Welcome to Part 2 of my trek through Austin, TX!
Anyone who has visited New York City or lived here knows that New Yorkers love the color black. One might say that when it comes to daily attire here, it’s an inky sea of “noir” fashion. So when I set foot on the funky streets of Austin, Texas, it was no shock I experienced a kaleidoscopic sense of nirvana. COLOR is IT in Austin; it is everywhere! The city bursts with eye candy of the highest order: in the deep golden mustard hand-painted boutique walls, the electric violet cactus blooms in a backyard’s, or the brilliantly hued Pendleton jacket worn by a street musician strumming a banjo.
I experience this firsthand while walking through the popular hive of activity in South Congress Street. Peeking through the windows of Uncommon Objects, a local shopping spot, revealed the regions reverence for spiritually influenced pieces. From Our lady of Guadalupe figures to gilded wooden crucifixes and patron saints. You see how religion plays an integral role here. Nearby, vibrant, hand-painted sugar skulls celebrating Día de los Muertos, or the Mexican Day of the Dead stare back at you from the wooden shelves – skeletal nod to the influence of Mexican history and culture.
Mexican influence in Austin doesn’t just stop at the shopping; you can see and feel it everywhere, from the spicy foods to the local shops featuring the works of the celebrated Mexican female painter Frida Kahlo. There is a strong sense of connectedness from the past to the present. Many businesses continue the tradition of handmade artisan works, such as a local artist who incorporates bleached cow skulls and locally sourced gemstones in her creative designs.
As my journey to Austin winds down, I reflect back on having made new friends and connections. Not only with Goodwill Staff, but strangers, patrons – all of the people that make this city vibrant and alive. In NYC, this doesn’t really happen as often as you’d think. It’s easy to see why so many creative souls flock to Austin, after spending time in this “keep-it-weird” place. Over my last hot plate of spicy Mexican migas, I watch the sunset from my balcony and feel as though I sit inside the rustic frame of my own beautiful Texas painting, one that is one part old west, one part city slicker, one part hippie freak, and ALL parts Austin.
It’s been an enjoyable and wild ride, so I’m putting on my cowboy boots and head back East with little mementos, a pocket of dried flowers, a horseshoe for good luck and a pile of postcards paving the way for me to come back home.
Till next time, throw some hot sauce on your migas and see you at the counter!
*Join me in next week’s blog as I travel to Pittsburgh, PA and feature the local sights, sounds and thrifting fun of my hometown THE Steel City!*
Brandee, the manager of Goodwill’s 72nd Street boutique, is also a writer, performance artist, thrift fashion and DIY enthusiast. Brandee’s projects have been featured in Bill Cunningham’s New York Times style column, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and INC. Magazine. She loves French-press coffee and lives the designer thrift lifestyle bursting onto the fashion forward streets of the New York City she calls home.