The 20th annual Austin Studio Tour has come to a close, showcasing 530 locally-based artists and their take on the paths that brought them to the city. With the mission of engaging and connecting "creatives that help define the culture of our city," the tour dove all over the East and West to showcase the color in Austin.
Though their work is no longer on display, here are a few Austinite artists to keep your eye on.
Lea Alvarado started her artistic journey when she was just 5 years old in her hometown of Queretaro, Mexico, where she has since been named a prodigy, moved to Austin at 12 years old. Attacking the socio-political issues facing the 20-year-old's generation, Alvarado has won awards from the YAM State Capitol Exhibit and the Governor's Gallery and says she wants to "portray that there is right and wrong in everything."
Born in Córdoba, Argentina, Lucas Aoki started painting in one of the most beloved styles of the city—mural art—after his 2010 move to Austin. Through his whimsical characters that spark curiosity, Aoki has done projects for ACL Festival, SXSW, Alamo Drafthouse, Microsoft and more over the past eight years.
A native Austinite and Texas State University BFA recipient, Brock Caron is a painter, sculptor and illustrator who works on all types of media.
Focusing on early American life, sights that might be familiar to Hill Country-dwellers, and "small towns untouched by a fast-paced world," Caron spends his free time similarly—with a beer and a bit of cash leftover for the jukebox. Caron is currently a member of the nonprofit arts organization Contracommon in Bee Cave, Texas.
Exploring social impacts of technology, the colors of emotion and light as a representation of the soul, 23-year-old Holly Cerna is a painter that works through color theory. Her depictions of daily life transcend the everyday experience, showing common objects of middle-class life while keeping the magic behind them alive.
Carla J. Clay
Using bright and lively colors to convey the native elements of Texas that inspire her most, El Paso native Carla J. Clay's interpretation of Native American symbols influences her work. With a background in computer engineering, art has always been her first love, and her work can be seen at The People's Gallery in Austin.
Ariel René Jackson and Michael J. Love
Focusing on the Black past and the Black future, Jackson and Love both have Austin ties as University of Texas alumni. Jackson, who was born in Louisiana, holds her afro-creole roots true in her video, audio and performance art mediums. Jackson teaches Expanded Media at UT and the entry won the 2021 Tito's Prize.
A paper artist who is inspired by nature, culture and literature, Kristen Newcomer loves to read and lives with her sons and husband here in Austin. From the Blanco river flowing south in San Marcos to Lake Travis here in city limits, Newcomer's paper works show her devotion to keeping Austin beautiful. Newcomer does commissions in hopes of strengthening connections to others.
Reflecting the beauty and resilience of his home state, Brian Phillips' treasure is made from another man's trash. Converted from reclaimed wood, Phillips celebrates reassembly, imperfection and rejection reaching a new life just like his motto: "Have fun. Enjoy Life."
Alison Hightower Suttle
Using her expertise as a native Texan, Alison Hightower Suttle captures memories of the Lone Star State in her signature folk style. Highlighting the diversity that lives here, Suttle's overhead view of the city shows vignettes of individuals who share the special days she depicts.
Tom Jean Webb
Born in London in the early '80s, Tom Jean Webb found the romantic landscape he spent his childhood imagining in the American Southwest, leading him to continue his journey between realities. Shown together, Webb's paintings inform each other and create a unique land unlike our own but not far from it. Webb is now based here in Central Texas.
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Is the key to a new Sixth Street making it more like Broadway?
In Nashville, Tennessee, the mix of bars, restaurants and honky-tonks playing live music on the major thoroughfare of Broadway keeps the city’s downtown lively even as other parts of the area bring in office workers and residential units.
Crissy Cassetty, director of economic development with the Nashville Downtown Partnership, says she thinks Nashville has always kind of compared itself to Austin, and that Broadway is their Sixth Street.
“That's where the majority of our live music is. We have several artists and venues downtown,” Cassetty said, noting music spaces from country stars Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean.
“Over the years, our smaller, local honky tonks have kind of transformed into bigger entertainment venues that take multiple floors, and levels,” Cassetty said. “The growth and the attraction of Broadway hasn't slowed down forever.”
In Austin, the pandemic took a toll on Sixth Street and other parts of downtown. A recent report by the Downtown Austin Alliance noted that pedestrian foot traffic has started to return to downtown nightlife districts, including East and West Sixth. Total monthly visits surpassed 200,000 on West Sixth in October 2021, beating out the visits in that month in 2019, though East Sixth slugged behind the 2019 total. On the progress of recovery for downtown entertainment districts, the report says, “the live music economy continues to suffer as ticket sales and attendance at shows remain depressed,”
Public safety concerns haven't helped with a revival of Sixth Street. Sunday marked a year since a mass shooting that led to 14 injuries and one death. On the last day of SXSW this year, another shooting left four injured. To address incidents like these, the city has moved forward with a Safer Sixth Street initiative to tackle gun violence, ensure EMS can care for patients quickly and look into more seating and dining in the area, among other practices.
But investments from commercial agency Stream Realty aim to transform the district by adding improvements between Neches and Sabine streets. Caitlin Ryan, the head of the Austin office says Sixth Street is the city’s special tool in the center of downtown.
“If I can fast forward 10 years, I think we look back, and we've made a significant change and Sixth Street is not only a place for night, but also the day,” Ryan said. “But it's evolved from not only our city council preservation asset, historic landmark, but everybody in our city, the music commission, coming together to form a street that our city can be proud of.”
For Broadway’s public safety approach, Cassetty says groups like the mayor’s office, police department and the convention and visitor’s bureau have the common goal of making the street feel clean and secure.
Still, she described the matter of keeping nightlife alive while also keeping the area safe and friendly as an “ongoing battle.”
“The more successful an area becomes, you just have to figure out how to balance all of it. Especially when you're in a downtown footprint, that balance of the play, along with the residential population and the workforce population,” Cassetty said. “And making sure you don't upset the residents or the employees because they're a big part of the downtown culture. You don't want to lose that because you have a successful entertainment district.”
Aside from that, improvements also involve infrastructure. Julie Fitch, chief operating officer of Downtown Austin Alliance, said they’d like to see investment from both the private sector and the city in rebuilding the infrastructure of Sixth Street. Part of the vision from Stream involves introducing wider festival sidewalks, only three lanes of traffic and the construction of four- and five-story buildings.
The entertainment elements will remain, which Fitch said is fantastic.
“I think that with the opportunity that comes with this level of investment, it really has a chance to expand Sixth Street’s appeal to a wider variety of audiences,” Fitch said.
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A man shot a teenager who was trying to rob him at North Austin's Domain Tuesday afternoon, the Austin Police Department said.
APD said 17-year-old Jaylyn Reed, who has been suspected in several recent robberies, will face an aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon charge after he attempted to rob two people in a parking lot at 3400 Palm Way at around 4 p.m. Tuesday.
The arrest affidavit reported that Reed came up behind the two people with a black shirt concealing his face, pointing a gun at one of the victims while asking for their backpack. The other victim then shot Reed with a concealed pistol, the affidavit said.
Reed left in a car that pulled up just before he was shot. The car drove a short distance before a passenger called 911 and Reed was hospitalized with a life-threatening gunshot wound, the affidavit said. The victim's property was later found in the car.
Reed has an "extensive criminal history of aggravated robbery" and was ordered to wear an ankle monitor that had been removed at the time of the incident, the affidavit said.
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