Taylor, Texas - Meat and Art | Vu Man

I am primarily a portrait photographer, exploring all aspects of portraiture and light in the analogue realm.  I mostly shoot 35mm, using different Canon and Nikon bodies, and am an enthusiast of the Pakon 135 scanner.  That being said, I haven’t been using film for very long, and have only developed black and white film a few times. I’m not very technical or knowledgeable about this type of photography or camera bodies.  However, I am passionate about what I do. They say to write what you know, so my viewpoint is that of an advanced hobbyist photographer who’s relatively new to film and wants to keep exploring this medium. As well as being a film enthusiast, I am a fat guy, residing in the great State of Texas in the United States of America. I decided I would combine those three things - eating, film, and Texas - and share my experiences from a recent trip.

Part 1 - Meat

In the heart of Taylor, Texas sit two very unique establishments: Louie Mueller Barbecue and 120ART. Taylor, Texas is about a 45 minute drive northeast of Austin, Texas. Austin is the capital of the State of Texas, which has the unique distinction of having been a sovereign country, the Republic of Texas, from 1836 to 1846. Here in Texas, we are very passionate about barbecue. For example, Texas Monthly magazine has the first and only full-time BBQ editor (Daniel Vaughn) and we have the very first BBQ pitmaster (Aaron Franklin of Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin, TX) to win a James Beard award. The James Beard is “known as the Oscars of the food world…”.

Photo from Google Maps

Photo from Google Maps

Louie Mueller sits in the historical part of Taylor, Texas. As you can see from the Google Maps description it’s a “venerable spot for smoked meats”. Barbecue (BBQ) in Texas means cooking meat over low heat and smoke generated by an all wood fire over a long period of time (hours). BBQ is different from grilling, which is cooking over direct fire which can be of any source – charcoal, gas, or wood. Grilling is normally fast and in a short period of time (minutes).

Louie Mueller Barbecue sits in an old building that used to be a ladies basketball court and grocery market. Louie moved into this location in 1959 with his barbecue restaurant. The original Louie Mueller Barbecue was opened 10 years before that in a different location. Louie's son, Bobby, took over in 1974. In 1999, they expanded into the building to the left with additional seating and cooking area. Since 2008, Wayne has operated the business.

Inside the building the floors are all wood and the room is dark with smoke stained walls. Wooden tables fill the main room while picnic tables are in the expanded area.

In central Texas BBQ style, you order the meats by the pound and tell them what sides you want. In some central Texas BBQ joints the beans are free, potato salad and coleslaw are the standard sides. The Texas BBQ trinity is usually an order of beef brisket, pork ribs, and sausage. The sausages they make in house.

There is a big pit in the middle of the room where they hold the meats for serving.

Your order is served on a tray over some butcher paper. White bread and pickles are the only other thing I ask for. White bread, onions, and pickles are free at these central Texas BBQ joints. No sides for this fat guy.

Alas, I got to Louie Mueller’s around 1:30 in the afternoon and they had already run out of pork ribs and the gigantic beef ribs. My BBQ trinity had to be rounded out with smoked chicken this time. This was the first time I ordered chicken at any central BBQ joint. Not as satiating as ribs but still very good.

Unlike other regional BBQ in the US, sauce is not an important part of central Texas BBQ. While all the places in the region broke down and serve sauce, it is not slathered on nor is the meat drenched in sauce. While some of the joints down here have excellent sauce, it is not a main element. For years most of the central Texas BBQ joints served no sauce at all. They have mostly all yielded to the masses. The sauce here at Louie Mueller is a very thin sauce – notice how small of a portion it is. I believe it is a vinegar based sauce and I got it only for the photo.

The other room with picnic tables and other interesting pieces from their history.

One of the old pits.

Sausage stuffer.

As with all the great central Texas BBQ places, they draw a very diverse crowd from different states and different countries. All of whom make the trek here with the common goal of experiencing good food and a bit of Texana.

All photos taken on Fuji Superia 800.

Part 2 - Art

While you're in Taylor, Texas and enjoying some good BBQ at Louie Mueller, just take a little stroll down the street. A few stores from Louie's is a very unique art gallery, 120Art. From what I understand, the gallery is home to the Taylor Artist Guild (TAG).

The gallery was “formed to help promote and foster creative expression in the community” and “is a dynamic collective of local artists whose specialties encompass all discipline, from multi-media, through photography, sculpture and fine art.”

The Guild meets monthly and offers exhibitions, special classes, retreats, and other events throughout the year.

The gallery is housed in the historic Titsworth Building and has been open since 2014. 120Art allows the artists to display their art.

If you look hard enough, you might spot FSC’s very own “Texas Girl”. She is a Taylor Artist Guild member.

Some of the displays.

Every third Thursday of the month, all the shops stay open late.

I had a few more photos but they are lost forever. This is what happens when you accidentally open the back of the camera mid roll.

I hope all of our FSC members from around the world have enjoyed a little bit of a peek into my little corner. Are there unique Meat and Art in your corner?


Photographer Vu Man enjoys film as a creative outlet.  See more of his work here on our website.