Five things to do indoors this New Years weekend: from must-read books to home horticulture, fill your interior Hogmanay – Arts

Last week, we recommended five things you could do in the streets and urban wilderness of our culture-ravaged surroundings. Now here is the mirror twin of that listicle: five diversions from the doldrums of waiting for 2021 to screw up the calendar; five local wonders that can be enjoyed inside anything you can barely afford to experience these days. Five things for your weekend adventures in the shelter of the sky. In the country of Austin, where the hikes lie.

Take this weird homes tour online

Of course, David and Chelle Neff had to put their residential exploration business in the old pandemic mothballs, and who knows if organized tours could one day return to their former gallant glory in Austin (where they started) and the New Orleans and Portland and everything? But in carrying out the popular project, these Neffs and their friends recorded and compiled, along with images, texts and videos, much of what is delicious in this city of dreamers and creative mavericks – the angels in the architecture, the deities in the domestic service, the weirdness with which we are all urged to keep this city imbued. Hint: Stay inside your own home and explore other locals’ craziest mansions as you make your way through this DIY burrow of life.

Awaken spirits with the Austin Séance

Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, except for once, do you? – maybe you still like to know more about the supposedly supernatural events in this demon haunted world. Perhaps you are interested in what is called the “spirit realm” and the mediums who try to communicate with it. Maybe a little Eldritch mystery provides a needed thrill in your life. This is where Albert Lucio and Jake Cordero from the Austin Séance come in. They lean into such phenomena, when they’re not busy building snow sculptures for a dead fish or presenting meticulously sought-after in-person sessions in the city. They research and report, and in addition to a quarterly newsletter, their website has a periodically updated blog – one that you can have fun freaking out with.

Practice enclosed naturalism

What grows in your garden if you have a house? What plants are found right behind your apartment window? What do you see of all that is green and engaged in phototropism maneuvers? Plus, that weird buzzing or crawling insect recently in your kitchen: what is it, exactly? Now is the time to find out. Take a good look, take notes, then go online. Drop descriptive terms into Google or whatever – Austin, tree, oval leaves, silvery bark – or Austin, insect, brown, wings, spiky legs – and keep refining those settings until you’ve got it stuck. Check out Wikipedia, visit iNaturalist, follow a mind-boggling maze of Reddit threads until your eyes go glassy, ​​but find out! Knowledge is power, after all. You think it’s too much, what, banal? You know who played Tony’s cousin in this episode of Who is the boss? but you don’t know the name of the tree you come across every day, WTF?

Read Lady Joker

Whether you order it direct from Soho Crime or view it physically or digitally in the library, this novel by Kaoru Takamura, set in modern times but with roots dating back to before WWII, will expand your knowledge of more than you thought existed in the world. Why does a diverse group of men kidnap the CEO of Japan’s biggest beer company and just let him (it seems at first) go a few days later? What does the company, already unfortunately tainted with links to organized crime, do in response? What is the police procedure like in a case like this? How do the news media and print journalists cover the story? The families and friends of the criminals, cops, reporters and workers involved, directly or indirectly, how are they affected by the event? The only word to best describe this literary achievement newly translated by Marie Iida and Allison Markin Powell: exhaustive. Another: fascinating. And that one-book doorstop is just Book 1. “But it’s not really local, Brenner,” you say? Citizen, out of any context, the Lady Joker is a complex and penetrating look at humanity. We are all local in this arm of the galaxy. Dame Joker, Volume 1 by Kaoru Takamura, Soho Press, 600 pages, $ 27.95.

Prepare your 2022 gallery visits with the the Chronicle

They say that if you make vague resolutions, you are less likely to go through with it. So be specific – especially regarding this common vow: “I will be visiting more art galleries this year”. Yeah? Which? What kind of art do you prefer? Or do you want to expand your usual taste settings? Are you looking for the kind of trendy pop-cultural town planning seen globally at, say, West Chelsea Contemporary or Ao5? Want world-class and academically prestigious offerings showcased in the Blanton or Contemporary Austin? Fancy the diverse, mostly locally sourced brilliants from grayDUCK Gallery and Northern-Southern and Davis Gallery and Cloud Tree? Eclectic surprises at Camiba or Prizer Arts & Letters or Co-Lab, the world of deep art blossoms at the Lora Reynolds Gallery? The cultural treasures of Mexic-Arte? Abstract art? Realism? Sculpture? To paint? Photography? Hell, maybe you want to go with whatever is highlighted in the the Chronicle‘s ads every week or just hang around Canopy for several hours each month. But take a look at it now, while you have some free time, and spell out those plans.

A version of this article appeared in print on December 31, 2021 with the title: Five things to do indoors this New Years weekend

About Margaret L. Portillo

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