Flatbed Loses Its Lease
Pioneering press must move in 2019 and 12 tenants with it
By Robert Faires,
10:00AM, Wed. Feb. 14, 2018
The decimation of Austin’s arts venues claims another victim, and the story is all too familiar: Eastside warehouse, home to a nationally renowned arts organization for more than a decade, lost its lease, at least a dozen groups that make or show art there soon to be homeless. This time, it's Flatbed Press being forced out of its space on MLK.
Yes, the pioneering printmaking facility that turned an unused 18,000-square-foot industrial building into one of the city's first creative hubs will have to move out of the space by February 2019, the month its current lease expires. According to a statement on Flatbed's Facebook page, "Originally, the lease was to be extended through 2021, but Flatbed was given notice late last month that the extension would no longer be available." If you want some irony sauce to pour over the bitter taste that leaves, try this: The reason Flatbed first leased the East Austin space back in 1999 was because of rising rents on its original home in the Downtown Warehouse District.
With this huge hit, Flatbed joins Pump Project, Salvage Vanguard Theater, and the Rude Mechs among Eastside arts groups that have suffered losses of longtime artistic homes to rising rents and development in recent years. And as with those groups, Flatbed's loss of space affects far more than one organization or artist. The facility on East MLK has always been as much an arts community space as a home for the printmakers. It currently houses Gallery Shoal Creek, CAMIBAart, Recspec Gallery, Austin Book Arts Center, and several studios for artists, architects, and filmmakers. They'll have to be on the hunt for new homes, too, and it won't be any easier for them than it has been for the above entities, Co-Lab Projects, or any of the other artists and arts organizations that have been actively searching for affordable space over the past several years.
The announcement on Facebook closes with this statement from Flatbed owner-director and recent inductee into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame Katherine Brimberry: “This early need to relocate will force a difficult change for Flatbed given the real estate climate in Austin. Flatbed was established in 1989 and over the past 28 years our vision has always been to serve artists in helping them create etchings, woodcuts, lithographs, and monotypes. We also strive to educate the public about the fine art print by showing exhibitions by top-notch artists working in printmaking media. We want to continue our work and truly desire to find a space that can house not only our studio and gallery but other studios and art businesses who focus on art on paper. We want to continue being a place where the public can enjoy seeing and purchasing contemporary prints. A relocation may give us an opportunity to expand and create a center for works on paper. We are looking for partners to help us realize this vision.”