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Art Night Austin brings out the creative spirit in the city

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Art, wine, food and visitors made Austin Art Night an evening of life’s finer things.

Art Alliance Austin organizes the annual event, which showcases Austin’s growing visual arts community by shuttling ticket holders across Downtown Austin to various galleries. Each gallery featured Austin eats, drinks and artwork.

Thao Vo, a member of Art Alliance Austin, said efforts like this also make Austin a viable place for artists to take root.

"I certainly think it brings a greater awareness to the general public," Vo said. "It marries food, wine and art, something people can certainly do themselves, but it helps to have an organization do it for them."

Mindi Partee, owner of Haven Gallery & Gifts on West 6th Street, was excited to be a part of the event for a second year.

"I feel really happy about the scene in Austin. I think the visual art scene is really starting to pick up momentum, and it's events such as this that really get the public out to appreciate art. And I love music, but it's so nice for the visual arts to get a lot of attention in Austin as well," Partee said.

Local artists have also noticed growing support.

"Traditionally, it's a little difficult to sell here, but lately it seems like it's been picking up. The city's expanding, and with increased population you have the ability to support more than one of the arts - and, of course, traditionally in Austin it's been music," artist Andrea Nelson said.

"It's always been a music-focused place with a small arts community," artist Michael Merritt said. "The visual art community is growing. There are a lot more galleries, particularly on the east side."

Of course, supporting the arts means supporting the creators. So for others, the event is a good example of how the community supports local businesses.

"I'm a new business owner trying to figure out how to make it work," artist Jeffrey Swanson said. "I'm experimenting in different directions. I'm trying to figure out how to make a better product and make my living doing these things."

For some, it was more than just a fun time; it was an Austin experience. Tara Cowan and David Marquez said the works exceeded their expectations. Cowan said there is often a low standard associated with very accessible art, but the art she saw Saturday night engaged her in a way she didn’t expect.

"We really enjoy making it," artist Glenda Kronke said. "It feeds our soul, and we hope it makes other people just as happy."

The Art Alliance Austin also hosts Art Night Austin: East, which tours East Austin art studios in November.

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