Kayla E., Precious Rubbish, published in NOW New Comics Anthology #11 by Fantagraphics (2022), at the Willie Mae Kirk Branch, Austin Public Library
The comics publisher Fantagraphics, based in Seattle, Washington, annually publishes an anthology of new, short story comics, titled NOW. Imagine my surprise when I took a quick detour after visiting exhibitions to stop by an eastwardly branch of the Austin Public Library and saw Kayla E.’s Precious Rubbish within the pages of the Fantagraphics anthology, which I pulled from the library’s graphic novel collection. I’m familiar with E.’s visual art exhibitions in Dallas, which often feature a mother and child pair of nearly identical, bobble-headed figures. Precious Rubbish takes those familiar characters, (with the aforementioned bobble heads) and illustrates them in a crisp, monowidth graphic style, while continuing her artwork’s themes of domestic relations and inter-familial tensions. The intersection of fine artists working in comics is not very large, but Kayla E.’s graphic works are equally as intriguing as her sculptural installation and video work, albeit less textured.
Jamie Lerman, It’s Shabbat! at MASS Gallery, Hotbox Residency
Jamie Lerman hosted It’s Shabbat! as an outgoing celebration of their month-long Hotbox Residency with MASS Gallery. The event was an afternoon filled with esoteric books offered by Addie Oscher of Time Being Books, as well as a dinnertime ritual led by Lerman. Gallery member Ariel Wood was on site to assist in facilitating the event (MASS members take turns running events in the space).
Oscher’s program is still in flux; Time Being Books exists as a pop-up book exhibitor, with appointments available primarily on weekends (as per the @timebeingbooks Instagram account). You can expect to peruse their collections of “eclectic printed matter, rare books, and unique reference materials.” I spoke with Oscher about her interest in reference materials, and we gushed about books like Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. There is always room for another purveyor of interesting books, and It’s Shabbat! was a lovely meeting of varied creative endeavors under the MASS Gallery roof. Expect socially oriented programs organized around the 11th year of their summer Hotbox Residency.
Good Dad Studios
Jacqueline Overby took me on a tour of Good Dad Studios, which sits along the east corridor of Austin’s I-35 just south of the Colorado River. Overby and GD Wright were brought on to work as Development Managers for the studio complex. Calvin Chen of Bercy Chen Studio LP, architecture and urban planning practice, purchased the former office building, following his longtime dream of creating a space for Austin studio artists.
“The only goal is to make the mortgage,” Overby told me, which is an uncommon, but not unheard of studio business model, and allows for pricing studio units at or below what would be market rate. On a working floor plan of the building, I was able to see studio spaces coming available soon at 40 square feet and 746 square feet, which were priced at $135.20 and $2,051.50 per month, respectively. It is quite similar to the Golmark Cultural Center in Dallas, at least in appearance, as both facilities occupy former office complexes.
During my visit, studio cubicles were being framed out by a construction crew, so we walked past the active site into the quieter, currently unoccupied sections of the building. Overby mentioned plans for group exhibitions among studio mates, as well as the possibility for a speakeasy gallery at the terminal of one hallway. There was much excitement across the city of Austin for the communal creative opportunities this new facility enables.
It turns out that Dallas studio models have even more to share with this facility: Overby stated that Good Dad’s micro-studio strategy was informed, in part, by visits to the city’s Cedars Union. The value of affordable studio space to an artist’s career is unmeasurable, and the benefits to their professional development are endless. Furthermore, when a group of artists’ studios are able to exist amongst each other, the resulting cross-pollination in creative efforts is exponential. Good Dad Studios aims to provide a home for artists to exist and grow together into a supportive and inclusive community, capable of positively impacting the world around them.
Erica Nix: Splashdance at Austin Motel
If I had known that the ending opus to Erica Nix’s Splashdance aerobic class included a segment where she stares you in the face and tells you how special you are, I would have paid double. During the hot summer months, Nix puts on this water aerobics class at the boutique Austin Motel. The program showcases her performance talent, and feels a lot like a social practice artwork. At other times of the year, the artist advocates for political action on her social media feeds and promotes her 2022 film, Erica’s First Holy Shit, a soul-searching hero’s journey that takes place in present-day, crisis-of-identity Austin. The film has its own lessons to impart on the viewer.
If you are interested in understanding contemporary American outsider art, feel-good avant-garde performance, or just trying to sweat your buns off, go to Austin and look for their very famous exercise guru.
William Sarradet is the Assistant Editor for Glasstire.