The third annual WEST, also known as the West Austin Studio Tour, is happening over the next two weekends, and there is so much good stuff to see, do and attend — most of it kid-friendly and all of it FREE.
If you’ve never attended WEST before (or EAST, its east Austin counterpart), this is Austin’s free, self-guided tour through participating artists’ galleries, studios and collectives. As the WEST website points out, our city is home to a wonderful abundance of talent within a highly diverse and extensive creative community. WEST offers you and your budding artist a chance to explore working artists’ creative spaces, processes and techniques in a hands-on, or at least up-close-and-personal, way.
Being a popular event that takes place in already densely trafficky and populated areas, WEST is definitely best explored on foot or by bicycle. Parking can be tough (and pricey), but parking farther away and walking or cycling to your destination works well. City buses and the MetroRail can also be good alternatives to driving (NOTE: the MetroRail runs on Saturdays, but not on Sundays).
Twin Oaks Branch Library (1800 S. Fifth St., 78704) is partnering with the Austin Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in putting on two fantastic events:Saturday, May 10, 2:30 PM – 4:30 PM: Artist reception and discussion on the artwork of some of Austin’s most talented children’s book illustrators. Enjoy light refreshments while viewing the stunning work of participating artists Patrice Barton, Tara Flynn Bonner, Jeff Crosby, Rebecca Crosby Komkov, Amy Farrier, Kate Green, Luz Marie Iturbe, Shelley Ann Jackson, C.S. Jennings, Thomas Jung, Ellen Murray, Marsha Riti, Vanessa Roeder, Tom Shefelman, Divya Srinivasan, Don Tate and Emma J. Virjan.Saturday, May 17, 11 AM – 4 PM: Story-time for kids of all ages. Come hear a selection of published picture books read aloud by the authors and illustrators who created them. Each reading will be followed by a corresponding craft (such as sidewalk chalk drawing following Patrice Barton’s reading of The Invisible Boy, and making kazoos after Jeff Crosby’s reading of The Rockabilly Goats Gruff!). A book signing will follow all the readings and books will be available for purchase. Also enjoy light snacks and live kid-friendly rockabilly music, all while viewing the art of Austin’s children’s book illustrators.11 AM – Patrice Barton, The Invisible Boy11:45 AM – Bethany Hegadus, Grandfather Gandhi12:30 PM – Don Tate, Black All Around1:15 PM – Shelley Ann Jackson, Ten Texas Babies2 PM – Jeff Crosby, The Rockabilly Goats Gruff3 PM – Live music with Ruby Dee and the SnakehandlersNOTE: Pick up free WEST catalogues at any Austin Public Library location!
Zilker Art Fest for W.E.S.T. (WEST studio #217 at Zilker Elementary School, 1900 Bluebonnet Ln., 78704): FREE to the public and open on the weekends of May 10–11 & 17–18 from 11 AM – 6 PM, the Zilker stop will feature multiple artist booths; food vendors including Rockin’ Tomato, Frigid Frog, Flavors of the Bayou and more; a self-guided tour and map of numerous campus beautification and on-site art projects; live music performances (Saturdays only); and children’s art activities. There is plenty of on-street parking and bike racks are available. The event will be held rain or shine.Music scheduleSaturday, May 101:00 PM The Blacklands (blues rock)2:00 PM The Blacklands3:00 PM Hamster Wheel (jazz)4:00 PM Katie Sachs (ukulele)Saturday, May 171:00 PM The Fence Sitters (bluegrass)2:00 PM TBD3:00 PM Mark Viator & Susan Maxey (Louisiana & TX roots music)4:00 PM TBD
Southside Gaiety Hall and Artists Co-op (WEST studio #235, 707 W. Live Oak St., 78704): A group of artists and mothers (and one preschool teacher) showing their work at a Bouldin Creek home. Meet the artists here and learn what it’s like raising kids and making art.
The City of Austin has temporarily banned public gatherings. Please stay home. The Free Fun in Austin calendar is only for live digital events at this time.
- Evening in the Park at the GloWave, Little Stacey Park (Eastside Dr. at Annie St.): Saturday, May 10, from 7 – 9 PM, join Art Alliance Austin for an evening in Stacey Park at the GloWave Sculpture, an art installation by artist Melissa Borrell. GloWave is an undulating form that references the water that flows in Blunn Creek. The piece is illuminated in the dark with blue light.
And here are the basics about WEST:
Third annual West Austin Studio Tour, two weekends of discovering new artistic talent, seeing working studios, learning about artists’ tools, techniques, and inspirations, and supporting the arts community by building your personal art collections with the work of local artists.
Here is a map of all the WEST studio stops and points of interest, all of which fall within these geographical boundaries:
• East of Mopac/Loop 1
• South of Hwy 183
• North of Hwy 71/Ben White and Hwy 360