Kenny Rogers, Kris Kristofferson, Jaclyn Smith among Texas Medal of Arts honorees

In February, Jaclyn Smith will be honored for her work in television, Kris Kristofferson will be honored for his work in all sorts of things and Kenny Rogers, the Gambler, gets a lifetime achievement award from the Texas Cultural Trust.

They are but three of the Texans to be honored at the ninth biennial Texas Medal of Arts Awards Feb. 21-22.  The awards will take place for the first time ever at the University of Texas at Austin.

This celebration will include a Stars of Texas brunch at the Governor’s Mansion, an awards show with special musical performances and a gala dinner.

“The Texas Medal of Arts Awards recognizes those whose artistic talent and generous philanthropy have shone a spotlight on the vibrant artistic culture of our state,” said Texas Cultural Trust Executive Director Jennifer Ransom Rice.  “People from all over Texas and from all artistic disciplines are honored and celebrated as we raise awareness about how vital the arts are to our state’s economy and our children’s education.  We hope for continuing and expanding support for the arts for future generations to appreciate, embrace, and enjoy.”

October 12, 2016 - Kris Kristofferson performs during the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Induction and Celebration held at ACL Live at the Moody Theatre, in Austin, Tx., on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN / RODOLFO GONZALEZ)
Kris Kristofferson performs during the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Induction and Celebration at ACL Live on Oct. 12, 2016. AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2016

The 2017 Texas Medal of Arts Awards honorees:

Corporate Patron:  John Paul & Eloise DeJoria, Paul Mitchell/Patrón Tequila, Austin — The hair care mogul is one of the state’s most enthusiastic and well-respected philanthropists.

Multimedia:  Kris Kristofferson, Brownsville — Songwriter, singer and actor. If you have never seen him in Scorsese’s “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” you really should get on that.

Television: Jaclyn Smith, Houston — One of the greatest Charlie’s Angels who ever lived.

Individual Arts Patron:  Lynn Wyatt, Houston — Vanity Fair called her “the best little socialite in Texas.”

Dance:  Lauren Anderson, Houston — The brilliant ballet dancer became, in 1990, only the second African-American female dancer to be promoted to principal dancer at a major American ballet company.

Music:  Yolanda Adams, Houston — Pretty much the most popular gospel singer alive, Adams has sold more than 4 million albums in the U.S. alone.

Arts Education:  Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dallas — The company, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, is the only predominately minority professional dance company in the five-state area of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico.

Film: Janine Turner, Euless — Sure, she was in “Cliffhanger” and “Dr. T and the Women,” but she will forever live in our hearts as Maggie O’Connell on “Northern Exposure.” (She was also note-perfect as Katie McCoy on “Friday Night Lights”).

Theatre:  Renée Elise Goldsberry, Houston — She originated the role of Angelica Schuyler Church in the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” for which she won the 2016 Tony.

Foundation Patron:  The Tobin Endowment, San Antonio — One of the state’s biggest private charitable foundations.

Visual Art:  Leo Villareal, El Paso — The visionary installation artist grew up in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and El Paso.

Architecture:  Frank Welch, Dallas — You may recognize the master Texas Modern architect from such work as a lot of homes in Highland Park and some really cool looking schools.

Literary:  John Phillip Santos, San Antonio — The poet and filmmaker was the first Mexican-American Rhodes scholar.

Journalism:  Scott Pelley, San Antonio — Pelley has been the anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News” since 2011 and was the CBS News chief White House correspondent during the second Clinton administration.

Lifetime Achievement:  Kenny Rogers, Houston — Incredibly popular country singer. Actor. Chicken magnate. Extremely good sport on “Reno 911.” The man has done it all.

The Texas Medal of Arts Awards has presented 99 medals to 105 Texas luminaries. Former award winners include: Jamie Foxx, Eva Longoria, ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, Dan Rather, Neiman Marcus, Margaret McDermott, Barbara Smith Conrad, Tommy Lee Jones and more.

Texas authors decline invitation to legislature event, citing opposition to controversial bills

A number of Texas authors have declined, or are thinking about declining, an invitation from the Texas Legislature, citing opposition to controversial bills such as Senate Bill 6, a.k.a Texas’ “bathroom bill,” which would prevent the majority of transgender Texans from using public bathrooms that comport with their gender identity.

One author may have been uninvited entirely.

RELATED: Dan Patrick unveils Texas transgender bathroom bill

Ricardo B. Brazziell AMERICAN-STATESMAN 10/12/10 Rick Riordan greets and shakes hands with his fans as he makes his way through the crowd to speak about his new book " The Lost Hero" on Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at Book People book store.
Author Rick Riordan greets fans at a BookPeople event in 2010. Ricardo B. Brazziell AMERICAN-STATESMAN

On Jan. 6, Rick Riordan, author of the YA smash hit “Percy Jackson” series and a University of Texas graduate, tweeted the following:

“Just turned down an invite to be honored by TX state legislature as a Texas author. If they want to honor me, they could stop this nonsense.” He included a link to a tweet from the ACLU linking to a article on SB6.  (While Texas claims Riordan as a Texas author and he lived in San Antonio for many years, Riordan now lives in Boston.)

The event in question is slated for March 8 and is being organized by Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas).

Austin’s Natalia Sylvester, author of the 2014 novel “Chasing the Sun,” is also declining the invite.

Austin writer Sarah Bird, who has written nine novels and the novella-length essay “A Love Letter to Texas Women,” seems to have been uninvited. Or declined via accepting. Or something.

Perhaps referring to the fact that bills restricting access to abortion have already been filed, Bird posted the following on her Facebook page

“Stop Using the Bodies of Texas Women as a Political Battlefield: What I would have said to the Texas State Legislature.

I was told last Friday that the Legislature would like to me honor me as an ‘esteemed Austin author’ and ‘an ideal role model for girls.’

I answered that I looked forward to the opportunity to address the Legislature when I accepted this honor.

I went on to say that since they had mentioned my small book, ‘Love Letter to Texas Women,’ I would especially like to ‘plead with this august group to stop using the bodies of Texas women as a political battlefield. I would also like to bear witness to the fact that I, absolutely, would never have become an author, a role model, or even the person I was meant to be without access to safe, affordable, women’s health care.’

I received a genuinely courteous response saying that they regretted I wouldn’t be attending.”

Bird and several other writers will be reading at the”Austin Writers Resist” event at BookPeople Jan. 15.

Novelist Amanda Eyre Ward, who lives in Austin, posted the following on her author page:

“I’ve thought a lot about how to respond to my invitation to the #txledge Celebration of Authors. How can we as artists be a part of changing minds (and policy)? Sent these tweets…any other ideas very welcome.

@JasonVillalba I’m sorry to decline your invitation to the #txlege celebration of authors. Sending a copy of my novel, The Same Sky, to you.

@JasonVillalba I’d love to be a part of a discussion about literature and social issues (like sanctuary cities and unaccompanied minors).

@JasonVillalba Could we organize an event like this in the future? I’d love to talk about art and its power to influence both policy and minds.”

I understand that authors are saying no to the event and with good reasons,” Ward said in an email.”But a “no” ends the conversation. I want to engage and am hopeful that Villalba can organize some kind of event where authors can speak and listen. We write about political issues because we’re passionate about them.”

Ward’s 2015 novel, “The Same Sky,” engages immigration issues. and notes that she witnesses readers get into passionate debates at various events.

“I saw people crying, saying they had never really thought about immigrant children, about their situations and about how many were alone and terrified and hopeful,” Ward said. “The power of novels is the ability to make a dry, complex subject visceral. So I don’t just want to say, ‘no.’ I want to say, ‘Will you read my book and can we talk?’ So I’m hoping he’ll say yes.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated the authors both cited opposition to Senate Bill 6. This has since been corrected.

‘Austin Writers Resist’ at BookPeople on Jan. 15

Feeling hacked off about what is going down in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20?

BookPeople is hosting an “Austin Writers Resist: A Counter-Inauguration” event on Sunday, Jan. 15.

Sarah Bird (photo: Sarah Wilson)

From the BookPeople site: “Join Austin’s writing community as we stand with writers across the country and beyond in the fight for our civil rights. This lively evening will feature rapid-fire rounds of readings designed to renew our energy and sustain us in the days ahead, along with refreshments, audience activities, and representatives from local social justice and literary organizations. Participating writers include Sarah Bird, Elizabeth McCracken, Cyrus Cassells, Sasha West, Tammy Gomez, Chaitali Sen and many, many more, including some surprise guests.”

Kick-off is at 6 p.m. Bring your rage.

The 2017 Texas Book Festival takes place Nov. 4 and 5

The Texas Book Festival announced Thursday that the 2017 fest — also the 22nd — will take place Nov. 4 and 5.

David Cay Johnston speaks about his book “The Making of Donald Trump” at the 2016 Texas Book Festival. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
David Cay Johnston speaks about his book “The Making of Donald Trump” at the 2016 Texas Book Festival. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

2016 was a record-setting year for TBF, which hosted 300 authors and 50,000 attendees.

Book Submissions Open Jan. 9. Books published in 2017 are eligible to be considered for the 2017 Festival. Check out the guidelines and submission instructions for the full story.


This week in pop culture: A new Expanse book, ‘Hairspray Live!’ and a new Neil Young

corey_babylonsashes_hc“Babylon’s Ashes” by James S. A. Corey (Orbit). The sixth book in Corey’s hit space opera known as the Expanse series. The series has been turned into a show on Syfy called “Expanse,” for which one imagines they are hoping for a “Battlestar: Galactica”-type audience. (Dec. 6)

“Hairspray Live!” (NBC). NBC really loves these live musicals, huh? With Jennifer Hudson, Harvey Fierstein, Kristin Chenoweth, Ariana Grande and more, starring newcomer Maddie Baillio as Tracy Turnblad. (Dec. 7)

Donny Most, “Swinging Down the Chimney Tonight” (Summit). You might recall Most played Ralph Malph on “Happy Days;” I put this five-song holiday EP here mostly because he co-stars in Owen Edgerton’s sort-of-Christmas movie “Follow,” which is now on iTunes.  (Dec. 9)

Not one of his more thrilling album covers, huh?
Not one of his more thrilling album covers, huh?

Neil Young, “Peace Trail” (Reprise). Young’s 37th album overall and second of 2016 (following the live album “Earth”) is reportedly a mostly acoustic album, cut in four days, with drummer Jim Keltner and bass guitarist Paul Bushnell. (Dec. 9)

“Miss Sloane.” Jessica Chastain stars as a hard-charging D.C. lobbyist in this Franco-American thriller directed by John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”). With Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michael Stuhlbarg, which seems like a very strong cast for a movie with virtually no buzz. (Dec. 9)

“Office Christmas Party.” When an uptight CEO (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close the office run by her goof-off brother (T. J. Miller), he and his staff must throw a total rager to save their jobs. As often happens in these situations. You may have seen Aniston on a really terrible episode of “Saturday Night Live” on Dec. 3 promoting this very film. (Dec. 9)

Update: Sold out! Tickets on sale Tuesday for Bruce Springsteen at BookPeople

SXSW2012 - 3/14/2012 - Jay Janner/American-Statesman - Joe Ely, left, and Bruce Springsteen perform at the Austin Music Awards at the Austin Music Hall during SXSW on Wednesday March 14, 2012.
SXSW2012 – 3/14/2012 – Jay Janner/American-Statesman – Joe Ely, left, and Bruce Springsteen perform at the Austin Music Awards at the Austin Music Hall during SXSW on Wednesday March 14, 2012.

Update: According to BookPeople, this event is now sold out.

Yes, at BookPeople! The rocker and author will make an appearance to promote his well-received memoir, “Born to Run,” at noon Dec. 1. Tickets go on sale at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22.

According to BookPeople, tickets are $32.50 + Austin sales tax + service fee and include a book. Books will be pre-signed, but attendees will be allowed “one posed photo with Bruce Springsteen,” which will be taken with your camera or phone by a BookPeople employee. The Boss will not sign anything during his appearance, so leave your memorabilia at home.

Full details at the BookPeople website.

12 things we learned at the Texas Book Festival 2016

David Cay Johnston speaks about his New York Times Bestseller The Making of Donald Trump to fans at the CSPAN2, Book TV tent during the Texas Book Festival on Sunday, Nov.6, 2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
David Cay Johnston speaks “The Making of Donald Trump” at the Texas Book Festival on Sunday.

Donald Trump as con man, Guy Clark as inspiration and a completely excellent rainbow were just a few of the highlights of the 21st annual Texas Book Festival, which wrapped up Sunday at the Capitol and surrounding grounds.

1. The C-Span tent was standing room only for Texas Tribune editor Evan Smith’s interview with David Cay Johnston, whose new book “The Making of Donald Trump” puts a time-stamp on 30 years of reporting on the GOP’s nominee for president. Commenting on the size of the crowd, Smith said, “You’d think that was an early voting location in a Hispanic part of town,” which received the appropriate amount of laughter.

2. Johnston, a registered Republican and longtime tax code journalist, described Trump as a “master salesman and con artist” and recited a litany of Trump’s sins, from the possible exaggeration of his wealth (there isn’t “any verifiable evidence that he is worth (even) $1 billion,” Johnston said) to bragging about deceiving his business partners to his connections to Russian mobsters and his seeming lack of empathy, which Johnson said absolutely hits the level of “sociopath.” Was he preaching to the choir at the book fest? Absolutely. Was the choir into it? Oh yes.

3. After a long flight delay, Nick Offerman, best known for his role on “Parks and Recreation,” finally arrived in Austin on Saturday for his panel and stuck around until 11:30 p.m. talking and signing his new book, “Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Workshop,” which focuses on his Los Angeles woodshop.

4. During her Sunday panel, Maria Semple, bestselling author of “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” and “Today Will Be Different,” talked about writing as downhill skiing: “I feel like my books, it’s like I’m on a downhill course, and I’m in a tuck, and I’m going … I’m trying not to crash and come apart and just reach the ending in one piece.”

5. On Saturday,  journalist Jessica Luther, author of “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape,” joined Texas Monthly reporting partner Dan Solomon and Rick Gipprich and Rose Luna of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault to discuss how different institutions—the NCAA, athletic departments, universities, the media—respond to such stories. Luther urged preventative education as a means of combating sexual assault and singled out a general lack of understanding about consent. “I would start teaching about it from kindergarten on,” she said.

6. Former Secret Service agent Clint Hill told stories Saturday from his book “Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford.” Before a packed crowd in the C-Span tent, Hill gave a detailed account of the day President John F. Kennedy was killed (Hill was assigned to first lady Jacqueline Kennedy; you can see him jumping onto the back of the car in the Zapruder film). He also recalled spending time in the Hill Country with President Lyndon B. Johnson and told several tales about that president’s quirks – including the time Johnson went Christmas shopping in his pajamas during an overseas stop in the Azores.

7. Lydia Millet (“Sweet Lamb” of Heaven”) and Amy Gentry (“Good as Gone”) both have novels that examine the relationships between mothers and daughters. Millet got the best laugh of their panel Saturday when she talked about the extraordinary feelings that take over when you become a mother, making you willing to die for a “small creature that’s accomplished nothing.”

8. Patrick McDonnell, the creator of the Mutts cartoon strip, shared stories behind the popular pets – a dog named Earl and a cat called Mooch – who have been featured in his strip since 1994. His new book, “Tek: The Modern Cave Boy,” is about a cave boy who can’t leave his cave because he’s so attached to his own iPad.  Like in his other books “Hug Time” and “The Gift of Nothing,” McDonnell’s message of enjoying the people and nature around you resounded with both the children and adults in the crowd Sunday, who awww’d every time Mooch, Earl or, now, Tek sees an opportunity to express their gratitude for the smallest joys in life.

9. On what would have been legendary songwriter Guy Clark’s 75th birthday Sunday, the Texas Book Festival brought author Tamara Saviano to town for her new Clark biography “Without Getting Killed or Caught,” with two of Clark’s closest musical peers joining in to share some of his songs with a big crowd at the Paramount Theatre.  Saviano spoke early on about how the book was organized into sections that covered Clark’s songwriting influence and legacy, the twists and turns of his career as a recording artist, and his deep bond with his wife and fellow songwriter Susanna Clark (who died in 2012).  After telling a couple of road stories, Joe Ely offered up a sterling rendition of Clark’s “Dublin Blues,” a perfect fit in a venue that sits just a few blocks from a place mentioned in the song: “I wish I was in Austin, at the Chili Parlor Bar.”

10. Terry Allen, the famed sculptor and musician who grew up in Lubbock with Ely and now lives in Santa Fe, N.M., is at work on an unusual task: Before Clark died, he asked Allen to use his ashes in a sculpture. That’s still in progress, though at the Paramount, Allen revealed he’d told Clark that it might involve a bronze goat: “I’m going to take your ashes, and I’m going to shove it up its” nether region. Allen’s story elicited wild laughter from the audience, especially with the punchline: “And his response was, ‘Perfect.’”

11.  On Sunday, Art Markman and Bob Duke of “Two Guys on Your Head” fame joined their producer and co-host, KUT’s Rebecca McInroy,  to discuss her new book, “Brain Briefs: Answers to the most (and least) pressing questions about your mind.” Markman noted that the show was McInroy’s brainchild, who pitched it as “‘Car Talk’ for the mind,” (which, come on, that’s brilliant).  Both emphasized the intellectual (as in, how to make your brain better) importance of failure. “Traditional education teaches us to minimize mistakes,” Markman said, adding that recovering from mistakes is much more important than avoiding them.

12. The festival mic drop, at a panel scheduled in the last time slot Sunday, came courtesy of Austin author Karan Mahajan:  “A novel that doesn’t give some offense is deeply flawed.”

-With Addie Broyles, Peter Blackstock, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin, Nancy Huang and Emily Quigley