The perfect crawl for art lovers and voyeurs alike, the Austin Studio Tour is turning 20 this year. It takes Austinites behind closed — or in this case open — studio doors across the city, showcasing the work of 520 artists, builders, and collectives in 2022. This time, the free self-guided tour runs from November 5-20.
Everything starts with a Group Exhibition and Kick Off at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, with organizing help from Black creativity collective Origin Studio House. On November 1, these two organizations join Big Medium, the organizer of the tour, in yet-unannounced activities to warm up curious visitors.
The tour has undergone several transformations since it was founded, starting as the East Austin Studio Tour with only 28 participating studios, eventually adding a West Austin counterpart, and absorbing both into one city-wide extravaganza in 2021. On September 21, Big Medium released a long list of participants, this time without any East or West designations.
There is no 2022 map yet, but a map of the 2021 tour stops shows a wide north-to-west spread east of I-35. The West Side tours reach as far up as Anderson Mill, where Clint Atkinson shows his graffiti-like black and white portraits, and as far south as Manchaca, where Brian Phillips makes geometric paintings on reclaimed wood. Both artists have committed to the 2022 tour.
East of the highway, where it all started, a dense clump of studios from around main roads, especially East Cesar Chavez Street. On this more compact side, participants reach as far north as Salvador Rodriguez, a hyper-detailed desert landscape painter near the Walnut Creek Greenbelt, and as far south as colorful jewelry and wallet maker Anne Marie Beard, right off East William Cannon Drive. Neither of these artists are on the 2022 list.
The map puts the adventure in Austinites’ hands the old fashioned way — it’s just a static image that can and should be printed out. Of course, for now tour attendees can comb through for artists of interest, but past experience has taught many that simply following street signs on foot provides a unique and minimally stressful experience. In denser areas, pedestrians could easily hit half a dozen studios in four or five blocks, and grab snacks or lunch on the way.
For those who simply do not trust their whims to deliver randomly great taste, there are curated collections by business partners. (These are called “themed tours,” which is a bit misleading in that there is no map or other organization tool included — just a few selected works with attributions that viewers can add to their itineraries themselves.) It is unclear if themed tours are returning this year, but last year included lists of artists by experience at previous tours (none or at least ten years), age, and materials.
Some artists also offer virtual tours, and if the tour continues the standard set last year, they will all have mini galleries on the website. Similarly, business partners have their own tab, and listings including a description of services and social media links. Even though seeing even a fifth of these studios in person would be a herculean task, there’s something fun about how impossible it is to see it all. Just like the Austin art scene at large.
A full list of 2022 Austin Studio Tour participants (without addresses) is available at bigmedium.org.