Austin Pictures Top 12!

9/29/2011 Thursday 1:09 pm

We’ve had an amazing time putting Austin Pictures together, from selecting the incredible artists, and watching them complete their brilliant paintings, to seeing the many ensemble members learning Joseph Williams’ new Austin-inspired piece, to working with Caballero, Maestro Bay, and the Miró Quartet, to putting the extensive AV together with the Alamo Drafthouse!

The show is this Saturday, and here’s our top-twelve favorite things online so far.

#12          The article in the Oklahoman about the kids from OKC coming down.

#11           Our talk with composer Joseph Williams II about his new piece.

#10           A clip of Caballero… doing the amazing thing he does!

#9            Our talk with the Miró String Quartet.

#8            The wonderful community pictures shared via Facebook.

#7            A conversation with the Alamo’s Tim League.

#6            The great Austin Pictures Article at CultureMap.

#5            This great TV video story about the students from Brownsville.

#4            Our talk with Peter Bay.

#3            The Austin Chronicle Article about Austin Pictures.

#2            The incredible video piece by KUT about the artists!


#1            The 11 commissioned paintings: see them online here!

Saturday Night: Media, Parking, and more…

9/28/2011 Wednesday 8:48 am

Here’s the latest on Austin Pictures!

I’m heading over to YNN this morning… got a new haircut and everything!

Media: Austin Pictures will be featured live on YNN today at 11am.  A full-hour radio story will air at 7PM tonight on Classical Austin on KMFA, 89.5 FM.  Friday morning at 8:50am Jorge Caballero will perform live on the Fox 7 Morning News program.  A funny and inspiring video story on the artists just came out online on KUT’s Storyboard (whole story here)!  And a great event overview article is here at CultureMap.

Also yesterday this great TV Story came out about the students in Brownsville who are busily preparing to come here to be part of the show!  It’s a great companion piece to the article in the Oklahoman a few weeks back about the high school students in Oklahoma City who are also preparing like crazy.

Tickets: Are available at (877) 435-9849 or online.  Save 15-20% by purchasing ACGS Season Tickets online or at 512-300-2247 (includes Austin Pictures).  ACGS Season tickets will be sold only through 5PM tomorrow (Thursday).  ACGS Season Tickets will be unavailable Friday or at the door Saturday, though single tickets for Austin Pictures will be available as long as supplies last.

Parking: The best guide for parking at ACL Live is online here. You’ll see 7 nearby options on a map with details below it!

Austin Pictures Insight Videos: Alamo Drafthouse’s Tim League, ASO’s Maestro Peter Bay, Composer Joseph Williams, Miró String Quartet.

Most popular AP blog posts: Artwork has arrived, The Program for Saturday Night, Austin Pictures Top 10, Jorge Caballero.

Austin Pictures

9/25/2011 Sunday 5:43 pm

What’s Matt been up to?  Why so little blogging of late?

It’s all here: Austin Pictures

This is easily the most ambitious single presentation I’ve ever attempted with ACGS.  And it’s coming up this Saturday night, October 1st, at 8PM at  ACL Live at the Moody Theater!

I was inspired last year when one of my favorite artists, guitarist Jorge Caballero, told me he was programming the impossibly difficult, and incredibly beautiful and evocative, “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky for solo guitar.  That combined with our friendship with KLRU and the spectacular new ACL venue opening led to Austin Pictures.  It’s a multimedia, highly collaborative show, all swirling around the Pictures at an exhibition, with visual art, music and film, some of the greatest musicians I know along side of student artists, musicians and filmmakers.

We’re gonna have a very good time!

Plus we auctioned off a doubles tennis match against Jorge and me for the morning after the concert – so the pressure is really on!

Tons of info is at my newest AP blog: “Austin Pictures Top 10” where I give 9 links to videos and online stories about the project.  Check it out!

My Interview with Peter Bay

9/4/2011 Sunday 10:56 am

So fun.  We’ve recently released the interview I did with Peter Bay.  We met up in the Kodosky Lounge of the Long Center, looking north at downtown Austin.  Peter and I had talks about kids in the arts, about Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and about the Austin Pictures Project.


9/1/2011 Thursday 9:30 pm

What a ride I’m on!  It’s been a while since I wrote.  And isn’t it ironic that the times when I have the most to say are the times that I have the least time and energy to write!

Austin Pictures is rapidly approaching.  This project is huge!  Right now the kids are furiously finishing their paintings, the composer has written all but one movement of the guitar orchestra piece, and we’ve distributed the parts far and wide, the student filmmakers have engaged in their projects as well.  The office is buzzing like crazy – I’ve filmed five video features we’re about to start releasing including a monologue from me about the production overall, and interviews with the composer, with the Alamo Drafthouse’s Founder and CEO Tim League, Austin Symphony Orchestra’s Maestro Peter Bay, and the Miro Quartet (that one was filmed this morning!).  We’re in daily production meetings with ACL Live, the Alamo, KMFA, the various film folks, our event planner, Silicon Labs, and more.

The energy is incredible.

And then there’s our education program.  I shared this story with my board yesterday in an email:


Dear ACGS Board of Directors,

Yesterday we had a meeting at the Juvenile Justice System with the Director of Fine Arts for AISD, our case worker at Gardner Betts, Travis and myself.  The conference room we normally meet in was booked, so we ended up in another room.  The case worker informed us that the room divides two parts of the facility and so kids might be escorted through during our meeting.

Sure enough, about 15 minutes into a terrific meeting, a guard knocked on one of the doors and the case worker waved him in.  He and another guard were escorting about 10 high school boys in a line.  When students walk at Gardner Betts, they have to keep their hands behind their backs – and the group shuffled in looking primarily at the floor.

Then they saw us, and, particularly, Travis.  It turned out that three of the boys have been in guitar class there.  They simply lit up!  It was a remarkable transformation.  A boy near the front wanted very much to stop and talk to Travis, and asked permission to do so – which was granted.  He told Travis that today would be his last day at Gardner Betts.  he had received his GED and would be moving to Houston and… could he please have a guitar to take with him? We have been giving instruments to the kids that successfully complete the program there.  He was proud, he was excited, and he really wanted to have that guitar.  He will, of course, be leaving Gardner Betts today with a guitar.  The other two boys in the back of the line are still there and are still in guitar class.  One told Travis excitedly about the new music he just learned, and said he just couldn’t wait to show Travis in class later on.

Our program will continue at Gardner Betts this fall as the only for-credit arts course ever at the facility.  I know now more than ever – firsthand – that the class is changing these young peoples’ lives. The UT School of Social Work is also compiling a study from this past summer – the data is compelling and should be available soon.


Our program doubled this year.  Guitar programs opened in 26 schools for us last week including the Juvenile Justice System and also a new program at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  It’s now a daily occurrence that we receive requests for new curriculum subscriptions or some kind of guidance from someplace around the world.  We recently launched a redesigned curriculum site – check it out!

It seems like the next several weeks will be owned by Austin Pictures.  I hope it’s a wild success and that folks have a terrific time.  We have tremendous amounts of work to do between now and then, but it’s about the ride, not the destination, no?