Despite the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic, Canvas, a new contemporary art gallery and consultancy, has opened on Austin’s East Side. Located on East Cesar Chavez Street, one of the area’s main drags, the space’s inaugural exhibition, False Start, features six Austin-based artists, (notably, with an even ratio of women to men), and is on view through October 24th. Rather than forcing work into a thematic or stylistic schema, False Start represents each artist’s creative perseverance through the pandemic, and, per the gallery, “is a culmination of … the art born from these times.”
Walking in, viewers are greeted by the dynamic faces of Hannah Lee’s portraits hanging above Arlo Neill’s painted busts. A conference room is situated to the right of the entryway, offset from a hallway leading to a sectioned space featuring Jieun Beth’s Autumnal (Triptych) and Yamin Li’s Flag #1. On a nearby wall, Nate Szarmach’s Family Friendly and Royal Gala hang alongside more portraits by Hannah Lee, and two additional mixed media sculptures by Arlo Neill.
Turning a left corner, comfortable chairs welcome you to sit and enjoy paintings, drawings, and sculptures by Beth, Lee, Neill, Li, and Padaric Kolander,. Moving through the gallery space feels as though you’re visiting a friend’s home to view a private collection that effortlessly flows thanks to clever curation; the exhibition allows each artist’s voice to shine, while creating a through line that seamlessly brings the artists’ ideas together.
The curators behind the show are Lily Calo and Eric Schild, Co-Founders of Canvas. Both Calo and Schild have degrees in the arts, and met through their mutual interest in an artist’s work. Calo, serving as Gallery Director, has worked in various galleries for just shy of a decade, and moved to Austin during the thick of the pandemic.
After receiving an education in the arts, Schild began a career in tech and worked for multiple companies around the country, eventually settling in Austin. When they met, Schild had recently exited his company and pitched opening a gallery to Calo. “We make a good team, he and I. We are a bit of a yin and yang when it comes to business, and it has been working well. Being such a small team allows for a more personal relationship with both our artists and collectors,” says Calo.
Canvas prioritizes the gallery’s artist and their artwork. Moving forward, the space aims to show the work of local artists who are creating compelling contemporary art, and who are looking forward at the art world’s trends. Featuring artwork that is “best appreciated in person,” Canvas is operating under Covid-cautious regulations “to get as many people in front of artwork as safely as possible.”
Now, Canvas is open by appointment and masks are mandatory. Staying optimistic, Calo and Schild “appreciate both the exclusivity and privacy that has come out of this pandemic,” and “will continue to offer appointment-based viewing for clients” while beginning to hold open hours from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Thursdays and Fridays. Overall, Canvas offers the Austin art community a new venue to view pieces by Austin artists that both represent the artists’ individual experiences and respond to our collective social moment.
Canvas is located at 1601 E. Cesar Chavez, Unit 101 Austin, TX 78702. Learn more here.