Austin Art Galleries
By Dane Smith
Though Austin is known for being the live music capital of the world, and home to the Texas government, today Austins art scene is on the rise with different art collectives and galleries popping up around town. Many of these studios are manned by recent graduates of UTs studio arts program, giving them a reason to stay in Austin after graduation.
Downtown Austin has recently gained some very classy, upscale galleries. The Lora Reynolds gallery opened in 2005, with an Andy Warhol exhibition of trial proofs and unpublished prints, dating from 1974 to 1986. Recently, they featured a collection of paintings from young Eastern European artists, establishing the Lora Reynolds gallery as the first commercial gallery in Austin with an international program.
Not far from the Reynolds gallery is 4 Walls fine art, which opened its doors in March of last year in the historic Heierman Building built in 1887. Michael Terrazas, the gallerys founder, got assistance from Rick Black architecture to transform the building into a beautiful open space, with an upstairs studio loft available to traveling artists. Terrazas, who also owns Club Deville and SoCo eatery the Woodland, taps into his other businesses to ensure a deliciously catered reception to accompany their contemporary fine art shows.
The east side of town has seen rapid growth in young, scrappy art complexes, which are using readily available, and affordable, warehouse spaces to show off their creative pieces. The artists who make up Okay Mountain embody the new, young face of the art world, with witty, laid back attitudes complimenting their professional gallery. Though many shows pull from talented local artists, Okay Mountain has also brought in artists from Argentina, Japan, and Egypt. Their open house parties are dramatically different from those downtown, with more of a beer keg party feel, and nearby neighbors, made up of artists and musicians, show up in throngs to add an extra charge to the atmosphere.
Art Palace is within walking distance of Okay Mountain, in an old East Austin home. The Art Palace works differently from the majority of East Austin Studios, by emphasizing works of one of Austins emerging artists at a time. Six years ago, the buzz from the art community on the east side of Austin was so loud, the city of Austin, along with a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts, helped fund the East Austin Studio Tour. Once a year, East Austin art studios hold open houses, and make an event out of visiting the various art complexes.
The Arthouse, located on Congress Avenue in the heart of downtown Austin, is the oldest visual art organization in the state. Arthouse was originally named the Texas Fine Arts Association in 1911, and was set up to promote art in the state of Texas. The non-profit group went on to establish the studio art department at UT, and found many of the states major art museums. In 2002, the Texas Fine Arts Association changed their name to Arthouse. Arthouse provides contemporary art programming year round, and is free to the public. They also help the local art community by providing affordable health insurance, banking opportunities, and discounts on art supplies. Biennially, the Arthouse gives away the Arthouse Texas Prize, a $30,000 prize given to an up and coming contemporary Texas artist. The Arthouse Texas Prize is the largest regional visual arts award for emerging artists in the United States, helping build homegrown talent.
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