The 2014 East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) takes place November 15-16 and 22-23, and while it’s my favorite Austin art event, it can be a bit intimidating for those who have never attended. I happen to have been going on this completely free tour of local artist studios and galleries for years and have covered the tour for a local publication, so here’s a guide to navigating EAST and a list of artists I plan on seeing.
- First of all, pick up a free copy of the East Austin Studio Tour catalog, which is currently available at any Austin Public Libraries branch. Next, peruse the catalog, which includes a photo of art and a brief statement from every participating artist, as well as a listing of all official events. I picked up my copy at the Manchaca Road Branch, and then flipped through the entire book while enjoying a Cornish pasty and pot of tea at nearby Full English, which happens to be one of my top 5 favorite places to get caffeinated in Austin.
- Pick events or studios to visit, or simply check out the map included in the EAST catalog (also available online) and pick a neighborhood to visit. Perhaps plan to check out the spots along Cesar Chavez one day, such as Farewell Books, grayDUCK Gallery, and Artpost, then head to all the spots directly east of downtown the next day (my picks would be the EAST Group Exhibition and Fisterra Studio).
- Know that there are clusters of studios at single locations, which are the easiest to navigate. I tend to hit up all of these popular locations one weekend, and then find more obscure places (Little Pink Monster Gallery at 1913 E. 17th was one of my discoveries last year) the next weekend. The most popular clusters are probably Big Medium/Canopy studios (916 Springdale and 5305 Bolm), Pump Project (702 Shady), and Artpost (4704 E. Cesar Chavez).
- Check out the EAST Group Exhibition (1501 E. 6th). I usually start off with this exhibition, which features works by many of the participating artists. It’s a great way to gain familiarity with artists and to add new spots to a list of studios to see.
- Refuel. It’s exhausting traipsing all over East Austin, so stop by some local establishments for food and drink. For casual bites and/or caffeine, stop by Sa-Ten Coffee and Eats (916 Springdale), Blue Dahlia Bistro (1115 E. 11th), or Zhi Tea Gallery (4607 Bolm). For a full service meal at a trendy spot post-tour, get to Justine’s (4710 E. 5th), Sawyer & Co. (4827 E Cesar Chavez), or Bufalina (1519 E. Cesar Chavez).
- Talk to artists, gallerists, and anyone else on the tour. They may be able to point you to must-see tour stops that weren’t on your list.
- If you see the East Austin Studio Tour sign (all official stops are well-marked) on the street while en route to a planned stop, don’t be afraid to stop and take a look. Sometimes, the unplanned spots can be the best finds.
With all that said, after looking through the entire EAST catalog, here are the spots I’m personally excited about seeing.
- Nancy Mims at the Utility Research Garden (638 Tillery) — the description states that large-scale photographs printed on linen and hemp cloth are installed in a “lush, hidden garden”.
- Brooke Gassiot at Mass Gallery (507 Calles) — as a longtime fan of Gassiot’s light boxes, which often include intricate, detailed scenes from nature, I’m excited to see her work at the Calles street location, which is also home to Hops & Grain Brewery, East Side Glass Studio, and Sky Candy aerial and circus arts.
- Jules Buck Jones at The Bizzle Diggery (4701 Red Bluff) — rumor has it that Drew Barrymore bought artwork from Jones, whose work is mostly wildlife-inspired, during EAST a few years ago. I don’t even know where Red Bluff Road is, but I see several studios located at that address in the EAST catalog, so I intend to check it out.
- Edie Sunday at Pump Project Arts Complex (702 Shady) — Sunday is an analog photographer who creates dreamy pieces of art. The image of her work in the EAST catalog is gorgeous.
- Puro Chingon Collective on 4609 Lyons — This collective consists of three Austin Latino artists, Claudia Aparicio-Gamundi, James Huizar, and Claudia Zapata, who create zines, prints, apparel, and toys that reflect Latino culture.