Over 260 artists and galleries participated in this year’s West Austin Studio Tour. WEST boundaries are generally west of I-35, east of Mopac, south of 183, and north of William Cannon. (November’s EAST covers east of I-35.) Armed with our huge WEST map, Bill and I headed out on Sunday afternoon to discover new-to-us artists and explore unfamiliar neighborhoods.
The East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) is the largest art festival in Austin, with over 400 artists participating in this free, self-guided event. During two November weekends, studios, galleries, coffee shops, and private homes are open throughout the neighborhoods that are east of I-35. A corresponding WEST is held in the spring for locations west of the interstate.
WEST (West Austin Studio Tour) is happening over the first two weekends in May. This is the companion spring event to the fall’s EAST (East Austin Studio Tour). As would be logical, EAST took place east of I-35, while WEST covers a much larger geographic area, with boundaries of I-35, Ben White/290, Mopac, and 183. Both EAST and WEST are organized by local arts non-profit, Big Medium.
Last Friday Bill and I attended the opening reception for the 10th annual People’s Gallery at Austin City Hall. Over 100 works by local artists are displayed throughout the building. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their top three favorites, and at the end of the year, the city will purchase one of the top-recommended pieces for the permanent collection.
This was our first East Austin Studio Tour (EAST). Wow! Bill and I were amazed at the number—and caliber—of artists who work east of I-35. Last week’s Austin American-Statesman included a list of EAST locations with a dozen or more artists. We followed their advice, which worked out well.
An ambitious outdoor art exhibit called THIRST was recently installed in and around Lady Bird Lake. This temporary installation was commissioned by Women & Their Work and funded by a grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. THIRST “encourages an exchange of ideas about the impact that a scarcity of water will have on Austin, on Texas, and beyond, as well as memorializes the loss of 300 million trees that died in the recent Texas drought.”
The Austin Wall was unveiled last week in the lobby of the new U.S. Federal Courthouse next to Republic Square Park. This abstract stained glass wall is 28-foot square and weighs 3-1/2 tons. Two lower panels feature a black-and-white negative of a Texas Hill Country landscape.
20ft Wide is a temporary outdoor exhibit space set up in downtown Alley #111 for this weekend only. The entrance is on 9th Street, just east of Congress Avenue. Multiple artists and architects contributed to this exhibit sponsored by Art Alliance Austin. According to the artists’ statement, “Austin’s downtown alleys remain largely unnoticed. Yet, these public spaces are in danger of being removed by super-block developments, which will alter the character and scale of the city fabric. 20ft Wide seeks to bring awareness and appreciation to this urban space, to foster discussion about the role of the alley in the city, while simultaneously generating new possibilities for its use.”