Austin Thomas

Apartment 38
February 2017
Sharon Louden, drawing with pen and marker on paper

In February of 2017, I started a salon in my apartment, called Apartment 38, so that I could have a place to curate, gather and make community. I curate two projects a year that remain up for six months each. The idea behind this intimate art space, open by invitation only, is to nurture the artist in preparation for an expansion of their ideas out into the world.
Austin Thomas Cultural Production
Interior view of the Post Pocket Utopia space in Newark
2015

For six months, Post Pocket Utopia, a pop-up space, in Newark, New Jersey brewed a speciality beer called "Bad Ass Art Bitch Beer," curated exhibitions and coordinated events.
Austin Thomas Cultural Production
Post Pocket Utopia
2015

For a short period of time, I ran a pop-up space called “Post Pocket Utopia” in Newark, New Jersey at the Gateway Project Spaces. I brewed beer and organized a crowd-sourced photography project called #seeingnewark that anyone using that hashtag could participate in by posting an image of the City of Newark online.
Austin Thomas Cultural Production
Nashville Public Library
2015

In 2015, starting in Nashville but focusing primarily on building community in New York, I met with artists to discuss and share ideas on creative capital and strengthening community through the arts.
Austin Thomas Cultural Production
Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia
2014

Operating out of a renovated loading dock on 22nd Street in the Chelsea art neighborhood of New York City, together with Sarah Christian and Jason Vartikar, we organized exhibitions, attended art fairs, hosted seminars on the expanding themes of audience participation in museums and served up many meals to visitors.
Austin Thomas Cultural Production
Pocket Utopia merges with Chelsea gallery Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden
2014

In 2014, I joined then artists Jason Vartikar and Sarah Christian to form one experimental art organization called Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia. First operating two spaces, one in Chelsea and one on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and then combining efforts into one space in Chelsea, we hosted salons, brewed beer and even started an online art journal, titled "Art Daily Bread." This joint effort continued for a year.
Austin Thomas Cultural Production
Pocket Utopia
2013

In 2013, art critic Roberta Smith wrote in a New York Times review of a historical print exhibition curated by artist Richard Tuttle, that Pocket Utopia was "one of the more singular bright spots in the Lower East Side firmament."
Austin Thomas Cultural Production
Pocket Utopia Gallery, LES, New York
2012

In 2012, I reopened Pocket Utopia on the Lower East Side of Manhattan showing artists I had exhibited in Brooklyn and collaborating with the old masters print and drawing gallery C.G. Boerner. The exhibition program featured historical and contemporary artists in an attempt to deepen the conversation, historically and to collaborate with an ever expanding group of artists.
Austin Thomas Cultural Production
Camp Pocket U.
2010

For two weeks in Rouses Point, New York, artists from all over the world gathered to teach a free art camp to kids traveling as far as Burlington, Vermont. By day, children were taught by working artists and by night those artists joined the local community to hear music, listen to lectures, dine together and watch performances. One performance was even staged in Lake Champlain.
Austin Thomas Cultural Production
Camp Pocket U.
Summer 2010

Camp Pocket U., grew out of the Pocket Utopia gallery and was a collaborative project with the arts non-profit Norte Maar. After months of planning, the camp took place the last two weeks of July 2010 and was camp for kids, adults, artists, non-artists, experienced tennis players and the uninitiated. At the center of this project were the invited artists and the bond formed between them and the community.
Austin Thomas Cultural Production
Pocket Utopia
2007-2009

Pocket Utopia closed in the summer of 2009 with Sharon Butler as the last artist in resident. Hrag Vartanian, critic, curator, Editor-in-chief and co-founder, of Hyperallergic, wrote about the space's closing in a post titled, "A Little Pocket Utopia Closes in Bushwick Today," where he expressed this sentiment..."It was a space that, regardless of the artist showing, always had something to contribute to New York’s art conversation. Its success is a credit to both Austin and all those affiliated with it."
Austin Thomas Cultural Production
Pocket Utopia's first official exhibition, "Pierogi Flat File Show"
September 2007

The first official exhibition (after several salons and performances) at Pocket Utopia featured 22 artists from the venerable Pierogi Gallery, another artist-run space that began in Brooklyn in 1994. Pocket Utopia continued for two years in Brooklyn, showcasing approximately 100 artists, hosting salons, providing a dozen artists with space to work, publishing editions, and teaching art classes to the surrounding community.
Austin Thomas Cultural Production Salon, Exhibition, Artist Residency Space
Pocket Utopia, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY
2007-2009
Salon, Exhibition, Artist Residency Space

I opened Pocket Utopia in 2007 in a storefront space Bushwick, Brooklyn to exhibit and curate other artists' work, to operate a residency program and to organize salons on ideas from blogging to beer making. Pocket Utopia was created to be a social space for initiating community by connecting artists.
Austin Thomas Cultural Production a chronicle of making art without a studio
Notes on a Post-Studio Practice
2006-2006
a chronicle of making art without a studio

The blog ATfreespace (http://atfreespace.blogspot.com) chronicled my art making without a studio. For three years, I kept this online log of where and when I made work, which was mostly in libraries, laundry mats and public places. Pocket Utopia, my exhibition, salon space grew out of this writing and making project, bu focusing on functioning as an artist out in the world as oppose to making artworks in a private studio space.
Austin Thomas Cultural Production
I am an artist, curator, writer and activist, heavily influenced by Joseph Bueys, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, Agnes Martin, Betty Parsons and Louise Bourgeois. I have a BFA in Psychology and Women Studies and an MA in Studio Arts from NYU. I live in New York and have been involved in nonprofit art spaces, galleries, assisting other artists and have worked at museums for over 20 years. I ran a community-oriented, artist-centered space called Pocket Utopia and now run an art salon, with a focus on political action and community-building out of my apartment, called “Apartment 38.”