Earlier this year, the Austin-based arts organization Big Medium announced its plan to leave Canopy, a complex that is home to shops, galleries, and artist studios. After a decade at Canopy, Big Medium opted not to renew its lease at the end of last month. Last week, Jonas Criscoe, a founding member of ICOSA, which has a gallery space in the building, and Kevin Ivester, Director of Ivester Contemporary, which is also located in the Canopy complex, announced a pop-up exhibition at the newly dubbed Canopy Projects, which is Big Medium’s former space.
According to Mr. Criscoe, the developer that owns Canopy has given the duo the space for a month rent free, utilities paid, and with a stipend to help with the opening. If the pop-up exhibition goes well, and if there is enough buy-in and support from other Canopy artists and residents, the group then has the option to sign a lease, at the same below-market rate Big Medium had, to create a community gallery.
Mr. Criscoe told Glasstire, “We thought a great way to celebrate Big Medium’s achievements and also bookend their time here at Canopy would be to do a group show. So that’s what we are doing here in their old space. The exhibition, Here Now: Celebrating Canopy, includes over 60 artists and organizations that call Canopy home, and it’s really just highlighting what Canopy is and how special it is to the Austin art scene.”
When asked about what Canopy Projects would look like moving forward, Mr. Criscoe explained that the space could utilize the collective model of ICOSA on a larger scale. Mr. Criscoe was clear that neither he nor Mr. Ivester is looking to take on the management of the space, but rather they hope to help foster community following the departure of Big Medium, and in doing so take a collective approach to the space. Artists would pay dues to be a part of the community, and each month the gallery could host group shows in which all members could exhibit a few works.
Mr. Criscoe remarked, “Big Medium was one part of Canopy, but what’s great about it is that it’s a true community. You’ve got 60 artists that call their studios home here, you have four galleries, you have organizations up the street, so it’s a real community of people…So, we wanted to make sure that we highlighted that so that people understood that that wasn’t going to go away.”
This Friday, May 26, SAGE Studio, ICOSA, and Canopy Projects will host opening receptions from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.