O Pioneers!

The Austin Arts Hall of Fame Class of 2004 led the way to culture

O Pioneers!

Chris Cowden

When Chris Cowden joined Women & Their Work as director, the organization didn't have an exhibition space, just a one-room office over a drug store. Six weeks after signing on, Cowden gave birth to her first child. Three months later, the Austin economy went south in the real estate bust. At that point, she had more than enough cause to bail on the small nonprofit, but 18 years later, she's still there, and her commitment has transformed the organization and the face of the Austin arts community. Under her leadership, W&TW not only survived the Eighties bust but managed to land its first gallery space – a humble spot on East Fifth – and grow, drawing statewide attention to art created by women (not an easy thing in Texas). She has steered W&TW through a succession of spaces to its current 2,000-square-foot home on Lavaca, where it hosts 50 events a year and has now served more than 1,700 artists in all creative disciplines.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Robert Faires
Last Bow of an Accidental Critic
Last Bow of an Accidental Critic
Lessons and surprises from a career that shouldn’t have been

Sept. 24, 2021

"Daniel Johnston: I Live My Broken Dreams" Tells the Story of an Artist
The first-ever museum exhibition of Daniel Johnston's work digs deep into the man, the myths

Sept. 17, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Chris Cowden

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle