East Austin Studio Tour 2018: Recapping Weekend 1

Take MoHA's selfie challenge? Bathe in the forest? Do it all!

You only get one chance – well, two weekends – a year to pop into your favorite Eastside artists’ workspaces and indulge a little well-intentioned curiosity. What books do they keep on their shelves? What colors do they surround themselves with? What materials do they use?

#selfiechallenge taken by Melany Jean (Photo by Melany Jean)

While you could probably just reach out and ask, isn’t the open invitation to come in and look around much more satisfying? Yes, it is. So we venture into the 2018 East Austin Studio Tour to scratch that itch.

Canopy’s labyrinth of studios at 916 Springdale, as always, necessitates a lengthy stop. In just one hallway, bop from Molly Brau’s bordello red space (stop 281) to Elizabeth Chiles’ airy studio (stop 282) to Trish Siegel’s cozy couch (stop 284). There are 60 studios in which to get lost in conversation, or maybe just lost, but don’t let that be the end of your tour.

For some quality photos, and, come on, you want some good, shareable pics of this thing, step into the Museum of Human Achievement (stop 315), where 30 artists have set up a series of 30 selfie stations. The show cheekily takes the sensation of pop-up instagrammable experience spaces to their logical end, challenging viewers and participants to either post all 30 or forfeit $5 in their #selfiegauntlet. Peruse the hashtag for spoilers, or go in blind, but do go in to this fun, clever show.

Popular weekend 1 accessories included coffee (for the cold), beanie hats (ditto), tour catalogs (to maneuver the almost 600 stops), and tote bags (to hold, among other things, the lovely catalog). You may consider packing snacks, and go ahead, but there is no shortage of generous, hospitable studio hosts. Throughout the weekend, I was able to forage and graze on pomegranate seeds, chips and salsa, charcuterie, and so much leftover Halloween candy and wash it down with wine, cold brew, sparkling water, and vodka cocktails as I meandered around.

Another MoHA selfie by Melany Jean (Photo by Melany Jean)

Trek over to Pleasant Valley Road to check out Pump Project in their new space and take in a selection of artist booths, some offering exceptionally cool, bold explorations of color and pattern. Maggie Kleinpeter and Aria Brownell (stops 561 and 562, respectively) stand out in this loaded space.

Slow down and chill out in the forest at Little Pink Monster Gallery’s installation Shirinyoku :: Forest Bathing (stop 136, 1913 E. 17th), which offers a cozy space for intimate conversations and open-mouthed awe at Mackenzie Huffman’s gorgeous, intricate fiber sculptures or “tufts.”

Saving the best, or just my favorite, for last, be sure to get out to Bolm Studios, 5305 Bolm, where all the best parts of EAST collide. Outside, there are pods set up with mobile gallery shows of four artists (check in on Nadia Waheed, also a selfie photo booth creator at the Museum of Human Achievement show up the road, and Jonathan Paul Jackson, whose immersive work can also be found in the forest at Little Pink Monster Gallery). Have your own fun throughout the tour stringing these little connections together from stop to stop.

Beyond Bolm’s roll-up garage doors, you can find art alongside a motorcycle garage, a boot warehouse, wherever it fits. The detritus of artist workspaces, two stories’ worth, piles up around the EAST-specific displays and creates their own little artistic vignettes, showcasing artist’s creativity in the way they navigate and negotiate their space as much as the actual work itself, which would be enough.

Downstairs, an older man, obviously new to Austin, exclaimed incredulously to an artist outside his Bolm studio, “There are two weekends of this? I love Austin!” Indeed, there are two weekends, and see you out there for number two.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

East Austin Studio Tour, East Austin Studio Tour 2018, Canopy, Museum of Human Achievement, Little Pink Monster Gallery, Bolm Studios, Pump Project

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