An artworks spectacular

Published 11:09 am Monday, August 20, 2012

Maintenance personnel clean the floor of the downtown Austin Utilities Building in preparation for the The Austin Artworks Festival starting this Saturday. -- Matt Peterson/

Artists prepare for first festival at old Utilities

Bonnie Rietz and Belita Schindler have the artwork in place and the performers and entertainment lined up. In five days, they will find out what all their hard work got them.

Austin native Eric Anfinson will be one of the many artists and talents displaying their talents this weekend at the Austin Artworks Festival.

Rietz and Schindler, co-chairs of the Austin Artworks Festival, have had since May to organize the giant art showcase centered around hometown artists and those with Austin connections.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, arts from all areas including painting, pottery and music will entertain visitors in a showcase that could hardly ask for a better background — the unused downtown Austin Utilities Plant.

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“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Rietz. “We just had our last steering committee meeting, and it’s amazing how it has come together.”

Performances and displays are scheduled throughout the festival and the grounds of the building. There will be stage performances outside the building with musical acts as well as author presentations inside. There will be various displays throughout the first floor as well as the annex outside.

Less than three months ago the event was announced as a way to highlight how valuable the utilities building can be. It also highlights the growing arts movement in Austin.

“I would say it’s exceeded expectations a bit,” project director Jennie Germain said. “I knew people were excited about it, but the buzz has been so great around town.”

Artist and Austin native Eric Anfinson is one of many artists coming home to support the festival. The painter who uses the figurative oil painting style, which always revolves around a person, has been an important voice in the planning, though it’s the actual organizers Anfinson is crediting.

“These people are doers,” Anfinson said.

Anfinson’s perspective is unique because he was living in Austin during a time when the arts weren’t as popular.

“It didn’t seem like there was a big focus on the seriousness of someone taking art as a way of life; it was more of a hobby,” Anfinson said. “This festival adds a legitimacy to art. Art is cool.”

Now, all that’s left is for the artists to move their works in.

“I am looking forward to it all coming together,” Germain said. “In our minds and on paper it all sounds great, but seeing people come is what I’m more excited to see.”

Like any outdoor festival, there is one thing looming: weather.

“The excitement of the artists coming back is fun, but that weather really makes the difference,” Rietz said. “We want beautiful days.”

As of Monday morning, the National Weather Service is predicting a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday and Sunday.

Regardless of this year’s outcome, there is already enough interest to warrant a second year, which is already in the woks. The 2013 Austin Artworks Festival will take place Aug. 24-25.

“We’re having a meeting after this year’s festival — an after-project meeting,” Rietz said. “We’ll go over what went well, what didn’t go so well.

“This shows a real enthusiasm for the arts.”

An enthusiasm Anfinson can whole-heartedly get behind.

“This is more rewarding than I could ever imagine,” Anfinson said. “Whatever I can do for the growth of this town I’m in. This warms my heart.”

The festival runs 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.



Brush the Beetle: A Volkswagon Beetle will be on hand for people to leave their mark. T-shirts will be available for $8 each or $15 for two to commemorate the fun.

Glass blowing demonstration with Peter Waldman: Professional glass artist Peter Waldman will be demonstrating glass blowing throughout both days of the festival.

Project Semilla: Semilla — meaning Seed — is a program of arts learning that has taught mosaics. Austin native Patrick Cabello Hansel and his wife, Luisa, will work with participants in creating a mosaic flowerpot.

Metal chasing and repousse demonstration: John Finch will be demonstrating the fundamentals of the ancient technique of metal chasing and repousse. Handouts will be made available, outlining the process and will include links for more information.

2012 Austin Artworks festival



10-10:15 Matchbox Children’s Theatre

10:15-10:45 Justin Law

11-11:45 Up the Band

Noon-12:30 Michael Hall

12:30-1:15 J Keyser

1:30-2:15 Vinyl Wine

2:30-3:15 Adam Wollenberg

3:30-4:15 El Mariachi Band

4:30-5 PJ Combo

5:15-5:45 Community Jazz Band

6-7 Trace Bundy


Noon-12:15 Matchbox Children’s Theatre

12:45-1:15 Magician Jim Jayes

1:30-2:15 SPAMettes

2:30-3:15 Donovan Germain

3:15-3:45 Cedar River Strings

4-5 Denny Charnecki & Friends



10:15 Rod Cockrum

11 Paul Reetz

Noon John Beckmann

1 Julie Kramer

2 Mike Cotter & Beverly Jackson

3 Joe Kimball

4 Beth Bednar

5 Richard A. Thompson

6 Peggy Keener


12:15 Richard A. Thompson

12:45 Eric Anfinson

1:15 Janelle Jacobson

2:15 Father Paul Nelson

3:15 Sherrie Hansen

4:15 Larry Nemitz