In case you haven’t noticed, Austin is a very creative town. From the street art to our festivals to our music scene, the city is just brimming with the fruits of our fellow Austinites’ labors. Speaking of festivals, I want to make sure you know that this weekend and next is the 3rd Annual West Austin Studio Tour, a self-guided open house with a mind-boggling 241 stops, some showcasing the work of more than one artist. Unlike a museum, WEST allows you to peek inside the workspace of an artist, ask him or her questions and take your family to experience art in a setting that is a far departure from the hush hush atmosphere in many galleries.
The tour is free, and you can pick up catalogues at Austin Public Library branches (although it’s very common for the branches to run out, so you may want to call before you drop by). Studios will be open on the weekends of May 10th-11th and May 17th-18th from 11am-6pm and WEST also has a mobile website.
Since we are LiveMom, you probably won’t be surprised that we are partial to the mamas, so we are excited to introduce you to Avery Orendorf, who is exhibiting at WEST for the first time with a group of other artists. Learn more about her work, who’s sharing space with her this weekend and next and how motherhood has enriched her work.
LiveMom: How many kids do you have, and what are their ages?
Avery: I have two very rambunctious sons, two and four years old.
LiveMom: How long have you lived in Austin?
Avery: I’ve been in Austin for nine happy years.
LiveMom: What do you like most about Austin? What would you change about our city, if you could?
Avery: Austin is such a laid-back city, and it has so much going on for everyone. I love the music scene, green space, food trailers and the eclecticism of the place. There are also plenty of free or cheap events and activities, so we can all to save our money for more breakfast tacos and queso. There isn’t much I’d change about Austin, except for the traffic, of course.
LiveMom: What’s your favorite family-friendly outing here in Austin?
Avery: Hiking on the greenbelt, kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, swimming anywhere that has water. We love to spend as much time outside as possible. We are lucky to live central, so on weekends we just take off on our bikes with the boys in a trailer and ride around town stopping at the farmers market, parks and playgrounds, Barton Springs or a splash pad in the summer, and then usually somewhere like Freddie’s where we can grab a beer while the kids play.
LiveMom: Is this your first time at WEST? Tell us more about your stop at the tour and what we can expect to see there? Is it a stop parents can bring their kids?
Avery: This is my first time at WEST, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I’m hosting a truly fantastic group of artists at my house in Bouldin Creek (#235 on the tour). We came together as a group of mothers and a pre-school teacher at the South Austin Children’s Co-op. Our pre-school community quickly opened up as a network of support for each other and our artistic endeavors, and a few others joined us. We often find ourselves talking about art, life with little ones, and how those two worlds collide into something quite wonderful. We also help each other out. Valentina is helping Sally with her next film shoot; Katie and I recently sat for portraits for one of Roxanne’s new projects; Roxanne and Katie have taken photos of my work for me; and we all share works in progress with each other for artistic insights.
Ryan Authier is a talented woodworker and my new business partner. He hand builds hardwood furniture pieces then hands over his works to me to hand paint. Our work is modern, quirky and original. We will be showing five collaborative furniture pieces at WEST as well as individual woodworking and art pieces.
Valentina Dorsa is a painter whose current series, “Beautiful Chaos,” is informed by Valentina’s recent life as an artist and mother. They represent the struggle of the artist/mother relationship and what happens when organization and order meets chaos and destruction. It plays on the randomness of life with children.
Julia Herman, our wonderful pre-school teacher, has painted wood pieces centered around taking and needing while in love, of “too muchness,” and a longing to hold on to what she once had.
Sally O’Grady makes subjective, stylized non-fiction films, exhibiting at festivals in Europe, Australia and the United States. She is currently working on a film about our fraught relationship with our dwellings.
Roxanne Rathge is a wedding and portrait photographer and an artist showing both photographs and watercolor drawings.
Katie Spence tries to find and photograph small jokes and oddities in her everyday environment.
We are really excited to showcase our work and will definitely all be hanging out and having a good time both weekends. We’d love for families to stop by. I’ve got a very kid-friendly house, and we may even bust out the yard games for extra kicks.
LiveMom: How long have you been making art? What are you working on right now? What’s coming up for you?
Avery: I studied art in university, but took a number of years off after that. I’ve never been good at keeping hobbies. But when my older son was born I painted his nursery mural and remembered how much I loved painting. I started painting slightly more often but knew I’d have to make it my work to really get myself committed. Two years later when my second son was born I left my full time job and started Avery O Design. It’s been really amazing having a business that allows me to be home with my kids during the week. I paint custom wall murals, furniture and other graphic art pieces. My mural work is great for nurseries, kids’ rooms, and quirky adult spaces looking to hold their own.
I also add hand-painted graphics and illustrations to furniture, creating functional pieces of art, which has led to my new endeavor, which I’m extremely excited about. Offcut: Hardwood Handmade Furniture and Homegoods is the collaborative enterprise of Ryan Authier Woodworking and myself. We are launching our business this month and will have our first few pieces for sale at WEST. It has been so much for working with a partner, and I think we have a great thing going. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.
LiveMom: Where do you find inspiration for your work? Are there any design websites or blogs that you follow?
Avery: My kids, their books and their stories are actually a great source of inspiration for me. I never would have had the nerve to give a creative enterprise a try if I hadn’t first quit my 9 to 5 to be at home with my kids. So without kids, I wouldn’t be an artist. I guess I needed an excuse to not make much money for the first few years, and being a stay-at-home mom provided that opportunity. Also, my kids have amazing ideas on what to paint, like a T-Rex chasing a honey badger, for example.
Design Milk, Design Sponge and Apartment Therapy are the top three design websites I follow.
LiveMom: Do you find your kids are naturally inclined towards art? Do you try to encourage them to be little artists? If so, how?
Avery: My kids love art, as all kids do. But, I’m actually really terrible at kiddie art projects. All of those Pinterest kid crafts just don’t happen in our house. My older son is enrolled in Explore Art Preschool at the Dougherty Arts Center, which he loves, and we are always getting into something at home. We have a big art box, and I let them have free range to create without many limitations or any expectations of a final product. They paint and draw on themselves more than anything else, and I’m totally fine with that. Also, I am not at all scared of including them in some of my own projects. I had a furniture project involving the kids featured on Apartment Therapy, and have also been known to let my four-year-old use spray paint.
LiveMom: What’s the best way for readers to keep in touch?
Avery: I would love for people to come and see me and my wonderful artist friends at WEST. We are number 235 on the tour. You can also always find me at Avery O Design and Off Cut Furniture, or follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Nicole-Basham-Sara-Marzani-Photography-livemom.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 7-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau’s words, her mission is to “suck out all the marrow of life”, or in her son’s words, to cultivate in him a love of “advenchers”.[/author_info] [/author]