It started with a homegrown artist, a director with an eye for art in peculiar corners, and a decommissioned utilities building with an uncertain future. 

What is now known as the Historic Downtown Power Plant hadn't been dark for long before Eric Anfinson - an Austin native and professional painter - proposed an idea to AACA Executive Director Jennie Knoebel: use the space to bring artists with a tie to the area (small towns surrounding Austin included) together to celebrate just what our corner of the world has produced in terms of visual, literary, and performing arts.

Six months later, visitors and Austinites descended onto a vivid reinvention of that brick and mortar space - having filled the Power Plant with the work of 65 artists, authors, and musicians, the Austin ArtWorks Festival sparked new life into both the building and the area's culture, and left folks buzzing. Anfinson himself has said that turning Austin into a destination for the arts carries "dramatic ramifications" for the community, and several participating artists were surprised at what good company they were in. 

The Festival was great for the kiddos as well, as muralist Jimmy Longoria of Mentoring Peach through Art provided a mural activity meant to promote understanding of just how much work goes into a work of art.

"We want kids to understand that painting is not just something you just look at," he said. "It's something you do and you understand. We feel it creates a tremendous appreciation [for art]."


Artists / Eric Anfinson / Zane York / James Dankert / Dan Goettsch / Jim Freitag / Joe Sand / Jim Wegner / Joan Finnegan / Peter Waldman / Diane Crane / Barb Agerter / Thomas Keller / Mark Garry / John Finch / Elizabeth Leyk / Linda Marlin / Tim Jones / Bonnie Lee / Don & Karen Brezicka / Rayna Gasteiger / John Durham / Jeff Gould / Mary Gould / Craig Johnson / Art Scherer / Jeff & Jane Peterson / Tony Schmidt / Craig Challgren / Dustin DeBore / Luiz Chamizo / Mary Wolcott

Authors / Mike Cotter & Beverly Jackson / Peggy Keener / Paul Reetz / Julie Kramer / Richard A. Thompson / Beth Bednar / John Beckmann / Joe Kimball / Larry Nemitz / Sherrie Hansen / Father Paul Nelson / Janelle Jacobson

Music / Trace Bundy / Cedar River Strings / Justin Law / Michael Hall / Vinyl Wine / Up the Band / Community Jazz Band / J Keyser / PJ Combo




Saturday Night Lives

The return of the Festival brought with it a musical addition. The Saturday Night Concert at Marcusen Park (a baseball field under normal circumstances) played host to Martin Zellar & the Hardways as well as indie rock band Cloud Cult. Both bands fit the spirit of the Festival well; Zellar grew up in Austin, and Cloud Cult - in addition to sharing the stage with two painters who auction their pieces off at the end of each show - included violinist Shannon Fried, another Austin native. Under the lights, the Festival net widened and the buzz continued.




Artists / Phil Gleason / Paul Reetz / John Steven Kjome / Jordan Kjome / Ellen Rockne / Keith Grove / Joan Finnegan / Phyllis Yes / John Duren / Eric Anfinson / Jean Formo / Joseph Sand / Suzanne Crane / James Wegner / Bonnie Lee / Tim Jones / Michael Murach / Wendy Heimsness / Troy Doyle / Micah Ofstedahl / Sally Gerhart / Jane Wunrow / Leslie Tapp / Shirley Tapp / Diane Crane / Thomas Keller / James Dankert / Shelly Aquino Brandon / Dan Goettsch / Jordan Ewert / Kyra Bellrichard / Peter Waldman / Craig Seath / Craig Challgren / Morgan Converse / Rayna Gasteiger / Angela Pipkorn / Jeanne Thatcher / Jeff & Jane Peterson / David Perkins / Mary Wolcott

Authors / Brad Zellar / Joanne Hansen / Dan Kubicek / Eric Anfinson / Nona Burroughs Babcock / Carole Hyder / Amanda Hocking / Sean Williams / Therese Pautz / Jacob Whalen / Jeffrey Ollman / Joy Dey & Anna Skarie / Terry Nelsen / Randy Krulish / Dan Urlick

Music / Martin Zellar & the Hardways / Cloud Cult / Trace Bundy / Sena Ehrhardt / Cosmic / Austin High School Jazz Band / Ali & the Scoundrels / Community Mariachi Band / Adam Wayne Wollenberg / Bees Knees / DC Drifters / Jim Waller / Jan Musik / ConFuoco / Sam & Melissa Bergstrom / Scott Blankenbaker / Kelsey Fleming / Rachel Carlson / LaBella Vita / Ecumenical Handbells / Marc Anderson / Austin Polka Squad




A Home for the Arts

After the success of the ArtWorks Festival in 2012 and 2013, the AACA saw an opportunity to build a year-round home for the arts in Austin. After undergoing months of planning and fundraising, and with the help lots of elbow grease, the Austin ArtWorks Center celebrated its grand opening on Thursday, August 21. Three featured artists - Zane York, Angela Pipkorn, and Joseph Sand - held receptions in each of the ArtWorks Center's galleries, which teemed with locals and visitors getting their first glimpse of what has quickly become a hub for showcasing, collaborating with, and educating artists and art lovers.

Find more on the ArtWorks Center galleries here and here.



Spare Arts

Austinite Andy Hull wheeled a fleet of motorcycles onto Main Street on Saturday, August 23 and proved that art doesn't have to hang on a wall. The Spare Arts Bike Show united Festival goers of all ages and backgrounds to celebrate the art of a custom-built motorcycle by turning the corridor between the Downtown Power Plant and ArtWorks Center into an outdoor gallery. And it was more than just a bike show - the street was also replete with activities to keep the good vibes rolling, including a dunk tank and photo booth.

Look for the return of Spare Arts in the 2015 Festival.


More than Just a Weekend

The Festival's third year saw a big jump in community involvement; folks couldn't resist using their talents to help Austin celebrate creativity in its myriad forms. While the Hormel Institute organized their second annual Color Dash 5k as an early kickoff to the Festival, drawing several hundred "dashers" and raising thousands for cancer research (and bringing a bright mood to the Downtown Power Plant by encouraging participants and spectators to cover themselves and each other in colored powders), the Friends of the Austin Public Library - who have been instrumental in recruiting Festival authors since its inception - organized an opportunity for aspiring writers to dig deeper into the 2014 festivities. Bestselling author Grant Blackwood used his pre-festival Wednesday to lead a writing workshop on the secrets of writing bestselling thrillers, which received excellent reviews and was well-attended. 

Downtown businesses also got in on the action. Dusty's Bar & Lounge hosted Frankie Lee and BB Gun, two Twin-Cities based bands, for a Festival Eve alley concert. The unique setting and beautiful weather provided a neighborly atmosphere in which artists, authors, volunteers, and visitors had the chance to rub shoulders and experience the best of Austin's nightlife. The alley concert will return in 2015.


Artists / Zane York / Joseph Sand / Angela Pipkorn / Joan Finnegan / Bill Stamats / James Dankert / Vern Grove / Bonnie Lee / Thomas Keller / Dan Goettsch / Joan Schlichting / Ryan Heath / Phil Masse / James Pettijohn / Eric Anfinson / Carol Bender / John Steven Kjome / Jordan Kjome / John Duren / William Olson / James Wegner / Wendy Heimsness / Phong Nguyen / Micah Ofstedahl / Lisa Truax / Dirk Nelson / Nick Sinclair / Craig Challgren / Barb Cafourek / Sonia Larson / Jon Kittleson / Nicole Weiss / Jim Read / Easton Green / Kyra Bellrichard / Rayna Gasteiger / Craig Seath / Peter Waldman / Katie Hunerdosse / Kim Kahn-Waletzke / IJ Holton After-School Art Enrichment Program / IJ Holton Peer Powers Program / Jane & Jeff Peterson / David Perkins / John Tapager / Mary Jo Stanek

Authors / Grant Blackwood / P.S. Duffy / Julie Kramer / Phil Formo / Randy Hilmer / Carole Hyder / Sherrie Hansen / Kristy Bina / Al Batt / Lydia Emma Niebuhr / Chuck Keller

Music / Cloud Cult / Charlie Parr / Pert Near Sandstone // The Last Revel / Full Circle / Austin High School Jazz Band / Brian Gorman / Weathered Ivan / Echo Messenber / Joshua Whalen / Cosmic / Trace Bundy / Terry Schmidt / DC Drifters / Jeremy Jewell / Jon Stowell / ConFuoco / Cedar River Strings / Kalle Akkerman / Sam Bergstrom / Peter Jacobs / Jim Knudson



Artists / Laura Anderson / Susan Bartley / Kyra Bellrichard / Randy Birocci / Tom Blahnik / Christopher Casper / Julia Crozier / Steve DeLaitsch / John Duren / Joan Finnegan / Holly Foss / Heather Friedli / Rayna Gasteiger / Jesse Gerhard / Diane Gonzalez / Bruce Gordon / Sandra Haff / Gary Harbo / Wendy Heimsness / Eric Holey / Lori Hungerholt / Neil Johnson / Kim Kahn-Waletzke / Thomas Keller / Jon Kittleson / John Kjome / Jordan Kjome / Robert Krantz / S Laffe / Juan Lee / Georgie LeHoop / Bernadette Mahfood / Kevin Matthews / Layl McDill / Kathy Melton / Deanne Nash / Carolina Niebres / Laurie Oelslager / OV Oveson / Susan Pariseau / Alida Perez / David Perkins / Jane & Jeff Peterson / James Pettijohn / Karen Ruff / Craig Seath / Mara Smith / Sue Soenen / Katie Stromlund / David Tacke / Lila Taft / Mariella TerBeest-Schladweiler / Don Tran / Jeannie Trelles / Lisa Truax / Byron Wells / Pamela White / Allan Wiener

Authors / Amanda Hocking / John Haymond / William Kent Krueger / Erin Hart / Paddy O'Brien / Gary Harbo / Joel Arnold / Lisa Soland / Jules Hancock / Michael Cotter / Ruth Donahue

Music / Marty O'Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra / Alex Rossi / AHS Jazz One / Reina del Cid / Good Night, Gold Dust / The Last Revel / Michelle Lynn / Ali & the Scoundrels / Whalen & the Willows / Ian Hilmer / Cosmic / Weathered Ivan / Paddy O'Brien / Spare Parts / Full Circle / Peter Jacobs Jazz Combo / Con Fuoco / Bella Vita / Austin Harmonics / Cedar River Strings / Trio Sene Nome / AHS Strings / Stringendo