Art From The Streets: Dec 1 & 2 (Austin Convention Center)
Art From the Streets is a free and open art studio show and sale serving Austin’s homeless community. The artists are all homeless or formerly homeless, and their history, stories and perspective shape the work they create. This year the show runs December 1 and 2 from 11am-5pm at the Austin Convention Center in Ballroom A.
This was my first time attending the event so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised at the sheer amount of art that had been created by over 100 artists. Original paintings, jewelry, art made from found objects and prints were set up in back to back rows and separated by temporary fencing throughout the ballroom. The artists were available to share stories about the experiences that inspired their works, and that may be what I enjoyed most about this show — the conversation. So often we go into an art gallery or museum and the ambiance is cold, removed. Here, conversation buzzed all around me and being witness to human connection surrounding art was comforting. The three-person musical group, Mosaic Sound Collective, at the back of the room helped create this energy as well.
A wide variety of styles and creation methods were on display, as was the level of artistic excellence. Marilyn Swartz, for instance, has only been painting for two years, yet she had three walls full of bright abstracts that looked as if they’d come from someone who’s been an artist her whole life.
One could easily see the transformation in Arielle Baez’ paintings whose earlier works were done in a murky, abstract impressionistic style but whose later paintings took on a more modern realistic form.
And Tom Jett’s door of found objects was not only fun to look at but made me curious about the places from which these trinkets came. It left me with a sense of wonder at how something that is broken and has reached the end of its life for one person could be a meaningful beginning for the next.
The mission of Art From the Streets is to provide a safe and encouraging environment in which the positive spirit and creativity of homeless and formerly homeless people is nurtured through artistic expression, and to provide them with a source of pride and income through the sale of their work. The organization provides studio time to the artists three times per week which culminates in this annual show where participants have the opportunity to exhibit and sell their work. Artists receive 60% of the final price of the artwork and there is a $5 suggested donation at the door.