The sixteenth annual East Austin Studio Tour takes place over two weekends in November and allows Austinites to explore over 500 galleries and artist workspaces free of charge.
Audio Story by Blayne Turner
Photo Gallery by John Hernandez
Adam Lozoya, who has dubbed himself “The Traveling Pianist,” plays for a young fan at Canopy, an arts complex housed in an old warehouse in East Austin. He was the live entertainment Nov. 11, 2017, the first Saturday of the East Austin Studio Tour, also known as EAST. Lozoya has spent 18 years playing the piano and three years as the traveling pianist.
At Son of a Sailor’s storefront in Canopy, shoppers review some of the handmade and curated goods available for sale. The shop sells handmade items under its own brand while also supplementing their storefront with the work of other handpicked designers.
In the middle of the parking lot shared by Canopy and its neighbor, the Museum of Human Achievement, a line forms at the Tito’s Vodka truck, which offers sparkling lemonade cocktails for visitors of EAST.
SPORTS, a collaborative obstacle course designed by nine artists, was set up at the Museum of Human Achievement, a studio and multidisciplinary art space, for EAST. Kaya Halil Sümer, the artist donning the referee shirt, examines a scorecard for the SPORTS installation, which features nine games that implemented rules and processes created by the artists. Zac Traeger, the founder and director of MOHA, sits at the table and explains how SPORTS works to two interested participants.
Bale Creek Allen (center in black and white hat) talks photography with a visitor to his gallery space at Canopy. Allen’s series of large photos on display are part of his “My America” collection. The most recent series originated from a trip to New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada where Allen focused on shooting prisons, schools, old houses and steeples. Allen said that printing at a large size presents more of an emotional (and financial) investment, but he feels it is his strongest body of work. The digital photos come out of the camera without any post-processing.
Trish Sierer, an artist at Art.Science.Gallery, uses an X-Acto knife to carve into clay covering a piece of cardboard, a new medium that she has been exploring. Sierer normally draws cellular structures and patterns in India ink. She credits her initial interest in intricate geometric patterns to bees.
“Daily Time Slices” (2015) by Laurie Frick chronicles 21 days in the life of Ben Lipkowitz, a man she found through Google who meticulously recorded his activities in 2011. The pieces of wood are physical representations of blocks of time to show various activities that Lipkowitz participated in.
Olaniyl R. Akindiya, or AKIRASH, a multidisciplinary artist leading mask-making activities for children at Canopy, adjusts a participant’s creation. In 2017, Akindiya received a $15,000 grant from the Mid-America Arts Alliance for his project, “SASHO L’OJU EGUN / Behind the Mask.” The project involves the creation of seven masquerade costumes and draws influences and patterns from Ghana (Adinkran), Nigeria (Uli, Arewa), South Africa (Ndebele), Cameroon (Bamuleke), Australia (Aboriginal), New Zealand (Mauri) and Mexico/New Mexico (Pueblo). Akindiya participated in the DE LA TIERRA group exhibition at Texas State University’s Joann Cole Mitte Gallery in 2015. He now splits his time between living Pflugerville, Texas and Lagos, Nigeria.
Douglas McMorris, in the background, smells a candle from a display of candles at No. Four St. James, a shop and gallery that specializes in goods related to living in Texas. They have a curated collection of Texas-inspired products to complement their own original creations. McMorris has been attending EAST since 2011 and used to have his house on the tour, but he now only makes stops at the big EAST destinations like Canopy.
Chanel Rector spray paints a public wall in the parking lot of Canopy while her friends waited out of view. Children attending EAST surrounded and decorated the wall, so Rector was forced to barter with a boy to complete the flames of her creation.
A red ball covered in white stars and dust from the parking lot at Canopy sits still after children tired of playing with it during EAST activities at Canopy. In the background, attendees walk from gallery to gallery under a gray sky.
Photo gallery by Julia Pinto
The East Austin Studio Tour is a yearly self-guided tour in the fall that features hundreds of artists, galleries and installations. This event is where the public can meet and experience local artists and their work. East of I-35, west of HHW 183, south of HWY 290 and north of Riverside Dr. are the boundaries that make East Austin.
EAST provides thick catalogs filled with information to help attendees through the self-guided Tour with ease. The catalogs are free to the public but a donation is suggested to help support the free annual event.
The Group Exhibition marks the beginning of the tour. Over 400 artists display their art along the walls of a warehouse that sits on East 5th Street. A community breakfast brings locals and attendees together to browse art, eat breakfast tacos and to plan the beginning of their tour. Of course, loved pets are welcome to enjoy the local art as well.
Amidst the community breakfast, EAST puts on an educational show for children to learn about the local nature of Austin. The Grackle, Barton Springs Salamander and Big Brown Bat were among the many organisms that everyone who sat around the warehouse learned about.
Big Medium has a partnership with Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (LBJWC), which collaborated with local artists to put together the cover of the EAST catalog. Outside of the Group Exhibition, LBJWC had a table offering free posters and brochures for everyone to enjoy.
23 local restaurants and bars support Big Medium and EAST by donating 10% of their sales during the event. Wright Bros. Brew & Brew along with the 22 other EAST Pit Stops are participants to support local artists and the community.
Multiple businesses and residencies are constantly being built to go up around the city of Austin, especially the east side. Despite the changes, local art is everywhere to be seen around the city outside of an annual event.