Notes on E.A.S.T.

by Katie Geha November 18, 2011

The E.A.S.T Austin studio tour is a vast and sprawling affair that extends all over the east side (just check out the crazy map). I only barely touched the surface this past weekend but plan to bike around Saturday to check-in on many more sites and report back soon. Here are a few notes:

Ben Ruggiero re-envisions Dorothea Lang's "Migrant Mother"

1) #48 (1319 Rosewood Ave.)  I went to the opening of (Re)Collection, an exhibition presented by The Austin photography collective Lakes Were Rivers that “re-envisions images from the Harry Ransom Center archive.” Works by the artists are placed in tandem with works from the HRC. It’s often a fun a game of correspondence, for instance Ben Ruggiero’s re-creation of Lang’s famous “Migrant Mother” in cyanotype is lush and dense (he actually used the space of the HRC by employing the etchings of legendary photographs that appear on the glass of the building to create the cyanotype). Another great pairing is Adam Schreiber’s photo of a plate of noodles with a hovering pair of chopsticks placed next to an old science-y photo of a squid, part of the 1899 photo project La Photographique des Animaux Aquatques by Fabre-Domergue. This twosome works because it just rides the edge of being both strangely similar and different. Also it’s funny. At times, however, the exhibition comes off as a little bit airless or as if the rigor of research started to override the invention of art making (and maybe this has something to do with the installation? Did the works have to be side-by-side?). Yet, there is also a kind of charm in its academicism. Amidst the dispersal of art forms from ceramics to painting that are featured in E.A.S.T., Lakes Were Rivers developed a very tightly conceived and executed exhibition. Like the Salon des Refusés in reverse, (Re)Collection as it appears in E.A.S.T., basks in standards.


Chris Cody's drawing of the Frost Bank

2) #48 (1319 Rosewood Ave.) In the Project Room in the house on Rosewood is a group of fantastic drawings by Chris Cody, an artist who has Down’s Syndrome. While (Re)Collection is tight and considered, Cody’s imaginative and wild outlook on the world that surrounds him is loose and playful. Entitled My Town, the show details the everyday sites of Austin from Cody’s house to the Frank Erwin Center to the Frost Bank. The drawing of his house is especially inspired as it radiates vibrating lines of colors. If I wasn’t on a strict spending freeze I would buy one of these up immediately.

Julia Hungerford making sandwiches, photo by Leah Krafft

3) #1a. Outside Domy Books there’s a fantastic food stand “Schmaltz Sandwich Shop” run by local musician and food artist, Julia Hungerford. Stop by for a delicious grilled cheese with apple and watercress or a hot cup of coffee.

Sterling Allen installation at Okay Mountain

4) #19  Over at the newly renovated Okay Mountain Gallery (looking great, by the way), the boys have mounted their standard fare of pot leaf drawings and jokester sculptures. Sterling Allen’s installation is something to get excited about for sure. Both formal and playful, Allen has figured out how to meld the stoner drawing aesthetic intrinsic to the Okay Mountain collective with rigorous geometric abstraction. I’m a big fan.


Still from Martha Rosler's "Semiotics of the Kitchen"

5). #55 Big Medium. Saturday afternoon Austin’s newest art rag, Pastelegram brought some art history to E.A.S.T. with a collection of how-to artist’s videos. This weekend they’ll be presenting a series of talks that focus on photography and art magazines. Lakes Were Rivers will be talking about their exhibition (see above) and I’m super excited to see Art Historian, Tara Kohn, discuss Alfred Stieglitz’s magazine “Camera Work.” The program starts at 5pm and will be at Big Medium (it’s also worth a trip to this art complex since it’s bustling with all kinds of E.A.S.T. art)



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