In The Studio With Renowned San Antonio Contemporary Artist Tracy Williams
By Eleanora Morrison Photography by McKenna Kinder
Tracy Williams in her studio
The most inspiring adventures often begin in the most unexpected ways. On a warm weekday afternoon recently, I was out on a writing assignment when I found myself hesitantly approaching the unmarked door of a mysterious building whose structure had seen better days, doubting whether the address I had pasted into my GPS from a text thread was actually where I had been delivered.
I held up my right hand and made a fist. “Here goes nothing,” I thought. Knock-knock-knock (staccato). The door opened to reveal Tracy Williams with her beaming smile, appearing part glowing and ethereal, part gritty and grounded in her relaxed painting clothes. The visual tension of her appearance struck me as unique and effortlessly intentional, which I’d soon come to find out is a theme at the core of her work. Welcoming me with open arms into her studio, I stepped through the door energetically aware that I had just entered a portal into her mystical world—her sacred space of isolated creation.
Arrested by an endless exhibition of visual stimulation, I struggled to focus my attention on what to admire first. Feelings of respect and reverence swelled as I felt the honor of observing Tracy’s process and gift in her environment. Vignettes of curated color palettes and layered comfort objects adorn the studio interior. One wall is lined with mood boards, and another lined with paints. Stacks of free-standing paintings, works both finished and in progress, are precariously propped against perimeter walls and pieces of furniture. Featured at her painting station is her cherished collection of her great-aunt’s oil paintbrushes.
Tracy’s path to becoming a professional artist wasn’t traditional. The distinct visual style of her work wasn’t molded by professors in art school. It was the childhood influence of her great-aunt, a prolific oil painter, that inspired her love of art, coupled with a menagerie of inspirations from fashion and interior design. Starting her career in design and fashion, Tracy found herself first putting paint to canvas while living in California. It was then when she had her epiphany that visual art was what she would pursue for the rest of her life.
“As a self-taught painter, I just work from my heart, and I am guided by my faith,” says Tracy Williams. “My process is very emotional, and I have had to prove myself with passion. When viewers interact with my work, my hope is that they walk away feeling good and inspired to live their best life without sweating the small stuff, and to appreciate beauty in the simple things.”
Tracy’s body of paintings demonstrates continuity and meditation in movement through the energy and gestural exploration of her brush stroke, line, and color mixtures. Her work has been exhibited locally in San Antonio and has been collected by admirers across the U.S.She is currently preparing to create this season’s commissioned works.
To schedule a studio visit and inquire about a Tracy Williams commissioned piece, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about Tracy Williams at tracywilliamscontemporary.com, and follow her on Instagram @tracywilliamsart.
By Lance Avery Morgan Photography by William Geisler Photography
The interior design scene in Austin? While the city has always been known for its style, it has often been overlooked when it comes to its design. Plenty of internationally known architects are based here, yet too few high-level design resources were utilized before the 2000s. Enter a new showroom that is uniquely Austin and Central Texas in scope. It’s an inspiring venue where designers can feel at home, seek inspiration, and find everything they need in one place. Meet Objets.
Objets, established in 2001, has moved into a new 7,000 square feet space in a former 1950s warehouse at 6513 Burnet Lane, and its owner, Sandy Sieracki, welcomes professional designers, architects, and building project specifiers. As we all know, Burnet Road has become a design and furniture hub destination in the past few years, so Objets being located in the thick of it is no surprise.
When asked about the changes in the Austin design scene Sandy Sireacki founded Objets in 2001, she’s quick to note, “This is a tough question because it’s a big time frame. I’ve definitely seen a lot of growth and sophistication. We’ve got a look here in Austin that’s organic, casual and relaxed as well as “edgy”… when I first started, we had to go to Dallas for all of our design needs and now I am thrilled that we don’t have to leave town.”
A re-imagined showroom opened recently, and Objets offers anything a designer or homeowner could ever want. It offers a wide variety of furniture, lighting, and accessories for residential and commercial designers, from the traditional to the contemporary. Some of the current, exclusive lines at Objets include Vanguard Furniture, Hancock & Moore Leather Upholstery, Arte Wall Coverings, JF Fabrics, CR Laine Furniture, and Palecek.
We also love that Objets is a true family business since Sandy Sieracki’s mother, Judith Harris, was a designer before her, and now her daughter, Kinsey is also part of the team. Sieracki wants the same warmth, hospitality, and expert customer service from her own years as a designer to be bestowed on everyone who walks through the doors at Objets. When asked how running a family business supports each of the family members’ vision for Objets success, Sireacki shares three reasons:
- Alignment of Values: We tend to reflect the values and principles of one another.
- Flexibility: We’re able to adapt more easily to the unique strengths.
- Trust and Collaboration: Trust among each other helps collaboration because we’re more likely to communicate openly and work together to achieve shared and individual goals.
Regarding current design trends, Sieracki is quick to share her view. “Gray transitional is finally gone. Traditional mixed with contemporary and lots of color are being implemented since designers are more daring.” Think of Objets as a modern-day salonnière that Sieracki presides over with everyone who visits the showroom as a doyenne of design.
“Walking into a building that has so much natural light, high ceilings, and listening to great music is good for my soul,” says Sandy Sieracki. “Designers have been coming in and staying for hours because they’re feeling the same vibe. That makes me happy.”
For more of the incredible lines at Objets, visit ObjetsLTD.com and experience Objets in person at 6513 Burnet Lane, Austin, 78757. And follow on Instagram.
By Lance Avery Morgan Photography courtesy of Round Top
A recent jaunt to Round Top proved to be an unforgettable experience that surpassed all expectations. Nestled in the heart of Texas, equidistant between Austin and Houston, south of Giddings, this quaint town is a hidden gem that offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.
Surely you know Round Top for its antiques and design shows that happen three times a year. With over 4,000 vendors, it is the largest antiques show in the country that is a must-visit. In fact, it’s awe-inspiring and attracts visitors from across the country. You can spend hours upon hours into days browsing through the charming antique shops and uncovering vintage treasures. While in town, visit the store, Round Top Ranch Antiques. It’s a huge multi-building that is full of European antiques. They have a workshop onsite which is unique, to customize purchases. The owners are always on-site and it is the only Round Top business that is open six days a week to serve the town’s many year-round visitors.
Anyone who has followed the area’s trajectory knows that Junk Gypsy was in Round Top early on and has become a calling card for the town. Part pickers, curators, and boss sisters Jolie Sikes and Amie Sikes have helped put Round Top on the map with their hippie-meets-rocker-chic store. Want to stay there as well? Can do. Located on the back of their property is the Wander Inn, an eclectic home away from home.
I was enchanted by the small-town charm and warm hospitality, making it an ideal destination for a peaceful and relaxing getaway. I opted to stay in a charming bed and breakfast, and I couldn’t have made a better choice. There are several places to stay, I recommend Red Antler Luxury Bungalows, created by the erudite and elegant Houstonians Greg Fourticq and John Cone, who bring a worldly design point of view to their casitas. The five-star design speaks to their personal aesthetic, and they are mighty welcoming hosts. Located on the edge of town near Festival Hill, along the banks of Boggy Branch Creek, Red Antler has four identical 1,300 square foot two-bedroom, two-bath bungalows that provide every comfort of home. The round pool, surrounded by cheerful patio furniture, has you feeling as if you’ve really escaped the confines of the city.
I also recommend Hotel Lulu. The inn’s exuded rustic elegance of cabins that are centered around a pool provide a cozy and comfortable environment. The innkeepers are incredibly welcoming and helpful, offering recommendations for local attractions and dining options. Who wouldn’t enjoy waking up to the serene countryside views and relishing the evenings spent stargazing on the porch? Plus, its restaurant, Lulu’s, similar to its big sister original in Houston, will have you dazzled by its delectable cuisine. Dinner at Duo Modern was also a highlight of the trip. It is the restaurant at Market Hill and also offers a plethora of shopping opportunities.
If you’re hungry for other options during your stay, Round Top’s culinary scene will pleasantly surprise you. From authentic Texas barbecues to farm-to-table bistros, I indulged in a variety of delightful dishes. The locally sourced ingredients and creative twists on traditional recipes made every meal a unique experience. Lunch and shopping at the Stone Cellar were particularly amazing since it is a historic honkytonk and restaurant. Housed in a repurposed train depot from 1861, they offer live music, cold drinks, and incredible food from their scratch-kitchen menu. For dessert, you can do some shopping will artisanal boutiques that are on premises at the 550 Market. Another dessert highlight is the pie from the renowned Royer’s Café in the middle of town, where I treated myself to a slice of the best apple pie ala mode that I’ve ever had.
Though a small town, Round Top offers so many activities for every interest. It boasts a thriving arts community, with various galleries and local artisan studios. I admired beautiful handmade crafts and paintings, supporting the talented local artists. If you want to acquire one-of-a-kind pieces, you’ll have plenty of choices. On the town’s Henkel and Rolland Squares, you’ll find Curate by Stash (Rolland Square), Townsend Provisions (Rolland Square), and Prost Wine Bar (Rolland Square).
A have-to-see cultural venue is the Round Top Festival Institute. It is a musical institute that was established in 1971 by pianist James Dick that will have you feeling as if you are in a European hamlet. It provides musical education programs in summer months and hosts several concerts every year. It’s been a Texas music tradition for over half a century and is a feast for the ears. It, along with other venues, is also the perfect place for a wedding or corporate retreat. Lamar Lentz, who gave us a tour along with founder James Dick, is an integral part of the Institute’s success.
Nature lovers will find solace in the surrounding countryside. There are plenty of nearby state parks, which provide excellent hiking opportunities. The wildflower displays in the spring are breathtaking, and there are many opportunities to take numerous photos amidst the colorful blooms.
One of the highlights of our vacation was the warmth and friendliness of the locals. With a population that hovers around 90 residents, I felt like part of the community, and everyone I encountered was eager to share stories about the town’s history and recommend must-see spots. Their genuine kindness made my stay truly special, and I left with new friendships and cherished memories.
In essence, a vacation in Round Top, Texas, is nothing short of remarkable. The idyllic setting, delectable cuisine, and diverse activities provided the perfect balance of relaxation and adventure. Whether you’re seeking a weekend escape or a longer retreat, Round Top has something for everyone. This hidden gem should be on the bucket list of any traveler looking to immerse themselves in the heart of Texas charm and hospitality. I left Round Top with rejuvenated spirits and a longing to return, knowing that we had discovered a little piece of paradise in the Lone Star State. When you’re ready to plan your stay, visit ExploreRoundTop.com.
Here are some of our other recommendations and additional information about Round Top. For hotel accommodations, go to VisitRoundTop.com. So, what are you waiting for?
- The 303 at Round Top (303 Washington)
Open year-round, this curated spot is home to historic buildings that were discovered across Texas, brought to Round Top and lovingly restored. Shops include one-of-a-kind apparel items, vintage cowboy boots and unique pieces and found items. Bonus: the property also offers overnight lodging- cozy up in their rustic private suites and bungalows.
- The Stone Cellar & Round Top Dance Hall (550 N. Washington St./Hwy 237)
This refurbished 1861 train depot was selected as one of Texas’ Top 10 Best Dancehalls! The go-to place to drink and dine with live music on weekends, it’ quintessential Round Top. Fun Fact: Stay under the starry skies… located behind the dancehall is Round Top Roll Up RV Park.
- Round Top Festival Institute (248 Jaster Rd.)
Round Top Festival Institute, founded in 1971 by world-renowned concert pianist James Dick, began with a handful of gifted young pianists in rented space on the town square, the project is now an internationally acclaimed music institute for aspiring young musicians and distinguished faculty. The 210-acre campus contains performance facilities, historic houses with lodging options, extensive gardens, parks and nature preserves. You feel like you are in Vienna, not Round Top, Texas. Absolutely stunning! Concerts scheduled throughout the year.
- Il Cuculo & Lulu’s (204 E. Mill St.)
Celebrate your time in Round Top with an end-of-the-day visit to Hotel Lulu’s swanky recently expanded bar, IL CUCULO. Open seven days of week and offering a full bar including specially crafted cocktails and an edited wine list along with a small selection of light bites. The IL CUCULO expansion was thoughtfully designed by notable Houston-based maximalist, Dennis Brackeen, of the eponymous Brackeen Design Group and iconic shop Moxie, Houston. Brackeen turns up the volume and delights with visual treats throughout the lounge area with acid green- and brick-colored banquettes, highly lacquered millwork, tiger-print bolsters, and a custom iron table adorned with gold coins reminiscent of early 19th century epaulettes. Craving Italian? Visit the chic eatery, Lulu’s, located inside of the iconic Hotel Lulu, offering a variety of Italian favorites.
- The Garden & Co. Feed & Firewater (104 Wantke St.)
Part café, part garden shop and nursery, this Round Top hotspot is nestled in Rummel Square. The modern farmhouse vibe, tasty cocktails and farm to table menu will leave you satisfied.
- Cisco Village (1232 Texas 237)
Founded by LA’s Cisco Home, Cisco Village features a rotating collection of like-minded curators, makers and merchants. Whether you’re looking for thoughtfully produced case goods, upholstery, rugs, gifts, salvaged architecture and reclaimed furniture, or a cocktail at their boho bar The Crown.
- Duo Modern at Market Hill (1542 Texas 237)
Led by veteran chef Gino Llanes and Houston-based Nate Pineda, menus are determined day of based on what’s in season and what inspires them. Each meal is served buffet style, with vegetarian options, fresh bread and a curated wine list. Tip: we’ve heard they have a killer brunch.
- St. Martin’s Church (3490 Texas 237)
Blink and you might miss the world’s smallest catholic church, located just past Round Top in Warrenton. Mass is held once a month and visitors can leave handwritten intentions in a book on the alter.
- Prost on Block 29 (112 Bauer Rummel)
Located in Round Top’s most historic building, Prost caters to both wine novices and sophisticated collectors. Charcuterie and breads can be enjoyed on their beautiful outdoor patio.
- Townsend Provision (101 Bauer Rummel)
On the corner of Round Top’s year-round destination, Rummel Square, owners Nick Mosley and Ryann Ford-Mosley offer a thoughtfully curated collection of antiques, vintage cowboy boots, home goods and gifts.
- The Humble Donkey (195 Henkel Circle)
Owned by John and Laurie Lowery, you can find art, antiques and a whole lot of charm at their store, The Humble Donkey. A life-long artist, advertising guru and former NASA illustrator, John decided to pick up his paint brush and put his own spin on the animals, rusted-out tractors, and other stuff that called the region home — and sell it out of his very own gallery.
- Royer’s Café (105 Main St.)
Over 30 years of serving gourmet comfort food, famous pies and lasting memories.
- Ellis Motel (185 Henkel Circle)
The place to unwind at the end of the night, Ellis Motel is in a two-story 1800s building serving craft
cocktails and snacks. With a roomy front porch, cozy lounge and a 70s playlist, it’s the perfect place to
linger and soak in the local culture. Must try: Skull Creek Margarita
- Junk Gypsy Company (1215 Texas 237)
Part pickers, curators and boss-bitch businesswomen, sisters Jolie and Amie Sikes have helped put Round Top on the map with their hippie-meets-rocker-chic store. Lodging: located on the back of their property is Wander Inn, a magical, eclectic home away from home.
- Casa Blanke (102 E Mill Street)
Be sure to swing by the cutest downtown stop for breakfast, smoothies, and coffee – and make sure to order the lavender oat milk latte.
- Modern Marla (303 S White Street)
THE spot for consigned couture and luxury finds, and served with a glass of Veuve Clicquot and a welcoming smile.
- Via Vandi (109 Bauer Rummel)
A delightful boutique overflowing with edgy handmade jewelry and internationally sourced textiles, including Japanese kimonos.
- Rockabilly Baroness (550 Texas 237)
For an artistic mix of elevated offerings, be sure to pop your head into this shop at the 550 Market for a taste of Western Couture, including hand-tooled silver belt buckles, handmade leather goods, and bespoke boots from Tres Outlaws, and don’t forget to peruse the market’s other studios located just steps away.
By Lance Avery Morgan Photography by Matthew Nieman
For those who have attended the wildly successful Austin City Limits Music Festival knows that the main attraction is the American Express Experience. So, just how does it work?
New this year, American Express is launching a new complimentary premium lounge for Platinum Card Members and Centurion Members plus their guest. The lounge, located to the right of the Amex Stage, allows card members and their guests to escape the crowds and enjoy drinks and light bites. The space is walk-in only with your card required for entry, and space is limited. Platinum Card Members may bring one guest and Centurion Members may bring up to three.
All attendees can shop the Depop pop-up featuring vintage and pre-loved accessories, located on the 1st floor of the Amex Experience.
The POAP (Proof of Attendance Protocol) returns. All guests can commemorate their ACL Fest by claiming a free digital collectible at the Amex Experience and unlock an exclusive offer.
On the second floor Card Members can take a break, enjoy elevated Amex Stage views and purchase a drink at the bar. Each Card Member (just show your Card or tap your Amex-linked wristband for entry) can bring up to two friends.
As always, there are plenty of benefits and perks for Amex Card Members at ACL that include:
Cashless Entrance: The Amex Cashless Entrances are located at the Barton Springs Road (Barton Springs West) entrance & the Lady Bird Lake entrance. All Card Members and their guests can enter.
Card Member Fast Lane at Merch Palace: Card Members can enjoy a dedicated fast lane at the merch palace – just tap your Amex-linked wristband to enter the fast lane.
Cashless Spend Credit- Link your ACL wristband to your Amex Card and receive a one-time $5 Spend Credit toward purchases made at the Festival.
So, what are you waiting for? See you at the ACL Amex Experience.
In a special combined podcast of Success with Style and Fun In Fundraising, Lance Avery Morgan and Rob Giardinelli join in a conversation with Michael Harold and Quinn Peeper, the authors of the chic new book, Classical Shindig: Amateur Artistry from the Simple to the Sublime. This elevated, insider’s look at special occasion entertaining is chock full of ideas for your own hosting. You’ll come away with entertaining tips and tricks that even an amateur can execute.
We love the brand new, and very, very glamorous book, Classical Shindig: Amateur Artistry from the Simple to the Sublime. It should be on every coffee table or bookshelf once it debuts on August 29th, (available at ClassicalShindig.com, from Susan Schadt Press). It offers readers a captivating and unique exploration into the world of stylish entertaining that also includes music. Deftly authored by Michael Harold and Quinn Peeper, this book showcases the simple yet profound beauty of home entertaining, while shedding light on how to personalize your own hosting.
The book commences with a warm and engaging introduction by the authors, establishing their passion and desire to celebrate their extraordinary accomplishments of successful hosting. Their writing style strikes the perfect balance between informative and personable, making the book accessible to readers from all walks of life, whether they are seasoned hosts or novices to entertaining.
One of the standout aspects of Classical Shindig is the exceptional array of anecdotes and personal experiences shared by the authors. They show just how approachable entertaining can be. Of course, if you grew up wanting to entertain like they did, the sky’s the limit. “It’s not that difficult,” shares Michael Harold. “For instance, if we have somebody we’re entertaining, maybe somebody from out of town who has a special interest, let’s say a musician, then we’ll throw a party. We’ll say, ‘okay, it’s to celebrate Beethoven’ and we’ll all play Beethoven’s music on the piano, and we’ll have Austrian food.”
Their captivating stories provide an intimate glimpse into the lives of various moments of triumph of how they successfully entertain. Each anecdote reinforces the book’s central theme–that entertaining, at its core, is an art form meant to be embraced and practiced by anyone with a passion for it, regardless of their experience. However, unique themes help, and basing entertaining tips on worldly experiences can often help even more, too. “When I went to Oxford University, there was a wonderful professor there who used to give these fun house parties for the whole weekend,” enthuses Quinn Peeper. “There was studying involved, of course, but then he would always assign a play. It was usually by Noel Coward and guests were assigned roles. It was hilarious. It’s a great way to get to know other people that you haven’t met before. As time went on during the weekend, you end up being good friends, finding a lot of things in common you didn’t know you had.”
Harold and Peeper’s meticulous research is evident throughout the book, as they introduce readers to a diverse range of their plethora of party successes. Every narrative is woven together with care and appreciation for the events, both small and grand, that they have created. Their advice is as pristine as their parties. “I wouldn’t be intimidated. Look around and see what’s happening for ideas,” they both advise. “Is the theme a book? Is the theme a piece of music? Who are the friends? What do the friends have in common? What brought all these people together? Usually, we find a thread. Or, if you can’t find it that way, look outside. What is the season? If it’s autumn, you can include a beautiful red, brown, yellow, and orange palette. Or, if it’s spring, bring the outdoors in with blooming azaleas and other flowers. Before you know it, you’ve got your party covered with a theme.”
The book’s structure is well-organized, with each chapter focusing on a different aspect of their passion for hosting. Classical Shindig covers a broad spectrum of party ideas that the reader can replicate on their own. Additionally, the inclusion of beautiful illustrations and five-star photography further enhances the reading experience, providing readers with a multi-dimensional appreciation of the featured events with topics such as Seasonal Celebrations, Book Club Parties, Paying And Playing It Forward, and of course, the theme, Family And Friends.
The duo’s family functions take precedence in the book’s narrative. “What we have in common is that we came from families where we sat down at breakfast and dinner together. At the end of the day, it’s an exchange of ideas. It was a celebration of the every day,” the authors concur. Regarding themes, they agree by saying, “The selection of the event’s month it occurs is usually full of settings and possible things that could provide interesting menus. That always makes for a great dinner party. I think we have five or six selections that we used in the book for that. For non-profit organizations, if you entertain and volunteer to use your house, usually those organizations will have a theme that they’re working with.”
As the authors point out, entertaining isn’t only about hosting, as Michael Harold confides. “The Duchess of Windsor had some interesting quotes about this, and I agree,” he says. “I think the pressure and the stress is really on the guests because as she says, nobody has the right to come to a party and sit there like a piece of furniture. You know, if you accept a dinner invitation, you have a moral obligation to be amusing. So, with practice and over time, I think anybody can entertain and the pressure really is on the guests.”
With that in mind, we can all strive to be good hosts and good guests. Classical Shindig: Amateur Artistry from the Simple to the Sublime is a delightful and inspiring read for anyone passionate about upping their game as they hone their entertaining skills. Through engaging storytelling and a celebration of the human spirit, Michael Harold and Quinn Peeper succeed in illuminating the profound impact of the joy entertaining can bring to us all.
To listen to the Success With Style and Fun In Fundraising combo podcast featuring an insider’s look at Classical Shindig: Amateur Artistry from the Simple to the Sublime, visit Success with Style and Fun In Fundraising.