A grand evening for a State Din­ner

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - Michael Barnes Con­tact michael barnes at mbarnes@states­man.com. Twit­ter: @outandabout states­man

For­mal­ity. Rit­ual. Grandeur. We re­spond to th­ese signs and sym­bols deep in our brains. When em­ployed hon­or­ably — and let’s not for­get that for cen­turies despots have abused th­ese forms — they con­fer dig­nity, re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion.

All those qual­i­ties came into play dur­ing the State Din­ner at the LBJ Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary re­cently. Pres­i­dent Lyn­don Baines John­son’s chil­dren and grand­chil­dren formed a re­ceiv­ing line of sorts, along with two former U.S. sen­a­tors, Chuck Robb and Bill Bradley. Leg­is­la­tors, schol­ars, scribes and just plain party peo­ple filed into the Great Hall — one of the city’s most im­pres­sive in­te­rior spa­ces — and then out onto the plaza — one of the city’s most im­pres­sive ex­te­rior spa­ces — for din­ner.

Af­ter a short film and a min­i­mum of speeches, we got down to the busi­ness of se­ri­ous talk with our ta­ble mates, which in­cluded a gen­tle­man from Dal­las who is writ­ing a book about Lady Bird John­son’s whis­tle stop tour through the South.

All in all, it was a grand evening and one that I hope the Li­brary re­peats. We need a shot of grandeur ev­ery once in a while.

We didn’t get to see much of the new $11 mil­lion per­ma­nent ex­hibit that evening. (It opens to the pub­lic on Dec. 22.)

Also, I was sad­dened that more of our statewide po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship did not show up. Pres­i­den­tial li­braries are not par­ti­san. Here was a chance to honor a pres­i­dent not just from our great state but, for much of his life, from our beloved city. At­ten­tion must be paid. Owner Blake Shan­ley has cre­ated an win­ter won­der­land with tree branches, feath­ers, hang­ing balls and tiny man­nequins. The store on East 11th Street won for the East End district.

The cats are pro­vid­ing the mu­sic in the win­dows of End of the Ear on South First Street. The painted cats with mu­si­cal in­stru­ments are backed by shiny wrap­ping pa­per in this col­or­ful win­dow that won for the South First district.

A well-dressed man­nequin in vin­tage red sits com­fort­ably on a vin­tage chair by the vin­tage red fire­place sur­rounded by vin­tage fab­rics. A white ce­ramic cat with col­or­ful mar­ble ac­cents sits by the fire un­der­neath vin­tage hang­ing lamps. This is the scene set by Room Ser­vice Vin­tage, the win­ner of the North Loop district.

At Mock­ing­bird Do­mes­tics on South La­mar Boule­vard, the sig­na­ture bird is wear­ing a red and green scarf. A Christ­mas tree painted on a chalk­board feels retro and artsy in this new store that high­lights Austin ar­ti­sans. It won for the South La­mar district.

You can vote for your fa­vorite win­dow at www. ibuyaustin.com through Mon­day.

Pho­tos by jay jan­ner/amer­i­can-

AboVe: mer­maids toast the hol­i­days on the win­dow of el In­te­rior. RIGHT: Painted win­dows at Co­nan’s Pizza, 603 W. 29th St.

Con­tact Ni­cole Vil­lal­pando at 912-5900.

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