Armadillo artist, Brian David Johnson, has curated an art show dubbed Vessel. Opening night is this Saturday September 12, 6-10pm, there will be food, drink, and live music by Ethan Azarianmid. Vessel is both the name and theme of the show. Many artists will be showing literal vessels, but the theme is also open to artist interpretation of the idea of a vessel. Approximately 24 local artists (one being Kathleen Ash, another Armadillo artist) will represent a range of disciplines including: wood work, ceramics, metal work, glass, sculpture, and 2D paintings and illustrations.

The show is partially funded by the Austin Cultural Arts Division and sponsored by Big Medium, and will be held at the shade houses and beautifully landscaped grounds of Utility Research Garden at 638 Tillery Street. The opening is free, but if you can’t make it Saturday night, you have another chance to view the work Sunday, September 13 11am – 4pm. Find sneak peeks of the amazing work that will be on display this weekend here. We’re looking forward to the show. Hope to see you there!

Armadillo Visits Bellevue Art Fairs

My job is pretty awesome. I get to work for creative people and stay connected in the cultural community in Austin and all over the country. In July, I had the opportunity to visit Seattle to see the Bellevue art fairs. Bellevue has three shows happening at once, so it was a great time to visit and see what the art show scene is like in Washington State (not to mention trading in Austin’s triple digit weather for a cool 75 degrees).

The best part of attending art shows is supporting the art community around the country. Experiencing regional and national art shows has always been important to the producers of the ACB. We like to keep a pulse on what is happening with other art shows; what’s being done right, what can improve the artist and customer experience, observing patterns in the ever evolving art buying market, and just taking it all in.

We also like to visit with ACB artists, who we consider family. By visiting these art shows I feel like I get to peek into the life of an artist, seeing how they live traveling from show to show, dealing with logistics, weather, and being on the road. I get a chance to hear about exciting news (lots of babies this year!), see new work, and get lots of hugs.

Here are a few highlights from my Bellevue visit:

Rick and Lisa Loudermilk’s Home Studio Visit

I love visiting the studios and homes of Armadillo Artists! I was lucky enough to be invited over to the home studio of Rick and Lisa Loudermilk, both artists at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Lisa, a world traveler and great cook, generously offered to make me a home cooked lunch inspired by her recent trip to Turkey. She served a 5 course, traditional Turkish meal that was unbelievably tasty. My favorite dish (though it was a tough choice) was the roasted eggplant with gravy. Lisa kindly shared her recipe with me and I would love to share it with you:

“Eggplant Cream Gravy”
It’s the sauce from “sultan’s favorite” or “hunkar begendi” adapted from Raindrop Turkish House cooking class.

6 cups roasted, canned eggplant (with a little citric acid, but not ones marked pickled. Available at Shahi foods near Parmer and Lamar or probably Phoenica)


You can also try putting 3-4 whole eggplants on hot grill or glass stove-top burner on high to medium-high to char the skins.  Just keep rotating and use the vent fan.  I think you probably should cover them so they continue to steam after all the skin is black.

Cool, peel quickly so supposedly the eggplant doesn’t get bitter, mash by hand, strain. You may want to stir in a little lemon juice.

3 TBS flour (rice bran flour works well)

a little cornstarch suspended in water in case you’re working with a flour that doesn’t thicken
4 TBS butter
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt – start with 1/2 if using the canned eggplant

Melt the butter over medium high and fry the flour till medium yellow, stirring constantly. After the flour starts turning golden yellow, stir in the milk slowly. Some flours don’t thicken like wheat.  If it doesn’t thicken , stir in a  little cornstarch that has been suspended in water. Keep stirring! Add the salt and eggplant and cook on medium low for a few minutes.  
Besides the amazing food, my lunch included the best conversation with Lisa and Rick on art, traveling, music and of course the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar! I also got to take a tour of both of their studios inside their beautiful South Austin home.

One of my favorite parts of visiting the homes of artists is seeing what art they choose to display in their homes. I also love to see what I can recognize from the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. It never fails that I fall in love with a piece that I don’t recognize, for example, the Bulldogfish in the bottom left corner below.

Armadillo Artists pictured clockwise: Nicole Long, Plaid Pigeon, Blue Haven Porcelain. The Bulldogfish is not an Armadillo Christmas Bazaar artists but I love the work by Bennet Clay Fish!

Click their names to see more of Rick and Lisa’s work.

Funky Finds for Less than a Franklin


As the Associate Producer of the show I get to spend a lot of time scoping out the amazing work of all the artists at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. With over 160 artists and some sharing a booth, I still feel like I miss some really awesome stuff each year. I usually have an under $100 budget for each my gifts and I rarely get to shop anywhere else for Christmas gifts so I thought I would share what I found this year!

photo+2Clockwise from top: Mailing card + envelope by Nemo and Hannah Dreiss | Zipper clutch by Anne-Marie Beard | Guns and nudes gold glass etched highball glasses by Sam Jones IV


Clockwise from top: Aqua Aura Quartz from Crystal Works | Tote bag from the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar | Organic cotton handkerchiefs by Victrola Studio | Cast enamel fabricated necklace from House of Eberstein | On the Way to Imaginarium book with original prints and story by the Vladamir, Daniela and Diliana Ovtcharov | Ceramic tea cup by Jason Hooper


Clockwise from top: Skin repair lotion by Hemp 360 | Limited edition Armadillo Christmas Bazaar Ornament | Dinosaur and Armadillo succulent planters by Plaid Pigeon | Softest shirt on the planet by Sew Lala | Jasmine candle by Lights out | Necklace by Ornamental Things


This is Hank. No, I didn’t get to buy him and no, he’s not under a franklin but if I had $3500 lying around I would so buy him. The picture does not do him justice. He is actually an interactive Zoltar (fortune teller) type sculpture complete with a light at the top, his own bottle of moonshine and a spinning button device. I want him so bad!!

Mr. Chicken, the new Armadillo Office Mascot?!

Mr+ChickenWe are getting close to our favorite time of the year when we get to see the results of another year of hard work.  We particularly enjoy the happy reunion of our community of Armadillo artists during move in.  Even in the 36th season, opening day is still the biggest thrill.  We love seeing the delight and excitement of our patrons.

We’re happy with the progress of our A-Team.  Everyone is working in an area of interest making big improvements to our production.  Nancy Coplin did a great job on the music line up.  We’ve got some excellent new acts this year.  We’re working with Hank Alrich making further improvements on our sound system for the enjoyment of all.

We visited many shows, large and small, this year.  We talked to artists at Bayou City, Cottonwood, Bellevue in Washington State, Georgetown Arts on the Square, Fiesta San Antonio, Art City Austin and made several new friends.  We also made a point of seeing the small local craft shows looking for up and coming talent.

We got a new mascot at the office last month.   Mr. Chicken, aka Captain Gumbo made a surprise entrance into the backyard.  Without a fence or a coop he’s claimed the yard as his own, took the 5 cats as his hens and now rules the roost.  We like him.

Bruce and Annie Save Seattle from Near Fatal Pinching

We typically head NXNW during SXSW, to visit dad, Julius, who has a waterfront penthouse apartment in downtown Seattle.


While visiting, we took our friend, Judy Cooper, to lunch at Tom Douglas’ Dahlia Lounge on St. Patrick’s Day.

Our waiter realized that he didn’t have any green on, so Annie took off her Armadillo Christmas Bazaar button and gave it to him. We watched our waiter talking to his customers, pointing out the button.  He was delighted and intrigued.  He told us he would wear the button all day and loved hearing about the show.  He was looking forward to looking us up on the web when he got home.  Through out lunch he came by our table often to chat.

The Dahlia Lounge is known for it’s outstanding coconut cream pie, a portion that is way to big for two people. Since we were three, we decided to go for it, but we couldn’t quite finish it off.  When our waiter presented the bill, he comped our pie in exchange for the button!  Leaving our mark on Seattle, even if it’s just a little bit.

Crab Apple Takes Over SoCo

Melissa Booth

Selling my work at SXSW this year was a new experience for me. In fact, it was my first time to be  in town at all during SXSW after living in Austin for 24 years. Usually I’m in the group of Austinites who  leave town during the madness.

I primarily sell handmade stationery through my web store Crab Apple Designs and only sell directly at 2-3 shows a year, so I was a bit hesitant to try selling during South By. But I dove in anyway hoping that SXSW would bring the kind of geek (which I say with love) that shares my passion for retro paper goods. My craft emphasizes notebooks and sketchbooks made from old books and games, but my focus during SXSW was recycled comic books. I thought that a product that appeals to guys would be a good item to showcase.

I’m sure glad I took a chance.  What a great time! I participated in a “pop-up shop” on South Congress with local live music within earshot and a flow of foot traffic from morning until night. This was my kind of crowd: friendly, happy, and genuinely excited about the products I make. Evidently, comic books aren’t just for guys! I was thrilled to meet girls and guys of ALL ages who found something to love about vintage comics.

The happy energy that the festival brings to downtown is addictive and I will surely plan on participating again next year! – Melissa Stewart

Austin-Center of Festival Universe.


A quick but important review of my favorite festivals in Austin in the next couple months.

Stage dive hip(ster) deep into SXSW. As a native Austinite I usually cringe at the thought, but this year with a good mate to entertain from the UK, I am embracing the city and all it’s foreigners (bloody, I may even put on an English accent and pretend to be one).

Running through April 3rd is ye olde Sherwood Faire. Just outside Austin you can scarf a turkey leg, watch a jousting match and go back in time. I go to see wonderful Armadillo Christmas Bazaar Artists like Gaila Designs & Face Painting, Two Sisters Henna & Face Painting, and Mark Cooper with Signs of Spirit. I also cannot refuse any opportunity to dress up. I love costumes!!

In mid-April, the Old Settlers Festival is held nearby in Driftwood, TX. Their lineup is right up our alley at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. They even have Armadillos crawling around on their website. Cute! The headliners, The Avett Brothers are AMAZING and I am super excited to see them live.  A few Armadillo artists are also featured at the festival like The Gourds, Band of Heathens, Suzanne Choffel, Warren Hood and our very own Sahara Smith.

Finally, my most favoritest, fun festival to frolic frantically in Austin is Eeyores Birthday Party. This is the place to see Austin at its weirdest. I’m a sucker for birthday parties, and the underdog, so Eeyore’s is dear to my heart (you get to wear costumes at this one too)!

Let’s hope I make it out of the Austin festival season alive.