arts eclectic

Jonathon Zemek Takes A Trip To 'Hillcrest'

17 hours ago

"It came from a desire to be more collaborative," says Jonathon Zemek of his new multimedia project Hillcrest. "You know, [to] work with artists locally that I just adore. So that was kind of the fundamental root of it."  

Hillcrest started with a couple of songs that Zemek wrote after his former band Soul Track Mind came to an end. "The first couple of songs that were written... started to lend themselves more to this... enveloping story," Zemek says. Along with producer Matt Smith, Zemek developed that emerging story into the concept for a graphic novel that would accompany the new album.

Zemek and Smith enlisted local artist Chris Rogers to create the visual art and gathered together a host of Austin singers to provide vocals for the tracks (each singing the part of a character from the graphic novel).

"I hadn't painted in almost twenty years," says Robert Kane Herrera. "[For La Raza] was.. one of the last murals I ever painted." Together with fellow artist Oscar Cortez, Herrera created For La Raza in 1992. This year, the two were hired by Austin's Art in Public Places Program to restore the beloved eastside mural.

Twenty years ago, with a young but growing family, Herrera stopped painting to pursue steadier and better-paying work as electrician. Now that his kids are older, he's got a little more time in his schedule to get back to his artistic roots. "I get to be me again," he says. "Or at least who I thought I was."

"We initially came up with the idea just as a joke," says producer/performer Linzy Beltran, who created the female-led jazz and comedy show Jazz Kween with Sarah Marine and Jessica Pyrdsa. "We were like, 'Oh, we should be Jazz Queens' ... because Sarah's from New Orleans and Jess is a musician and I do a lot of comedy in town."

"It's the second in a trilogy of dances with Austin Aquatics," says Forklift Danceworks artistic director Allison Orr, speaking about this weekend's production of Dove Springs Swims. Last summer, Forklift partnered with the city's aquatics division to present Bartholomew Swims, and next summer they'll stage a third performance at a yet-to-be-named east Austin pool.

"This year's our sixtieth anniversary season, and that's terrific because we really get to celebrate all of the wonderful people and organizations and donors and volunteers that have all come together over the last sixty years to make us really Austin's favorite summer musical," says Zilker Theater Productions' artistic director, J. Robert Moore.