EAST is Back in Cherrywood!

By Jennifer Balkan
(Reposted from The Flea)

It’s that time of year again when I frantically have to clean up my studio and prepare for lots of guests.  I am definitely not alone in this sentiment.  We as artists spend a whole lot of time alone in our studios…and some of us get fairly messy.  But the East Austin Studio Tour is a better than great excuse for spring, errrrr, fall cleaning.

I consider myself an EAST veteran at this point, having been on the tour since its inception.  At my first tour, the very first tour in 2003, I was invited by my dear friend and fellow painter Pablo Taboada to show some work at his studio Art Amici on San Marcos St.  Back then, the tour was only one weekend in November.  And it was all bikeable!  There were predominantly home studios and a couple of art complexes, those on Tillery St. and Bolm St.  There were 28 studios and they were only makers’ spaces.  You got to see the space where the art was made.  Over the years, the tour has grown with more studios and more artists.  In 2010, there were 150 studios and 340 artists showing their work.

In 2017 there are 505 artists participating, including studios, galleries, happenings, temporary exhibits, and several libraries.  The geographic boundaries of the tour have broadened over the years but it’s kept its main criterion that all studios must be located east of I-35.  And now it takes place on the two weekends before Thanksgiving every year.  EAST has put Austin on the national map as an art destination.  In 2014, the NY Times included the tour in an entertainment listing and description of events not to miss in Texas.  It is a time when people from all over descend on East Austin to get a taste of what it’s like to be an artist, to chat with artists about their processes and to maybe even take something home that resonates with them (of course, we artists hope for that !).

Cherrywood has become an EAST mecca over the years.  In 2009, after my son was born, I moved my studio from Willow St. to the structure behind my home on Lafayette Avenue.  So that year, I hosted EAST in my home studio for the first time.  Having been part of the bustling area of studios around East Cesar Chavez St., where our studios got a lot of foot traffic, I was a bit discouraged at how quiet my studio was that year.  It was hard to compete with the large art complexes and clusters of home studios further south.  But that changed.  As the tour has continued to grow, more and more artists are populating our neighborhood, and Cherrywood has become an EAST destination.  It is wonderful to be able to send my visitors to my artist neighbors’ spaces and to hear that many of them have come to my studio after already having been at another art studio in the neighborhood.  There are now 18 Cherrywood studios on the tour!

So folks, get out there this November 10-11 and 17-18, bring your friends and families and check out what your creative neighbors are up to!

Map of EAST in Cherrywood by Caitlin Alexander, CBA Illustration (2806 French Pl., #78)

Map of EAST in the neighborhood by Caitlin Alexander, CBA Illustration (2806 French Pl., #78)

Art credit: Caitlin Alexander, CBA Illustration,#78

 

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