Sunday, November 22, 2009

E.A.S.T. is for lovers

There's a certain kind of energy that runs through the East Austin Studio Tour. Maybe it's because the doors to studios, galleries, houses, garages, and gardens are open, and inviting you in to look at and experience something new, something creative. There are finished works, works in progress, collaborations being made in the moment. People are talking to other people they've never met. There's plenty of wine and beer and snacks. People are riding on handlebars, or walking in groups like over-aged trick or treaters. Leaves are on the ground. Things have been made. Things hold ideas and purpose. The creativity and openess is in the air, and it's infectious. You want to be a part of it.

The purpose of Co-lab is to conduct that energy and give it a home. It's a new media project space with a small tin building that serves as a gallery, and a large, fenced in lawn with picnic tables and installations scattered around. The garden's Swiss Chard was gigantic. Sean, the main force behind Co-lab, told us that the lot used to be an auto body shop, and he had pulled two garbage cans full of man-made stuff out of the ground. The garden was built on donated soil. The purpose of Co-lab, Sean says, is an experiment in the gift economy - he doesn't ask for money, and relies on the help and creativity of artists to make it work. He had art and events lined up every day last week.

Sean had not hesitated to say yes when the Garden Posse asked him if Co-lab would host a last minute seed bomb workshop in honor of E.A.S.T. The day was a bit cloudy and chilly, but quite a few people proved unafraid to stick their hands in a muddy mess of seed bomb batter. Matthew, who is making a short video about the Garden Posse, documented the event. We were also visited by a woman who follows this blog but didn't leave her name or email address. (If you're reading this, thanks for coming! And leave us a comment with your email and we'll get you on our email list.)

So a new batch of Texas Wildflower seed bombs were made, and the old ones bagged up so we can give them to you when you come to Garden Posse events. If you already have seed bombs, now is the time to throw them! Wildflowers should be seeded in the fall and bloom in the spring.

Sean mentioned that Co-lab is extremely open to future collaboration, so we are thinking of art/gardening events we can do. We'd love to hear your ideas. As we learn from E.A.S.T., there is no limit on what can be done. Well, asides from planting edible plants directly in Co-lab's soil. The auto body shop history makes that a little sketchy.

After we finished up the seed bomb making, and made sure our hands weren't too muddy to touch art, we moved on to some of the studios in the neighborhood. One member of the Garden Posse has a small obsession with the Decoder Ring Design Concern - a top-tier design shop with an amazing office, tucked away in a bamboo forest. We met the man behind the bamboo, and the incredible landscape design. His name is David, and he is a guerrilla gardener, too. When we told him about the Garden Posse, he said that he had planted about 40 trees a block away, near the Capital Metro stop. David said he was engaged in a silent battle with the city over the trees - when they took them out, he would just go back and plant more. He reminds us of Denver's Tree Fairy, except not crazy.

David's nursery is called Utility Research Garden, and you should check it out if you have the chance. What's amazing is that everything you see in the garden - including the 20 ft tall pine trees (native to Afghanistan) - were planted four years ago. Yep. We wish we had those skills (the term "garden boner" was used). We hope to get to spend some time guerrilla gardening with David, and somehow soak up his gardening magic.

More tales of E.A.S.T. coming soon.

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