I was at a house party in East Austin last week, and one of my friends told me, “I’ve never been this far east before!”
I’m not surprised. Years ago when I was at UT, the common recommendation was to stay away from the eastside. The area was old and “not safe.”
These descriptions still apply to parts of Austin’s eastside, but those who venture under I-35 to previously unexplored territory are surprised by what they find. Good food, unique local businesses, nightlife and a vibrant art community are right on our doorstep, with a flavor all their own.
One of the best representations of the underrated beauty of the eastside was displayed over the past two weekends, during East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.). Now in its 11th year, E.A.S.T. offers Austinites the unique opportunity to explore nearly 200 art studios across East Austin. These 200 studios house somewhere around 450 artists, along with their stunning and diverse collection of artwork.
If anyone managed to visit every E.A.S.T. studio during the event, I would be shocked. Eric and I made one afternoon of it, and saw all of two locations. Nonetheless, I want to share a taste of what we found. My hope is that you’ll step out of your comfort zone and take a quick drive east next time you’re in need of inspiration, by way of artwork or handcrafted products.
The Artpost: 4704 E. Cesar Chavez
Business: Kong Screen Printing
Proprietor: Bruce Braden and Ryan Burkhart
Specialty: Apparel design and screen printing
Claim to fame: Remember the “Welcome to Austin…Please Don’t Move Here” t-shirt that was huge during SXSW 2012? Yeah, that was Kong.
Business: Coronado Studio
Proprietor: Sam Coronado
Specialty: Fine art silkscreen printing
Claim to fame: Where do we start? Sam Coronado co-founded the Mexic-Arte Museum on Congress and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Austin Visual Arts Association on November 15, 2012. Sam also founded the Serie Project, a non-profit that allows international artists to come to Austin, be mentored under a Master Printer, and have their work marketed.
(Note: Coronado Studio is located at 901 Vargas Rd. They temporarily relocated to The Artpost for E.A.S.T.)
Business: Jodi Rae Designs
Proprietor: Jodi Rae
Specialty: Jewelry from silver, gold, gems and one-of-a-kind minerals and stones
Claim to fame: Jodi trained in Florence, Italy and has since won numerous industry awards in Austin. Plus, everyone we talked to during E.A.S.T. had wonderful things to say about Jodi and her work!
Business: HELM Boots
Proprietor: Joshua Bingaman
Specialty: Handcrafted work boots
Claim to fame: HELM has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Southern Living and Menswear.
5305 Bolm Rd.
Business/Proprietor: Brian Phillips
Specialty: Art from salvaged materials
Claim to fame: Brian Phillips’ art can be found in collections all over the world. His pieces are made from unique, salvaged materials like old bed boards, rocking chairs and beer cans.
(Note: Brian Phillips’ work was displayed on Bolm Rd. for the purposes of E.A.S.T. You can always find him on his website!)
Business: Noah Marion Quality Goods
Proprietor: Noah Marion
Specialty: Leather products
Claim to fame: Noah Marion once custom-designed a belt for Ryan Burkhart of Kong Screen Printing! (Also, Noah Marion Quality Goods products are featured by numerous retailers, both locally and internationally.)
What I Take Away from the East Austin Studio Tour
Our culture in Austin is immeasurably enriched by the artistic talent within our city limits. I beg you: stay away from corporate chains when you can purchase one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted items from Austin artisans.
Thank you to the organizers behind the East Austin Studio Tour, especially its sponsor Big Medium, for 11 years in our community.
Who did I miss? Leave a comment and let me know about your E.A.S.T. 2012 highlights.