Set aside, for just a moment, your memories of taking children to an art museum (“No running!” “Stay right beside me.” “Hands to your sides…no, DON’T TOUCH!” “Time to go, kids!”) Now, picture driving up to a home and walking down an ornate mosaic path to an attached studio space. Several artists greet you warmly as they take a break from each of their works in progress nearby. Your kids’ eyes widen as they field questions from the artist, pick out their favorite painting and nibbling on a cookie. Your spouse finds the perfect photograph for the dining room, and you pick up a smaller screen print for your mom for her birthday. Then, you walk down the street to the next stop along with a steady stream of other Austinites to a small gallery which has entirely different types of artwork, yet a similar vibe. After a few hours, you head home with some new pieces for your home, a stack of business cards of artists you want to check out and the satisfaction that comes with expanding your children’s cultural horizons.
Welcome to the East Austin Studio Tour, or EAST, a massive, FREE show and tell for creatives taking place November 15th and 16th and then again next weekend, November 22nd and 23rd. This self-guided art show features over 400 stops, located east of IH-35, west of 183, south of 290 and north of Lady Bird Lake. The Artist & Studios and Exhibition stops are open from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. both weekends, and the Happenings and Select Events (some of which are not free) take place at various times throughout both weekends. Unlike seeing a traditional art show in a museum, many EAST stops allow you to get an insider’s look into the creative process and materials used to create all types of works of art.
To find out all the details about the artists who will be participating, your best option is to pick up a FREE EAST catalog from an Austin Public Library branch. These 200-page books are very popular, and many branches run out quickly, so you might want to try calling before heading out to pick yours up. The catalogs include a great map to help in your planning. If you aren’t lucky enough to snag a catalog, you can still research participating artists on the EAST website or on the mobile app. (Side note: In full disclosure, I must admit that I had some trouble in the past using just the mobile app, so if you are determined to make it to a stop and you don’t have the catalog, I’d go ahead and print out the information about that stop.)
Here are five tips to make your family’s EAST outing a success:
- Start at the outskirts. We generally begin our tour in northeast Austin and head south from there. These stops tend to be spaced further apart, and are a bit less crowded than later in the day near downtown. Think of this as your family’s warm up.
- Get in the heart of the action. From the more northern stops on the tour, we usually head to close to downtown, where we can see a lot of art by foot. Parking can be a challenge, which usually means we spend more time at places a little further east, such as Canopy, Artpost and pump project.
- Plan for a variety. Kids will be more interested if you explore different types of media and focus on stops which mention demonstrations.
- Keep an open mind. EAST is not designed for children, so if you are concerned with what your kids will be seeing, you will probably need to do a little homework to avoid any artwork you might consider non-kid-friendly. What I’ve noticed so far is that my kid usually doesn’t pay attention to the pieces I am worried about his noticing.
- Keep a watchful eye. Although I do find EAST kid-friendly, I still need to keep a close eye on my son. Crowds can get thick in some places, streets you are walking on can be narrow with lots of traffic, and the casual feel of many stops can make kids feel too comfortable, sometimes. It’s still good for kids to be reminded not to touch anything unless the artist invites you to, or if you ask first.
Now that you better understand what EAST is all about, I have some recommendations for you! Please note that the tour begins this weekend, so we have not had a chance to visit all of these stops. If you make it this weekend, we’d love to hear about your favorite artists and exhibitions.
1 – Scott Rolfe (1305 Glencrest Dr.): What better way to start EAST than with Stop 1? Scott Rolfe is an assemblage artist who upcycles unwanted objects and brings them to life, from eccentric animals to dilapidated machines. Scott will be debuting a new series, The Tricksters, featuring mischievous figures of myth and legend from different cultures.
11 – Chaos Woods (5335 Westminster Dr.): Terry and Sarah Snow bring their love of unique toys and comic books to create traditional wooden crafts. During EAST, the Snows will have free activities for kids of all ages, a station to make wooden creations and blocks for kids to play with.
38 – Holli Brown Mosaic (1403 Concordia Ave.): Holli Brown creates art from discarded vintage dishware. Her pieces can range from wall-sized murals to earrings. She will have demos in her studio during EAST.
92 – Chun Hui Pak (Canopy, 916 Springdale Rd. Bldg. 1, #118): Chun Hui Pak’s oil paintings portray the unfolded structure of the Flower Fold origami shape. My eight-year-old son enjoyed this stop last EAST, probably partly due to the fact that he is a big fan of origami.
101 – Cari Washburn (Canopy, 916 Springdale Rd. Bldg. 1, #125): Cari Washburn combines ceramics with encaustics to create whimsical pieces which serve as a reminder to nurture the inner child in all of us.
123 – Carolyn Kimball (Canopy, 916 Springdale Rd. Bldg. 1, #218): Carolyn creates both fine art prints and modern home decor. Her current work is inspired by the American West and travels in the Middle East. She draws her inspiration from the natural world.
135 – Blue Genie Art Industries (Canopy, 916 Springdale Rd. Bldg. 4, #102): Blue Genie specializes in large-scale three dimensional objects, which, of course, kids love. Although it’s not clear exactly what’s on tap for EAST this year, there’s no doubt that it will capture your family’s imagination.
142 – MakeATX (1109 Shady Ln. B, Studio 1) – Kids and lasers — need I say more? The first weekend of EAST, Mark Puente will be etching and cutting Dia de los Muertos-inspired pieces. I went home one year from MakeATX with a set of super-cool coasters and my son was able to buy some heavily discounted “oopses” that had some small imperfections.
182 – Landry McMeans Art & Design (702 Shady Lane) – Landry McMeans creates abstract reliefs and landscapes of the American West from cardboard and acrylic paint. The results are astonishing and will have your kids looking differently at that old refrigerator box.
206 – Foster Talge (Artpost, 4704 E. Cesar Chavez St.) – Foster Talge’s artist statement in the catalog might be my favorite “I make big metal trees”. You have probably seen photos of his trees associated with EAST in the past (the photo above is actually one I snapped of one of his trees, in fact!) Kids love standing underneath (as do adults) and thinking aloud about how he makes these huge sculptures. Stop by Artpost on the second weekend to see the sculpture Talge is working on this weekend.
224 – Ann Armstrong (Fort Tillery, 618 Tillery St., Bldg. C) – The crowdsourced Atlas of Austin now contains 35 hand-drawn maps, but the goal is to finish EAST with 100 maps to form a collaborative portrait of the city. Submit a map (Austin Atlas will provide the supplies, or you can bring your own or even email one) and these maps will be added to the physical Atlas, which will be on display.
253 – Mary Chriss (UP Collective, 2326 E. Cesar Chavez St.) – For those of you with future Tony Hawks, Mary Chriss creates three dimensional sculptures with skateboards.
268 – Clayworks (1209 E. 6th St.) – Clayworks mixes clay and glazes and fires ceramics onsite. From decorative tiles to address tiles to garden decor, there is plenty to see in this shop. Demos will go on throughout EAST. Yes, there are plenty of breakables, so exercise caution with younger kids at this stop.
350 – Brian L. Phillips (Revival Cycles, 5305 Bolm Rd., Bay 2) – Brian Phillips uses salvaged wood and paint to create textured, layered works of art. Brian will have more than 70 works of art on display during EAST, as well as t-shirts and other small items. All in a shop that specializes in custom and vintage motorcycles.
403 – No Grit No Pearl Workshop (2601 E. 5th St.) – KINCANNON STUDIOS is a masonry arts studio which will be hosting a “carving bee” during the first weekend of EAST. Participants will chip away at a large scale abstract. Although the workshop is not geared toward kids, I bet they will love to watch! Please RSVP to [email protected]
The following EAST events are happening during particular times:
E – Community Breakfast at the French Legation Museum (802 San Marcos St.) – Start your 2014 EAST off with food and drinks on the beautiful historic grounds of the French Legation, on Saturday, November 15th from 9-11:00 a.m. FREE.
408 – little east (Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy, 1712 E. 11th St.) – On Saturday, November 15th from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., see a collaborative art exhibit, be a part of art in the garden and listen to family-friendly music performed by students and the Groundwork Music Project.
402 – Where is Your Heart? Wall (612 Calles St.) – On Saturday, November 15th from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., contribute imagery, text, objects and more to respond to the question “Where is your heart?” Paint and markers supplied onsite — or you can bring your own supplies.
248 – Sky Candy (507 Calles St. #117) – Students will perform aerial arts at free showcases at 4:00 p.m. on each day of EAST. There will also be an upside down photo booth!
409 – ImprovEd Shakespeare’s Henry IV – A company of 3rd-8th grade players introduce Shakespeare to young audiences by incorporating modern-day narration with Shakespeare verse. The company will perform a family-friendly (and shorter) version of Henry IV on Sunday, November 16th at 5:00 p.m. at the Carver Cultural Center; Saturday, November 22nd at 3:00 p.m. at the Carver Library; and Sunday, November 23rd at 11:00 a.m. at the HOPE Farmers Market.
L – Latinitas Photography Show MezcladaGirl (4926 E. Cesar Chavez) – On Saturday, November 22nd from noon until 5:00 p.m., Latinitas presents a visual “punto de vista” using photography and mixed media. The work is generated by the girls who participate in this afterschool enrichment program. Proceeds from the photography sale will benefit the Latinitas college scholarship fund for program leaders.
Are you ready for lots of great art?!