Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

Charles Umlauf was the son of German farmers who migrated to Chicago in 1911 to escape anti-German sentiments. At 14 he was orphaned in his tough Chicago neighborhood however managed to survive winning a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago. Post graduation the Depression struck and problems obtaining work occurred, however fate changed as he met and married, Angeline, with their partnership producing 6 children. It was also during this time his provocative and haunting work was noticed.

Example of his haunting work

Two very different sculptures depicting the family.

A realistic sculpture of Mother and Child

In 1941 he was offered and accepted a position at University of Texas at Austin where he worked for the next 40 years as an art professor and sculptor. He and his wife built a home on the grounds where the garden now stands and his donation to the City of Austin is a lasting legacy.

Then a passionate work, The Lovers
And some whimsy, The Skater

Umlauf’s works are found in the Met in NYC, the Smithsonian, and Houston’s Love Field. They run the gambit from impressionism to abstract, to life like sculptures. He worked in marble, wood, rose quartz, and onyx. Creating his sculptures using an ancient Lost Wax Method, from the classic Greeks, here are the steps:

  • A charcoal sketch was created.
  • Followed by a 3 dimensional clay model
  • Plaster was then molded over the clay
  • This was then sent to Italy where the wax was specially treated and fired creating a mold.
  • Copper and tin were then poured into the mold.
  • The final work was then chiseled away.

All this is explained in a fascinating movie narrated by Umlauf. What a unique and treasured gift Austin received in his donation of the Sculpture Garden.

Go and enjoy this must see..

This concludes my Austin visit. Great way to end the trip.

Top Picks: Austin and a bit beyond

Here they are :

  • University of Texas at Austin – this campus is ENORMOUS and fascinating. UT gives you a feel for how large the Lone Star State really is. The Blanton Art Museum is on campus, however, each time I’ve visited it was closed. Go for me and let me know your thoughts.
  • The LBJ Library is on the grounds of UT, an amazing place.
  • And while we are on LBJ, stop by his ranch 50 miles west of Austin in Hill Country. They continue to breed his world famous cattle at this National Park. Only in America, but hey, it’s Texas.
  • The Driskoll Hotel, where LBJ and Lady Bird had their first date. An iconic hotel in downtown Austin with Romanesque architecture.
  • Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Botanical Gardens.
  • The State Capitol and State Museum. Check with Auntie Google for specific times but make an effort to see both. Great tour.
  • HEB Supermarket – phenomenal place to visit and get groceries. Bring your own bags.
  • F1 Track not a fan but it is there.
  • Take a drive south of Austin for ribs in Lockhart. Worth the drive. Cute town.
  • Bucee’s – watch for the signs on the highway and stop.
  • Barton Springs Municipal Pool – natural spring, phenomenal.
  • Mount Bonnell – great views.
  • Wineries – there are several in the area, tours and wine remarkable.
  • Walkways are many, Auntie Google to decide on your favorite or do them all.
  • Mayfield Park – see peacocks in the trees and visit the historic home.
  • Walk downtown and see the sites. What architecture!
  • And my new favorite which I will review tomorrow Umlauf Sculpture Garden. What a peaceful spot near Barton Springs.
See you in Austin

Austin Christmas Visit: Airport Review

Shortly after returning from Paris a Christmas visit to Austin was on the agenda. Having bought this ticket 4 months ago as a surprise to my daughter I was unaware she was already booked for her third season at Sundance in Utah. Oops! To my surprise a gig in San Antonio came through and she worked the Texas event and Sundance remotely. Isn’t technology grand?

Here we are, I am the one with the hat.

Upon landing in Austin I was anxious to see any changes to the airport. It had been 3 years since my last airport visit and they had recently opened a new wing.

There was the usual..

Statutes to important people who served the people. Nice statute of Barbara Jordan.

Busy luggage areas decorated for the holidays.

Then there was the unusual and funky..

Weird Austin walls on entry to the bathrooms.

A composting container next to the trash and recycling receptacles.

And what a phenomenal idea. Never saw one of these in an airport.

Quite a tribute to someone who did so much. Let’s hope it is to the man who caught those crooks.

And many ways to purchase coffee.

But my favorite were the dogs. Never saw so many in an airport. Guess it was home for the holidays. Here’s my favorite. Isn’t she a beauty?

Now that the Airport has met my approval, on to San Antonio where my daughter was one of the event helpers at a national Christmas party for 20,000 USAA employees. That must be quite a party. Catch you tomorrow.

The Endless Return

Left Austin after a delicious breakfast at Phoebe’s, a local restaurant near my daughter’s abode. Besides making the most delicious omelet I had ever had, Phoebe’s, even cures meat. What a combination.

After breakfast we bid adieu..

Taking a different route home I found myself seeing more of rural Texas. Between farmlands with cows or fields of corn an occasional oil rigging was viewed. This gave me a better understanding of climate change and economy. However, if we want to save our planet we need to do things differently. We could always install wind turbines in those fields like they do in Europe or build solar panel factories…

The Fruit stand

When I found myself in Giddings, Texas I purchased fruit from a vendor who carried my watermelon purchase across the highway which was a dangerous plight and gracious of him.

The Taco Truck

I also obtained my last “fill up” of Texas tacos from a local Gidding’s vendor. Such nice folks in that town.

After “fill up” I found a mobile home park which specialized in small homes. I am fascinated by these and want one. In my first year in Florida there were 2 hurricane evacuations in 10 months. At this time I realized I needed another domicile for when Florida falls off the face of the Earth. A small home would be a perfect solution. Aren’t they adorable?

These homes made mostly of wood run about $70 to 80,000 installed. With a lot, electric and water hook-up the totals would run $125-135,000, depending on location. While compact there was ample closet room and some even had loft space. The interior captures much sunlight and the walls are wooden, therefore, no need for painting.

Then there are greenhouses to grow food in. Unsure of the prices for these.

Further down the road I found Brenham, Texas, a pristine town and the home of Blue Bell ice cream. Note how the government building is a perfect example of the early 1900’s with even a bandstand on its front lawn.

Blue Bell has a beautiful campus and large retail area. They have a visitor center but do not give tours and photos are not allowed through the glass windows which overlooked the plant floor. In the visitor center they have monitors in place to learn more about their operation.

From here I continued my drive non-stop grateful for the beautiful weather. When a ghastly traffic clog occurred in Louisiana I stopped by the visitor center to learn more of the area. I was told of a local restaurant and a 5 star plantation tour. Went to the restaurant which had interesting out buildings with traditional Louisiana food and then drove into the plantation parking lot as torrential rains began. Since 18 hours of rain occurred the day before along with tornadoes I decided to forgo my plantation visit and keep driving. Here’s some pics of the slave cabins and out buildings at The Cabin.

Gruene, Texas and Metalachi

Gruene Country Store

Today a friend of my daughter’s took us to Gruene, Texas. This is a historic town which was settled by German immigrants in the mid-1840’s. Beautifully restored it has various styles of homes with a famous dance hall and saloon to boot. It took my breath away when a gentlemen asked me to dance as I was exploring the dance hall. Now that hasn’t happened in 40 years! Guess it’s Texas hospitality.

Gruene also has an extensive river rafting operation, local wineries, and antique shops. It’s a great place for a visit.

After our trek my daughter informed me we had tickets to a band. Little did I know what to expect, however, I was prepared. On my last visit we went to a gay bar as her roommate was gay. Always the adventurer I was up for the challenge and to tell the truth the gay bar was fun so I expected the same from the concert this evening.

Metalachi is the first and only heavy metal Mariachi band. Besides their canned and original songs they also do comedy. As a senior I enjoyed the joke where the guitarist said he liked older women as they had a 401(k). Smart man..

They also brought up an older gal from the audience and gave her a few thrills by sitting on her lap and singing to her. It was a hoot and what a way to end my last night in WEIRD AUSTIN. You’ve got to see it to believe it.

The Band
Metal Mariachi

Commercial Time: Buc-ees

While at the San Antonio Museum my daughter heard from several folks regarding my visit and how it was going. Each of them said the same thing, “Take her to Buc-ees.” Unsure what this was about I volunteered to visit the place.

Buc-ees is a mega pit stop area along the highways of Texas and seems to be branching out throughout the South. Outside the store it has 100 or more gas pumps and pet walking areas. The actual store is probably the size of 2 football fields and stocks everything from hunting apparel to baby clothes, fudge to brisket and a wall full of coffee and soda dispensers. Food is ordered on line with computer terminals and they even pay their staff a good wage.

But the best is the bathrooms. There must be 50 stalls on each side that are clean, well equipped and affords enough space for a wheelchair.

So..even if you aren’t hungry, don’t need gas or have to pee, stop in for a look. You won’t believe it. Let’s hope they branch out nationally.

No monies were received for this endorsement.

Austin Landing

Being told by hotel staff that Houston traffic calms after 9 a.m. I began the last leg of my journey at this time. Katy Freeway is a 7 lane toll road, however, I am still unsure if I have a toll to pay. I caught a glimpse of a sign with the road website and called them. Friendly customer service folks told me to call again in 2 weeks. Huh?

Back to the journey.. And the award for best GPS travel navigator AP extraordinaire is Waze. She brought me directly to my daughter’s home. Thank you, Waze.

Upon arrival and after hugs, kisses and luggage duty we left for Elton John’s Rocketman at a local movie theater. I had brought a turkey and this was placed in the oven before we left for the movie. Elton’s movie was operatic with his songs explaining his life. Different.

Since my daughter is doing bathroom renovations we stopped at a big box store and Habitat for Humanity to check prices after the movie. In discussing the condo upgrades she mentioned the dials on her stove were backwards. Unaware I had placed a turkey in the oven on broil rather than 325 we rushed back to her home where we were met by clouds of black smoke as we opened the door.

Deer along the road

With dinner now blackened and her condo relieved of smoke we headed for a Lockhart barbeque restaurant in Hill Country, Texas. This area of Texas is green and lush with many winery signs dotting the roads we traveled. Dinner was ribs and once completed we explored further finding “Wizard College.” This appeared to be a place where urban professionals train, however, we encountered a couple marrying at their chapel overlooking the hills. Interesting combination.

Ending our day we visited a guy friend of my daughter’s to pick up Mo, the dog. She and her guy friend dog share. Oh, relationships, will we ever understand them?

Our final stop was HEB, the most amazing and probably only supermarket in Texas. With HEB you only need one as they sell just about everything. First on my list, oven cleaner, as repentance for my sins.