Austin Studio Tour 2022 Is All Over the Map

The annual celebration of ATX art expands to match the city’s size


Tutu Pele by Regina Allen (Art courtesy of Austin Studio Tour)

Here's the 2022 Austin Studio Tour, a free, self-guided celebration of visual art, offering deep looks inside the working areas and showrooms of Austin-based artists and creative collaboratives, three weekends of special exhibitions and installations and craft demonstrations and, well, you know there's likely to be all manner of afterparties rocking the town north, south, east, and west, besides.

Painting. Sculpture. Woodworking. Murals. Glasswork. Metalcraft. Collage. New-media manifestations in all manner of innovative flex. So much art in so many forms, brought into being by a diversity of creative, mark-making, culture-sparking humans. Here, in your city, just waiting to fill your senses with wonder.


Los Angeles Landscape 2 by Korok Chatterjee

Here comes the second weekend – but where did the annual event come from? In 2003, local artists Jana Swec, Joseph Phillips, and Shea Little decided to host an event that would support their own artwork and highlight the community of artists in East Austin. Their creation, the first East Austin Studio Tour, was a one-day event, free and open to the public, featuring 28 studios and 50 artists, all wrangled by Swec, Phillips, and Little's Big Medium group – which became a nonprofit to make the whole thing possible. By 2012, the East Austin Studio Tour was so successful they'd expanded it to two consecutive weekends – and inaugurated, that spring, the West Austin Studio Tour to celebrate artists on the sunset side of I-35 as well.

Been a while now. Been a pandemic, come and (albeit lingeringly) gone. And now, this year, the Austin Studio Tour is back in full and brimming with at least 500 participating artists. This year, the three-weekend tour is all over the city, the geographical boundaries expanded to include all 10 City Council districts. The first weekend (Nov. 5-6) highlighted the west; the second, it's a combo of west/east; the third, it's the east. But, listen, this tour, it really isn't just about the east and the west – more and more, the north and south of Austin are in there, too.

Korok Chatterjee has no formal training in art, though the images he draws and paints provide ocular proof of what strange visions a talented autodidact can commit on paper with graphite, ink, and watercolor. His work's being shown – along with a variety of creations by Laura Clay Hernandez, Max Voss-Nester, Ruby Powell, and others – at the Commune, an arts-focused ­co-working space built in an abandoned locksmith shop on North Loop (101 E. North Loop). "I've only been in Austin for two years – and half of that was peak pandemic – so joining the tour has been a nice way to meet people and get plugged into the art scene here," Chatterjee told us. "It's also been inspiring to see so much great artwork from my co-artists – great motivation to go after more ambitious projects!" That ambition will be on display in the Commune's space this weekend. "I'll have a large number of drawings, but I've gotten into painting with oils in the last couple of years, so I'm really looking forward to this first chance to have some paintings shown."


Anchor Your Heart by Leslie Kell

Regina Allen (8208 Wexford) is on the west side of I-35, but also a ways beyond the city's central stomping grounds and rather north: near McNeil Drive and Highway 183. Allen's a talented landscape artist, her expansive palette of pigments capturing "the enduring beauty and tenacity of nature, expressing a tentative hopefulness along with her concerns about global climate change." 

"This will be the first time I've participated from my own studio," she explained. "In the past I've been part of group efforts at other venues, so I'm very excited to be opening my actual work space alongside my artwork. I think my process will be much more evident. The tour's a great excuse to clean up my studio and take a look at my various bodies of work. My recent ones begin with small watercolor studies, which inspire larger oil paintings – I'll be displaying these watercolors as well as many of my oils during the tour."

Also farther to the west (and south) are the Circle C Creatives (7817 La Crosse), a group brought together by Meena Matai, whose mixed-media abstract works are the stuff of your better color-rocking dreams. This collective came to our attention because their number includes longtime Chronicle art-crush Leslie Kell, about whom we continue to rave as her digitally manipulated works, synthesizing design and photography to explore "the evasive nature of our perceptions and the ever-shifting currents of our realities," do things to our brains that only better recreational drugs than we can afford might accomplish. 


Peacockin' by Brian Phillips

"I've been participating in one or both studio tours since 2011," said Kell (whose work will also be part of TreeGarden's "Life of H2O" celebration this weekend), "though last year was the first time Big Medium extended the boundaries far enough to include the far southwest location. I've made some of my best connections, had inspiring encounters, and met wonderful artists and collectors over the years." Her latest collection, "Thin Places," will also be part of a show at the Jewish Community Center's grand reopening in early 2023. "I'm pairing sacred geometry as it manifests in nature with photos of thin places I've visited: cathedrals, glass chapels, Sedona."

If we're talking south, we reckon Slaughter Lane would qualify – and Brian Phillips' studio (11402 Chapel) is a bit below that, his longtime workshop built of the same sort of salvaged wood that he "cuts, planes, paints, and reassembles … into something wholly new." The man's got a penchant for turning acrylic paint into colorful portraits of cowboys on such reclaimed wood, and it's the sort of art that'll make you happy to be a Texan. "I'll be starting some larger pieces for a group show at Commerce Gallery in January after the tour," Phillips said, noting that this year's citywide spectacle is not his first rodeo. "To me, being a part of the Austin Studio Tour means playing a part in the local art scene at the most community-driven level I think you can get. The vibe is always a great one and it's a great way to help support local working artists. Big Medium always presents the artists in such a beautiful way, with the catalogs and now the app."

Let's underline that for you, reader: The Austin Studio Tour has its own app, which works especially well if you have a smartphone and already know whose studios you want to visit. (Just our recommendations here should keep you busy for a while.) Maps of the tour – printed! – on paper! –  are now available at Austin Public Libraries. Plus, the annual catalog of the tour has been elevated to pure coffeetable status, with more information than you'll ever parse and design so beautiful and efficient it matches what the best of the artists represented could create; the impressive tome's available at Big Medium (916 Springdale Bldg. 2 #101) during the second two weekends. And, yes, their brand-new website (austinstudiotour.org) is an equal miracle of data-driven beauty. As Western-inflected wood-reclaimer Phillips put it, "Big Medium folks are the best."


Austin Studio Tour 2022, Nov. 12-13 & 19-20. Details and map at austinstudiotour.org.


Need help getting started? Read our roundups of five recommended stops and five don't-miss spots on the Austin Studio Tour.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin Studio Tour, Circle C Creatives, Regina Allen, Meena Matai, Leslie Kell, Brian Phillips, Big Medium

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