At a Glance:
Photographs and story by Joe Layton
Camping isn’t for everybody, or even for most people. Sleeping in a tent on the ground and battling mosquitoes while eating hot dogs by a fire, just doesn’t appeal to everyone. And contemporary art can sometimes feel elusive, or out of reach, even for those with a trained eye. Luckily The Contemporary Austin was able to combine the best of both worlds (minus the hotdogs) in this year’s Camp Contemporary. While no actual camping took place revelers and art-lovers gathered on the grounds of The Contemporary’s Laguna Gloria Sculpture Park for delicious food, craft cocktails and workshops, all under a beautiful October sky.
There were plenty of activities to keep this year’s guests entertained thanks to enjoyed wheel throwing with Melissa Mencini and Mike Grafa, screen printing with Jonas Criscoe and candle pouring with Slow North and Maker’s Mark. Alongside the artist workshops there was live music courtesy of Walker Lukens, Mobley, Smiile and Lolita Lynne and a sound bath hosted by Outdoor Voices. And to top it all off – a lantern-led tour of the sculpture park after the sun went down.
Camp Contemporary brought beloved chefs and restaurants to riff on camping cuisine. Some of the favorites this year were the pork sliders from ELM Restaurant Group, venison nachos from épicerie and Barbacoa tacos from Joann’s Fine Foods.
Amidst all the gloriously citified “camping” we couldn’t help but ask some of this year’s party goers to reminisce of some of their past camping experiences – some memorable and some best forgotten.
Jake’s first camping experience was at Muleshoe Bend on Lake Travis. Back in high school he and his pals would take late night dips in the lake while blasting Pink Floyd from his car.
Michael’s first experience camping, which happened to be at White Sands National Park, in Colorado, involved a storm destroying his tent and swiftly turning the trip into a wet and (un)forgettable experience.
It takes all kinds of hikers and campers as Amanda learned when hiking in Colorado with her dad and older sister. Once they hit the tree line she was struck by altitude sickness and just couldn’t push on. Her father couldn’t stand stopping short of the summit. “Stay here, I’ll be back in an hour,” he said as his daughter lost her lunch on the side of the Mountain.
Christie’s trip to Yosemite involved hoisting the group’s scented items in makeshift containers, using pulleys to raise the food, so as to avoid any potential bear aggression. She and the rest of the group took turns staying up all night. No bears were ever spotted.
Robert ascended to 14,000 feet on the Continental divide on a bike trip with some friends. A fierce storm broke out halfway up the mountain, thoroughly soaking the group, while also providing 360 degree vistas of mountain tops and tree-splitting lightening, all as they sat in deep snow hoping for mercy. “It was one of the most sublime things I hope to never experience again,” said Robert.