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To Buda and Back

Last time, you’ll recall, I had just finished up the day in Wimberley. We went to bed, slept soundly, and then next morning were up early. We wanted to get on the road so that we’d have time to visit a couple of towns on the way back to Georgetown--specifically Buda and Manor.


So, we packed, said goodby to the big bird in his cage at the back of the courtyard, and then headed to the lobby for a bit of breakfast before we headed out. Lloyd had outdone himself in the preparation of eggs and bacon and pastries. We chatted with him while we ate. He shared several stories...some funny, some sad...about the people of the town, particularly the musicians who had been moving into the area ever since Austin got more rich than weird.(1)


We also spoke to another guest who knew the area. He had heard us mention our plans to visit Buda and Manor, and he warned us that they might be less than we’d hoped. “They used to be their own places,” he explained. “But now, well, they've been sucked in by Austin.”


A little after, we were on our way. We got to Buda first. We soon realized that our fellow guest had had a point. I don’t know if you could say that the little city was nothing now but a bedroom community for Austin, but you could tell that Austin money and Austin people (commuters) were present in force. Honestly, it felt a bit like Georgetown. There, as here in Georgetown, there were lots of new residential areas, plus a downtown area that had probably once provided retail for local shoppers, but which increasingly counts on tourists and newcomers--lots of boutiques, in other words, plus antique shops, and a rather nice cafe.


We stopped and did some tourist things. Martha scored a find at one of the co-op antique shops. She collects Navajo Chickens. Not heard of them? They’re sort of new. In recent decades, Navajo (a.k.a., Dene) artists have been crafting whimsical statues of, well, chickens. Stress on the word whimsical. (I’ll try to remember to include a photo of one when I run this piece.)


Martha thinks they’re funny and fun, and so she buys them when she finds them at a decent price. That’s harder than you might think because collectors are catching on and the chickens are starting to increase in value--particularly signed ones. The one she found that day was both signed and surprisingly low priced.





About the pictures: several today. First, a couple of Navajo chickens of the sort that Martha collections. Second, a low angle shot of our resident kachina.


We wondered why it hadn’t been more expensive. Martha feared that it might be because the vendor hadn’t known the value of the piece. My guess, though, was that the seller knew that he/she couldn’t get a higher price. Navajo Chickens aren’t particularly in demand here. Value tends to reflect location. In Santa Fe or Old Town Albuquerque, I’m sure the same piece would have cost quite a bit more.


But, in Central Texas, things are very different. On the Cowboys-n-Indians spectrum, its the cowboys who heft more weight. Strong, silent buckaroos ...chaps in chaps...are romantic, powerful symbols of freedom and dignity. And, whats called “Western Art” here often reflects them, for good or bad or indifferent. Thus, a Navajo Chicken? No market. A three inch tall bronze miniature of a horseman on a bucking bronco “not by but in the style of Fredric Remington”? You’re looking at a price tag of at least $200. Probably more.(3)


Anyway...we grabbed an iced coffee, and then headed out. We hit Manor next. BTW, the name doesn’t seem to be pronounced like “manor house.” I gather it’s more like “Main-OR.” Why? I don’t know. Why is it “Tuk-er” and not “Tooo-ker.” Just is.(4)





And, finally, Martha in front of the Rivery Cafe, another of our Georgetown favs.  


We looked around a bit. Seemed a nice enough town. And it is, we learned, one of the fastest growing suburbs of Austin. But, by then, the afternoon was getting on, and we were getting tired. So, after a short while, we headed back to the car and headed out. After thirty minutes or so on 130 (speed limit 80 miles, but everyone goes faster), we were home.


And, that, pretty much, was our trip to Wimberley. I’m sure we’ll be back. Maybe next time we’ll actually see some of the musicians I kept talking about, and hear them playing something. Radical concept, I know. But, it’s just crazy enough to work.


In the meanwhile, stay tuned, everyone! Because next time we start an even bigger adventure.


To wit, to escape the heat of the Texas summer, and see old friends and new...


We are off to New Mexico.


More to come.



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Footnotes:


1. Austin used to pride itself on its reputation as the final redoubt for the state’s small and dwindling population of original hippies. The town’s officially unofficial motto was “Keep Austin Weird!” Unfortunately, as Austin grew rich from tech companies and California transplants, it has gotten harder and harder to be counterculture there. The weirder sorts therefore fled to neighboring communities--Dripping Sprints, Buda, Blanco, and, of course, Wimberley. Though, now, those towns too are beginning to be too pricey for the bead-n-sandal set.


2. The other thing we collect is kachina dolls--that is, the figures originally created by the Hopi people and given (mostly) to girls to educate them about the spiritual world. In recent generations, they’ve become an important form of sculpture among Hopi and (increasingly) other Native American peoples (see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hopi_Kachina_figure). My parents collected them for years in New Mexico, and gave many to my son, David. We inherited others from them, and have bought more over the course of time.


Martha has a story about her Kachinas. She was a professor at Tufts, of course, and one year she took in a Kachina as part of an exercise for her students. Alas, one of the students, a young woman of great self-importance and remarkably little common sense, proceeded to critique the Kachina as being cheap and gaudy. As acts of stupidity go, it was truly stunning. A performance of the highest order. And it got her, grade-wise, exactly what you would expect...as well as Martha’s undying enmity.


Moral of the story: if you’re going to be an idiot, do it in private. Hurts less, and no witnesses means it’s a lot less embarrassing.


3. The other term you see a lot is “after Remington.” That is, pieces done by artists who either copied Remington’s style or even his individual works. There’s nothing odd about that. Pick up any art auction catalog and you’ll see pieces listed as being “in the school of Rembrandt” or “from the Workshop of Leonardo da Vinci.” In fact, Leonardo’s assistant (and maybe lover) Salaì, did his own nude version of the Mona Lisa. It’s at the Louvre. You can see it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sala%C3%AC


4. See How to Pronounce Manor, Texas (Real Life Examples!): https://youtu.be/6EJBqE8q-MY”






Copyright©2023 Michael Jay Tucker




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