Anyone Home?

Austin studio tour paints a picture with lineup of 520 participating artists this fall.

An artist in the Austin Studio Tour by Big Medium

Austin creatives welcome art lovers into their homes and collaborative studios to make organic connections every year.

The perfect crawl for art lovers and voyeurs alike, the Austin Studio Tour is turning 20 this year. It takes Austinites behind closed — or in this case open — studio doors across the city, showcasing the work of 520 artists, builders, and collectives in 2022. This time, the free self-guided tour runs from November 5-20.

Everything starts with a Group Exhibition and Kick Off at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, with organizing help from Black creativity collective Origin Studio House. On November 1, these two organizations join Big Medium, the organizer of the tour, in yet-unannounced activities to warm up curious visitors.

The tour has undergone several transformations since it was founded, starting as the East Austin Studio Tour with only 28 participating studios, eventually adding a West Austin counterpart, and absorbing both into one city-wide extravaganza in 2021. On September 21, Big Medium released a long list of participants, this time without any East or West designations.

There is no 2022 map yet, but a map of the 2021 tour stops shows a wide north-to-west spread east of I-35. The West Side tours reach as far up as Anderson Mill, where Clint Atkinson shows his graffiti-like black and white portraits, and as far south as Manchaca, where Brian Phillips makes geometric paintings on reclaimed wood. Both artists have committed to the 2022 tour.

East of the highway, where it all started, a dense clump of studios from around main roads, especially East Cesar Chavez Street. On this more compact side, participants reach as far north as Salvador Rodriguez, a hyper-detailed desert landscape painter near the Walnut Creek Greenbelt, and as far south as colorful jewelry and wallet maker Anne Marie Beard, right off East William Cannon Drive. Neither of these artists are on the 2022 list.

The map puts the adventure in Austinites’ hands the old fashioned way — it’s just a static image that can and should be printed out. Of course, for now tour attendees can comb through for artists of interest, but past experience has taught many that simply following street signs on foot provides a unique and minimally stressful experience. In denser areas, pedestrians could easily hit half a dozen studios in four or five blocks, and grab snacks or lunch on the way.

For those who simply do not trust their whims to deliver randomly great taste, there are curated collections by business partners. (These are called “themed tours,” which is a bit misleading in that there is no map or other organization tool included — just a few selected works with attributions that viewers can add to their itineraries themselves.) It is unclear if themed tours are returning this year, but last year included lists of artists by experience at previous tours (none or at least ten years), age, and materials.

Some artists also offer virtual tours, and if the tour continues the standard set last year, they will all have mini galleries on the website. Similarly, business partners have their own tab, and listings including a description of services and social media links. Even though seeing even a fifth of these studios in person would be a herculean task, there’s something fun about how impossible it is to see it all. Just like the Austin art scene at large.

A full list of 2022 Austin Studio Tour participants (without addresses) is available at bigmedium.org .

read the room

Austin gallery breaks out the bean bags for cozy ambient music series.

Most Austinites love a chance to sing along at a concert, but sometimes just being there is the real draw. Music lovers who need some time to chill can find it at the Cloud Tree Gallery Auxiliary on Thursdays, starting June 8.

These concerts won't hurt listeners' feet, and in fact, there's no need to stand at all; The gallery will be outfitted with rugs, pillows, and bean bags, and attendees may bring their own yoga mats. These cozy listening sessions are each meant to be a "restorative, healing experience."

Folks unfamiliar with ambient music will likely still recognize it as "background music" from video games, spas, yoga studios, art galleries, and a multitude of other spaces where people are encouraged to relax and focus on an experience outside of the music. Ambient music, however, can also be experimental and artistically ambitious; In this case, it is not relegated to the background, and listening is the main event.

Soundscapes within the genre often feature drones (single notes held for a very long time), improvisational melodies that do not repeat in contour or rhythm, sounds from "found objects" that aren't necessarily instruments, and creative use of synthesizers. The selected works in this series specifically blend "a high level of artistry and south bath aesthetics," according to a release.

The performances were curated by composer Justin Sherburn and cellist Sara Nelson, also known as Highway Lights , a married local duo who also play in the semi-orchestral instrumental group Montopolis. (Austinites with an interest in smashing the expectations of genre should check out the latter group's discography for heavy electronic instrumentation, cinematic composition, and conspicuously Western twists.)

In most cases, Highway Lights are just picking the music, but they will play the fourth and final week. The performance schedule is as follows:

  • June 6: Austin Cantorum , a chamber choir that aims for transcendence via a meditative and "primal yet otherwordly" listening experience
  • June 13: Elaine Barber , the principal harpist for the Austin Symphony, who in addition to orchestral music has played with Ray Charles and in video games
  • June 20: Colin McIntyre , who creates soundscapes through hardware synthesis (i.e. composition on self-contained instruments rather than downloaded programs)
  • June 27: Highway Lights Featuring Jon Sanchez, a longtime local guitarist who has played with Bob Schneider, Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators), and more

Concerts start each week at 8 pm. Tickets ($15) are available now at rocketcinematexas.com . Cloud Tree Gallery Auxiliary is located at 3411 E. 5th St.

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East Austin Studio Tour 2022

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Big Medium’s East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) is a free, annual, self‑guided art event spanning two weekends in November. EAST provides opportunities for the public to meet the artists of Austin in their creative spaces. Tour Dates November 16–17 & 23–24, 2019 12 – 6pm Boundaries East of I-35 West of HWY 183 South of HWY 183 North of Riverside Dr

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    There is no 2022 map yet, but a map of the 2021 tour stops shows a wide north-to-west spread east of I-35. The West Side tours reach as far up as Anderson Mill, where Clint Atkinson shows his ...

  13. East Austin Studio Tour: 7 Must-See Stops

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