The 2016 West Austin Studio Tour is here, giving art enthusiasts a chance to peek into the lives and work of local artists west of I-35, east of MoPac, south of Highway 183, and north of William Cannon Drive. The fifth annual West takes place from 11 am to 6 pm on May 14-15 and 21-22 and is free and open to the public.
If West sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve heard of EAST (East Austin Studio Tour), which happens every fall and is also hosted by parent company Big Medium, a local nonprofit that supports and promotes contemporary art in Texas. While West is Big Medium’s newer project, EAST is coming up on its 15th year in Austin and showcases more than 400 different local art projects.
Over the last five years, West has expanded from simple studio and gallery exhibitions to include five categories of events: artist studios; galleries; temporary exhibitions, such as pop-up shows; happenings (time-based events like performances or parties); and partner programs, showcasing organizations and businesses that support the arts year-round in Austin. West is self-guided, and though it may be smaller and newer than EAST, the tour spans a much wider geographical area, so you’ll have to plan accordingly to visit some of the most interesting and beautiful exhibits.
We’ve highlighted some of the best exhibitions you can’t miss on this year’s tour. To see a full list of participants, visit West’s website, and be sure to pick up the 2016 West catalog and map, which is free at all Austin Public Library branches.
Ann Richards School for Young Women
The work of some of Austin’s most promising young artists will be on display at the Ann Richards School, featuring art from the school’s students and others in Austin ISD. Professional artists’ work will also be on display, and their will be healthy snacks and live performances every 30 minutes, as well as a plant sale hosted by the Ann Richards School’s 6th grade class — which will probably be pretty adorable.
Manik Raj Nakra
Thick tropical jungles, exotic animals, severed heads, ancient architecture, and romance — this is what you can find at 33-year-old Manik Raj Nakra’s studio. It promises bursts of color that bridges contemporary art, post-colonial anachronisms, and historical Indian iconography.
Austin Art Refugees presents "Sound: Vision"
"Sound: Vision" features five Austin artists: Bart Kibbe, Ann Wieding, Hannah Lee, Dave McClinton, and Patrick Moran. The exhibition bridges sound and visual art, with each artist interpreting the theme influenced by the sounds created at the Austin Art Refugees gallery within Space Recording and Rehearsal.
XYZ Atlas: The Hedonic Map of Austin Finale
The Hedonic Map of Austin is Jennifer Chenoweth's devotional to Austin as part of a multiyear project aimed to shape and visualize the hyperlocal experiences of Austin residents. Since 2013, Chenoweth has used XYZ Atlas to explore how individual attachments to place can convey a larger collective experience within a community. She surveyed more than 450 Austin residents about what is important to them about the city then took those stories and created art ranging from live mapping events to sculptures and 3D maps of the city, in which emotions are mapped on an X, Y, and Z axis. The final part of the project will be showcased during West at Barton Springs Pool, and it's sure to give you all the feels about the city we call home.
Empty House Productions: Indoor Games
"Empty House" isn't just a name — it's literally what the project entails. You won't want to skip out on this pop-up art show in an empty house that pulls together what organizers call a "motley crew of artists, derelicts, international castaways, dilettantes, hommes du monde, enthusiastic aficionados, and possibly a couple of enlightened idiots too..." (It sounds like they fit into Austin just fine.) The exhibition will feature paella and cocktails, and you can even purchase art with just a hug (maybe). This definitely sounds like one of the funkiest stops on the tour.