Archived Story

Home for the arts

Published 12:01pm Sunday, September 22, 2013
Plans are moving forward for an Art Center downtown. Now, how to use the building? Eric Johnson/

As the Austin Area Commission for the Arts moves forward with plans of hopefully turning the downtown bank building into an arts center, questions turn toward what the site could host in terms of activities.

During a trio of open houses Tuesday, the commission showed off to the public a little bit of the potential of such an atmospheric building. Executive Director Jennie Knoebel took time during one of those open houses to imagine what she sees as five of some of the more attractive ideas for the space.

1. Gathering place

With three floors to the building and a pleasing architectural style throughout it’s not hard to imagine the building as a place for people to gather and plans could encompass a whole spectrum of ideas ranging from a wine bar to a place for music.

“People have been hoping for a wine bar that centers around the arts,” Knoebel said. “People could gather to read books or to even perform music recitals.”

2. Wine bar

The wine bar idea has been an attractive plan and with classes involving wine and painting on the rise in popularity, this seems like a natural step.

“There are a lot of wine connoisseurs in Austin,” Knoebel said. “There is a lot of popularity now with wine and painting.”

3. Classes

On a purely artistic level, the center would be a natural place to hold art classes in a number of different areas, including a traditional Norwegian style of painting called Rosemaling to pottery.

“There are all kinds of classes and some of our ideas involve having a kiln so hopefully we can have pottery classes,” Knoebel said. “We would have classes for kids up to adults.”

4. Residencies with artists

This idea would form a joining of two worlds that would include visiting artists to Austin not only sharing their talents with the public but displaying their own works.

It’s far from a stretch to see artists holding classes at the Art Center, something that has been common-place over the years within the Austin School District.

“We would invite artists to teach classes,” Knoebel said. “We’ve approached some of the artists during the ArtWorks Festival and they were super excited. They would get to share their work while using them to teach classes.”

5. Work space

The Art Center would serve on a casual basis as well. One of the perks of the Austin Area Art Center is community artists can come together and work on their art together.

This would wrap back into the gathering place, but serve as a much more casual base.

“It would be something similar,” Knoebel said. “A community workspace.”

While these are just five ideas, they are far from the only ideas. The space itself and what it offers brings the chance for much more. Art — at its core — is self-expression and the bank building, when it’s all said and done, could be the Austin community’s own face of self-expressionalism.

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