This was my second year attending Big Medium‘s Austin Studio Tour and it did NOT disappoint!
It’s been a goal of mine to get out more into the community and meet artists and other creatives in person. Having a photography event already planned, I was only able to do the west side tour on 1 Saturday. BUT, I had so much FUN!
Sat. Nov. 4 I woke up with the thought “Wouldn’t it be fun if… I took my phone and recorded impromptu conversations with artists for the podcast?” Most of my crazy (and awesome ideas) come from this kind of thinking and it usually works out great. So, trusting my intuition and gathering some much needed courage, I hopped in the car with my husband and chauffer for a day of art exploration.
I wish I would have taken more photos with everyone but, I love enjoying the moment so I don’t always remember to do it.
My first stop was at a large show with the Circle C Creatives.
My first conversation was with Lori Sonnier. She was so gracious to start the day by chatting with me! I found myself making some personal place connections with her paintings. They have a soft quality that puts me in sort of a “memory reverie”. She had a collection called “home” that instantly reminded me of my solo exhibition in 2021.
About Lori: Lori Sonnier is an oil painter inspired by the beauty and vibrant colors of the natural environment. She has a background in biology and worked for a decade in environmental management in Southern California. But she always was interested in art, and began taking art classes at night through UCLA Extension while working full-time. In 2006, her family moved to Austin, Texas. Shortly after arriving, she began taking painting classes through The Art School at The Contemporary Austin. (Laguna Gloria). She also did painting workshops in Santa Fe, New Mexico with Albert Handell and Lee Rommel and paints regularly both indoors and outdoors. “I hope that my paintings bring joy to people, and that they help people appreciate the beauty that is around us in the world.” She is a member of the Creative Arts Society and Plein Air Austin.
Again using my intuition, I stopped at Aileen Chen’s booth to admire her minimalist, upcycled art. She creates some really cool art using everyday objects and/or waste items. I love seeing beautiful work created from things would normally end up in a landfill. We also connected about our love of nature and hiking. A kindred spirit!
About Aileen: Fascinated by the human desire for beauty and the ephemeral value of objects, Aileen Chen transforms mundane and unwanted materials into art. Inspired by Japanese minimalism and the American sculptor Louise Nevelson, Aileen’s works invite viewers to ponder the longevity of objects, the impact of consumerism, and the transformative potential of ‘waste’. Aileen has been creating art informally throughout her life, in ebbs and flows through different phases which are marked by her ongoing roles as a mother, entrepreneur, and environmentalist. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, two teen daughters, mother-in-law, and their spirited dog Farley.
Denise Elliott Jones
I was immediately drawn to the shapes and uniqueness of Denise’s work! I have even more of an appreciation of it now that I know that she uses those organic shapes to symbolize prayer. She said to me, “when I’m creating, I’m just having a warm, fuzzy relationship with God and making art”. This beautiful connection between her art and spirituality deeply resonates with me. I can picture her creating while she communes with a higher power.
About Denise: Denise Jones is an abstract artist living in Austin, Texas. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a BFA in Art Education, she taught art for 10 years to special needs students in Austin ISD, and then taught art for 18 years to blind and visually impaired students at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Painting, printmaking, and mixed media are her primary creative processes. She works with a visual vocabulary of shapes to tell a universal story. With this vocabulary she approaches each new art piece intuitively. Choosing to work this way leaves the creative process open ended and leads to a longer period of creativity.
After leaving Circle C, we drove to Sunset Valley to check a group of artists with the Sunset Valley Art Commision. As I wandered through the exhibition, I was immediately intrigued by a female artist sewing things onto a blanket. As we chatted, I learned that this artist, Tammy West, was working on a piece for an upcoming show.
I knew I had to record with her and she was very obliging! Tammy’s installation work is definitely thought-provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her about her work and creativity. Since then, I had a chance to see the piece she was working on. But, that’s for another day.
About Tammy: Tammy West’s work sits at the nexus of site-specific environmental art, installations, ecological earthworks, and photography exploring issues such as climate change, and species decline. Through her work, she strives to use emotion as the connection to issues of our day such as climate change, species decline and habitat loss. Her series Vital Earth works goes one step further by creating art that simultaneously helps the planet through ecological restoration. She has attended artist residencies in, Iceland, Oregon, Connecticut & Ireland. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including on a billboard in NYC, the South LA Contemporary, The Peninsula Museum of Art, Platform 3 Gallery in Tehran, Iran, and at the United Nations Climate talks in Germany, Santiago Chile & Alfortville, France, in the 5th USA National Climate Assessment.
After browsing other art and briefly chatting with other artists, My husband and I decided to check out the artists at Austin ArtSpace.
It was there I met the next 2 artist and asked them to record with me.
Robin’s work is JUST like her last name, cheery! We had the most lovely conversation that her friend made a video of. AND we hugged at the end! I love how she uses her art to give us a glimpse of everyday moments. I absolutely enjoy her use of light!
About Robin: Robin Cheers is an artist working in the impressionist tradition with a contemporary style focused on representing the figure and every day life. A consummate observer, Robin’s oil paintings celebrate the overlooked or ordinary scenes of modern life. Whether working on site from direct observation or with sketches and photos, Robin’s use of open brushwork and layering textures create light paintings full of color and life.
Robin is an active member of her local art community, a founding member of Plein Air Austin and teaches oil painting classes and mentors artists in person and online. She is a signature member of the American Impressionist Society and artist member of the Oil Painters of America, National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society and an Artist in Residence at the Austin Visual Arts Association ArtSpace.
My husband got to Melanie before me! She’s been making art for MANY years and has a calmness and humility about her. I appreciated her explanation of the neurographic art she created during 2020 when she needed an outlet to process her thoughts and emotions. I definitely want to try this!!
About Melanie: Her art career is a return to a first love. After earning degrees in biology, geology and science education and then working for 30 years as a science educator, Melanie Lewis seriously began her art studies in 1998. She’s studied drawing and painting at the Austin Museum of Art and Noel Robbins’ Independent Study Group. She has been working on my own since 2004.
Melanie enjoys the freedom of working with mixed media. Her mediums are mainly acrylics, ink and sometimes tissue paper. She’s developed her drawing and painting skills over the years, so she’s able to combine realism with abstract work. Her work is colorful and joyful.
Overall it was a fantastic day and filled both my creative and social cups. Big thank you to all these amazing artists that took time to speak with me and let me share who they are with you!
Until next year……..
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