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The perfect crawl for art lovers and voyeurs, the Austin Studio Tour turns 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 November 5-20.
It all starts with a group exhibition and kickoff at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, with the organizing help of black creativity collective Origin Studio House. On November 1, these two organizations are joining Big Medium, the tour organizer, in yet-unannounced activities to warm up curious visitors.
The tour has undergone several transformations since its inception, starting with the East Austin Studio Tour with just 28 participating studios, eventually adding a West Austin counterpart and absorbing the two into a citywide extravaganza in 2021. On September 21, Big Medium released a long list of participants, this time without any East or West designation.
There is no 2022 card yet, but one 2021 tour map stops show wide northwest spread east of I-35. West side tours extend to Anderson Mill, where Clint Atkinson shows off his graffiti-like black-and-white portraits, and as far south as Manchaca, where Brian Phillips paints geometric paintings on reclaimed wood. The two artists have signed up for the 2022 tour.
East of the freeway, where it all started, a dense cluster of studios around major roads, especially East Cesar Chavez Street. On this more compact side, participants reach as far north as Salvador Rodriguez, a painter of hyper-detailed desert landscapes near the Walnut Creek Greenbelt, and as far south as jewelry and colorful wallet maker Anne Marie. Beard, just off East William Cannon Drive. None of these artists are on the 2022 list.
The map puts adventure into the hands of old-school Austinites – it’s just a static image that can and should be printed. Of course, for now, tour participants can search for artists of interest, but past experience has taught many that simply following road signs on foot provides a unique, low-stress experience. In denser areas, pedestrians could easily reach half a dozen studios within four or five blocks and pick up snacks or lunch along the way.
For those who just don’t trust their whims to deliver random good taste, there are collections curated by business partners. (These are called “themed tours”, which is a little misleading as there’s no map or other organizing tool included – just a few select works with attributions that viewers can add themselves to their itineraries.) It’s unclear if themed tours are back this year, but last year included lists of artists by experience on previous tours (none or at least ten years) , age and materials.
Some artists are also offering 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 lists including a description of services and links to social networks. While seeing even a fifth of these studios in person would be a Herculean task, there’s something fun about not being able to see it all. So does the Austin art scene as a whole.
A complete list of attendees for the 2022 Austin Studio Tour (unaddressed) is available at bigmedium.org.