The perfect excursion for art lovers and voyeurs alike, the Austin Studio Tour turns 20 this year. It takes Austinites all over the city behind the closed – or in this case, open – studio doors and showcases the work of 520 artists, builders and collectives in 2022. This time, the free self-guided tour starts from November 5-20.
It all starts with a Group Exhibition and Emma S. Barrientos at the Mexican American Cultural Center with the organized help of Origin Studio House, the Black creativity collective. On November 1, these two organizations join tour organizer Big Medium in as-yet-unannounced events to warm up curious visitors.
The tour has gone through several transformations since its inception, starting out as the East Austin Studio Tour with just 28 participating studios, eventually adding a West Austin counterpart, and absorbing both in 2021 at a citywide splurge. It was released on Big Medium on September 21. a long list of participants, this time without any identification of East or West.
There is no 2022 map yet, but the map of 2021 tour stops shows a wide spread north to west east of I-35. West Coast tours lead to Anderson Mill, where Clint Atkinson shows off his graffiti-like black and white portraits, and south to Manchaca, where Brian Phillips paints geometric paintings on reclaimed wood. Both artists have committed to the 2022 tour.
East of the highway, where it all starts, is a busy studio stack from the periphery of major roads, particularly East Cesar Chavez Street. On this more compact side, participants reach as far north as Salvador Rodriguez, an ultra-detailed desert landscape painter near the Walnut Creek Greenbelt, and as far south as Anne Marie Beard, a colorful jewelery and wallet manufacturer just off East William Cannon Drive. None of these artists are on the 2022 list.
The map puts adventure in the hands of Austinites the old-fashioned way – it’s just a static image that can and should be printed. Of course, for now, tour participants can research artists they’re interested in, but past experience has taught many that simply following street signs by walking provides a unique and minimally stressful experience. In busier areas, pedestrians can easily reach the half-dozen studios located in four or five blocks and grab a snack or lunch on the way.
For those who don’t rely on their whims to randomly deliver great taste, there are collections curated by their partners. (These are called “themed tours”, which is a bit misleading as they don’t include maps or other organizational tools – only a select few have attributes that viewers can add to their itinerary.) It’s unclear whether themed tours exist. returned this year, but last year included lists of artists by experience (ever or at least ten years), age, and materials on previous tours.
Some artists also offer virtual tours, and if the tour continues to the standard set last year, they will all have mini-galleries on their website. Similarly, partners have their own tabs and lists with a description of services and social media links. While even seeing a fifth of these studios in person is a daunting task, there’s something fun about how impossible it is to see them all. Just like in the Austin art scene.
The full list of 2022 Austin Studio Tour participants (without addresses) is available at bigmedium.org.