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An Artist’s Guide to the East Austin Studio Tour

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Artist and AtxGals Co-founder Monica Ceniceros shares her top tips for making the most of EAST.

By Hannah Phillips, Photos courtesy of Monica Ceniceros

Spanning two weekends in November, the East Austin Studio Tour, or EAST, is a free annual festival designed to 
help the public meet and support artists in their creative spaces. If you missed out on the first weekend—or simply felt overwhelmed by the plethora of studios on the map—no worries. We reached out to one of the featured artists for tips about studios and artists to seek out this Saturday and Sunday.

Monica Ceniceros paints figurative modern art on wood panels, following the natural grain of the wood to create female figures, flowers and leaves. Ceniceros intentionally leaves the wood grain exposed, often highlighting it with gold leaf or metallic paint to emphasize the complicated layers we each carry as humans.

“It’s all meant to represent working with what you’ve been given and making the best out of it,” she says. “Some of us have symmetrical layers, some more complicated, but at the end of the day, we need to embrace what makes us beautiful and unique.”

In 2016, Ceniceros co-founded AtxGals with fellow artist Whitney Turetzky. After experiencing EAST together, the two artists formed an all-female art pop-up event, donating proceeds to nonprofit organizations that focus on empowering women. The sold-out event inspired them to continue hosting pop-ups, growing their network of female artists to include 30 women throughout Austin. This is the group’s first year at EAST, displaying 13 of its artists at The Studio ATX (stop No. 487), including pieces from Turetzky and Ceniceros.

Ceniceros loves EAST for the way it makes art so accessible to the public. Whether you are a long-time collector or just starting out, here are her top tips to make the most of your tour.

Austin Woman: Which studios should we visit during EAST?

Monica Ceniceros: I recommend visiting hubs where you can see more than just one artist. Pump Project on Shady Lane is a great place to start and they have over 30 artists. That was the first studio space I rented in Austin as an artist and they introduced me to EAST. The bigger one is Canopy, right across from the Bouldering Project, or Cement Loop, a little further north. They have plenty of parking, tucked behind Hank’s, and there are three women artists there that are part of AtxGals. You can consume a lot of really wonderful art in one spot, and so many spaces feature live music with complimentary drinks.

AW: How do you plan your next stop?

 MC: Once you go to one of the bigger gallery spaces, you’ll see EAST signs outside the smaller homes and in the studio windows. Follow those signs for other pop-up exhibits and just have fun exploring! I recommend riding your bike or being prepared to walk because that is the best way to see as many studios as possible.

AWWhat if you don’t know very much about art? Do you have any advice for a novice?

MC: EAST is the perfect opportunity for someone to get out there and experience good-quality art without any expectations. Just make it your own experience. EAST is such a great chance to engage with each artist and ask questions. Artists typically love to share their process in how they came to paint what they paint. No question is silly and all kinds of people come for the festival. … One the things I love the most about EAST is how curious people are.

AW: What type of art should people expect to see at Studio ATX?

MC: One of the things we’re known for is the diversity of artists, everything from abstract, collage, figurative. The artists we work with at AtxGals are so unique in their styles, so there are many opportunities to engage with different kinds of art during EAST. Our particular stop is cool because it’s easy to understand the art we’re doing, and it’s a great opportunity to ask the artists questions.

AWWhere can we find other female artists exhibiting at EAST?

MC: There are at least two more all-female stops at EAST this year. One is Broad Studios. Kara Pendl is a ceramics artist I love, exhibiting there with four other female artists. And another stop is Femme-Easta over on Tillery, where I know Julie Ahmad is displaying her abstract art. Both Broad Studios and Femme-Easta are close to the bigger stops like Canopy and Big Medium, so those are two cool little pockets to explore.

AW: How can we support artists year-round after the tour?

MC: Coming to see the art is already hugely supportive. I leave every year more inspired after EAST than any other exhibit. And give your feedback! If you like someone’s art, tell them. You have no idea how much that feedback means. If you can buy the art—even if it’s a $5 print—that’s extremely supportive. Putting a price tag on your art is like putting your heart out there, so any support is wonderful. And finally, if there are artists you loved engaging with on the tour, follow them on social media to see what they are doing in their studios and at other pop-ups. At AtxGals, we host four major events, so you can keep up with our female artists that way, and we also promote the individual work they are doing throughout the year.

Stop by The Studio ATX anytime Saturday or Sunday between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. to see Ceniceros’ work and the work of other female artists. Check the Big Medium website for a full catalog and EAST map, or collect maps from local public libraries.

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