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Texans who are eagerly anticipating America’s historic return to the moon now have a new date to mark on their calendars. Artemis I will launch on Saturday, September 3, with a two-hour window beginning at 1:17 pm, NASA announced August 30.

Viewers can tune into the livestream of the rocket and spacecraft at the launch pad on the NASA Kennedy YouTube channel. Additionally, live coverage of events can be found on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

This comes after the initial August 29 launch was scrubbed. At that time, teams were not able to chill down the four RS-25 engines to necessary temperatures. Teams also caught and quickly managed a hydrogen leak on one of the rocket’s components.

NASA reports that teams are currently addressing and testing both issues in advance of the Saturday launch. Another important component for flight windows — weather — is currently favorable. Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 45 forecast favorable weather conditions for Saturday. Though some rain showers are expected, they are predicted to be sporadic during the launch window, per NASA.

Artemis I is the first flight test of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System rocket (dubbed SLS), and the ground systems at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight test that will provide a foundation to extend human presence to the Moon and beyond,” NASA notes in a news release. “The mission will demonstrate the performance of the SLS rocket and test Orion’s capabilities over the course of about six weeks as it travels about 40,000 miles beyond the Moon and back to Earth.”

Given the gravity of the launch, NASA planned considerable fanfare for the broadcast, including celebrity appearances by Jack Black, Chris Evans, and Keke Palmer, as well as a special performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Josh Groban and Herbie Hancock. A planned musical performance featured “America the Beautiful” by The Philadelphia Orchestra and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Representatives from Johnson Space Center had not received an update on the Saturday broadcast program when contacted on Wednesday, August 31.

Texas — and Houston specifically — has been inextricably tied to lunar missions ever since NASA’s first launches. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy boldly declared that America would go to the moon before the end of the decade in front of a packed Rice University football stadium.

On July 20, 1969 — a commitment to the late President Kennedy’s directive — Apollo 11 marked its arrival to the lunar surface with a statement heard around the globe from Commander Neil Armstrong, who would take mankind’s first steps on the surface: “Houston, Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.”

And the Bayou City has (somewhat tiredly) been the source of a ubiquitous sentence — actually, a paraphrasing — uttered by Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” The adjusted “Houston, we have a problem” declaration was later immortalized by Tom Hanks (as Lovell) in the blockbuster Apollo 13.

What will be the next iconic phrase sent back to Houston when NASA’s manned mission readies to land on Earth’s sole satellite? The countdown is on.

Photo by Adam Graser

Legendary Texas battleship casts off for much-needed repair

Anchors Aweigh!

The most iconic water-borne symbol of World War I and World War II in Texas moved on August 31 from its home at the San Jacinto Battleground Site for much-needed restoration.

Battleship Texas left its current home to Galveston’s Gulf Copper & Manufacturing Corporation facilities for repairs to its hull. Fans and history buffs assembled as early as 5:30 am to watch the ship disconnect, swing, and attach to its tug craft.

Anticipating national curiosity, the Battleship Texas Foundation had set up livestreaming via the official Facebook page or YouTube channel. Those interested can review hourly status and updates here.

For years, the legendary dreadnought, which was built in 1910, has been carefully addressed. Tackling the massive amount of water leaking into the ship, companies BTF, Resolve, and Valkor worked for six months to drastically reduce the leak rate from 2,000 gallons per minute to under 20 gallons per minute, making the ship significantly safer to tow.

Notably, the Battleship Texas Foundation hand-picked the Gulf Copper shipyard in Galveston specifically due to the company’s recent acquisition of a floating drydock that is capable of lifting the juggernaut battleship out of the water, according to foundation press materials.

Currently, the oldest battleship in existence that witnessed both WWI and WWII is owned by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In 2019, the state legislature appropriated $35 million to fund the ship’s hull repair.

A symbol of America's military might, Battleship Texas was commissioned in 1914 and at the time, was (somewhat fittingly, given the name) considered the most powerful weapon in the world. The warship is credited with introducing and innovating gunnery, aviation, and radar.

In 1948, Battleship Texas was decommissioned and made a permanent museum, appropriately on April 21, Texas Independence Day.

Photo courtesy of Big Easy Ranch

Luxurious Texas ranch retreat tees up new 18-hole championship golf course

acing it

A prestigious and exclusive getaway for Texans has just rolled out an exciting new destination for golfers. Big Easy Ranch, the private Colorado County retreat (about an hour from Houston) has unveiled the name and open date of its new 18-hole championship golf course.

Dubbed The Covey — which harks to the ranch’s wingshooting and upland hunting — the par 72 course will boast more than 7,400 yards with multiple tee boxes, Zeon Zoysia fairways and rough, and TifEagle greens, all aiming to offer optimal playing and course conditions for the area, per press materials.

Groundbreaking kicked off in September, and The Covey is slated for completion this fall. Renowned golf course architect Chet Williams returned to design The Covey; he originally designed The Ranch’s nine-hole, par three course.

Big Easy has already seen an uptick in members, Big Easy’s Nicole Scarbrough says.

“With the announcement of the new 18-hole golf course in spring 2021, we introduced the Legacy Membership, a new level of membership providing access to the ranch amenities along with exclusive access to the … course,” she says. “With a conservative limit of 300, more than 100 Legacy members have already joined. This is pretty significant considering The Covey will not be completed and open for play until fall 2022.”

Scarborough also notes that the retreat has seen new members from Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio — as well as across the U.S.

Meanwhile, course plans also for a second clubhouse that will provide sweeping, 360-degree views of the courses and neighboring foothills, plus lounge areas, a full service bar, dining areas, a wine room, and upscale locker rooms for both men and women.

Considered the elite retreat in Columbus, Texas/Colorado County, Big Easy Ranch (2400 Brunes Mill Rd.) spans 2,000 acres of hilly terrain. Besides golf, members enjoy sporting clays course, fishing lakes, an infinity pool, wingshooting, whitetail and exotic hunting, luxury overnight accommodations, and a 12,000-square-foot lodge that serves up high-end dining and an award winning wine program.

Members can also take advantage of estate homesites that range from two-thirds of an acre to more than one acre, as well as shared ownership villas.

Rendering courtesy of Meow Wolf

Wildly popular Santa Fe art experience Meow Wolf opens 2 Texas portals

Imagination station

The mesmerizing Santa Fe-based interactive adventure known for enchanting art lovers and amusement zealots with its mind-bending immersive experiences is tripping into Texas with two new permanent exhibitions.

Announced Wednesday, May 11, Meow Wolf will open a new "portal" in Grapevine next year, marking the innovative business’ first permanent installation in the Lone Star State. A portal in Houston will follow, in 2024.

The new Grapevine portal (so called for Meow Wolf’s expertise in transporting visitors to fantastic realms of imagination) will be located in the Grapevine Mills shopping mall and encompass 40,000 square feet in the space formerly occupied by a big-box store. The Grapevine Meow Wolf is scheduled to open in 2023.

Following the Grapevine opening, Meow Wolf aims to unveil its Houston portal, which will be in the historic Fifth Ward cultural district and include Houston-based real estate firm The Deal Co as development partners. The Houston portal is planned for a 2024 opening.

Meow Wolf got its start in 2008 as a DIY collective of Santa Fe artists, growing into a full-fledged immersive-art affair with the opening of the permanent Santa Fe location in 2016. In 2021, the company branched out with two additional permanent portals in Denver and Las Vegas. Each location hosts a unique art exhibition, ranging from Santa Fe’s mysterious “House of Eternal Return” to Las Vegas’ surreal supermarket-themed “Omega Mart” and Denver’s transformative “Convergence Station.”

While additional info on themes, names, artists, and specific opening dates for the new Texas portals — the company’s fourth and fifth permanent exhibitions — will be released in the coming months, and the company declined to reveal the build-out costs for the new locations, Meow Wolf has confirmed that more than 50 percent of the artists contributing to the rooms, dioramas, and murals at the new Lone Star State portals hail from Texas. Meow Wolf says it will actively begin recruiting more artists and staff for the new Texas portals this summer.

The new locations, which the company teased as part of its appropriately mysterious Texas Portals marketing campaign, are part of a larger expansion plan for the arts consortium, says Didi Bethurum, vice president of marketing for Meow Wolf, which will add more permanent installations and roll out other artful projects in the coming years.

While Bethurum notes that several factors play into the decision-making process when choosing a new Meow Wolf location, she highlights the size and art-loving communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas as key criteria.

“Dallas is the ninth-largest city by population in the United States and Houston is the fourth-largest. Bringing Meow Wolf experiences to large cities allows for us to share art with the greatest amount of people,” she says, also calling attention to the Texas Cultural Trust’s 2021 State of the Arts Report, which claims Texas’ arts and culture industry has blossomed by more than 30 percent in the past decade. “We seek to be part of the amazing growth of this sector.”

And considering Meow Wolf has a “legacy of utilizing unique spaces” that allow for artistic creativity to flow — an old bowling alley in Santa Fe, a new experience district in Las Vegas, and football-stadium-adjacent triangular highway void in Denver — Grapevine’s nostalgic mall vibes and Houston’s diverse and historic location make for ideal haunts for Meow Wolf.

Likely also contributing to the Grapevine location decision is the fact that one of Meow Wolf’s founders, Matt King, grew up in the area and was even present at the grand opening of Grapevine Mills in the late 1990s.

“I am thrilled to welcome Meow Wolf to Grapevine,” says Mayor William D. Tate. “Our city is a premier destination for entertainment, and the interactive installation these artists will build at Grapevine Mills pairs perfectly with the high-quality restaurants, wineries, and family-friendly activities we have worked to place all over our fine city for decades.”

This marks the first time Meow Wolf will open two exhibitions in the same state at roughly the same time, certainly a major undertaking for any arts organization. But given that some 3 million raving fans have already visited Meow Wolf locations and that the company has been eyeing these Texas markets for more than two years, the new portals are destined to become a howling success, enthralling locals with “revolutionary artistic expression” unlike anything Grapevine or Houston have previously experienced.

“The Meow Wolf story universe is expanding, and Texas holds the keys to our next chapters,” says Jose Tolosa, CEO of Meow Wolf. “Opening a permanent exhibition in the largest and one of the most diverse states in the country has been on Meow Wolf’s radar for years, and we are excited to be formally underway. The opportunities this state has presented have already become the touchstones of a vibrant, arts-centric portal of imaginative creativity.”

Photo courtesy of City of San Antonio

Monumental new work from renowned artist gazes over San Antonio River Walk

Seeing Stars

The City of San Antonio has unveiled its latest piece of public art — a towering new sculpture that looks out over the River Walk Public Art Garden.

Stargazer (Citlali), by internationally renowned Mexican artist Pedro Reyes, features a seated woman who “holds and gazes upon a star-like object held between her fingers,” a release describes.

Inspired by San Antonio’s tricentennial, the piece “honors a collective history of looking to the stars for inspiration, guidance, and hope.”

“I wanted to offer a work that transcends the relatively recent borders and boundaries we know today to offer an ageless perspective in celebration of San Antonio’s more than 300 years of distinctive history and culture,” the artist explains. “The star could be a star like the ones that shine over San Antonio each night — the same ones that have been contemplated by all peoples throughout the region’s human history, the same ones that inspire awe and wonder as they help us glimpse our place in relation to the universe and to time.”

The monumental sculpture itself is more than 16 feet tall and is situated on a 5-foot-tall base. It is made of more than 80 pieces of Mexican volcanic stone, and the iconic star is made of marble.

Reyes’ Stargazer (Citlali) joins an impressive collection of large-scale San Antonio art by renowned Mexican artists. Just last year, San Antonio International Airport unveiled Star of Texas (La Estrella de Texas) from Mexico’s renowned Sebastian; in 2020, his 33-foot Door of Equality (La Puerta de Igualdad) was erected in the San Pedro roundabout.

Stargazer (Citlali) is a continuation of the strong economic and cultural ties between San Antonio and Mexico represented visually through public art,” the city says.

The new piece is also part of the open-air River Walk Public Art Garden, which boasts large-scale sculptures, wall-mounted pieces, and informational displays. By the end of 2022, the garden will also be home to a plaza area dedicated to the labor movement in San Antonio.

“The installation of Stargazer continues to help redefine the River Walk experience as a global public art destination,” says Krystal Jones, interim director of the city’s Department of Arts & Culture. “Stargazer invites River Walk visitors to move around and see the piece from different angles, and in doing so, they are able to discover other public art treasures.”

Photo courtesy of Ruby City

6 San Antonio exhibits to broaden your artistic horizons in March

state of the arts

Set your sights on the robust arts and culture scene in San Antonio this month, with a diversity of riches unfolding at these local museums and galleries. March is Contemporary Art Month in the city, time to discover the dynamic offerings of local artist and musician Phillip Luna at Arthouse and the colorful constructed collages of international artist Arturo Herrera at Ruby City, as well as shows exploring mystical forces in this era of disconnection, vibrant color on aluminum and wood, and a dash of humor, metaphors, and Mexican symbols in the art of Israel Medina.

Artpace
“Mystic Toolkit”
Now through May 1
Bringing together the pieces of seven artists working across a variety of mediums ranging from sculpture, painting, photography, and performance, “Mystic Toolkit” is a quiet invitation to celebrate daily rituals of coping, healing, and grieving that have become indispensable in recent times. The artists included in this exhibition all share the recognition for the mystical forces that affect our daily lives and pay tribute to the daily rituals and repeated gestures that keep us wholesome. The exhibition conceptualizes the home as a sanctuary, a place of recollection and refuge. Home is at once a haven of comfort and self-care, but during lockdown it has also held us captive. The artists, who hail from Texas to New York and Berlin to Canada, attempt to navigate through what is unquestionably one of the most disruptive crises in modern history via a genuine recognition of the mysterious forces that orchestrate the world.

Ruby City
“Arturo Herrera: Constructed Collage”
March 3-January 29, 2023
The “Arturo Herrera: Constructed Collage” exhibition features more than 20 artworks from Ruby City’s permanent collection, including several recent acquisitions on view for the first time. Arturo Herrera’s expansive practice of colorful abstract works ranges in date from 1998 to 2019, and includes collage, a cut felt wall hanging, drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and an off-site wall painting. Herrera became well known in the 1990s for his abstract collages that feature intricately cut forms taken from popular-culture source material, with portions of recognizable elements that only hint at potential meanings. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, and now based in Berlin, the internationally exhibited artist is familiar to San Antonio residents through the large site-specific painting Adam, which is seen in the heart of downtown San Antonio adjacent to San Fernando Cathedral.

Arthouse at Blue Star
“Phillip Luna: Color Studies in Sunday Morning Jazz”
March 4-27
In conjunction with Contemporary Art Month, San Antonio artist and musician Phillip Luna is debuting his new series based on the dynamism and emotive quality of color and composition. He deconstructs artistic elements into their simplest forms to highlight their inherent power. Luna once played jazz on Sunday mornings at the Cove, and this current show is a free-flowing, expressive reflection of a lifetime of study. Luna is a multimedia artist and speaks openly about the struggles and mercy of his mental health and explores themes of love and grace in his art and music. Currently, Luna performs with The Please Help.

Brick at Blue Star
“Israel Medina: The Really Good Stuff”
March 4-30
The first 2022 artist residency at Brick explores the seemingly essential involvement of alcohol in any given event, especially a celebratory one. Israel Medina uses humor, metaphors, and Mexican symbols of celebration to paint a nuanced picture that mimics the subliminal. “Alcohol has a distinct utility that allows you to lower your defenses, making you more susceptible to revealing an almost ‘truer’ version of oneself,” Medina says. “It’s challenging to express concern for somebody. … Doing so means confronting the unpalatable, uncomfortable truth that the role of alcohol isn’t consistent for everyone.”

AnArte Gallery
“Eric Breish: Constructs”
March 10-April 10
Texas artist Eric Breish was drawn to the world of art after a distinguished career in the Marine Corps when he first saw the work of internationally known artist Andreas Nottebohm. He became intrigued with metal art and in 2008, began studying with his mentor. Breish says he has always been drawn to graffiti. Traditionally viewed as an act of rebellion, graffiti has now become a legitimate art form. “From simple tags to masterful murals on the side of skyscrapers, it spoke to me in the same way as museum walls,” he says. “I’m known for my works on metal and liked the idea of combining the two mediums to create something fresh and unique.” With “Constructs,” Breish combines the essence of street art and pairs it with a thick holographic aluminum panel that’s been heavily distressed to mimic a decaying wall. “The result,” he says, “is part painting, part street art, and part sculpture.”

The Briscoe Western Art Museum
“Night of Artists”
March 27-May 8
This annual event allows the public to view (and purchase) nearly 300 new works of painting, sculpture, and mixed media by 78 of the country’s leading contemporary Western artists. The wide range of artwork reflects the vastness of the great American West. From scenic landscapes and inspired Native Americans, classic cowboys, and dazzling vaqueros to stunning wildlife and detailed portraiture, “Night of Artists” has something for everyone enthralled with the Wild West. Some of the featured artists include Mary Ross Buchholz, C. Michael Dudash, Teresa Elliott, Martin Grelle, George Hallmark, Z.S. Liang, Kenny McKenna, Jan Mapes, Don Oelze, Paul Rhymer, Stefan Savides, Billy Schenck, Michael Ome Untiedt, Kim Wiggins, and Xiang Zhang.

The “Arturo Herrera: Constructed Collage” exhibition is on display at Ruby City through next January.

Photo courtesy of Ruby City
The “Arturo Herrera: Constructed Collage” exhibition is on display at Ruby City through next January.
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San Antonio Missions hit home run with new owners, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio's minor league baseball team scores new owners, including Texas sports legends. San Antonio's minor league baseball team is back to being locally owned — by some big names.

2. H-E-B unveils new line of merchandise for super fans, available exclusively at this store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise, in celebration of its 117th anniversary and in honor of its first store.

3. San Antonio market continues to see prices going up and sales going down. San Antonio home sales dropped 19 percent from October 2021.

4. San Antonio Rodeo wrangles even more musical acts for star-studded 2023. Turnpike Troubadours joined the already impressive lineup for the 2023 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.

5. San Antonio children's theater adapts timeless children's book for the holidays. Magik Theatre celebrates The Velveteen Rabbit as a Christmas story, with inclusive special performances.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

New self-guided tour showcases iconic Fort Worth Stockyards' many Hollywood ties

Tinseltown in Cowtown

A new self-guided tour showcasing the Fort Worth Stockyards’ many star-studded appearances in cinema throughout the years recently debuted in time for the 16th annual Lone Star Film Festival, which took place earlier this month in the Stockyards for the first time.

Called Stars of the Stockyards, the eight-stop, go-at-your-own pace walking tour guides folks to famous film sites where celebrities have stepped foot in front of Hollywood cameras. Visitors to the Stockyards can access the PDF tour map on their smart phones via QR codes (no app required) posted throughout the district, namely at hotels and tour kiosks.

"The Stockyards is a historic and celebrated destination for many reasons, but one that may be lesser known is its popularity as a filming location for some of our favorite movies and TV series," said Ethan Cartwright, VP of marketing for Stockyards Heritage Development Co.

The tour and corresponding QR codes are a permanent addition to the district, he said.

Stops on the map include the iconic White Elephant Saloon, a hotbed for Hollywood performances including several by legendary actor and martial artist Chuck Norris in the longtime TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger when the watering hole was portrayed as the fictional CD Bar. The White Elephant was also graced by country music superstar Tim McGraw and Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton for their appearances in Paramount Plus’ hit series 1883.

Also in 1883 and featured on the tour is Hookers Grill, hidden in the less flashy West side of Exchange Ave. The burger shack transformed into a gambling den in the show called The Texas House of Liquor & Sport. It’s the only building in the Stockyards that preserved the façade constructed by 1883’s production team. During operating hours, customers can order at the outdoor burger window and dine at patio tables within the two-story structure.

Cowtown Coliseum is marked on the map for its appearances in the 1983 film Tough Enough, where actor Dennis Quaid played an amateur boxer. It’s also the home of the final rodeo scene in the 1992 movie Pure Country starring country music legend George Strait.

Billy Bob’s Texas, the Stockyards Hotel, and even unassuming historic cattle pens also make the list on the tour, along with notations for the Texas Trail of Fame, which features more than 240 bronze markers honoring contributors for preserving and perpetuating the Western way of life.

Veteran actors Sam Elliot and Robert Duvall, both stars in the megahit TV series Yellowstone, are among the most recent Texas Trail of Fame inductees.

For more information and to get started on the tour, go here.