$newsid = ''; ?> I went on the EAST tour as planned and even bought some art. I got an early start and was the first person through the door in a couple of cases, which got me effusive greetings from the bleary-eyed but friendly artists. Chris came along and showed me some places he knew of because of his UT connections.
A few high points: Blue Genie, as always, and another shared studio space, Bolm Studios. The new kid on the block at Blue Genie is Whitney Lee, who does latch-hook rugs of soft-core porn images from the net. We got to watch her at work, with every person in line asking the same question about the software she uses. At Bolm I was impressed with Sodalitas' intense collages and Bernard Bolter's fantastic cityscapes. As near as I can tell, Bolter makes chimaeric composites of real buildings, manipulates the perspective digitally, then paints over them. I bought a small print of this one but in retrospect the reproduction doesn't do justice to the effect of paint on the digital image.
I'm happier with my purchase of a pair of small paintings by Michael Schliefke and Chris Chappell that had stuck with me since I first saw them at Blue Genie's December show. Well, paired in my mind anyway: Schliefke's Adam and Eve and Chappell's pies just look right together. (I suppose the connection to my own life is embarrassingly obvious. When life gives you apples, make pie. Even if, on close inspection, the pie is probably cherry not apple.) I wish I could afford one of Schliefke's larger demimonde scenes or one of Chappell's landscapes, but you've got to start somewhere.
Elsewhere, we stopped by Flatbed Press and got an exhaustive tour of their facilities, but I was most impressed with an MFA exhibition next door featuring a thoughtful exploration of castoff library catalog cards, one which I'm sure would have both delighted and appalled Nicholson Baker. (I've prowled the UT art sites and I can't find the name of the artist; if you know, tell me. [UPDATE: Chris identifies her below as Amanda McCoy Bast.]) The warren of arts and community groups in the old Mrs. Baird's factory at 701 Tillery was new to me. The studios there which happened to be participating in the EAST tour weren't especially noteworthy, but there were others. It's a space to watch.
Of all the spaces we saw, the one I keep thinking about was a cramped nano-loft behind a defunct lumberyard somewhere off of East 6th. Let's hope, however far the gentrification of East Austin proceeds, that there remain nooks and crannies where artists can hide out from the economic pressures that dominate in the rest of the city.