Adam Rice

My life and the world around me

Tag: art

East Austin Studio Tour: an incomplete preview

This year’s edition of the East Austin Studio Tour is daunting, with some 200 artists taking part. I plan to see as many as possible, and encourage everyone else to, too. But if that’s just not in the cards, here are some tips for places to see that should give a good sampling on a limited time budget.

First off, ride your bike. Places are so close together you’ll likely spend at least as much time driving, parking, walking from car to each venue, and so on as you would if you rode—plus, bikes are more fun.

Second, there are a lot of different locations, but there are a few locations that have a lot of artists.

Here are some highlights. I am unapologetically playing favorites and calling out my friends here. The numbers below are the numbers given on the map.

9. Big Red Sun. Landscape architects. Always beautiful stuff here.

12. Okay Mountain. They always have interesting stuff.

14. Ethan Azarian. Whimsical paintings.

15. Barry George. Sculptures made out of scrapmetal. Do not miss.

30. Doghouse Studios. My friend Jen Balkan, who just got a nice writeup in the Chronicle, is based here.

151. Obsolete Industries. Poster printers. Yes, this is numbered out of sequence

45. Lisa Crowder. Jewelry with really nice silversmithing that combines fine work with a slightly industrial aesthetic. One of her studio-mates is a ceramicist who I don’t know but does nice work. And the Seussian building facade by Lance is a work of art in its own right.

49. Veronica Ceci Blasphemous robot art. Need I say more? There’s other good stuff at her location.

59. Splinter Group. Several furniture makers are based here, and they do stunning work.

60. Pump Project. This location probably has the most art, and the most artists, per square foot, of any place on the tour.

68. Big Medium. These are the guys who started E.A.S.T. Another high-density art complex.

70. Craig Newswanger is the mad scientist responsible for the singing Tesla coils. ‘Nuff said. He’s in a complex with a lot of other worthy artists, making this another high-value target.

78/79. Gingko Studios/Philippe Kleinfelter. Ceramics and monuments. It’s fun just to walk around this place. Sort of out of the way, but worth it.

84. Austin Artistic Reconstruction. These are my people. They are creative and weird.

91-99. Tillery Studios. This is where my good friend and neighbor Mychal has her studio, which is where Gwen will be the guest artist. This is a very big complex with a lot of very good stuff. Another high-value target.

127. Flatbed Press.

I know there’s a lot of other great stuff on the tour, and I don’t mean to give short shrift to anyone, but I feel confident recommending all these locations.

East Austin Studio Tour

The East Austin Studio Tour is going on this weekend. Gwen and I hit a lot of the stops today, and saw a hell of a lot of cool stuff.

Some highlights: Gnome figurines by Meg Stone (Prentiss took the same picture as I did). Sacrilegious robot art by Veronica Ceci. Cherie Weaver’s whimsical art (the one place we dropped money this year). And of course, the excellent journals and cookies from my neighbor Mychal and the paintings by my neighbor Jen Balkan (who also makes robot art, but not sacrilegious).

If you’re reading this on Sunday, hop on your bike now and check it out.

Heaven, Hell, or Houston

Gwen and I took off for Houston this past weekend to catch the Body Worlds exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Pretty mind-blowing stuff. I’d taken an anatomy class and dissected critters, but there’s something different about seeing actual cadavers, opened up and perfectly preserved, being able to walk around them, seeing how everything fits together, seeing healthy organs next to diseased ones. That sort of thing. Makes me want to take better care of myself. The exhibit is ending there soon, so make plans now if you have any interest.

We spent the night at the Hotel Derek (which apparently people who go to Houston know as a trendy type of place), and I goggled at the $5 water at the minibar. Makes me wonder about the economics of these hidden costs. The hotel only permitted parking via valet service; this was the first time I’d ever used valet parking, which has always rubbed me the wrong way. The current popularity of it mystifies me; its presence at suburban locations with empty parking slots 20 paces away from the front door astounds me.

At a friend’s suggestion, we had dinner at a sushi joint called ら, which was fine if you like dance clubs. The sushi was tolerable, the wait was long, the decor was chic, and the music was much too loud to permit conversation. Just to be unHoustonian, we walked there from our hotel, about 10 blocks down Westheimer.

Saturday we went to the Menil, which was also very worthwhile. They had an exhibit of surrealist art (nothing by Dali, but plenty by Yves Tanguy, who I discovered is very, very similar). For whatever reason, the surrealist exhibit was very dimly lit; I was reminded of a Dali at the Art Institute of Chicago, “The Invention of the Monsters,” which had faded so that one of the figures originally on it was completely lost, and I wondered if perhaps surrealists were notorious for painting with shitty paints that faded easily, which would explain the dim lighting. It occurred to me this would be an interesting technique to use intentionally, so that the original image changed over the decades to reveal something completely different. Perhaps something on the theme of Ars longa, vita brevis.

Driving out of town, we got a little bit lost, but happened upon the Art Car Museum. Sadly, we were running short on time at that point, so we decided to save it for a future visit.

As as Austinite, I ridicule Houston almost as readily as I reminisce about Austin-that-was. That’s not entirely fair: there’s a lot of cool stuff in Houston, and despite the atrociousness of its sprawl, the center of town is much more of a real city than Austin is. Still, it falls in the “nice place to visit, wouldn’t want to live there” category for me.

Cathedral of Junk

Went to an event organized by the Museum of Ephemerata at the Cathedral of Junk this past weekend. I’ve been living in Austin for a while, and I’ve been a part of some of those things that “keep Austin weird,” so when I saw the cathedral, I was surprised that I had never even heard of it—much less seen it–before.

It’s extraordinary.

Every once in a while I encounter an artifact that rises above its humble materials and primitive construction, ennobled by the dedication of its creator to become something almost sacred. This is one of those things.

I saw it at night, and need to see it in daylight.

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