ArtProfiler Hits Due EAST!
Randi Turkin November 11, 2017
Big Medium kicked off its sixteenth EAST Austin Studio Tour last night with its annual Due EAST opening event. This year’s studio tour features work from 505 Austin artists, many whose work was on exhibit last night. And this year, Big Medium, the producer of EAST (and the WEST Austin Studio Tour which takes place each spring), added a sit down dinner that took place before the reception opened to the public.
We jumped on the chance to meet other artists and savor the delicious treats concocted by culinary artist and executive chef, Sonya Coté. The Native Wildflower Dinner was a delectable four course meal which included rabbit confit, grasshopper salad, pecan smoked tri tip and a luscious, mesquite pod pot de creme. (There was also a vegan, paleo, gluten-free option). Coté used Big Medium’s EAST artist catalog cover, a bouquet of native Texas flowers, as the inspiration for her menu — conceptual dining at its finest.
EAST Catalog Cover
Before we were served the first course, Coté was introduced by Shea Little, Big Medium’s effervescent executive director, and she encouraged guests to explore their plates for hints of Texas nature. I found pink flowers, dainty weeds, leaves, berries, and of course, grasshoppers. I ate them all. I never thought I’d enjoy eating a bug, but Oh. My. Gosh. Ms. Coté knows what she is doing.
I happened to be seated next to Coté’s partner, David Barrow, a local, and delightfully warm and funny, filmmaker, who gave me the behind the scenes scoop. He told me that while he is the one to cook meals at home, Ms. Coté is the master mind behind Austin favorites like Eden East and Hillside Farmacy, and she brings her own form of art into the kitchen. She draws her dishes out then forages for the ingredients, and sometimes vice versa. Now that is how you make cooking an art, folks.
David & Randi checking out the exhibit
Enough about the food — actually, I couldn’t get enough of the food, but I do want to talk about art and the other interesting folks we met.
William Herwig and Nicole Jeffords toasting to ART!
Seated directly across from ArtProfiler’s founder, Nicole Jeffords, and me, was William Herwig. I recognized the name on Mr. Herwig’s seating card immediately because I’d seen (and loved) his work as I browsed the exhibit before dinner. Herwig is a participating EAST artist exhibiting at Canopy. He is number 252 on the tour and you can also find him online at www.williamherwig.com.
Herakles, William Herwig, 2017
We also met Janine Schirmacher, an artist and interior designer. Ms. Schirmacher is not participating in EAST this year, but she did curate Dreaming Big in ATX, a pop-up, one night only show, which exhibits next Wednesday, November 15, at Springdale Station and features work by Mexican artist Lucia Valencia.
Janine Schirmacher (left) & Angelica Mcauley
Angelica Mcauley (and her head full of gorgeous hair) was another alluring connection we made. Ms. Mcauley and Coté opened and ran a Fredericksburg bed and breakfast together many years ago, an endeavor which Coté credits as her prerequisite lesson in opening restaurants. Today Ms. Mcauley is a master of the Tarot — she does individual readings, or intuitive guidance sessions, either at your home or at her location in south Austin. She is also in high demand for parties and other events and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
ArtProfiler editors Nicole Jeffords (left) and Randi Turkin
As we browsed the exhibit after dinner, we ran into some of the other participating artists:
Jennifer Balkan, a well-known Austin figurative painter, told us about her piece on exhibit, I Love You. Her model, a skull named Frederico, lives in her studio, and he managed to make his way onto the canvas in a clownish way. Ms. Balkan is a beloved part of the Austin art community and teaches figurative and portrait classes. She has recently joined with three other artists to form Atelier Dojo, a place for a community of artists to work toward mastery of their craft. Balkan will be exhibiting her work during EAST at her own studio, Little Blue House, number 76 on the tour. You can also find her work online at http://www.jenniferbalkan.net.
Jennifer Balkan, I Love You, 2016
Cheryl Finfrock, another participating artist, was also in attendance. She and Nicole used to have studios next to each other at Pump Project which is where Ms. Finfrock can be found during EAST – artist number 269. You can also find her online at http://www.cherylfinfrock.com/
Cheryl Finfrock, Always With Us, 2017
And finally, we met Jan Pomeroy, a mixed media artist who also works with functional ware sandstone and glass coasters, tile trivets and metal prints. She can be found at Link & Pin Gallery during EAST – artist number 308 or online at www.janpomeroy.com.
Jan Pomeroy, Archosanti, 2017
It was a spectacular evening for artists and art lovers! If you missed Due EAST last night, don’t worry! The exhibit is open during the EAST studio tour and is located at 1300 East 5th Street. Be sure to stop off at any library to pick up your catalog and map your route. The tour is all over the EAST side and runs Nov 11-12 and Nov 18-19. For more information about the artists, locations and Big Medium, please visit bigmedium.org.