I told my husband I was in trouble and that he better keep me chained up in my booth to keep me from spending more than I make. I can’t wait!!

Lisa Morales at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Find Lisa’s work in booth O-7

New Artist Spotlight: Pen Morrison

Pen Morrison at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Houston artist Pen Morrison uses cut steel, painted wood and found objects to make mixed media art, often with a nod to musicians, using lyrics from songs. Her work would be a great gift for music lovers and collectors that enjoy their art with a bit of humor.

Let’s learn more about Pen and her work…

How long have you been creating, and how has your work changed?
I have been making art since my hands could hold things. In fact, my dad has a piece of driftwood with 3 glued rocks that I made when I was 4. I am still using wood in my art, so not much has changed! I also have been painting words in different fonts since high school, so that hasn’t changed much either! But recently, I have taken a turn from my music-related art with my Peace Sign Series, made of found objects, buttons, and painted wood. I also used to make more found object art, but now mainly create it from scratch, using repurposed materials.

If you could work in any other medium, what would it be?
Welding steel, or more letter press printing. Or abstract collage with wood or paper.

What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
Go out and hear live music! Also biking, taking the dogs to the dog park, and finding materials to make into art. And anything my 16 year old son feels like doing with his mom!

Pen Morrison Art Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

What makes you excited about doing Armadillo Christmas Bazaar?
Much of the work I make is a tribute to musicians. I am looking forward to hearing all the great music at the Armadillo, and talking to buyers who also love music! I have heard about this show for years, and getting to be a part of it with so many talented artists and appreciative customers is a dream come true.

Tell us about the first dollar you made selling your art:
In 2011 Whole Foods Market in Houston commissioned me to make a guitar tribute piece. I made “If You Steal My Chickens, You Can’t Make ‘Em Lay” honoring Lightnin’ Hopkins, a Houston legend! It still hangs at the Waugh Drive Whole Foods location. It was not the first dollar for my art, but the first time selling from the series I still make today.

Is there a band you are looking forward to seeing (or hearing from your booth – ha!)?
Dale Watson! He played at my art opening “Don’t Run Dry” at Cactus Music in 2015! I have a tribute piece to Dale Watson that will be for sale at the Bazaar, “Honkiest, Tonkiest Beer Joint In Town”!

Is there an artist at Armadillo you are looking forward to shopping from?
New to the show artist, Brian Phillips.

Pen Morrison Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Find Pen’s work in booth U-4

New Artist Spotlight: Salvaged Wood Artist, Brian Phillips

brian phillips at armadillo christmas bazaar

Local artist, Brian Phillips mainly uses salvaged wood and other salvaged items in his work. He brings the salvaged wood home, cleans it up, separates the pieces and uses them to build ‘Salvaged wood canvases’ that he paints on later. Brian’s work is mainly silhouettes of different subject matter ranging from Armadillos to cowboys, guitars to bottles but he also does abstract and abstract landscapes. His collection is whimsical, yet strong, and includes small art pieces that are accessible to most buyers, including beginning collectors.

Let’s learn more about Brian and his work…

How long have you been creating, and how has your work changed?
I’ve been creating art since I was a child. My mom (who raised 4 kids by herself — I am the youngest) always tells people that the only way she could keep me quiet was by handing me a drawing pad and crayons. I rediscovered art when I was 21 for therapeutic reasons and haven’t looked back. I’ve been a full time artist since 2011.

If you could work in any other medium, what would it be?
Steel. Probably welding salvaged items into unique but useful items/lawn art.

What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
My wife, Cynthia and I enjoy hanging out on our back porch, usually listening to some classic country and enjoying a cold beer (or wine in her case) and firing up the fire pit when the weather is right for it.

brian phillips armadillo christmas bazaar

What makes you excited about doing Armadillo Christmas Bazaar?
Meeting so many new people that are appreciative of the arts. I’m nervous about my first year, but in a good way for sure. I want to bring my A-game and see how the crowds respond.

Tell us about the first dollar you made selling your art:
Not exactly a “Dollar” but when I was in 7th grade, I was drawing some of my favorite wrestlers “The Road Warriors” and a lady who was staying at the same place as me and my mom asked if she could take it and show it to her friend. I said sure and she took it to her friend who was the daughter of the wrestling promoter Fred Ward in Columbus, GA. The next week I got a call asking if they could print my drawings in the wrestling event programs. My first and only question was “Can I get in for free?” and the deal was made. I got into matches for letting them use my drawings for the next few years and met and saw some of my favorite wrestlers Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk, The Road Warriors, Buzz Sawyer, Mr. Wrestling #2, Wahoo McDaniel, etc. This was one of the first times I realized art had some value. Some of my best childhood memories.

Is there a band you are looking forward to seeing (or hearing from your booth — ha!)?
Dale Watson is always a winner.

brian phillips at armadillo christmas bazaar

Find Brian’s work in booth T-1