Tribeza Talk: Arts
An insider’s guide to what’s buzzing around Austin
by Nicole Beckley
Lions, tigers, bears, and a menagerie of more than 100 other animals are captured in compellingly detailed portraits by photographer Randal Ford in his newly released book, “The Animal Kingdom: A Collection of Portraits.” The subjects, largely captured against stark white or black backgrounds, might be pelicans, llamas, or armadillos, but framed by Ford’s eye for detail, their more human qualities and personalities emerge.
Message in the Making
“My first big project was the beginning of 2012, and the original inspiration behind it was to roll paper to create a spiral, which is the symbol of life from beginning to end,” artist Jenn Hassin says. The St. Edward’s graduate and military veteran has used newspaper and paper created from military uniforms for her works, including the “Respect” installation, recently on view at Texas A&M University. “A lot of my works are community-based, so I end up having a hundred people help me make the projects, and I think it’s a cathartic experience for that individual, too,” Hassin says.
Currently pursuing her MFA at Columbia University, Hassin is using the clothing of sexual assault survivors, including herself, in her materials for her newest project. “I wanted to make it be something that gave voices to people who have felt silenced, to help us kick and scream if we need to, and to have our voices be heard,” Hassin says.
“We tend to think everything — our consciousness — exists within our own skin and it separates us from the world,” artist Ian Ingram says. “The show — my work — tries to illuminate that’s not the case.” For his debut Austin show, “Five Skin Ten Skin,” opening at the Dimension Gallery November 15, Ingram uses a self-portrait as the backbone for his paintings and sculptural pieces. The sculptural pieces utilize wood, copper, and epoxy clay to emphasize their dimensionality.
While Ingram has been based in Austin since 2007, with his work shown in New York, L.A., and in the permanent collection of San Francisco’s de Young Museum, this is his first Austin show. “I felt like I was much more of a monk in a cave for lots of years where I didn’t get to share my art very much with people here,” Ingram says. Catch his work during the second weekend of EAST.
In 2017, artist Arnoldo Hurtado Escobar had an idea, and it started with a truck. “[I] bought it from a teacher who had used it as an ice-cream truck and was ready to let it go and brought it back to Austin just in time for East Austin Studio Tour,” Escobar says. He converted the truck into a mobile art studio, filling it with his colorful acrylic paintings and dubbing it the Artscream Truck.
This year, Escobar is working to mobilize the truck enough to live out of it on the road. “With the current state of lack of availability of space for artists and affordability, it’s also part of why I made this choice. It wasn’t just, I want to travel and now I can. I sort of have to,” he says. And he’s advocating for more inclusivity at EAST. “I provided my Spanish-speaking skills and community-advocacy background to help with ways of reaching communities that are not being reached.”
As part of the city of Austin’s Art in Public Places program, Wander sends participants in the downtown corridor on a choose-your-own literary adventure. Beginning at the “Beacon” sculpture outside the Central Library, users can access the mobile site and select one of four stories that will guide them to different locations, unlocking the next segment in the narrative. Created by Brockett Davidson, Chris Gannon, and Chadwick Wood, the interactive concept brought together local writers and artists to bring the stories to life and illuminates a different way to engage with the city.
A New Practice
A new professional art academy, Atelier Dojo, hosts its grand opening on November 17. Founded by artists Jennifer Balkan, Denise Fulton, Karen Maness, and Karen Offutt, the academy aims to create a space for artists to develop and refine their skills, with specific focus given to those working in figurative realism. Housed inside the Canopy space on Springdale Road, the academy will offer art classes, workshops, and studio access.