If the words “art tour” harken memories of school field trips spent being herded through a museum, bored to death, prepare for an entirely difference experience. We’re in the midst of the second annual West Austin Studio Tour, which is a self-guided tour of art spaces around the city. It is produced by the Austin-based non-profit, Big Medium, with support from the City of Austin and Austin Public Libraries. It’s a great way to see where art is made and talk about it with the artists themselves. The event is free and open to the public.
A map of participating locations is available online, or a copy can be picked up at any Austin library. The more complete, full-color catalog (which makes a lovely collector’s item after the tour is over,) is available for purchase at select galleries. Finding your new favorite artist can be as simple as flipping through the guidebook, finding a piece that strikes you, and setting off for the studio where you can learn more about it.
The diverse group of venues includes repurposed public buildings as well as artists’ homes. On Sunday, I checked out vibrant, kinetic paintings by Linda Dumont and Barbara Paris. They were displayed in a pilates studio in my neighborhood. I loved seeing how many working artists are right in my backyard. It also takes away some of the reverence and pretense inspired by the traditional gallery setting. I felt more like I was at a garage sale, except I got to peruse amazing paintings, sculptures, and photography instead of old paperbacks and rickety furniture.
Jason Archer welcomed me into his house, or stop #156, which was converted into a gallery. Guests filtered through and Archer offered them drinks. He explained the process of working with fellow artist Briar Bonifacio on several collaborative pieces. Both have very distinct styles, but a shared tendency to work with icons and characters. I like how Bonifacio uses simple text and brings out the personality of cute, anthropomorphic objects. You won’t have trouble finding artists you like. Most of the artwork is for sale, and you’ll definitely be tempted to take something home with you.
Over 200 artists will be featured, and that’s only the western half of the city! If you enjoy the event this weekend, you can look forward to the East Austin Studio Tour, which has been going on for 10 years and takes place in the fall.
WHEN: Saturday, May 4 – Sunday, May 5, 2013 from 11 – 6 p.m.
Admission is free.