After leaving its longtime location at the Canopy Art Complex in East Austin, Big Medium has relocated to a new building in South Austin.
Big Medium was established in 2007 by artists Shea Little, Jana Swec, and Joseph Phillips. The organization initially hosted shows and exhibitions in a more DIY space in the building now known as Bolm Studios. Then, in 2013, the developers of Canopy brought the organization on board as an anchor tenant in its mixed-use creative complex. For a decade, Big Medium held a master lease over Canopy’s studio spaces, served as a liaison with the complex’s artists, and helped manage the property. In return, Canopy provided Big Medium with management fees, which helped fund the nonprofit’s operations.
When Big Medium first announced its plan to relocate, Mr. Little told Glasstire, “Canopy has been very generous and very supportive of artists and Big Medium. But what Big Medium and the art community needs from developers to make space sustainable is more than even the most generous developer can do. It is a systematic issue… If we had a space of our own and could apply for grants to support rental rates, we could reinvest into our arts community and provide studio space at a more affordable rate.”
Earlier this fall, Big Medium opened its inaugural exhibition, José Villalobos: Fuertes y Firmes, in its new space. Located at 4201 S. Congress Avenue in Suite 323, the building, which previously housed a tech company, is 14,000-square-feet and includes spaces for presenting exhibitions as well as an open-concept coworking area and a flex space to host workshops and events.
When asked about the process of finding this new location, Mr. Little explained to Glasstire that Redcar Properties Ltd., a Los Angeles-based developer with a history of working with artists, plans to redevelop the site in the future. He explained, “The space will at some point be redeveloped and made more expensive. So while they are in that interim period between construction documents and permitting and breaking ground on the development, they are making the space available to artists at affordable rates.”
While Big Medium’s current lease is for 18 months, the organization hopes that it will be extended to be at least two years. The goal is to use this temporary site as a proof of concept for a future space. Mr. Little said, “It’s helping us build momentum around a future capital campaign and showing what Big Medium will look like in the future.”
The Big Medium gallery, which is 3,852-square-feet, will continue to be programmed by Coka Treviño, the organization’s Curator and Director of Programming. After Fuertes y Firmes closes in early December, an exhibition featuring Robert Hodge and Tim Kerr will open in January 2024, followed by a solo show of works by 2023 Tito’s Prize winner Rodell Warner.
The other areas of the building will be available for rent by the arts community, including 1,500-square-feet of gallery spaces that will be rented out by other organizations. Of the four additional gallery spaces, three are currently occupied by tenants: The Projecto, an alternative space run by Ms. Treviño; Coronado Print Room, which has both a printmaking studio and a gallery space dedicated to showing print-based works; and Capitol View Arts Gallery, a nonprofit that primarily focuses on showcasing Black artists and musicians, which Big Medium has partnered with for over a decade.
A social media post by the organization notes that the other areas will also be available to the community for a monthly rate on a sliding scale: the coworking area from $50 to $100 and the flex space from $150 to $250. While the organization’s website indicates that the location has studio spaces, it also notes that none are available at this time. According to the website, current tenants include Dylan Mclaughlin, Alie Jackson, Hollis Hammons, Essentials Creative, Agustina Rodriguez.
Artists and creatives who are interested in renting a space at Big Medium can fill out an online application via the organization’s website.