"I cleave the heavens, and soar to the infinite. What others see from afar, I leave far behind me." Giordano Bruno (1548 – February 17, 1600)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Best Keep Secrets of Austria - Introducing artwalk18

"Without poets, without artists,
men would soon weary of nature's monotony."
Guillaume Apollinaire
Escape The Fate - Picture Perfect
A further tale of adventure from Austria, the land without the Kangaroos. I have recently been musing about why people choose to visit this small country. For this article, I decide to ask Google the simple little question “why do people visit Austria?” Interestingly auto select tried to convince me that I wanted Australia, the land with the Kangaroos, but I wasn't going to play that little Google game. I stumbled across 2 blog/webpages that both provided me with a list of ten and five reasons respectively:

a. The Shearing Blog:
1. Classical Music; 2. The Austrian Alps; 3. Architecture; 4. "The Sound of Music";  5.Food; 6. Drinks; 7. Weather; 8. Railways; 9. Dancing; 10. Yodelling
b.  Nomadical Sabbatical:
1. Yodelling; 2. Mountains; 3. Classical Music; 4.Architecture; 5.Food & Drink

Well I am going to let you into a not so small secret, these lists are missing a very important element. Austria also has a thriving Art scene. Quite unsung if the two lists above are an indication, but thriving. It has been surviving for centuries. The most discerning tourists knows about it and the world masses do know about such artists as Klimt, Schiele, Fuchs, Hundertwasser et al. The Art Scene however does not seem to make the lists, aside from that provided by the famous galleries.

For this article I am going to concentrate on Vienna and in particular the 18th district of Vienna called Währing. This is the district I have lived in for about 9 years, when I am not travelling home to the Alps. I have finally decided to take an indepth look at the district and last weekend afforded me the opportunity on a platter – ARTWALK18!

This year was the first year that artwalk18 has been run and I have to say it was great fun for me and my friends. The walk encompassed a combination 60 artists and galleries, exhibiting works across a gambit of styles and genres, such as the visual arts, performance arts, architecture and animation. The event was run over two days and I took in both of them along with friends. The weather was lousy, (see my last post), but the exhibits were wonderful, the company I was in was terrific and the people that we met were great. I wasn't surprised by the talent on show, more by the number of galleries and artists in the district that I failed to previously pay attention to.

Let’s return to artwalk18. As mentioned above it was great. I suspect, like myself, most people have their favourites based on artistic tastes or the way they experienced a particular gallery. I have a number that especially peaked my visual interest and just filled me with good vibes by being there. Next year’s walk will no doubt bring other highlights and new experiences.

Most of the permanent galleries, whether exhibitors and/or artists, are open throughout the year at various times and the information can be found as to when on their individual websites. All are contactable to arrange visits. Austrians tend to be very accommodating about arranging visits. If you are planning to visit, the list of galleries and artists for artwalk18 can be found on the Art18 webpage. They are also list on Facebook for up to date information.

I am not going to list all the galleries, exhibiting artists and local artists here. I would like to recommend that if you are coming to Austria and you enjoy great art as a collector or just for the visual feast, go for it and check out the galleries in Vienna. Not only those to be found in the 18th, but all through this city. 
Vienna and Austria are not just all about Classical Music; The Austrian Alps;  Architecture; "The sound of Music"; Food; Drinks; Weather; Railways; Dancing; and Yodelling. I can't emphasis enough that art is an active cultural treasure to be found throughout Austria, not olnly in Vienna. Not only the old masters as well as great artists of the late 19th and  20th century stowed away in those wonderful museums we have, but the thriving community of contemporary artists, as well as both local and international exhibitors are well worth a detour from the normal tourist menu. 
My recommendation is that if you plan to travel here next year and would like a different tourist or cultural experience, plan to come when the next artwalk18 is scheduled. There are also other art festivals in Vienna and throughout Austria throughout the year. Any number of these could just coincide with your trip :) . Do a little research :)

For anyone in Vienna reading this and who missed artwalk18, you missed a true highlight. Not only the experience of the galleries and artists mentioned above, but a walk around the 18th, despite the weather, was a great way to experience this lovely district. For anyone planning to visit Vienna, I also recommend a stroll around the 18th. It has some other hidden treasures besides the galleries to visit. As I get around to exploring them, I may write about them. To finish, all I can say, is I intend to be present for artwalk18 2015! 
"Artists don't make objects. Artists make mythologies."
Anish Kapoor

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