This guest blog post is by Amy Lynch.
One of the most beautiful things about Austin is its ability to bring seemingly opposing forces together in perfect harmony. We do, after all, call ourselves “the live music capital of the world,” so it stands to reason that we should be able to pull off such a thing.
But aside from music – the thing we’re globally known for, and the very thing that formed the foundation more than 20 years ago of what is now the juggernaut known as South by Southwest – we’re home to a burgeoning colony of another kind of artist.
Some may never have played an instrument in their lives; others may be completely and utterly tone deaf. Luckily for their art, though, it doesn’t matter one bit.
Local artists recently converged by the dozens at the upscale commercial-residential hybrid known as The Domain, each showcasing the fruits of their labor for a crowd that, in large part, had never before been exposed to that slice of Austin’s local arts scene.
The event, Art @ The Domain, brought together more than 90 painters, sculptors, photographers, and myriad other craftsmen in an effort to highlight their wares and offer an opportunity for dialogue with passersby.
The venue was an interesting one in that we Austinites have a love/hate relationship with The Domain. On one hand, it’s virtually the only place here in town to go for a concentrated gathering of high-end retailers like Neiman-Marcus, Tiffany & Co. and Marc Jacobs, and on the other, many of us are such staunch locavores that the only things capable of luring us into the shopping center’s perfectly-manicured, smooth-jazz-laced clutches are a scone set and pot of tea at the locally-owned (and absolutely delightful) Steeping Room, or perhaps a drop-in at the Apple store.
Location, in large part, is what made last weekend’s event such a fascinating one: it was a perfect illustration of what makes Austin great. Conservative cowboys, buttoned-up techies and far-flung hippies don’t just co-exist peacefully here; many of us are good friends with one another, and lots of us blur the lines between stereotypes to begin with. We have a restaurant called “Bacon” that’s thoughtful enough to offer a tempeh option to its vegetarian patrons. We grumble about the traffic and general inconvenience when SXSW and ACL roll into town – especially if we’re not holding tickets or badges ourselves — but the moment one of those godforsaken tourists asks us where they can “get good barbecue,” we’re off on a twenty-minute dissertation about the mystical wonder of Franklin and inviting them to join us for the hour-long wait so we can walk them through the experience personally.
That’s just how we roll around here; we get a little cranky sometimes, but then we transcend and find ways to come together like The Beatles told us to.
So, when our local artists set up shop in tents outside the likes of Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton and Barney’s Co-Op to talk to well-heeled shoppers and looky-loos about the art they’ve created in their modest Eastside studios or homes in nearby towns, it just makes perfect sense.
If there’s one thing we do right in this town (and actually, there are too many such things to list without taking at least an hour to do so), it’s hear each other out and look for commonalities.
That’s what artists like Austin Art Garage, for example, spent two sun-drenched days doing last week with everyone who paused to look at their stuff. Here’s hoping they and their fellow craftsmen made some sales so they can continue pursuing their calling and contributing to the texture of this place we call home.
(Even if you missed Art @ the Domain, you can still enjoy – and support — the works of local artists by browsing the event’s artist database, keeping an eye out for future events like First Thursdays on South Congress, and following social media pages like I Art Congress and Austin Art.)
Amy Lynch is a freelance writer covering culture and design. She can be found around town furiously making deadlines, typing musings about life into her blog, drinking Turbos from Jo’s, and/or being dragged up and down various Austin sidewalks by her incorrigible rescue pup, Bogey.