Friday’s entertainment was Austin Art Night EAST 2013 by Art Alliance Austin.
This is the third “Art Night” event that we have attended. The other two were in the center of Austin. While all of the events are fun, this one is interesting in that East Austin is where the art actually gets created. The central Austin tour consists of galleries, that is: sales outlets. Artists generally can’t afford the rent in the central part of Austin. The studios are in East Austin.
The basic format of the event is about three hours in the evening that is a shuttle bus tour. Each studio shows its art, restaurants provide appetizers (advertising) and various beverage distributors provide liquid refreshments.
Although all the Art Night events attract a wide range of ages, there was a subtle difference between the central and EAST versions and that was the clothing. The central version has a sort of cocktail party vibe: lots of high heels, cocktail dresses and generally festive attire. The EAST version heads more in the “Keep Austin Weird” direction. My blue blazer was perfect for the central Austin event, but was distinctly overdressed for the Austin EAST event. Next year I will break out the linen coat, a more colorful necktie, and perhaps make a few other adjustments.
The recommended first stop was Big Medium because it had the largest parking lot. At Big Medium they had a table with a list of people who had purchased tickets online. They checked your name and gave you a wristband.
Big Medium is a large facility with a lot of different artists. We spent a bit of time with one ceramic artist who produces sets of handmade plates for restaurants. They were gorgeous. This studio earned our first “After we become millionaires, we will be back” rating for the evening. (Currently, to the extent that we need anything in the kitchen it is made of plastic and purchased at Walgreens).
The first pleasant surprise of the tour was that location (2) wasn’t a restaurant at all, but rather a very interesting restaurant called Eden East. This restaurant is closely associated with the Springdale Farm and serves a variety of Texas local produce and meat.
They had a trailer setup with samples of appetizers which were outstanding. Some guests rushed through gobbling one after the other. I took it more slowly, stepping away to enjoy one at a time. Coming back for the fourth sample, I had a chance to talk with one of the young chefs. It is a very interesting restaurant, open only on Friday and Saturday. It has a fixed menu and reservations are required. The menu changes every week. As we know from talking with other chefs, this sort of restaurant design is ideal for chefs, as one of the biggest challenges for chefs is the sheer boredom of making the same thing several thousand times in a row.
In addition to the great appetizers, Eden east had a wonderful beverage: a hot toddy made of “Devils Cut” Bourbon, lemon grass tea, and orange juice. The evening was cool and this beverage hit the spot. They also had chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows at the end of the appetizer line. Smores are not a particularly Japanese cuisine item, but Tomoko put three children through girl scouts and boy scouts. She knew exactly what to do with the ingredients. These provided a wonderful warm, sweet snack as we waited for the shuttle bus. That shuttle bus ended up getting delayed slightly as one of two elder men on the bus wandered off to get another hot toddy.
As the shuttle pulled up to the next location, I was thrilled to see that it was a mill works. That is, the definition of “art” for the EAST night is much more expansive than the definition for the central night. That is, the central night focuses on galleries which compels a definition of art as “stuff that hangs on walls”. The EAST night includes mill works, which expands the focus to include fine handmade woodwork – very exciting for me since I have dabbled in this art myself.
The two elder gentleman mentioned earlier were likewise excited since one of them had come regularly to the Delta Millworks in the 1960s to get framing timber for houses. Apparently, he was a hired hand at the time.
Delta Millworks had a disk jockey, a spray paint artist, and a counter serving hand-made/tailored margaritas. They also had appetizers from the Buenos Aires Cafe.
We spent a lot of time talking to a young man who runs Deep Fried Design He had a beautiful dining table that he had re-milled from the bed of a delivery truck. It was made of red and white oak and he had disassembled it, re-milled the wood, and reassembled it into a dining table. This was our second “After We Become Millionaires” award for the evening.
Next stop: Fort Tillery
Another mill works and general artist creative space, Fort Tillery housed Michael Yates Design. We spent quite a bit of time talking to Michael Yates and admiring his elegant walnut chairs. He is trained in architecture and is an obsessive designer. As he showed us, he basically makes his own walnut plywood by laminating thin layers of shaved walnut using a vacuum press to make the exact shapes he needs for his chairs. They are extremely elegant. His work won our third “When We Become Millionaires” award for the evening. Unfortunately, we forgot to take a picture of his work – the milled tabletop shown is from another artist.
The final stop on the Art Night tour was MASS Gallery. The particular art on display was the works of two artists who were channeling Picasso. Not my first choice in artistic styles. I respect Picasso because he dedicated the first part of his career to achieving a fine mastery of classical techniques before he went abstract. Nevertheless, the super-abstract style just does not float my boat so to speak. Nevertheless, this stop was fun because Tomoko ran into one of her instructors from the University of Texas Studio Art program who is one of the people who runs the studio.
With that, it was back to the “After Party” at the Getaway Motor Club It was a lot of fun, with a live band, music, pizza, and drinks. I had quite a bit of fun with another guy speculating whether this vehicle – which was displaying a pristine 1962 Texas registration sticker – had actually been rolled into a warehouse in 1962….
It was a great evening! We plan to keep participating (with some wardrobe adjustments on my part) and encourage our friends to participate as well!