Last weekend I explored West Austin Studio Tour (WEST) with a couple of friends. I’ve visited the annual East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) in the fall a couple of times, but this was my first visit to WEST. I recommend checking out both: I had no idea just how many art studios there were in Austin until checking out these events! If you decide to check the next one, here are some logistics to keep in mind:
- From what I’ve seen, EAST occurs every fall, while WEST occurs every spring. Both are free.
- Like EAST, WEST is a widespread collection of artists’ studios that open to the public for two weekends in a row. It’s an opportunity to see the artists and their work in their element, which I enjoy even more than typical booth-style festivals despite the extra driving.
- Most studios are located in central Austin (I guess anything that’s not “east” is considered “west” for the sake of this tour, but there weren’t really many studios in what I consider west Austin).
- EAST and WEST produce an awesome printed fold-out map of participating studios that I recommend finding ahead of time (we picked ours up at their booth at the Art City Austin festival). The map on their website tends to be a bit difficult to read, so don’t count on being able to use your smartphone to spontaneously hunt down studios while you’re on the road (it’s possible, but much more difficult).
- There are way more participating studios than there’s time to visit, so my strategy for seeing as much as possible before burning out is to find clusters of studios that have artwork you might like so that you can park and wander for a bit before driving to the next studio cluster.
And finally, here are a few of my favorites from our visit.
Tom Runkle | Music to Mirror
Tom Runkle creates awesome mirror mosaic portraits of musicians. He was working on cutting mirrors for a piece when we visited, and I was impressed with the precision and patience with which he shaped the small pieces of mirror. If you’d like to check out more of his art, visit his website at TomRunkle.com.
I’ve always had a fascination with shaping wire into sculptures, but I’ve only done one or two small pieces like that myself. So when I saw Sandy Muckleroy’s Ezo Spruce Bonsai on Quartz Crystal, I fell in love. The sculpture is so intricate, with so many tiny branches of wire, and yet so simple and minimal and natural. If you’d like to check out more of her work, visit her Facebook page.
Debra Gikas creates beautiful copper patina jewelry that is both simple in form and elegantly unique in finish. I love the combination of teal and copper tones, and I love her choice of displaying earrings on a curly metal tree and cuff bracelets in a subtly elegant metal bowl. Even the presentation of her jewelry is a work of art. To check out more of it, visit her website at debragikasmetalartist.blogspot.com.
Rick Van Dyke
I adore Rick Van Dyke’s planters. Most of them are small bowls, pots, and vases that are ideal for planting succulents, and he uses beautiful glazes in white, mint, teal, and royal blue that blend beautifully with each other and make the succulents planted in them pop. Even better than that, they all have beautiful, unique textures that I could spend hours studying, wondering how he made them. Fortunately for me, he was happy to share his technique. He starts with a flat piece of clay, using anything with an interesting texture from lace to ridged wooden children’s toys to dogs’ bouncy balls to add texture to the clay. Then he wraps the clay around other pots, balloons, or anything else with a good shape to shape the planters. It all sounds so simple, and yet the result is a collection of some of the most beautiful planters I’ve seen. Just like his planters, his website is beautiful and has a lot of great photos of his work: RickVanDykeStudio.com.