Austin Art Boards Winners Hit the Skies
Look for these art billboards all over ATX...
"Points of View" by Alexandra Brown is located at S I-35 and Braker Lane as of Dec 16. Rebecca Bennett.
Back in June, we tipped you off about Austin Art Boards, a billboard art competition hosted by Reagan National Advertising as a way to beautify Austin's skies and roadways, celebrate Austin's creative spirit, and provide a handful of talented artists throughout the greater Austin area with the chance to display their work on "the biggest canvases in town."
Well, it's happened, folks.
Out of this year's pool of 317 applicants—a record number considering the 110 entries in 2011 and the 220 entries in 2012—Austin Art Boards' panel of judges selected ten winning artworks to be displayed and rotated on city billboards throughout the next year.
Reagan Outdoor delivered the news in a classy yet modest gathering of roughly thirty semifinalists and their honored guests at Canopy Austin. The ten winners are:
Perhaps best known for his “Mellow Cat” mural that sprawls across the north exterior wall of Mellow Mushroom pizzeria on Guadalupe, Briar Bonifacio is both a painter and an animator, which gives his works an endearing, cartoon-y vibe.
But don’t be fooled by the happy cat wearing a red bandana or the Dalmatian pulling the gigantic rainbow slug creature in “Wudang.” Bonifacio’s seemingly-innocuous cartoons disguise serious social commentary about animal rights, public health, and other social issues.
Based in Round Rock, Alexandra Brown is a fresh new face in Austin’s creative community. Brown draws, paints, and experiments with everything in between to create mixed media pieces such as her “Blue Lace” hybrid.
Her winning Austin Art Boards piece, “Points of View,” is a silhouette of the Congress Bridge at bat hour; it’s stunning in both symmetry and vibrancy, but perhaps its greatest strength is what inspired Brown to create it in the first place: the people.
“When I first saw the Congress Bridge bats… I was just fascinated looking at everyone’s silhouettes and wondering what they were thinking and what their stories were,” Brown told Austin Art Boards.
Dave Culpepper is a sculptor and mixed media artist who primarily exhibits his work with Ink Tank, an Austin-based group of thirteen creatives who prize out-of-the-box thinking and often create time-based works that press for social change and reflection organically through the power of experience—not relics.
Like the rest of his and Ink Tank’s work, Culpepper’s Austin Art Boards entry, “The Nova is Ova,” is distinctly minimalist, but it’s also vast like the deep space depicted behind that fragmented stack of boxes—defying meaning in the best way possible.
Graham Franciose is an illustrator originally hailing from rural Massachusetts, where he first fell in love with art. Equipped with a nifty BFA in Illustration from Hartford Art School, Franciose has developed his own unique style and has had his work published and exhibited all across the nation.
Many of his works depict those quiet honest moments where characters struggle to find hope and purpose. Francoise offers insight into his intended meaning for his beautiful "Mended and Released" painting in his Austin Art Boards interview, but ultimately prefers to give the viewer that freedom of interpretation.
"I try to keep the meaning and scenario of my work open ended so each viewer can interpret the narrative in their own way," Francoise wrote in his website. "There is a story in there, but it's up to you to decide what it is."
Lindsay Hutchens is a well-traveled photographer whose work has taken her all over the world shooting still photo and multimedia projects for clients such as The New York Times, LA Weekly, Vans, Elle, GQ, and bands such as Flogging Molly and Fiona Apple, among others. She even helped to create the documentary "Kids + Money," which explores consumerism in L.A. teen culture.
True to Hutchens' interest in documentary-style photography, "Solstice Cream" is rich with social commentary, playing on the idea that one man's trash is another man's treasure. The two subjects in the image, with their backs to each other, couldn't be more different—young and old, long-sleeves and short-sleeves, ice cream cone and Stonehenge—but one thing does unite them: their equal capacity for wonder.
Describing himself as a "lens-based" artist, Robert Melton works in a number of mediums, including videography, photography, and drawing. All of his work is strikingly minimalist—his short films use sound and fine details to push the viewer to make assumptions about the plot, and his drawings might as well be black and white photographs for their intricacy.
Melton's photographs emphasize color and symmetry, but like his films, many of them also provoke curiosity in the viewer, as is the case with his Austin Art Boards entry, "Shatter Grid." The holes play on the viewer's expectation of seeing reflected trees and instead invite the viewer to imagine what could be inside the building.
"I wanted to create an image that asked more questions than provided answers, and [that] in doing so, would challenge the viewer to create his own narrative," said Melton.
Drift Markus: “Chance”
Drift Markus is also a photographer. His Austin Art Boards entry is titled "Chance" and is currently displayed on Lamar Avenue. the piece depicts a giant bubble flying through the sky after being generated by a friend with a "magic lasso." The whole giant bubble-blowing act probably looked something like this.
As for the photograph itself, "Chance" is exactly that—the forward motion of the giant bubble, the melancholy sky, and the bubble's pearly colors serve as a reminder to take chances and dream big and in color, even when it rains.
In a quest to ward off boredom, artist Solomon Perry works in as many mediums as he can. "The more mediums I do, the more I'm fascinated with the possibilities of creations and creativity," Perry told Austin Art Boards. This rings true, considering that the most recent entry on Perry's website is about how to make a resin mold of a "Zombie Hand."
"Serendipitous" was a quest for 3D space, dynamic color and shapes, and Impressionism. To create the piece, Perry first drew a rendering to figure out how he wanted to arrange the shapes. Next, he painted a small version of the piece and scanned it into Photoshop for enlargement. After that, he used vectoring to break the painting up into impressionistic "chunks."
"I was driving down 35 and I saw one of the art boards and I was completely blow away," Perry said. "In my mind [and heart], I just knew I had to enter the contest."
Denise Prince is a painter and filmmaker, as well as a photographer. She works as both a fine art and commercial photographer, shooting everything from editorials to weddings to museum-grade portraits that are actually social experiments. Prince's work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally and boasts a permanent installation in the lobby of Austin's own W Hotel.
"Paper Corsage, Tumbleweed" is part of Prince's "Things I Never Told You" collection, a series of images that examine the portrayal of women in advertising. Each photograph depicts a woman (of any age) standing in the middle of a particular scene while holding one or more objects. How very fitting for a photograph about women in advertising to end up on a billboard!
Martha L. Rivera: “Inca Bloom”
Austin Art Boards Interview
"As a photographer, or a person who takes pictures of things she likes," Martha Rivera searches for beautiful things wherever she can find them as a way to remember how she felt in those moments.
However, Rivera's Austin Art Boards entry, "Inca Bloom," is a celebration of determination and strength as much as it is a celebration of beauty. Rivera shot the photograph in Macchu Picchu, Peru, after hiking four days on the rigorous Inca Trail. Struck by the flower's vivid red petals against the blue mountains, Rivera took the photograph to capture her sense of accomplishment in completing the hike.
"Later on, when I look back at that [picture], it will help me remember... the feeling that I had at the time, given that that particular instant will never happen again," Rivera said.
The winning pieces went up in October and will be rotated around the city throughout most of 2014, so keep your eyes peeled as you drive around the greater Austin area to and from work. Or better yet, embark on a city-wide scavenger hunt to find them all.
If you do see an art billboard, let us know when and where in the comments!
See our previous article here for a detailed breakdown of the competition or visit the Austin Art Board's website or Facebook page. Read here for more information about Reagan National Advertising. All images used with permission.