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Locals We Love: Paramount Theatre’s Jim Ritts

Jim Ritts, CEO and executive director of Austin's Paramount Theatre, inside the historic building

Since 1915, Austin’s Paramount Theatre has been a shining beacon to central Texans seeking exciting and eclectic performances. Its gloriously restored blade and distinctive marquis blaze forth, announcing that magic is about to be made.

Paramount Connections Across Generations

Facade and sign of Austin's historic Paramount Theatre
The Paramount blade was recreated in 2015 for the 100th birthday of Austin’s historic theatre.

From comedy to music, theatrics to political commentary, classic films to cutting-edge cultural events, the Paramount and neighboring sister, the State Theater (or “Stateside”), transcend the past.

“No strictures to what we can or can’t do,” said Jim Ritts, CEO and executive director of the Paramount and Stateside, as he sat in the original 1935 film projection and vault room and chatted with Top Trip Rentals. “[The Paramount’s] a connector.”

Ritts recounted a special time when he experienced the power of the Paramount.

The scene: the Paramount’s performance of Mark Twain Tonight, Hal Holbrook’s one-man show since 1954.

That night, Ritts met a father/son duo attending the show. That night was the boy’s 13th birthday. The father’s father, Ritts learned, had taken him to the Paramount for the same show on his 13th birthday.

That generational continuity carried an emotional wallop.

“I choked up. This place is truly the fourth character in every performance; it’s what is central—the Paramount, Holbrook’s Mark Twain—and the river flowing through connecting a grandfather, father, and son.”~Jim Ritts

Jim Ritts, CEO and executive director of Austin's Paramount Theatre, inside the historic building
Jim Ritts, CEO and executive director of Austin’s Paramount Theatre. Photo Credit: Paramount Theatre

Artists who perform here also attest to the theatre’s impact. Ritts pointed out that many—he mentioned Lyle Lovett, specifically—were inspired here, and subsequently chose the venue to kick off tours and new releases. Lovett’s not alone. The theatre estimates that some 10,000 performers have graced the stage throughout the Paramount’s storied life. And every year, more than 200,000 audience members experience the Paramount’s magic.

Sidewalk star at Austin's Paramount Theatre honoring singer Lyle Lovett
In addition to honorary sidewalk stars, performers are encouraged to sign the backstage “Artist Wall.” Photo Credit: Paramount Theatre

Engaging Austin’s Theatre Community Beyond the Show

Classic seats in Austin's historic Paramount Theatre
35mm and 70mm film exhibition make the Paramount a must for classic screen lovers. Photo Credit: Paramount Theatre

The Paramount opens minds, hearts, and doors through a variety of outreach programs.

“Literacy to Life”  introduces third graders to stagecraft. Professional “Story Wranglers” help students learn techniques to improve skills and build confidence while they write an original theatrical production (you can see finished works online at the Paramount’s website).

The Summer Classic Film Series Family Film Festival introduces young and old alike to the wonder and joy of iconic movies. With discounted prices and matinee times, the weekly series is a wonderful way for adults and kids to pass the dog days of Austin’s summer months.

And did you know that the Paramount Theatre plays a role in SXSW Edu? That’s right; the Paramount staff has promoted the importance of arts education at this annual Austin conference (here’s the 2018 SXSW Edu schedule).

 

Top Trips’ Paramount Picks

The Paramount Theatre’s “Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival” is as unique as those iconic Austin light towers. During the festival, a wealth of comedic genius graces stages around ATX with more than 100 live performances.

Be sure to take a look at the Paramount Theatre’s current list of events (films, shows, performances) when you plan your next night out. When you book a stay at Littlefield Lofts on Austin’s signature 6th St., you’re just a short walk from the Paramount and State Theatre (between 7th and 8th St.), Congress Avenue, and the stately Texas Capitol grounds.

Interior view of Austin's historic Paramount Theatre
Classic architecture and details, such as the original 1920s fire curtain, add period glamor to the Paramount. Photo Credit: Paramount Theatre

 

#goplaystay

Logo for the Paramount TheatreWhether you went Paramount or Stateside, we want to know about your ATX cultural night out.

What’d you see? What did you wear? Was your night special? Did you make a Paramount connection?

Tag us at @TopTripRentals so we can feel the magic.

 

 

August 22, 2017

At Home with Art: Cornelius Carter at the Graeber House

Artwork by Cornelius Carter of musician Prince at Austin's Grabber Mansion

At our 6th Street vacation rental home, the Graeber House, Top Trip Rentals has displayed works from artist Cornelius Carter’s “Faces Series.” The Graeber House, also known as 410 E. 6th Street, is a 4,800-square foot 19th century mansion located in the heart of downtown Austin. Carter’s work graced its historic walls with unique artistry, including this iconic portrait of the late musical genius Prince.

Who is Cornelius Carter?

Artwork by Cornelius Carter of musician Prince at Austin's Grabber MansionCornelius Carter is an Austin-based, classically-trained artist. He was born and raised in 1970s Memphis but left the South to attend the prestigious Minneapolis College of Art and Design on a partial scholarship. After a stint in New York selling paintings as a street artist in Greenwich Village, Carter returned to Memphis before eventually settling in Austin to raise his son.

In 2015, Carter and two other Austin artists were chosen from some 1,250 entries submitted by more than 300 local artists and art organizations to featured at Austin City Hall.

At the opening press event, he unveiled “The Death of the King,” a large-scale portrait of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, part of the “People’s Art Gallery.” For the duration of the year, “The Death of a King” was displayed at the Austin City Hall.

 

Cornelius Carter’s work, though rooted in the traditional portraiture paintings of European masters, often depicts societal struggles involving race and class. People and their relationships are one of his central themes. According to his website, Carter “weaves together imagery from history, mythology, childhood, and life experience to create images that are thought provoking, captivating, and beautiful….”

 

Bringing Art to Austin’s Vacation Rental Homes

Through the Graeber House’s partnership with IEI Austin, Carter’s gallery, our guests have enjoyed a rotating inventory of artwork. Top Trip Rentals values Austin’s creative community; it’s part of what makes our city great, and we’re proud to showcase local artists whenever possible.

Canvases by William Stidham and Larry Graeber and Jim Waltrip’s lush plant-inspired photographs have brought beauty to many an overnight stay. And art lovers have perused Graeber House-hosted pop-up shows during Austin’s WEST (West Austin Studio Tours) and  IEI Austin gallery openings.

“Guests to the historic mansion can see Carter’s works of musical icons while staying in the heart of the entertainment district in a section of Austin that glorifies musicians,” says Chereen Fisher, Top Trip Rentals owner and Graeber property manager.

Loving Austin’s Local Art

Carter’s rock star paintings are available for purchase through IEI Austin (Rhonda Rougeau gallery owner)

Jim Waltrip’s botanical photographs can be viewed at Pecan Street Gallery

Book your stay at 410 E. 6th, the Graeber House, in Austin

Schedule your own art event at downtown’s spectacular Graeber House

 

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August 4, 2016