An Art Walk through the South Austin Bouldin Creek Neighborhood

In an April blog post, I mentioned how much art could be seen while walking around my neighborhood in South Austin. In the 1970s and ‘80s, many of the artists and musicians moving to Austin opted to live in South Austin neighborhoods because of the relative affordability of housing as well as its proximity to downtown Austin.

There are approximately 17 neighborhoods in South Austin. Recently, the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association announced that it would organize its first art walk, promoting open houses from participating artists who live and work in the community.

Saturday, June 12 was the scheduled day for the art walk. I downloaded the map provided by the neighborhood association and saw there were 12 featured artists. For those artists with websites, I checked out their artwork online beforehand.

dog sculpture Boston
One of the many interesting artworks along my route. Image courtesy of the author.

The first four artists I visited were clustered on Daniel Drive. In fact, three of them were located at the same house. Cynthia Bloom makes jewelry and is also a photographer. I don’t consider myself a jewelry expert, but I enjoyed the creativeness of the jewelry displayed. If the photos of models displaying her jewelry are hers, she’s an excellent photographer as well.

Cynthia Bloom is married to James Retherford, another artist on the list. James operates through his digital design company, Hot-Digital-Dog. Retherford’s website appears rather pedestrian compared to his wife’s, but the content tells you much about a person who has participated in a lot of political protests going back to the 1960s. From the items that he displayed on his website, it appears that Mr. Retherford has a number of book cover designs to his credit.

Kris Sorenson-Hyatt makes artisanal cakes, breads, and cookies, and a few were available for purchase at the Daniel Drive house of Retherford and Bloom. She chooses to market her products through her Instagram account.

Sam Gaddis is an artist and a woodworker. His website provided me with an indication of his creativity, but seeing it in person was even more impressive.

The Zenos chair produced by Gaddis and his partner is not just a work of art, but also a cleverly engineered design that is functional as well. Their studio also works on commission and recently produced a woodwork for an exhibit at the George Washington Carver Museum in East Austin. While all of the work is done in Austin, they import their Baltic birch wood from Russia. Here is a picture of one of their Baltic birch desks.

Baltic birch desk BostonTwo photographers, Stephanie Clayton and Maureen McKeon, live across the street from each other on W. Gibson Street. Clayton is a professional photographer whose day job is to document commercial construction. She is also an artist who finds the time to find the art in the symmetry of various sites and styles of construction.

McKeon’s photographs appear to be more artistic in their construction and printing. In fact, she has a technique where she paints melted wax on some of her photographs to give them more of a painting appearance.

Valentina Vale is another artist who lives on W. Gibson Street. She works with metals to create jewelry and art and also draws. Her website provides a marketing tool for her art but also her initiatives to bring out the artist in adults and encourage art by children. Some of her abstract drawings appear to be inspired by children’s fables.

Before the tour, I had never met Faith Schexnayder, the artist who created the rooster sculpture pictured in my previous blog post. Ms. Schexnayder’s Flatfork Studio does a lot of commission work for companies. She is proud of the durability of her creations designed for outdoor and indoor use. Note the picture of a girl astride an armadillo ride displayed in her courtyard.

girl armadillo BostonJulie Williams lives on W. Mary Street and has a diverse portfolio of work that includes aluminum cuff jewelry, leather-cork bracelets, and botanical prints colored with plant dyes. An artist friend of hers from Travis Heights, Sally Fraser, had some of her paintings displayed as well. Ms. Fraser works with acrylics and oils with a preference for landscape paintings.

The last artist that I visited during my art walk, Karen Christensen, specializes in painting, drawing, and soft sculpture. Ms. Christensen does not have a website but sells some of her artwork on Etsy.

The subjects of most of her colorful paintings are of animals like chickens, peacocks, and rabbits. Interestingly, an area of her fenced-in front yard hosted a henhouse with live hens moving about the yard.

I enjoy art. I have no idea how many museums and galleries that I have visited over the years. While this was my first neighborhood art walk, I doubt it will be my last.

In fact, one of the artists that I met told me about Austin’s East West Art Studio event that will take place over three consecutive weekends this November. I’m not sure I’ll attend all three, but look forward to attending some of the events as well as meeting more of Austin’s artists.

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