New Era for Sharir & Co.
This is one of those occasions that prompts one to muse, "I guess all good things come to an end." As far as I'm concerned — and I daresay a number of Austinites will agree with me — the art partnership of Rory Skagen and Billy Brakhage was a good thing. It resulted in some of our town's most fun, funky murals — the front of the Carousel Lounge, the Austin postcard at South First and Annie, the "Blue Ribbon" steer on West Fifth at Colorado, to name a few — as well as a host of appealing, whimsical 3-D creations, from the guitar-slingin' waitress atop Fran's Hamburgers to the cowpoke and flying steer at GSD&M's "Idea City" to the gigantic but genial genie mounted on their studio, the one that we dubbed "Best Neighborhood Guardian" in our 1997 "Best of Austin" issue. It was practically impossible to pass a Skagen-Brakhage work without noticing it, and when you did notice, almost as tough not to smile. There was joy there. However, joy in the art doesn't always equal joy in the artist, or, in this case, artists. Something went sour somewhere and, after four years as a team, Brakhage and Skagen have gone their separate ways. Asked about the decision this week, Rory Skagen discreetly cited "creative differences" between the two and declined to elaborate. He said that their studio will be taken over by Evan Voyles of Neon Jungle, with the big genie moving just down the street to Todd Sanders' studio at 1718 South First. Skagen himself is moving to the Thornton Studios, 2311 Thornton, from which he will complete a number of projects in the works, including work for Capstar Studios. He is unsure of Bill Brakhage's plans, but he says optimistically of the split, "Both of us will be able to do exactly what we want now. And still make great art."