Houston-born, San Antonio-based artist Raul Gonzalez has told Glasstire about a new project he is operating: Werk House SA, an AirBnB that doubles as an art gallery. Located behind his house, the private studio apartment will be on the market beginning November 15, 2018, and will feature an array of art offerings to visitors. Although the pieces currently installed are all abstract paintings by Gonzalez — spanning his career from 2011 to 2018 — he is currently working on adding additional artists to the space’s roster.
Once the project is fully up and running, and Gonzalez has procured works by other artists to pick from, he plans to survey AirBnB visitors about their art preferences prior to their stay. As he wrote in an email to Glasstire, Gonzalez will then “curate the space to fit their requests – and hopefully that results in helping artists sell some work and widening their audience.” As the AirBnB is located in his backyard, there’s also ample lawn space that Gonzalez is thinking about using for outdoor sculpture.
By running this domestic gallery, where visitors actively live with artwork, Gonzalez is of course operating differently than traditional for-profit galleries and even many alternative spaces: instead of displaying artworks in a clean, empty room, he is instead showing visitors the myriad ways art can be lived with.
This hybrid AirBnB/art gallery, with its merging of art and domestic spaces, seems a natural fit for Gonzalez’s practice. Much of his artwork in the past few years has been about fatherhood and his life as a stay-at-home-dad. The bio on his website reads:
“Raul’s work is often inspired by being a stay-at-home father, work, construction, challenging stereotypes, and finding beauty in chaos. Raul’s foundations in drawing, painting, and self-taught dancing have allowed him to create a world of narrative, cultural symbolism, color, and energy.”
The use of AirBnB as a platform for artists does have precedents. Although more a human zoo than a gallery in the traditional sense, Miao Jiaxin’s USD$1/per night – Jail’s Seeking Prisoners (The Cage) used the service to rent out a room in New York for a dollar a night. Committing to a cheap stay did have a few caveats: the room was monitored by a 24/7 livestream, and visitors had to lock themselves in a cage in the room for three hours a day (from 9AM to 12PM).
While Gonzalez’s room is a bit more expensive than Jiaxin’s project, it luckily won’t have any of the same qualifications. In fact, visitors can even visit Gonzalez’s studio if they so choose.
To learn more about Werk House SA, Raul Gonzalez’s AirBnB that doubles as an art gallery, go here.