Through its diverse array of initiatives, Almost Real Things inspires and empowers artists while championing the transformative potential of art.

Co-founded by Natalie Earhart and Zach Zulch in 2015, Almost Real Things (ART) is a lively, colorful headquarters full of creativity. According to Earhart, the arts organization offers a range of platforms to promote artists and foster community engagement. The duo’s brainchild encompasses a free magazine, events, art tours and a physical space, all geared toward nurturing the creative ecosystem and ensuring the sustainability of arts in Austin.

By Isabel Neumann. Photo by Joey Cruz.

The name Almost Real Things “leaves it really open,” Earhart says. “Anything you want could go in here. It’s not one type of art; it’s not one type of experience level. The name leaves it really open: ‘Is this real?’ ‘Is this almost real?’ If we can’t pull something off, we can say, ‘It was almost real and not real.’ It gives us a lot of leeway to do what we want.

“Our goal was always to focus on the creative ecosystem and the sustainability of arts in Austin,” Earhart says. Per their mission statement, ART strives to provide opportunities for artists to “showcase their work, develop professional skills, and connect with a broader community, thereby making art more accessible and economically viable.”

The headquarters’ physical space operates as a multifunctional area where artists can rent affordable spaces akin to coworking setups. “We want to give artists opportunities so they can sell their work, make money from their art and, overall, connect to a larger community to find artists, go to events and buy local art,” Earhart says. The space houses a gallery where exhibits, both curated by ART and rented by artists, rotate periodically.

ART’s most recent collaboration with the Texas School for the Blind, the {Touch the Art} exhibit, represents a departure from traditional art shows by prioritizing a multisensory experience. “It’s inherently different because you can touch the art, so it feels more accessible, especially for people with visual impairments,” says Earhart. “[It] is immersive in that it’s an art show, you can still purchase the pieces, but on top of that you’re learning about this other community you may not know much about.”

The process behind Touch the Art is truly collaborative, emphasizing inclusivity and education. “We had five artists go to the school weekly for six weeks and make pieces with the students.” This collaborative approach both enriches the exhibit in terms of accessibility and facilitates meaningful interactions between artists and students.

Earhart emphasizes the importance of “fostering a supportive environment where emerging creatives feel empowered to explore and showcase their work.” For ART, the art itself encompasses all things creative. “A lot of times when people hear the word artist they think visual art, but art is such a range.”

Photo by Zach Zulch.

ART has open calls for their artists, emphasizing the desire to extend into the community. “It’s all about giving people confidence to share their stuff no matter what level they’re at, no matter if they’re just starting out, if they didn’t go to school for this thing, just giving them opportunities to promote themselves and make money,” says Earhart. The art shows and the magazines include “a good age range in them so I think that makes everybody feel like, ‘Oh, I can be in this.’ It feels achievable to them.”

Community feedback shapes ART’s evolution. “We try to talk to a lot of people and make them feel not scared to share something.” This open dialogue enables ART to continuously refine its offerings and better serve its community, particularly when it comes to accessibility, as seen through the {Touch the Art} experience. 

When envisioning the growth of ART, Earhart anticipates the organization encompassing a more permanent space so as to further “support emerging artists and foster a vibrant creative scene in Austin as a channel for people.” As she and Zulch are artists themselves, they understand what it means to be a creator. “We always keep that in mind because we’re representing artists, creative people, so we want to try our best to get them all of the opportunities.”

Come experience ART!

{STUDENT-ATHLETE “PART II”}: A collaboration exhibit by Deezie Brown

Date: Saturday, June 15, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Location: Almost Real Things HQ, 820 Shelby Lane, #103, Austin 78745




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