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February 05, 2014
A recent study on MyLife.com (article) found Austin to be the 4th best city for artists to live. This article got me thinking about our journey in the art world as well as its present and future.
Since Austin Art Garage opened its doors in 2007, we've seen a large shift in the Austin art scene. During that time, a lot of art galleries had failed and vanished off the map. It was scary time to start something that was following a downward trend. As the economy was shrinking and luxury items gave way to more essential goods, we set out to create a gallery which visually reflects the culture of Austin through the eyes of local artists. At the time, visual art seemed to be permanently overshadowed by Austin's music scene and people looking for art seemed to have slim options that were mostly unaffordable (to the general public). I was one of those people, a non-collector or newbie who just wanted to decorate my place with cool art and hopefully support a local artist. I didn't see a place like that in town, so with the help of a long-time friend (Joel Ganucheau) we created one. Luckily, there where a lot of folks out there in the same boat and they reciprocated the idea.
However, a lot has changed over the past 7 years. People from all over the world are visiting Austin. The population growth is staggering and it doesn't seem to be slowing anytime soon. Developers are scrambling to snatch up land and build condos all over the city, especially in 78701, 78702, and 78704. The reason is obvious, yes people want to move here, but they also want to be in the cultural epic centers of what makes Austin, well... Austin.
I remember working at 111 Congress back in 2007. Almost every day I'd walk around downtown and watch the people in the streets who all looked like me - no, I don't mean thick hair and incredibly handsome ;) - they were in suits rushing to lunch or a meeting. Today, you can go downtown any day of the week and get mowed over by a group of tourists on Segways or a Duck tour bus. You will also see a lot more downtown residents too (you can often spot them with their dogs and doggy doo bags).
That's because people are flocking here to see and experience the Austin culture for themselves and perhaps take a piece of it with them. Hmm... Is culture a tangible thing, can it be owned, touched, felt? Art can be, and what better way for people to dig our culture than to support a local artist whose art is cultivated within that culture.
The point I'm trying to make is directed to Austin artists. Ah-hum.."Dear fellow artist, look towards the horizon and you will see a massive snowball coming this way. That snowball is filled with people, machines, buildings, highways, coffee shops, bicycle rental stores, smoke shops, boutiques and tourists. You will either be knocked aside by this ball, or you can melt with it. But if you want to put your everlasting stamp on it, you need to act now. For now is the time, now is the tipping point that will solidify the direction of Austin's art culture. You can be a part of it, or you can fall by the wayside and work in a cubicle the rest of your life (my apologies to the people working in cubicles - I did it for 10 years).
So stop telling everyone what you are going to do, and just do. Stop staring at your computer, or your phone, playing video games (guilty) or drinking yourself silly (guilty as well), and execute that project, buy wood, paint, or build that canvas and put the first smudge on it. Because if its not you, rest assure it will be someone else."
Right now YOU have the opportunity to shape the Austin art scene for years to come. There couldn't be a better time to be an artist in Austin Texas. Cities like New York and San Francisco have great art scenes, but they are already saturated with artists and well established, which limits creative freedom through the people alive and gone who set the standards within that culture. There are many artists who have got us this far and are still paving the way, but for the emerging artists, our time is a blank canvas. Together, we can start a revolution, an art revolution that brings people from all around the world to Austin Texas; not just for the live music and breakfast tacos, but for the art. So be bold and daring and do something now. Speaking of which, I need to get off this damn computer and go make some art.
Read the Mylife.com article that inspired this blog.
Jake Bryer Co-Founder Austin Art Garage
February 07, 2014
February 05, 2014
Wonderful article! I think you are spot on about Austin being on its way to becoming an art destination city. There are so many amazing artists here and opportunities for artists to grow!
Great article! Thanks for the extra push!
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February 07, 2014